Jimmy/Timmy Power Hour Director Talks Blending 2D and 3D

Worlds and animation styles collide tonight when Nickelodeon combines two of its most popular cartoon series for the special The Jimmy/Timmy Power Hour. Premiering at 8 p.m., the show will see The Fairly OddParents’ Timmy Turner go 3D in Retroville while Jimmy Neutron takes a 2D turn in Dimmsdale. To learn more about the finer points of inter-dimensional cross breeding, we caught up with Jimmy Neutron director Keith Alcorn, who oversaw production on the special for DNA Prods.

In The Jimmy/Timmy Power Hour, Timmy needs to get his hands on a gadget for his science fair so his fairy godparents send him to Jimmy Neutron’s lab. The two kids end up switching places when Jimmy is accidentally poofed into Timmy’s 2D world. While Timmy has everyone in Retroville believing he is a boy genius, Jimmy is in Dimmsdale battling fairy-obsessed school teacher Mr. Crocker, who manages to get into the fairy world with the intention of taking over. Timmy soon has his hands full as well when Jimmy’s robotic dog, Goddard, grows to monstrous proportions, malfunctions and tries to destroy Retroville.

While Alcorn says the idea of blending the two shows sounded like a winner in early discussions, he notes, "Technically, you think, ‘Well, it’s two different animation studios and two different dimensions.’ Then you start adding qualifiers like ‘They can’t really do this, and they can’t do that.’

Describing one of the technical challenges, Alcorn says, "There’s a point where Jimmy and Timmy have to shake hands and we’re matching animation that’s not even done in our house. We have to rotoscope their animation. It’s 2D and we’re 3D. Their animation is on twos and threes where our animation is on ones because it’s CG. The characters on Fairly OddParents move really fast and the animation style is more frantic and kinetic where Jimmy Neutron, because it’s 3D, is not so poppy and snappy. So we’re having to compensate for technical differences between the 2D and 3D."

Beyond the obvious differences in animation styles, there were also difficulties stemming from character design. Alcorn explains, "Timmy had to blend in with our characters and we had to animate him as we would a normal Neutron character. In the Fairly OddParents, Timmy and the rest of the kids he goes to school with are really, really short and have almost no bodies and the big heads. Originally, we modeled that and tried bringing it in and putting it next to our kids but it just looked really freakish. He looked like a malformed infant. Also, our characters have four fingers and a thumb where on OddParents they have three fingers and a thumb. I worked a lot with [Fairly OddParents creator/director] Butch Hartman on it. He also sent me designs for the 2D Jimmy and we finally nailed it. Any time you take a character from a show that’s very stylized and put him in another show that’s very stylized, there’s going to be some compromises, but you want to keep the integrity that’s there."

Can we look forward to another meeting of Jimmy and Timmy? Alcorn says it’s a distinct possibility. "Once [Nickelodoen] saw the finished product, they were already talking about doing another Jimmy/Timmy special, but I haven’t heard anything concrete about it," he comments.

The Jimmy/Timmy Power Hour will be rebroadcast on Saturday, May 8, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, May 9, at 5 p.m. It will then make its way to home video on May 11.