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 Bay Lives on in Digital World

By Emily Claire Afan, Playback Daily

Wapos Bay the series may be coming to an end on the small screen this fall, but the Saskatchewan team behind the children’s stop-motion animated series has plans for the franchise to live on in the digital media world.

Producers Dennis and Melanie Jackson, and Anand Ramayya recently wrapped production on the final episode, which will air as a feature-length MOW on APTN called Long Goodbyes.

Marrying the traditional art of stop-motion animation with the new interactive side was no easy task, but the team was intent on keeping the same look of the series across the board.

According to Hulomedia transmedia producer Ryan Lockwood, WaposBay.com is a “very close translation” of the series that plays on the exploration and adventure themes that have drawn kids to the series for the last five seasons on APTN. (The site received CMF funding.)

WaposBay.com launched last fall, and this coming fall, the interactive offering is Wapos Racerz! (pictured), a Mario Kart-esque style casual racing game from Toronto independent game company Phantom Compass.

“It was a challenge to do the game in stop-motion,” show creator Dennis Jackson tells Playback Daily, echoing Lockwood’s thoughts on keeping the stop-motion look consistent across Wapos products. “It would probably be easier to do it in Flash, but we were adamant to have it look like the show.”

Lockwood worked with fellow Hulo producer Brooke Burgess on the game as well, noting that animators on the MOW also contributed to the creation of Racerz!

Digital extensions of the brand slated for this fall include an interactive storybook series for mobile and tablet platforms that allows readers to flip between Cree, French and Inuktitut languages, as well as linking to videos on its YouTubechannel. On top of that, Wapos Bay episodes will soon be available for downloading on iTunes, streaming rentals and for sale on DVD on Amazon.com, IndieFlix and Netflix.

On tap next for Hulo and WBP is another stop-motion sci-fi project called Guardians, a project which Melanie Jackson says is already locked into coproduction deals with Australia and New Zealand.

Discover The Wonder of Wapos Bay

“I love it when I accidentally stumble upon really cool Canadian stuff. This is, hands down, the coolest kid’s show I have seen in a very long time. Wapos Bay is a super creative stop motion animation television series that is produced in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It is purely Canadian and super aboriginal. The animation is fantastic and the scripts are funny and engaging. Plenty of Star Wars references and guest appearances by real Canadian celebrities like David Suzuki, Adam Beech, and Jordin Tootoo. It’s so awesome to see puppet versions of these Canadian icons.

Did I mention the website? It’s super interactive with plenty of hidden gems to keep both kids, parents, and animation enthusiasts entertained for more than just a few minutes.

Now if I could just convince them to do a Gogo Bonkers stop motion animation video. Hmmmm. Perhaps a phone call to Anand Ramayya & Dennis Jackson is in order? Sounds like a plan to me. In the meantime, check out Wapos Bay and enjoy!”

- GoGo Bonkers

Read more at  the GoGo Bonkers blog!

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

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

Wapos Racerz by Phantom Compass

My name is Tony Walsh, and I’m the founder of Phantom Compass, a Toronto-based company that makes games in support of TV series. We’ve contributed to game projects on CBC, YTV, Teletoon, and now APTN with “Wapos Racerz,” based on the hit TV series Wapos Bay.

In Wapos Racerz, a free online game launching on the official Wapos Bay site later this year, players will choose one of four characters from the series–each of whom drives a unique go-kart–and race through the town of Wapos Bay and its surrounding wilds. Players will be able to spot visual surprises during the race, and collect Slushy Kitty cups to unlock video clips. Racing against three other characters, or against a “ghost” racer of their best time, the player can try for a personal best score or submit their high score for others around the world to beat.

All of us at Phantom Compass are fans of animation–and from a personal standpoint, I’ve always loved classical stop-motion animation (my background is in illustration). The team at Wapos Bay Interactive is currently hard at work animating the characters and vehicles for the game. We’ll be using these stop-motion animations in combination with 3D graphics to provide a fast-paced racing game true to the vibrant look, feel and spirit of Wapos Bay.

Phantom Compass began making the game early this year and at the time of this writing we’re busy with the game’s first playable prototype. The prototype will be a rough test to show how the basic physics and driving system plays out. While we’re making the prototype, we’re also generating concept sketches and “pre-visualization” footage. At this stage, we’re roughing out the entire game–nothing’s pretty yet, but by mid-year we’ll have some eye candy in place.

Over the coming months we’ll be providing the Wapos Bay team with updates on the game’s progress. This will provide a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into making a game, and maybe even a chance to offer your suggestions for what you hope to see in Wapos Racerz!

Nominated for Best Comedy and the Ruth Shaw Award

Wapos Bay is nominated for a Golden Sheaf Award for Best Comedy as well as the Ruth Shaw Award at this year’s Yorkton Film Festival! Both nominations are for Episode 29 – The World According to Devon, written by Trevor Cameron and directed by Cam Lizotte.

Congratulations and good luck to Dennis Jackson, Melanie Jackson, Cam Lizotte, Anand Ramayya, Trevor Cameron and the Wapos Bay cast and crew!

Synopsis

Devon tells his version of the T-Bear and Devon living in prehistory and trying to become men.  In Devon’s story, Wapos Bay is negotiating peace with the Brown Toe people; a rival tribe down the river and the Brown Toe Chief is concerned about reports of strangers on the river.

In a bid to show their maturity they discover the Principal Steele is on a trade mission whilst looking for a spice route to China. They boys help him and inadvertently get put in the middle of Wapos Bay’s peace with the Brown Toe people and this new stranger. The boys stand up for Principal Steele and learn becoming men isn’t just about showing how strong you are; it’s also about using their sensibilities.  The Brown Toe people and Wapos Bay adults end up trading with Principal Steele and Talon, T-Bear and Devon are declared men for their bravery.  Devon ends his story and impresses everyone including his teacher and they allow him to tell another story.  Devon has found his new gift of oral storytelling.

Dennis Jackson on his Canada AM gig

The idea of a national news program (Canada AM) covering a national native organization’s election (Assembly of Sovereign Indian Federations A.S.I.F.) struck me as funny and at the same time, why not? While the national news does cover the Assembly of First Nations (A.F.N.) election results, I thought it would be unique and some room for comedy if the news anchors were physically there at the elections themselves. In an early draft, they were written as reporter #1 and reporter #2. As a fan of the show, I rewrote the opening to have the Canada AM reporters, Beverly Thomson, Seamus O’Regan, Jeff Hutcheson and Marci Ien. We then contacted the producers of Canada AM, sent them a script and requested their participation in voicing their own characters for our animated children’s program. It was an incredible honor when they accepted and we recorded them at the CTV studios when we were in Toronto for the Gemini awards, which we also won for best writing!

Melanie and myself were star struck when we first met all four of them on November 2nd, 2010. We went through a quick table reading before the actual recording so that they can familiarize themselves with the dialogue and I can answer any questions they may have. We all had a lot of laughs during the recording as everyone was cracking jokes and laughing at the bloopers. During one of Jeff Hutcheson’s takes, I said, “That was good, we’ll just get another take for safety”, after which Jeff replied jokingly, “Oh okay, that must be director talk for, that sucked.” I couldn’t stop laughing. They were very professional and made our visit a lot of fun and humorous. We also received a tour of the CTV studios, which made the experience all the more enjoyable. We have recently animated some of their scenes and I can’t wait until the Canada AM crew can watch their animated performances!

Here are a few photos from that day…

Day 1: Shooting begins on “Long Goodbyes” at Wapos Bay Studio

The stop motion children’s animation series that has been going for five seasons and won numerous awards and screened at festivals around the world officially begins production on its movie today. The production team is also delighted to announce the launch of WaposBay.com and their production blog, as well as the development of a “Wapos Bay” video game.

Here’s a quick peak at the studio from yesterday:

“It’s been a long journey for us,” said producer Anand Ramayya of their start in 2003 with a pilot episode, the eventual development to a series that began airing in 2005, and winning their fourth Gemini award in 2010. “In the last five years we’ve done over $11 million dollars of production in Saskatoon, and we’ve employed over 50 people every single year. We’re proud to have built up the reputation we have [as being one of the top-rated stop motion studios in the country].”

“Long Goodbyes” will be the final installment of the TV series. In addition to regulars Lorne Cardinal (Corner Gas) and Gordon Tootoosis (Legends of the Fall), expect to hear some new voices in the movie, including Canada AM’s Seamus O’ReganBeverly Thomson, Marci Ien and Jeff Hutcheson. The movie will premiere in the fall on APTN with a limited advance theatrical release.

View an animatic teaser clip from the movie at:

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