Captain Scarlet CGI


There has been a great deal of discussion about the proposed CGI Captain Scarlet sequel - a debate that has been clouded by the appearance of a seemingly unauthorised sequence circulating on the web. Keri Allan and Anthony Clark report...

The mystery clip was actually created at the request of Carlton, the show's copyright holder. The company approached a number of computer animation facilities asking each one to pitch for a two minute demo as a precursor to a possible pilot.

One of the companies, Audiomotion, had previously worked with games publisher SCi to create images for its Thunderbirds PC CD-ROM so its staff were already well versed in converting puppets to CGI.

Audiomotion had work extensively on the International Rescue vehicles, "improving" on the original designs while maintaining their overall feel. "We made them look more realistic," said Terry Hylton, creative director of Audiomotion. "We used lots of texturing to make them look lived in, believable." Thunderbird 2 - the most popular design - basically stayed the same. Other craft and vehicles, such as Thunderbird 4, were given a more extensive make-over.

The approach from Carlton came at the perfect time as Audiomotion was reaching the end of a major project. And although the schedule for the Scarlet pilot was tight - just one month - the team enjoyed working on it. "It was fun and it was also something no one had done before," said Hylton.

The designers came together with some new ideas, partly influenced by Japanese animation, and incorporated them into the look of the characters while trying to keep with the style of the original show. The team created a selection of updated costumes and spent a great deal of effort on designing realistic faces that kept close to the original puppets.

Motion Picture Company (MPC), was also approached, this time directly by Gerry Anderson, who worked closely with the company on a five minute pilot. Once again the deadline was tight - just nine weeks. Gerry told MPC that he wanted the CGI version to have a retro feel. He also tressed that it was important to make the faces look like the originals. To do this 10" maquette heads were sculpted and sent over to America for 3D scanning.

It's still not clear if a CGI version of Captain Scarlet will go into production but there is one future project that remains close to Gerry's heart. The rights to remake Thunderbirds revert to Carlton later this year, and that when this happens he'll be knocking on the door trying to persuade the company's senior execs to give him the money to make new CGI episodes. And unlike previous attempts at relaunching the show, Anderson claims that this time he'll stay 100% faithful to the original concept although there's one change he's promised - there will be a greater role for his female characters to reflect changed attitudes towards women.

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