Before anything can be done, a little something called planning has to be done. After the characters have had their rough design, its time for a make-over. This is done by MODELLING. They either use real humans (sometimes even dressed up as the characters themselves) or 3D clay models, so they can see what each character is going to look like from all angles. Next, it is time to record the audio by VOICE CASTING the actors to play the parts of each character. That is then edited and refined. FOLEY ARTISTs record all the various sound effects that you will hear through-out the production, and it is really amazing how they come up with some sound effects. Once accomplished, they can now do the PENCIL TESTS.
Pencil tests are the rough animation drawings (usually on white paper) which are then filmed at 24 frames per second. (1 frame for every movement in most cases, but sometimes they cheat and use 18 frames per second with two movements per frame). Next the audio track is laid down with it. The producers then view this rough test and let the animators know about the changes needed to be made. (In series animation, they sometimes skip this part). Now the pencil tests can be INK AND PAINTed (used to be known as PAINT AND TRACE) on to clear SERICELLS. The next part is very important. BACKGROUND ARTISTS go to work to create all the various background images to be used through-out the program. You can't just use any old background, it has to be put to the correct ASPECT RATIO so that it is proportional to the characters.
Now comes the fun bit, assembling the animation. The animation cells, together with there associated backgrounds are placed on a large table, with a camera (cinematic 16 or 32mil) mounted above it. They place a piece of glass over the top of the compilation to keep it flat, and snap off the first frame. NEGATIVE CUTTERs process the film as a negative (because negatives only contain 3 colours it makes it a lot easier to work with) and do a rough EDIT on the film, by cutting and SPLICING the bits of film together. It is then sent to the FILM EDITORs whose job it is to refine it down and match the audio track to the frames. After it has been viewed by the producers, it might be sent to POST-FILM EDITORs for final refinement to make it run a little bit smoother.
After the editing, and the producers are happy with the FINAL CUT, it is then sent to the VIDEO PRODUCTION ROOM to be TELECINEd of transfered to video using a TELECINE MACHINE, so the production is then compatiable everywhere. From here, some further VIDEO EDITING and POST-VIDEO EDITING, POST-AUDIO EDITING might be done, to further refine the program. Once it has been done, it is then ready to be viewed by the public.
This whole process (even for a 24 minute series animation) can take upto 6 months to complete one episode (sometimes, even a year). So, in retrospect, you end up apprieciating all the hard work that went into the production when you watch it.