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.

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!

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

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.

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

Read more: http://www.thestarphoenix.com/entertainment/inspiration+Wapos+creators/4638644/story.html#ixzz1K4vHCg00

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.

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.

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