A visit to the animation studios, 2-Jul-97
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What I did on my summer vacation (1997)

by Joe Smith.   [images]

I went to visit the folks at Mainframe Entertainment Inc. between the holidays. (July 1st is Canada Day, July 4th in Independence Day in the US, I was there on 2-Jul-97 and 3-Jul-97.) Downtown Vancouver is a beautiful city. (Note the obelisk in the last picture; it is very much like the tower that guarded the floating island in the Beast Wars episodes "The Trigger Effect, parts 1 and 2".)

The office is at 1045 Howe St, in the same building as the National Film Board. (A name often seen in Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation.) Mainframe Entertainment Inc. takes up the fifth, sixth, and seventh floors. The main office is in suite 710, and the receptionist's area has a display case with samples of merchandizing for ReBoot and Beast Wars.

I was met by Mairi Welman, Director of Corporate Communications, and her assistant, Kathleen Gallager. We were joined by Gavin Blair, one of the co-creators of ReBoot, and had lunch by the bay. The weather was pleasant, so we ate at table outside. I didn't have a cap like Gavin, so even though it was partly cloudy, I got a little bit sunburned.

There are a lot of friendly people working at Mainframe, more than what I've got pictured here.

Mainf14.jpg - Adam Wood-Gaines and Tim Belsher - Software Developers
Mainf15.jpg - Andrew "Spanky" Grant - Sr. Animator, in the IMAX suite
Mainf16.jpg - Back of Senior animator Keith "Yoshimo" Arima's head, in the IMAX suite
Mainf17.jpg - Office of Dr. Dave Fracchia a.k.a. Dr. Dude - Sr. Software Developer
Mainf18.jpg - Marco Tremblay - Modeler (note Rocky the Rabid Raccoon)

The guys in the IMAX suite are working on the IMAX RideFilm. The ride is a little like the Star Tours at Disneyland, in that it seats 15 to 20 people on hydraulicly operated benches, but film is projected on a hemispherical screen with a wrap-around view.

Like a lot of jobs related to engineering, there aren't too many female computer animators. But Mainframe would like to hire more young women. There are plenty of job opportunities.

Mainf24.jpg - Terri-Kim "TK" Chuckry - Animator
Mainf25.jpg - Mabel Chan - Animator
Mainf19.jpg - Jeremy Miller - Modeler
Mainf20.jpg - Ryan Cleven & Christos Obretenov - Co-op students in the Software Development Dept.
Mainf21.jpg - Steve Sacks - Editor, Steve Ball- Director and Walter Hseih - Supervising Animator in Avid 'A'
Mainf22.jpg - Jason Fredricksen - Sound Wizard

The snack room is stocked with all sorts of beverages and cold cereal. (When you've got a bunch of computer animators, all in their early twenties, they don't want to be bothered going outside to refuel while in the middle of a project.)

These people are busy rendering Season III of ReBoot. The first four episodes of the 1997-1998 season have the Mainframers battling Megabyte and Hexadecimal on their own, now that Bob is lost in the Web. Then something major happens. Enzo and AndrAIa are grown up and still searching for Bob as they travel through the Net.

After the 16th Season III episode is finished, the animators will start in on the second season of Beast Wars. Look for cool trans-metal versions of the main action figures.

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