Cartoon Saloon pegs puffin as new ‘it’ bird
The penguin’s reign as darling of the animation world may be numbered as another quirky bird vehicle called Puffin’s Rock gets ready to take flight. Kilkenny, Ireland-based Cartoon Saloon is developing a 52 x seven-minute preschool show about three little curious puffins who fly, swim and burrow their way through the rocky little island they call home. Along the way, they meet fellow islanders and learn to appreciate the unique abilities of creatures such as dolphins, sea otters, crabs, fish, rabbits and even a wee mermaid with a hip sense of fashion.
Without any dialogue, the puffins communicate through quacks, chirps and a highly expressive wing-flapping body language. Cartoon Saloon co-founder and MD Paul Young says the plan is to bring in a narrator and incorporate a musical backdrop that will balance elements of Caribbean calypso melodies with Irish harp sounds.
The prodco is also looking for a head writer to flesh out storylines the in-house team has already sketched out. In one planned episode, the puffins go on an evening hunt for fireflies. In the moonlight, one member of the posse sees strange shadows running between clumps of grass and big round eyes watching the group. The frightened puffins run away, and so do the shadows, who are equally spooked. But the ep culminates in the realization that the scary shadows are just rabbits who go out at night to eat roots, and in the end, the two species band together to look for fireflies as a group.
The 2-D animated series boasts felted-fabric textures that should lend its finished eps a soft, cut-out aesthetic. Working with a rough budget of US$5 million, Cartoon Saloon is looking for presales to help finance Puffin’s Rock, and plans to keep the production in-house. Young says he’s had interest from publishers and licensees who see book and plush potential in the IP, but right now his main goal is gearing up to start production in the next six months.
Classic Tales serves up five-minute fables
Australia’s Southern Star Entertainment is dipping into the fairy tale file to fuel a new series of 130 x five-minute shorts dubbed, appropriately, Classic Tales. The project features familiar fables including Puss n’ Boots, The Happy Prince and Hansel and Gretel, as well as ancient myths like Pandora’s Box and stories that have become classics in their countries of origin, such as The Magic Porridge Pot (Russia), Tiddalick the Frog (Australia), The Pot of Gold (Ireland) and The Magic Clogs (Japan).
Each of the Flash-animated episodes tells a different condensed tale that reflects the original story as much as possible for kids ages five and up. Southern Star has also written the scripts with an eye to toning down the violence inherent in some of the older stories. So when Gretel infamously shoves a cannibalistic witch into a burning stove, it’s implied but not depicted graphically on-screen.
With a pilot episode and animation well underway, ABC Australia is already on-board to broadcast the series, which is budgeted at US$240,000 per half hour. Southern Star has partnered with Hong Kong-based Colorland Animation for the animation and Neptuno in Barcelona, Spain for post-production. And a progressive roll out is planned from mid-2008 through to September 2009.