- This article is about the progress of production. For the production history, see History.
The production of Futurama was from its beginnings revolutionary. Futurama is among the first shows to use entirely computer to colour cells and computer animation integrated into 2D for a television animated show.
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.
After the production company has placed an order for a specific number of episodes, it is up to the show runners to decide 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. They also use techniques like lampshade hanging.
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.
While the voice acting is occurring, in fact, before the writing is done, the animators (for Futurama, this is Rough Draft Studios) begin working on the animations.
Most of the animation for Futurama is drawn upon paper, then digitalised and coloured digitally.
To keep with the futuristic setting of Futurama, 3D was employed to help certain scenes where 2D simply would have been too 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".
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 Studios, Futurama gets 2 minutes extra that they are allowed to cut, 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.
Effects of budget changes for the second run
When Futurama was renewed for Comedy Central, Futurama's budget was also changed in contrast to its budget under Fox. During the original run, the writing staff was usually 12 - 13 writers, but now it is down to 7 writers. Christopher Tyng also lost use of his orchestra.