These paper toys are from the animated sitcom South Park, the papercrafts are designed by Andrey and Katya. South Park is an American animated sitcom created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone for the Comedy Central television network. Intended for mature audiences, the show has become famous for its crude language and dark, surreal humor that lampoons a wide range of topics. The ongoing narrative revolves around four boys-Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick-and their bizarre adventures in and around the titular Colorado town.
Parker and Stone, who met at college, developed the show from two animated shorts they created in 1992 and 1995. The latter became one of the first Internet viral videos, which ultimately led to its production as a series. South Park debuted in August 1997 with great success, consistently earning the highest ratings of any basic cable program. Subsequent ratings have varied but it remains one of Comedy Central's highest rated shows. It is Comedy Central's longest running program; a total of 230 episodes have aired, and the series is slated to run through at least 2016.
Each episode except the very first one, which was produced by cutout animation, is created with software that emulates the cutout technique. Each episode is typically written and produced during the week preceding its broadcast. Parker and Stone continue to perform most of the voice acting, and Parker is the primary writer and director.
The series has received numerous accolades, including four Primetime Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, and a #3 ranking in the Channel 4 2004 documentary The 100 Greatest Cartoons. The series' almost instant popularity resulted in a feature-length theatrical film, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut which was released in June 1999, less than two years after the show's premiere, and became a box office and critical success. Almost all episodes of the series feature a TV-MA rating, however, in syndication and in reruns on Comedy Central before 9:00 PM eastern time/ 8:00 PM central time, the episodes are altered to be TV-14.
The show follows the exploits of four boys, Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick, except in season 6 when Kenny was temporarily written off the show and replaced with Butters then Tweek. The boys live in the fictional small town of South Park, located within the real life South Park basin in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado. The town is also home to an assortment of frequent characters such as students, families, elementary school staff, and other various residents, who tend to regard South Park as a bland and quiet place to live.Prominent settings on the show include the local elementary school, bus stop, various neighborhoods and the surrounding snowy landscape, actual Colorado landmarks, and the shops and businesses along the town's main street, all of which are based on the appearance of similar locations in the town of Fairplay, Colorado.
Stan is portrayed as the everyman of the group,as the show's official website describes him as an "average, American 4th grader".Kyle is the lone Jew among the group, and his portrayal in this role is often dealt with satirically.Stan is modeled after Parker, while Kyle is modeled after Stone. Stan and Kyle are best friends, and their relationship, which is intended to reflect the real life friendship between Parker and Stone, is a common topic throughout the series. Cartman-loud, obnoxious, manipulative, racist and obese-is often portrayed as an antagonist whose anti-Semitic attitude has resulted in an ever-progressing rivalry with Kyle.Kenny, who comes from a poor family, wears his parka hood so tightly that it covers most of his face and muffles his speech. During the show's first five seasons, Kenny would die in nearly every episode before returning in the next with little or no definitive explanation given. He was written out of the show's sixth season in 2002, re-appearing in the season finale. Since then, the practice of killing Kenny has been seldom used by the show's creators. In season 14, it is revealed that Kenny cannot die, for he will just be reborn again. During the show's first 58 episodes, the boys were in the third grade. In the season four episode "4th Grade", they entered the fourth grade, where they have remained ever since.
Plots are often set in motion by events, ranging from the fairly typical to the supernatural and extraordinary, which frequently happen upon the town. The boys often act as the voice of reason when these events cause panic or incongruous behavior among the adult populace, who are customarily depicted as irrational, gullible, and prone to vociferation.The boys are also frequently confused by the contradictory and hypocritical behavior of their parents and other adults, and often perceive them as having distorted views on morality and society.
The show's style of animation is inspired by the paper cut-out cartoons made by Terry Gilliam for Monty Python's Flying Circus, of which Parker and Stone have been lifelong fans. Construction paper and traditional stop motion cutout animation techniques were used in the original animated shorts and in the pilot episode. Subsequent episodes have been produced by computer animation, providing a similar look to the originals while requiring a fraction of the time to produce. Before computer artists begin animating an episode, a series of animatics drawn in Toon Boom are provided by the show's storyboard artists.
The characters and objects are composed of simple geometrical shapes and primary colors. Most child characters are the same size and shape, and are distinguished by their clothing and headwear. Characters are mostly presented two-dimensionally and from only one angle. Their movements are animated in an intentionally jerky fashion, as they are purposely not offered the same free range of motion associated with hand-drawn characters.Occasionally, some non-fictional characters are depicted with photographic cutouts of their actual head and face in lieu of a face reminiscent of the show's traditional style. Canadians on the show are often portrayed in an even more minimalist fashion; they have simple beady eyes, and the top halves of their heads simply flap up and down when the characters speak.
When the show began using computers, the cardboard cutouts were scanned and re-drawn with CorelDRAW, then imported into PowerAnimator, which was used with SGI workstations to animate the characters. The workstations were linked to a 54-processor render farm that could render 10 to 15 shots an hour.Beginning with season five, the animators began using Maya instead of PowerAnimator.The studio now runs a 120-processor render farm that can produce 30 or more shots an hour.
PowerAnimator and Maya are high-end programs mainly used for 3D computer graphics, while co-producer and former animation director, Eric Stough, notes that PowerAnimator was initially chosen because its features helped animators retain the show's "homemade" look. PowerAnimator was also used for making some of the show's special effects,which are now created using Motion,a newer graphics program created by Apple, Inc. for their Mac OS X operating system. The show's visual quality has improved in recent seasons, though several other techniques are used to intentionally preserve the cheap cutout animation look.
A few episodes feature sections of live-action footage, while others have incorporated other styles of animation. Portions of the season eight premiere "Good Times with Weapons" are done in anime style, while the season 10 episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft" is done partly in machinima.The season 12 episode "Major Boobage", a homage to the 1981 animated film Heavy Metal, implements scenes accomplished with rotoscoping. Since the beginning of season 13 the show has been broadcast in high definition and presented in widescreen, and season 12 was released in high definition on Blu-ray Disc format.
In 1999, less than two years after the series first aired, a feature-length film was released. The film, a musical comedy, was directed by Parker, who co-wrote the script with Stone and Pam Brady. The film satirizes the controversy surrounding the show itself and gained a spot in the 2001 edition of Guinness World Records for "Most Swearing in an Animated Film". The song "Blame Canada" from the film's soundtrack earned song co-writers Parker and Marc Shaiman an Academy Award nomination for Best Music, Original Song.