Friday, June 27, 2014

More Photos of the DHX Crew Animating Gadget

The photo shoot from DHX Halifax continues! This time via the Twitter account of politician Geoff Regan (the husband of Kelly Regan, who tweeted the first photo I showcased). What's up with DHX and all these politicians? Well, the photos circulating around Twitter all seem to stem from an 'open house' tour DHX arranged on the evening of June 24, the day they officially opened their new and larger Halifax studio offices. Here are Geoff's Gadget-related photos:

The original Twitter caption for this one included a little tidbit about the production process:
"Creating animated comedy takes time. A week's work = 40 seconds of a show."

I'm intrigued by these shots of Penny and Gadget (edit: and apparently also Brain in the back seat) inside a car. Is it supposed to be new version of the Gadget Mobile? Also, might this be an example of Penny and Gadget officially working together on a case (since she's an inspector/agent-in-training in the new series)?...

Not much Gadget here, but I believe we might be seeing
an Inspector Gadget model sheet on the wall
right above those computer screens...

And finally, via the Twitter of PR Professional Michelle Crosby, another photo of Len animating on that shot we've already seen. This time around, we see a little more of the on-screen action. Is that possibly Brain in the edge of the left-hand screen, being chased by Gadget?

Thanks to Cortoony for the photo links!

Looking Over the Shoulder of Inspector Gadget Animator Len

Look look look! HE'S ANIMATING!

After just discovering the new series designs of Penny and Brain, here we have our very first behind-the-scenes glimpse of the CGI animation process. It's pretty fresh, too: The photo was posted to the Twitter account of a lady named Kelly Regan three days ago, on June 24, with the caption, "Len is animating Inspector Gadget here at DHX Media." (Meaning specifically DHX Halifax.) Adding to that, I think we can also glimpse the storyboard Len is working from right underneath his computer screen. I kinda like that frame of Gadget; it seems to be a slapstick-based shot. One detail which seems a bit weird: there's apparently a lot of space between his eyes and hat. Then again, this might be an extreme moment.

How long has the series been in animation? I'm not sure exactly, but I would guess at least for a couple of months. I learned the name of another animator, Evan Madinsky, through this article on DHX, and Evan's LinkedIn profile tells me that he started out on the show as a layout artist in January but has also been animating since April. So that should give an indication of the production process, though it doesn't necessarily tell us exactly when animation for the series (in general) started.

(I must admit I don't know anything more about the animator Len (his surname is not included), and I'm not 100% sure how the photo uploader Kelly Regan ties into DHX, either. Regan is a politician in Halifax, which doesn't tell me much; but I'm guessing she might be related to David Regan, an executive vice president at DHX.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New Series Designs of Penny and Brain Revealed!

And it's ON!

More than a whole year after we got to see the redesigned Gadget in CGI, we get our very first look at Penny and Brain. Courtesy of this Chronicle Herald article, they and Gadget (and The Doozers, unrelated show) pose together with supervising producer Phillip Stamp (hey, don't we already know him?) at DHX Halifax's newly opened space at Park Lane Terrace.

Wow. Just wow. I really don't know what to say at the moment. Will I have a more reflected view on this later on? Possibly. But right now... these are my gut instincts speaking.

Penny: The moment I saw her design, I wasn't sure it rubbed me the right way... but the more I look at it, the more I like it. At least I think I like it. She is different from the original series, to be sure, but her look retains some of the same spirit and personality. Maybe her head shape is slightly generic, but the face and eyes feel like Penny... though I wish I could see those parts in higher resolution to judge properly. And I like how part of the original hair style is kept, but the hairdo still looks slightly different. One question, though, exactly how old is she supposed to be? I'm getting a 15-16 years vibe from the photo, personally.

Brain: Not quite so sure about his design. I do think it looks kind of charming, but... this design doesn't quite say "Brain" to me the way the two other designs say "Penny" and "Gadget". He looks less cartoony and more like a real dog than in the original series - which is surpricing to me, since I find the designs of Penny and Gadget VERY cartoony (in a good way). Although, maybe there will be a contrast between his look when standing on all fours, acting like a normal dog, and his look as a humanized dog standing on his hind legs. We know that he will don disguises in the new series, like in the old, so I'm expecting a lot of cartoony slapstick and action from that. Also, I like his suspicious facial expression - that does feel like Brain.

What would the original Penny and Brain say about their revamped look?

Before I forget... the Chronicle Herald piece also included a few written observations on the new series, including a very enthusiastic quote from Phillip Stamp:

DHX has three series in production at the Halifax studio, including the highly anticipated Inspector Gadget relaunch, and an announcement of a couple of other titles to be produced at the site is expected soon. 
There was a glow of Inspector Gadget-like characters, gadgets and backdrops emanating from most computer screens during the tour, providing evidence of the mammoth nature of the conversion of the decades-old children’s favourite into a 3D format animated series. 
“It’s a safe bet you’re on to something good when you’re laughing out loud at sequences during production,” Stamp said.

Oh, and... Need I mention that, despite my design criticisms above, I'm excited as hell to see more of this? C'mon, DHX, give us more! High-res character designs! Clips! Trailers! Time to roll out the advertising!

Ahem. Anyway, now you've heard my spontaneous rambling. I would love to hear yours. Please, everybody out there who has an opinion about Penny and Brain's new look - voice your opinion in the comments. Are these designs a stunning triumph or a total catastrophe? Or everything-in-between?

UPDATE (June 26): I've been having some interesting discussions about the redesigns with fellow Gadget fans Daniel and Cortoony over in the comments section. One of the main topics has been the colors chosen for Penny and Brain's new designs, compared to those in the original series. Well - just for fun, Cortoony went ahead and actually did his own color edit, changing both Penny's jeans and Brain's overall coloring to match the 1983 colors more closely... and I just had to show it to you. The official version is to the left, Cortoony's edit to the right:

I really like what he's done with Brain, bringing back the brighter colors of the old design; and I think Penny's jeans look awesome with the vibrant green and the added knee pads (not to mention the matching green sweater emblem). That is not to say I don't like the official versions of the designs... in fact, I like them a lot, and Brain is beginning to grow on me. But it's still interesting to compare like this, wouldn't you say? For more, see Cortoony's first color edit attempt, with a more subdued green and without knee pads. And to compare with the original series... here's a cel scan with better-looking colors than the cel photo I posted up above:

Monday, June 16, 2014

Cartoon Network Will Air the New Inspector Gadget Series in the United States

Some days, the news just keeps popping up. And some days, even one sentence mentioned in passing can contain big news - as seen in yesterday's Globe and Mail piece on DHX's revival of Teletubbies:

DHX is scouring its own library, looking for other titles that could merit a remake. New Teletubbies episodes will stick closely to the original feel, but another of its ongoing reclamation projects involves a substantial refresh of the popular 1980s cartoon Inspector Gadget, which will air on Teletoon in Canada and the Cartoon Network in the U.S.

So now we know. The new Gadget series has an American home - on Cartoon Network. Considering that Boomerang picked it up in France, I suppose CN in the U.S. was always a pretty likely scenario (in fact, commenter wile-e2005 guessed it several months ago).

Any CN viewers out there looking forward to this?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

New Inspector Gadget Series Will Be "Slightly Reinvented" But "True to Its Roots" According to Episode Director Bill Gordon

I can be terribly late with reporting them, but: New news about the upcoming TV series is always welcome here. A few hours ago, I came across an article from The Chronicle Herald about the Halifax division of DHX Media - in other words, the division making the new Gadget series. The piece, titled "DHX Media digs in with The Doozers", is strangely not dated, but the mobile version of the site tells me it's 3 days old. So this is pretty fresh stuff. Anyhow; three paragraps in, we get a few words about the Halifax crew's work on their Inspector Gadget series, by now deep into production:

(...) The Doozers is just a small fraction of what DHX produces out of its Downtown Halifax studios. 
Today, the computer screens at the DHX studios are lit up with 3D animated images of Inspector Gadget. DHX has secured the license to the series and it will be produced entirely out of Halifax. “The show will be slightly reinvented, but will maintain the old Gadget feel and be true to its roots,” says episodic director Bill Gordon. Production manager Karen Yetman is excited to see the show evolve. 
“I watched Inspector Gadget as a kid and it’s fun seeing these shows come back to life,” she enthuses. DHX is building incredible momentum. Only 60 people worked there last year, and they anticipate growing to at least 170 employees by this summer. DMX Media is proud to foster local talent and the company often calls on students of NASCAD to join the team, sometimes before they even graduate.

Right here and now, this is sounding pretty good to me. I like director Bill Gordon's statements about the tone and feel they're aiming for in the new show. This is what a reboot of the franchise needs, I think -- enough of the 1983 series' essence to appeal to older fans, but at the same time develop the concept and try new things. Finding the balance between those elements is the challenge, of course, and I'm really curious to see how they pull it off. Just another reason I'm eagerly anticipating this series. Hey DHX, how about releasing a trailer sometime soon?

Also, I like the part about how the entire series is being produced in-house in Canada at the Halifax studio. It creates an interesting contrast to the original 1983 series, which had its animation done overseas at Japanese and Taiwanese studios. Of course, at the time, the show being outsourced was also a big reason why many episodes ended up looking so good, as they were often handled by very talented Japanese animation crews. So the issue has many sides to it. But ideally, I'm thinking an in-house production could lead to a stronger communication between crew members and a stronger sense of direction for the show, and I hope that's the case here.

Oh, and while we're at it: Here's a picture of the new CGI Gadget which you haven't seen on this blog before! WHOOO! I'm really spoiling you today!

(The image is old news, really, as this recruitment ad popped up several months ago on the site Canadian Animation Resources. I guess you can say it reflects how DHX has been ramping up recently for Gadget and other large, in-house productions. In fact, if you check the career section of DHX's site right now, there's still a number of job positions available at the Halifax studio. I wouldn't be surprised if some of those positions are for the Gadget series...)