Last year’s breakout mobile app Pokémon Go tapped into an audience that loves ’90s nostalgia, while captivating the attention of countless others with its location-based augmented reality gameplay. Its game developer, Niantic, has a hit on their hands, with millions of Pokémon trainers trying to catch them all.
One could argue what really sealed the global success the franchise was the import of Japan’s anime “Pocket Monsters,” known in the US as Pokémon: The Series. Though it all started as a video game for Nintendo’s original Game Boy, the series premiered just two years later in 1998. It’s since then hatched an empire of trading cards, multiple television incarnations, twenty full-length movies, manga, toys, and apparel. We know you know the English version of the show’s theme song by heart.
YouTube’s QuickDrawCreate channel has brought your love of the original 2D series to today’s visual standards with their take on the original series opener. As reported by WWG, the British animator’s video is one of series of 3D animation tutorials that’s also shown viewers step-by-step recreations of beloved characters from DreamWorks, Disney, and Illumination. Every moment of the “you teach me, and I’ll teach you” classic is upgraded into 3D rendering, from Mew and Mewtwo’s space travels to the in-your-face poké ball spinning under the main title.
The channel also has a split-screen, side-by-side comparison of the show’s opening upgrade, displaying exactly how the video’s creator adapted the 2D version (see the video below). Interestingly, he also converted the aspect ratio from 1998’s 4:3 to today’s wider 16:9.
This, of course, isn’t the first time we’ve seen Pokémon characters animated in 3D, yet there’s something very authentic about seeing QuickDrawCreate’s labor-of-love approach. The video was created and animated with Maya 3D, which has been a go-to program for feature films from the original The Matrix to this summer’s Despicable Me 3. The program has recently been used to render Sonic the Hedgehog to the television screen on Sonic Boom.
QuickDrawCreate has a number of how-to tutorials, which ultimately must have led to the design of this full-length take on the theme song. In one of their earliest posts, the creation and animation of facial expressions features Pikachu. A three-part modeling in Maya video series on the channel is also based the fan-favorite Pokémon, and comes complete with links to reference images.
If you know it to be your destiny as an animator, this YouTube channel is a great place to start. Suggestions in the sidebar, as well as a quick search will provide you with additional similar tutorials, should you want to dig deeper. If you’re really inspired to take on 3D animation, you’ll find free downloads on the official Autodesk website, including for Maya. Perhaps someone might be inspired to animate the almost unintelligible 25-minute opener of the first Pokémon movie known as Pikachu’s Vacation? Or go back to the original series, which had 276 episodes in Japan alone. There are plenty of 2D original animations to choose from.