As a diehard fan of "The Simpsons,"
I'm always on the lookout for hard-to-find collectibles
and interesting articles. Around Christmas a few years
ago, I was standing in line at the grocery store when
the latest Canadian TV Guide featuring Homer and Marge
on the cover caught my eye. I grabbed a few copies of
the magazine and perused to the feature entitled "The
Art of Making Bart" - an in-depth look into the creation
of the series. And let me to tell you, that, after reading
the article, did I have a better appreciation for the
creators, writers and actors on the show.
you know that it takes up to nine months to complete
just one episode of the Simpsons? Throughout this lengthy
process over 300 people consisting of writers, producers,
directors, animators, actors, technicians and scores
of other talent add their expertise to the making of
The creation of a single script takes on average three
months to complete by a 15-member writing crew, who
often work 52 weeks a year to hammer out 24 new episodes
of the show.
Throughout the months of July to November, the
voice cast of the Simpsons gathers for a script 'read-through'
each week around a long table in a recording studio
at Twentieth Century Fox. On Mondays, the actors assemble
for the recording session where they are seated on swivel
seats or they are standing at microphones with their
scripts on music stands. Quite often, scenes from each
episode are recorded more than once to ensure continuity
in line readings. Much of the show is also ad-libbed
as the actors are given the freedom to add their own
humor and witticisms.
an episode's script and audiotape are complete, they
are sent to Film Roman, an animation house in North
Hollywood. At Film Roman, several storyboard artists
create rough sketches of the entire episode and then
return them to the writers and producers at FOX for
approval. The process can take up to four weeks but
once approvals and revisions are completed, the storyboards
are returned to Film Roman where a Design Department
incorporate the characters, props and backgrounds onto
Over eleven weeks, the Camera Department takes
all of the storyboards and photographs each drawing
on animation stands. The drawings are then assembled
into a rough copy of computerized video and mixed with
the voice-over recordings. Once this step has been completed,
the rough copy is sent to a Color Design Department
that performs a color mark-up.
According to the article, the show uses a limited
palette of only 200 colors to achieve that 'original' look
and feel of the Simpsons. After the color mark-up is completed,
the layout is shipped to Korea for animation. Two months
later, the inking and painting of a single episode are completed
in Korea and returned to Los Angeles where the finishing
touches are made.
Each episode of the Simpsons has an original score composed
by Emmy award winning composer, Alf Clausen. An orchestra,
consisting of 35 musicians, performs at Twentieth Century
FOX studios under the direction of Clausen. Once an episode's
score is completed, the sound effects are added and the
episode is edited and mixed at Sony Studios.
The process of creating one single episode of the
Simpsons is quite remarkable. After reading the article,
I must admit I was completely oblivious to how much time
and effort so many people brought to the show. Knowing all
of that now, this is one fan who will certainly appreciate
Sunday nights at 8 o'clock a lot more.
** Facts and photographs for this article were obtained
from Canadian TV Guide.