Crea­tures in a Back­pack

View­ers get the chance to en­ter the charm­ing world of Ol­lie’s Pack and meet its many mon­sters on Nick­elodeon this month.

Animation Magazine - - CON­TENTS - Ol­lie’s Pack pre­mieres on Nick­elodeon in April. It will de­but in­ter­na­tion­ally later this year.

View­ers get the chance to en­ter the charm­ing world of Ol­lie’s Pack and meet its many mon­sters on Nick­elodeon this month.

Amag­i­cal back­pack serves as a por­tal to a world of mon­sters in Ol­lie’s Pack, a new show de­but­ing on Nick­elodeon in April. The 2D-an­i­mated show is cre­ated by Pe­dro Eboli (Cup­cake & Dino) and Gra­ham Peter­son (Rick and Morty) and pro­duced by Nel­vana studios in Toronto.

Eboli and Peter­son met at the Van­cou­ver Film School and have been friends for over a decade. The se­ries orig­i­nated from Mon­ster Pack, an orig­i­nal short pro­duced at Birdo Stu­dio for Nick­elodeon’s 2013 In­ter­na­tional An­i­mated Shorts Pro­gram. “Ol­lie’s Pack first came to be from a se­ries of idea ses­sions be­tween the two of us,” Eboli and Peter­son tell us in an email in­ter­view. “We started off with a ques­tion that we felt we could ex­plore in a com­pelling and mean­ing­ful way: ‘What if a kid was be­stowed a great power but had no in­struc­tion man­ual on how to use it or con­trol it?’ That was even­tu­ally fol­lowed by: ‘Now, what if there was no evil to fight with it?’ The one thing that stayed pretty con­sis­tent through­out the de­vel­op­ment process were the char­ac­ters’ per­son­al­i­ties, their friend­ship and the dy­namic be­tween them.”

The two creators are big afi­ciona­dos of scifi and pop cul­ture. “We felt in­spired at the time to tell a com­pelling sci­ence-fic­tion story with a su­per­nat­u­ral vast­ness to it,” says Peter­son. “It can be easy to get car­ried away some­times with that, so we al­ways come back to the most im­por­tant ideas that the char­ac­ters need to be the fo­cus of the story, and the is­sues re­lat­able and grounded, and that it needs to be funny. This al­lowed us to poke fun at our own se­ri­ous­ness, while still feel­ing fun and heart­felt, and those tend to be some of the best mo­ments in the show.”

Clean Lines, Mem­o­rable Mon­sters

The show is pro­duced us­ing Toon Boom Har­mony soft­ware for all an­i­ma­tion and VFX work, and over­all about 225 peo­ple work on the show, in­clud­ing man­age­ment and voice ac­tors. The pro­duc­ers point out that the over­all look of the show was a con­stant evo­lu­tion of the style and tone from the first pitch all the way to the de­vel­op­ment process. “For the short, the back­grounds had a slight ex­pres­sion­ist ap­proach in both the off-kil­ter lines and fo­cus on bold col­ors and a fully tex­tured and painterly color style,” they note. “The goal was to make the lo­ca­tions elab­o­rate and full be­cause of the lim­ited scene count to help ex­pand the world and also to con­trast to the char­ac­ter de­signs. While it worked for the short, the show needed both a more pro­duc­tion-friendly style of back­grounds, but also some­thing that re­flected the up­dated char­ac­ter de­signs and sto­ry­telling we were go­ing for. We wanted to go for thin­ner and cleaner lines to ground the world in re­al­ity a bit more, while also still keep­ing it full and in­tri­cate with de­tails.”

The chal­lenge was to do so with­out mak­ing it too sharp and graphic or over­do­ing the de­tails and depth, which puts lots of strain on the artists. “We love painterly tex­tures, so we tried to keep small amounts of it where we could to help cre­ate depth and some loose­ness to the back­grounds,” says Eboli. “The goal was for the color pass to keep the bold col­ors we love, and then push for more en­vi­ron­men­tal tone and light­ing pass to help ex­press mood, am­bi­ence and the feel of the grand­ness of the world, while still feel­ing grounded in the lines. The de­sign­ers did a won­der­ful job bal­anc­ing all of this on the show.”

As au­di­ences get ready to un­pack their back­packs for the sum­mer, the pro­duc­ers hope they will have a con­nec­tion to Ol­lie’s world and the char­ac­ters they have cre­ated. “We re­ally ex­plore some timely and re­lat­able is­sues in our sto­ries, and we hope that our au­di­ence can see them­selves, a fam­ily mem­ber or a friend in those sit­u­a­tions and can get some per­spec­tive out of that,” they note. “Mostly, we’d like to see our au­di­ence sit­ting down to watch the show to catch a funny and heart­felt story and fol­low along with char­ac­ters that could eas­ily be like their friends and neigh­bors in real life and just have a bunch of laughs!” ◆

Pe­dro Eboli

Gra­ham Peter­son

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