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SYFY WIRE Thundercats

Holy snarf! ThunderCats fan reanimates the show's iconic opening with CGI

By Josh Weiss
Thundercats CGI

Thunder! Thunder! Thunder! ThunderCats! Hooooo!

Grab your favorite ball of yarn and a saucer of cream for an insanely cool CGI recreation of the classic ThunderCats opening. Writer-filmmaker Mike Booth was spurred on to pay homage to one of his favorite TV shows when he started teaching himself 3D animation at the start of 2020. He began experimenting with a free piece of software called Blender to see if he "could make something simple, such as a robot drone" for "a sci-fi thriller project," he tells SYFY WIRE.

"But the trouble began when I started making the Sword of Omens from the ThunderCats," Booth continues. "I'm a huge ThunderCats fan, so I thought that would be a fun way to learn and keep my interest. By the time I'd finished making the sword, I was loving it and already thinking about what else I could make from the show, and the concept of recreating the intro was one of those ideas that I knew would keep me awake at night until I gave in to it."

Stop cleaning your fur for a second and take a look at Booth's handiwork below:

Reveling in the chance to model characters and objects (like the Thunder Tank), Booth was so excited "to realize something I've longed to see for so many years the way I've wanted to see it. I wouldn't really say any part of the process was easy, though. It's very much a two steps forwards, one step back process, and it could be quite frustrating — especially in the early weeks."

His favorite character is Tygra because "he's who I most identify with," Booth says. "He's introspective, he's calm, and he has a whip which makes him invisible."

When we ask about the most difficult part of the process, Booth admits that hair and clothing were the hardest things to animate. With the exception of Mumm-Ra (the series' main antagonist), all of the characters are covered in fur/hair, which presented a unique (and sometimes naked) challenge for Booth.

"Both [hair and clothing] like to pass through the bodies of the characters, so if Lion-O raises his arms or does a backflip, you can quickly find yourself with a bald guy showing a full moon," he explains. "Hair also looks better when it's finer and the hair count is higher, but my laptop isn't particularly powerful and it really didn't appreciate having to calculate the motion blur of 3,000 hairs swinging back and forth. So there were a lot of days where I had to overcome problems like that which really slowed me down and sapped my energy, but you just have to keep going and find a way to overcome it."

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the original and CG recreation:

This little project isn't the end of Booth's ThunderCats fever. Thanks to the positive and viral reaction to his reimagined intro, he's fast-tracking a short fan film he's been mulling over for a while. He just posted an announcement video about it and is looking to hire a character artist, storyboard artist, and 3D supervisor.

"I don't do anything by halves," the filmmaker tells us about the project. "I will give it everything I have, and I won't aim for anything less than the greatest fan film ever made, second only to the fan remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark, which is beautiful. The fan film is something I thought was at least a decade or two away before I even started it, but with the reaction I've had to my CGI intro, I am changing lanes ... It's happening."

Created by Ted "Tobin" Wolf, ThunderCats began as an anime-inspired TV series that ran for 130 episodes between 1985 and 1989. It followed a group of humanoid feline aliens, who seek out a new planet after the death of their homeworld, Thundera. The show, which spawned a multimedia franchise, has been rebooted twice — once in 2011 (also titled ThunderCats) and again in 2020 (ThunderCats Roar). Check out our video below for more information on the franchise's colorful history.