Annecy: TeamTO’s ‘Take It Easy Mike’ Scores Greenlight with France Televisions, Super RTL Deals (EXCLUSIVE)

Broadcasters, producers enthuse at photo-realism of canine comedy

ANNECY, France — TeamTO, one of Europe’s most dynamic CGI studios, has greenlit comedy TV series “Take It Easy Mike,” a milestone in its CGI imaging, after scoring lynchpin pre-sales to top European TV networks France Televisions for France and to Super RTL for Germany.

Currently in pre-production, delivery on “Take It Easy Mike” is now scheduled for 2018, broadcast for early 2019. Outside France, Germany and China, “Take It Easy Mike’s” worldwide distribution is handled by kids’ entertainment specialist Cake.

A dialogue-free, slapstick comedy from the creators of TeamTO’s “Oscar’s Oasis,” another non-verbal propulsive action show, “Take It Easy Mike” is directed by Franz Kirchner, who helmed TeamTO’s “Angelo Rules” (Series 1 and 2) and “Rabbids Invasion,” and Antoine Bouron, a director on “Rabbids Invasion” and “Les Petites Betes.” Canada’s Digital Dimension co-produces “Take It Easy Mike.”.

Described by TeamTO as “‘Tom & Jerry’ meets silly pet videos,”  it turns on Mike, a refined pug with boundless energy and sophisticated tastes who’s dead-set on seducing the neighbor’s lovely dog Cindy. But his best laid plans go awry – thanks to the inopportune appearances of a bunch of trouble-makers: Freddy and Mercury, racoons, Fluffy the cutest kitten, and a turtle trio – all causing unforeseen twists and turns.

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Mike is at the center of the action, and dog protagonist shows tap into a near universal appeal.

“As Loriot, one of the most famous German cartoonists and humorists already said: ‘A pugless life is possible, yet pointless.’ We fully agree,” said Carsten Göttel, Super RTL’s program director.

But one of the show’s stars – and what really sets it apart and has certainly got TV networks and TeamTO excited – is its photo-realism, fruit of TeamTO’s decade-long push to improve the quality, costs and speed of its physical animation.

“Few series can boast of revolutionizing a genre. That is exactly what TeamTO has done with ‘Take it Easy Mike,’ achieving what until now has been unimaginable in a TV series: They have created a world of animated characters that look genuinely real,” said Pierre Siracusa, director of animation at France Televisions.

He added: “The level of hyperrealism attained in this series radically changes our expectations of traditional animation, opening a whole new world of possibilities for developing characters, the richness of the expressions, and even the scope of physical gags.”

“From a creative standpoint, we have been able to stretch the boundaries of animated comedy beyond anything we have done before, thanks to the technical sophistication of this photorealistic production. It has been a real breakthrough for our studio,” said TeamTO president Guillaume Hellouin.

Hellouin stressed that the photo realistic technology used in the “Take it Easy Mike” series is not new as it’s already been used in special effects films for many years. But what is new with the series is that it will be used in a 78-episode TV series at a TV series market cost. Also, the use of that realistic imaging in a slapstick cartoon has never been seen in animation so far, he said.

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