The South Park Studios Blog

Fall 2005

Anne Garefino, Executive Producer:

October 18 - “TWO DAYS BEFORE THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW”

Hi:

It’s midnight on Tuesday night in L.A.. It’s the biggest night of the week for anyone who works at South Park. The first show in the new fall run airs tomorrow night and we’re in the studio, working until it’s finished. We thought it might be interesting to do this blog from the middle of production hell every week. So for the next seven shows, somewhere between midnight and 1 a.m., I’ll give people an idea of what we’re doing and what shape the show is in; the show they will see on-air in less than 24 hours. One of the Production Assistants—whoever is the late P.A on Tuesday nights, (Tonight it’s Kevin),—will also give you an idea of what’s going on in the studio from their point of view.
It’s a typical first show of the run. It’s been a tough week in the writer’s room. We’ve been over-thinking every idea we’ve come up with. In the beginning we always have too much show and for once we’ve learned our lesson and have pared back some. We’ve still got a lot of story to pack into to 21 minutes though. But now we have some extra ideas to maybe develop for the rest of the run. We should hit our stride in another show or two.
Trey has been handing off script at an amazing pace all day. There were lots of loose ends to tie up. The entire building has been working non-stop. Frank says we are 104 shots out. If you do the math, we’re looking to finish animation at around 9:30 a.m.. We bought a lot of new, expensive hardware over the summer though and it’s made things a lot faster. It may shave off an hour or so off the out-time. A lot people on the floor have a pool going and are placing bets on what time the first animators will be released. Once we’re finished with the picture, audio has about 8 hours left to finish the sound. It sucks the most for them on Wednesday mornings.
This week’s show has a big action scene with floods and fire. (The reflections in the water shots are great.) There are lots of hysterical crowds and a twist in the storyline between Cartman and Kyle that cracks me up every time I think about it. Trey just came in to tell me he wants to change the ending. We’re dropping a song but it’s still a funny out. Here comes Mark with some more script. Lydia asked if we wanted to “do group”. It’s early in the night for group and that’s a good thing. A bunch of us who aren’t animating pile into the sound booth and mostly scream and yell and act out the crowd shots in the show. Matt directs us. I was the only female tonight and I got to say a line.
It’s now after midnight on the 19th and it’s Trey’s birthday. He and Matt are in their offices playing video games until the next round of animation is ready to approve or send back. They run back and forth between editing and sound and their computers all night. Only about 9 hours to go. Happy Birthday Trey.
later,

anne

October 25 - “MARJORINE”

Once again we’re all here working on the show that will air in 20 hours. It’s been a busy night.
We had the writers come in earlier, and not to punch up “Marjorine”, but to start work on the 11/2 show. “Marjorine” is in good shape. That means everyone can make room in their heads for what’s next. Always a good sign on a Tuesday night. Tonight, in between re-takes, Trey is writing a scene for next week’s show.
Let’s see what I can tell you about tonight’s show. It was hard to write the press release for this one because as of Sunday, we were only sure about one thing…..that Butters will dress up like a little girl. Now we know that the 4th grade girls have a future-telling device and of course, the boys have to get their hands on it. At one point this show was gonna be broken into two shows and before that we talked about having this week be a “to be continued”. We have this dilemma a lot lately. We finally settled on one solid show packed full of good, funny stuff.
Matt has been talking about the music in this show all day. There are some heavy dramatic moments and he’s been working with the composers to get just the right tone. Our composers, Jaime and Scott, are in their home studio in the valley. The P.A.’s run drives back and forth all week as we send them rough scenes and they send pieces of the score back to us.
Mona is in the lobby waiting to record some of the female voices. April had a sinus infection this week and couldn’t record as many voices as she normally would. She does Wendy and she had to save her voice for that.
I’m posting a little later this week than I planned. I’m waiting for the re-take session to finish. Frank just walked in because he knew I wanted to post the most up-to-date number. We’re 65 shots out. If you check out where we were last week at this time, you’ll see we’ve picked up some. By the way, last week the last shot was finished at about 9 a.m. on Wednesday. Do the math. If all goes well, we’re looking at a 4 a.m. out. Not bad. If all goes well……
J.J. just told me we’ve broken our record for the number of shots rendered in one show since we’ve been keeping records, (since Season 6)….812 shots and still counting! That’s a crazy number of shots to get through our system in one week. You won’t notice the show has more shots than any other show—the reason that number is so high is that we had a few scenes in animation early. Because they were ready for Trey to look at earlier, he gave lots of notes and the shots in those scenes were re-worked multiple times. So there aren’t 812 shots in the show. On average there are about 300-350 in each episode. Trey just has the ones in this show back for fixes a bunch.
That’s it for this week. I have to do the credits with David now. Look for the big, “money” shot in this week’s show.
Later.

November 1 - “FOLLOW THAT EGG”

All’s quiet in the studio tonight. People are feeling the effects of three weeks of crazy hours. Even Toni isn’t running her usual marathon from one animation station to the other. They’ll perk up when the fast food shows up in a couple of hours.
Keef lit scented candles in the edit bay to combat the smell of all the stinky bodies in there. By this time on Tuesday nights, the edit bay is the place to be. Everyone is in there trying to get a clue about what shape the show’s in.
The Storyboard dept. brought some designs into the writer’s room for a potential show. (Writer’s meeting just wrapped at 11:30 p.m.) As soon as he saw them, Trey was sold on the story for next week. They’re hilarious. The designs are of Cartman and that’s all I’ll say about that.
The shot update. This week at midnight we’re 52 shots out. That’s good news except that we have a few shots that will take a while to set up and animate. (They have lots of people in them and a fancy camera move too.) Those shots will cost us a couple of hours easy.
Trey has written a song for this week’s show. One of my favorite things about South Park is the music and I love watching Trey record. He obviously records “in character” and it’s a great thing to see.
Until next week…

November 8 - “”GINGER KIDS”

We just finished group. There were THREE females in the booth tonight. We hardly ever have women available for ADR. In general, women are in the minority here at South Park. I hear a lot of complaints about that, (from the guys). Big group tonight, Hansen, Kyle, Erin, Valerie, Dave List, me and even Bruce deigned to join us. Bruce doesn’t like to do group. Matt directed and Lydia cut it all in to the show as we recorded-flawless as usual.
It’s midnight and Frank just came in. (Everyone is getting used to the blog.) We’re 39 shots out. We’ve got a few hours to go but overall, things look good unless Trey continues to write. So good in fact Ryan even has time to animate a shot. He’s been so busy lately trying to manage the floor, (sitting in on the retake sessions, making shot assignments and answering a million questions), that he hardly has time to do what he likes most, animate!
The writer’s meeting broke up at about 10:30 again tonight. I am crazy about the ideas for the next episode. All I can say is…, it’s too hot to even tease. Part of my job is to interface with the Standards and Practices people at MTV and the Legal Rep. for Comedy Central. In my career at South Park, I’ve had some amazing discussions about what we can and cannot do on air. I expect the phone lines to be burning up over next week’s show.
Stopped into the Storyboard dept. to see what they were doing. While we were in the writer’s meeting, I saw the entire department leave the building and then return a while later with Tower Records bags. They had a break and went on a field trip to buy some music. Greg loves Ninja Academy. Tony is sick—which means that by next Tuesday the entire building will have what he’s got. Before I got in the room he was napping under his desk. Now he’s up and they are all working on new characters for next week’s show.
Matt is chatting with you all next Tuesday. Check the site for times.
Trey has put an “inside” joke in this week’s episode. I just asked if he was keeping it in the show and his response was, “so far.” Any uber fan should be able to figure it out but I apologize in advance if he cuts it before you get to see it. That’s us, llivin’ on the edge.
Later.

November 15 - “TRAPPED IN THE CLOSET”

"Matt did his chat on the site tonight and if he hadn’t had to go to the writer’s meeting, he could still be answering questions. There were tons of people trying to get through. So, all in all, I think he was a hit! Jolon was in town from Costa Rica and in the studio for the chat. It was great to see him.
Right now the show is a minute long. Normally, that’s a good thing—Trey always trims about a minute of fat out of the episode every week for pacing. This week we’re still a minute long after Trey has trimmed all he wants out. Not good.
Dave List’s wife, Autumn, came in tonight. She made cookies for us. She does that a lot—we’re really spoiled.
Not much out of the ordinary going on. Lots of the technical directors are hanging out in Wonnie’s cubical playing/watching a video game. I don’t’ know which one—I’ve never played a video game. I do know it’s not World of Warcraft because everyone in the building plays that all the time. It’s hard not to know about that one."
"I’ve spent a good amount of time tonight reminding people about the CBS Morning News crew that will be in the studio on Thursday. They will be here all day doing a behind-the-scenes story including interviews with Matt and Trey. People need to get themselves cleaned up in case they’re on camera. We’ll let you know when it’s scheduled to air.
Remember that next Wednesday, 11/23, is the day before Thanksgiving and we will be off that night. I think the network is airing “Starvin’ Marvin”. We’ll be back with new shows on Nov. 30th.
It’s almost midnight and Frank says we’re 4 shots out. I know, 4!! Some of the crew have already left. Trey is still writing some lines but I think I’m outta here early tonight!!!
I'll be back to you on 11/22........

November 29 - “FREE WILLZYX”

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving? Congrats to our Editor, Keef. We had a few days off for the holiday and he went away and got married. His new wife is the “Tech Chick” for all you people in the know.
When we got back, Trey said he forgot how to do a TV show. He went into hiatus mode two weeks early. He has been struggling to get his head back in production. I don’t know if he’s succeeded yet but he did finally hand off the last of the script at 11:10 p.m. Now he’s in the audio booth recording a song. He won’t say if it’ll be in this show or not. I’m betting yes.
Someone wrote in to ask what it means each week when I say how many shots we’re out. Sorry if I haven’t explained it before but, here goes. Each show is made up of a certain number of shots-anywhere between 250 and 350. Roughly, a shot is the animation between the cuts. For example, in this week’s script:

KYLE
Tell me what to do, Willzyx! How do we get you home?!

CUT TO
CARTMAN
He hasn’t said a WORD since we brought him here.

Each line of dialogue in this case would represent a shot. The first shot would be of Kyle and then we would cut to a shot of Cartman so he could say his line. Some shots are short like the ones above. Some are complex, involve lots of action and last a long time. Obviously the latter takes more time to animate. We could be just a few shots out from finishing the animation in the show but those few shots could take hours to complete.
There is a lot to do before we finish the last show in this run, (12/7). We’re busy getting ready for the staff Christmas party. Just like any other office we all picked names for our Secret Santa. Everyone is running around telling people who they have and trying to figure out what gift to buy. So much for secrets. Matt and Trey have to record their commentary for the Season 7 DVD. We have to plan a writer’s retreat for February. But all that’s getting ahead of ourselves. We don’t have a clue about what we’re doing for next week’s show yet. We had a 4 hour meeting tonight and while we laughed a lot, no show idea emerged!
FYI….Our first show in Season 10 will be on March 22, 2006.
And now …..you know what it means when I tell you that it’s midnight and Frank says we’re 46 shots out.
More next week!

December 6, 2005 - “”BLOODY MARY”

Things have been going well on the show all day. Everyone is in good spirits because they think we might finish early tonight. I’m even getting a head start on this blog.
The sound of “Ave Maria” is floating through the halls. Trey is cutting it into the show.
Trey said the last scene in the show is the most precious scene he’s ever written. I can think of a few other ones that fall into that category—can you?
This last scene involves one of the trickier shots in the show. Andy A. is animating it right now. Stan’s dad picks him up and carries him on his shoulders. Check it out.
The bets are on. All of the Animators and Technical Directors place bets every week on when the first wave of staff will get to go home. Jason bet they’d be released at 10 p.m. and Scotty O took the latest time at 1:30 a.m.. I let you know who wins if it happens before I post. It’s 10:05 and people are going home. Jason won! I’m going to post early tonight!
Today Matt and Trey got their Emmys in the mail today. I wanted to launch the photos here tonight and thanks to Miles they are at the end of this blog!! (or will be soon-I'm throwing Miles a curve by posting early.) Not only are these the first photos, but they are the only photos, of Matt and Trey with their Emmys for Outstanding Animated Program, (less than one hour). They didn’t go to the ceremony so they had to wait a couple of months to get the actual statues. For years Matt and Trey have been going on about how they didn’t want to win an Emmy. It meant they weren’t edgy and cool anymore or something like that. Truth be told, they asked me when their Emmys were coming at least once a week. They seemed pretty thrilled to get them today. And personally, I know Matt and Trey are still edgy and cool and all that but now they’ve been recognized by yet another group of people for being brilliant and talented! I think they like it. By the way, Matt is playing Call of Duty 2 with his Emmy in one of the photos.
Toni Nugnes Wurts is leaving us. This is her last show. She is going to be a full-time mom to her beautiful baby girl, Elly. Toni has been with us since the beginning. She was the first animator I met. The first week she was on board I believe she built the school bus. Toni has been our rock and we will miss her very much. I tried bribery to get her to stay but Elly is really cute. You really can’t blame her for choosing her baby over us. I guess.
Mark Munley is not going to our Christmas Party. Everyone in the building who knows is really pissed off at him. Historically, our Christmas Parties are phenomenal. Anyone who doesn’t go really misses out on a little bit of history.
GQ is doing a spread on South Park in their February issue. Matt and Trey’s photo shoot is this week. It’ll be fun to see them all dressed up. The Storyboard department has been working on a very cool two-page layout of our characters for the publication.
Matt and Trey will record commentary for Season 7’s DVD on Thursday. That’s always interesting for me. I’m the one who has to worry about all the potential legal issues that could arise out of what they’re saying.
After Friday, we’re all on hiatus again. As usual, everyone needs a break.
It’s 10:10 and we’re….7 shots out. What does that tell you?
Have a wonderful holiday filled with all the things you love best. Precious, right?
See you in March.



Kevin (I'm no Intern) Jakubowski, Production Assistant:

October 17

The first Tuesday night of the run here at South Park isn’t much different than that time you bummed Ritalin off the ADD kid down the hall and learned a whole semester’s worth of geology in eleven hours. It’s hard work, but if you’re lucky you’ll hallucinate your way through it. With only thirteen minutes of the show finished so far, I expect it to be a long night and even longer morning. Personally, I’m looking forward to a run in with the Del Taco manager Enrique, who will initially refuse my order of fifty tacos for the crew. I will beg (in Spanish) and if I’m lucky he’ll concede and I can keep my job and maybe even eat a taco. Well I’m off to buy late night sushi for Matt and Trey. I usually save their used napkins and sell them on ebay. Hundred bucks, straight cash.

- Kevin

November 29

Our season here at South Park has almost come to a close and it’s quiet nights like tonight in the studio that brings cause for reflection. As co-workers we’ve learned quite a lot about each other this run. For instance, Animation Director Eric Stough’s dogs are aggressive only to male PA’s and animator Junichi Nishimura’s confirmation name is actually Glenn. And who would have ever guessed John Smith would come through in the clutch like he did two weeks ago? That guy’s an animal, not to mention his sister…HOT.
While we’ve learned much from each other, we’ve also learned from our mistakes. Take the loveable R. Emmett Sibley whose accidental hang up on Isaac Hayes was only topped by getting stuck in the stair well of the Comedy Central corporate office building for forty five minutes. We’re told the last person to get stuck like that was fellow three-namer Jennifer Love Hewitt. You’re in good company Rob.
So with five great episodes behind us and Christmas right around the corner, we here at South Park have a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to. We’re in the midst of our Secret Santa name drawing right now. One can only imagine the crazy gifts to be given with this crew. Maybe Trey will have my name and we’ll get to have a conversation. Oh! Here’s to Christmas wishing!

- Kevin

R Emmett Sibley, Production Assistant:

November 1

Here is what the PA's have been up to this week. The Higher ups here at South Park love Jamba Juice. It gives them the energy and insight to think above the common masses. So we get them Jamba Juice. What's the secret... everybody boosts. We spent 2 full days putting up Halloween decorations for the 31st only to take them down on the 1st in less than an hour. Kevin had to put them in Storage. KEVIN HATES OUR STORAGE SPACE. We think it has to do with the lack of lighting and the old man with the beard who walks up and down the street. Then we had to get magazines for our editing bays. It took me about 10 minutes to get the official South Park definition of what is and is not “real” pornography.
Matt and Trey don't have the time to do a lot of normal things like laundry. We bring their clothes to the cleaners. The lady there hates her job and can hardly speak English, I love my job but mumble horribly. Even though the deck is stacked against us, Matt and Trey now have clean clothes. That's what it's like to be a PA. NOT AN INTERN! What's the difference between a PA and an Intern you might ask, PA's get paid. Handsomely......I might even buy a new shirt.... a new shirt with buttons!
South Park came out the Year I started college. Villanova University was too poor and Augustinian for Comedy Central, so we used to have to download each episode from the Internet. Now as a big time South Park PA, I can see every edit of the show as soon as they are done. This weeks episode is awesome. Mrs Garrison has one line that is sure to be an instant classic. I would tell you the line in this blog, but I don't want to get fired. I have got to make payments on my new car. Ladies it's a Nissan Sentra, BLACK with 4 throbbing cylinders of power and tinted windows. I call it “New Jersey High School.” What happens in “New Jersey High School”, stays in “New Jersey High School”. Us PA'z gots the sweet ass whips, yo.
On Halloween the employees friends and family came in to trick or treat. I usually hate Halloween but I have to say it was fun having the kids around. They were really cute. That is until a twelve year old told me with a college education I should be able to get a better job than putting up decorations and getting coffee. I jumped over the desk and screamed “Listen here you little freak, I have a Masters degree and I can teach college if I wanted to.” Then out loud I said, “you're funny.” I ran into the back and started to cry. Nate, Kevin, and Erin(my fellow PA's) circled around me, gave me a hug and said “it's all going to be ok Robby...it's going to be ok....now go get payroll or you WILL be fired!”
Honestly working here in any capacity is awesome. Free food, great people, free food. The show is great this week. Have fun watching it.

December 6

This is the last night of production for South Park. I could tell you about the wacky antics of the week or reminisce about the run but honestly who cares. I sure as hell don't. The only thing I do care about is:
THE MCRIBB CHALLENGE
PA “The Notorious Nasty” Nate has been offered $1000 to eat 6 McRibbs, drink 1 Venti Egg Nog Latte and 1 Venti Peppermint Latte. He has to do this in 30 minutes and must keep it down for 1 hour.
Factors to consider:
  1. This is a lot of food. I don't have the stats in front of me but it's somewhere in the ball park of 3000 calories and 300 grams of fat.
  2. This is going to be done at a fancy Hollywood restaurant (so fancy Ashton Kutcher owns it, you know what that means, trucker hats and 43 year old women with 3 kids, you're a lucky man Ashton....instant family)
  3. Nate will be dressed up in a suit and tie. Not the usual Jack Boots and nipple shirt that reads “A Man's Man”.
  4. PAs are desperate for money. Desperation and eating contest don't mix well. Now with gluttony and self loathing... you are in business.
  5. Medical bills must be payed if Nate has a heart attack or medical problems. It would be nice if Matt and Trey would accompany Nate to the hospital, hold his hand and get him ice chips. “You are going to be ok sweetheart....you are going to be ok.”
I've been training Nate for a week now, because I hold several minor eating records myself (20 waffles in Pennsylvania; 22&1/2 Krispy Cream Donuts in California). It's not going to be easy but we have a secret strategy come Thursday. What we want now is for Mr. Parker, Mr. Trey Parker, Trey to up the bet to a cool $1500. If Trey does so, then he can have the option of punching Nate in the stomach to make him puke. If you ask me, that's money well spent. I mean come on, Trey is rich and Nate is......well he's the kind of guy who will try to eat six McRibbs for 1500 dollars then let you punch him in the stomach. A match made in heaven, results tallied in hell.
These Blogs have been fun. Keep watching the show and reading website. R. Emmett Sibley

Nate (I'm a PA Dammit) Pellettieri, Production Assistant:

October 24

I’d like to start by saying that I’m really proud of my counter PA Kevin for his performance last Tuesday night. I know from experience that convincing Enrique to make 60 tacos is quite a daunting task. But, he came through in the clutch and got everyone those delicious treats. Which is important, cause the PA’s job tonight is basically to keep everyone happy. You see we’re here for over 24 hours straight from Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning. No one sleeps and everyone works till we get the show locked. Which is why it’s a good thing that the human body does not need much sleep. Don’t believe me? Check out this web site.
I think about this sometimes at 4:30 in the morning when I’m slapping my face and screaming at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. (Just keep everyone happy so they can do their work!!!). Well I only know one way to do that…
Wendy’s, Dell Taco, ice cream, Twizzlers, cheese, pepperoni, crackers, cookies, Fruit Roll-ups, candy bars, fruit, yogurt, chips, salsa, Cracker Jacks, Whoppers, Runts, Nerds, Pringles, Lays, raisins, coconut macaroons, Oreos, Slim Jims, beef jerky, Jell-O pudding packs, Circus Peanuts, candy corn, mixed nuts, popcorn, M &M’s, dried apricots, Dove chocolates, Nutri-Grain Bars, Goldfish, Jaw breakers, fireballs, black liquorice, and a whole boat load of caffeine!
This seems to do the trick, but if you have any ideas as to what else I can add, please let me know. Because, “A happy animator is a productive animator.” Plus, if I can keep our longhaired script supervisor, Mark happy… then my life is just that much better.
To answer your questions from last week, Matt and Trey were playing Far Cry on Xbox, Quake 4, and Fear. I tried to plead with the socially challenged store manager at EB to let me have two copies of Civilizations 4 a day early so they could play something new tonight, but he told me he’d get fired and then his mom would kick him out of the basement.
I’m off to make another pot of coffee.

Erin Kurtz, Production Assistant:

November 8

So far this Tuesday it has been quiet in the production office - just the ordinary late-night runs for sushi and trips to Mad City to pick up the drives from our composer, Jamie. Sometimes I feel like we, the PA's, who are removed from the “real” (a.k.a. creative) work on the episode may not have the true picture of what is actually happening with the show, so I asked around. Keef, our editor, agreed that this week has been quieter than usual and this show has been “pretty chill”. When I asked Bruce, our supervising audio editor, about how things were going, he replied “what? tonight? the past ten years? what'd you want from me?” - But what do you expect from a guy who knows at 10 PM that he has at least 14 hours of work ahead of him? The days/years just blend in together.
I am often asked, “What's it like being the lone female PA among a group of guys in their 20's who went to college together?”. It's something similar to being the little sister in the frat house - but I have made it clear that I am not dating any of them (until they become rich and famous). In all honesty, apart from the occasional inappropriate comment (read: hourly), it's not bad being the only girl; I don't have to drive to the “scary” parts of town, I am always given at least two different sets of directions for every errand, and any time I answer a sports related question I am regarded as a genius. There was that one time I had to help carry a couch – but that was weeks ago and since then I haven't had to lift anything heavy.....