- In BC, the first computer-generated cartoon was created.
- An examination of the revolution it sparked.
- It all started with a conversation in a pub, as many things do.
Then, over a pint in 1985, Ian Pearson and Gavin Blair, two British animators, flush with success. After creating the iconic Dire Straits music video “Money for Nothing, they” made a decision that would reverberate throughout animation history: they would create ReBoot, the world’s first fully computer-generated cartoon.
The show’s premise was inextricably linked to its origins as a fully computer-animated work: ReBoot would center on a cast of characters who lived inside a computer.
ReBoot immediately stood out in comparison to classic cartoons like Rugrats or Rocko’s Modern Life. There was nothing like it, with fully realized animated characters in a 3D computer-generated environment.
Eight years after their pub meeting, Pearson and Blair teamed up with UK animator Phil Mitchell. They made a second decision that would significantly impact Canadian animation: they would film their series in Vancouver.
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Chris Brough, a Canadian who joined the group as an experienced TV producer, director, and writer, significantly influenced the decision. While the team was considering Los Angeles at first, Brough suggested looking north of the border instead.
“Ian had come up to Vancouver with Chris to take a look at it,” Blair explains. “They called us back in England at one a.m., Vancouver time.” So we’re sitting at our desks at work when we get this drunken phone call that says, ‘It’s beautiful!’
Brough told Mitchell, Pearson, and Blair, known internally as “the Hub,” that Canada was a fantastic place to set up animation because of generous tax incentives and an abundance of locals with technical expertise. In addition, the Hub was sold on Vancouver as the place to be, thanks to Pearson’s phone call and some well-placed tourism ads Canada was running on British TV at the time.
“It was such strange timing.” ‘This has to happen,’ I think. ‘This is just fantastic,’ Mitchell says. Blair, who became a Canadian citizen during the show’s run, remained in Vancouver after the show ended. Mitchell is currently teaching character animation at Singapore’s Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
Mitchell believes that his current class of students will be the last in animation as the school focuses on information technology. But before they leave, he hopes to inspire them to take a chance as he, Blair, and Pearson did.