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The Show
Behind the Scenes

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Here you will see interviews from people inside the South Park Studios.

Click on the names below to go directly to that persons interview and keep checking back for more to come!

  • Michael O'Connor
  • Assistant to Anne Garefino
  • Greg Postma
  • Storyboard and Production Artist
  • Kurt Nickels
  • Assistant to Trey Parker
  • Lydia Quidilla
  • Audio Editor
  • John Hansen
  • Post Production Supervisor
  • Junichi Nishimura
  • Animator
  • Daryl Sancton
  • Line Producer
  • JJ Franzen & Sean Laverty
  • Systems Admin & EIEIO
  • Tom Vogt
  • Editor
  • Karin Perrotta
  • Post Production Supervisor
  • Adrien Beard
  • Storyboard and Production Artist Supervisor

    Michael O'Connor
    Assistant to Anne Garefino

    1) What is your favorite episode of South Park and why?

    Probably the "Bloody Mary" episode - coming from Ireland, alcoholism is both a pre-requisite for citizenship as well as another term for a bloody good time, so to conceptualize it as a disease is side splitting. Also my catholic school upbringing leads me to titter at the image of the Virgin Mary doing anything other than stare at me disapprovingly as I guzzled as much holy wine as possible before each mass. Why else would I become an alter boy? It certainly wasn't for the inter-Parish Priests vs. Altar Boys wrestling tournaments. (And why was it always robes vs. skins?) Although my expert grasp of the Half Nelson, Full Nelson and Father Nelson techniques have proved valuable in later life.

    2) What were you doing before South Park and how did you come to work on the show?

    After graduating university in 2000, I moved to NY and worked as a PA for a few years on a bunch of TV shows and movies. Then one day I annoyed a producer just enough to shut me up by making me her assistant. I've been a producers' and actors' assistant for about 4 years now. A friend of mine, Amanda, who I worked with on "Miami Vice", was at dinner with her brother and his friends a few months back. One of his friends, Anne, said that she needed a new assistant on South Park - Amanda suggested me, I interviewed, and now I work as the assistant to Executive Producer, Anne Garefino. One of those lucky situations that make Hollywood go round I guess. That and the fact that I ambushed every other candidate before their interviews and told them that Anne responds really well to farting the South Park theme tune - well she might have!!

    3) Describe your typical workday at South Park?

    I get in around 9:15 am, catch up on the latest news in Hollywood (the business stuff, not who Linsdey Lohan was spotted with the night before - it was PA Rob by the way. OMG!!), then reply to e-mails and take phone calls for Anne while she's in the daily writer's meetings. The rest of the day consists of more phones, e-mailing, scheduling meetings and conference calls for Anne, and taking care of any other tasks that she needs done like facilitating press, booking travel and dealing with outside requests. I also handle a lot of things to do with the SP website. Coordinating staff blogs and interviews, selecting stills and video clips for fans to download, (so, yes - blame me if you wanted more Cartman, but can you ever really get enough!?), and generally coordinating with our webmasters to provide them with anything they may need. Oh yes - I'm also the gate keeper to the shwag room where we keep all the SP merchandise and DVD's. Sometimes I lock myself in there and pretend its Christmas morning, I sing carols and drink eggnog - it's quite pathetic. Then I clock out around 7pm and sheepishly, yet assertively tip toe out of the office past the labyrinth of cubicles consisting of hard working animators, technical directors, storyboard artists and editors who keep working long into the night and often past dawn to bring you guys another brilliant episode. I then stay awake at home, periodically checking in with the office, as a form of moral support but more often to cushion the guilt I feel for having a life outside of SP. Wash, rinse and repeat.

    Michael hard at working editing the website

    Me hard at work editing the South Park website.

    4) What is your favorite quote?

    It has to be a toss up between:
    "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars"
    - Oscar Wilde.
    "I told you I was ill".
    - Spike Milligan's Epitaph

    5) What do you want for Christmas?

    World Peace….oh hang on, I got that last year but I think I re-gifted it and sent it to the White House. It must still be sitting in their inbox. Just a pair of Street Hawk socks, a kick up the arse and a chase around the table this year then please?

    6) What do you do with your time off?

    Travel back home to Ireland and Belgium to visit my family if I have a long enough break, I ride my motorbike up to Malibu and Santa Barbara, spend a couple of hours thanking Jesus and St. Christopher for narrowly avoiding death on the way up to Malibu and Santa Barbara. I work on developing film/television scripts and concepts that will one day make me a kajillionair (the "kaji" is the official currency of Kajikistan - 100 kaji roughly equates to a grain of wheat. I will one day be literally rolling in bread!) Movies, bars, reading, long walks on the beach, blah, blah and all the other stuff that covers up what I really get up to with my time off.

    7) If you were a South Park character, who would you be and what would happen to you?

    I'd be PIP - he would return to SP after a long period of soul searching in Ireland. Following his unquenchable horniness for potatoes, sheleighlies and kissing anything made out of granite, he discovers his true past. He learns that as a child he was taken from his Irish carnie family by the Queen's royal henchman and brought to England to reveal the secret of making the perfect Irish stew. When the palace realized that Irish stew is simply put, stodgy crap, they exiled him to North America whereupon he was left on the doorstep of an unsuspecting South Park home. Stripped of his true identity but with green blood running through his veins, it is only upon his 8th Birthday that Pip follows his instincts and returns to Ireland where he re-immerses himself in his culture and the life he once knew. After realizing that his Garycolemanitis (a common disorder among many children of South Park), inhibits his development past 8 years old and, as everybody knows, you must be at least this tall to ride let alone operate a carnival attraction, Pip returns to South Park. Endowed with the gift of the gab, the ability to Riverdance and an indecipherable grasp of the English language the South park boys welcome him back by calling him "fartboy" and spitting in his eye. I'll drink a pint of the black stuff to that!

    8) What's you're zodiac sign and does it accurately represent you?

    Libra, and yes - balanced, easygoing, diplomatic, peaceable, charming, sociable, caring and romantic - or is it self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing and narcissistic? I always get confused, let me ask my mirror mirror on the wall.

    9) Who are your heroes?

    My Grandfather, Father and Street Hawk. (Yes, they are all the same person! It's legal in Ireland)

    10) Is there another word for synonym?

    Alternative, substitute, euphemism - should I go on?
    Hope not because that's all the Thesaurus had.

    Greg Postma
    Storyboard and Production Artist

    1) What is your favorite episode of South Park and why?

    My favorite episode would probably be Ep614, "Death Camp of Tolerance". I'm a big fan of racial Stereotypes, so Lemmiwinks makes me happy...

    2) What were you doing before South Park and how did you come to work on the show?

    After Film School at Cal State Long Beach, I worked many production jobs here and there. I worked in post production for Spelling television and the last job I had before South Park was at a PR agency. I was an office manager but, as my brother put it, I was a glorified toner and staple monkey. On one fateful afternoon, July 1997, I got a call from Adrien Beard. Adrien was a friend that my brother and I have known since High School and he had been working on South Park for months creating storyboards and designs single handedly. He called me because he needed a first mate. For about a month I worked the office manager gig in the day and at South Park at night. All I know now is South Park.

    3) Describe your typical workday at South Park?

    The only thing typical about working at South Park is that there is always work to do. Our week begins on Thursday. Usually in the morning we (Me, Tony Postma, Keo Thongkham, Valerie Fletcher, newbs Ed Gabriel, Charis Patton and Art Director/Lead Story Adrien Beard) start working on a new show. Trey will give us a story heads up, as well possible characters or backgrounds that need to be designed. As we start on the new designs pieces of script will trickle down. We'll divide the script up, some will storyboard the script and some will work on the corels (Corels are what we call our designs because we use coreldraw to build them.). The storyboards are then sent to the editor to be cut into an animatic. The corels either get approved by Trey or sent back for revisions. Everyone in our dept. for the most part is required to do everything. We all have to do designs as well as storyboards. Our designs range from character, background and props to special poses and effects.We all have different strengths, but everyone gets a chance to kick ass. This process continues all the way to the following Tuesday before our Wednesday airdate. It doesn't really slow down till 12:00 am Wednesday morning.

    4) What is your favorite quote?

    "To crush your enemies -- See them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women!"
    - Conan

    5) What do you want for Christmas?

    A new Presidential Administration...and a Playstation 3!

    6) What do you do with your time off?

    I spend a lot of time with my Wife and my two boys. I take art classes in hopes to be a better artist. The shows have become much more Design heavy, so I need to constantly be on top of my game. Travel.

    7) If you were a South Park character, who would you be and what would happen to you?

    Cartman is my favorite character. He represents all sides of human nature. As for what I would do... well with Cartman anything is possible.

    8) What's you're zodiac sign and does it accurately represent you?

    Libra and yes.

    9) Who are your heroes?

    Joe Strummer, Stanley Kubrick and Frank Frazetta.

    10) If you were to die, what/who would you come back as?

    Trey's Kid.

    Kurt Nickels
    Assistant to Trey Parker

    1) What is your favorite episode of South Park and why?

    Usually, my favorite episode is the one I'm watching. I love South Park and have horrible short term memory so I can only remember about three shows at any given time. Every episode is awesome in some way but if I were forced to pick a single episode as my favorite it would be "Scott Tenorman Must Die". That episode is the turning point for that episode we see the moment he becomes capable of anything. Also, Cartman with pubes on his face makes me laugh until I cry.

    2) What were you doing before South Park and how did you come to work on the show?

    Before I came to LA, I had been a teacher. I taught high school English in Colorado for six years and then taught in Japan for two years. Actually, in Japan I was more of the class pet but the pay was the same as a teacher. I liked being both a teacher and a class pet. When I came back from Japan I was taking a break and Trey hired me to work as his assistant on "Team America." After a while I started to work for Matt too. When the movie was done nobody told me to go away so I just kept showing up every day. Eventually, I was given my own office.

    3) Describe your typical workday at South Park?

    My official job description is "wait around for Matt and Trey to have a task for you and then do it as fast as possible without screwing it up." My day starts out with two very, very important tasks. One for Trey and one for Matt. For Trey I make coffee and for Matt I make sure he has hot water for tea. Then comes my favorite part of the day. Despite not being a writer, I sit in the corner of the writer's meetings and fight my urge to chime in about a point that was discussed ten minutes before. I usually fail horribly at this and the talented people just roll their eyes when I interject. Later, I clean the coffee maker and refill the hot water pot. The rest of the time I answer a lot of phone calls and use my various skills such as asking the PAs to get food for Matt and Trey, booking airline tickets, hotel rooms, cars, sorting through mountains of press requests, declining press requests due to the fact that making South Park is a 24 hour a day job, and making sure that Trey has enough Coke Zero in his mini refrigerator.

    4) What is your favorite quote?

    I've always liked the line from T.S. Eliot "I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled." It just seems to add literary weight to how cool I felt when I tight rolled my jeans in the 1980's.

    5) What do you want for Christmas?

    More than anything I want there to be a non-stop flight from Los Angeles to Fukuoka Japan so I don't have to change planes in Tokyo every time I go to visit my in-laws in Japan. If you have had to make a connecting flight at Narita airport you know that it is one of the gayest experiences ever.

    6) What do you do with your time off?

    Try to spend enough time with my wife that she deems our marriage a good thing.

    7) If you were a South Park character, who would you be and what would happen to you?

    I would probably be Pip. One day people would ask, "what happened to that guy?" and they would realize they can't even remember when I disappeared.

    8) What's you're zodiac sign and does it accurately represent you?

    I'm a Virgo. If you ignore my messy desk, yes, it fits me perfectly.

    9) Who are your heroes?

    I've always liked the distance runner Lasse Viren and all of The Ramones.

    10) Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

    Recently, I'm trying to use the word "perfect" until it looses all meaning.

    Lydia Quidilla
    Audio Editor

    1) What is your favorite episode of South Park and why?

    My favorite episode is "Cherokee Hair Tampons." Why, because I got my first piece of hate mail from this episode. That's when I knew I really made it!

    2) What were you doing before South Park and how did you come to work on the show?

    I was working as a sound editor at a little studio called Screenmusic. I had clients like Disney, Universal, and Film Roman to name a few. One day a former editor from Screenmusic called me and asked if I wanted to work on this new production called South Park. I said to him, "...and only work on one show, only have one client?"

    Well, I accepted and soon learned that one client is enough. There's a lot of work to be done when you're creating one episode in one week.

    3) Describe your typical workday at South Park?

    My typical day starts at 10am. I come in, make myself some tea, and I play the wait and hurry-up game. That's wait for script to come in, record Trey and Matt, and hurry up and edit the session so we can get it into production. Then I get a cut of the show and start putting the sound together. And then... blah blah blah... does anyone really give a shit? I'm starting to bore myself. However, I do admit that recording the boys is a blast. The scripts are always funny and their adlibs usually knock me off my seat from laughing so hard. Recording the guys is the highlight of my day.

    4) What is your favorite quote?

    "Who wants to pound my vag?"
      - Mr. Herbert Garrison

    5) What do you want for Christmas?

    This year I would like Santa to fly a missile up Osama's ass. I've been a very good girl, so I think Santa should grant me this Christmas wish.

    6) What do you do with your time off?

    I love to travel. Last year I skied the Matterhorn in Switzerland, visited the Pope's digs in Italy and dived Jamaica. This year diving the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and drinking Ouzo in Greece are on my list.

    7) If you were a South Park character, who would you be and what would happen to you?

    I would be Lemmiwinks, because I like to crawl up people's asses and give them a hard time. Plus, I'm on the quiet side like Lemmiwinks. As for what would happen to me, I would get shitfaced with the Frog Prince and the Sparrow King.

    8) What's you're zodiac sign and does it accurately represent you?

    Capricorn aka the Goat. Ambitious, determined, stubborn, and I can eat like a goat. Yeah, I suppose it's accurate, if you believe in that crap. There are other signs that could be more accurate like One Way, Slippery When Wet, and No Dumping!

    9) Who are your heroes?

    The men and women who protect our beautiful country are my heroes.

    10) On what occasions do you lie?

    Only on two occasions: Day and Night.

    John Hansen
    Post Production Supervisor

    1) What is your favorite episode of South Park and why?

    "Scott Tenorman must die". There's just something cool about making some asshole eat his parents.

    2) What were you doing before South Park and how did you come to work on the show?

    I was the bar manager at a honky tonk called "Country Star" located on the Universal City Walk. It is now the Saddle Back Ranch.
    I blew the right people.

    3) Describe your typical workday at South Park?

    Well, let's see, let's talk about Tuesdays since they are the hardest days. I get here at about 9:30am to see Ben's face (my production coordinator). First, we do a big retake session with Trey, Matt, Anne, Frank, Keef, Eric, Ryan, Jack and Jenny and address all of Trey's notes. Then I sit down with Eric and watch the show for any continuity problems and to make sure that every shot is accounted for. Then Trey will rewrite the show over and over and over and over to make sure the show is the best that it can be. I have to keep track of all the changes and make sure the show is correct by the time we have video lock. By the time we get final video lock it is about 8:30am Wednesday morning and we are all dead tired after working 100 hours in just one week. Then I go home, go to sleep and come back Thursday morning ready to do it all over again.

    4) What is your favorite quote?

    "I feel sorry for people who don't drink. Because when they wake up in the morning, that's the best they're going to feel all day"
    -- Frank Sinatra

    5) What do you want for Christmas?

    Lots of cash, baby!

    6) What do you do with your time off?

    Catch up on sleep, golf, play pool and drink. Then I will go visit my dysfunctional family. In that order.

    7) If you were a South Park character, who would you be and what would happen to you?

    I am a South Park character, you fuckin' fag (Mr. Slave). I would turn straight and become South Parks highest paid male gigolo.

    8) What's you're zodiac sign and does it accurately represent you?

    Sagittarius, and yes.

    9) Who are your heroes?

    Borat, Jagshemash! High Five!
    Bernie Mac, 'cuz he's fuckin' funny!
    Katt Williams, 'cuz he's fuckin' funny!
    Music, 'cuz I love it!

    10) If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest drown too?

    I hope so. I hate synchronized swimmers! They piss me off!

    Here is a photo of me riding my bike through the office, 'cuz I'm in such a hurry to get the show on the air.

    Here is a photo of me in Jacks cubicle. Why does Jack look so surprised?

    Junichi Nishimura

    1) What is your favorite episode of South Park and why?

    My favorite episode is #310 Chinpokomon. The reason why I picked this episode? Because I AM Japanese. (right?)

    2) What were you doing before South Park and how did you come to work on the show?

    I had a job at a company in Japan. I was an international cargo forwarder, did custom clearance and commercial cargo freight arrangement. I met Trey when we were in Boulder at the University of Colorado.... and now I'm here. Hmmm, I can't remember why I came here.

    3) Describe your typical workday at South Park?

    Sitting down at my desk, waiting for shots to come down and being scared of RETAKES.

    4) What is your favorite quote?

    "I broke the dam!"

    5) What do you want for Christmas?

    I want NEW nice LAPTOP!! I believe in you, Santa. So please get me one! Please!

    6) What do you do with your time off?

    I like cooking Japanese food, playing PC games, eating Japanese food and more games.

    7) If you were a South Park character, who would you be and what would happen to you?

    I'll be Kenny and try to survive future shows.

    8) What's you're zodiac sign and does it accurately represent you?

    Cancer. And Monkey is my chinese one. Funny huh.

    9) Who are your heroes?

    My hero is Santa! Yay!

    10) Why is there an expiration date on sour cream?

    Since I don eat sour cream I don't know why. My guess is that there is some mysterious ingredient from southern Mexico.

    Daryl Sancton
    Line Producer

    1) What is your favorite episode of South Park and why?

    “Fat Butt and Pancake Head” for sure! “Taco Flavored Kisses for my Ben!”... sooo funny!

    2) What were you doing before South Park and how did you come to work on the show?

    Before starting at SP, I worked on all sorts of movies and television shows. “Necessary Roughness” starring Sinbad was my first feature film. I worked as an Extras Casting Assistant. One day during production, Sinbad said he wanted to send his limo for me that night.I got cold feet. Not a single day goes by where I don't regret that decision. “A Different World,” “The Sinbad Show,” “First Kid.” Wow!

    Other leading men I've worked with have never come close to Sinbad. Not Ed Harris, Willam H. Macy, Willem Dafoe, or Kelsey Grammer. No one.

    How did I come to work at SP? During Season 3, I filled in for the Production Manager while she was out on maternity leave. When she left in 2001, I permanently replaced her.

    3) Describe your typical workday at South Park?

    I get in between 9:30 and 10 am. I have about 6 cups of coffee while thinking about this week's episode. I stare into my soul and embrace my inner light. I make about 100 phone calls securing rights to music, researching stock photos and to Sinbad. I hang up when he says hello. I just want to hear his voice.

    With new energy, I continue my day approving timecards and invoices, signing company checks, renting and purchasing equipment, hiring staff and preparing voice releases. Stuff like that.

    4) What is your favorite quote?

    “Man! It's been a long time since I been able to kick some butt. See ya in class.” Sinbad ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚ÂÂÂÂ� “Necessary Roughness”

    5) What do you want for Christmas?

    It's not what I want for Christmas, it's what my kids want. The latest video games, toys, the same old song and dance year after year after year. I just love the moment on the 24th when the presents are under the tree and my kids and husband are asleep. I sneak downstairs, pour as much vodka and eggnog as I can into a mason jar and watch “Jingle All the Way.” Sinbad is the best part of that film for sure. I laugh until I cry.

    6) What do you do with your time off?


    7) If you were a South Park character, who would you be and what would happen to you?

    If I were a SP character, I think I would be Sinbad's sexy love interest. He would be the new Chef-type character and I would work with him. We would have a “Cheers”-style Sam and Diane relationship. The boys could talk about our obvious sexual chemistry. The whole world would want us to get together. The night it finally happens would be magical and Comedy Central would see its highest ratings. We would definitely get our own spin off...

    8) What's your zodiac sign and does it accurately represent you?

    • Friendly and humanitarian
    • Honest and loyal
    • Original and inventive
    • Independent and intellectual
    On the dark side....
    • Intractable and contrary
    • Perverse and unpredictable
    • Unemotional and detached
    Sinbad is a Scorpio. They say our signs are incompatible. I won't believe them.

    9) Who are your heroes?

    Coach Walter Oakes

    A football coach and a Resident Assistant at Hillman College, Walter Oakes gave hope to those around him. His endearing smile and quick wit put the students at ease. Walter made learning become fun again. Sadly, Walter left Hillman for Texas State University so he could be with his sick mother. It truly was a different world, but a necessary roughness for Walter and us all.

    10) What are people thinking?

    Well, if they are thinking about Sinbad, then stop! He's mine. I will find you and make you stop.

    JJ Franzen and Sean Laverty
    Systems Admin and EIEIO

    1) So when does your work on a particular episode begin?

    S: Well, we need to get all of the file systems and necessary components into place before the animators and technical directors can begin working on (an episode).

    JJ: It's an entire directory structure we created, but it was initially based off of an Alias' directory from which we expanded upon, converging the Maya (our animation software program) functionality and merging all the different directories we created to manage our custom rendering queue. The code (for the custom render queue) itself was written by Sean.

    S: I decided that I really liked some of the features of the other major rendering software programs out there, but I hated buying someone else's package and having to deal with a black box solution that I couldn't change, so I programmed it from scratch. It took me a day or two to lay down the basic architecture, the design of it, and then it was a few weeks of hacking. It's about 10 to 15 thousand lines of code.

    JJ: It's all in PERL script, so it's pretty straightforward.

    2) Can you get into the ritual during the last few days before an episode is due. For example, with the Sh*t episode (#502 - “It Hits the Fan”), there was quite a bit of chaos.

    JJ: Yeah, that was mainly because it was the first time we were using Maya in production. There's not a heck of a lot of difference between Maya and Power Animator (our previous animation software) technically, but we were supporting a whole bunch of new wowork stations We were also supporting Windows (NT) for the first time. The real joy was in the performance differences of Maya over PA, and the fact that we have real high-powered wowork stationsow. So the TDs and animators realized that they didn't have to be as optimized, or as careful, with their modeling and setups as they once were. They basically went balls out and created these insanely complicated shots then sent them to our queue. Of course our queue wasn't upgraded like their workstations were, so the queue choked. That was a learning experience.

    S: The problem with the queue wasn't the queue software itself, but rather the power of the render farm machines (there's a highly air-conditioned “machine room” with racks of computers near JJ and Sean's workstations). We use 16 SGI 200's and about 25 other CPU's at the workstations for rendering.

    JJ: We realized that we had to break up the shots into chunks (from 12 to 30 MBs). The size of the shots determined which CPU they were going to. The program divides the shots and brings them back together when they've finished rendering. The process is automatic in theory, but there are always a few hiccups.

    3) So how do the editors pull those completed shots from the render farm?

    JJ: We have another SGI Origin 200 sitting back in the post area that has a 150 gig RAID (hard disk). Basically all the frames get sent there once they're rendered. From there we copy the files via SCSI (cable) onto a Sierra Design Lab digital disk recorder. Then the Avid (Editing System) will digitize off the video signal. We actually tried to translate the files directly onto the Avids, but found it to be hideously slow. One shot took 20 minutes, whereas with video it was in real time.

    4) Do you lose some quality there?

    S: Yeah, there's a digital download to digital conversion rate. But we looked at it, and if there was any visible loss of quality it was something we could deal with.

    5) How was working on the movie different from the show? Were you able to bring things back that you've learned from working on the film?

    JJ: Actually, yeah. The queue system as it is, in its current state, was changed because of the movie. When we started rendering frames over at the movie, we realized that with the implementation (at that time), we were never going to finish the movie. It would take months to render. So Sean came back, put his headphones on, and sat at the computer for two and half weeks and basically rewrote the rendering queue system. He designed a whole new interface with a whole new philosophy behind it that increased performance by 40 or 50 percent. And that's how the movie got done in time.

    6) We actually had to do some of the rendering here at the show, right?

    S: We went to Pac Bell and had them put in a dedicated link between the two buildings. It was one big happy network. And there were a number of times when the TV show needed to use the film's assets in order to get the shows out in time.

    JJ: We have a considerable amount of hardware in this building. And all of it exists because we have to get shots through with a half hour turn around, which is unheard of for any other animated show that I know of.

    Personal Questions:

    So what were your start dates at South Park?

    JJ: January 7, 1998.

    S: April or May of '97. I was here before the first episodes aired. And were we surprised when we learned how many people liked this thing.

    And how did you get involved with Matt and Trey?

    S: Many, many years ago I was actually systems administrator back at USC's School of Film and Television's computer animation department. While I was working there, I got to know a bunch of the students. And it turned out that since then, I've gotten a number of jobs because students from the program have come back and needed people to do the tech stuff for different productions. Eventually Toni Nugnes (Animation and Technical Supervisor) gave me a call saying that they needed some help on a small animation project. I was working on the “Prince of Egypt” at the time. I had heard of South Park, so I came over, watched the Pilot, and effectively quit Dreamworks within the next few days. The Pilot was funny, and it was irreverent, and it was a little bit mean, so I was like: “Hey, cool. I'm there.”

    JJ: I got involved because I also worked at the computer animation lab over at USC, and that's where I met Sean. In between, I was working at Activision doing 3-D models and animation for computer games. Then one day Sean said, “Well you know, we're increasing our staff size and I'm going to need an assistant.” I was like, “Please, give me a job!” So I'm basically riding Sean's coattails.

    S: So please note: even in techie nerd Hollywood, it's who you know, not what you know. Well, knowing something does help.

    Tell us about Episode #412 “4th Grade” when you guys were animated (as the two geeks). How did that come about?

    JJ: The script essentially called for two geeks. Adrien, our lead story boarder, decided it would be pretty cool to have the two geeks on staff, Sean and me, be the two geeks. So they based their character designs on the way Sean and me look. I'm Geek #2, the rounded one, and Sean is the blonde one wearing sandals and shorts. I really wanted to do the voices, but apparently, that wasn't in the cards.

    S: And it wasn't an exact portrayal of us in any way. They were written as different people. For example, JJ couldn't care less about old Trek; he's a new Trek person.

    JJ: Yeah, I don't care about that old school stuff.

    On to the boiler plate questions. Do you guys have a favorite episode, and why?

    JJ: “Mecha-Streisand” (#112) because that's the first episode with my name on it. And it's got Robert Smith. How cool is that?

    S: I like “Anal Probe” (#101) because that's where it all started.

    Even though it's not computer animated?

    S: Pffff. Computer animation, it's not what it's all cracked up to be. Really! It pays well but, eh.

    Favorite crayon color?

    JJ: It's been so long since I've held a coloring device that wasn't digital.

    What about digital color?

    JJ: R: 238, G: 118, B: 246

    S: Burnt Umber. Because who the hell thought of naming that burnt umber? Really!

    Any final messages to the kids out there. Actually, someone was asking about becoming a system administrator. He wanted to know what the “EIEIO” stood for in the credits.

    JJ: Actually my brother originally came up with the idea. He was working as a tech guy at some startup company, and they asked him what he wanted his title to be. So he basically said he wanted to be the “Email, Internet, Electronic Information Officer.” That way he could have “EIEIO” on his business card. I thought that was pretty cool, so it's my little homage to him.

    Tom Vogt

    1) Let's start with the standard questions. When does your work on a particular show begin? (Our two editors, Tom and Keef Bartkus, alternate episodes. David List, our assistant editor, edited #506 “Cartmanland.”)

    When Trey writes the first draft of the script, I get a copy and read it. Then I go to the recording session and see if there are any notes that are made to the script while they're recording the voices. That also gives me a feel for what Trey's intention for the show is going to be, which is kind of my job. I'm supposed to interpret that and get as close to his idea for the show at the beginning. So as the whole process evolves, Trey will have enough to work with in the end. After that, I get the audio that was recorded from their session, as well as the storyboards, and then I build a skeleton of the show up to that point (called an “animatic”).

    2) Which program do you use to edit the show?

    We use Avid Media Composer. It allows for a lot of flexibility in editing. I can change timing quickly, for example. The purpose of an animatic (audio edited with scanned storyboards) is to develop the timing for each shot, and to determine scene lengths and certain nuances in animation for the animators and technical directors. Once I build an animatic, Eric (Stough, Director of Animation) makes notes according to difficulties in staging, or continuity. He kind of finesses what I do and (the animatic) gets rolled off to tape. Then Karin (Perrotta, Post Production Supervisor) will mark the scenes. At the same time the animators and technical directors will view the tape so they can see the state of the show at that moment. During the course of the show, I'll update that animatic with (completed) animation so that everyone can see how the whole thing develops. After Karin is done with the storyboards I take them back, and according to how she breaks down the scenes, and per Eric's notes, the staging that I developed could change. I think I'm getting better at approximating what Trey's wants.

    3) Can you give us any examples of episodes that were particularly challenging?

    “Spooky Fish” (#215) was one, “Chef Aid” (#214) was another. “Spooky Fish,” because we weren't sure if the story should be told all at once because there was an A, B, and C story. First, there was the story establishing the fish as being evil, and then you're crossing over to the parallel universe. To me it was one of the more complicated stories because of the way the act links broke, and the way that certain parts of the stories were revealed, and how those parts were resolved. I think they all came together quite nicely in the end. “Chef Aid” was difficult because you were dealing with a lot of new characters, namely musical artists who did the voices. We had a pretty big pre-production period as far as new setups and character designs were concerned, and then we had to wait on the audio for the songs. I feel like I always get the trickier shows (oh, wah!), but I like that challenge.

    4) Our shows here at South Park generally run long. Can you tell us which episode ran the longest?

    The longest I've ever seen a show run was “Rainforest” (#301). I think we animated enough for two full shows. In the end we had 900 storyboards. I think a typical show generally falls between 3 or 4 hundred shots. During the course of the show we had the most audio sends ever. First we did temp audio with Matt or Trey doing the voice of the Choir teacher, and then Jennifer Aniston came in, and then had to come in again to redo her lines for one reason or another. That was a complicated show because it was a completely new environment for the kids to be in.

    5) Do the act breaks vary in terms of length?

    We try to keep (each of the acts) about the same. But usually the act breaks don't come in until the last couple of days before we air. Unless it's written into the script, I don't make them. As Trey sees an idea finish, or if he sees an appropriate place for a break, he'll throw it in if he notices it.

    6) “Cripple Fight” (#503) was really juggled around.

    That's another good thing about the Avid. Like on “Spooky Fish” we were able to rearrange chunks of events to tell the story better, or get a certain pace to each scene. That's the biggest thing I've learned on the show. My background is in suspense and drama editing. I worked on “Spawn” and “Natural Born Killers.” The timing for drama and suspense is real predictable, you know when there's supposed to be a pause to build tension, and there's a lot of quick cutting during action. But in comedy, which I mainly learned through Trey, you can make something funny by cutting it tightly, or you could have a really long pause.then a fart. Those little nuances are the things I'm learning how to capture better.

    Personal Questions:

    What was your start date at South Park?

    May, 1998. I think it was around Cinco De Mayo. On my first day at work, they had a hut building contest in the warehouse. All of the animators and technical directors put roofs on their cubicles, from thatched roofs to cloth tents for an Arabian Nights kind of theme, and Jenny McCarthy (Playboy Playmate of the Year and co-star of “Baseketball” with Matt and Trey) was the guest judge. So having her do that, and having pizza and beer afterwards, well that was my first day at work, and it's been all downhill ever since.

    So how did you get hooked up with South Park?

    It's kind of a funny story. I was working in Denver at another production company on the night shift, from like 5 in the evening to 3 in the morning. I was kind of miserable. We didn't have Comedy Central in Colorado at the time, so this one guy at work brought in a bootleg copy of South Park. I think it was the Thanksgiving episode (#109 “Starvin' Marvin”) with the turkeys and other eps, so I ended up watching South Park all night. Since I had a background in animation and liked the show, this other guy I was working with on the night shift said, “Why not drive out and just show up and see what happens.” I was like, “Okay.” I didn't make much money, so I had to save for a couple weeks for this journey I was about to embark on. I got a name of one of the animators who used to work at the same production company I did in Denver. I called him and said, “Hey, if I bring out my reel, do you think you could get someone to look at it.” And he said, “Who are you? What? What?” That was my in, so I drove out. He had only been at South Park for a week, so he didn't really have any pull or leverage. He didn't know who to show the tape to or anything. So I just showed up. It was the first week that they moved to this new building. I was sitting in his cubicle going, “Here's my reel. Here's what I can do. Do you guys need an editor.” And he was like, “I don't know.” Then Eric Stough just happened to be walking by, so he asked Eric if he knew whether they needed an editor. And Eric goes, "Yeah, I think so.” So I gave him my reel, then went back to Colorado because Frank (Agnone, Supervising Producer), Matt and Trey weren't there at the time. So to make a long story short, I ended up driving over 7000 miles between L.A. and Colorado in the span of 3 weeks. On the last night before my interview with Matt and Trey, I ended up sleeping in my car in Malibu and showed up a bit disheveled, again, having to save a bunch of money just for the drive alone. I guess I hit it off with Matt. The interview probably lasted ten minutes, and we started talking about what we thought was funny. Then I think I may have had to tell a joke or something - and I can't really remember jokes. I think I told the “How do you get a nun pregnant?” joke. Then I went back home to Colorado and I got a call that said, “Can you start in three days.” So here I am.

    What do enjoy most about your job?

    I have a degree in mechanical engineering, and I also like to paint and draw. This job is like the perfect combination. I love to see the evolution of an idea from when only a handful of people get to see and work on it, to where it's consumed by millions of people a week. It's nice to think that what you think is funny is appreciated by others. If you can get a job like this, get it. I like the pressure, the hours, having to do what would normally take a few months to produce, in a really short period of time.

    It's instant gratification

    Yeah, there's nothing like seeing what you sweat over, like the South Park movie. That was one of the coolest experiences ever. Finishing that in a room with four or five people, watching dailies with about ten others, then literally a day later, being with 1500 people watching it in Mann's Chinese Theater. That was probably one of things I'm most proud of, finishing that film. I really enjoy my relationship with Matt and Trey cause I get a chance to work on their baby. It's a really great creative feeling.

    So what's your all-time favorite episode of South Park?

    It's always the last one that I do. I liked the Terrance and Phillip episode (#505), I liked the “Sh*t” show (#502). Anything that Timmy is in, I generally like. And I like Tweek. My favorite, favorite is “Anal Probe” (#101) because I thought it was genius how they broke a lot of rules, yet they still told an interesting story. The thing that keeps popping into my head is when Cartman turns into that Betty Boopish character singing,


    Yeah, I loved that.

    Any advice for the kids out there who want to grow up to be editors at South Park?

    I was just speaking to someone about this a few weeks ago. I didn't know what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a photographer. I wanted to be a cinematographer. My degree is in engineering, but I've been drawing since I was five years old. My advice is: Just the act of pursuing something that you're really interested in, and have a heart-felt desire to do - well, you may not end of doing that, but something along the way may show up that will be a better option. What's the old saying: “It's not necessarily the destination, but the journey.” I think that's true for anything you do. If you feel a resonance with something, follow it, and that's when good luck will come.

    And you said that to the half-naked woman at the “Man Show” wrap party?

    I did actually. The one that jumped into the pool.

    Okay, and now for Karin's question. What's your favorite crayon color?

    Well, in the Employee of the Month profile I said raw umber, but that's more of an oil color. There's burnt umber. I don't know, burnt sienna? Is cobalt blue a color? I just have too many. Let's say burnt sienna.

    Karin Perrotta
    Post Production Supervisor

    1) Take us through the process. What happens when you first get a script?

    I go through the script, making note of any new characters, props, or backgrounds and put them on a temp lead sheet. I then go through (the temp lead sheet) with Eric (Stough, Director of Animation) first to find out if he's making any changes, or if there's anything that the Technical Directors can modify on their own (from their library of images) or which ones needs coreling (by Storyboard). I then give two copies of the temp lead sheet to Storyboard.

    2) When you get a script, are there times when you'll know this will be a tough episode or an easy one?

    Well, it depends on if there are any locations that are big, or if there's going to be a concert (Episode #214 - "Chef-Aid") or if we're going to another country (Episode #301 - "Rainforest Schmainforest"). Like "Are You There God, It's Me Jesus" (Episode #316) when they decided to have it end in Las Vegas. We were building up to it and I'm like, "Las Vegas?! How are we going to get there?" But that was happening on Monday night and we pretty much had that script down. It ended up being some pretty big shots. It gets scary because when they start adding crowds and complicated shots on the last day, there's no margin for error, so you have to be very, very careful when you go over things.

    3) What is a temp lead sheet?

    It's just a list of new characters, backgrounds, and props. And that will obviously change as storyboard draws it. They can draw it so we need more things or less things. It's an ever-evolving piece of paper.

    4) You claim to like cutting and pasting. It looks pretty tedious.

    I'm obsessive compulsive so I like putting things in order. For some reason I'm really fast at it and it doesn't bother me. It's a craft!

    5) Give us an example of what you do when we get to the retake portion of an episode?

    When we're kind of getting later on in the show, Eric (Stough, Director of Animation) and I do walk-throughs and I can pick up continuity errors. In the last episode (Episode #417 - "A Very Crappy Christmas") it got written into the story halfway through that Autumn (Mr. Hankey's wife) was drunk all the time (inspired by the behavior of a staff member during our Christmas party) so she needed to have half eyes. So you had to make sure that in every shot she had half eyes. It's the little things, like when you're watching a (rough cut) you can see that maybe two shots need to be merged together. Or when Trey keeps cutting more and more lines out, the two shots may seem too similar, so you might combine them. Usually we don't have that much time to do it on Avid, so I'd just get a roll-off on Monday or Tuesday morning and I'll just sit and go through it with my binder of storyboards. I'd just figure out what shot number it is and ask Eric if he wants to send it back or not.

    Personal Questions:

    What was your start date?

    January 12, 1998. I remember this because I was so broke. Rent was due and I barely made it. I guess I could have asked my parents for help, but that's kind of lame.

    How did you get the job?

    I was recommended for a day job as P.A. by a friend who worked there a couple days. Phil Stark (a P.A. at the time) quit (to eventually become a staff writer on "That 70's Show," he also wrote "Dude, Where's My Car") so they asked me if I wanted to work full time, and I said yes.

    Talk about your experiences as a P.A. and your subsequent meteoric rise.

    Being a P.A. was fun here. I used to just hang around and sit at Jennifer's (Howell, Associate Producer) desk while we would do fan mail together. You know, she'd have to clean her desk off, so if I'd sit there I could help her. (interviewer's note: to understand this situation, you would have to know that Jennifer's desk is a madhouse of papers and Karin is almost obsessive about organization)

    How long were you a P.A.?

    Oh, I'd say about five or six months.

    And how long were you a Production Coordinator?

    For about a year and a half, starting when David (Yanover, Post Production Supervisor) went on to the (South Park) movie. (interviewer's note: Karin goes on for about five minutes plotting out the changes in the Post Production department since she started). The department has changed so much.

    You've been learning a little animation during hiatus.

    Toni (Nugnes, Animation and Technical Supervisor) helps me out by answering questions and by going through the process of building things in Maya (South Park's new animation program), and transferring things from Power Animator (the previous animation program) to Maya. I think it will help later on because at least I'll know what (the Animators) are talking about.

    People always misspell your name. Does that bug?

    Nah. I'm just used to it by now.

    So what's your favorite episode of South Park?

    "Not Without My Anus" It's hard because a lot of the new episodes are good, but I want to stay true to that one. Also, everyone dogs on that episode, so I feel like I should be supportin'.

    Yep, gotta represent Terrance and Phillip. Any personal goals after South Park?

    Working with someone to make a project happen. I don't have my own ideas. I find I'm good at collaborating. I like driving people to complete their own projects.

    Favorite Crayon Color?

    Brick Red.

    Because you're solid?

    Dude, I'm a rock.

    Adrien Beard
    Storyboard and Production Artist Supervisor

    1) What happens after you get a script?

    First thing we do is we divvy up who's going to do what in the storyboard department. Sometimes I'll let Keo (Thongkham, Storyboard Artist) or the other storyboard artists pick scenes that they think they'll really enjoy doing. Otherwise, I'll pick (depending on) what their strengths are. Like Tony (Postma, Storyboard Artist), since he's studied trans (transportation design) at Art Center, I might give him a scene that has a lot of vehicles, or anything that's kind of technical. Keo is really good at action, so he can do a lot of the action sequences. Greg (Postma, Storyboard Artist) is really good at character scenes where there is a lot of talking. Somewhere in there, we decide there will be new characters and that may be connected to the temp lead sheet or not.

    2) What happens when you get the temp lead sheet?

    When we get (the temp lead sheet) we have to hurry up and do some character design work and get that approved by Trey, because if we boarded it before we actually designed the characters, the framing might be wrong. Usually that's what I'll do, I'll go up there (to Matt and Trey's pagoda) and try to find out if there are any new characters. We'll have a conversation with Trey and he'll let me design (the new characters), and then he'll make some modifications, and then we can get started actually making them into Corels.

    3) What kind of software do you use?

    We use Photoshop. We use Corel. We use Painter every now and then. But mostly we use Corel Draw, which is similar to Adobe Illustrator because it's vector based.

    4) Trey has some, uh, interesting notes.

    Yeah, like when we designed God, (Episode #316 - "Are You There God, It's Me Jesus") Trey kind of said it was like a hippo/cat thing, which gives you a lot of leeway in the design work. Actually, the story I always tell is, early on he had this scene where Evil Stan was being corralled and taken into the house (Episode #105 - "An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig"), and the script just said: "Evil Stan is lured into the house by something f***** up. You figure it out Adrien." So, first we were going to use a Patrick Swayze album, and then we came up with a couple other things that eventually got cut all together. Or the "Christmas Time in Hell" (Episode #315 - "Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics) they didn't really have very much of an idea how they were going to get around hell, so we came up with that whole rollercoaster sequence. That's one of the fun things (about working at South Park), because Trey actually trusts us enough to let us come up with ideas.

    5) Has working on the show for a long time helped in this process?

    You would think that everyone would get the South Park sense of humor, but they don't. I think I kind of picked up on that over the years. So when (Trey) writes a joke, I kind of know how he wants it pulled off. The design of Timmy was pretty easy because I kind of knew what (Matt and Trey) were talking about. They used to go on the Web and check out those sites.

    6) What are some of your inspirations for character design?

    Timmy was actually based on this kid I knew in elementary school. We know Mr. Mackey was based on someone Trey knew. One of the drawbacks of South Park is the characters are so simple. You aren't allowed to do too much. But that's part of the challenge and that's what makes it fun.

    7) There are some occasions where you guys have to create new storyboards at the last minute.

    There was one where Cartman was shooting everybody when he was a cop in the "Chickenlover" episode (Episode #202). We had to change all those boards all of the sudden because he wasn't allowed to shoot people. (Comedy Central) didn't like the idea of kids handling guns, so we had to quickly make (Cartman) have a billyclub to hit people with instead. That's the hard part of revisions, because often times you may have liked a joke, or you may have really put a lot of work into something, and then all of a sudden it gets yanked. Usually it's late at night too, when Trey has a moment of inspiration that's going to come to him at 3 a.m., and we have to rush and finish those boards in under an hour.

    Personal Questions:

    What was your start date?

    I don't know the exact date. Early on, maybe the second week. Early 1997. I remember going to Lantana (their temporary production offices) and nobody was there. They were really trying to figure out how they were going to do the show at that point. The second time I came back Anne (Garefino, Executive Producer) had just gotten there and Ali (Shyngle, Production Accountant) was there at that time. I didn't meet Frank (Agnone, Supervising Producer) until Westwood (South Park's previous home) a month later. I was there the whole time, pretty much.

    How did you meet Matt and Trey?

    Initially, they were working with a guy at the company I was working for, Light Entertainment. They were working on "Orgazmo" when I met them, and we kind of joked around and stuff. Then they asked me to do some boards, and they liked my stuff, so I went down to their house and we talked about the scripts. Then we went down to a bar and we kind of hit it off personality wise. Anyway, Matt asked me to work on the show. At the time I didn't think it was that funny because all I had seen was the cussing kids thing ("The Spirit of Christmas"). I know everyone thought that was hilarious, but I couldn't imagine that being the whole show. But Matt and Trey were like, NO NO NO, it's not going to just the cussing kids, we got a lot of funny ideas and blah blah blah.

    And we got stuck with you. So how did you get into art?

    I've been drawing since I was a little boy. And in high school I was the head of my Art Club and…

    Art Club?

    Yeah we tried to raise money to do things for the school, but it's funny because it's usually an excuse for a bunch of people to do drugs. So the Art Club wasn't too beneficial for me.

    Now for the boilerplate. What's your favorite episode of South Park?

    That's a tough question. I like all of them for different reasons. I don't know, I get a real kick out of that phonics monkey (Episode #313 - "Hooked on Monkey Fonics"), I think he's pretty damn funny. That's a good question, let me think. Can you give me a minute?


    (One minute later) I don't know, on the top of my head I would have to say the movie.

    Cop out. Anyway, How was working on the movie different from working on the show?

    We had a lot more time to work on it, obviously, even though at the end it turned out like any other South Park episode. We were doing everything last second trying to get everything done. But we had a lot of pre-production time and that was really nice. It was a lot different because we had time to really conceptualize things and do a lot better design work. That was another thing, it was fun to collaborate with people who really didn't have any exposure to South Park, but were respectful of everything that had been done and brought a lot of new ideas.

    Okay, here's Karin's question. What's your favorite crayon color?

    I like "flesh" because I think it's funny that peach is considered flesh and it's nowhere near my flesh.

    They changed that didn't they?

    I thought, "Oh the audacity!"

    Sweet. I totally forgot about that. It was an ugly looking peach, right?

    Yeah it was like this weird kind of sunburn peach that I thought was pretty damn funny. I remember even as a kid they'd give it to you and you'd be like, "Well, this isn't right." They'd say "Draw your family" and they'll give you the flesh colored (crayon). I'd be like, "I need more like a brown…" There were no real colors for minority flesh.

    Yeah, I think you had to get the 128 crayon box set for that.

    One day. That's when we'll know we're really evolved.

    After the tape recorder was turned off, both Adrien and I recalled that he received a Director credit for Episode #417 - "A Very Crappy Christmas." "Yeah, that's a good thing to mention." Check it.

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