Web Series: 'The Madden 16'
Issue: October 1, 2015

Web Series: 'The Madden 16'

BURBANK, CA — Stoopid Buddy Stoodios (http://www.leagueofbuddies.com), the studio behind Adult Swim’s popular Robot Chicken series, recently teamed up with EA Sports to create a new Web series with a tie-in to the Madden NFL 16 video game, which was released in late August. The Madden 16 was conceived by agency Heat and stars 16 puppet characters representing well-known athletes and celebrities. In each of the series’ :30 episodes, team members impart their Madden NFL 16 skills to help “fools” worldwide.

Rex Ryan, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski and Colin Kaepernick are just a few of the team members who share their wisdom. The series debuted on Tumbler, initially rolling out with an episode each week, but then began dropping episode bundles on a regular basis. A 1:20 video introduces team members and sets the stage for the action to come. Ultimately, there will be seventeen :30 installments. In addition to Tumbler, episodes can be viewed on YouTube .

Post recently caught up with Stoopid Buddy Stoodios’ John Harvatine IV, who says the studio handles almost all of the production and post services in-house, including the design and construction of the puppets and sets, shooting, rough assembly, After Effects, color correction, and sound design.

Scenes are shot in realtime, rather than as stop-motion, allowing production to move along at a rapid pace. 


“They are quite silly, how they are produced,” explains Harvatine. “It’s a lot like a live-action production. It’s pretty much the same thing. We had five or six stages set up and two crews — one crew doing the actual shooting. We have the lighting people, three or four puppet artists, and some set people. It’s like a live-action shoot where you yell ‘action,’ and wave the puppets around, and ‘cut’ and look at the take.”

The stages are similar to those used for stop-motion, he notes. They are small, but are a bit higher up to allow room for the puppeteers.

“The post stuff was pretty light on this,” he recalls. “There are some greenscreen elements. The game footage was put in in post, but for the most part, it was shot pretty practically.”

Stoopid Buddy Stoodios spent approximately two months on the project and was able to shoot two-and-a-half episodes per day. “We definitely tried to move things along,” he notes.

The process begins with a script, and then they record the voices and create animatics, putting pictures to the sound. “By the time we hit the stages, we are actually playing the real audio,” says Harvatine. 

“We play them back and there are a couple of beeps. You hear the line, and the puppeteers are moving to the line they are hearing. They rehearse a couple of times and get the performance, and then they go.”

Voice talent was recorded at Stoopid Buddy Stoodios using Avid Pro Tools. Footage was captured in 4K using a Sony F55 camera, along with a mix of Zeiss and Nikon lenses. Episodes were cut on an Avid NLE. Ntropic provided compositing using Autodesk Flame. Sound design was completed in San Francisco at One Union.

“There is something really raw and fun about the imperfections of the moment,” says Harvatine of the shoots. “It’s not perfect, but it’s really funny. It was all happening live — the jaws moving up and down, them wiggling around and dancing. That energy comes through in the spots — just the silliness of it!”