Deborah Reber profiles three applications of motion capturetechnology that are currently in production. In "Voltron Returns...ThisTime In 3D," the television show Voltron: The Third Dimension
Remember that classic animated series of the 1980's, Voltron: Defender of the Universe? Well, if you've been flipping through the channels on your television and caught a glimpse of Voltron with a twist, chances are you've spied Voltron: The Third Dimension. This new series, which premiered in fall 1998, takes its title literally, as it is made using 3D motion capture animation.
Voltron: The Third Dimension is unique from other televised animated fare in that it is the first 3D CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) series to be produced solely in the United States. The result is a program where the characters and background look strangely surreal, and the life-like characters move with fluidity and exaggeration. Many of the scenes don't utilize close-ups of the characters' faces, as facial expressions are limited without the opportunity to do a lot of post-production tweaking. Ted Koplar, President and CEO of Voltron distributor World Events Productions, Ltd., feels that the new look for the revived series will appeal to today's youth. "This new, cutting-edge Voltron will hit a new generation of kids, and we have the expectation that this show will be bigger than the original Voltron," says Koplar. Already, Voltron has been a hit among broadcasters, who have picked up the show in more than 90% of the country, including the major markets like New York and Los Angeles. In its first season, it has captured the top spot over a ten-week rated period. If the original Voltron of the 80's is any indication, Voltron: The Third Dimension will find a place in the the harts of science fiction fans everywhere. A huge fan base already exists for the characters and stories of Voltron. In fact, the cancellation of the original animated series was met with public outcry, and petitions from fans to 'return one of the greatest cartoons in history,' to quote one fan web site.
Voltron: The Third Dimension is produced by Mike Young Productions (The Secret Garden), and Netter Digital Entertainment, the same company that brings us the sci-fi cult hit, Babylon 5. Netter Digital Entertainment specializes in computer visual effects, and is responsible for creating the innovative motion capture technique used in the production of Voltron. Bill Schultz, producer of The Simpsons, King of the Hill, and The Critic brings his talent to Voltron as producer of the series. Voice over talent includes Tim Curry, Billy West, B.J. Ward, and Kevin Michael Richardson. Deborah Reber manages Ancillary Projects for Nickelodeon's Blue's Clues and is a freelance writer based in New York.