Sydney, Australia-based Animal Logic, a frequent contributor to Cartoon Network’s on-air look, was recently tapped to create packaging and bumps for the launch of the broadcaster’s new preschool animation programming block, Tickle U. The company is responsible for animating the block’s three CG hosts and will continue to provide graphics and animation work throughout the season.
Tickle U, which launched on Aug. 22, airs weekdays for two hours starting at 9 a.m. and features original programming including Firehouse Tales, Gerald McBoing Boing and Gordon the Garden Gnome. Introducing the shows and providing segues between them are the mischievous, but sweet, Pipoca; Pipoca’s goofy and loveable sidekick, Henderson; and a playful, interactive environment appropriately named Place.
The concept for the bumpers was cooked up by Cartoon Network’s core Tickle U team in Atlanta, including co-creators/associate creative directors Kevin Fitzgerald and Steve Patrick, along with director of production Ashley Nixon. "We instantly fell in love with the concept," says Animal Logic producer Sarah Beard. "They provided us with designs for Pipoca and Henderson and we transformed them into the animated 3D characters."
To nail down the character Place, Fitzgerald spent a week in Sydney working with Animal Logic’s creative team, led by art director Suzanne White and CG lead Scott Hunter. "Place is an abstract character so we had multiple possibilities," notes White. "The challenge was to create something that would reflect its limitless environment but was possible to execute with the deadlines we had."
The final result features a combination of 2D and 3D elements. Since Place communicates with limited dialogue, abstract shapes and photo montages were created in 2D and composited with 3D atmospheric backgrounds as needed. Ambient illumination with several light, texture and color passes created in Maya adds a dreamy feel to the character.
Animal Logic says its team of 3D artists spent a lot of time creating the animation rigs for Pipoca and Henderson in an effort to streamline the character animation pipeline. The automation of Pipoca’s antennae and other controls were written within Maya to help expedite delivery of new scripts over the coming months.