June 20, 2008

Bob's change of motion

Over the last decade, Bob the Builder has built himself an
extraordinary worldwide franchise, based on his stop-motion
exploits... Eight classic seasons... An eco-town spin-off...
Four feature-length films... Four more specials... And more...

But now, the building work has come to end. Or rather, it's come
to its end in stop-motion form, with the news that his next
series is to be produced as an all-CGI show. HIT Entertainment
have just announced plans for SD Entertainment in LA to take
over production duties on the main show from the folks at
HOT Animation - something that was flagged up on this site
a while back, but which has now, almost inevitably,
come to pass...

Of course, the HIT publicity wagon is playing up the move.
Bob's been with us for ten years, after all. It's time for a change.
Something new. The change has only come about after eighteen
months of research, and this CGI shift is intended to improve the
emotional connection between the characters
and viewers (C21media)...

But you know, for this particular viewer, Bob was working just
fine as he was. Stop-motion beguiles and delights. It draws an
audience in with its magic in a way that can never be matched
in a CGI production. For kids watching these shows, it's like
seeing their own little model toys coming to life in front of their
eyes. And in HOT's hands, Bob, Wendy, Spud and the gang
completely bedazzled their audience...

Look, there's a reason why adults and children will watch
films like "Nightmare Before Xmas" or "Curse of the Were-Rabbit"
over and over and over again, and why, forty years on, we're still
watching those little worlds of Gordon Murray and the SmallFilms
partnership. They have a unique fascination. The crew on these
productions have to construct an entire bespoke world. All the figures,
all the props, the scenery, the minutiae have been built by human
hands... And behold... they live, they breathe!... Oh...CGI just can't
match that... even at its very Pixar-like best, the magic is different...
the attraction changes... that unique and specific connection is gone...

Now that's not to say that Bob's new show won't be fine and shiny.
But it will no longer stand out from the crowd. It will no longer

So certainly, we'll wish Bob all the very best. He's off on an a new
adventure, and hopefully he'll be keeping his parent firm happy
for years to come. But there's no escaping the fact that a
siginficant portion of his audience will see things differently.
In their eyes, Bob's laid his last brick, he's hung up his hard
hat and sold-up his family firm.

[Via Toonhound]

The Original Bob:

If Bob were classically animated:

The New Bob, converted to CG:

I guess it's cheaper to make Bob a CG character than to make him out of plasticine and plastic.

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