The technology is developing so fast that "Reboot" has an entirely different look now than when it was accepted by ABC just two years ago. At that time, Bob, the main character, had the jerky movements and two-dimensional look commonly associated with computer-generated graphics. Now, aside from being bright blue--a change that was based more on creative and multicultural concerns than technology--Bob is three-dimensional and moves like the combination real person and super-hero he is meant to be.
Even the first few episodes in September look different from the ones to come as the series returns this week.
"The first three or four episodes," Pearson said, "were the equivalent of 'Steamboat Willie' "--the first Walt Disney cartoon featuring Mickey Mouse.
So far, ABC says, audience response has been good, with the show ranking in the top 10 among children ages 2 to 11, its target audience. The show is also airing in Canada, and in January will be seen during prime time in England.
"It's cool," said William, a third-grader at Western Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles, after being shown a tape of "Reboot" with his class.
"It moves in a way that people can't move," observed Relyn, one of William's classmates. "It's creative."
ABC's Trias said the network was willing to spend big money for "Reboot" to catch the eye of kids such as these while they are channel surfing. The network already has renewed the show for another season.
Implicit in ABC's support is the hope that the cost will go down--and, indeed, now that Pearson has purchased his computers, half the cost of the first season will be eliminated.
"I think we've upped the ante," says Pearson, who is ready to tackle a feature film on computer. "I think people are going to have to try a little harder from now on."
And someday, computer boosters say, the cost of the whole process will drop dramatically.
"The real next shift," said Wright of Viewpoint Datalabs, "is for people to create the entire animation of (a show like) 'Reboot' in their basements."
* "Reboot" returns at 7:30 a.m. Saturday on ABC (Channels 7, 3 and 10).