Turbo FAST is the first project coming out of the five-year deal between DreamWorks Animation and Netflix, which includes 300 hours of original programming or over thousand episodes. For this task, DreamWorks Animation opened a new television production unit, called DreamWorks Animation Television.
Initially, the project started as a standalone special based on the Turbo film. Being impressed with racing visuals which Titmouse, Inc. created for the Disney XD series Motorcity, DreamWorks Animation contracted the studio to make the special flash-animated, rather than computer-animated. Soon after the Titmouse's founder Chris Prynoski signed on as the director, DreamWorks decided to turn the special into a series. Pryonski directed the first few episodes, and then took over as the series executive producer.
Production on the project began in the summer of 2012, a year before the film's release, when it was still undecided if the project would be a special or a series. With the film still having numerous storyboard panels instead of finished animation, Titmouse had to develop their own style: "We were inspired by the movie, but we weren't held to match the movie," said Prynoski. Titmouse's director Antoni Canobbio developed a look that felt new and cool, to suit the project's racing theme.
Beside Flash, which is the main program for animating the series, many additional tools have been used, including Maya, Photoshop and After Effects. To overcome the difficulty of animating intricately detailed snail racing shells, the studio generated 3D models of the shells in Maya, so they could rotate them to any position they wanted. Each time it was put in a new position, it had to be cleaned up by hand to make it look like a 2D drawing. Prepared shell was then put into a library, waiting for next animator to use it when needed.
In addition to Titmouse's studios in Los Angeles and Vancouver, a "sizable piece" of the production is taking place at a couple of studios in South Korea, in order to stay on schedule. This marks the first time for DreamWorks Animation to outsource to the country. On average, it takes a crew of about 80 people about six to eight months to take each episode from premise to delivery.
Unlike previous DreamWorks Animation series, the Netflix deal allowed DreamWorks to maintain creative control. Prynoski said: "Typically, if you are working on a show like this, you might get two sets of notes: one from DreamWorks and one from the network. But we don't get notes from Netflix, which is cool. It allows us to move faster, and we can make the shows, hopefully, the way we want them."
Beside Ken Jeong and Mike Bell, who reprise their roles of Kim Ly and White Shadow, the cast features all new members. One of the reasons for this was the desire to have the actors working together. "The thing is that these actors are really busy, and we want to get talent in the same room at the same time to get that chemistry. And that's a lot easier to do with professional voice actors," said DreamWorks Animation head of television Margie Cohn. The cast was selected by the Titmouse's casting and voice director Andrea Romano, who chose people Titmouse already knew and had worked with.