In the Dan Dare Universe,
it's the 1950's and all the planets and even the stars, contain sentient
life. Space travel and aliens are commonplace, but peace in our solar
system, is not. Sounds like we need a hero! The guy in the
red pants to the right, is our man; beating up bad guys and saving Earth
(and even sometimes the entire solar system), from certain destruction.
And all the while, he's very very British, "make no mistake!" This
isn't your ordinary kid's TV series.
retro sci-fi series was picked up from Netter Digital after they went bankrupt
and closed their doors early in 2001. I was again, concerned about
having to "clean up" someone else's mess, just as we had with Max Steel,
Season 1. But those fears and concerns melted away as production
at Foundation Imaging
began on this unique and rather fun to produce series.
finished only about 6 of the shows before "running out of money" and since
there was a limited budget from our client in England, we were only allowed
to fix or complete about half the series. To my mind, this was an
unfortunate decision, since I feel there is a pretty big difference in
the quality between each studios' episodes, with character performance,
being one of the main issues.
of the performance problems with the Netter shows, I thought, were
that they attempted to use a digital facial capture system to do all the
dialogue and acting for their characters. This clearly doesn't have
the same warmth and range of expressivity that much of Foundation's hand
keyed facial performances contained. The other glaringly painful
difference, is the general quality of their motion capture hardware, actor
performance, direction, bone setups and motion data filtering. Confused?
Just watch the show, and you'll see what I mean.
interesting thing to note, is that after the demise of Netter Digital,
Foundation picked up a great number of their employees to work on Dan Dare.
In short order, it became clear that many of these people were producing
amazing work at FI (the use of photo textures for the upgraded main characters,
for instance), which begged the question of why things were so different
under Netter's direction. I believe it is this: PIPELINE.
Foundation, the production flow from boards to screen had been honed over
the course of years, while doing shows like B5, Voyager, DS9, Roughnecks
and Max Steel. When Dan Dare arrived
at FI, a system for interdepartmental communications, procedural checks,
quality assurance and improvements, was already in place and allowed everyone
to maximize the time they had. Though the system was not perfect
under FI, it was clear that their production pipeline let people do their
best and the end result is a testament to that fact.
Coolness in the Heat
production of the series, I had the distinct pleasure of working with Bob
Forward, who has been writing kids shows as far back as "HeMan and
the Masters of the Universe." He's also written episodes for "Beast
Wars," "Biker Mice from Mars," and quite recently, "X-Evolution", which
currently airs on Kid's WB on Saturday mornings in the US.
was the producer for Dan Dare and he acted as the liaison between the client
in England and Foundation. I must say, after working under Sony's
yoke for a year and a half, I thought working under Mr. Forward was a dream
come true. This guy let us do things that we thought were cool to
enhance the show, instead of whining that the boards were some sort of
fundamentalist bible, never to be deviated from. It was such a unique
experience working with a client that was open to change, and understood
the basic production challenges that a fully 3D show puts on a studio and
The Future of a CG
the Foundation episodes will be strong enough to give Dan Dare a shot at
a second season. I know I'd love to work on it. Current rumor
about a new live action show has been making the rounds recently as well.
you have any info on what the euro-press is saying about the show, or how
you feel about it, I'd love to hear from you.
media in Europe seems to be rather mixed over the announcement of the show's
production. Even though the Eagle Comic that gave birth to Dan Dare
has been out of publication for several decades now, many die hard fans
seem almost wounded that anyone would actually make a fully 3D CGI version
of one of Britain's most famous comic heroes.
that not all the elements in the show were directly plagiarized from the
2D realm they originally arose from. But to me, most of those extraneous
elements are merely props. I believe we've kept the spirit of Dan
Dare alive by this latest attempt at bringing his world to ours: for a
new and younger audience that would never have met him, nor possibly cared
to, any other way.
Top Image Created by Joe Lawson
& Mark Shimer for publicity purposes.
Ellis provides the voice for Dan Dare, and I've included a fun little
take he did for us, which has nothing to do with the show, whatsoever.
I also have one
of the Mekon, done by Rob Paulsen, saying some funny
stuff, which also has nothing to do with the show.
These files are
in 8 bit mono, PCM, .wav format. Enjoy.
Evil Equinax, leader of
Warriors. I think
non human aliens ROCK!
More examples of what
you can do with
Labs' "Sasquatch" software.
tests were never used in actual production, when I realized that 5 of these
guys in one shot, would take over an hour to render. 15-20 minutes
a frame is what we try to shoot for, in "kid vid". In the end, only
the "hero" horse character, Equinax, got fur. I can't think of any
other studio that would have let me add this kind of detail to a show with
a 6 week production cycle and tight budget.
To find out more about
the CG Series and view the Online Trailer, take a look at:
Be forewarned that this
site has a painful Flash interface...
you'd like to learn more about the Dan Dare from the Eagle Comics, try
Home page of Nicholas Hill
Dare: The Croatian Version
Ye olden Dan Dare