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.

Production Background:

This 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.

Netter 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.

Part 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.

Strange Ironies:

The 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.

At 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 of Battle:

During 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.

Bob 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 it's people.

The Future of a CG Dan Dare:

Hopefully, 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.

If 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.

Initial Audience Reaction:

The 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.

I understand 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.

Bad Guys in the Dan Dare universe... Except for the good Martian, on the upper right.

Top Image Created by Joe Lawson
& Mark Shimer for publicity purposes.

Greg Ellis provides the voice for Dan Dare, and I've included a fun little out 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.

It took a bit of convincing the studio to use fur in a kid's show...

Evil Equinax, leader of the Chronus
Warriors.  I think non human aliens ROCK!

More examples of what you can do with
Worley Labs' "Sasquatch" software.

A velvet like surface was used in the final show, due to time and budget issues.

These 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...

If you'd like to learn more about the Dan Dare from the Eagle Comics, try these links:

The Home page of Nicholas Hill

Dan Dare: The Croatian Version

Oh bloody hell...  What have they done to me?!?!?!

Ye olden Dan Dare

Many more examples of my work with links and descriptions to come once the show has aired.  Stay Tuned!

Evil Bolg guards contemplate shooting Dan DareThe Prof gets a bit long-winded sometimes...Dan never uses his gun to shoot people, but does use it to help solve problems...


"Roughnecks: The Starship Trooper Chronicles" is a registered trademark of Adelaide Productions, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Columbia Tri-Star Television and the Bohbot Kids Network. ; "Max Steel" is a registered trademark of Mattel Toys, Columbia Tri-Star Television, and Warner Brothers Television.  Content from "Dan Dare: Pilot of the future," is the property of the Dan Dare Corporation & Sony International Distribution.  Images or animations are intended to showcase the work of specific individuals for portfolio purposes only.  No infringement is intended. No reproduction or redistribution of this online material is allowed. Not responsible for any damages and / or profits to or from anyone, either directly or indirectly caused as a result of viewing this site and the materials contained herein.  All opinions expressed are my own and not those of my employers, past, present or future.  Yadda yadda yadda.
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