Boobs, violence and a few more boobs.
That is where Trey's idea for the episode Major Boobage began. At the end of eight very long weeks of production, (a short time-frame by anyone else's production standards), there was an amazing episode that everyone on the crew was excited about.
Unlike the usual style of South Park animation, the crew turned to traditional animation techniques to create the unique look for the “Cheesed-Out Sequences” of Major Boobage. Always up for a challenge, the artists at South Park went old school and picked up their paper (well... high-end, touch-screen displays) and pencils (a pressure-sensitive stylus) and set to work. The first hurtle to overcome was to re-create the 1980's hand-drawn look or Heavy Metal.
The film Heavy Metal, implemented an animation technique called rotoscoping, that uses live action video as a template for the animated motion. A live action subject is filmed by a camera, and those frames of video are traced or re-drawn by an animator to create realistic movement. As soon as Trey proposed the idea of creating an episode like Boobage, the storyboard department broke out the video camera and began video taping walk and motion cycles. After a few days of video taping, drawing, testing, more drawing, experimenting, etc., it was obvious to everyone on the crew that this was like no other episode South Park had ever tried to produce.
The team at South Park decided it was time to hire a real actress to play the part of the Hot Chick, and turned the writer’s room into a video studio. The other characters like Major Boobage and the Boob Monsters were portrayed by South Park employees (check out the sequence “Kenny’s Rescue” to see South Park’s I.T. Supervisor in action). With the video shoot complete, the storyboard artists began the process of tracing the live-action footage by hand. Rotoscoping is a very time consuming process, and the crew was hard at work on Tonsil Trouble and Britney’s New Look at the same time. So, to make the process as simple as possible, South Park hired eight traditional animators to come into the studio and work with the art and animation directors to hand-draw all of the rotoscoped animation for the special sequences.
The rotoscoped images were all created in Adobe Photoshop as still frames. South Park, like most animated productions, works at 24 frames per second. That means for one second of finished video there are 24 individual images. Instead of drawing all 24 frames per second, the traditional animators would create keyframes. Keyframes represent the key poses for a character. For example, in Major Boobage’s Throne Room there is a shot where he rises from his throne. The traditional animator would draw the poses of him siting, in mid-rise, and then standing. These would be the keyframes, and then the animators would go back and draw the in-betweens or other still images that would create the motion of Major Boobage rising.
Once there was hand-animated footage from the video, the crew began to integrate that footage into the world of South Park. Even though the series is created using high-end computers and 3-D software, the Creators have taken great pains to make the series look like it is still created with construction paper. The 3D environment and tools allowed the crew to composite the hand drawn images into the world of South Park and seamlessly integrate the two different styles. To re-create the grainy, or photocopied look of Heavy Metal, the finished video was passed through a compositing program that added the heavy grain and over-saturated look.
The final product has become a fan favorite and the first South Park episode to reach 1 million views on the website.
We hope you enjoy this SouthParkStudios.com exclusive behind the scenes feature. We are proud of this episode and thanks to the new website, we are excited to be able to share content like this with you!!