With large gatherings discouraged, schools and offices opting for virtual attendance and individuals staying isolated in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, the animation community is rallying to share content, wisdom and a break from bleak news. Thanks to the internet and some quick-thinking content providers, festivals and educators, we can at least keep cabin fever under control.
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Big Bad Boo — the studio behind brilliant, diverse animated family programs like The Bravest Knight — is opening up its family streaming platform Oznoz to homebound viewers everywhere. As of Friday, subscribers can watch all content for free for the next two months, so kids can watch Thomas and Friends, Franklin, 1001 Nights, Bob the Builder and more, in 10+ languages. The studio is also working with TVO Kids on a trio of PSAs that educate kids about coronavirus with characters from its hit series 16 Hudson. The videos will roll out in about a week via Oznoz, YouTube and the TVO Kids site.
“As COVID-19 forces families to stay indoors, we wanted to help parents entertain their kids responsibly,” said Oznoz co-founder, Shabnam Rezaei. “With our extensive catalogue of multilingual content for kids, we hope that families will be able to make the best of what can be a stressful and confusing time for most.”
Joe Wos of MazeToons fame is pitching in to fill the gap in arts education left by virtual schooling, offering free online cartooning classes for housebound students of all ages. Starting Wednesday, March 18, Wos will present live 20-30 minute lessons on the HowToToon YouTube channel (www.HowToToon.com). Classes will take place three times a week (Tues.-Thurs) at 1 p.m. A pro cartoonist since age 14, Wos has taught cartooning for over three decades. He currently leads a class at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh and has been visiting resident cartoonist of the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, CA for 18 years.
“Teaching the cartooning has been my life-long mission,” said Wos from his home-based studio in Oakmont, PA. “I realized with so many kids stuck at home they would be missing out on much needed art classes and this was a great opportunity to share my love of the cartoon arts.”
Why not enter a contest to stretch your artistic muscles? Fox Render Farm is running its latest Fox’s Got Talent 3D Challenge through March 30. Craft your own super-creative 3D render on the theme of “Easter Egg” for a chance to win sweet FRF and Texture Box prizes. You can get some inspiration by reading their interviews with previous winners, like Dante Resendez Delgado, who created a charming antlered street musician for the “Reindeer” challenge.
Video game enthusiasts may have to cancel their travel plans to some of the year’s biggest confabs, but GDC 2020 has announced the schedule for next week’s Virtual Presentations (March 16-20).and streaming award ceremonies for the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Choice Awards (March 18). Tune in live on the official GDC Twitch channel to soak up expert knowledge on how to build playable, accessible, in-demand game and learn the secrets behind your favorite titles — from the importance of music to LGBT+ representation, AI lighting to Influencer appeal. All streamed talks will later be available for free in the GDC Vault, and many will be posted to GDC’s YouTube channel in the next few months.