Who Makes Jeff and Casey Time?
Jeff and Casey Time is an indie animated series made a by small group of friends. And by "indie", we really mean indie! The writing and titular voice performances are done by Casey Muratori and Jeff Roberts. The art and animation is handled by The Hellman Studio, which is primarily David Hellman and Raber Umphenour. And Casey wrote all the music. We're a small crew!
Jeff and Casey Time started as a radio-play podcast, but when David sent a hilarious concept drawing of the characters, Jeff and Casey asked if he would be interested in presenting the story as an animated series. Although first conceived as just a simple Flash movie of still images, the project quickly grew into the full animation style that you see here on the site.
How is Jeff and Casey Time Produced?
To start, Jeff and Casey (the real Jeff and Casey) work out an arc that a season of the show will follow, and then map one book's worth of chapters into that overall story. Once a book is fully fleshed out, recording begins.
All of the dialog between Jeff and Casey is improvised. They know the plot points that need to be hit, but everything else is made up. It usually takes about 24 to 32 hours of recording and editing to get the audio for one book (with a running time of roughly 25 minutes).
David often listens to the recording sessions over the internet, and live draws some of the action, which then feeds back into the recording as well. Once all the raw material is recorded, Jeff and Casey edit the audio takes into a rough version of the show. There are usually five to six iterations as the show is tightened and tweaked.
Next, The Hellman Studio spins up on the animation. First a rough animatic of the show is produced. This is a quick sketch version of the show, with all the cuts, camera switches, and important moments represented. This animatic is tweaked back and forth, until everyone loves it, and then the full art production starts using the animatic as the guide.
As part of the animatic process, Raber makes rough 3D sets of the locations featured in the episode, and places 3D dummy versions of Jeff and Casey in poses similar to how they will eventually be drawn. These 3D roughs are used for staging and quickly testing numerous camera angles, and then become canvas guides and assembly aids for David as he paints final versions of the sets and character poses. This process helps the show to maintain David's painterly style while still keeping the world consistent through complex camera and scene changes.
You don't want to know how the lipsyncing works. It's ridiculous.
When the Hellman Studio bakes its final content, all the data is sent back to Seattle where Jeff and Casey add foley sound effects, do final editing, and tack on all of the common credit and intro video sequences.
Finally, Casey puts music in to the sections where it's needed, and then places everything together in a final video composite.
And that's it - at the end of this process, we have a set of five chapters of one book! Generally, this process takes about 80 hours of audio production work, four to five months for all the artwork, and then another week to add the final touches. Whew!
We hope to have some videos of this process up soon.
The Design of the Show
While the show has many fantastical elements, the events do end up mirroring reality in a lot of ways. Jeff does have a crazy fascination with animals, for example, and much of the voice work between Jeff and Casey has direct or indirect allegories to their real-life situations (and even to the process of creating of the cartoon itself). It's a natural consequence of the improvisation.
So, because there is this uneven bedrock of reality that all the absurd stuff sits on top of, everything else is kept as real as possible. Most of the locations are real places that you can go find in Seattle. The reactions of the other characters that aren't participating in Jeff and Casey Time are intended to be real. The products parodied by the characters are real ones. They are just skewed into the strange world Jeff and Casey create around them.
One of the main themes of the show is the fact that Jeff and Casey don't feel like they fit into the world around them. Everyone is always trying to ruin their fun. To accentuate this friction, the trappings around the story are designed to feel austere and proper. The music, the design of the artwork, and the book-based presentation is intended to make the viewer feel this tension themselves.
Imagine you are opening an ancient dusty leather-bound book, with classical music playing in the background, looking at these beautiful painted illustrations... then BAM, Jeff and Casey begin loudly picking apart some banality.
Contact Jeff and Casey Time
There are lots of ways to talk to the creators of Jeff and Casey Time. There are forums for this specific purpose, and we also have Twitter and Facebook pages that we all follow.
You can reach the Jeff and Casey Time headquarters' answering machine at: 323-682-TIME, and we promise to listen to all messages.
Voice acting: Jeff Roberts, Casey Muratori, Brian Sharp, Matt Cornell, the Ladies Danger and Action, and Suzanne Kearney (so far).
Animation: The Hellman Studio, David Hellman, Raber Umphenour, Nolan Fabricius.
Music: Casey Muratori.
Writing/Direction: Jeff Roberts and Casey Muratori.
Thanks to all our friends and family, Sean Barrett, Ryan Ellis, and the listeners of the Jeff and Casey Show podcast.
Site and content © 2010 - 2015 Jeff and Casey Time, LLC. All Rights Reserved.