Chris and Martin Kratt, the gregarious siblings who head up Ottawa, Canada-based Kratt Brothers are returning to TV with a new animated co-pro with 9 Story Entertainment and they gave KidScreen the low-down on the new project, including concept, budget, the works.
The pair that created kids nature shows such as Kratt’s Creatures and Zoboomafoo, are morphing into 2-D animated form.
In their new series for core kids, Wild Kratts (40 x 22 minutes), the pair of zoologists is on a mission to save the planet’s animals from the opportunistic biotech villian, Zach Varmitech. Like any evil genius worth his salt, Varmitech’s plotting to take over the world – this time he’s attempting create a legion of robots, made from various animal parts, that will do his bidding.
The Kratts have teamed up with Toronto, Canada’s 9 Story Entertainment on production, with 9 Story handling distribution outside the US and Canada. Episodes are budgeted at approximately US$300,000 apiece, with delivery for the first 20 scheduled for August 2010 and a second batch to follow in January 2011. Participating broadcasters so far include PBS Kids in the US and Canadian nets TVOntario, Tele-Quebec and Knowledge Network.
In the series, Chris is the pragmatic and technically inclined brother with an encyclopedic knowledge of animals. He serves as the perfect complement to Martin, an artistic, impulsive big-ideas guy who likes to crack jokes. Their brilliant and stylish, tech-savvy friend, Aviva Corcovado, helps the brothers in their rescue efforts by creating animal-inspired inventions, such as computerized suits that take on the attributes of various creatures through a data download. Joining Aviva in her lab are Koki, a sharp-witted computer whiz, and Jimmy Z, who uses his superior gaming skills to control the Teleporter – a device that delivers the inventions to the Kratts wherever their globetrotting takes them.
In a typical episode, Chris develops a fear of heights when he falls from a tall tree in the Indonesian rainforest where he’s searching for the rare Draco lizard. Ribs that stick out of its body and act as wings enable the reptile fo fly. Martin and the Draco, meanwhile, are captured by fashion designer Donita Donata, who plans to create jewelry using the colorful Draco’s body, and in the end, Chris must overcome his fear of heights in order to save his brother and the lizard.
The Kratts have found animation somewhat liberating, as it’s permitted the brothers to up the physical comedy quotient and depict natural phenomena that wouldn’t be possible in live action. No one has the budget or resources, for example, to travel deep below the sea and document a battle between a sperm whale and a giant squid, but for an animator it’s just part of a day’s work.