“The Asian Animation Summit has opened up a host of new opportunities,” summarised Alison Warner, VP of Acquisitions and Co-Productions at Technicolor, at the close of the 5th edition of the popular event, this year hosted in Brisbane, Australia.
Starting the Summit was a panel showcasing YouTube’s latest efforts in the region, featuring local companies Like A Photon Creative and game developer Halfbrick Studios. Having just released the Dan the Man app, based on the hit YouTube animation by Studio Joho, Halfbrick are now developing their flagship title Fruit Ninja into a CGI series, which forced the creators to contemplate the existential question of what motivates a ninja to slice fruit in half.
Having launched in 26 countries, the YouTube Kids app is a resounding success. YouTube has statistics that are counted in billions, not mere millions, and the general consensus from analysis of these figures was that the sweet spot for content is a length of 7-8 minutes.
The project presentations commenced with Ludo Studio’s preschool series Bluey, created by Brisbane-based Joe Brumm, centering around a family of cattle dogs, with a genuinely funny script that aims squarely at the co-viewing market. Focusing on what children do in real-life situations, rather than following the usual preschool script conventions, makes this show stand out as being emotionally realistic — despite the fact the characters are dogs.
An unusual spin on the project pitching format came in the form of an entertaining live magic performance by Australian illusionist Cosentino, presenting a 2D animated series of the same name by BES Animation and Gumball Enterprises. Each 22-minute episode will contain a live-action section featuring magic performed by Paul Cosentino himself.
With blissful disregard of Health & Safety regulations, Lucy’s Cannon, by aptly-named Blue Rocket Productions from Tasmania, is about an 8-year-old girl called Lucy who is obsessed with firing her younger brother from a cannon. It was a hilariously deadpan presentation by Alicia Rackett and David Gurney, who capitulated when broadcasters questioned whether they should show children striking matches on screen, but the two producers were adamant that the cannon’s inclusion however was “non-negotiable.”
This year, nearly a third of projects were short-form series (under 5 minutes), which represented an increase over previous editions of Asian Animation Summit. Whether this is a deliberate effort to lower the barrier to entry by new and smaller producers or an indication of a shift in the market, remains to be seen.
Andy Blazdell is the CEO of CelAction, a 2D animation software development company based in the United Kingdom.