Before toy story there was Reboot

I was researching TV shows created with SOFTIMAGE and remembered a 1990s kids show called Reboot, which I watch during my early childhood days. It was aired around the time the internet was just getting started and it was a good introduction to the world of slow dial-up modems (the ones that made those crackling noises), the web and technology.

ReBoot was a story about computer programs Dot, Bob and the evil villain Megabyte in the city of mainframe computer protecting the internet from various software virus infecting the system by Megabyte.

I found using animation to explain technology was a clever way to introduce what would become a norm for society using the internet, but back in the day TV was our entertainment.

Ahead of its time taking on Disney

Mainframe Entertainment was quite ahead of the curve trying to build their own animation pipeline with Softimage (All of the modeling and animation were done on SOFTIMAGE 3D) to produce full shows in weeks rather than years and on a regular basis. This was thanks to Silicon and Software plus they were not doing high end realistic renderings like toy story and could get away with the characters being a little plastic looking.

The graphics may be a bit dated by today’s modern standard, but this allowed Mainframe to render each show faster than Pixar. A 81 minute show made by Pixar took a few years but done in weeks by Mainframe Entertainment.

Of course this was a TV Show which had a faster turn around time. But still it looked rather ok for its time and was enjoyable to watch it’s all about the characters right.

The Studio went on to win various awards and even got a deal to produce transformers Beast Wars.

In order to hedge agiain Disney and the marketing juggernaut of the mouse, the team at Mainframe prepared to make an ecosystem of toys merchandise and videos games around the show.

“And for adults there was something too: pop culture references and computer terminology that flew straight over younger viewers’ heads, of course, but also the potential to profit from this strange new world. “If you study motion pictures and animation, obviously Disney is the first and last name you’ll hear,” ReBoot‘s producer Christopher Brough told the Vancouver Sunin 1996. His company, Mainframe, was preparing a “unilateral assault” against the animation giant, with “toys, video games, interactive products, all of it at once to create a brand recognition, a kind of marketing beachhead” that would use computer-generated shows like ReBoot to take Disney head-on.

Taking over Traditional Animation

Even though computers were starting to replace traditional 2D Animation it did help the medium and many others followed suit to make their own s hows thanks to falling Computer prices. Disney was at the time going through a 2D animated revival while toy story was getting started to be made. It seem Reboot was jumping the curve earlier before Disney would release toy story.

“The irony is that computers actually helped rather than hindered the more traditional forms of animation that Mainframe sought to supplant. “While CGI was storming ahead, so too was Flash, Claymation, old standard 2D, and even paper cut-outs programs,” said Dale Taylor, a programming executive at the Canadian television channel YTV who helped put ReBoot on air. Computers, too, made these mediums “cheaper, expendable, and far more efficient to get to market.”

Making an Animated film still hard but easier

Today if you want to make you own show it’s possible but it’s difficult and you may need a multi prong approach like launching into various mediums Vr comics tv shows web shows toys ride etc.

There was a hugh upfront cost to get the equipmment but now thanks to cheaper computers many new entrants entered the market.

In fact this caused an increase in competition to Mainframe at that time and they took on other jobs like making ride films or interactive projects.

Trying to appeal to a new generation

Today Reboot is getting rebooted with a new show but it was launched with mixed reactions. But something is a miss from the charm of the old show. While it was interesting and some say online that its like Code Lyoko even from the creators of the show.

In a podcast. Bay Raitt talked about new media having to compete with the old media. There is something timeless about old designs when done right and I feel that as  a new creations, there is maybe a need to design for the present otherwise you are competing with old classics. Which made me think about reboots and rehashes of old things being irrelevant.

Even Alex Ross has something to say about retaining the old designs of his superhero charcters and not change too much…

I’ve always thought there’s a beautiful eloquence of having a connection to something that was designed 50, 60, 75 years ago, that is essentially undiluted. They don’t need to be over-altered for the sake of upcoming generations. They don’t have to be unified.

If you have to always make characters younger because, ‘well, young people won’t connect with older protagonists,’ well, that is such horseshit.

So like reboot would need to figure out how to appeal to a newer audience but maybe instead of reimagining we should invent new things to appeal the the current times.

It was hard to believe that Reebot saw the future of Computer Animation as a entertainment force but over shadowed by Pixar Toy Story. I think it was due to competition and the software getting cheaper and many entrants entered the market of making animated films.

Learning from Reboot

Making it with the tools available. Reboot built their animation pipeline with Softimage the 3d app of the day back then.

Have a strategy beyond just selling an animation to monetize. Meaning toys, books, making of’s, games etc.

Take on other jobs that can ustilise the technology to keep the company going. Shows do end someday.



Free Animation software Toonz Fork – Opentoonz Morevna edition

If you are looking for a free 2D animation platform similar to TVPaint there is a fork of a project of Studio Ghibli Toonz software called OpenToonz. It seems that they have added some brush engine from Kirta and it looks more capable than the Open source version OpenToonz.

The group also develops their own animations in tandem with the software.Opentoonz Morevna edition

Check out some of the videos:

Morevna YouTube Channel ttps://


Imagi Animation Cancelled projects Zelda, T28, Gatchaman and Cat’s Tale

Recently I have been looking at cenceled projects to see if I can learn anything from the ideas and how it got generated. Imagi Animation a HK Based studio had quite a few cool projects that were under development that got shutdown.

When I think about cancelled projects it makes me want to be like George Lucas who could not get the license for Flash Gordon so he created Star Wars.

In the end everything is a remix.

Gatcha man cancelled trailer looks like big hero 6 style.

T28 Teaser and animation tests and trailer

Cancelled project Cat’s Tale. This one seems to be an original show by Imagi though not much is developed it looks like it could have potential to appeal to the children’s market. a heartwarming animated short

I recently saw an animated short, in the style of Pixar, on my whatsapp. Its a heartwarming story about a dog helping a crane get food.

What is interesting is that Big eCommerce companies are stepping up in building brand awareness through storytelling animations.

The Tencent e-commerce subsidiary commissioned Australian production house Passion Pictures to produce a four-minute film which pits the brand’s adorable mascot, Joy, against a hungry heron during a quiet fishing trip.

Named ‘Joy Story: Joy & Heron’, the Pixar-style film shows the small dog trying hard not to rock his master’s boat while defending it from the worm-stealing bird.

However, after spotting the heron is only trying to feed its hungry – and fussy – chicks, Joy comes around gives away the whole pot of worms. And in the spirit of Chinese New Year, the heron then reciprocates the gesture of kindness.


Here’s the plan a short film on pursuing your dreams

Just watched a nice little short film Here’s the Plan about married couple’s (Dog and Cate) life working towards building their life and pursuing your dreams. The film was directed by Fernada Frick.

This film was a good reminder as we go about trying to fund our dreams we can tend to forget what got us started. Don’t forget your WHY.

the medium blog has some good behind the scenes of making the short film.

✨✨ “A married cat-dog couple of cupcake bakers dream of opening their own bakery. One day their oven breaks and they have to postpone their dream in order to earn money and replace it. Somewhere down the line, they drift apart from their dream and from themselves.” — “Here’s the plan” (“Este es el Plan”) is a 18-minute CG animated short film from Chile. Directed by Fernanda Frick and financed by the National Council of Culture and Arts, it took almost 2 years of work and a talented team of 32 professionals to finish it. It had it’s World Premiere at Nashville International Film Festival and it’s national premiere at Festival Chilemonos 2017.


Film Website:

Studio Website:



Twitter: @Fernandafrick

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