- It takes more than magic to make Abby's Flying Fairy School. Each eight-minute segment is conjured through hard work from writers, producers, animators, and researchers. Through their collaboration, simple sketches and silly stories turn into entertaining opportunities for preschoolers to boost their critical thinking skills. Abby's Flying Fairy School marks the first time a Sesame Street character has been transformed into CGI animation. Now that's magical!
Step 1: Bring the Character to Life
The first step in bringing Abby's Flying Fairy School to life is to take the script, written by the Sesame Street team of writers, and break it down to see what characters and environments need to be created. A character rotation, shown above in its initial line drawing, is the first piece of artwork created. That rotation will eventually be modeled into its 3D counterpart for the series, also shown above.
Step 2: Create a New World
When the fairies venture outside of the classroom, new worlds need to be created. This enchanted environment is Colonial Trolliamsburg, where the fairies go on a field trip. This location was drawn first in 2D by David Michael Friend and then the generalist team of Andy Zazzera and Steve Palaia built its 3D counterpart.
Step 3: Wires and 3D
Abby's Flying Fairy School was the first time a Sesame Street Muppet was modeled for a 3D animated world. Basic 3D wire-frames were created for each of the characters to be used in animation. A wire-frame model is a visual presentation of a three-dimensional object. It is created by specifying each edge of the object to show how it is shaped.
Step 4: Wires and 3D (continued)
Above is another 3D wire-frame created for our favorite fairy troll, Blogg.
Step 5: From Script to Storyboard
Following the design phase of the production, a storyboard artist will use the script and prepared designs to create a sequence of drawings, with directions and dialogue, that represent the shots the 3D animators will create. The storyboard panel shown here was created by Abigail Nesbitt.
Step 6: Give the Character a Voice
Once a storyboard is created, the actors who voice the characters will use it as a visual guide when recording the audio. Here are two of our Fairy School cast members in a record session. On the right is Leslie Carrera-Rudolph as Abby Cadabby, and on the left, Joey Mazzarino as Blogg.
Step 7: Testing 1, 2, 3
After the audio has been recorded, the editorial department will combine the track with the storyboard to give a better idea of how the scene will look and feel. This will test whether the sound and images are working well together. In the image above, the editorial department reviews a finished animated scene from a Season 42 episode. Pictured here are Editor Sean Smith, Head of 3D Andy Zazzera, and Executive Producer Scott Stewart.
Step 8: Time to Animate
Once the script, design, storyboard, and audio are ready, the animators can begin the layout and animation phase of production. Here is what the animation looks like before lighting, effects, surfacing, compositing, and final render have been applied.
Step 9: Let's Review
Three members of the Abby's Flying Fairy School animation team discuss a shot from an upcoming episode of the series. The animators are Brad Regier, Mike Wilson, and Jesse Cowan.
Step 10: The Grand Finale...
Here is a final rendered version of the same moment captured in its storyboard stage in Still 5 and then in its early animation stage in Still 8. This final render contains all of the lighting, effects, surfacing, compositing, and assembly applied to a finished episode of the 3D animated segments of Abby's Flying Fairy School.