Bob and Margaret: An Ordinary Couple Goes Prime Time Worldwide
The Fine Print and Details
Technically, the work in Burglary looked fairly good. I saw what appeared to be smudges and fuzziness in images, but overall the animation is smooth. Compared to King of the Hill, it almost looks like full animation. Okay, that's a bit of an overstatement, considering that these characters are anything but the lively singing and dancing types one might find in a Disney feature, but thank goodness for that!
The history of the series' development is interesting. As the story goes, Snowden and Fine were bombarded with calls following their win of an Academy Award for Bob's Birthday in 1995. Although they had visions of working with an American studio, the artists, who are British and Canadian, decided against a partnership with Universal Pictures because it wanted the characters in Bob and Margaret to be more `Americanized.' Fine says Universal was concerned about the series' "Britishness and wanted to change it. They wanted to have it set in the US, or make Bob and Margaret have loads of American friends."
Snowden Fine had developed a relationship with Channel 4, which picked up 25 percent of the series' production costs, and then sealed a deal with the Canadian production house Nelvana, which paid for the remaining 75 percent of the costs. The series was pre-sold to Channel 4 in the UK, Comedy Central in the U.S., and Canada's Global Television. Each of the thirteen 22-minute episodes currently in production is budgeted at U.K. £270,000 (at a June 1998 conversion rate, approximately U.S. $440,000 each). Layout, design and story boarding, as well as digital painting and compositing using the Animo system, is being done by Nelvana, while animation is being completed in the Philippines. Fine says he is happy to be removed from the production details, explaining that he wanted more time for the creative work and voice recording, which is done in London: "We are avoiding the drudgery of animation, like painting cels. I hate all that."
It is certain that many eyes will be on the Snowden Fine series as it airs this summer, including those of investors who will be interested to see if the series can indeed attract audiences in prime time.
Visit Alison Snowden and David Fine's web site which includes images from the Oscar-winning animated short Bob's Birthday.
Maureen Furniss is the editor and publisher of Animation Journal, a scholarly journal based at Chapman University, in Orange, California, where she is an assistant professor in the School of Film and Television.
The Fine Print and Details