Still from Nerdland, Directed by Chris Prynoski (Photo via Titmouse)
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If you’re a fan of Adult Swim, or of Fox’s new partially animated sitcom Son of Zorn , you’ve probably seen the name Titmouse on your TV screen. They’re the animation studio behind some of your favorite late night cartoons, including The Venture Bros. and Metalocalypse. The studio was started in 2000 as a T-shirt company by Chris and Shannon Prynoski, but when they kept getting requests for cartoons, it morphed into the animation studio we know it as today.
Now is a busy, very exciting time for Titmouse. They’re gearing up for the release of their first full-length movie, a new season of Venture Bros. is underway, and they’re New York animators just finished moving into a brand new studio. I got to sit down with Chris Prynoski and ask him some questions about Venture Bros. , Son of Zorn, and how these cartoons come together.
Right off the bat, I had to ask about the upcoming seventh season of Venture Bros. . As someone who spent almost all of his 20s obsessed with that show, I was ecstatic to learn that it was coming back. All he could tell me was that they are currently in the writing stages of the next season.
“It takes a long time to make that show, so I’m not sure what they’ve announced, but you know, the most general thing is we are making it… I’m sure there’s no information on when this thing will be coming out, but expect to wait a little bit of time.”
Dr. Venture in The Venture Bros. season six. (Photo: Screenshot via YouTube/Adult Swim)
To give us an idea of how much time we could expect to wait, he took me through the process of how a show like Venture Bros. gets made.
“The process of making Venture Bros. , or really any other cartoon is the writing, and then we record the voices, and you do storyboards, and you cut an animatic. Simultaneously while you do the storyboards you’re doing designs, location designs off the script, you’re doing character designs, all that stuff, cutting animatics,” Prynoski said. All that goes into a pre-production package that lays out the timing of the animation.
“You’ll do these things called exposure sheets where you plan out all the action,” Prynoski continued. “Then ship it over to the Korean studio who will do all the animation drawings and send it back, and we work on editing it further, maybe doing animation changes until it’s a cartoon and then you do the sound mix, and there you go.”
That whole process typically takes nine months to a year to produce a half hour of animated television. That may sound like a long time, but as you can imagine, they work on a lot simultaneously. A year from now, they’ll probably have more than a single episode of the new season completed. That said, it’ll probably still be a pretty long time before we hear any more concrete Venture Bros. news.
For their new show Son of Zorn , the animation process is even more complicated. Being a hybrid live-action/animated show (I called it “Roger Rabbit” style), they can’t start storyboarding as soon as the episode is written. Employing techniques they learned by working on Disney’s Kirby Buckets , they send Titmouse director Barry Kelly to the set so they can coordinate how each shot will look once the animation is added in.