The Botcon 2016 boxset reveals have stirred up some disagreements, as the Tripredacus Council members among the assortment are all colored in primarily red - based on what they looked like in their single cartoon appearance. While the details of the arguments aren't important, the situation led Verno from TFW's board to inquire directly to the director of The Agenda, Part 1 - and amazingly he got an answer! Keep reading for some behind the scenes of Beast Wars!
Wow - this really came out of the blue. And you’ve picked one of my favourite scenes from the point of view of innovation on a limited budget. One of the great things about Beast Wars was the creative freedom afforded to directors on the show. And of course the amazing scripts made working on this show so rewarding.
-Cal Shumiatcher, Director "The Agenda, Part 1"
This scene was a typical production challenge and I’m very proud of the results.
Here’s what I was given:
1) the design of a massive spaceship - exterior only. Because this was the only scene that ever takes place within the ship, no interior set was ever designed.
2) Three rough character models that had virtually no moving parts.
3) a three page dialogue scene that was important but virtually all exposition. no action.
Hmmm. How to keep the audience awake? As I recall, the Tripredacus Council were essentially putting a hit out on one of our good guys. So I decided to play them like film noir gangsters, sitting in a smoke filled room under a swinging ‘china hat’ lamp. The swinging lamp was supposed to be the only light source in the room and there was to be virtually no ambient light. I was looking for the super high contrast, film noir look - partially because I love the look and partly because there was no set! So I decided that we’d play the interior of the spaceship like a huge cavernous empty space - almost a bottomless pit with the council members floating in space.
So we set it up, and everything was great, except you couldn’t see the character’s faces. The overhead light was casting such hard shadows. So the supervising animator, Eric Reynolds - (who has gone on to supervise animation on movies like Avatar, The Hobbit and The Hunger Games), suggested the Council kind of ‘sign in’ when they arrived at the table by touching a palm reading pad that would illuminate when their identity was confirmed. The glowing pad provided a soft red light on the bodies. Now you have to remember that these were very rudimentary models that were quickly finished and textured. So I can only imagine that some parts of the characters were more reflective than others. We didn’t really plan it, but it looked really cool when parts of them glowed with red, so we went with it. Sorry, that’s pretty much all there is to it.
I love how the scene ends - one character grabs the lamp to stop it swinging and delivers a line I still remember well - "Terminate, with extreme prejudice". It was so camp, and so cool all at once.
So ultimately, based on this account it seems the Tripredacus Council were never modeled with any specific personal colors in mind, because Mr Shumiatcher envisioned the scene in the spirit of a black and white movie. Of course, this answer doesn't serve to validate either side in the debate between decos true to the appearance on the show, or colors based on the actual toys comprising the real Tripredacus combiner. But it's really interested to hear new details on the production of a series so long after the fact. Our thanks to Mr Shumiatcher for this information, and to Verno for going looking for an answer!
Article image courtesy of TFWiki.net