Kid Reporters

Bringing SpongeBob to Life

The people behind the popular cartoon talk to TFK about SpongeBob’s special holiday episode

December 03, 2012

The holiday special uses a type of animation called stop motion to bring Bikini Bottom to life.

‘Tis the season for SpongeBob! The lovable character gets into the holiday spirit in a new episode, “It's a SpongeBob Christmas!” In the 22-minute special, the show’s villain, Plankton, hatches a plan to feed the town holiday fruitcake made with Jerktonium, an ingredient that turns everyone into a jerk. Plankton’s evil plan is to make everyone rude and grumpy so by comparison, he will appear good to Santa and finally get his one wish for Christmas: the Krabby Patty secret formula.

Tom Kenney is the voice of SpongeBobSquarePants
Tom Kenney is the voice of SpongeBobSquarePants

"[The episode] was done in what is called stop motion animation," said Tom Kenny, who provides the voice of SpongeBob. “The characters are like little jointed action figures, and each action is made up of a whole bunch of little photographs where the figure is moved very slightly. For instance, you move the leg a little bit or move the arm a little bit, and you take a picture each time. When you run those still photos in rapid succession, it gives the illusion of movement.”

All the sets for the special episode had to be built on a tabletop so the directors could run the action figures around the show’s main setting, an underwater village called Bikini Bottom. “There’s a scene in the special where Santa's sleigh is flying over the town,” Kenny explained to TFK. “So they put the camera on wires and flew it around the miniature tabletop city of Bikini Bottom.”

Kid Reporter
Adriana Palmieri

Something especially unique about this Christmas special is that Kenny, rather than one of the show’s six writers, wrote it. The story is based on a song called, “Don’t be a jerk, it’s Christmas.” Kenny wrote the song a couple of years ago and shared it with Nickelodeon executives. It then became something they were interested in expanding into a story.

When he was growing up, Kenny always wanted to do voices. "I just thought it would be a really fun job to have. I didn't know if I had the ability or not. I just hoped when I became an adult, I would have the opportunity to do it," he says. Tom has voiced many characters during his career. Some of his roles include Slinkman from Camp Lazlo, Heffer Wolfe in Rocko's Modern Life and Dog in Catdog. He even won an Annie Award in 2010 for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production.

Paul Tibbitt is the executive producer for SpongeBob. TFK asked Tibbitt why he thought SpongeBob SquarePants has become such a popular show. “I think that SpongeBob’s eternal optimism is a big factor,” says Tibbitt. “People need to have some time in their lives to laugh and just be silly, and I think SpongeBob provides that.” Both Kenny and Tibbitt say the best part of their job is creating something that makes people laugh. They believe “It’s A SpongeBob Christmas” will do just that.  The show aired on CBS on November 23, and will premiere on its home channel Nickelodeon on Thursday, December 6.

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