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CGI Series

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Warning! This page contains MAJOR spoilers from a recently released or soon to be released product. Caution is advised.

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CGISeries

CGI opening title sequence

The CGI Series refers to the television series as it was produced from the twelfth season onwards. In 2008, HiT Entertainment announced that Thomas and Friends would be undergoing a radical change in production. The company announced its intent to relocate production of the series from the United Kingdom to Canada. With this change, HIT announced that future Thomas productions would be animated with Computer-Generated Imagery.

Background

HiT Entertainment's Senior Vice President of Production and Programming, Christopher Skala, stated that the change, aside from budgetary reasons, was intended to convey more emotion and flexibility through the stories. Skala claimed that, of his focus group, even those who felt that Thomas, as an institution, should not be changed in this way ultimately responded positively to the demonstration of the new animation techniques.

Twelfth season

As part of a transitional period, the twelfth season would see computer-animated faces and characters superimposed over the live-action environment of earlier seasons. Characters could now display a variety of new expressions and their mouths would move in sync with the storyteller's voice when they are talking, whilst their thinking is evident when their mouths aren't moving in sync! People, animals, and certain other characters became wholly CGI elements.

This change was made possible by motion-capture animation. When a character's face needed to move, the moulded faces of earlier seasons would be replaced by a target, to which the computer could attach a face in post-production. The animation for this and future seasons would be provided by Nitrogen Studios, based in Canada.

This season saw the return of old favourites such as Duck, Oliver, Toad, Stepney, Jack, and Alfie.

Characters Introduced:

  • Hank - a strong American engine.
  • Flora - a yellow steam tram.
  • Colin - a green wharf-side crane.

Highlights:

  • The first season to have only twenty episodes.
  • The first season to use CGI elements.
  • The last season to use models and clay faces.


Hero of the Rails

The first feature of the overhauled series was Hero of the Rails, released in autumn 2009. Trailers, DVD covers and a music video called Go, Go Thomas all from this feature-length special were shown on YouTube prior to its official release. Book merchandise tying into the special have also appeared on online retailers. It introduced three new characters and a new location - the Sodor Steamworks.

Characters Introduced:

  • Hiro, an old Japanese engine, whom Thomas helped restore.
  • Kevin, a yellow four-wheeled mobile crane who belongs to the Sodor Steamworks.
  • Victor, a red tank engine who is in charge of the Sodor Steamworks.

Highlights:

  • The first production using entirely CGI animation.

Thirteenth season

The thirteenth season was the first season to feature computer-animation exclusively. Two images were originally found - two recreations of scenes from the eleventh season episode Thomas and the Stinky Cheese.

Characters Introduced:

Misty Island Rescue

Misty Island Rescue is a special that was released on September 7th, 2010 in the US and October 11th in the UK.

Characters introduced:

Highlights:

Fourteenth season

The fourteenth season is the second to use CGI exclusively. It began airing on October the 11th, 2010 in the UK and in November in the US.

Characters introduced:

Highlights:

Fifteenth season

The fifteenth season is the third to use CGI exclusively. It began airing on March 1st, 2011 in the UK and on April 2nd in the US. The twenty episode season was supposed to air after the release of Day of the Diesels, but was brought forward for unknown reasons. Because of this Belle, Flynn, Dart, Den, Paxton and Norman make their first appearances in the series. Although it was their first appearance, they would not officially be introduced until Day of the Diesels. Rupert Degas also joins the voice cast.

Highlights

Day of the Diesels

Day of the Diesels is a special that was released in September 2011 and officially introduced new engines and a new location - the Sodor Dieselworks.

Characters introduced:

  • Sidney, a forgetful and absent minded Class 08 shunter.

Characters officially introduced:

  • Belle, a blue tank engine with a brass bell and water cannons.
  • Flynn, a road-rail fire engine who joins the Search and Rescue Team.
  • Den, a stately Diesel who works at the Sodor Dieselworks.
  • Dart, a clumsy Diesel who works with Den at the Sodor Dieselworks.
  • Norman, Dennis' twin. He often breaks down, but would be a Really Useful Engine if fixed properly.
  • Paxton, a gullible Class 08 shunter who likes steam engines.

Sixteenth season

The sixteenth season first aired in February and March 2012 in the UK and April and June in the US. Steven Kynman joins the voice cast as Peter Sam (albeit uncredited in the UK broadcast) and William Hope is added to the UK voice cast for the first time. This was the last season animated by Nitrogen Studios.

Highlights

Characters introduced:

Owen and Merrick both cameoed in The Christmas Tree Express.

Blue Mountain Mystery

Blue Mountain Mystery is a special that was released in 2012. The Skarloey Railway engines feature heavily. Michael Legge joins the voice cast as Luke and David Bedella takes over the voice of Victor in the UK dub, taking over from Matt Wilkinson. This was the last special animated by Nitrogen Studios.

Characters introduced:

  • Luke, a green, narrow gauge, Irish tank engine.
  • Merrick, a crane.
  • Owen, an incline traction engine.

Characters officially introduced:

  • Winston, a red track inspection vehicle.

King of the Railway

King of the Railway is a special that was released in September 2013. This special marks the return of Jack. Bob Golding and David Menkin joined the voice cast, although the latter went uncredited. Four of the new characters were first seen in the seventeenth season. This is the first special animated by Arc Productions.

Characters introduced:

Characters officially introduced:

Seventeenth season

The seventeenth season started airing in June 2013. This season is the first to use a new writing style for the series and is also the first animated by Arc Productions. As ten episodes of this season were released ahead of King of the Railway, this season marks the first appearances of Millie, Connor, Caitlin and Sir Robert Norramby and their voice actors Miranda Raison, Jonathan Forbes, Rebecca O'Mara, and Mike Grady respectively. Although this is their first appearance, they would not be officially introduced until King of the Railway. Rupert Degas also left the series.

Highlights

Characters introduced:

  • Porter, a confident dockyard shunter.

Tale of the Brave

Tale of the Brave is a special released in September 2014. It was the second special to feature animation from Arc Productions. Clive Mantle joined the voice cast as Gator.

Characters introduced:

Highlights:

Eighteenth season

The eighteenth season began airing in late August 2014 in the UK and was released in November in the US. It was be the second season animated by Arc Productions.

Characters introduced:

Highlights:

The Adventure Begins

The Adventure Begins is a forty-four minute special that will be released in March 2015 in the US. It will be released sometime in July 2015 in the UK.

Characters introduced:

Highlights:

Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure

Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure is the 2015 special.

Characters introduced:

Highlights:

Nineteenth season

The nineteenth season may air sometime in 2015, and will be the third season animated by Arc. a new character called Geoffrey may be introduced.

Twentieth season

The twentieth season may air sometime in 2016. It will be the fourth season animated by Arc.

The Adventures of Thomas

The Adventures of Thomas was a Thomas and Friends film that was due for release in 2014. Josh Klausner, Will McRobb, and Chris Viscardi were confirmed as the writers. The film would have use a combination of live action (most likely humans) and CGI. Unlike the current seasons and specials however, it appears that Weta Digital instead of Nitrogen Studios will be supplying the CGI aspect of the movie. Shane Acker, the films director, revealed that "The tale will revolve around a pre-teen boy who has drifted apart from his father. The son is introduced into this world of Sodor, a place his father visited as a child but can't remember. There is a bonding experience." The current production status of the film is currently unknown, but is is likely to have been cancelled.  

See Also

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