Animal Games provide a visual treat

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 August, 2004, 12:00am

Who are the fastest and strongest creatures in the animal kingdom?

While mankind is glued to the Olympics, the Animal Games see mammals, birds, insects, reptiles and fish scaled to human size battle it out in six sporting challenges in an entertaining animation to be screened on TVB tomorrow evening.

The bizarre but informative one-hour show took more than two years to create and is a triumph of computer graphics. Thanks to CGI (computer generated image) technology, every animal is on a level-pegging as they compete in the 100 metres, high jump, long jump, shooting, weight-lifting and swimming.

Scaling animals up or down to the size of a human, the Games pitch 'athletes' in a scaly, fishy, furry war. Can a bushbaby jump higher than a fruit-fly maggot, or a rhino beetle lift more than an elephant?

The mastermind behind this hilarious scenario is British producer John Downer. 'It was a lot of work and took over two and a half years to complete,' he said.

'We had to cut out all the animals that appear in the stadium from a background and scale them all to size. Then we had to make them all run in the same direction. We had to do all the filming and effects at the same time to make it work.

'It is packed with science in a cutting-edge and entertaining way. In the 100m race the tiger beetle is winning but stops just before the finish line. Research has revealed that this beetle runs so fast that [not enough light enters] its eyes, so it must stop to see where it is going.

'As a result, the lizard overtakes the beetle and wins the race.'

Respected British sports commentators John Motson and Jonathan Pearce are there to describe the visually stunning action at the 'stadium'. They capture the controversy, sporting rivalry and fierce competition, as well as providing insights into animal athleticism.

The games are staged in a suitably magnificent venue - a stadium set deep inside a volcanic island, filled to capacity with a whooping, buzzing and howling array of animal supporters.

'The commentary was brilliant,' said Downer. 'Sports commentators can impart knowledge in such a way that comes across quickly and easily. We gave them a script to help them get the facts across and they did it live, in one take.'

Animal Games is on TVB Pearl tomorrow at 8.35pm