The kids fail to grasp the gravity of their circumstances in this bumper for PBS Kids' 2013 reface.
A Reface (With New Faces) for PBS Kids
We've enjoyed a long, fruitful collaboration with PBS Kids dating back to its earliest days in 1999 and continuing through five identity packages. In Spring of 2013 we created still another package, spanning broadcast, online and print formats. The new look honors the past, even playing alongside previous packages. Nonetheless, it's a significant departure both in look and personality.
In 2001 we built a universe of bold shapes and colors for PBS mascots Dot and Dash (created by Richard McGuire). Five years later, we gave them a kid-crafted world with a collage of familiar items like cotton balls and yarn. In 2008 we developed the look using cut felt, in a less childlike illustration style.
Previously we set our heroes out on journeys that recalled the "explorer archetype." Dot and Dash investigated their world, they learned from it, and they relished in the richness of new experience. After years of exploration, PBS Kids was ready to try something new.
No longer are the characters limited to what's possible in our world. The new spots brim with the silly, funny and unlikely. Now our heroes hop around inside a fantastic universe of active volcanoes, beehives and Lilliputian landscapes. What's more, they've been recast. Now joining older sister Dot are twins Del and Dee.
The Line Up
This round we return to the flat, colorful look that marked the network's debut. Only now, in many of the pieces, running through the large geometric forms, is a thin, playful line that creates backgrounds and props. According to Animation Director Jeremy Seymour, "Animating the line was just as fun as creating the illustration. It bounces out only to ricochet and form the rest. Having fun with the line breathed life into the many environments."
In addition to the main characters, we populate their world with over 200 different animals. Illustrating them was an exercise in taking away. We distilled each beast to its minimal elements. All props and environments are just as abbreviated.
For endpages we created a series of icons representing each of the show properties. These quick identifiers are a lively shorthand for navigating the programming and serve the many young viewers who cannot read yet.
The Rest of the Story
During the scripting stage we had a number of hurdles to leap. Narratives had to be quirky and fun. But they had to do that fast ? like in three seconds. We wrote at least four times as many scripts as actually became produced pieces. But instead of submitting them in written form, we created animated thumbnail sketches. After all, words can't really communicate visual humor.
The effort was worth it! According to Creative Director Donald Emerson, "These are some of the cleverest stories we've ever told. Having such fantastic narratives really pushed us to make sure our animation kept the level of interest up. It's the most fun you can have in three seconds. Of course it took us a little longer."
A Big Job
The 2013 reface signals a return to the flat animation of PBS Kids' early days; and it does so with a vast package comprising:
- 30 bumpers (:05)
- 10 IDs (:14)
- 5 next ons (:10)
- 20 endpages (:10)
- 20 animated backgrounds (:10)
- 5 long bumpers (:30)
- 6 transitions (:01)
- 6 lower thirds
- 5 social media skins
- 14 show icons
- 38 generic icons
On top of all that we delivered both a detailed styleguide for the packaging and another one just for the characters. We also supplied a compendium of the hundreds of animals and objects that inhabit the package to be used for PBS's toy line.
Lesli Rotenberg, SVP Children's Media
Sharon Philippart, Senior Director
Matthew Kennedy, Creative Director
Marisa Nalevanko, Writer/Producer
Chris Bishop, Original Artwork
Donald Emerson, Creative Director
Jeremy Seymour, Art Director
Lauren Fundora, Designer
Ciara Cordasco, Designer
Bixby Grimmett, Designer/Illustrator
Nurullah Keli, Illustration Assistant
Brenda Weede, Animator/Storyboards
Joe Kubesheski, Animator
Dianna Bedell, Animator
Jenna Zona, Animation Assistant
Jonathan Floyd, Animator
Ralph Sevelius, Animator
Brandon Bentley, Technical Director
Teresa Cloud, Project Manager
Doug Grimmett, Chief Creative Officer
Hunter Matheson, Executive Producer
Laura Green, Producer