Computer Graphics World

April 2011

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■ ■ ■ ■ Animation Superheroes are cool. But now they are cooler than ever. Th at’s because comic-book marvel Stan Lee—creator of such legend- ary heroes as Spider-Man, Th e Incredible Hulk, Th e Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Th or, and more—is introducing brand-new characters be- longing to the league (and to the National Hockey League). But instead of acquiring their superhuman characteristics from spiders, DNA ex- periments, cosmic rays, technological innovation, or a Norse god, these new legends derive their powers from the NHL franchise each was con- ceived to represent. Th eir mission: to watch over their respective teams, fans, and stadiums. In other words, to be guardians of the ice. Th e concept was the brainchild of Guardian Media Entertainment (GME). A joint venture between the NHL and Stan Lee’s SLG Enter- tainment, GME launched this unique NHL-themed superhero fran- chise, known as Th e Guardian Project. So, what exactly is Th e Guardian Project? It may be easier to explain what it isn’t. It’s not a game. Nor is it a comic-book series. And, it’s not a movie. At least, not at this moment. And it defi nitely is not a replace- ment for the team mascots. Rather, it’s more of an idea. At least that’s what it was until the crew at motion-capture facility Vicon House of Moves (HOM) got involved. Working with GME, they helped bring the concept to computer-generated life. Legends of the Ice Th e Guardians comprise a collection of 30 superheroes. Th e backstory centers on Mike Mason, a boy who has the ability to transform his imaginary friends into 30 superheroes, organically themed after each NHL team. With Mason at the helm, the Guardians fi ght dark forces to keep their respective cities and arenas safe. Th e other goal of these superheroes is to excite the current base of NHL fans and to attract a new generation of youngsters and tweens to the world of hockey by rolling out subsequent stories involving the Guardian characters. To this end, GME’s hope was that the characters become familiar faces in the world of professional hockey by appear- ing in broadcasts and animated sequences at home arenas throughout the season. In addition to having the heroes appear on JumboTrons at home games, GME is eyeing other outlets for the characters, including movies, comic books, television, and Web-based games. Global media domination, in other words. Th e characters assume the elements and traits of their respective hock- ey franchise (for instance, the Calgary Flames’ Guardian has the power to control fi re; the Boston Bruins’ Guardian fi ghts evil with his sonic roar). However, the story lines in “Th e Guardian Project”—whatever the medium—are not about hockey. Th ey’re all about superhero action. 26 April 2011

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