KidVid 'Beast Wars' sets pre-syndie PPV window
In what may be a first for the ppv industry, the initial three episodes of a children's series distribbed for national syndication by Claster TV first will receive a monthlong PPV window (through Sept. 15) for customers of direct broadcast satellite service DirecTV.
The series, titled "Beast Wars: Transformers", is a high-tech 3-D computer-animated action saga produced jointly by Alliance Communications of Canada and Mainframe Entertainment.
Each of the first three segments of "Beast Wars" is being offered to DirecTV subscribers for $1.99 from mid-August to mid-September in advance of the show's syndie launch the week of Sept. 16. [Note: each segment is two consecutive half-hour shows.]
It's the first time a DBS service has premiered an original TV series of any kind, and points up the sudden trend linking cable and PPV entities with broadcast.
"Beast Wars: Transformers" (aka "Beasties") tells the story of the battle between two species for control of a unique energy source called Energon.
Sally Claster Bell, exec VP of of Claster Television Inc., called the use of an advance pay-per-view window "a terrific vehicle for promoting the new fall series to an even wider audience."
Claster Television has added the computer-animated series ReBoot to its syndicated weekday action animation package called the Power Block.
ReBoot joins Beast Wars: Transformers, G.I. Joe Extreme and VOR-Tech in the children's block, which debuts this fall on 106 stations covering 85% of the country. Active Entertainment was the previous distributor of ReBoot, but will not longer be involved.
ReBoot is the first half-hour animated series produced entirely by computer using computer-generated imagery and 3-D animation. The half-hour series debuted in September 1994 on ABC's Saturday morning lineup. It is produced by Mainframe Entertainment and distributed internationally by Alliance Communications.
TORONTO -- Giant-screen movie pioneer Imax Corp. said Thursday that Mainframe Entertainment Inc. will produce two computer-animated movies for its motion simulator rides under and agreement that calls for the development of other film projects.
Mainframe, base in Vancouver, produces ReBoot, the first television series completely developed using computer-generated imagery (CGI) technology and 3-D animation. ReBoot debuted in 1993 and since has been sold to more than 50 countries.
Initially broadcast Saturday mornings on ABC, ReBoot is syndicated to more than 100 U.S. stations and airs three times a week on the YTV specialty channel in Canada. Alliance Communications Corp. of Toronto owns one-third of Mainframe.
Imax said Mainframe will be responsible for production of the two films and Imax's Ridefilm Corp. subsidiary will provide creative and production support.
The films will be base on Reboot's cyber characters, which exist in the electronic world inside a personal computer. No financial details of the agreement were revealed.
Imax vice chairman Richard Gelfond said his company is in discussions with other digital animation houses.
Cosmic Voyage, a $6.5 million Imax film containing 15 minutes of computer animation effects, was released Thursday in Washington. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, the film -- a guide through the formation of the universe -- was produced by the Motorola Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution National Air & Space Museum and the National Science Foundation.
Imax said another computer-generated file, L5 -- First City in Space, will be released in October. CFI of Britain and Ex Machina of France were responsible for the 3-D computer graphics.
CLASTER TO BRING 3-D TO SYNDIE
Animation distributer Claster TV is bringing out a new half-hour kids strip for fall 1996 that will be the first announced show in syndication to user the 3-D computer animation employed by the Disney hit "Toy Story."
The Claster strip project, titled "ATV," will use the computer animation in the high-tech sci-fi adventure series "Beast Wars." It will be produced in Vancouver at a facility owned by Alliance Communications Corp.
"ATV" also will include the action-fantasy "R.U.S.H." and new episodes of the "G.I. Joe: Extreme" series. By putting three programs under one umbrella title, Claster can market them as a strip.
Claster, which also announced plans to launch a "Beast Wars: Transformers" miniseries in the spring, is offering "ATV" on a straight barter basis, with stations retaining the most commercial time in the second and fourth quarters.
[22-Aug-96 Editor's node: "ATV" has been renamed to "Power Block", "R.U.S.H" has been dropped, and "VOR-Tech" and "ReBoot" added. Also, "Beast Wars: Transformers" is known as "Beasties" in Canada.]
Alliance Communications Inc. of Toronto has nailed down a deal with software publisher Electronic Arts to create CD-ROM games based on the computer-animated TV series "Reboot", which is seen on ABC in the United States and YTV in Canada. The agreement was signed by Electronic Arts Canada, a unit of the San Mateo, Calif.-based software company, and Mainframe Joint Venture, which is owned by a subsidiary of Alliance; Sublime Films Ltd., controlled by "Reboot" exec producer Steve Barron; and the Hub Ltd;, owned by "Reboot" creators Gavin Blair, John Grace, Phil Mitchell and Ian Pearson.
This image of Dot and Cecil was reversed on page A2.
Inside is a 39 page "Spotlight: Animation". Page A4 has "CGI revolution hits television" by Ellen Wolff ('ReBoot,' 'Pigasso' just the start) It continues on page A34 under the heading "TV gets a case of 3-D". The part on ReBoot is:
But no other place is more involved in establishing a 3-D animation beachhead on TV than a Vancouver studio called the Hub, backed by Canada's Alliance Communications and BLT Prods. That's where the syndicated "ReBoot" is produced, the first cartoon series consisting of nothing but 3-D computer animation.
Created by the same people who animated the Dire Straits video "Money for Nothing", "ReBoot" premiered last September and is a primetime hit in Canada. It airs on ABC in the United States and is being dubbed for 24 other countries.
The show is produced completely by 30 production people, including music and editorial, says Cheryl Blakeney, a spokesperson for the show. "We do two episodes in six weeks," which can be grueling, she says, given the amount of computational time required.
"The outlay of equipment is huge," Blakeney acknowledges, adding, "We're the only people who do this in any kind of mass quantity, so we're paying top dollar for everything. Pretty soon, there will be a whole bunch of people doing it, and the prices will go down and down, and we'll still be paying our bills!"
Blakeney believes, "Five years from now, the whole industry is going to be digital."