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The Future Is HD: Lee Supercinski, ‘Futurama’

Sep 25, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The player: Lee Supercinski, producer, “Futurama”
The play: A series based in the future, such as “Futurama,” would lend itself well to cutting-edge technology. But in terms of high-definition, the show was lacking. Originally pitched to be in HD during its initial run on Fox starting in 1999, money and technology for HD weren’t up to par, and the idea was scrapped. Canceled in 2004, the show jumped back into production for a set of four direct-to-DVD movies. Even though the standard-definition DVD releases so far don’t look it, producer Lee Supercinski helped move “Futurama” toward the future in high definition.
The pitch: Mr. Supercinski said “Futurama’s” production company 20th Century Fox was skittish about increasing the budget, even for a move to HD, but relented after seeing that the definition upgrade would cost only 2% more on the project. Once the small investment was made apparent, a few phone calls are all it took to get the ball rolling on the upgrade, Mr. Supercinski said. “Futurama’s” animation company, Rough Draft, simply needed to scan drawings of the show at a higher resolution, which required more hard-drive space. Also, storyboard artists needed to be concerned about laying out scenes in 16:9 widescreen, as opposed to 4:3. Despite the show’s production changes, Fox still was skeptical enough to not release the first two movies on Blu-ray, although a HD master tape exists. “Bender’s Game,” the third installment in the series scheduled to be released Nov. 4, will be available on standard and, for the first time, Blu-ray discs. Mr. Supercinski said there are no official plans currently to rerelease the first two films in Blu-ray.
Backstory: Mr. Supercinski, 35, graduated from the University of Southern California in 1995 with a major in English and a minor in cinema and television production. He started his animation career as a post-production supervisor on HBO’s “Spawn” in 1997 before moving to “Futurama.”

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