B.C. documentarians secure original ‘ReBoot’ master tapes, but need help to play them

If you are a Canadian child of the ’90s, chances are you’ve logged a number of hours watching the computer animated television show ReBoot.

The pioneering program was the first full-length 3D animated show on TV, predating even Toy Story.

Produced in Vancouver by Mainframe Entertainment, it aired on YTV between 1994 and 2001, and decades later still has a committed fan base.

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Among those super fans are Jacob Weldon and Raquel Lin, a B.C. duo now crafting a documentary about the creation of the show and its impact in the film and TV world.

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Weldon said he wants to see ReBoot recognized for its place in the evolution of computer animation — recognition he said it rarely gets.

“Even on Wikipedia I think there’s maybe one line that is like, oh yeah, ReBoot came out in 1994, but that one line encapsulates this 16-year colourful insane history that’s like a Wild West pioneering story of CGI, so I just wanted to see that story told,” he said.

“We know so many people that DM us, comment on our Facebook, Instagram, everything, that are just like, ‘Yeah, oh my God I love that show and that’s why I got into animation,’ or That’s why I came to Vancouver for school,’” Lin added.

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“It’s this ripple effect that has kind of created waves that no one really knows about.”

When ReBoot was finally cancelled — cut short in its fourth and final season — its protagonists were left in peril and the show ended on a cliffhanger.

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It’s another factor that Lin and Weldon say has helped immortalize the show and has helped fans hoping for a revival that might finally explain the characters’ fate.

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Earlier this month, the documentary also got a potential major boost.

Mainframe allowed Lin and Weldon to come to the studio to look for the show’s original master tapes, recordings some believed might have been permanently lost.

They struck gold.

“They had boxes upon boxes upon boxes, hundreds of tapes,” Lin said.

“It’s original resolution, original frame rate, uncompressed. If we could get a deck to play these, they would look beautiful,” Weldon said.

Finding that deck, however, is the pair’s next major challenge.

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The recordings are on a rare digital tape format called D1, a technology that Weldon said was cutting edge and rare when Mainframe was using it.

It’s even harder to find today, and even Mainframe doesn’t have the equipment to play the tapes back.

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Weldon and Lin have since put out a call on social media for a working Bosch BTS D1 deck that would allow them to play the tapes, and incorporate them into their documentary.

“I can’t tell you how many people have called us, DM’d us, emailed us — people from all over the world,” Lin said.

While the pair still haven’t secured the deck, they’re aiming to release their documentary by next summer.

They’re hoping it will help renew interest in the show, introduce it to new generations and perhaps see it get new life on a streaming platform.

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“Talking to a lot of the alumni today, it’s just so much heart was put into it, and it shows on screen and it shows in the writing and it shows to the generations that it touched,” Lin said.

“We know what a crazy story is behind that show and most people don’t know about it,” added Weldon.

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