The Case Of The Awesome Dick Spanner Animated Animatic
Terry Adlam gives us the inside scoop on the new Dick Spanner animatic!
When Jamie told me that Network were intending to give Dick Spanner P.I. a digital buff and polish and a much needed audio resurrection, I was excited. When he then asked if I would like to write two new episodes, I was over the moon – and to this day, I have no idea how I woke up on The International Space Station after a night out down the pub!
It was something I had always wanted to do, that’s write a new Dick Spanner script, not stowaway on the ISS – though that is on my bucket list along with ‘Buy a new bucket – and I was like a cornfield, all ears, when Jamie explained his thinking behind the new scripts.
He thought that it might be a good idea to have something in our back pockets just in case when Dick returned in September and the world goes crazy for a new series, we had to make like we were leading a stampede of pheasants, partridges, deer and rabbits and be ahead of the game!
It was great fun returning to The Big Pear and Spanner. In ‘The Case of the Screaming Dame’ I was toying with the idea that the new scripts open with Dick destroyed and would then return as a CGI character. Although that idea sort of stayed in the final scripts, Spanner would remain plasticine and foam as I always believed that the ‘Rough-round-the-edges’ was part of the appeal of the original, plus it suited our ‘whatever we could find down the back of the sofa’ budget.
Once the two scripts were completed, Jamie then came up with the idea of getting Shane Rimmer to record them. Well, that put the icing on the cake, or so I thought. It was great to hear Shane breathing life back into Spanner and even though he, like all of us, had upped the mileage since the original, I thought his voice sounded just right. Grittier, more sardonic and world-weary and more Dick Spanner.
It was after the recording in a local pub not far from the studio that I mentioned to Jamie that I wouldn’t mind putting a sort of storyboard together to go with the some of the audio. It was just something I would do in my own time and maybe the odd picture or two might help with publicity in the autumn.
It was only a matter of days later when Jamie called me up to say he would like to take me up on the idea and would it be possible to storyboard both episodes in the next six weeks.
Like a giraffe sandwich, it was a tall order, but I burnt some midnight oil – I must pay my electricity bill – and completed all 240 individual drawings before the ink ran out of my pen!
Then if things couldn’t get any better than the aforementioned icing, Jamie took Spanner to another level and when he got out of the lift, he asked me to send the storyboards to Chris Thompson and Andrew Clements who would turn my scribbles into a full Dick Spanner animatic, which they did brilliantly and Chris is going to say how they did it….
Over to Chris…
“I have no idea what I’m doing”, I thought, transported to a strange cardboard and plasticine world covered in puns. Dick Spanner and the Curse of the Screaming Dame is easily one of the strangest things I’ve ever worked on. That said I’m so glad I did it.
For those not in the know, an animatic is essentially an animated storyboard. While not being a full animation it essentially allows more complicated productions to gauge an idea of how a project will look in motion. For this project, I figured I’d take the concept a smidge further adding an extra range of movement so Spanner could emote and react to things in the scene.
Terry had already provided a comprehensive range of storyboards for both episodes and it was easy to convert these into layered “Sprites” that I could animate distort and bend to my will. For each frame of Terry’s Storyboard, I’d deconstruct it into the relevant elements in Photoshop and bring it into another program called After Effects where I did all the animation.
Finally, I edited the visuals to Shane’s recorded narration and took it to my friend/coworker, Andrew Clements’ house, where myself, Andrew and Conor Flanagan watched through the edit and provided the sound effects for demonic lifts, ageing dames, woolly planes, pterodactyls and more!
I am pleased with how the final Dick Spanner animatic came out, and I hope you enjoy it too!
Dick Spanner and the Case of the Screaming Dame is available on the new Dick Spanner DVD! available from the Gerry Anderson store!
To find out more about Dick Spanner, click here.
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