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Roary The Racing Car
Roary The Racing Car Production Focus:
Roary The Racing Car is a British production about a racing car and his friends. Chapman Entertainment, the creators of Roary and Fifi and the Flower Tots started the series in UK and it has now spread around the globe.

Roary was originally started as a stop motion TV series, it was decided that the use of 3D could be incorporated to be able to extend the possibilities beyond what could be done with real models. Studio Liddell in England was called apon to build the entire Roary set and characters in 3DS Max. The difficulty of this task is it would need to match the live stop motion models exactly and be able to animate and render exactly the same as the filmed version. TV episodes would be using both methods mixed together so any change from one to the other would stand out.

Studio Liddell produced perfect replicas of the characters and set but didn't have a robust method for dealing with the difficulties of animating cartoon cars, for this PEN Productions was called on to create car rigs that were flexible and fast to animate and removed the head ache of having to deal with multi wheeled vehicles and how to keep them stuck to the ground. MX Driver 2 was developed with this very task in mind and helped the animation team at Liddell produce cinematic animation quickly.

Roary made it to the Canadian market on April 20th 2009 and airs on Tree House.

PEN Productions setup some 16+ characters for Studio Liddell, some of the characters are seen here and others were handled by the staff at Liddell. Most of the characters are cars so MX Driver could be used to speed the setup times and unify the animation tool set. There are many other characters that are not cars, bipeds a crow and even a helicopter had to be setup.

Character like Hellie needed specific controls for animation like the rotor blades. To handle custom characters PEN could add to the base systems that were developed to ensure that each character was able to perform unique tasks for the animation team.

PC Pete, seen in his pre textured state was one of the few biped characters that PEN developed a character rig for. Using the RAIC system and custom tool sets PC Pete had a full IK/FK system built into him.

Working with Studio Liddell on Roary was a very fun experience for every one at PEN. The two teams communicated and worked well together to develop a fast, smooth production around some very fun characters.

Working with companies over seas sounds like a daunting task but at PEN Productions we strive to make it as easy as possible. With Studio Liddell, PEN shared the needed assets for the project through a simple FTP system allowing PEN to use the same directory system as the production in England.

PEN created new and existing tools for the artists at Studio Liddell for the Roary project, making sure that all of these tools were installed correctly and working on every machine with easy with the use of an installer that could be updated and loaded into Max and the net work as needed. This kept all the artists on the same versions of the software that was being created at PEN and used in production at Liddell.

At the base of MX Driver and all the Roary vehicles is a custom object type that can take any form. Using this sort of tool means that the car and character rigs can be controlled to the finest level as needed. Customizing the control system to match each character meant the animators had simple and easy to use controls that could be identified for each character.

Using tools like MX Driver and the RAIC System PEN can make up dates to files already in production quickly and easily just by updating the install package with auto update tools and changes to the system plugins.

Custom Rigs:
Custom rigs have been the back bone of the work that PEN Productions has been doing for many years now. For Roary The Racing Car MX Driver 1 was rebuilt from the ground up to allow animators more manual control and faster reaction times to the real time ground detection.

The rigs are all based off the same technology used in the RAIC System that has been in production at PEN since 2006. The system when built into characters or cars or just about anything gives us the ability to have the character rig act as a system instead of just a collection of parts. The rigs can be made self aware with the understanding of their left and right, front and back

MX Driver only allowed for the car systems to be animated, for the character portions of the car rig all custom systems were created. Since Roary is a stop motion animated series all of the 3D animation needed to match the same style. For this PEn created a facial animation system that would set poses on the face that were automatically step keyed based on saved poses from a list. The system allowed for any number of lists to be created for different characters and their needs.

Custom Tools:
Every production is unique in how animators would like to work with the systems created. Different animation styles need solutions that fit the team and the final look at is desired. For Roary most of the controls for the animators were contained in the modifier panel of 3DS Max as plugin modifiers and custom attributes.

Many of the custom tools were behind the scenes making sure that the production ran smoothly. Tools such as auto update scripts that ran when files were opened ensured that every file and its characters were up to date and running correctly.

When working with clients PEN Productions can set up systems to monitor production if the client wishes, this allows PEN to check on the status of production and where errors are occurring.

With simple processes in place PEN can work effectively with companies around the globe in helping their production to run as smoothly as possible saving dollars and producing a higher quality product.

If you are interested to find out how PEN Productions can work with you on your production please contact us at