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How much do you know about making animation? The more we, at MIC, talk to people the more we realise how fascinated they are as to how we go about creating animation and how we come to make certain decisions. Well, we thought that the best thing to do would be to give you a little insight into our animation pipelines, using projects as examples. There are three main stages in any project; Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production.

In this post we’ll talk about Pre-Production using, as an example, one of our favourite projects; ‘Eddie & Friends.’

Pre-Productions is the planning stage of a project, where scripts and storyboards are created, characters and environments designed and the main premise and feel of the animation is defined.

Eddie & Friends

For those of you who don’t know, ‘Eddie & Friends’ is an educational package, delivered into preschools as a teaching aid, that aims to make the subject matter fun! There are two packages currently on the market, ‘Hydration’ and ‘Phonics.’ For each package MIC have created a short, fun, character driven episode to highlight the key aspects of the subject. The episodes come in DVD or digital format, accompanied by supporting games, teaching plans and worksheets which make up the rest of the package.

But where do we begin with an episode of ‘Eddie & Friends?’

CHARACTERS

Similar to devising company branding, it’s important for characters to be unique and instantly recognisable. When designing a character there are two main spects to consider in order to achieve this visually; the silhouette and the colour scheme.

The image below compares Eddie the Elephant with two of his recognisable chums in animation, Mickey Mouse and Bart Simpson. As soon as you look at their silhouettes you recognise both immediately; Mickey with his iconic circular ears and Bart’s rectangular, spike topped head. Similarly, both character’s colour schemes are defined by two or three main colours which, when viewed apart from the character’s image, should still generate recognition for that character.
When designing Eddie, we took these aspects into account and created a character whose silhouette is defined by the arrangement of his ear on one side of his head and the trunk on the other, together with a colour scheme focussing on shades of purple and blue. How successful do you think we’ve been? Could you recognise Eddie in a police lineup?

Script


A good script is vital for a successful animation. As ‘Eddie & Friends’ was created for educational purposes the most important element was to make the information clear and easily digestible. This then needed to be accompanied by unique and relatable character personalities and an engaging overriding story line.’Eddie & Friends’ scriptwriter Martin Cleverley has tried to make the subject matter digestible by making each section a game or exercise and giving characters relatable traits such as Percy Parrot’s dislike of broccoli.From the script a storyboard must be created to show the visual progression of the story, making sure that it works, and later serving as a guide during the Production stage of the project.

USP

As with a business, an animation needs a USP to be truly successful. A unique premise, unusual artistic style. A hook to make it memorable.

Blue Zoo Productions have created a really unique and interactive premise for their children’s show, ‘Olive the Ostrich,’ as all of the non generic scenes in each episode (including characters), are created using drawings done by children. Similarly Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s ‘South Park’ has seen much of it’s success as a result of it’s unique, simplistic and intentionally blocky artistic style which has since become almost iconic, combined with low brow, satirical humour presented through the exploits of four children.


We have aimed to create unique elements in ‘Eddie & Friends’ mainly through encouraging the children to respond to the animation, leaving spaces for their reaction to characters questions. In addition we have incorporated a main character who is voiced by a musical instrument, (Eddie’s dialogue is generated by a trombone), and created a TARDIS like cottage where anything can happen for him to live in. It is these elements that will give the audience a unique viewer experience with ‘Eddie & Friends,’ making it memorable and leave them wanting more. With these main elements in Pre-Production covered and locked down, the foundations of the animation have been laid and we are well placed to get started on the Production stage!

If you’d like any more information about the ‘Eddie & Friends’ packages please contact our partner company Wellbeing People, or visit their website at http://www.wellbeingpeople.com/we-love-water-early-years-packag.html.

Don’t forget to keep checking out the MIC blog for more posts about the animation pipeline as well other great animation tips!