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.

New inspiration for Wapos creators

Wapos Bay’s Trevor Cameron, who is the voice of the character Kohkom, and the character Jacob talk over the script in a set up shot.
Photograph by: Sp Gord Waldner, The StarPhoenix

By Sean Trembath, The StarPhoenix April 19, 2011

After a decade, 34 episodes and one feature-length movie, the team behind beloved Saskatchewan stop-motion children’s show Wapos Bay is moving on.

“It’s quite bittersweet. You develop a project for so long. It’s 10 years we’ve been doing Wapos Bay here in Saskatchewan,” said Melanie Jackson, who wrote, produced and directed the show with her husband Dennis.

Monday was the last day of shooting on Long Goodbyes, a movie of the week for APTN, the final chapter of the show. The movie will air this fall, date to be announced.

The Saskatoon studio is still full of characters and sets familiar to all who have seen the show. While some models will be re-purposed, fans could get a chance to own a piece of the show’s history.

“We might have some draws or a contest to be able to take part of Wapos Bay home,” said Melanie.

Promoting the movie has given the studio a chance to try out a new medium, its first video game, in co-operation with Toronto game development studio in Phantom Compass.

“All the visual assets for the video game were produced here in the studio,” said TransMedia producer Ryan Lockwood.

Wapos Racerz is a Mario Kart-style racing game featuring characters and locations from Wapos Bay. The Canadian Media Fund, a federal program designed to encourage development across all forms of digital media, helped with financing.

“We just wanted to extend the whole Wapos Bay experience into other spaces that kids and fans of the series could play, share and interact with,” said Lockwood.

The game, still in development, will be released on several Internet game sites a few weeks before the movie airs.

While sad to see Wapos Bay end, both Dennis and Melanie are ready to move on to Guardians, their next stop-motion project. Guardians is a science fiction series for teenagers set 41 million years in the future after an ice age. The story follows teenagers of various indigenous descents who have been raised from embryos by robots in an underground bunker as they venture out into a world vastly different from what we know today.

The Jacksons have been developing the show for seven years, but the idea goes even farther back.

“It’s a series I’ve always had, since I was 14. It became more affordable to do something sci-fi, with computer software getting better and a lot of animators coming out, especially here in Saskatoon,” said Dennis. His excitement was palpable as he talked about getting the project underway and designing the fantastic settings and creatures his characters will encounter.

“In pre-production, we’re going to be exploring these worlds – what we can build, what has to be computer graphics. It’s just going to be a huge development process,” he said.

Guardians will begin shooting next winter. The first six episodes will air in the fall of 2012 on APTN.

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Sneak Peek at “Guardians” Character Design

While Wapos Bay is in production on the movie, Wapos Wheelz! video game and eBook, the Art Department’s Amber Rees finds time to sculpt the maquette for CHUM, one of the characters of “Guardians,” Dennis Jackson’s next project.

The sculpt of CHUM is based on a concept drawing by Andrew Doll seen here:

and the detailed architecture of the maquette here:

Guardians is a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic adventure series for teen boys.’ – Dennis Jackson, Creator.

I think we’re all excited about trying something new and that’s original and that’s another creation from Dennis that we can all sink our teeth into creatively and technically because it will be a totally different thing than shooting Wapos Bay. There will be lots of action sequences, lots of robots, and lots of different terrains that I think we’ll be able to create for the show.’ –Anand Ramayya, Producer

Synopsis:  In the distant future, the Earth is reborn and nature has been replenished after a global catastrophe triggers a twenty six thousand year long ice age, the result of which has destroyed modern civilization and has brought about the extinction of ninety five percent of planetary species as we know it.  n massive bunkers built deep beneath the Earth, the Guardians, advanced machine-like androids were pre-programmed to initiate human births. The Guardians raised the children specifically to re-populate the New Earth. The oldest humans are fifteen years old and must lead the human race. They soon learn that they are not alone on the planet. They discover that an intelligent species, the Dumathar, has staked out a home world beneath the Earth’s oceans. Connected to their past, armed with advanced technology, the youth must balance the danger of repeating history and co-existing in the New World.

Guardians is in development with support from the Canada Media Fund, SaskFilm, APTN and Wapos Bay Productions.

The Future of Wapos Bay Studio

As the Wapos Bay crew is busy in production on the movie, Long Goodbyes, the Wapos Wheelz video games & eBook, the Production team looks forward to what the future may bring.