Behind the Scenes
Whiff is a fictional standard gauge tank locomotive created by Wayne Jackman.
When the show transitioned into full CGI in 2009, Whiff was absent for a year and later returned in the 2010 special, Misty Island Rescue.
Whiff is based on the North Eastern Railway's 2-2-4T No. 66, named "Aerolite".
Behind the Scenes
Gauge 1 model
Whiff's model was built as a North Eastern Railway's 2-2-4T No. 66, named "Aerolite". It was built to approximately 1/32 scale and designed to run on gauge 1 track.
Four facial expressions were sculpted for Whiff, although two sad faces were not used on-screen. The faces were first sculpted in clay and from that resin casts were made using a silicone mould.
The model body was made from brass. While only one body was made, two complete chassis' were constructed from scratch (CNC). The chassis had two motors, both powered by electricity from the track via the pickups on the metal wheels. The main motor powered the wheels, while the second motor (located at the back) powered an inside piston for the smoke mechanism.
The eye mechanism had two servos, one for up and down movement and one for left and right movement. The up/down servo was attached to the body. The left/right servo had a rod attached to the arm, which connected to a bracket. The eye balls were coupled to the bracket and locked in by the face-plate, so whenever the servos were powered, the eye balls would move however the crew member desired.
The twelfth series marked the beginning of the show's transition into CGI and the characters' faces were animated through CGI with the aid of motion capture animation. The physical models' moulded faces were replaced by white targets with triangles to fix a computer-animated face in post-production. Whiff's resin faces were only used in background shots.
Whiff has had modifications during his tenure in the model era. These include:
- In the twelfth series, his glasses gained lenses.
Close-up shots of Whiff's cab were required for scenes in where he had to interact with close-up scale figures. The model was not complete and only portions of the cab were built. Whiff's close-up model only appeared in the twelfth series episode, Toby's Special Surprise.
In 2009, the series introduced Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) as a replacement for the show's long-standing live-action models. Whiff was recreated from scratch in CGI by Nitrogen Studios. His model was "hand-sculpted" in Maya, a 3D animation and modelling software.
Photographs of Whiff's Gauge 1 model were used for referencing. According to Greg Tiernan, every detail of the original television series models for each character is carefully reproduced in the CGI model. The models are subjected to many rounds of review before they are submitted to HiT Entertainment for final input and approval.
Whiff has had modifications throughout the CGI series. These include:
- Misty Island Rescue:
- His whistle budges up and down.
- His bufferbeam is significantly more weathered.
- His pupils become smaller.
- Series 17:
- His whistle becomes stationary again.
- Series 18:
- He gained a lamp and lamp iron.
- Series 20:
- He gained front and rear brakepipes. Additionally, the front brakepipe outlets he had had since his introduction were replaced by the generic style shared by most of the other engines - he also gained these on his back.
- Keith Wickham (UK; Misty Island Rescue onwards)
- William Hope (US; Misty Island Rescue onwards)
- Takayuki Kawasugi (Japan; eleventh series onwards, excluding Buckled Tracks and Bumpy Trucks)
- Keiko Nemoto (Japan; Buckled Tracks and Bumpy Trucks only)
- Ernesto Lezama (Latin America; Misty Island Rescue - twentieth series; excluding the nineteenth series)
- Carlos Íñigo (Latin America; nineteenth series only)
- Alberto Bernal (Latin America; twenty-second series)
- Sigbjørn Solheim (Norway; Misty Island Rescue - seventeenth series)
- Dan Schatzberg (Israel; twentieth series onwards)
- Robin Brosch (Germany; Audio Books only)
- Tetje Mierendorf (Germany; Misty Island Rescue only)
- Till Huster (Germany; fourteenth - seventeenth series)
- Kailas Mahadevan (Germany; twenty-second series onwards)
- Artur Pontek (Poland; Misty Island Rescue onwards)
- Mariano García (Spain; Misty Island Rescue onwards)
- Vladimir Antonik (Russia; fourteenth - sixteenth series)
- Petri Hanttu (Finland; Misty Island Rescue - fifteenth series)
- Raine Heiskanen (Finland; twenty-second series onwards)