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JMADV sprouts new animation

Johnson & Murphy helps PBS put together several broadcast and web based animations By Ko Maruyama
Although known primarily for its many outdoor, print and on-air campaigns, Johnson and Murphy Advertising recently completed several animations for PBS Kids Sprout featuring characters from  a partnership among Comcast Corporation, HIT Entertainment, PBS and Sesame Workshop, lineup for their relatively new kids' channel called PBS KIDS Sprout.

 Produced by Johnson & Murphy Productions - Sam Johnson & Peter Martin (Executive Producers) Lisa O'Brien (Creative  Director) and Sergio Cardenas (Senior Art Director and in charge of production), the animators Sergio Cardenas, Matt Mary, Ken Perkins and Glen Shuy incorporate several desktop applications to create a cel animation look.

A little more than a year old, PBS KIDS Sprout offers preschool television and on-demand service.  In addition to the on-air programming, PBS KIDS Sprout is also a web destination which offers fun and educational supplementary material that complements the on-air lineup.  The television broadcast lineup features PBS children's programming regulars, including Sesame Street, Thomas the Tank Engine, Angelina Ballerina, Bob the Builder, and Teletubbies.  For the website content, PBS KIDS Sprout decided to add a new location to promote healthy eating.

Named "Sprout Diner" the ten episodes were created for broadcast and to supplement the materials on the PBS KIDS Sprout website (www.sproutonline.com).  The segment of the website features a special area where children and parents can find out about how to prepare healthy snacks.  The characters that visit the diner are stars from the various shows that populate the PBS KIDS Sprout television line-up, but the proprietors of "Sprout Diner" are unique creations, made specifically for the online experience.

Sam Johnson, Peter Martin, Lisa O'Brien and Sergio Cardenas met with the client to discuss the options that would be available for the video production of these mini-episodes.   The animations had to be designed so that children would be interested not only in the idea of eating healthy food, but also be excited by the process of creating the healthy snack with a "grown-up" sprout.  While the client and the agency came up with several large-scale production ideas, the budget determined that the work would have to be able to be completed quickly and at their in-house facilities, rather than hiring an animation studio to complete the work.

The characters of the health food kitchen were not part of the PBS KIDS Sprout original lineup, so Sergio Cardenas had his design team create conceptual sketches for the client featuring several different looks.  Ultimately, three main actors were created: Brussel Sprout, the older, father-type, the chef and proprietor of the kitchen and his daughter: Bean Sprout, who takes phone orders from the different special guests of each episode, and granddaughter Alfalfa Sprout, the delivery-girl/waiter.

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The website is not solely designed for the demonstration of these movies, but also as a spot for the recipes, games and simple activities for young children.  The activities are simple point-and-click or coloring page elements for kids.   The game section on the Sprout site includes some kid-friendly games.  Each game page focuses on one of the Sprout Diner characters and their duties to providing healthy food.  Bean picks the vegetables from her garden, Brussel makes a variety of recipes, and Alfalfa delivers them on her bicycle.  Each character has three different games in which the characters are controlled with keyboard commands or mouse clicks.  

For SproutOnline.coms flash interactive section, Klick Studios, a Philadelphia-based interactive agency, created the Sprout Diner microsite for PBS KIDS Sprout, including all of the games and activities.  Johnson and Murphy Advertising & Productions provided initial character sketches, while Klick's animators concepted and recreated all of the website animation.

The recipes were created by PBS KIDS Sprout, with nutritional consulting provided by KidsHealth.org, a national non-profit childrens health organization and the webs most visited childrens health site.  The final recipes were incorporated into each of the 10 2-minute animations created for the site.  In order to allow the enough time to create unique animations for each recipe to be featured while remaining within the client's delivery schedule, Sergio's animation team created each of the characters in Anime Studio.

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Related Keywords:interview, advertising, 3D software, CINEMA 4D, c4d, cel animation, bones, Anime Studio Pro


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