10 Surprising Facts About Titmouse Animation Studios

By Liz Ohanesian in Cartoons, Daily Lists, Nerdery, TV
Friday, December 13, 2013 at 6:00 am

5. They Made a Video That Was Nominated for a Country Music Award.


One Friday, Prynoski got a phone call from Mike Judge. The King of the Hill creator asked Prynoski if he wanted to go with him to meet country artist Zac Brown on Monday. He said yes and that Monday, they headed out to Fayetteville, Georgia. "We got drunk and threw throwing axes and went 4 wheeling in waist-deep mud and flipped over the 4 Wheeler and made a big bonfire and flew back to L.A.," says Prynoski. After a trip that lasted less than 24 hours, they went to work on a music video for Zac Brown Band's tune "The Wind." Judge directed it. Titmouse produced it. The clip went on to receive a nomination at the 2012 Country Music Awards for Video of the Year, but didn't win.

4. Once a Year, They Smash Things.

Liz Ohanesian
Toilets waiting to be smashed.

Every year, the Titmouse team gets together to break stuff. It's called a Smashing Party and it's a big deal. They set up a cage in the Hollywood studio's parking lot and bring in sledgehammers, bats, axes and, of course, safety equipment. There are medics and referees on hand. The guests, who have to sign a release to get inside the party, bring their own stuff to smash.

"I think there's a caveman part of everybody that they don't get to exercise in society," says Prynoski. "You feel really good afterwards for destroying something for no reason."

Titmouse just had its eighth annual Smashing Party. When they started doing this, old TVs were a popular item. Now, they're breaking lots of stuff. "People get really creative," says Kalina. He mentions items like small lightbulbs and large glass containers filled with Christmas ornaments.

"The best thing to smash, hands down, is an old CRT monitor," says Prynoski. "Hands down, it has a real satisfying pop sound." Toilets are really popular too. In fact, when I stopped by the studio, the day before the party, there was a cluster of toilets in the parking lot, each one labeled with the name of the soon-to-be smasher.

3. They Make Extremely Short Shorts.

Titmouse makes short animated flicks too. Maybe you've seen "Pinched." If not, you can catch that on iTunes. They're about to start work with Jhonen Vasquez on a short based on his comic book Squee. They do shorts when there is time, usually when the TV shows are in between seasons. There's one day a year, though, where the animation team can work on their own shorts. It's called 5 Second Day and it usually falls on a holiday like Valentine's Day or Saint Patrick's Day, where offices don't shut down. "You don't have to do your jobby job," says Prynoski, "but you still have to come to work so do this."

It's called 5 Second Day, says Prynoski, because "five seconds sounds like about what somebody can do in a day." Most of the shorts, though, are quite a bit longer. Typically, he says, you'll see things that are 30 seconds to a minute in length. Animators at Titmouse spend time planning for the event and the work they do is really cool. Previously, they screened 5 Second Day projects at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles. A few of the films are available to view through Rug Burn, which is a YouTube channel run by Titmouse and fellow L.A. animation studio 6 Point Harness.

2. Motorcity Almost Didn't Happen.

Prynoski created the animated series Motorcity, which ran on Disney XD for one season. The car racing adventure didn't last long, but it made a pretty big impact. The show opened up Titmouse to get more work in the kids' TV world, like Randy Cunningham: Ninth Grade Ninja and a few in-the-works projects that they can't discuss at this time. Motorcity also racked up a lot of fans, who often turn up at Titmouse's convention panels.

The funny thing is that Motorcity almost didn't happen. Prynoski had put together a pitch and trailer for the show almost a decade before Motorcity turned up on television screens. Initially, he was pitching it as an adult series. Later, he brought in a friend to help him retool it for a younger audience. "I kind of almost permanently shelved it," he says. However, a contact at Nickelodeon had moved over to Disney and expressed an interest in the series.

Ultimately, Motorcity fell to powers beyond their control. After Disney acquired Lucasfilm, the show was canceled. Prynoski is proud of the work they got to do. "I'm happy that we got to make 20 episodes," he says. "It was awesome." Meanwhile, fans were clamoring for more. There was an online petition to save the show, but the petitions couldn't help when they were contractual issues at play. Still, Prynoski frequently hears from fans who ask if Motorcity will ever get a second run. "I don't see it happening anytime soon, or ever, unless another network wanted to option it or something," he says. That's okay. He adds, "I prefer to look to the future."

1. Titmouse's Most High Profile Project Isn't What You Think It Is.

Titmouse has worked on a lot of popular cartoons, but that's not necessarily the work that has reached the most amount of eyeballs.

Prynoski takes his time when asked what Titmouse's highest profile project has been. "I'd like to say it's Venture Bros.," he says. "That's the highest profile amongst weirdo nerd people that I like."

But, Titmouse also has a lot of commercial work to its credit and it's those spots that have likely hit the biggest audience. "It was probably a Budweiser commercial or a Honda commercial or something like that," he says.

Or, it could have been Guitar Hero. Titmouse worked on several iterations of the hit video game, doing intro segments and cut scenes.

Then again, they also worked on Community. Remember the episode "Digital Estate Planning"? It's the 8-bit animation episode. There was also the recent clip they did for Metallica with the band's bassist, Robert Trujillo.

Still, it's probably the commercials.

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