S4 created twelve 11-minute episodes of the series, which is being distributed on home video via the NWF Web site (www.nwf.org/wildanimalbaby). Negotiations for a distributor are pending.
The Wild Animal Baby series is based on the NWF’s popular magazine, “Wild Animal Baby” and features the magazines Sandy the Salamander, Skip the Rabbit, Izzy the Owl and Rosie the Otter characters. The series is designed to serve as a preschooler’s introduction to natural sciences by promoting literacy, simple math concepts, and developing motor skills by imitating real and animated animals through interactive activities, songs and games.
In each 11-minute episode, a mystery is presented to the characters - a sound they don’t recognize, an animal behavior they can’t explain - and with the motto of “Let’s Explore!” they set out on an adventure to solve the problem.
“The idea is that kids at home will go out, explore, touch things and wonder about them; that’s a very important part of this series,” says co-director Larry Le Francis of S4 Studios. “For example, in the first show, the babies have their picnic basket raided and they find some paw prints. In due course, they learn that it was a bear along with some elementary facets of their behavior, using actual bear footage that’s intercut with the animation.”
S4’s art director/storyboard director Dale Hendrickson worked closely with the Sunwoo Entertainment team of producers Jae Woo Park and Brian Doell to adapt the print characters for 3D, with animation being done in Alias Maya 7.0.
“The original vision was for more of a 2D graphic look, but as designs went back and forth, it got pulled more into the 3D world,” Hendrickson notes. “The animation was beautiful and the show really captures a great balance of fun and teaching simple ideas to a preschool audience.”
Additional credits for S4 Studios include producer Geoffrey Kater and production coordinator John Evans. For National Wildlife Federation, Tony Summers was the production executive. For Sunwoo Entertainment, Jae Y. Moh was the executive producer and Moon Ju Kang was the CGI studio general Manager. Music and additional animation was created by Peach Blossom Media, Singapore, with Lingun Sung executive producing. Writers were Adam and Seth Gross along with Bradley Zweig. David Baron of Lightpost in Los Angeles supervised post production.
Wild Animal Baby marks S4’s second long-form project, the other being Cartoon Network’s The Groovenians.