A new video has gotten a lot of attention from Gazelle Automations. Founded by Justin and Lindsay Lee and based in Toronto, Canada, Gazelle Automations has the goal of creating entertainment with the magic of puppetry, model miniatures and animation. They work with Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds, ITV, BBC, CBC, and others.
The 2 minute clip is a reimagining of the kidnapping of Captain Picard from “Best of Both Worlds” as if it were done by Filmation in the 1970s (the animation firm that produced Star Trek: The Animated Series). They nail the simple animation style, the recycled generic sound effects, and the use of blocks of purple color. They also include a Kzinti (which originated in TAS) at the conn. It’s the little details they included that really make this feel like an artifact from a bygone era: there’s simulated bits of dirt between the different animation cel layers, and the occasional wobble of film gate weave.
TrekMovie reached out to Justin Lee to get more information about this unique homage to The Animated Series which ran from 1973-1974.
Was this video just a bit of fun or was there more to it?
My wife and fellow Gazelle Automations founder Lindsay Lee is a fan of Star Trek: The Animated Series (as am I), and we’d long talked about how that show is full of serious situations and very earnest storytelling, but with that Filmation style that makes a lot of it quite hilarious. So I started thinking about how neat it would be to pay homage to Trek and how much we love it by giving that TAS treatment to a really pivotal moment in Trek history. Which of course was Picard being abducted by the Borg. And also pairing TNG dialogue with Ray Ellis’ TAS music was just something we really wanted to hear!
The reception of TNG:TAS totally took me by surprise. After I posted it yesterday, I kinda turned everything off and didn’t see what had happened until this morning. So we’re thinking about stuff now, but it’s still just a wonderful surprise that lots of other fans are enjoying this!
I worked on this on and off for about a week. It’s funny that many people (including me) associate the Filmation style with being ‘cheap’ (which in relative terms it is), because I found to authentically recreate the look and feel, I couldn’t use most of my go-to digital shortcuts like interpolating/tweening artwork for the head, forearm, torso, etc. Sometimes Filmation would slide a static cel to make a character move (the Kzinti being scared in The Slaver Weapon comes to mind), but often character movement was still drawn one cel at a time. So I did end up doing a ton of drawings (even though it doesn’t look like it!) so there was that hand-drawn ‘life’ to the movement and the lines. I also noticed the dirt, fingerprints and so forth on the cels would change every time cels were swapped, so there were additional elements animated overtop to simulate that.
I’d always intended to show the turbolift door open (a mistake often seen in TAS), but the idea to put a Kzinti officer at the conn was a very last-minute addition. I suddenly remembered Walter Koenig talking about writing for TAS, and how Gene Roddenberry kept telling him to exploit the medium of animation. So it wouldn’t have been right to have an animated TNG bridge crew that’s nearly all human!
Keep up with all the Trek viral videos at TrekMovie.com.