Sunday, July 22, 2018

Nickelodeon’s ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Go Virtual at Comic-Con 2018 | NickSDCC [Updated]

Nickelodeon has big plans to introduce its reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise during Comic-Con 2018 with a virtual-reality (VR) experience that will put journalists and some lucky superfans directly into the show’s animated universe to chat live with two of the Turtles, Donatello and Michelangelo.

The Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Live experience, set for Friday, July 20, is the latest project from Nickelodeon’s cutting-edge Entertainment Lab, which launched last year to experiment with new and emerging technologies and broaden entertainment options for Nick’s audiences.

“It’s really fun,” Chris Young, Senior Vice President (SVP) of Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab, told Variety. “There’s a great moment when you realize you’re fully immersed inside of the Turtles’ universe. The characters that you know really well are right in front of you, and you can have a conversation with them.”

The team has constructed a green-screen cube, which is where users will put on HTC Vive VR headsets and immediately find themselves in a stylized New York street scene.

“The idea is that the person will be in the Ninja Turtle reboot universe,” explains Young. “A camera is filming the journalist and compositing them live in real time into the environment. They’ll have a big Nickelodeon cartoon avatar head that can be chosen ahead of time.”

It’s quite a setup behind the scenes, with several high-powered gaming computers, video and audio technicians, and a team of puppeteers making the Turtles move while the actors respond to the reporter’s or fan’s questions. Josh Brener, who voices Donatello, and Brandon Mychal Smith, who plays Michelangelo, will be on hand at Comic-Con to interact with users in real time. The puppeteers are stationed so they can watch the actors as they improv and create the animated performance.

“We’ll be able to switch between different shots as the interview is happening,” says Young. “We can cut between all those things. That’s the technical side. Then there are some really interesting things happening on the audio side in order to create the proper delays and have everybody talking in sync. That audio is driving the character animation. The big idea is that we should have a little video package to hand to people when they’re done with their interview.”

The Entertainment Lab team worked with Adobe Character Animator, Epic Unreal Engine and NewTek NDI to create the VR experience. And this is just one of a number of projects the experimental lab is working on. “This built on a lot of stuff that we’ve been doing in the lab over the last couple of years, specifically around this virtual cinema, mixed reality, VR pipeline,” Young says.

Earlier this year, the team debuted Nickelodeon and Imax’s SlimeZone, a multi-player social virtual-reality experience at IMAX VR Centers as well as a 360-degree episode of Nick’s popular animated series The Loud House.

“A lot of that fundamentally applied to what we’re doing here,” Young explains. “A lot of it was copying and pasting over a curve that we had already implemented. Then it was just refining it to do exactly what this needed to do, which is stream these puppets into a VR environment and still have the mixed-reality live component.”

This is just the beginning for the Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab. “It’s still very early days in all this technology, whether it’s VR or AR or mixed reality,” Young says. “A lot of what we do in the lab is experiment around those areas. We’re fortunate to have access to iconic IP, so there are things like the Comic-Con experience with the Turtles that just feel right.”

And Nickelodeon is not at a loss for content to bring to new platforms. “You can see how easy it is for us to take our properties and put them into these new platforms and be able to share them as far as the new technology allows for it to be shared,” Young says.

And Nick’s young viewers will be the beneficiaries. “We’re always interested in being where kids are,” Young says. “We know they have a passion for these kinds of things, so we want to bring them as many opportunities to connect with our brand as possible.”

In addition to Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Live, Nickelodeon's SDCC 2018 booth will feature a towering New York City cityscape, featuring the bright lights, energy and iconic billboards of Times Square, as well as a hidden Turtles lair, housing a gif opportunity. Nickelodeon's full Comic-Con International: San Diego 2018 plans can be found here.

From HuffPost:

Even Ninja Turtles Have To Deal With New York Gentrification

Ninja turtles Michaelangelo and Donatello are at Comic-Con in San Diego promoting their new show.

Rising New York real estate prices don’t just affect the average person, they also impact the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The classic cartoon heroes latest series, “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” debuts Sept. 17 on Nickelodeon.

To promote the series, Nickelodeon invited journalists attending Comic-Con in San Diego to interview turtles Donatello (“Donny”) and Michaelangelo (“Mikey”) via virtual reality.

The turtles got real about the hidden costs of being a hero in New York exclusively to HuffPost journalist David Moye (watch the clip above.)

“Let me tell you, the rent is sky high,” said Michaelangelo, (who was actually voiced by voice actor Brandon Mychal Smith in another room). “It costs me $4000 turtle dollars to stay in the lair.

But, you know what? It’s a tax write-off.”

Donatello adds that he and the other turtles also deduct things like pizza, pepperoni and bandanas. He also offered this other tip for aspiring superhero terrapins:

“You can honestly put anything under training and research,” he suggested to HuffPost.

Although financial matters are rarely discussed on the show, Donatello said their certified personal accountant is actually their mentor, Splinter the rat.

“He’s a sensei CPA.”

Michaelangelo and Donatello may be a team, but their love of New York neighborhoods differs drastically. Donatello prefers the artsy West Village while Michaelangelo likes the upper West Side. This last remark prompted Donatello to give him the stinkeye.

“I just like running by the river, all right?” Michaelangelo snapped. “It’s nothing pretentious. You know what I mean?”

[Click here to watch a Turtley Awesome video of Nickelodeon's Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Live experience at SDCC 2018!]


Also, via SyFy Wire:

WATCH SDCC: We talked to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Really!

We've seen some pretty amazing things here at Comic-Con 2018, but the Nickelodeon activation may be the closest we've ever come to fulfilling a childhood dream of actually going into a cartoon.

SYFY WIRE's Jerah Milligan went to Nickelodeon's virtual reality encounter for Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to get an in-character interview with two of the titular TMNT. But before Jerah could go into VR, he had to pick a popular Nickelodeon character to serve as his cartoon. Some of his choices included Lincoln and Luna Loud, Invader Zim, Angelica Pickles, Sandy Cheeks, and GIR. However, he ultimately went with Arnold from Hey Arnold!, an animated series that debuted over 20 years ago.

Once inside the cartoon world of VR, Jerah got to speak with Donatello and Michelangelo as they encouraged some additional silliness with his new Arnold head. Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a radical departure from the previous adaptations, hence the visual and personality changes displayed by the TMNT. However, Donatello is still a genius and 'Mikey' is still most likely always ready to party.

Afterwards, Jerah spoke with Josh Brener (Donatello) and Brandon Mychal Smith (Michelangelo) outside of the VR world to get a glimpse at the men behind the turtles. But at least one of the performers was so similar to his character that he actually went back to work before the interview was over!

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will premiere on September 17. Before that debut, you can check out Jerah's TMNT VR experience in the video [here].


More Nick: Nickelodeon USA to Air First Episode of 'Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' on Friday 20th July 2018!

Originally published: Thursday, July 19, 2018.
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