Thursday, August 14, 2014

DHX Finalizes Their New Inspector Gadget Design

This just in! Far into the production of the new TV series, DHX Halifax has decided to add one last detail to Gadget's CGI design - the long-neglected mustache from the pilot episode! According to vice-chairman Michael Hirsh, one of the co-producers of the original season 1: "We always felt Gadget looked better with the mustache, as per Bruno Bianchi's original vision, but at the time we had to remove it because the MGM Studios claimed it was too close to their detective character, Inspector Clouseau. Today, however, Inspector Gadget is a well-known brand in its own right, and obviously there is no risk of our new series being confused with the Pink Panther movies. So we felt it was finally time to bring the mustache back for a new generation of fans."

But why make this change so late in the production process? Says Hirsh, "We've actually been debating back and forth for a couple of years now whether the mustache should be part of the new design. At first, we admittedly did decide against it, as evidenced by the character designs and animation released so far. But over the past few weeks, the creative team here at DHX Halifax has really gotten vocal in defending the mustache, and everybody sort of said the same thing - let's do this! So, yes, we're revising the already completed animation to get the mustache included. It's funny how things come full circle", Hirsh muses. "Back when we did the original series, we had to remove the mustache at the eleventh hour. Now, we're doing last-minute revisions to get the mustache back in there! It's all worth it, though. The mustache will make a huge difference to our new reboot of Gadget."

The new mustache design hews closely
to the original 1982 pilot episode.

I really don't have words to describe my reactions to this, but I'll try. I'm just baffled. I want to stay open-minded towards DHX's creative decisions, but this one - bringing back a major design detail not seen since the original show's pilot episode - really came out of nowhere. I think I'll just have to wait and see how this works. Seeing as Gadget has a new voice sounding somewhat different from Don Adams, I guess it's not impossible that the mustache could work as well, but...

...what? You want me to admit what? Okay, okay: I'M KIDDING. NONE OF THIS IS TRUE. Sorry if I gave someone a heart attack. It's just that, well... fellow fan Cortoony and I have been having this tongue-in-cheek discussion in the comments to this other post about how wonderful it would be if DHX had revived Gadget's original mustache for their new design. One thing led to another... and suddenly Cortoony did an awesome-looking edit of the CGI design with the mustache added to it. It looked so real that it just inspired me, and I had to do this what-if post. So, yeah, that is of course Cortoony's edit we're seeing at the top of this post. My apologies to DHX Media and Michael Hirsh - and thanks, Cortoony, for the terrific mustache rendition of the new Gadget. Cortoony's original upload can be seen here, by the way. (Yes, I mirror reversed his image to match the officially released character design even more. That's how shrewd I am.)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Full-Figure Version of New Series Picture With Gadget, Penny, Quimby, Brain... and Apparently the Gadget Mobile

Low-res, I know, but much better than nothing:

After seeing the first teaser animation for the new series yesterday, did you think that was all the news I had for you at the moment? No sir-E! A few minutes before that discovery, I actually also found the above image... but being short on time (as can happen when you're on vacation), I decided to prioritize the animated footage. But hey, that means today's post can focus on the group picture!

We are of cource looking at a full, or at least fuller, version of the image I posted back on July 11. The version I posted then had better resolution, but was obviously cropped, as shown by Brain's ears popping up in the lower right corner. The current version of the motive is sourced from a PDF press kit from France TV - you'll have to download the PDF to your harddisk to open it - which was released online at Annecy Replay 2014 sometimes in June to sum up the June 11 press conference by France Télévisions at Mifa (The International Animation Film Market) at the Annecy festival. In other words, yes, the same press conference where the animated teaser clip was first screened. Gee, seems I just can't stop talking about that.

But let's talk about the image! Finally, we get to see the full-figure versions of Penny and Chief Quimby, and not least, what I think is the first really representative image of Brain. His color looks much better here than in the photo from the Chronicle Herald article - not as dark, and closer to the original fur. Generally, Brain's design keeps growing on me, though it still leans a bit too much towards a realistic dog. But I'll wait and see how he works in animation.

Penny's high-heeled, red boots look good, I think, matching the color of her skirt and also signaling that she's older than in the original series. Gadget's rocket skates seem fine, with a sense of fun to their design. Chief Quimby is looking a bit slimmer than I expected, but overall good, and I like his wardrobe. Judging by his pose, the Chief seems to be slightly anxious at the sight of Gadget... perhaps in fear of being blown up by an unexpected, top-secret message? (I do hope that Quimby's suffering in the new show WILL be mainly connected to the self-destructing messages, as in the original. I do not need a reprise of the over-destructive relationship between Gadget and Colonel Nozzaire from the Gadgetinis series, which took the violent aspect much too far and made Gadget's unintentional hurting of Nozzaire more frustrating and annoying than anything else.)

I have to make one more remark on Quimby, though: how frikkin' short is he supposed to be? Look at the height difference between him and Gadget, and Penny for that matter. I actually thought he was sitting when I saw the cropped version of this image earlier. In the original show, Quimby was almost as tall as Gadget, coming across as a normal-height adult. The height difference between him and Gadget in the new series seems extreme enough that he could have been a child (though on the other hand, Gadget's legs do seem really long in that picture).

(And needless to say, we're ALL extremely frustrated that DHX's new Gadget design didn't revive
the stylish mustache in this model sheet. Don't keep it in, fans! Voice your anger!)

Again, I'll reserve judgment until I see the new design animated. I'm sure the designers had their reasons to go for such a short and small Quimby, but not quite so sure yet if I agree with them.

And before I forget -- the Gadget Mobile. Yeah, that car probably has to be Gadget's new vehicle, seeing as it's so prominently displayed in the background. To be honest, this is the design I like the least of everything I've seen so far. The car doesn't look nearly as cool or unique to me as the original model, neither the Gadget Van mode nor the Mobile mode. I'd really like to know more about what the new car can do, though... for instance, does it have transformation modes?

Cel setup with the Gadget Van from the episode "Curse of the Pharaoh" 

Original model sheet of the Gadget Mobile. Could the
police car model be hiding inside the new car?

Rounding off, here's a snapshot of France TV's press kit presentation, from double-spread 26 (or page 47) of the PDF. Note that the Inspecteur Gadget series is listed under "Achats", meaning "Purchases". (Many other series in the kit are sorted under 'Development', 'Production' etc.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

First Teaser Footage From DHX's New Inspector Gadget Series ("Inspector Gadget Audition, Take 7")

Yes, really! It's been well over a year since we got our first glimpse of the new Gadget... now we can finally see him in animation! Go to 01:51 in the video below to see the the Inspector himself in the process of, um, auditioning for his new show. (Alternatively, click here to start playing the video from 01:51 on its Vimeo site. Whatever you do, watch it.)

For a bit of context, this video is a promo/trailer put together for the press conference of France Televisions at The International Animation Film Market (Mifa), which is the Market section of the famous Annecy animation festival in France. Annecy took place from June 9 to 14 this summer, so that's when the footage got its first exposure. The Vimeo video was uploaded on June 17, so it's actually been out for almost two months without anyone noticing the clip. Sometimes, really big news can be really good at hiding.

I don't have time to say much more right now, but I will say this: I think the visuals look very good for television CGI. The animation is fun. It's appealing. It's even quite elastic. The teaser itself is funny and feels very much in character. And the voice... well, it's definitely a different take than a Don Adams impersonation (in other words, that's not Maurice LaMarche we're hearing), but I actually kinda like it. I don't need a dead-on imitation of Adams as long as the voice has the right charm and personality. Plus, maybe it WAS time for a change, considering that direct impersonations seldom manage to truly live up to the original.

I'm hyped. How about you?