The ReBoot series

The ReBoot series takes viewers into a world inside a personal computer, to the multi-level city of Mainframe populated by sprites – an eclectic mixture of digital information in the forms of robotic-looking biomes and human-like data sprites.

ReBoot is a cross between the Gerry Anderson puppet production Thunderbirds (1966) and the Disney feature Tron (1982). Thunderbirds featured a group called International Rescue, whose exploits were based on high tech transport and gadgetry. In Tron a computer games designer enters the computer world he has created to fight things out. Tron was a mixture of live action and computer animation and whilst ReBoot also takes place in a computer it is totally computer generated. The stunning effects and well thought out characters are rendered in 3D and much is made of this by a roving viewpoint.

Characters from ReBoot. (left to right) Frisket, Enzo, Bob, Megabyte and Dot.

The series of half-hour shows made their television debut in the United States in September 1994. The show was a strong performer in the ABC Saturday morning line-up. ReBoot also has a huge following in Canada, where it appeared on YTV. ReBoot started building a large audience throughout Britain in January 1995 when it was shown on the children’s afternoon slot on ITV. A ReBoot video featuring two half-hour episodes has recently been released in the UK by PolyGram Video.

The idea for ReBoot was conceived 10 years ago by a British creative collective known as The Hub: John Grace, Ian Pearson, Gavin Blair, and Phil Mitchell. Although John chose to remain in England to work on other projects, Ian, Gavin and Phil made the move to Vancouver, Canada to ensure that ReBoot became a televised reality. Ian and Gavin created the first CGI characters ever seen by most television audiences for the music video Money For Nothing by Dire Straits. Phil is best known for his award-winning commercials. All three are respected the world over for their artistic and technological contributions to the emerging phenomenon of computer animation.

The series takes viewers into a world inside a personal computer, to the multi-level city of Mainframe populated by sprites – an eclectic mixture of digital information in the forms of robotic-looking bionics and human-like data sprites.

Their urban electronic environment is controlled by an unseen character, The User, the operator of the computer in which Mainframe is located. When The User decides to play a computer game, an ominous cube descends upon Mainframe and engulfs a sector of the city. The Games can strike anywhere, at any time. When trapped inside The Game, the sprites can “reboot?’ to transform themselves into game characters or equip themselves with the appropriate game gear to compete with The User. Anything is possible inside The Game. A sprite can find himself behind the controls of a screaming jet fighter, burning up the track in a Formula One car, or going one-on-one with the NBA All-Stars.

The central character is Bob, who recently modemed in from the Super Computer. Bob can usually be found in the company of an attractive entrepreneur, Dot, and her energetic little brother, Enzo, at Dot’s Diner. Being a Guardian Program from the advanced civilization of the Super Computer, Bob is a local hero and Enzo’s mentor. Bob is a master of the Games and with the use of Glitch, a multi-functional gizmo he wears on his wrist, Bob fights to protect Mainframe from any electronic threat – in particular the wicked schemes of two computer viruses: the eloquent and malevolent Megabyte, programmed to take control of the computer, and Hexadecimal, a digital medusa with masks, programmed to create chaos from her lair on the bizarre floating city of Lost Angles.

In a strange twist of technology imitating art imitating life, ReBoot was originally set inside a computer because of the limitations of computer animation software at the time. Ian Pearson, co-creator and Executive Creative Consultant of ReBoot explains, “When we first discussed creating a series that was entirely animated by computer 10 years ago, the technology was in its infancy. We decided to set the characters inside of a computer so that they could get away with looking “blocky” and moving with a mechanical motion.”

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