Leading up to the death of the tenth Doctor, David Tennant, the Doctor Who production team and BBC Wales decided to build up to the event with a 45-minute, six-part animated series, Dreamland.
Designed to work as a six part series that premiered on BBC One Red Button, it was also cut together for broadcast in its entirety on BBC1, CBBC and BBC HD. Written by Doctor Who writer Phil Ford, Dreamland draws upon classic B movies of the 1950s for its inspiration. The story is set in Cold War America where the Doctor arrives at the notorious alien hotspot, Roswell.
The production involved the creation of detailed storyboards, extensive concept art, design and build of over twenty locations, and over thirty characters including the design of a whole new alien race, the Viperox. Editing from animatics to final cut was handled in house. Each element of the process was approved by the Doctor Who team including Gary Russell, Julie Gardener and Russell T. Davis. All of this in six months…
To meet the demanding schedule we had to create around six minutes of footage – over 100 shots – every three weeks. We had a small team of animators and compositors working at breakneck speed; the imminent death of the main character at Christmas meant the deadline was fixed in stone. Pipelines were devised to ensure 3D render times were manageable, and a workflow that allowed the team to pull the various elements of the project together.
Dreamland features the voice of David Tennant as the Doctor, and acting legends David Warner and Clark Peters.
“Dreamland is a remarkable project and I’m thrilled with it. Phil Ford is a wonderful writer and promises to send the Doctor into a whole new visual dimension.”
Executive Producer Russell T. Davis
“The animation allows a wider visual scope than the television series could feasibly realise, and this is taken advantage of through the exhilarating opening UFO chase and crash… the camerawork avoids many static shots and nicely roves around the landscape to give the action more of a dynamic feel.”
“..every bit as engaging as previous Who episodes and unfolds at a satisfyingly speedy pace proving that animation can be equally as effective as live action.”