[3"x5" Picture: Dot, Enzo, Bob; Caption: "ReBoot: created in Vancouver, seen in more than 50 countries"]
Already deep into merchandising efforts that include lunch boxes, bed sheets, action figures and lampshades, the Vancouver-based, computer-animated TV series ReBoot is stretching ever further to produce films for IMAX Corporation, to be released next spring.
Ian Pearson, one of ReBoot's creators and an executive producer at Vancouver's Mainframe Entertainment, says the company is currently producing two short ReBoot episodes to be screened in IMAX Ridefilm locations around the world.
The Ridefilm theatres, which are actually motion-simulated rides that pitch and roll with the onscreen action, feature a 180-degree wrap-around screen and high-quality surround sound that envelopes the viewer.
"It's a totally immersive experience," Pearson said of Ridefilm. "It's like a roller coaster without the danger."
The closest Ridefilm theatres to Vancouver, however, are Toronto's Palladium and in Las Vegas.
The ReBoot series, which airs on YTV in Canada three times a week, is staged in the microprocessor world of a computer mainframe, where the computer guardians are locked in constant struggle with an evil virus named Megabyte.
The show began a successful run on ABC in 1993, and has since branched out to air on more than 100 TV stations in the U.S. and in 50 countries. In animation-crazed Japan, where the show is aimed at adults rather than children, it enjoys a prime-time slot on the programming roster.
When ReBoot first aired, it was the only three-dimensional animated program to use computer-generated imagery (CGI) exclusively. Now, Mainframe produces another CGI show, Beast Wars: Transformers, and has a third in the works.
Television is only one aspect of Mainframe, and Ridefilm could be a springboard to new opportunities. "It's a good step for us into the realm of feature films," Pearson said.
He said there's also a good chance ReBoot will end up on the mega-screens of full-size IMAX theatres. The high-resolution of the 70-millimetre IMAX film may be rendered even sharper by LCD crystal stereoscopic viewer glasses, currently in development, that will produce a clarity he described as "unbelievable."
And if that weren't enough to keep Mainframe animators and programmers working late nights and long hours, Pearson said the company's games division is working with Electronic Arts, a U.S.-based computer game production company, to develop a ReBoot game for the Sony Playstation. He hopes it will reach the market by next February or March.
Despite the success of Mainframe and the widespread popularity of ReBoot, Pearson said it's still hard to lure top-notch senior animators away from the bright lights of Hollywood based on a TV reputation.
"We just can't get staff, that's the only problem," Pearson said. "It'll take feature films to get the cream back up here."
The following children's videos are now available:
You've already stretched the parameters of computer-generated animation on television with ReBoot, the groundbreaking children's series seen on YTV and ABC. What's an animator to do for an encore?
The ReBoot team is following up with the tentatively-title Beast Wars: Transformers, currently in production in Vancouver and slated for full syndication this fall.
Beast Wars will, however, be based on a line of toys: the Transformers, by the Hasbro Toy Group.
Mention of Transformers might invoke a sense of deja vu, since viewers may recall another animated series based on the popular toys, which began airing about a decade ago.
"The show's a lot different from what Transformers was in the mid-80's," says producer Chris Brough. "I think what Hasbro recognized was a changing audience that had perhaps grown more sophisticated."
Both the show and the toys will have a completely new look. Instead of mutating from robots to vehicles, the characters now change from robots into animals. Their challenge is to survive the show's harsh environment, a Mars-like planet stuck somewhere back in time. "We wanted to show another look from computers than we had in ReBoot," says Brough.
While it may seem like sheer marketing to twin a toy line to a TV series, Brough says the intent is to produce a show that can stand on its own merit. "The product is brilliant," he says, "but a show has to sustain itself. Just because it's a toy-driven show is not any guarantee of an audience."
- Guy Saddy
[The TV Guide article showed a picture of a T-Rex-like dinosaur. The caption was "MEGATRON, star of upcoming BEAST WARS".]
I just found this little blurb in the Feb 96 issue of "Game Players" magazine:
"Winner of this years Gemini Award for Best Animated Program, "ReBoot" is a computer-generated wonder created in Vancouver Canada by Alliance Communications Corporation. Recently securing its second season on ABC, "ReBoot" has been turning heads and making people take an extremely close look at the art of computer-generated animation. So what do you do with a hit animated series once the television and merchandising is in order? You make a videogame, of course. From industry giants Electronic Arts, "ReBoot" will appear on PlayStation, Saturn, and PC CD ROM. If the game turns out to be anywhere near as good as the animated series, then we're all in for a treat!"
Interesting thing I read in the Ottawa Sun (Ottawa Canada that is) (Jan 17th paper), a movie reviewer reviewing "Lawn Mower Man II" said the movie was boring! The last sentence in the review: "Stay home and watch ReBoot!" :-)
If you want to see Phil Hayes (Hack) he's in the movie Powder. He's Powder's dad and does a very emotional scene off the top. Gary Chalk (Slash) was just seen dancing and singing in the tv version of Bye Bye Birdie. Phil's a very funny stand up and Gary performed for many years with Vancouver Theatresports. Both damned nice guys.
Reboot was the main topic of our local TV guide this week in Calgary and it mentions a movie is in the works. The article says that it's been launched in the U.K. So is anyone from the UK of A seen it yet. Better than Doctor Who eh.
IBTALKN (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote:Tony Jay's really busy! I guess that's why they killed Nigel St. John on the season finale of Lois & Clark. In addition to all of the above, he remains (I hope) the voice of Megabyte on ReBoot. I didn't notice that he played Chairface Chippendale on The Tick; I'll have to listen for that.
And yes, Tony Jay (Chairface) is Virgil on Mighty Max... BTW, Tony is also the new villain, Dregg (replacing Shredder) on the coming season of Ninja Turtles on CBS.
[Also, Paracelus in "Beauty & The Beast" TV series, Shere Khan in "Tale Spin", and Judge Claude Frollo in Disney's "Hunchback of Notre Dame". -Joe]
If anyone's keeping track of the behind-the-scenes batch, I note from the credits that character designs are by Brendan McCarthy and Ian Gibson. These are two of the biggest pioneers in British comic art since the 1980s, with their work in 2000 AD, where they, working individually, created the most distinctive and stunning look Judge Dredd has ever received. It's good to know they're still busy, and if anyone sees Ian, tell him to do another Robo-Hunter story sometime soon. We miss him.
Not a huge Reboot fan myself, but I know some of you are - and we get some information in the Vancouver dailies that don't make it to the wire services.
ABC and YTV have ordered two seasons worth, and in Britain - the show is already number one on the independent British network ITV - with a whopping 68 percent market share.
There are now broadcast agreements in something like 24 countries, and Fuji TV in Japan have committed to placing the show in a primetime slot. 32 British and 30 North American companies have signed licensing agreement in place for merchandise, and Fleer (who is owned by Marvel Comix along with Malibu) are licensed to produce 200 Reboot trading cards.
There are going to be comforter covers, lunchboxes, underwear, and games. Irwin toys holds the Canadian rights to the manufacture of the action figures, and they should hit stores by Christmas if not before.
On the technical side, Reboot employs 44 people (28 of which are Canadian CGI folks) and they use 28 SGI workstations with Indigo processors, Silicon graphics hardware, and SoftImage software to create the show.
(Largely plagiarized from an article in the "Vancouver Sun" - March 8/95)
Chance (DYN that some of these folks created the Dire Straits video "Money for Nothing" - and the CGI characters from it may appear in Reboot?)
Attention Reboot fans! WIZARD Guide To Comics #44 (Apr-95) comes with a promotional card from the upcoming ReBoot card set. It looks like a GREAT set, with plenty of hi-res shots from the show, plus chromium and hologram specials.
Also, there's a small Reboot poster in the magazine, an it's AWESOME!! It features all the main characters standing around the Reboot logo. It's about 11" x 17", and a must-have for any fan.