Magazine article Variety

'Thunderbirds' Advances TV Toons

Magazine article Variety

'Thunderbirds' Advances TV Toons

Article excerpt

Adapting half-century-old TV animation for today's tastes can be tricky, but the makers of the "Thunderbirds" remake may have just pulled it off.

The idea began 12 years ago when New Zealander Richard Taylor, a visual effects, makeup and costumes wizard, who won four Oscars for "The Lord of the Rings" pics and another for "King Kong," started out on a quest of his own.

The co-owner of Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop wanted to revive Gerry Anderson's futuristic marionette TV series, which was an international hit in the 1960s. He flew to the U.K. and managed to get Anderson's blessing for a remake, but it was another nine years before U.K. network ITV commissioned its production arm, ITV Studios, to remake the series as "Thunderbirds Are Go," under the guidance of exec producer Giles Ridge.

Seeking a partner who "shared our love and affection for the property," Ridge connected with Taylor.

As with the original, the show revolves around five brothers, based on an island in the Pacific, who work for a rescue organization that responds to international emergencies.

The first task was to settle on a look for the series that would do justice to the vibe of the original, yet also satisfy today's young auds. Ridge wanted to move away from the clean CGI look embraced by many youth-skewing action-adventure shows, and instead investigate a mixed-media approach.

The strategy was to combine live-action miniature models for the settings, with CG animation for the characters. The approach was a challenging one for the producers. "One of the most important things was to get the CG to integrate into the world of the miniatures. …

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