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Megamind Returns After 14 Years with New Feature AND Series

EP/director Eric Fogel and CG supervisor Martin Leeper talk production challenges on the newly crowned blue hero in DreamWorks' animated kids’ film, ‘Megamind vs. the Doom Syndicate,’ that picks up after the events of the 2010 movie, and its all-new companion series, ‘Megamind Rules!’ premiering March 1 on Peacock.

You walk a fine line between nostalgia and innovation when revisiting an animated property after 14 years. DreamWorks Animation’s 3DCG comedy, Megamind was released in 2010, and with animation technology having made more than a few leaps and bounds since then, it’s understandable why executive producer Eric Fogel and CG supervisor Martin Leeper were nervous about taking on not only a film sequel, but an all-new series as well. 

“I read the really funny script for Megamind vs. the Doom Syndicate that Alan Schoolcraft and Brent Simons wrote, and knowing that they had scripted the original film, I got very excited,” says director and executive producer Fogel, known for Archibald's Next Big Thing. “But one of my biggest concerns in approaching this was knowing that we were on a TV budget. I was such a huge fan of that original film, so I really wanted to honor it and protect it and carry on the look of that original movie. The new film takes place just a few days after the original, so continuity was important and that's a tall order when you're looking at doing something through a TV pipeline.”

Taking place immediately following the events of the first film, DreamWorks’ all-new, 3DCG Megamind vs the Doom Syndicate movie features the once mad-scientist villain Megamind attempting to fit into his new role as savior and hero of Metro City. Megamind’s path towards righteousness hits a kink after his former bad buddies, the Doom Syndicate, spring themselves from jail. This puts the heat on our newly crowned blue hero to multitask as a crime-fighter who must also maintain an evil veneer for his scary prison buddies, who are cooking up some real chaos. Megamind assembles a fledgling crime-fighting group - includes fearless reporter Roxanne Ritchie, his alien-sidekick Chum, and scrappy fan/social-media sensation Keiko - to stop the Doom Syndicate from launching Metro City to the moon.

The all-new series, Megamind Rules!, follows the events of the film, as Megamind hilariously finds his footing as resident hero by facing off against supervillains while chasing his social-media ambitions, determined to become the world’s first superhero influencer. Both animated projects released today, March 1, on Peacock, and Fogel and Leeper are all too aware of the pressures inherently attached to the film by viewers who are hoping for the same visual experience they had in 2010. 

Megamind was 12 years old at the point that we started working on this, and 12 years of technology have brought us way beyond what we could do back then,” says Leeper. “Software now is very different, down to even how geometry in the rigs is treated. Back then, I think they used NURBS rather than Polygons and that sort of thing. So, you don't have a choice. You can’t go back to how things used to be with 3DCG. You have to update to the more recent processes, which are more efficient and faster but will look slightly different from what you remember.”

Fogel adds, “And, again, producing animation through a TV pipeline is very different than producing animation for a theatrical feature film. There are things that we just can't do in the way that they would do them in a theatrical feature. For example, in a feature, you can custom light every single shot to make it look gorgeous. With TV, it's a little more limited. You set the lights once within a sequence and, for the most part, it stays that way, whether you want it to or not.”  

But, for all the ways Leeper and Fogel understood how these projects would be challenging, they were never apprehensive about tackling the shows, and believe that they produced something comparable to the original feature, save for differences in lighting and saturation.

“We were very fortunate in that our art partner studio in India, 88 Pictures, brought in some feature-level animators to work on the movie, and then also helped train up some of the animators to stay on for the series,” says Fogel. “We also had Marty who came in and helped us figured all this out.”

Fogel had previously worked with the CG supervisor at Nickelodeon on the 3DCG series Wallykazam and he was no stranger to overseeing the CG animation on series adapted from feature films. He’d served as CG animation director on DreamWorks’ Dragons Rescue Riders: Heroes of the Sky and CG supervising producer on The Croods: Family Tree. 

And when it came to approaching the animation for Megamind, Leeper knew the first step to take. “Materials from the original feature existed,” he shares. “So, we went out and scoured them up and dusted them off. The original Megamind character model that was used in the feature, we used in the series as well. The same goes for Roxanne, the mayor, chum, and any other repeated characters. We modified a few things – retexturing, re-rigging – but the basic models are all the same.”

The team, as Leeper puts it, had to “reskin” the characters. It’s not as Silence of the Lambs as it sounds. “Skinning is where you are taking the actual geometry of the character that's been built, and you are constraining it to a skeleton inside, and then you are moving that skeleton to animate it,” explains Leeper. “And then beyond that there’s texturing and lighting. We got really close to the original, though I think Megamind is a bit more blue. The colors we can include today are so much more rich than they used to be.”

And it’s a good time for it, as Megamind’s old prison friends sport a wide range of powers that call for some high-definition saturation, from spinning portals and dripping lava to electrical shocks and more. 

“There are effects all over the place in the movie and in the episodes that follow,” says Leeper. “We also developed eight different blasts just for Megamind’s gun. 88 Pictures did all the effects and they told us it was the biggest challenge they’d ever had. And they’ve done Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia and Fast & Furious Spy Racers.”

Fogel notes that one of the things that made the film challenging, on top of everything else, was that the cinematic effect they were going for in the second movie was a tone they wanted present in every episode of the following series. 

“The trick was picking our battles,” notes Fogel. 

Leeper elaborates, “When it came to things like lifting the city up into the sky, we decided to show one shot of it taking off, some shots in the sky, and then two shots of it coming down. And we tried to control and regulate the filming in a way you don’t notice the limited shots. I mean, in a way, it's kind of how they used to make movies in the past. Effects have always been expensive, so you try to do it in as few spectacular shots as you can.”

There was also the matter of rebuilding Metro City, making sure the continuity was tight. If the movie and series were taking place years after the events of the original, some changes to the city’s landscape wouldn’t be as glaring. But nothing much changes after a few days, even if there is a psycho, power-hungry villain (looking at you, Jonah Hill) causing destruction everywhere he goes that requires a city-wide rebuild. 

“There were some hallmarks, some signature locations that we knew we needed,” notes Fogel. “And, luckily, we were able to access those from the original movie. But then when you look at the city as a whole, you realize a lot of the original city is just these kind of random buildings. So, we knew that if we could get some of those signature buildings correct – like City Hall, the reflecting pools, the museum, the statue, the big Metro City tower – from the original feature, that would allow us a bit more flexibility in designing other areas of the city.”

Though access to the original designs and art was limited, even the Doom Syndicate hailed from an idea for the 2010 movie that was eventually scrapped due to time constraints. 

“I’m not sure how much of those original designed concepts made it into this final version but, either way, it only made sense to bring these villains back to the storyboards for this film,” says Fogel. “You don’t spend that much time in prison and not meet people. You’d make connections.”

Both Fogel and Leeper hope that Megamind vs the Doom Syndicate and Megamind Rules! will further elevate a complicated, beloved, big-headed blue hero who gained his cult classic status long after the feature film’s initial release. 

Megamind as a film, when it came out, was well received but it wasn't a mega hit,” says Fogel. “The popularity of that character really developed over time. And this is a character-driven series. So, we really tried to stay true to who the characters were in the original film and track their relationships over the course of the new film and series in a way that I think is going to be very satisfying for fans.”

Fogel gives one last teaser, saying, “Machiavillain, the main big bad in the new movie, is like a father figure to Megamind and, to Machiavillain, Megamind is the one who got away and that eats at this villain’s ego. That tension is really strong throughout the series and it’s like this game of chess between good and evil. It’s very thrilling.”

Victoria Davis's picture

Victoria Davis is a full-time, freelance journalist and part-time Otaku with an affinity for all things anime. She's reported on numerous stories from activist news to entertainment. Find more about her work at