Difference between revisions of "Production"

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(Rewrote entire article. Some sectors needs further expansion though.)
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[[Category:Futurama]][[Category:Production| ]]
 
[[Category:Futurama]][[Category:Production| ]]
{{update}}
 
==Overview==
 
The show [[Futurama]] is an example of a show reaching popularity after its time. For a variety of reasons it never gained a very wide following when originally aired, it found new life in syndication and on DVD.
 
  
===The Fox Years===
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''[[Futurama]]''{{'}}s '''production history''' has not always been easy.  From difficult upbringings, network difficulties and cancellation to revivals, cost cuts and salary negotiation collapses.
  
''Futurama'' was produced by [[The Curiosity Company]] and [[20th Century Fox]] and broadcast during its [[original run]] by [[20th Century Fox]]. Its creators, [[Matt Groening]] and [[David X. Cohen]], did all the early design and writing of the show, from the original conception through to production. During production, they stayed closely involved, to ensure the show stayed on-vision and up to quality.  
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Yet, ''Futurama'' has produced some of the better episodes and gags in the history of animated television.
  
Fox executives, initially excited, didn't really understand the show when [[Episode Listing|episodes]] started coming out. Consequentially, the show was not given the best treatment by the network. It was plagued with schedule changes and cancellations; of the first production season of 13 episodes, only 9 episodes were aired during the first broadcast season. Fox maintained this treatment for a while before announcing they were pulling the plug on the series.
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== Progress ==
  
The show aired for a total of 5 seasons, airing a total of 72 episodes comprising 4 production seasons. This period also saw the start of the continuing series of [[Comic Listing|comics]] and the release of a [[Futurama (video game)|game]].
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Creating an episode for a show like ''Futurama'' is generally a three way task. First '''writing''', then '''voice acting''' and finally '''animation'''.  In that order.  However, due to the amount of episodes the runners are usually working on at once, these tasks are often done simultaneously, and several episodes may be written, acted and animated at the same time.
  
===Syndication===
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=== Writing ===
The DVD volumes came out, and they outsold everyone's expectations. When Cartoon Network picked up the syndication rights and began airing the show weeknights on Adult Swim, the show built up its fan base and quickly became one of the network's highest-rated shows. This surge of popularity added fuel to the existing fan community, who have been crying out for more episodes since news of the show's cancellation by Fox.
+
  
The show will continue to air on Adult Swim until the end of 2007, at which time their contract expires and the rights will go to Comedy Central, who out-bid Cartoon Network for the contract renewal. Comedy Central will broadcast the show until 2012.
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After the production company have placed an order for a specific amount of episodes, it is up to the show runners to decided the general plots of each of these episodes. After having settled for a general plot using "[[Story cards|index cards with plot points]]", a writer is assigned to this specific episode.
  
===The Wait===
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As writing progresses, the writers group to discuss their stories, where they are modified and trimmed up by the group.  And certain gags may be added as well.
Rumors have abounded for years. However, intensity of rumors increased in 2005, and in January of 2006 [[Billy West]] made an announcement on his [http://www.billywest.com web site]. He stated that [[David X. Cohen]] called him and told him they got a green light to produce 4 feature-length Futurama movies for release to DVD. Production is supposedly to begin in July of 2006, and the first DVD couldn't be expected to hit shelves until at least late 2007. Fans everywhere wait with baited breath, hoping Fox doesn't change their minds or back out of the deal.
+
  
===[[Episode Listing#Direct-to-DVD films|Direct-to-DVD Films]]===
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=== Voice acting ===
Four DVD movies are being planned. Matt Groening, David X. Cohen and numerous writers from the original series are working on the movies.
+
  
The first movie, {{flink|Bender's Big Score}} was released on November 27, 2007.  It was written by [[Ken Keeler]], with the story by Keeler and Cohen.  The second movie, {{flink|The Beast with a Billion Backs}} was released on June 24, 2008.  It was written by [[Eric Kaplan]], with the story by Kaplan and Cohen.
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Then the manuscript is handed to the voice actors.  The voice acting progress usually takes about 1 to 2 weeks per season, depending on the amount of work and stability in the recording sessions.
  
{{flink|Bender's Game}} is proposed to be released in the fall of 2008, and {{flink|Into the Wild Green Yonder}} in sometime in 2009.
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=== Animation ===
  
===Comedy Central===
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While the voice acting is occurring, in fact, before the writing is done, the animators (for ''Futurama'', this is [[Rough Draft Studio]]) begin working on the animations.
In late June 2006 it was learned that Comedy Central had resurrected Futurama. At least 16 new episodes will be produced for the first time since the series originally ran from 1999-2003. Comedy can run both the existing and new episodes in January 2008 when their contract takes effect. [[Katey Sagal]] was first to confirm the return during an interview on the American series ''Late Late Show'', she had been so excited she didn't read the entire contract before signing. The previously discussed movies are to be made as episodes.
+
  
The question remains now whether or not Comedy Central will buy a sixth production season.  While the films are seen as a return of the show, it is not a complete return of the show as a TV show.  A new production season was not considered possible during the Adult Swim reruns, since Adult Swim or Cartoon Network probably did not have the intend or money distributed to buy another season of ''Futurama'', which is proposed at around the price of 1 million dollars.  But Comedy Central may have that will.
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==== 2D ====
  
It should be noted that it is not Comedy Central bringing back the films, but rather FOXWhich is why their production codes are still associated with FOXFOX may also buy a sixth production season of the show, but it seems less likely right now (perhaps also with the writers of ''Futurama'' [[Box Network|making fun of them in the first film]]).
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Most of the animation for ''Futurama'' is drawn upon paper, then digitalised and coloured digitally.<ref name="com-ep3-gv">{{cite commentary |speaker={{n|Vanzo|Gregg}} |episode=I, Roommate |volume=One |disc=1}}</ref>
 +
 
 +
==== Computer graphics ====
 +
 
 +
To keep with the futuristic setting of ''Futurama'', 3D was employed to help certain scenes where 2D simply would have been to expensive.  Such as space travel, but also other scenes got usage of 3D, such as holograms, car chases or wherever the animators felt 3D would work better than 2D.
 +
 
 +
In addition to 3D, computers were also used to employ certain tasks, such as colouring the hand drawn cells digitally, but also use certain technologies to fill crowd scenes with a so called "[[people hose]]".
 +
 
 +
==== Cropping ====
 +
 
 +
In general, episodes must be cut down to 22 minutes to fit on television for half an hour with commercialsAs part of a deal with [[Rough Draft Studio]], ''Futurama'' gets 2 minutes extra that they are allowed to cut,<ref name="com-ep3-dxc">{{cite commentary |speaker={{n|Cohen|David|X.}} |episode=I, Roommate |volume=One |disc=1}}</ref> but in generally, methods of putting a voice over an exterior shot or cutting frames here and there where a scene otherwise would be too long is generally used more than cutting full scenes.<ref name="com-ep3-dxc"/>
 +
 
 +
== ''Futurama'' ==
 +
''Futurama'' is produced by [[The Curiosity Company]] and [[20th Century Fox]].  However, despite the regular partners, ''Futurama'' has varied in native network and format.
 +
 
 +
=== Original run ===
 +
{{see also|Original run}}
 +
 
 +
When [[Matt Groening]] and [[David X. Cohen]] originally pitched ''Futurama'' to Fox, they were not met with initial support.<ref name="com-ep1-mg">{{cite commentary |speaker={{n|Groening|Matt}} |episode=Space Pilot 3000 |volume=One |disc=1}}</ref>  In fact, the show had scared them somewhat with its setting and unusual characters,<ref name="com-ep3-mg">{{cite commentary |speaker={{n|Groening|Matt}} |episode=I, Roommate |volume=One |disc=1}}</ref> so in fact they told them to bring them a more down to Earth episode, which became "[[I, Roommate]]",<ref name="com-ep3-mg"/> unfortunately their reaction to it was plainly "worst. episode. ever",<ref name="com-ep3-dxc"/> which made its runners conclude that they'd just do the show they wanted to do, rather than appease 20th Century Fox.<ref name="com-ep3-mg"/>
 +
 
 +
Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, despite not doing any direct writing duties, except for a few episodes, stayed close with the project throughout its run to ensure its quality and its story remain en par with their original vision.
 +
 
 +
But ''Futurama'' did not have it easy on the Fox Network, where they treated it carelessly by moving its airings on and off, to little avail for fans to find themIn addition, they ended up airing them out of order.  When ratings suffered as a result, they did not want to order a fifth production season, and said they should consider that [[season 4]] might be their last season they'll do, so better make their series finale something special.<ref name="com-x1-mg">{{cite commentary |speaker={{n|Groening|Matt}} |film=Bender's Big Score}}</ref>
 +
 
 +
As a result, they picked [[Ken Keeler]] to write "[[The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings]]", which would give some closure, but still contain loose strings in case they were brought back.<ref name="com-x4-dxc">{{cite commentary |speaker={{n|Cohen|David|X.}} |film=Into the Wild Green Yonder}}</ref>  However, no word ever came,<ref name="com-x1-mg"/> and by Spring, 2003, they were officially cancelled.
 +
 
 +
=== Direct-to-DVD films ===
 +
{{see also|Season 5}}
 +
 
 +
After several years of running in syndication on [[Adult Swim]] and strong [[DVDs|DVD]] sales, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment re-approached the show runners to do a direct-to-DVD film, and after some negotiation, decided to do four direct-to-DVD films.<ref name="com-x1-dxc">{{cite commentary |speaker={{n|Cohen|David|X.}} |film=Bender's Big Score}}</ref>  20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's motivation came from the very strong DVD sale, as well as the good ratings it had had on Adult Swim during its hiatus.
 +
 
 +
In addition, [[Comedy Central]] signed a contract to obtain the airing rights of ''Futurama'' on cable television in the United States from 2008.  In addition, the direct-to-DVD films were to be cut up into a total of 16 episodes (which would become [[season 5|production season 5]]) to air on Comedy Central.
 +
 
 +
=== Second run ===
 +
{{see also|Second run}}
 +
 
 +
==== Speculation ====
 +
{{main|Speculation of Futurama's return till the second run}}
 +
 
 +
When the films were originally announced, fans themselves thought this was another opportunity to get the show back as a TV season.  They argued that strong DVD sales of these films may give motivation to Comedy Central and 20th Century Fox Television to purchase a production season.
 +
 
 +
And after months of intense speculation, Comedy Central announced the news of an order of 26 episodes, possibly to split up into 2 seasons.
 +
 
 +
==== Casting negotiation ploy ====
 +
 
 +
On 17 July, 20th Century Fox Television announced that the main cast of ''Futurama'' would go on recasting, opening for new actors to audition.<ref name="recast-avclub">{{cite web |url=http://www.avclub.com/articles/futurama-to-get-recast-updated-and-updated-again,30532/ |title=''Futurama'' to get recast? |publisher=A.V. Club |author=Phipps, Keith |date=2009-07-17 |accessdate=2009-07-18}}</ref>  20th Century Fox Television cited that salary negociations had collapsed with the voice actors, who, according to several reports wanted 75,000 dollars per episode in salary,<ref name="recast-variety">{{cite web |url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118006123.html?categoryid=14&cs=1 |title='Futurama' without original voices? |publisher=Variety |author=Schneider, Michael |date=2009-07-17 |accessdate=2009-07-18}}</ref> however this number remains unconfirmed by 20th Century Fox Television or the voice actors' reps.<ref name="recast-examiner">{{cite web |url=http://www.examiner.com/x-1486-LA-Personalities-Examiner~y2009m7d17-Not-going-back-to-Futurama-Cult-hit-animated-TV-series-finds-its-cast-in-a-salary-dispute |title=Not going back to 'Futurama?': Cult hit animated TV series finds its cast in a salary dispute |publisher=Examiner |author=Carreon, Jorge |date=2009-07-17 |accessdate=2009-07-18}}</ref>  However, others firmly believe that 20th Century Fox Television is doing a negotiation ploy to get the voice actors to cut their salary demands,<ref name="recast-examiner"/><ref name="recast-hitfix">{{cite web |url=http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/2008-12-6-the-fien-print/posts/2009-7-17-clarification-on-the-futurama-recasting-reports |title=Clarification on the 'Futurama' recasting reports |publisher=Hitfix |author=Fienberg, Daniel |date=2009-07-17 |accessdate=2009-07-18}}</ref> and cited cases where 20th Century Fox Television had done the same thing for ''The Simpsons'' in the past,<ref name="recast-variety"/> and they still have the same voice actors.<ref name="recast-hitfix"/>
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 +
== References ==
 +
{{reflist}}

Revision as of 14:44, 18 July 2009


Futurama's production history has not always been easy. From difficult upbringings, network difficulties and cancellation to revivals, cost cuts and salary negotiation collapses.

Yet, Futurama has produced some of the better episodes and gags in the history of animated television.

Progress

Creating an episode for a show like Futurama is generally a three way task. First writing, then voice acting and finally animation. In that order. However, due to the amount of episodes the runners are usually working on at once, these tasks are often done simultaneously, and several episodes may be written, acted and animated at the same time.

Writing

After the production company have placed an order for a specific amount of episodes, it is up to the show runners to decided the general plots of each of these episodes. After having settled for a general plot using "index cards with plot points", a writer is assigned to this specific episode.

As writing progresses, the writers group to discuss their stories, where they are modified and trimmed up by the group. And certain gags may be added as well.

Voice acting

Then the manuscript is handed to the voice actors. The voice acting progress usually takes about 1 to 2 weeks per season, depending on the amount of work and stability in the recording sessions.

Animation

While the voice acting is occurring, in fact, before the writing is done, the animators (for Futurama, this is Rough Draft Studio) begin working on the animations.

2D

Most of the animation for Futurama is drawn upon paper, then digitalised and coloured digitally.[1]

Computer graphics

To keep with the futuristic setting of Futurama, 3D was employed to help certain scenes where 2D simply would have been to expensive. Such as space travel, but also other scenes got usage of 3D, such as holograms, car chases or wherever the animators felt 3D would work better than 2D.

In addition to 3D, computers were also used to employ certain tasks, such as colouring the hand drawn cells digitally, but also use certain technologies to fill crowd scenes with a so called "people hose".

Cropping

In general, episodes must be cut down to 22 minutes to fit on television for half an hour with commercials. As part of a deal with Rough Draft Studio, Futurama gets 2 minutes extra that they are allowed to cut,[2] but in generally, methods of putting a voice over an exterior shot or cutting frames here and there where a scene otherwise would be too long is generally used more than cutting full scenes.[2]

Futurama

Futurama is produced by The Curiosity Company and 20th Century Fox. However, despite the regular partners, Futurama has varied in native network and format.

Original run

See also: Original run

When Matt Groening and David X. Cohen originally pitched Futurama to Fox, they were not met with initial support.[3] In fact, the show had scared them somewhat with its setting and unusual characters,[4] so in fact they told them to bring them a more down to Earth episode, which became "I, Roommate",[4] unfortunately their reaction to it was plainly "worst. episode. ever",[2] which made its runners conclude that they'd just do the show they wanted to do, rather than appease 20th Century Fox.[4]

Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, despite not doing any direct writing duties, except for a few episodes, stayed close with the project throughout its run to ensure its quality and its story remain en par with their original vision.

But Futurama did not have it easy on the Fox Network, where they treated it carelessly by moving its airings on and off, to little avail for fans to find them. In addition, they ended up airing them out of order. When ratings suffered as a result, they did not want to order a fifth production season, and said they should consider that season 4 might be their last season they'll do, so better make their series finale something special.[5]

As a result, they picked Ken Keeler to write "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings", which would give some closure, but still contain loose strings in case they were brought back.[6] However, no word ever came,[5] and by Spring, 2003, they were officially cancelled.

Direct-to-DVD films

See also: Season 5

After several years of running in syndication on Adult Swim and strong DVD sales, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment re-approached the show runners to do a direct-to-DVD film, and after some negotiation, decided to do four direct-to-DVD films.[7] 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's motivation came from the very strong DVD sale, as well as the good ratings it had had on Adult Swim during its hiatus.

In addition, Comedy Central signed a contract to obtain the airing rights of Futurama on cable television in the United States from 2008. In addition, the direct-to-DVD films were to be cut up into a total of 16 episodes (which would become production season 5) to air on Comedy Central.

Second run

See also: Second run

Speculation

Main article: Speculation of Futurama's return till the second run

When the films were originally announced, fans themselves thought this was another opportunity to get the show back as a TV season. They argued that strong DVD sales of these films may give motivation to Comedy Central and 20th Century Fox Television to purchase a production season.

And after months of intense speculation, Comedy Central announced the news of an order of 26 episodes, possibly to split up into 2 seasons.

Casting negotiation ploy

On 17 July, 20th Century Fox Television announced that the main cast of Futurama would go on recasting, opening for new actors to audition.[8] 20th Century Fox Television cited that salary negociations had collapsed with the voice actors, who, according to several reports wanted 75,000 dollars per episode in salary,[9] however this number remains unconfirmed by 20th Century Fox Television or the voice actors' reps.[10] However, others firmly believe that 20th Century Fox Television is doing a negotiation ploy to get the voice actors to cut their salary demands,[10][11] and cited cases where 20th Century Fox Television had done the same thing for The Simpsons in the past,[9] and they still have the same voice actors.[11]

References

  1. ^ Vanzo, Gregg. Commentary for "I, Roommate" on Volume One, disc 1.
  2. ^ a b c Cohen, David. Commentary for "I, Roommate" on Volume One, disc 1.
  3. ^ Groening, Matt. Commentary for "Space Pilot 3000" on Volume One, disc 1.
  4. ^ a b c Groening, Matt. Commentary for "I, Roommate" on Volume One, disc 1.
  5. ^ a b Groening, Matt. Commentary for Bender's Big Score on the DVD.
  6. ^ Cohen, David. Commentary for Into the Wild Green Yonder on the DVD.
  7. ^ Cohen, David. Commentary for Bender's Big Score on the DVD.
  8. ^ Phipps, Keith (17 July 2009). "Futurama to get recast?". A.V. Club. Retrieved on 18 July 2009.
  9. ^ a b Schneider, Michael (17 July 2009). "'Futurama' without original voices?". Variety. Retrieved on 18 July 2009.
  10. ^ a b Carreon, Jorge (17 July 2009). "Not going back to 'Futurama?': Cult hit animated TV series finds its cast in a salary dispute". Examiner. Retrieved on 18 July 2009.
  11. ^ a b Fienberg, Daniel (17 July 2009). "Clarification on the 'Futurama' recasting reports". Hitfix. Retrieved on 18 July 2009.