The “Buddy Thunderstruck” series by Stoopid Buddy Stoodios is a fast-paced stop-motion comedy that targets ages 5-12, but is truly good fun for the whole family. The Netflix original series features the misadventures of truck-racing dog, Buddy Thunderstruck: “The greatest racer of all time.” Buddy, along with his albino ferret mechanic, Darnell, is joined by a cast of colorful characters who bring good times and thrills to the town of Greasepit.
Explosive lighting techniques and sound design combine here with the funny, fast-moving plot. Talking animal characters fabricated in Stoopid’s Character Fabrication shop are larger than life and definitely fun to watch. SBS says their cutting-edge techniques and technologies are infused with methods dating back to Harryhausen’s heyday.
Equally vibrant sets come out of the Stoodio’s Buddy Build division, which, according to their website, “Specializes in constructing fantastic full-scale props, original installations, groovy walk-around costumes, and ingenious stage sets. Our talented builders can fabricate anything imaginable!”
The series director, Harry Chaskin, answered some of our questions:
What types of materials are used in character fabrication and set design?
“We used a wide range of materials on Thunderstruck ranging from everyday items to pretty hi-tech stuff. The puppets all have various 3d-printed components (basic head shape, torso blocks, and feet) created by our digital department, which are then assembled with wire armatures and hand-treated with felt to create the final, hyper-textured look. The eyes are little metal brads like you’d use for scrapbooking.
“The sets were a unique build because the show uses two scales: One for the puppets (which are around 10” tall) and a much smaller scale for the racing sequences. Both scales utilized a ton of MDF, wood, and styrene, along with various other materials to create texture. Ultimately it comes down to whatever looks best on camera, which can sometimes be the most unexpectedly simple thing. For example, the loading door on Thunderstruck Trucking is just corrugated cardboard! With the smaller scale sets, we also modified a lot of model railroad turf and foliage.
“Scenic painting played a huge role in both scales. It was very important that everything felt weathered and lived-in, right down to the grease spots on the pavement.”
How long does it take to create each episode?
“We shoot several episodes simultaneously to take advantage of recurring locations while the sets are up, but each animator generally produces around 10 seconds of footage a day. At the height of production we were doing about 500 seconds (8.3 minutes) per week!”
What has been your biggest challenge in creating the episodes?
“Each episode has it’s own unique challenges, but one things we ran into a lot was literally running out of road. Buddy drives really fast and sometimes there wasn’t enough set built to fill the amount of time we’d allotted in the animatic. This necessitated adding extra shots on the fly or using clever camera tricks to stitch shots together, and ultimately led to some pretty cool driving sequences.
“My personal favorite challenge was Episode 11 (A Bro For Weaselbrat) because it’s a bottle episode that takes place entirely within the Concho Bolo restaurant. We had the Bolo set divided into 4 or 5 stages, along with a few duplicate sections for areas that featured a lot of action. It was a big challenge to keep track of where all the characters were supposed to be standing throughout the episode, especially with regard to eye-lines, since we were often shooting out of sequence across multiple stages. By the end of it, I had an overhead diagram that looked like the most complicated football play ever. It was a lot of fun finding innovative ways to cover the action and keep the space visually interesting since we never leave it!”
How do you use Dragonframe in the process?
“We use Dragonframe throughout production for track reading, lighting and animation. The DMX controls were a huge help. On many of the sets, we pre-lit everything on dimmers so that we could change the entire scene from day to night through Dragonframe’s DMX controls in a matter of minutes. We even used the DMX to spin a tiny motorized disco ball in Episode 9 (Hit And Dumb).”
Is there anything you wish the program would do for you that it doesn’t?
“I wish it would rub my feet and bring me a scotch at the end of a long day. Otherwise it’s pretty good.”
Thanks Harry! We will definitely consider those feature requests.
Created by Ryan Wiesbrock
Written by Tom Krajewski
Theme music composer
Composer(s) David Padrutt
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 12 (23 segments)
John Harvatine IV
Editor(s) Jenny McKinben
Running time 11-22 minutes
Stoopid Buddy Studios
American Greetings Entertainment
Distributor Netflix Streaming Services