With a second season of 13 episodes scheduled for upload in September, "ReBoot" (a co-production of Toronto's Alliance Communications and Vancouver's BLT Productions, produced in Vancouver at ReBoot Productions) is the brainchild of four British animators known as The Hub-Gavin Blair, John Grace, Phil Mitchell and Ian Pearson-veterans of the London commercials animation scene and acclaimed post houses like The Mill, some of them worked on the CGI-breakthrough Dire Straits "Money for Nothing" video a whole decade ago, which was not long before the idea for a computer animated series that took place inside a computer was hatched, thereby accommodating the cubed-out animation limitations of the period. But by the time the project got off the ground, Softimage and other hard-edged realities had put CGI into a whole new Jurassic ballpark; "the show has grown with the software," says Blair, and "the ideas have expanded, too."
Indeed they have. In the city of Mainframe, where the "ReBoot" sprites, as the characters are known, obey their thirst, the money's not for nothin' and the chicks ain't free. Blair says a show takes three to four weeks and about $500,000 to produce. Speaking of the chicks-the heroine, Dot; Hexadecimal, one of the viral villains, who, if they made a live-action version of the show, could barely be played by Anna Nicole Smith; and the rarely seen but unforgettable Packard-belle, Mouse-why do they all have such great bodies? Well, everyone in Mainframe speaks computer lingo, indeed, is a digital artifact of some sort, so Dot is clearly penting 'em up in Pentium cups. This is what it looks like when you have Intel inside, and it points up one of the clever bits of chip skipping that "ReBoot" has mastered, appealing both to kids and their parents (the show conveniently airs at noon and in early evenings in Canada). Has there been any feedback on all this T&a.m.? "We've had the odd comment," shrugs Blair. "I think the first time Hex walked, Standards & Practices said, 'Hey, wait! That's a little sexy, isn't it?' 'All right, we'll change the camera angle on that shot, don't worry about it.' We haven't had any outright com- plaints. The women here like our female characters and find them cool. They are good-looking and they do kick ass."
On the subject of looks, what about the colorful faces? "When we first started talking about the show," Blair explains, "we were getting all these stupid comments like, 'Where's the black kid? Where's the Chinese kid?' It was crazy. We were going to get bogged down with all this Captain Planet crap. We don't want to deal with those issues, that's not what we're about. So, it was like, 'OK, f--k it, the hero's blue and the heroine's green. Now what are you going to do?' I think it's pretty cool anyway, and the kids respond well to it."
As fluid and sensual as it all is, this is not the state of the art of the digital body. "You could go further with it," Blair acknowledges. "We could make [the hero] Bob's skin look more like skin, for example, and we could get rid of the crease where his head meets his neck, but that's a whole shitload of work and it's going to impact on production. So we drew a line and said, 'Up to this point it looks great and we can get the shows out on time.' If you're going to start polishing it, when do you stop? Do we give them fingernails and nostrils? They're not important to the story. We'll push it further for the feature, which will also be a little more grown-up, shall we say."
Yes, a "ReBoot" movie is in the works, with production to begin possibly as early as this summer. "We've got a cast of characters that can do anything," exults Blair. "We can put a camera or a light anywhere. Sometimes it's scary. An animation team can get bogged down because they've got far too much freedom."
Can a Playboy pictorial on the women of "Reboot" be far behind? "I can see Dot on the cover," Blair chuckles. "Jessica Rabbit was on the cover." And she's just