Planetary Pig is a character Mike and I began developing back in the early 1990’s. We produced a pencil test of the idea in 1992. It was shot using a pencil test animation system that Mike owned, that shot frame-by-frame on VHS tapes. The system was very crude- without a flying erase head. Therefore, you couldn’t have gaps in the tape. This meant that if you wanted to shoot an entire piece, it had to be done in one pass, with no breaks in shooting between scenes.
This entire little mini-film was shot in a single marathon pass- consider that 12 frames of drawings stacked on top of each other are clicking past every second. It took us over 14 hours to shoot. Add to the frustration, we couldn’t allow the camcorder we used as an animation stand camera to sit idle for more than five minutes, or it would turn itself off and ruin a scene.
We had to have been a little bit insane to even attempt making entire pencil test films this way, but we were determined to get the idea onto video, and this was in an era before affordable desktop computers.
Nowadays, one has merely to purchase any mid-range personal computer, and it will handle animation tasks fine. In the early 90’s, the only such computers were barely up to the task, and one that would actually do the job would run you about $5,000-$10,000. The same computer today, you wouldn’t even want to use for a doorstop! How times have changed!
Planetary Pig is a guy who’ll do just about any menial job that outer space has to offer. Whether that’s selling ice cream cones on the surface of the sun, or sweeping launch pads for high-tech space companies, Planetary Pig was up for the task. His problem was simply that he could never leave well enough alone. He envisioned himself as something of a great inventor, able to improve on other people’s ideas, and he’d never miss an opportunity to try and prove it, usually with disastrous results.
We pitched Planetary Pig to Nickelodeon and Hanna Barbera in 1993. H&B; liked it enough to put us into their shorts program, so I can’t say that something good didn’t come out of it.