New generation gets paint job for classic toons

French TV 2011

Gallic animation may be the most prolific in Europe, but that doesn’t mean it necessarily has an easy time in international markets. Yet things are looking up on that front, thanks to investment in iconic brands, a willingness to play across platforms and an early commitment to stereoscopic 3D.

In the current risk-averse climate, buyers are often reassured by iconic brands such as literary classic “The Little Prince” or legendary clown Charlie Chaplin, both of which are being brought to the smallscreen by Method Animation. Such shows register quickly and nostalgic parents are easily brought on board.

“Co-viewing potential is a very important thing that you can bring to a network,” says Philippe Soutter, whose PGS Entertainment is selling the shows abroad.

Taking on an icon is no easy task, per Guillaume Hellouin, head of animation studio TeamTO. “You have to make it new but still the same, and that’s a challenge. But once you succeed, you create something that is even stronger than an original property.”

TeamTO has done that for Babar the Elephant, building a series around his relationship with 8-year-old grandson, Badou, a new character. Co-produced with Canada’s Nelvana, “Babar and the Adventures of Badou” has been picked up by Disney in the U.S. and other international webs.

Even with iconic brands, producers need to think about all available platforms.

“Not everything needs a 360-degree strategy, but you cannot go out with something that is just a television show,” says Method topper Aton Soumache.

For “The Little Prince,” Method has developed concepts for TV, connecting the show with the broadcaster’s website, catch-up and VOD services. It is also working on interactive books linked to the series. “You can play on them, you can move the image, you can change the story,” Soumache says.

Original series created alongside iconic brands now need to be innovative to stand out. For example, action comedy is usually produced in 2D to control costs on the many characters, sets and effects required, so TeamTO has developed efficient data and computer animation tools that will make 3D an option.

“The CGI look is very attractive for action shows, so if we can provide the market with an affordable solution then there is huge potential,” Hellouin says. TeamTO’s first 3D action comedy, “Jade Armor,” will pitch at Cartoon Forum in September.

This connects with the other trend, the booming demand for shows in stereoscopic 3D. French animation is well-placed to respond, with Method’s flagships “The Little Prince” and “Chaplin and Co.” alone already running to 39 hours of 3D programming.

“Basically, we have more hours of 3D than Pixar,” says Soutter. “They have a few movies, but that’s it. If you want to run a 3D channel, you need volume and you don’t want to disappoint your clients.”

Past gets pumped on tube | New generation gets paint job for classic toons | Sell scene: French show the pipeline

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