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Interview With Jeff
Wilson PART ONE
Editor's Note: Please keep
in mind this Interview is (C) 1999-2011 Teddy Ruxpin Online.
Please do not
publish it elsewhere without permission of either this website or Mr.
Wilson. Thank you.
is Part One of our Interview with Jeff Wilson, a Key Animator on The
Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin. This was conducted in 1999. A 2nd
installment with Jeff was conducted in 2006, and you can see that by Clicking
Jeff, thanks for doing this! All the Teddy Ruxpin fans will really
appreciate it, this is our first conversation on the record with anyone
involved with production!
I am flattered you asked me to do the interview, and I will try to
answer questions as well as I can for your site visitors! "The
Adventures Of Teddy Ruxpin" was an international co-production under
the umbrella of Alchemy II, the creators of the Teddy Ruxpin toy, and
DIC Animation. I was employed by one of the key sub-contractors,
"Atkinson Film Arts" of Ottawa, Canada. After finished backgrounds and
pre-production (key animation movement) was complete in Ottawa, the
scenes were shipped to Korea, where a huge team of animators completed
our pencilled scenes.
What was a regular work week like working on the show?
A regular work week was heavy on the whole staff. Often I would work 50
to 60 hours in the posing department, and then 10 more in the model
design dept. After a sluggish start, we worked at an unbelievable rate
of 2 and a half episodes a week. Some weeks we completed three! For our
first few shows, there were two rooms of key animators, but production
was falling behind schedule. The idea came along to divide the group
into two "teams". I was in the group headed by Marc Sevier, and the
other group was headed by Drew Edwards, both very experienced
animators. We became friendly competitors, and production sped up
What Character did you like to draw the most?
Grubby was the most fun. Something about drawing all those circles was
I know this may be a
little bit off the subject, but did you ever get to meet Phil Baron?
Was his *real* voice anything like Teddy's?
Not off topic at all. Actually, Phil Baron made it to Ottawa for a
"meet the cast" party sponsored by Atkinson. Phil Baron looked nothing
like we expected, but there was a haunting similarity in his voice!
Also, Will Ryan (Grubby's voice) and Canadian actor, John Stocker
(Gimmick's voice) put in appearances. Same thing. Right voice -
different look than their on-screen persona.
Are you still in
contact with anybody you worked with on the show?
Actually, the last I had to do with anyone I worked on Teddy with, was
at a party introducing Disney to Toronto. I saw John Williamson, a
member of my posing team, in the crowd, but it was so crowded, I
couldn't edge my way to him! I would have liked to say "hi", but it
Do you remember the
date (Month/Year) That production began on episode 1?
Yes. I should mention that before the animated series, DIC produced a
live action two-part episode, using puppets and actors in full costume.
The people at Alchemy II didn't like the "static" feel of the shows, so
they chose to go the animation route. I believe the original live
action show later went to air, anyway. In any case, the preproduction
of the opening five episodes was set to begin after Labour Day, 1986. I
was one of the team of animators who were called to report to
Atkinson's Fairmont Street studio (Ottawa) at that time, but we found
the work would not begin for another month! I had packed up my family
to move to Ottawa for the job, so there were a few scary moments during
this time! So, we moved office furniture and doodled at our desks to
keep busy most days. If you got lucky, you got to help storyboard
artists complete their work in the first five episodes. At this point
the key animation was actually done in Korea. This was so these
particular episodes could air in Sept. '86.
Was it expected or a
suprise when production was over? Do you know the date (Month/Year)
when production ceased? And do you know if new episodes were planned or
No, it was not a surprise. In television syndication, 65 episodes is
the normal length of a series, so we knew when things were winding
down. For us in preproduction at Atkinson, the contract was completed
in May 1987 - right on schedule! There are always rumours and murmurs
of a new series, but I have yet to hear of any concrete plans.
Did your kids ever
watch the show? Did they like it?
Yes. They loved the show. Particularly, when Dad's name showed up in
What particular scenes did you enjoy working on the most?
I became known as the "love scene" expert. The episode where Grubby
fell in love with Karen the caterpillar contained some of my better
work. In fact, one of the scenes appears on the videocassette
packaging. I also did the love scene, where L.B. proposes to Buffy
Bounder. It was funny how some people seemed to be better equipped to
do certain scenes better than others, and the team leaders knew who
these people were.
Did you or the cast ever listen to music, or do anything else for
inspiration before you went "animatin"?
There was a rule. Nobody inflicted their music on others without
unanimous consent. Most times, "Walkmans" were the medium of choice.
One of the neatest things about music was in Feb of '97, when we worked
on the Grunge beach party episode. In Canada, February is a harsh month
because of the wintery weather. Anyway, somebody in our dept. had this
idea of having a "Beach Day", and everybody got into it! The cassette
players played actual songs from this episode and people would get up
from their desks and just boogie on the studio floor. This guy came and
stood at the doorway with his eyes bulging out of his head. Someone
said "Lighten up, we are just enjoying ourselves". The man said. "It's
not that. It's just that I wrote that song, and never thought I would
see anyone actually dance to it!" Turns out he had been in another
department and recognized his tune, and came to investigate! Needless
to say, he joined in on the celebrations. It was a special moment!
What specific task(s) did you work on?
My title was "intermediate poser". My task was to draw the key
movements of a scene in black pencil. I would often complete 10 - 15
scenes a day. I was later added to the model design department - doing
model sheets for the characters, and ofter designing new characters.
A lot of the cast/crew are from Canada. Is this just coincidence?
Not coincidental at all! As I said earlier, Atkinson Film Arts was a
key sub-contractor in the partnership. Besides doing the backgrounds
and preproduction, we had a crack technical team in post-production
(sound / voice and mixing tracks). There is also a wealth of acting
talent in the Toronto and Ottawa areas, who supplied most of the
Thanks, Josh for this opportunity. I hope my answers are informative
and helpful. Let me know if I can ever help out again!
Jeff. It's been a pleasure!
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