Animation Futurama

Robby

The News Robot
Joined
Jul 28, 2004
Location
Terra
#1
Futurama Animators Roll 20-Sided Die With Bender's Game

Wired said:
After one too many games of Dungeons and Dragons, surly robot Bender goes on a fantasy-fueled bender in the latest Futurama movie.

The dimension-hopping plot of Futurama: Bender's Game, released Tuesday on DVD, packs plenty of Lord of the Rings gags as the Planet Express crew faces a galactic fuel shortage. The convoluted story also gives the movie's animators plenty to play with, as the booze-swilling bot's warped imagination propels the characters into an alternate, medieval universe (pictured).

To deliver the dilapidated, '50s-era sci-fi aesthetic of New New York (the Big Apple circa 3000), the movie incorporates a seamless blend of hand-drawn animation and computer-generated 3-D, seen in everything from shots of the ramshackle spaceship to fiery explosions and sparkling bits of intergalactic dust.

Bender's Game, the third installment in a series of four direct-to-DVD Futurama movies, also delivers the sort of clever one-liners and geeky references that made the Emmy Award-winning television show an enduring fan favorite.

The animators at Rough Draft Studios, which count The Simpsons Movie, cult Nickelodeon show Ren and Stimpy and Beavis and Butt-head among their credits, have been hand-crafting the retro-futuristic aesthetic of Futurama since the show first aired on Fox in 1999.

Wired.com caught up with Claudia Katz, senior vice president of Rough Draft, and Dwayne Carey-Hill, director of Bender's Game and Bender's Big Score, to talk about the challenges of animating multi-sided dice and whether Futurama will soon be headed to a theater near you.

Wired.com: Bender's Game takes a giant leap from the usual sci-fi themes -- nudist alien invasions, robo-drug addictions, superpowers -- to focus on a much geekier subject: fantasy and role-playing games.

Dwayne Carey-Hill: With Bender's Game, we wanted to [include] parodies of Lord of the Rings and Dungeons and Dragons-influenced movies. We quickly started watching a bunch of movies to see what kind of dragons looked right and what kinds of ogres, aliens and spaceships would look good. We wound up having this big encyclopedia of sci-fi genres that we pulled into this particular movie.

Wired.com: Everything in Bender's Game has an epic feel to it -- fantasy beasts engaged in battle, bustling crowd scenes and much more 3-D. Was that intentional, to ramp up the visual goods as the DVD series winds down?

Carey-Hill: At the end of the day, some things are hard to draw. We take advantage of the 3-D -- anything with a vehicle, anything with a perspective shift. Space itself looks a lot better rendered that way, although we've done weird things like animate a roulette wheel in 3-D. You wouldn't think [a spinning wheel] would be complicated, but it is. In Bender's Game, we have 20-sided and 12-sided dice, so to get the [movement of a dramatic role] ... and capture it's geometric shape -- and make it convincing -- it's beneficial to us to do it in 3-D.

Wired.com: How much of the design and look of the Futurama universe is Rough Draft responsible for?

Katz: When we first started talking to Matt [Groening about Futurama], he had sketches of most of the lead characters. But we had a huge impact on fleshing out that world and the characters. We went round and round with the designs, filling out the characters, and the whole world of New New York.

Wired.com: What did you base your designs on?

Katz: A lot of science fiction becomes inspiration -- especially the sci-fi universe of the '30s.

Carey-Hill: We all love movies and try to work with what comes out. Any time we see something we like, we try to mimic and pull off something great -- new and old movies come into play. We try to use everything.

(Watch one of the DVD extras, embedded, which shows booze-guzzling bot Bender delivering a parody of an antipiracy message.)

Wired.com: Tell us a little about the production process for creating the television series versus the DVD movies.

Claudia Katz: We're still not sure how we do it [laughs]. TheDVD movies are comprised as four separate episodes. They can be brokendown individually -- although they're written into an arc.

Carey-Hill: The upside is that as a director on the [TV]episodes, you knew the process, you used a similar formula. But wedefinitely have four times the work coming in at the same time [whenwe're making the movies.]

Katz: And not four times the time, so we staggered the same crew for layout and design.

Carey-Hill: It was timed so the animators would finish one and switch to the next.

Wired.com: How many people are we talking?

Katz: Two to three hundred people have touched the film at thispoint: 70-80 people in California, and the rest in our South Koreastudio.

Katz: A typical Futurama TV episode has between 20,000-25,000 drawings per episodes. Bender's Game was on the heavier side -- ther are so many crowd and fight scenes -- so that number is a lot higher

Carey-Hill: Instead of four times that number, I would say five times that number [for Bender's Game].

Katz: We still are hand-drawing everything when we startstoryboarding. The amount of drawing becomes exponential throughout theprocess. [The movies] take about a year, start to finish, but arestaggered.

Wired.com: Everyone is wondering whether Into the Wild Green Yonder, which is slated for a 2009 release, will be the last chapter of Futurama. Head writer/producer David X. Cohen told us back in June he's not ruling out the possibility of additional Futurama movies, either for straight-to-DVD or theatrical release. Do you have any more info?

Katz: Well we would love to do a [big-screen] Futurama feature. I'm sure David [Cohen] and Matt [Groening] would be excited to do it -- but Fox would have to spearhead that project.

Carey-Hill: Both Pete [Avancino, director of The Beast With a Billion Backs and Wild Green Yonder] and I appreciate the larger scale of producing them. As much as we loved doing the series, we loved the bigger, wider format. We're inching towards a feature, which I think Futurama could sustain.... I think Fox has been happy with the sales of the DVDs. The fans are buying them and it looks good.

Futurama: Bender's Game is available Tuesday on DVD.
(Via Wired)
 

Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Location
Pennsylvania
#2
When Futurama ended airing new episodes in 2003, after four seasons, it almost immediately became a huge hit in syndication for the Cartoon Network. The popularity of the show on the Cartoon Network led to hugely successful DVD sales of the series which led to a series of direct-to-DVD movies.

To date three DVD movies have been released with a fourth slated for a February, 2009, release date. Comedy Central, in an agreement with 20th Century Fox, is airing each movie split into 4 individual episodes resulting in a full 16-episode fifth season 5 years after the show was cancelled!

So what are the chances of there being additional DVD movies resulting in yet another season?

From Sci-Fi Channel:
A Future For Futurama?

David X. Cohen, co-creator and executive producer of Futurama, told SCI FI Wire that work is nearly done on the fourth and final (for now) made-for-DVD movie, Into the Wild Green Yonder, and added that he's hopeful the show might still return as a weekly series, a feature film or another DVD film.

"Hope never dies on Futurama, or not anymore," Cohen said in an interview while promoting Bender's Game, the third DVD movie. "It died once, but once you introduce the idea that you can come back from the dead, then the second time you have to have a little bit of hope that you might come back to life yet again. So we do retain hope of resurrection."

As fans know, Fox canceled Futurama after several seasons on the air, but revived it as a series of DVD movies after the series' DVD sets sold well. That set the stage for the return of Fry (Billy West), Leela (Katey Sagal) and Bender (John DiMaggio). The previous films were Bender's Big Score and The Beast With a Billion Backs. Bender's Game comes out Nov. 4; Green Yonder is due next spring.

"Now, what the chances are [of another resurrection], I have no idea," Cohen said. "The hard facts would seem to support us coming back again. From what we have heard, the DVDs have sold very well, and I have heard the phrase 'greatly exceeded' 20th Century Fox's expectations. So that's got to be a good sign, you would think. We haven't heard anything, yes or no, so it's familiar territory."

Into the Wild Green Yonder was written by Ken Keeler, who scripted "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings," the final episode of the Futurama TV series. That, Cohen said, was no coincidence.

"So we have the rare luxury of a writer who's experienced with writing the last episode of Futurama writing it again," Cohen said. "So, in tone, we've gone for a similar approach, where if it is the last thing we ever do, I think we'll be quite proud of it, and it will serve us well as the last episode ever. But we leave ourselves a thin ray of hope in the story--and in real life--of returning." --Ian Spelling
 

Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Location
Pennsylvania
#3
So, who else is watching the newly revived Futurama this season?

Last night's episode, "Lethal Inspection", brought us another great emotional closing that ranks up with the episodes about Fry's dog, Fry's nephew, and Leela's childhood (of having her family secretly looking out for her).

In just a few minutes we learned a lot more about Hermes and that the Planet Express crew really is like family to each other.

.... and if anybody was wondering, the song played was "Little Bird" by Elizabeth Mitchell.
 
Joined
Sep 1, 2010
Location
Indiana
#4
SECOND! That episode was absolutely amazing. It's proof that Groening still has it, but I have to say that I'm fairly disappointed with most of the episodes.
They seem to be forgetting who some of the characters really are. They say things out of character and overdo a lot of their lines.

I just saw the final episode, and I can't wait for the next season. Or to buy this one on DVD!
 
Joined
Oct 20, 2007
#6
Futurama is cancelled... again.

From Entertainment Weekly, Comedy Central has decided not to renew Futurama, which means that the 31st-century-set animated comedy will end its 140-episode run on Sept. 4. The final 13 episodes, which represent the second half of season 7, begin airing on June 19 at 10 p.m.

The show originally aired 1999-2003 before being cancelled by Fox after four seasons. Comedy Central included the show in its Adult Swim block of programs where it became really popular which led to four direct-to-DVD movies being made. Comedy Central aired the movies as half-hour episodes in 2008 & 2009 which is now considered the fifth season of the show. The success of the movies led to Comedy Central ordering new episodes of the show which resulted in season six airing in 2010 & 2011 and a seventh season which started airing in 2012. The second half of the the seventh season starts airing June 19th and ends September 4th. The last episode on September 4th will be the last show of the series.

The producers of the show have said that there is always the possibility of future projects involving the franchise but nothing is planned at this time.

Futurama - Fry.jpg
 

Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Location
Pennsylvania
#8
I'm there with you on this one. Futurama is a show that is funny, witty, and often emotional.

With the number of people watching shows like it on DVRs and streaming I am willing to bet that the reported audience numbers are a lot lower than what they actually are.
 

Mirelly

Mouthy Cow
Joined
Mar 12, 2013
Location
UK
#9
With the number of people watching shows like it on DVRs and streaming I am willing to bet that the reported audience numbers are a lot lower than what they actually are.
Yup, but networks require viewers to watch the programmes as they are aired to generate the revenue needed to pay for the show.

For example, my cable TV service includes and on demand catch-up service ... I always FFwd thru the ads. When I watch show as it is aired, I generally use the pause function, and go do something else for ten minutes per half hour of show ... again so I can FFwd thru the ads.

The digital age is killing TV ... :p
 
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