Wednesday, December 31, 2014

45 Seconds of Inspector Gadget Showreel Animation From DHX Halifax

Here's a video I'm embarrassed not to have featured earlier. It was quiely uploaded to the 'net back on October 15 - and by "quietly", I mean that it's not publicly listed on YouTube. It is however available to watch via DHX Halifax's official studio site, which is where I came across it almost two months ago. And yeah, that's the embarrassing part right there: I found this in early November, but didn't post about it then because I felt I should focus on the World Screen clip commentary first, before going on to comment on even more animated footage. In retrospect, I should just have posted it -- commentary or no commentary. I didn't realize it then, but this post ended up getting so delayed that one of my diligent anonymous readers beat me to it, and shared the video in a comment ages ago (good job, by the way!).

Ah well. The silver lining is, I have yet another video to post about before tomorrow's full-fledged premiere airing on Boomerang Asia! Even better, this contains a lot of fun animation, all in sharp 720p HD. So skip to 00:49 in the below embedding to get to the Inspector Gadget section of DHX Halifax's showreel - or click here to watch from that point on YouTube.

This being a showreel, I get a feeling that it gives a truer representation of the new series than the World Screen video, which featured the intro sequence and the start of one episode. Here, as a contrast, the clips are likely sourced from multiple episodes, and specifically selected to show off the Halifax studio's work. With that in mind, I thought I'd include a few ramblings on pieces of animation that I liked, or found otherwise interesting.

I love the shot right at the start where Gadget takes off with his copter. Great anticipation, great bouncy feel to the copter blades, great timing.

(Oh, and: Motion blur. Commonly used these days, it seems, to make CGI animation come off as more cartoony, though it can make it a pain to get decent-looking framegrabs.)

The nice, bouncy quality of the copter blades is even more apparent in this shot at the end, where we also see a disguised Brain skiing after Gadget.

And speaking of following Gadget: the slapstick scene with Brain hanging on to the flying Inspector for his dear life is very fun to watch. Great animation of the frantically running/sliding Brain there. Of course I love how the obstacles just keep building up for him, which is sort a of a nature law when you're Brain.

Also, let's hear it for the beautifully designed night shot of Penny showing off her acrobatic skills. (I could have done without the last camera angle shift, though.)

By the way, who's Penny's friend below? Inspector Gadget's version of Monique? Come to think of it, this version of Penny does seem to veer a tad towards Disney's Kim Possible overall, considering her physical 'action hero' abilities. Penny's outfit in the above night shot even reminds me a bit of Kim's season 4 battle suit. I hope the similarities between the characters will not be too strong.

We also see that Claw's nephew Talon, despite being evil, will get his comic relief moments as well - which I'm sure is there to make him more likeable (and less threatening) to both Penny and the viewers.

Notice that Talon has apparently infiltrated Gadget's headquarters here. Hmmm.

...but at the same time, Talon is not only comic relief. If the below scene is any indication, his relationship/battling with Penny will also provide its share of action.

Plus, we get an action-oriented taste of what Penny's modern-day computer book can do. (I still don't think we know the name of that thing, by the way.)

On the other hand, a few moments in the animation seemed less-than-great to me. One is the scene of Gadget extending his legs to ski over a huge rock: something about the animation and movement there struck me as a bit stiff and lifeless. It was about the only moment in the video where I felt pulled out of the illusion of action.

I also think M.A.D. Cat's lower body here is posed rather stiffly and awkwardly. I like his facial expressions, though.

In the scene where Gadget legs suddenly push him upwards, I was puzzled to see this happen without any sort of anticipation on Gadget's part. No bending down to get ready for the jump, as I would have expected. For that reason, the clip looks a bit strange to me; though I'm willing to wait and watch it in context. (After all, maybe Gadget is actually trying to activate a different gadget here, resulting in the spring legs inadvertedly popping out.)

Regardless, I looove the elasticity of these spring legs. They've always been one of the funniest parts of Gadget's design to me, and it's great to see them back after the boringly streamlined, non-spring legs in Gadgetinis.

Overall, despite my nitpickings with a few scenes, this showreel does give off a good impression. There's a lot of good-looking animation here, some of it quite impressive for television CGI. While not 100% perfect, I'd say this bodes well for the visual side of the new Inspector Gadget series.

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