Polish Animator Michal Socha Creates The Most Creative ‘Simpsons’ Opening Yet

Following Sylvain Chomet’s first-class Simpsons opening, I didn’t expect any animator to top it creatively—and certainly not so soon after. I’ve never been happier to be wrong. This week’s Simpsons opening by Polish filmmaker Michal Socha is a mind-blowingly gorgeous and creative journey into Homer’s brain:

The stark red-and-black palette and 2D/CG mix is based on Socha’s 2008 student short Chick, which was a big hit on the festival circuit. Socha is an unexpected choice for directing a Simpsons opening, especially since he’s not a known name like the other artists who have created openings. The gamble paid off though, and audiences have been rewarded with one of the loosest, most fun pieces of Simpsons animation ever produced.

And just in case you’re wondering, the Simpsons characters are CGI. Socha explained a little bit of the process to Animation World Network:

At the beginning, we thought that we could animate the Simpsons Family with classic frame-by-frame technique. After couple of tests, we have found that we are not as good 2D animators as we thought! Our tests tended to lose character and proportions, [and] that was not acceptable. In this case it was very important that each black silhouette reminds you of Homer, Bart or Lisa. Classic frame-by-frame technique could take much longer to finish couch gag. We wanted to keep this animation in 2D style, [which] is why we mixed those two technique to achieve a better result…One of the challenging issues from[a] technical point of view was to reach [the] non-3D look of the characters. We tested a lot of different renderings that give us cartoon look, but none of them were sustaining us enough. That is why we decided to [manually] repaint all the frames frame-by-frame and add extra secondary animation. There was a lot of fun work to do, but finally it give us desired effect.


  • jhalpernkitcat

    Quite frankly, I found this one to be terrifying. I’ve always been a bit disturbed when watching cartoons that involve one or several characters exploring another’s inner body–regardless of whether it’s unintentional or not.

    • Funkybat

      It was freaky all right, but I LOVED it.

  • foreigner.

    That was a great visual field trip of Homer’s body XD

  • Matthew Koh

    Alright! Place your bets on who’s going to animate the next couch gag

    • Mister Twister

      Bluth, Donald.

      • Aaron R.R.R. Nance

        A brilliant selection. Here are my picks for best Bluths for the job in ranked descending order:

        1. Don
        2. Toby (though some light time travel would be required)
        3. Gob
        4. Lindsay
        5. Michael
        6. Lucille
        7. George Oscar Sr./George Michael (a statistical tie)

      • Funkybat

        It would be interesting to see a rotoscoped Simpsons couch gag.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Loved this!

  • http://the-animatorium.blogspot.com/ Natalie Belton

    The couch gags are easily the best part of The Simpsons today.

    • Mesterius

      Sadly enough, I can believe that.

      • Chicken McPhee

        They’re fun, but the episodes aren’t too shabby either. Still, most episodes in season are good, some are stellar. Only very few are meh.

        • Funkybat

          I feel like the show climbed out of the valley it had been stuck in about 5 years ago, and a year or two ago I would have agreed with you. This season has unfortunately shown them slipping a bit for me. For every really good episode (such as the Comic Book Guy-falls-in-love ep) there are three that are either OK or really not too sharp (that recent World Cup one was especially reminiscent of the bad old days of the early 2000s.) I am not sure if there have been changes to the writing staff or what, but I feel less confident about where the show is going.

          Also, while the “guest couch gags” have been pretty fun, a lot of the new regular ones feel like they are running out of ideas, which is understandable after 20-odd plus years. I think they should probably do more of what they started to do when they went to HD and have episodes that just have the initial bit with the clouds parting and it transitions into a cold open with no gag.

  • Mister Twister

    The Simpsons will never end.

    • Nehemiah Blodget

      Unfortunately

  • blandyblottschalk

    I asked this question on AWN’s site, too: Just to be clear, it was animated in 3-D and then each frame was drawn over by hand? It has an interesting look.

  • http://www.facebook.com/theghostinyou the ghost in you

    It’s funny that the only thing that’s entertaining about the Simpsons in the last 15 years, are the work of other writers and artists in their couch gags.

  • Trevour

    That fluidity! Remember when The Simpsons did that? I got sad at the end when it zoomed back out and got all stiff-on-model again. Socha really hit a Homer (sorry) with this couch gag. Best one yet!

  • Ramonesmaniac

    At this point, the only reason to watch “The Simpsons” is for its openings, which are funnier than the episodes themselves.

  • TStevens

    I have to admit, it is a little distressing to hear that they couldn’t figure out how to stay on model when animating by hand…

  • Rudolfo

    The orchestral scoring, presumably by Alf Clausen, helped support what could have been far more nightmarish imagery by adding wonder and hope.

  • adamspadam

    awesome

  • Tony

    that was devastatingly lush. Wow. Just wow. The scoring was absolutely sublime as well. I’m really enjoying the Producers doing this whole guest-intro thing; Way to make Simpsons exciting and culturally relevant again!

    I’m hoping for a David O’Reilly intro eventually :D

  • whoiseyevan

    The trailer for the Simpsons LEGO episode is also up!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYGSpOfIr9Y