Check out this great piece from April’s studio open house courtesy of MBC Radio. It includes an exclusive interview with Dennis Jackson (creator/writer/director/producer), as well as, Melanie Jackson (producer), Ryan Lockwood (transmedia producer) and actress Andrea Menard!
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
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
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 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
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!
Courtesy of Craig Olson, Gaffer (from January 2011)
It’s a week before production on the Wapos Bay Movie and the Lighting/Camera Crew is called in to bring in all the gear (Cameras, Lenses, Lighting & Grip Gear) that our department needs to start the year. It’s sad to see an award winning Canadian television show come to an end, but I’m excited that we get to do one last Movie to close the show out. Not too many productions get the chance to say goodbye the right way, knowing that the show is over and having a chance to do what they always wanted to.
Our Crew has worked hard over the last week to get all of our bays ready to shoot for next Monday when the animators come in and shooting starts! The studio has been modified to fit 10 bays this year which means that we need to have 10 different shots ready to go at all times (ideally). We use almost all of our gear in setting up those 10 bays as our department “stash” area is now almost empty. Everything is “Tickitty-Boo” according to Peter. I have learned that the phrase “Tickitty-Boo” is a good phrase meaning that life is good and we’re all happy.
It is the job of our crew to help convey the vision of the Director through camera angles, lenses and light. We set up the camera and control light to the exact millimeter of where it should be to enhance the visual look of the shot. Once the DP (Director of Photography) is happy with how the shot looks, the Director approves the shot and will communicate character direction to the Animator. With the help of the Animation Supervisor (Cam Lizotte), the Director will make sure that the Animator has all the information needed to complete the shot.
Talon and Raven learn that their dad, Alphonse, has taken a job in the big city and their family will have to move away from Wapos Bay. This news takes Talon on a journey of self discovery as he sets off to accomplish his bucket list of things he wanted to do with his friends before they left. Raven, on the other hand, decides to take matters into her own hands with the clear goal of keeping the family in Wapos Bay.
With Jacob lined up to take the seat of Chief of Wapos Bay unopposed, Raven decides to campaign for her dad, Alphonse, to run against him and become the new Chief. Raven must creatively run the election without her dad knowing, but she believes this will convince her family to stay in Wapos Bay. With their whole world being turned upside down, Talon and Raven must join forces to keep the family together before it’s too late.
Here are some pictures of some of the things that go on behind the scenes at Wapos Bay The Movie!
Notice the detail in the work that has been done by the art department:
Check out the Director of Photography (Peter Christiansen) looking over a shot:
Catch Dennis Jackson (Director & Producer) as he lines up some puppets in one picture:
And looking over the “Wall of Storyboards” to make sure his shot will match the shot before & after in the movie:
Get a sneak peak of what’s going on in the World of Wapos Bay before you see the Movie!