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Creator / Rainmaker Entertainment
aka: Mainframe Entertainment

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Mainframe Studios (formerly Mainframe Entertainment) is a Vancouver-based computer animation studio, specifying mostly in animated TV shows and Direct-to-Video movies.

Established by Gavin Blair and Ian Pearson, both English born, the company was founded with the intent of creating the first computer animated show, ReBoot. Prior to that, the two were known mostly for providing the computer animation for the rock band Dire Straits music video "Money For Nothing." (If you look closely, one of the fictional videos is credited to the "Ian Pearson Band".)

The production of ReBoot was troublesome because the amount of money going into a project like this required an entire animation studio to be built. This meant that they needed to start with a full season or nothing. Unlike other animated shows where they produce a concept pilot to try and sell the series, the money for equipment and business space was much higher. The animation may look primitive, especially considering Pixar's groundbreaking work for Toy Story at the same time, but it should be considered that they were still the first people to get it out in the open.

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When ReBoot became a hit, Mainframe became a hot item to produce Merchandise-Driven series, most notably reviving the struggling Transformers brand with Beast Wars. Beast Wars was an even bigger hit because it came with a built-in fanbase; owing to the series' story, voice acting, and animation, many fans consider it to be one of the best incarnations of the franchise.

Thanks to their success, the studio was able to continue ReBoot in 2001. When the show was cancelled again, Gavin Blair and Ian Pearson left the company to pursue other projects. This was one of the turning points when the company began to fall into trouble.

The Merchandise-Driven shows fell into less competent hands and were not nearly as popular as Beast Wars. They barely managed to stay afloat with Direct-To-Video franchises, such as films based on the Barbie franchise, but in 2007, the company was ultimately bought out by the Rainmaker Income Fund and renamed Rainmaker Entertainment. They kept the Mainframe studio to use for entirely animated productions, while Rainmaker itself is known for doing special effects for Live-Action TV, until being bought by Composite Image Systems and later Method Studios.

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In October 2016, Rainmaker folded under WOW! Unlimited Media, a new holding company formed after the studio purchased the New York-based Frederator Networks. Following the merger, Rainmaker Entertainment would be consolidated into Mainframe Studios, which focuses on CGI-animated television series, and Rainmaker Studios, which develops feature-length animated films. The WOW-era not only continued the studio's decline, but saw their output overshadowed in quality and reception by that of the U.S-based Frederator Studios.

In 2020, the Rainmaker name would be dropped, merging the television and film divisions under the Mainframe Studios branding, essentially rebranding the studio back to its original name.


Projects from Mainframe Entertainment (1991-2007) include:

Projects from Mainframe Studios include:

Projects from Rainmaker include:

Post Production work (through Rainmaker) includes:


Tropes:

  • Animated Music Video: One of the most famous ever, their video for Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing" was the very first music video to feature fully CGI characters. It ended up beating a different animated video, a-ha's "Take On Me," for a Best Music Video award at the 1985 Grammys.
  • Art Evolution: The progress of computer graphics took great effect on their later productions.
  • Black Sheep: Of Wow Unlimted Media. The contrast in reception between Frederator's recent ventures to that of Rainmaker / Mainframe is very noticeable to say the least.
  • Cut Short: Post-Beast Wars, a LOT of Mainframe's serialized shows tend to end with no resolution, or worse.
  • In Name Only: The Mainframe Studios division launched in 2013, which is Rainmaker's television unit.
  • No Flow in CGI
  • Spiritual Successor: Nerd Corps Entertainment is considered this. Storm Hawks isn't produced by Mainframe, but has some of the same talent working on it. Sadly, they were absorbed by DHX Media in 2014.

Alternative Title(s): Mainframe Entertainment, Mainframe Studios

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