Check out the article, "Animation Soars to New Heights on CG Sesame Street" by Thomas J. McLean, for some insights from SpeakeasyFX on how we approached working on educational animation for television.
"In the matter of a couple of days, we had to take a shot from nothing to the final version," says animator Laura Nattam, who blogged extensively about her experience on the show. "We had to create all the character blocking of any body mechanics, any acting choices, facial expressions, dialogue – all of that had to be blocked out, animated and polished all in a few days."
Nattam says it was helpful to have plenty of reference material, especially on the lead character, Abby Cadabby, who has appeared as a live-action Muppet on Sesame Street. "We had a few years' worth of filmed material, like live action material, to observe to get to know her character," she says. "We also got to meet [puppeteer] Leslie [Carrara-Rudolph] and the puppet Abby in person to get a better feel for her, to convey her into the animated world."
Nattam says the characters have distinct personalities, and the series has its own style that each shot needed to match. "These characters are designed to be very animated and curious," she says. "They have very uninhibited and very innocent, childlike improvisational gestures. The way these characters think and emote are really social and they are meant to evoke responses from the child watching along and learning."
"Some of our animators were definitely more dare devilish than others and they peppered in these hilarious inside jokes and subtle pop culture references, and they added a lot of flavor to the show," says Nattam. "But of course we had to watch very carefully what we were saying with characters' actions because you know, after all, we're a part of this educational media powerhouse that has won over parents and their children for four decades. So we had to make sure we were doing it the right way."