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GERRY ANDERSON'S

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CGI NEW CAPTAIN SCARLET UNOFFICIAL WEBSITE

PART OF THE SPECTRUM HEADQUARTERS WEBSITE

 

UPDATES, February 6, 2006:  Page moved to new location.

 

GERRY ANDERSON ANSWERS THE SPECTRUM HEADQUARTERS FORUM QUESTIONS!

 

Some  weeks ago, the Spectrum Headquarters Forum has been gathering questions to ask Gerry Anderson and his team about the new CGI series.   Many interesting questions have been received, and have been taken into consideration for our selection; after adding them to an accompanying text, that selection  has then been handed to our friend, Forum member Aegis (of the Indestructible Productions),  who had offered to forward these questions to whom it may concern!

 

And now the exiting news is:  The questions have been answered - by Mr. Anderson himself!  And you are now able to read both questions and answers below, in the exact format in which they were received!

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Dear Mr Anderson,

 

Firstly we’d like to thank you so much for finding the time to read our little list of questions relating to the ‘New Captain Scarlet’.  Should you be able to respond, we’d like to post your replies (with your permission, of course) on our fan website, www.spectrum-headquarters.com, which is maintained by Chris Bishop, a Canadian fan of the original Captain Scarlet who needless to say is waiting impatiently for the opportunity to see the new CGI series.

We’re very much an international group of Scarlet fan, from countries all over the globe (The Americas, Asia, Europe, all the way to Australia, etc.).  Most of us use aliases, by the way – they’re included in parenthesis after each question – but please don’t let that fool you with regards the sincerity of our interest in your work, as exemplified by the following introductory paragraph and question, which comes from another of your staunchest fans in Canada:

 

Q.:

Mr. Anderson: Please let me begin by taking this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude for many, uncounted hours of imaginative enjoyment (specifically, fan-fiction) based on the programs that you and your creative teams produced in the 1960's. In the years since the original Captain Scarlet left my local airwaves, I have been privileged to have encountered a number of other enthusiastic Classic Scarlet fans who have become pen-pals and e-pals and very close friends, immeasurably enriching an already busy life.  While this spin-off may have been unintentional, do you find it gratifying that your various programs have inspired such positive and long-lived effects among members of your original audience?  (Doc Denim)

A.:

Yes, although I am always amazed that there is such a loyalty to my old shows.  You may notice that the RAF gets a credit at the end of the show and I was very lucky to be invited up to RAF Scampton to meet the Red Arrows, all of whom loved my early work and I think I may have had a small influence in their future career path, but I can not be sure.  Squadron Leader Dickie Patounas is Red 1, the leader of the team on his desk is an Angel Interceptor and an SPV, and I think that says it all. 

 

 

Doc Denim’s one of many foreign fans who – much to their frustration – haven’t been able to see the new show yet, so we’d like to ask two questions immediately on behalf of all of them:

 

Q.:

Are there plans afoot for showing the New Captain Scarlet in countries other than the UK?  And if so, could you tell us which countries and whether Australia is included?  And when?  (Chris Bishop & Elentari)

 

A.:

There certainly are plans for New Captain Scarlet to be screened worldwide. The series is being distributed by the Sony Corporation outside the UK. Although we cannot state at the moment exactly when and where the series will be seen, we expect to be able to make an announcement about this in the near future.

Q.:

Already the presenters of MOM have referred to fans wanting to buy the DVD of the series when it appears.  Can we assume it’ll follow hot on the heels of the TV premiere in the UK?  (Doc Brown)

A.:

The first 13 episodes of New Captain Scarlet will be released on DVD in the UK in the autumn.

 

 

The Old vs the New

Many of our group are old enough to remember the original series with much affection, and therefore inevitably have a number of questions concerned with some of the changes that have been made when creating the new series:

 

 

Q.:

Are there any elements of the original series that you would have chosen to retain, but were unable to?  (C21)

A.:

For a variety of reasons, some of which were defined by the copyright ownership of the original series and how that related to merchandising on the new series, we very deliberately set out the give the new series its own identity – new characters, new costumes, new vehicles, new stories, and so on – while retaining certain elements of the basic format of the Supermarionation series. As the series developed, we realised that some elements which we originally intended to retain either did not suit the style of the new series or presented contractual difficulties which would have been too costly to resolve. In the former case, I very much regretted having to take the decision not to recast Francis Matthews and Ed Bishop, but after we conducted test recordings it became clear that the actors’ voices sounded too old for the new characters. In the latter case, we would like to have used Barry Gray’s original tom-tom beat to accompany the scene changes, but the cost of doing so was prohibitively expensive.

Q.:

What was the rationale behind the changes to the original series’ characters that do appear in the new series? (Lt Flaxen)

 

A.:

The changes to the characters seen in the original series were partially driven by the desire to make the new series a show that would clearly stand alone as its own entity separate from the original series, and partially driven by the desire to divorce the new series from aspects of the original characters that were developed by other people for merchandising purposes.

Q.:

Of the innovations introduced (other than technical production aspects) in the new Captain Scarlet, which do you consider the greatest improvement? (C21)

A.:

I think that the thing that I am proudest of in the new series is that CGI animation enables us to feature characters who are able to move and act in a realistic way – to walk, run, fight, express emotion and do all of the things that we were unable to do with puppets. This is something that has had an enormous impact on the way in which we have been able to develop the characters as realistic people.

Q.:

Is this new series closer to your original concept of Captain Scarlet and how has that concept developed over the decades? (Shaqui)

A.:

The simple answer here is that the New Captain Scarlet series is the show that I always wished the original series could have been. I wouldn’t say that the concept of the new series is any different to the original concept but there are obviously different directions that we can explore with the concept that, for a variety of reasons, we were not able to when we were making the original show. In this regard, I cannot speak highly enough of our head writer Phil Ford whose creative input in this regard has been enormous.

 

 

 

The TV21 Connection

 

A number of questions arose on the subject of tie-ins and related merchandising, and in particular the legendary comic ‘TV21’:

 

 

Q.:

During the 1960s, the comic ‘TV21’ provided fans with a tie-in to several of your series, to say nothing of all the other merchandise that proliferated at the time.  With a whole new generation of fans potentially clamouring for Scarlet-related material, are there any plans for something similar this time around? (Doc Brown)

 

A.:

A very full programme of New Captain Scarlet merchandising is currently being co-ordinated by Granada Ventures for release in the autumn. I understand that one of the items tied to the show will be a New Captain Scarlet comic for the series’ younger fans.

Q.:

Speaking as editor of the 'Gerry Anderson Complete Comic History' website, I feel that the new series is far closer to the 'TV21' version of 'Captain Scarlet' than the original series. Were you perhaps inspired by the 'TV21' strips, which were freed of the constraints of the puppets, and had more adventurous storylines and action elements than perhaps the original series allowed for?  (Shaqui)

 

A.:

Well, I have to tell you in all honesty that ‘TV21’ did not provide me with any inspiration for the new series. Although my company, Century 21, was involved in publishing ‘TV21’ I did not have an active role in the development and creation of the stories in the comics as I was able to entrust that part of the business to the very talented writer Alan Fennell. Alan was a very inventive man and I am sure that he was able to create stories for Captain Scarlet in comic strip form that we would never have been able to do in the television series, just as we have been able to create stories for the CGI medium that would not have been possible in Supermarionation. If there is any similarity in style between the stories in ‘TV21’ and those in New Captain Scarlet it is entirely a coincidence from my side. That said, I do know that our head writer Phil Ford grew up reading ‘TV21’ so there may have been an influence from that direction but you will have to ask him about that!

 

Q.:

Can we expect to see comprehensive character bios and full hardware specs for the series developed, in a similar way to the original 'TV21' versions of the original series?  And if so, when and where? (Shaqui)

 

A.:

One of the things that we have been very keen to do is to develop the backgrounds for the characters and specifications for the hardware in-house here at Anderson Entertainment so as to retain consistency between what you see on the screen and what you will find as part of the accompanying merchandise. This material will, I believe, appear in the various books and comics which will be published in the autumn although some of it can already be found on the official New Captain Scarlet website. The Fanderson club magazine ‘FAB’ published the biographies for Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue last year and will also be publishing the biographies of the other characters in due course.

 

 

 

The New Captain Scarlet

 

Many other questions relate solely to aspects of the new series:

 

 

Q.:

All of us were very pleasantly surprised by the earlier than expected transmission date of the New Captain Scarlet.  Why was the series launched in the UK in February 2005 rather than September, as it was understood had originally been planned? (Carrie)

A.:

All of our plans have been geared towards a formal launch for New Captain Scarlet in the autumn of 2005, and this has not changed. As the purchasers of the UK broadcast rights for New Captain Scarlet it was entirely ITV’s decision to show the first 13 episodes of the series on the Ministry of Mayhem show from February. As I was not party to that decision, I’m afraid I cannot speculate on their reasoning.

Q.:

Were you disappointed at the way the early episodes were broadcast – with large gaps between the halves and then with graphics over the screen?  And is there any news of the rumoured repeat UK showing as a stand-alone programme rather than part of MOM? (Shaqui)

 

A.:

I have to say that I was bitterly disappointed with the way in which the episodes were shown on Ministry of Mayhem. Having said that however, the screenings have been enormously successful in raising awareness of the show amongst our target audience and hopefully this will carry forward to the broadcast of the remaining episodes later in the year. As for the second part of the question, the first 13 episodes began a repeat screening as a stand-alone programme on May 31st. The series is currently airing on ITV at 4.30pm on Tuesdays.

 

Q.:

On a purely personal level, as creator of both original and new series, how successful do you feel 'New Captain Scarlet' to be?  (Shaqui)

 

A.:

I don’t normally say this about my own work but I really think that the series is not only the best show I have ever made but probably the best show that has ever been made for television using this process. I have not heard one reaction to the series which has been anything other than marvellous and fantastic. I am enormously proud of the work that has been done on the series.

 

Q.:

Is there a limited amount of motion capture that is used for each episode due to lack of time or difficulties in the motion capture process?  (Lt Green)

A.:

Although this was not the case on a few of the early episodes of the series, almost all of the character movement that you see in New Captain Scarlet has been created using motion capture. On the initial episodes we very quickly recognised that the character movement – not just action scenes but sequences such as those with characters simply sitting and talking to each other – was far more naturalistic using motion capture data than with keyframe animation and so we took steps to increase the amount of motion capture shooting for each episode. On many of the subsequent episodes we shot some 80 per cent of each show using motion capture. I don’t believe that any CGI animated television series has ever been made before using the amount of motion capture shooting that we have used on New Captain Scarlet.

Q.:

Was it a conscious decision to make the voices somewhat less distinctive as the characters' ability to convey emotion by facial and physical expression increased?  (Lt Flaxen)

 

A.:

I’m afraid that, unless I have misunderstood the question, I have to disagree with the assertion that the voices on the new series are less distinctive. Perhaps you mean that they are less theatrical than they needed to be on the Supermarionation series? If so, yes, we definitely felt that CGI medium enabled the voice performances to be subtler and more naturalistic than they had been on the puppet shows.

Q.:

Many people grew up with your creations and will have been influenced by them in their choice of career, probably including many of your current production team.  Do you find that that makes for a particularly dynamic working environment?  (Yorkie & Doc Brown)

A.:

We have been enormously fortunate on Captain Scarlet to have a production team which is exactly like the teams we had when we were making the puppet films 40 years ago – comprising happy, dedicated, clever people who love their work. I couldn’t really comment on the extent to which these people have been influenced by my previous work, but what I can say is that I have found them to be enormously inventive and talented and that this has played a very large part in making working on the series so enjoyable and exciting.

Q.:

Are things just like the old days?  How does a typical day unfold, and which part of it is the most enjoyable from your point of view?  (Yorkie)

A.:

I think I have partly answered this already in response to the previous question. I’m afraid that there are no typical days on Captain Scarlet so I would find it very difficult to describe how one might unfold!

 

 

 

The Future

 

Now that we’ve had the opportunity to see the potential of CGI in the context of Captain Scarlet, the final question is not in the least bit difficult to predict:

 

 

Q.:

Given that (the fates willing) 'New Captain Scarlet' is the success you want it to be, what does the future of CGI/Hypermarionation hold now? A second series of Scarlet? A revival of another Anderson show like 'Thunderbirds'?  Or something totally new?  (Chris Bishop, Shaqui & Yorkie)

 

A.:

All I can really say with any certainty at the moment is that whatever Anderson Entertainment’s next project turns out to be, we will definitely be looking at taking all of our experience with CGI on Captain Scarlet and applying it to an exciting new CGI animated show. It is no secret that we have been talking to Granada about the possibility of a new television series of Thunderbirds and we are confident that this will happen at some stage. However, we also have a brand new property – which I can’t talk about yet – which we are preparing in the unlikely event that, for whatever reason, we are unable to obtain the rights to remake Thunderbirds.

 

 

There – that’s all of them!  If you could find the time to respond to any or all of them, we’d be thrilled.  In the meantime, may we wish ‘The New Captain Scarlet’ a long and successful run, and you personally every success with any new ventures that you might be planning.

 

Yours most sincerely,

 

The members of the Spectrum Headquarters Forum.

 

 

 

 

Additional note from the webmaster: 

 

I'd like to personally  thank everyone who has been involved in every aspects of this project - all of those  who had submitted questions to this list;   all the members of the Spectrum Headquarters Forum for their comments and input; all of the Moderators Team (collectively know as the Spectrum Strike Force) for their help and encouragement;  Doc Brown for having written all the above questions into a comprehensive text and list, without differing too much from the original submitted questions; Forum Member C21 to come up with the idea in the first place - and Forum member Aegis,  for his very personal input, in presenting this list to Gerry Anderson.

 

And last but not least...

 

On behalf of all those who contributed to this series of questions, and participated to this project,  I'd like to thank Mr. Gerry Anderson for  having taking the time to answer to all our inquisitive questions.

 

Thank you, Sir.  We feel much  privileged.

 

 

Chris Bishop, webmaster

 

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