Sneak Peek: Long Goodbyes

Here are a couple photos from Wapos Bay: Long Goodbyes. Make sure you catch the one time free livestream this Sunday – click here for more details!

Is sky diving on your bucket list?

And check out this Canada AM clip from today when producers Dennis and Melanie Jackson visited the studio to talk with Beverly Thomson and Seamus O’Regan about the end of Wapos Bay. Click here to watch!

Lorne Cardinal & Dennis Jackson

Beverly Thomson, Dennis Jackson, Melanie Jackson & Seamus O’Regan

Wapos Racerz Blog- Nearing Beta

Wapos Racerz, where the kids from Wapos Bay take their go-karts to the streets and trails, is nearly ready to rumble. The game is approaching its “Beta” stage of development, which means it’s a bit rough around the edges, but just about done. We’ve been working hard this year with the Wapos Bay Interactive team in bringing the characters and scenes of the series into the game world. As you race through the streets and back roads, the cast of character dot the town and countryside. Keep your eye out for cool little areas that make you want to slow down to look around. My fav spots are the drive-in theatre and the waterpark. On your tour through town, be sure to collect “Slushy Kitty” cups, grab a rabbit pickup to boost you to the front of the pack and avoid turtle pickups that will slow you down. There are even some hidden Easter Eggs for you keeners!

Courtesy Ericka Evans, Producer at Phantom Compass

Pixar Master Class Partly Sponsored by Wapos Bay Productions

Wapos Bay Productions is sponsoring Pixar artists Andrew Gordon’s and Matthew Luhn’s world class Animation & Story Master Class with a private screening and reception to be held on September 16 and 17th in convocation hall at the U of S.

This Master Class is a two-day seminar for industry professionals, students and enthusiasts. Demos and lectures organized with visuals, live-action and animated clips to give attendees the tools needed to create their own stories and quality animations.

At the end of Day 1, attendees will head to the Broadway Theatre for a private screening of the Wapos Bay movie: Long Goodbyes followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers and a reception.

Tickets are $450 ($250 for students). Click here to register!

Wapos Racerz Development Update

A few weeks back we said bye-bye to the little grey boxes that used to drive around the crazy rainbow coloured racetrack that used to be Wapos Racerz Prototype. Now when we are testing our game, we can choose real characters to race as; Devon, Talon, T-Bear or Raven. No more crazy coloured racetrack either; Wapos Bay is starting to come to life and as you drive around the streets you can see that some of the characters and important places from the show are starting to line the streets. There are lots of great improvements happening daily and we are all happy to keep you up to date on what’s going on! Watch out for more game maker profiles too.

Courtesy: Ericka Evans, Producer at Phantom Compass

Wapos Racerz: Making Video Games

Q: What do you need to make video games?

A: Computers.  Ok, that answer might be overly simple, but I think that the question “WHO do you need to make video games?” is more interesting…

There are some video game companies who have hundreds of employees working in teams in space-aged offices, with robots that roam the halls offering bowls of free candy.  And then there are some video game companies who have only one employee who does it all, working tirelessly out of her mom’s basement, surrounded by pizza boxes and empty Dr. Pepper cans.

Gratefully, Phantom Compass falls somewhere in between… Robots kind of scare me.  With four full-time employees and many fantastic contractors, Phantom Compass creates rocking games.

Here is a breakdown of WHO Phantom Compass needs to make the “Wapos Racerz” game for you.

-ARTISTS- Often seen sipping a coffee from a ridiculously small cup with odd little moustaches, the artists are the ones charged with making the game look and sound nice.  They have an imagination for the finished game experience, the artistic skill to create the art needed and often have the technical know-how to get it done.

-PROGRAMMERS- Programmers can look at a problem, debate the 5 billion possible solutions and choose the most efficient solution to move forward with… all in about a nano-second.  They are kind of like robots… but friendly ones, that smile.  They work with and sometimes even create the game’s engine (which is the computer code that makes the game run) and often even make their own tools (programs that run in the game engine) for artist and other programmers to work with.

-DIRECTORS- Like a ships captain, they lead their crew out into the stormy seas of Game Development and safely back to the quiet shores of Final Delivery.  Directors make decisions on which direction the game should go and direct the artists and programmers every step of the way.

-ORGANIZERS- These people are sometimes called Producers or Project Managers, but really they are just like a Mom or Dad who makes sure that everyone is fed, gets to their after-school activities on time, has their homework done and always has a band aid ready in case someone falls down.

So, now you know WHO Phantom Compass needs to create “Wapos Racerz” for you.  These team members are all working hard getting ready for our next deadline.

Keep your eye out for more postings, where you will get to meet some of our team members… None of which are robots.

Cheers,

Ericka Evans,

Producer for Phantom Compass

Studio Tour with Trevor Cameron

Missed April’s studio open house? Check out the video below for your own tour with host Trevor Cameron, Director/Actor/Story Editor of Wapos Bay!

Also, a big thanks from everyone here at the studio to all those who made it out and to all of our fans!

From the Crew to the Producers of Wapos Bay: Thank you!

Dennis Jackson, Melanie Jackson, Anand Ramayya

Watch this exclusive video from the official wrap party! Some of the crew share memorable moments and thank the producers of the Gemini-award winning Wapos Bay!

Want more Wapos Bay fans? You can purchase DVDs on the National Film Board of Canada website and watch for our interactive eBooks and ‘kart-style’ racer video game both coming out this fall!

Don’t forget to check in about the exciting NEW series, Guardians, from the producers of Wapos Bay!

Wapos Racerz Game Prototype

Before I joined the games industry, when I heard the word “prototype,” I thought of a coverall-clad inventor with safety goggles on his head, emerging from his basement after months of tinkering with blueprints and wires. Grinning, he holds his “Prize” high above his head–the first ever model of his invention that actually worked; a Prototype!

Substitute the coveralls with a hoodie, the basement with a computer desk, the blueprints with design documents and wires with wireframes and you have a Game Prototype!

Phantom Compass recently completed the Wapos Racerz Game Prototype. This kind of prototype is called a “Proof of Concept” Prototype, which means that we build only the parts of the game needed to “prove” that we can build a fun racing game. This normally includes only the basic gameplay or “mechanics” for the game without any of the glossy artwork, killer sound, frantic physics or cunning artificial intelligence.

For the Wapos Racerz Prototype, we made a little purplish-grey box that you can drive around a crazy rainbow coloured track. It’s not pretty and certainly not perfect, but it does demonstrate the technology functions like we planned. The player can drive around the track and collide with the track edges–even spin out of control.

Now that the prototype is complete our programmers and artists will be building on this to make it into a real game… but we still have a few steps to go before our game is ready to play properly.

Watch for more postings while we get ready for our next step, which is oddly named “Alpha.”

Ericka Evans,
Producer for Phantom Compass

Wapos Racerz! at the Studio

When I was first exposed to Wapos Bay, I was genuinely amazed; here was a world-class stop-motion animation program that was made in Canada – in Saskatchewan, no less – and it had completely slipped under my radar. Now, I consider myself pretty ‘media savvy’ (especially when it comes to genre programming, and even more so with animation), so if I was surprised by this revelation, the odds implied that a lot of other folks were similarly in the dark. This was a situation that needed to be remedied.

Enter ‘digital media’…or ‘transmedia’, as the hip kids like to call it. When the series creators and producers had mentioned that they were working on upgrading the web presence for the show early last year, I threw my proverbial hat in the ring. Their original plan was to create a basic video hub that featured short clips from the series…and not much else. My goal was to take advantage of current web technology – specifically Flash animation – to create a slice of the Wapos Bay experience online. People from around the world could come to the site, and immediately be immersed in the sights, sounds, and hand-made CHARACTER of the show. It would be packed with custom animations, easter eggs, and access to behind-the-scenes material that showcased the incredible craft of the creative team. 9 months later, Waposbay.com was born – mission accomplished!

So now – with the award-winning series coming to a close with a feature film – we wanted reach an even larger audience to celebrate its conclusion. And with the explosion in casual gaming online, the next phase seemed obvious: give new visitors and established fans a chance to meet the characters and explore the town in a stop-motion racing game. We hope you enjoy a sneak peek at what we have in store for later this Fall – Wapos Racerz is coming to a screen near you!!!

Courtesy Brooke Burgess, Transmedia Producer

Visual Effects in Stop Motion

Stop motion animation is a unique form of an animation in that it often requires visual
effects to be complete. Puppets are posed and then shot in a series of still photographs
that create the illusion of movement. Animators often use rigs to suspend the puppet or
a prop in mid-air, green screens are used to add in a background or to break a scene
into more manageable chunks and, particularly for Wapos Bay, fire and water are added
digitally for a more realistic look. VFX are also often used to clean up, repair or change
the animation all together if the director changes his or her mind later in the editing
room.

The first clip demonstrates a number of techniques. Residual flicker, an artifact from the
lenses, needed to be removed on many of the shots in After Effects using GenArtʼs
Sapphire plug-in. The green screens needed to be pulled in After Effects and replaced
with background photographs. And, of course, Andrew Doll, our VFX supervisor and
lead VFX artist, had to replace the light bulb with a time travel portal (that Bryan
MacCallum created in Particle Illusion) and lightning that was hand drawn in After
Effects.

The second clip is quite a bit more complex. Once again, there is some flicker removal
and keying out of green screens but there is added debris when the truck crashes
through the fence. A box is added to the back of the ATV to maintain continuity with the
next shot and dust particles are added digitally as well.

The crane shot over the truck was more difficult because it also includes camera
movement. The highway had to be cloned and extended to the horizon along with the
trees and ditch. Camera movement is added to subsequent shots to simulate the
movement of the truck and green screens replaced with trees whizzing by. A plate of
the exterminators on the ATV is warped to fit into the mirror of the truck. Rigs are used
extensively in the fight on top of the truck and the truckʼs subsequent crash and needed
to be painted out in After Effects (along with adding more dust and debris to enhance
the effect).

The exterminator vision was created with a colour and text overlay accompanied by
rotoscoping and camera tracking to outline Jacob (again all in After Effects). Rig
removal and the time portal and lightning complete the scene. In the final shots, the
flicker was actually left in and enhanced as it accentuated the lightning quite nicely.

Courtesy John Thronberg, Post Production Supervisor

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