Making the Halloween-Themed Stop Motion SpongeBob SquarePants Episode, "The Legend of Boo-Kini Bottom"
Animation studio Screen Novelties has once again teamed up with Nickelodeon to bring us a stop motion SpongeBob SquarePants special – a Halloween-themed episode playfully titled, The Legend of Boo-Kini Bottom. “It’s all done old-school stop motion style – articulated figures moved incrementally and photographed,” says Tom Kenny, voice of SpongeBob, “you put it all together and it looks like those classic, beautiful, old school stop motion specials that we all grew up with.”
Set to air this Friday, the half-hour long Halloween special is the second stop motion episode of the show, the first being It’s a SpongeBob Christmas!, which, also produced by Screen Novelties, premiered back from 2012.
We now have some interesting “making-of” material, the first being a 5-minute-long behind-the-scenes video from The A.V. Club. The video features Tom Kenny touring the facilities of Screen Novelties, during which he visits several hot sets for the SpongeBob episode in the midst of being animated and also the puppet department. The second video is a 3-minute long look primarily into the making of the puppets featuring interviews with several of the model makers and animators who worked on the project.
From a technical standpoint, the episode looks quite incredible. Mimicking the same handmade feel of the first stop motion special, this episode has a gorgeous aesthetic of the perfectly imperfect, allotting the viewer a chance to see the seams and physicality of the medium, embracing a style of animation specific to stop motion that computers, as far as I have seen, have been unsuccessful at replicating.
Screen Novelties has been working on the special ever since January, starting with “designing all the puppets and sets” before bringing on “all our model-makers and puppet builders,” according to Chris Finnegan, executive producer on the project, taking them somewhere between four and six months in all from start to finish. According to Cameron Baity, the animation supervisor on the film, they were able to “shoot about six to seven seconds” of animation with about “five to six animators” working on it.
The synopsis for the episode reads, “It’s Halloween in Bikini Bottom, and the Flying Dutchman is going to make sure everyone’s scared – including Spongebob.”
“Stop motion has a history and track record with holiday specials. Some of the classic holiday specials were done in that technique, so I think it’s a perfect fit for the holiday special format. We’re super excited,” says Finnegan in the closing seconds of his interview with the A.V. Club.
You can go watch the trailer for the episode here, the full special airing on Nickelodeon at 7 pm on Friday, October 13th, which seems thematically like a very suitable day for the episode to air.