Transformers Generation 1 Season 5 Actor Jason Jansen Talks About Tommy Kennedy
Jack - Saturday, January 05, 2013
Transformers Generation 1 ended with a 5th season in 1988. It wasn't an actual season of new cartoons as one would expect. Segments from previous seasons were edited together with clips from The Transformers: The Movie into a sort of look-back that spanned 5 episodes. New intermission segments were made featuring an animatronic Powermaster Optimus Prime telling Tommy Kennedy the story about the Transformers. Jason Jansen, who played Tommy was interviewed by Digest My Brain blog. Shres some insights on working on the final season.
How was it filmed, from your point of view? How realistic did the stop motion Optimus Prime look up close? Was there much green/blue screen used for the background?
The filming was as professional as any production at the time would have been. You are correct when you excuse me for the memory lapse (which is over 20 years) but I can recall a couple of things if I concentrate. First off Tim Speidel, when I read the blog and saw the name I definitely recognized it – I actually sent him a note after finding him on FB but haven’t received a response yet. During the filming my mother and I stayed with a girlfriend of hers on the Upper East Side of Manhattan – simply to make the commute easier, and to deal with the schedule of being at the studio by 8am in some cases. Everybody was super cool during the filming. I remember I thought the Key Grips, and Gaffers were younger guys who always were making me laugh. They were “New York City Fahgeddaboutit” type guys. To this day I see Gaffer and Key Grip during credits but have no idea what their real jobs are – basically I think they are a Jack of all Trades type men/women on the set.
On set, I remember filming some scenes on a large, constructed out of wood, Optimus Hand. I remember being instructed to only sit on a certain portion/ or spot as this was the strongest to support me. I was a normal sized kid so nothing strange there. Other scenes were filmed on the shoulder of another larger constructed portion of Optimus’ shoulder. Same deal, watch your step! Other random scenes were built (running through a vast wasteland) backgrounds were usually green screens, claymation for my flipping onto shoulders, and HUGE fans blowing on my face for when Optimus was launching and taking me home.
If you were a fan, how did it feel “talking” to Optimus Prime? Did they have a crew member say his lines off camera to help with timing or was Peter Cullen’s voice prerecorded?
When saying my lines (if i remember correctly) there was mix of things that were going on. At times someone off camera would recite Optimus Primes lines, but I believe it was a member of the crew and not Peter Cullen. Other times, if the scene was shorter and the camera cut away, I would just pause my lines while saying them to account for another voice to be inserted later. I actually just read through the transcripts on the wiki and remember saying every single one of them – I was able to memorize quite a bit – but I my memory serves me correctly I believe I definitely had some large cue cards up there behind the cameras as well. They were color coded to help break up the lines.
Optimus looked great – up close you could tell it was made from wood and plastic, but it was a real dam good job. A little bit of info, we had two puppeteers working Optimus Prime. I believe one guy was inside his head and moving his mouth while another moved his head from side to side. One of the guys was a famous puppeteer and had worked on Sesame Street inside of “Snuffalupagus” not sure if I have spelled that correctly. I remember he was known for his work.
Read the complete interview with Jason Jansen at Digest My Brain. You can see him in action as Tommy in the video clip below.
THE TRANSFORMERS -THE MOVIE 30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION
Featuring All-Star Voice Cast of Peter Cullen, Eric Idle, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack, Frank Welker and Orson Welles as UNICRON
Renowned Classic Animated Movie Adventure Remastered FROM A BRAND-NEW 4K TRANSFER OF ORIGINAL FILM ELEMENTS and Debuts for the First Time on Blu-ray™!
Collectible LIMITED EDITION 30th Anniversary Steelbook,Special Two-Disc Blu-ray™ and DVD Arrive in Stores Everywhere September 13, 2016 From Shout! Factory
Just out of SDCC 2016 is the IDW & Hasbro revolution panel that gives us an overview of what's coming in the epic project that combines the universes of Transformers, GI Joe, ROM, Micronauts, and MASK. Read on about the expansive story where many characters converge and expand.
Finally we have from today';s SDCC reveals the official images for a new wave of Alt Modes figures. The small SD style figures feature a clever switch-activated auto transformation turning their bodies between tiny vehicles and tiny robots. This lineup will feature characters like Sideswipe, Hound, megatron, and of course a new Optimus Prime variant. Keep reading to see the images!
Already well acquainted with the larger world of Transformers thanks to a number of live action movie series figures, ThreeA is announcing today the first entry in a new Generation One themed line. Of course the debut figure is Optimus Prime, as if anyone would ever expect differently. Plus it's already planned to see an Ultra Magnus variant, and an exclusive Nemesis Prime edition.
ThreeA has released a statement about the new project along with image compilations of a prototype and a digitally colored version to show what the final product will look like - keep reading!
Almost two years after the publication of the last installment of IDW's Transformers Classics reprint collection of Marvel UK comics, we have word on volume six! From a new Amazon listing, we can expect Transformers Classics UK Vol.6 in January of 2017. The collection is not listed with a price and is not in fact available to order at this time, but it does indicate the volume to have 368 pages - 72 pages longer than the previous two volumes. No word on what specific issues will be featured, but it sounds like there'll be room for plenty! Keep reading for a link to the Amazon listing.