How Foundation Imaging creates a 30 minute live-action show, all in 3D, every week.   By Erik Holsinger

PART 1    PART 2    PART 3    PART 4    PART 5

(2 Mbyte QuickTime 4 Movie)
Click on the image to see the scene from Starship Troopers

The crew at Foundation Imaging has to produce 19 minutes of finished animation per week.

A soldier versus bug fight from Starship Troopers, the ultimate bug extermination show.

Jeff Scheetz, Animation Producer Extraordinare for the Starship Troopers Project. Jeff is in charge of all day-to-day operations on the project.

The few, the Proud, the Bug Fodder. Unlike the original Starship Troopers, the cartoon series manages to balance excitement with violence

It's hard to imagine the next great filmmaking breakthrough occurring on Saturday morning cartoons. Yet "Starship Troopers: Roughneck Chronicles," a new cartoon show from Columbia/Tristar, is just that; a totally 3D-generated show that is pushing the boundaries on what you can expect from a "3D" show.

"Starship Troopers" is a "prequel" to the Starship Troopers movie, following the exploits of Lt. Razack's crew as they try to defeat the Bug Menace. However, unlike its predecessor, "Starship Troopers" the cartoon show can't rely on excessive gore or titillation to keep the audience interested (hey, this is for kids, after all). Instead, "Starship Troopers" relies on good old-fashioned storytelling, and creating characters that are complex enough to make you forget that they're 3D models.

Leading the animation and special effects production is Foundation Imaging, an Emmy Award-winning special effects and animation house based in Valencia, Calif. Two other facilities, Rainbow Studios of Phoenix, and Hyper Image of Glendale, Calif., also produce some of the episodes. Each production house works in tandem with Sony, yet creates all the animation and special effects for each episode totally in-house. So every week, these companies put out a new show -- which means 19 minutes of completed, broadcast-quality animation. By any standard this is an amazing feat; for these seasoned experts it's just another day at the job.

To get the low-down on the project, I met with Foundation co-founder Paul Bryant and Animation Producer Jeff Scheetz at Foundation Imaging's studios. Their non-traditional approaches to working under intense broadcast deadlines, maintaining quality and still getting a devastating amount of work done is both inspiring and enlightening. If "Starship Troopers" is any marker for things to come, future television programming is in for some interesting times.