We know what many of the TV animation industry will be doing during the first 10 days in October. They’ll be checking out all the new animated shows in production and early stages of development at the MIPCOM market in Cannes. Here are some of the intriguing shows and newsworthy items that we came across just before we put the issue to bed:
A Letter-Perfect Toon
Leading Korean animation studio Daewon Media has high hopes for a new preschool show that cleverly blends the classic notion of alphabet-teaching toys with more modern transforming playthings. The property, which has been picked up by Canada’s Nelvana, is titled Paboo & Mojies and is created by the enigmatic Michitoshi Sugimoto, someone that our friends at the studio call “a mysterious artist, who loves to create entertaining properties for the world, but no one really knows who he is!”
Daewon, the studio behind popular animated series such as Noonbory and the Super 7, GON and Magi-Nation, began development work on the preschool property back in 2009, along with co-pro partners Sega Toys in Japan and Nelvana in Canada. Also on board are Zero-G and DongWoo Animation.
The show, which has been doing quite well on Fuji TV in Japan, centers on a group of friendly Mojies (that’s Japanese for letters of the alphabet) who help a curious boy panda named Paboo solve problems by discovering the magic word of the day. “Paboo & Mojies will provide preschoolers with lots of fun viewing,” says Daewon Media’s director of content Bul-Kyung Kim.
“Of course, it also helps them learn about the alphabet and how to form easy words. We think the show has instant universal appeal, and kids will easily connect to the delightful characters and their stories.”
They’ve Got the Beets
If you think beets are only good for your health, you’ll have to check out
ToonBox Entertainment (Toronto) and Redrover’s (Korea) hot new property The Beet Party, which will kick off on the Nintendo 3DS system this season. The two-minute interstitials will pop up on the e-shop application and can be downloaded throughout Europe and Australia and watched in auto-stereoscopic 3-D—that’s sans glasses, folks! The Party will also be happening on French Canadian broadcaster Yoopa, BBC Kids Canada and SVT in Sweden.
The colorful CG-animated toon follows the adventures of the coolest beets in town, as they explore, experiment and communicate with beat-boxing sounds as they chill in their fridge. The musical, dialogue-free show comes in a 104 by two minute package and is also in development as an iPad game and website. Just wait until the Broccoli Bunch hears about this.
Mouk Finds More Scandi Fans
Millimages’ charming animated show Mouk will be making more new friends in Scandinavia soon. The 62 x 11-minute preschool show will soon be seen on TV2 Denmark, TV2 Norway, MTV3 Finland, and has signed a DVD deal with Svensk as well. The 62 x 11-minute animated preschool series, which was commissioned by France TV and Disney Channel U.K., is based on the books by Marc Boutavant and directed by François Narboux. Each episode finds the show’s hero Mouk and his buddy Chavapa finding adventures on the open road as they bicycle from one country to the next, from Australia to Madagascar and Greece.
“Mouk is an inspirational and adventurous series which continues to capture the imagination of broadcasters worldwide,” says Millimages’ group commercial director John Reynolds. “The show is already a hit across Scandinavia with the Disney audience and we are excited to be introducing Mouk to more kids in the region through these new deals.”
The friendly little traveler’s fan base now includes ABC Australia, France 5, Disney Channels (U.K.), Scandinavia, Spain, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The toon will also roll out on KiKa Germany, Disney Italy and Benelux, Disney Asia, ERT Estonia, RTV Slovenia and LTV Latvia. Guess it’s really Mouk’s world, and we just live in it!
Woo Hoo! The Parents Are Gone!
Some kids may dream about that liberating day when wild and crazy aliens arrive on Earth and whisk away all the grown-ups with them. That’s sort of the scenario in Nelvana’s hot new animated series Oh No!, but the kids here—Nate and his Super Wicked Extreme Emergency Team (S.W.E.E.T.)—are actually trying to take back their world from these invaders! Created by Philippe Ivanusic-Vallee and Peter Ricq (League of Super Evil), this offbeat comedy targets six- to 11-year-old kids or anyone who once fantasized about a world without their parents. In addition, the Toronto-based studio is also offering two new Franklin and Friends specials (Pole to Pole and Under the Sea). Each 44-minute adventure finds the beloved young turtle venturing out of his home in Woodland. The gentle tone of the adventures is perfect for younger auds, and there’s plenty of eye candy for the grown-ups.
August Media Rides with Wendy
After acquiring Scottish house Red Kite Animation, Singapore’s August Media Holdings has started a distribution arm called August Rights. The new arm will look into acquiring and distributing children’s, youth and family content worldwide, as well as handling August Media Holdings’ existing properties. Ahead of the MIPCOM market, August Rights snapped up a deal with Wendy Promotions that will see it handle international distribution across English-speaking territories worldwide and Asia for the new kids 3D-animated, equestrian-themed series Wendy (26 x half hours). The toon targets kids ages six to nine and is based on the bestselling German comic of the same name. ZDF Rights and France Televisions Rights will handle distribution in Europe, Middle East and Africa, and French-speaking territories. Created and produced by Red Kite Animation, Wendy was commissioned by ZDF Germany and France Televisions.
That Old Spanish Magic
If you happen to run into BRB’s head of international co-pros and distribution Carlos Biern at the MIPCOM market, make sure you buy him a tall drink and congratulate him on his prolific company’s big 40th birthday. The studio, which continues to introduce interesting and innovative content to the world—like the Aardman co-pro Canimals and this year’s high-def, enhanced-reality project InviZimals (about Dr. Nakamura’s invisible creatures who live among us!) had a few words of wisdom for us earlier last month.
“The only way to succeed is to have a well-furbished brand featured on a new show,” he says. “Unfortunately, very few networks believe in new characters for the international market these days.” Any smart exec would be wise to listen to Biern’s words. “Don’t ever follow the negative comments about the economic climate and never talk about the financial crisis. Just make shows for the global audience and keep your costs low. Also, believe in what you do, and love it!”
You can always rely on Carlos to paint you an honest picture.
When we ask him about annoying trends du jour, he replies, “We see a lot of 3D shows today that are based on classic characters recognized by their parents. The script and tone of the show only please the editorial types who are in their 60s. They only appeal to the parents, instead of the children who are supposed to be the audience!” Here’s to another 40 years of honest answers and making terrific toons, made for and loved by their true target audience.
Bumba’s Circus Is Coming to Town!
Is it possible to fall for a new preschool show just based on a couple of images? Well, we think so, based on how everyone has been reacting to the new joint project from Europe’s Studio 100 and New York-based Little Airplane Productions. The digital 2D, 52 x 11 animated show is called Bumba, and it’s based on a popular brand in the Benelux region. The show will be exec produced by Emmy-winning genius Josh Selig (Wonder Pets, Small Potatoes, 3rd & Bird), so you know it’s going to be fantastic. It will also incorporate a strong educational curriculum by Dr. Christine Ricci (Dora the Explorer), which will encourage young viewers to develop their problem-solving skills.
The show’s star is the lovable titular clown who explores the theme of each episode (vehicles, music, seasons, exercise, etc.) with the help of his magical circus. Of course, you couldn’t have a magical European circus without some lively music—that’s where Little Airplane’s brilliant music team comes in handy. Can you tell we’re kind of excited about this show? Cirque du Soleil, eat your heart out!
Speedy Animation Tool Goes Wide
You may not have heard of the BaskeMus Cartoon Broadcast System (CBS) Animation system yet, but this practical tool has been used by a number of smart TV producers for years. The inventive system was first used by the producers of a call-in Danish TV show that featured an animated puppet.
“The system is as simple as it is revolutionary,” says BaskeMus founder Tom Vedel. “You can actually animate once and leverage the same assets across all your broadcast, e-book, game and app projects for as low as $200 per minute of animation.”
Vedel says you can think of CBS as a broadcast-ready, digital puppet theater. The various elements (backgrounds, characters, effects) are placed into a scene, and then, the character’s lip synch is generated by live voice talent or pre-recorded voice tracks. Afterwards, the characters become animated with an easy-to-use control pad.
The CBS system has been used to produce thousands of hours of broadcast animation for CBBC (Britain), Nickelodeon (Scandinavia & U.K.), SVT (Sweden), ZDF (Germany) and Teletoon (France). Brazil’s TV PinGuim studio (Fishtronaut) will be using the system to remake an old 40-episode Canal Futura series called Teca on TV. Kiko Mistrorigo, TV PinGuim’s president, says:
“This will only be possible with the CBS system; if CBS did not exist no one could afford to do what we’re trying to do.”
For more info, visit www.baskemus.com.
Let’s All Sail to Hopscotch Island
Last month, we told you about Technicolor’s new project developed in conjunction with Pulitzer Prize-winning comic-book artist Berkeley Breathed, Pete & Pickles. At MIPCOM, they’ll also be shopping their comedy preschool show Zigg & the ZipZaps. This 52 x 11 2D toon is being developed in conjunction with Toronto-based Yowza Digital. So, what’s it all about? This is what we know: The show has seven lovable animal adventurers, which have distinctive qualities called zips and zaps. Obviously, they embark on all kinds of adventures as they travel on missions through the diverse landscapes of Hopscotch Island. I guess you’ll have to corner Technicolor Digital Productions president Tim Sarnoff or VP of animation Steve Wendland to find out exactly what kind of “distinctive qualities” they’re talking about!
A Royal Treasure Hunt
Yes, we all knew this day would come. Successful mobile social networking games are now the launch pads for pretty cool animated shows. The latest brand to make the leap from the gaming world to the TV zone is GREE’s Tanken Driland. The game is now a 13 x 20 by Toei Animation simply called Driland, which follows the adventurous Princess Mikoto, who escapes her royal duties to hunt for hidden treasures with her friends Poron the Hunter and Pahn the Wandering Knight. Of course, they also have to battle the giant monsters that threaten this medieval world. GREE’s original game was first turned into a popular manga, and then adapted into the toon by Toei Animation, which debuted in Japan in July. Something tells us anime fans are going to enjoy the exciting adventures of Mikoto. According to TechCrunch, the cell phone version of the game brought in over 2 billion yen ($25.1 million). Now that sounds like a real-world treasure to us.
A Rabbit’s Tale
Our friends at Stockholm-based Copenhagen Bombay Productions tell us that they are hard at work on a new animated feature by Esben Toft Jacobsen, the director of the acclaimed 2011 pic The Great Bear. The film, (working title, Beyond Beyond) tells the story of a brave, little rabbit called Johan, who sets out on an amazing journey to find his mother and reunite her with the rest of the family. Billed as the first stereoscopic 3-D feature produced in Sweden, the movie began production last month, after a successful presentation at Cartoon Movie in Lyon. The animation for the movie, which as already been presold to Nordic TV channels TV4, TV2 and Canal+, will be produced at Copenhagen Bombay’s studios in Stockholm and Copenhagen.
Founded only six years ago by filmmaker Anders Morgenthaler and current producer and CEO Sarita Christensen, Copenhagen Bombay focuses on finding top-notch projects aimed at children and family audiences. Their other hits include Carsten & Gitte’s Movie Madness, The Apple and The Worm and The Pandas. For more info, visit www.copenhagenbombay.com.