Oscar and Friends
|Oscar and Friends|
|Created by||Cameron Chittock|
|Written by||Steve Ballantyne
|Opening theme||Oscar and Friends Theme Song|
|Country of origin||New Zealand|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||27|
|Executive producer(s)||Shaun Bell|
|Editor(s)||Duncan Smith (series script editor)|
|Running time||5 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Gnome Productions Ltd.|
|Distributor||Southern Star Sales|
|Original release||1995 – 1999|
Oscar and Friends is a New Zealand 27-episode clay-mation children's series that ran from 1995–1999. The series was made in Wellington, New Zealand, and was aimed for children aged 3–6. The series was produced by Gnome Productions Ltd., distributed by Southern Star Sales, and funded by NZ On Air and Southern Star Entertainment. Oscar and Friends" has been screened all around the world including on ITV in UK (where the series rated number ten for kids in its first year of release), Fox in USA, ABC in Australia. and Magic Kids in Argentina.
Cameron Chittock decided to start making his own television programs after years of working for the TV3 Network in New Zealand. He came up with the basic concept for a show about a young boy who was bored on his own at home. When his two imaginary friends appear, they take the boy off on an adventure into an fantasy world. Initially, the idea was conceptualized as a live action show using Chittock's background in puppetry and SFX to create the imaginary characters and fantastic settings. However, monetary issues became apparent as a series based on this approach became budgeted. Chittock realised it was simply not financially viable to produce the TV show in this manner. He then began to experiment with stop frame animation and saw the possibilities of using this medium to produce the action-adventure series. He turned to his friend, and award winning animation director, Euan Frizzell at Gnome Productions for support. They jointly applied for funding and were successful in gaining the finance required from NZ On Air in New Zealand to produce the show. Executive producer Shaun Bell brought Southern Star Sales on board to distribute the series, and invest into the production which allowed the 13 × 7 minutes episodes to grow into 26 × 5 minutes episodes, which the distributor believed would better meet international format requirements.
Although Chittock and a small group of technicians in New Zealand had gained some experience in clay-mation techniques up to that point, he still felt the crew required further training. He traveled to the UK and met up with Aardman animation director Richard Goleszowski (who was the creator of the Aardman production Rex the Runt and director of the clay-mation series Creature Comforts). Goleszowski agreed to come back with Chittock to New Zealand to help train the "Oscar and Friends" animating crew. The input from both Goleszowski and Australian stop frame animator Norman Yeend proved immensely helpful, and enabled the New Zealand team to produce the high quality results that Cameron felt necessary to ensure the series would hold up against international competition. Chittock and his crew went on to successfully complete the series, and in the process set up a small clay-mation industry within New Zealand.
Chittock experimented with a mixed media approach, because he wanted to create a fresh new look to the show . The joint use of painted backgrounds and stop frame model characters give the show a unique appeal. The puppet characters were constructed using a simple wire armature held together with a brass section socket system. The bodies were made using foam latex with resin cast heads. Replacement mouths were used to create the illusion of speech and facial expression.
Some of the animation was completed on a rostrum shooting the painted backgrounds and puppet characters together while other shots were completed using a traditional model set or against a blue screen. The series was shot on 35 mm film using five hand made stop frame cameras built by SFX technician Stephen Greenwood. The cameras used Nikon still lenses. With a built in video split the animators used a computer and simple line test software to help guide them through the animation process.
The show is about a 7-year-old boy named Oscar, who, with his imaginary friends, goes from adventure to adventure. In this fantasy life of his, Bugsy, a bright green, bug-eyed mischievous coward, and Doris, a daring, eccentric girl and Oscar's confidante, are there to rescue him in danger and lend a hand.
This is a list of episodes in the sole 27-episode season the show had.
|Episode Number||Episode Name||Episode Date|
|1||Oscar Takes Off||30 Dec 2002|
|2||Oscar Goes Flying||30 Dec 2002|
|3||One Day at the Dump||31 Dec 2002|
|4||The Time Machine||31 Dec 2002|
|5||Skullduggery||1 January 2003|
|6||Oscar and the Rustlers||1 January 2003|
|7||Oscar to the Rescue||1 February 2003|
|8||Oscar and the Pirates||1 February 2003|
|9||Up, Up and Away||1 March 2003|
|10||The Magic Carpet||1 March 2003|
|11||The Frog Princess||1 May 2003|
|12||Feed Me||1 June 2003|
|13||Chocolate Meltdown||1 June 2003|
|14||Eel King||1 July 2003|
|15||Oscar and the Runaway Roller||1 August 2003|
|16||A Dog's Life||1 September 2003|
|17||Oscar and the Haunted House||1 October 2003|
|18||20,000 Leagues Under the Rock Pools||1 November 2003|
|19||Plastic Jurassic||1 November 2003|
|20||Voyage to the Bottom of the S-Bend||1 November 2003|
|21||Starstruck||13 Jan 2003|
|22||Championship Ball||14 Jan 2003|
|23||Oscar and the Castle Kingdom||15 Jan 2003|
|24||Diamond Danger||16 Jan 2003|
|25||Oscar and the Sandman||17 Jan 2003|
|26||Clowning Around||20 Jan 2003|
|27||A Day at the Dump||10 December 2003|