Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Let's Go Club

Animating for Cbeebies

If there are little ones in your house, you might already have seen the big new event of the summer in children’s television: The Let’s Go Club. Saturday mornings on Cbeebies are now filled with fun things to do, make and learn thanks to the show, not to mention some very weird dance moves which we can only applaud and take to the dance floor ourselves!

We’re happy to say that here at Chog Zoo Animation we animated the “Fact Finding” segments of the show. We have undertaken the odd bit of broadcast work in the past, but mainly title animations and pilot animations; this marks the first time we’ve delivered full scenes of character animation for mainstream broadcast television. We’re very excited to say the least. The show is going down a storm too, The Let’s Go Club is currently the most popular ‘Join In’ on the Cbeebies website, and the two episodes that have aired so far have been featured as the Radio Times 'Children’s Choice'.

If you have young children, you should definitely bring them over to the computer and check out the brilliant interactive website for the show.

While you can still watch the episodes on catch-up and iPlayer, the fact finding segments are also on the website as clips. The links for the first two are below and I’ll add the other episodes as they air each week. We feel that they only get better so look out for the new episodes airing on Cbeebies weekly at 9:30am on Saturday mornings. 

Week 1 – Birds

Week 2 – Space

Wednesday, 28 January 2015


"Investing in Stockport" Animation

The end of 2014 was an extremely busy time for Chog Zoo, not least due to the mammoth animation we produced for Stockport Council. Don't get your hopes up, there aren't any actual mammoths in this video, I just wanted to communicate the scale of the project. However, the exciting part is that this commission marks the first time we utilised the skills of a third party illustrator - the wonderful Emmeline Pidgen - to give the animation an original, memorable flourish.

We created multiple proposals with a variety of distinct visual styles to give the client a range of options, but our suggestion to work with Emmeline came from the desire to keep the video as captivating as possible, without compromising the integrity of the information being communicated. With the volume of data in the script provided by Stockport council, we decided that Emmeline's distinct, tactile and beautifully artistic visuals could be a way to offset the "politics" and engage the viewer throughout.

After getting the go ahead on some initial concept artwork, we set to work storyboarding the script, dividing it up into sections and defining the on screen visuals which would appear with the relative narration. This was signed off by Stockport Council before the bulk of work began.

Once the animation was planned out and we knew what was needed from the development and design phase of the project, Emmeline set to work providing us with exceptional character sheets and figure references.

Next up came animation. We experimented with various ways to animate Emmeline's artwork; to retain her distinct style, we found that a combination of methods was going to work best. Traditional frame-by-frame animation was necessary in many shots, for example the aging character, for which the frames were drawn and coloured in Photoshop due to its range of brushes available. These were then taken into After Effects to achieve the motion. Other shots allowed for vectorisation of Emmeline's linework, and the ability to save a bit of time by using motion tweens, Even further animation was produced in After Effects, adding detail to movement with the puppet tool and finishing up any imported tweens with additional flourishes and camera movement. 

After providing a wide selection of voice actors to the council for consideration, the decision was made for the video to be narrated by the ultra talented actress Josie Cerise. Providing an incredible energy to the animation despite her busy theatre schedule, Josie's superb interpretation of the script added an enthusiastic, personable quality to the finished product.

Considerable tweaking was necessary in this animation due to the nature of a council commissioned piece; script was shuffled around and adjusted as needed, parts had to be added and parts were removed. For example, a hover car shot, which presented an elderly main character in a bright futuristic setting, was in the end deemed a little too tongue-in-cheek for the over all tone of the video. We persevered to deliver an animation which remained artistic, but stayed true to the serious messages that Stockpot wanted to convey.

We are proud to have worked with Stockport Council and with Emmeline Pidgen to produce what we are sure is a distinct departure from the usual council fare. Stockport has taken a brilliant, bold step in using art to discuss important issues with the public. We're thrilled to have been a a part of it. Check out the full animation below.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014


Making Graphs A Bit Nicer

When the lovely people at Pangolin Pharmatech approached us to create an engaging video, we were excited. You might ask, why on earth would we get excited at the prospect of creating an informative animation for a pharmaceutical analytics company? That would be not only a mouthful, but also a perfectly understandable train of thought. Well, one reason for the aforementioned excitement was the brief. We were challenged to deliver an illustrated character to give a more endearing quality to what is otherwise a very data heavy topic. This sort of thing really tickles us - giving us a license to make the boring, not so boring - and even fun from time to time. Another reason was the company's general approach of what they wanted to achieve visually, including to use their brand's refined colour scheme for the animation, with a vision to project a clean, modern vibe. All in all, a refreshing project, with a mindset that seemed in line with our own. Hurray!

We started as usual by planning the visual style. Restricting wild deviations from the Pangolin brand colour palette allowed for a more focused design method, better utilising basic form and placement in the illustrative style. See:

During these initial designs we played around with the idea of using mechanical items and machinery to represent the less than engaging spreadsheet process, but this was scrapped in case it could influence the perception of the company. No one wanted the possibility of the message communicated being seen as anything other than that of a pharmatech brand. We stuck to relatable iconography that was visually stimulating, but remained true to the content...

... and we created lots of icons.

We took spreadsheets, and we made an animation about them which made them look awesome. We're thrilled with the final product, it's clean, striking, and most importantly it successfully manages to clearly communicate quite a complex message. 

Check out the moving parts below at the Pangolin website, here!

Friday, 14 March 2014

Sixt - Drink Driving Campaign

Creating a Memorable Video to Prevent Drink Driving

Shortly before Christmas, we were asked by the creative marketing agency, Every1 to work with them on creating an animated drink driving campaign for the multinational car rental company, Sixt. 

Months later, and after numerous tweaks, the project has finally reached completion. 

The writers at Every1 had conceptualised a story that used word play on popular cocktail names, which we thought was a very clever way to appeal to a cocktail culture that might be tempted to drink and drive. Building upon this concept, we proposed a visually stylistic presentation of the story, through silhouetted images contained within the various cocktail glasses. Getting the green light on this idea, we set to work designing a striking visual approach to complement the impacting narrative content.

We employed clean cut lines to reflect the general tone of cocktail menu design, and a vibrant colour palette to match the luscious gradients and hues of popular drinks.

In animation, after considerable experimentation to create subtle bubble effects, we found that a combination of motion tweened layers of digital brush speckles with a couple of simple particle effects worked best. For one or two relevant drinks that have more of a pronounced fizz, we additionaly filmed a glass filling up with cola and overlayed it within the particle layers.

To create the grunge look of later shots, we photographed various weathered surfaces, painted decor, and scuffed glass. We multiplied these images with digitised brushstrokes on top of our silhouetted designs, allowing for a level of gritty realism which contrasted nicely with the clean cocktail design style.

Does none of this make sense? Well, just take a look at the final video below, it might become clearer. Let us know what you think, we're pretty chuffed with it. A word of caution, it's much darker than our usual fare! 

To find out more, and get all of the facts, visit www.sixt.co.uk/drink-drive-awareness

Friday, 20 December 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!

It's our last day before breaking up for a magical Christmas! To celebrate, here are some Christmas cards from us here at Chog Zoo Animation, to spread a little festive cheer.

Print them out and put them on your fireplace! We hope you have a brilliant Christmas, full of loads of food and spending time with your favourite people in the world. See you in the new year!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Sound Recording Shenanigans

Recording Audio for Ten Town at Brock n Broll Recording Studio

On Wednesday (the 13th November) the talented Michael Whalley welcomed Chog Zoo to his fantastic recording studio in Chorley to record song vocals, narration and character voices for Ten Town.

Brock n Broll is a cosy little studio crammed full of state of the art equipment and charm, and Michael (as seen sporting snazzy headphones in the photo above) was a genial host; not to mention a man with the patience of... well, someone who is VERY patient. We laid down vocals for over twenty song variants, twelve episode narrations, many character voice tracks and some very dodgy French accents for a new character called Thierry. 

Instrumental to the day was the incredible and beautiful actress Josie Cerise (pictured above) who you might recognise from playing Mini Ha Ha in the twice BAFTA nominated TV show Ha Ha Hairies, and playing Mouse in the West End production of The Gruffalo. We were honoured to witness her in action, providing the voice of Ten Town chef Tia Ten, and also lending her stunning singing voice to a song which will feature at the end of new episodes. Her takes were amazing and bring a new level of excellence to the world of Ten Town. Look out for Josie, because she's doing big things! You can catch her performing at the Roundhouse in London this December, where she stars in My Brother The Robot. Find out more here!

Thanks to Michael and Josie for a day of truly inspiring work. Not only was Wednesday remarkably productive due to the hard work put in by everyone, but it was a lot of fun. Hurray for talented people!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Ten Town Wins Award!

A Victory For Chog Zoo Education!

It was recently announced that Ten Town, the number learning resource for which Chog Zoo provided design, branding, more than 20 animations, voice acting and all sorts of miscellaneous creativity has won a prestigious award! Isn't it nice to be recognised from time to time? 

The awards were the Practical Pre-School Awards, where Ten Town scooped not only a gold award, but the Overall Winner accolade for the whole Music and Multimedia category. Hurray for Ten Town!

Chog Zoo is currently working on a fresh commission to expand the Ten Town universe, with an aim to assist children learning to count and write numbers up to 20. We're thrilled to be a part of this fantastic educational resource, take a look at www.tentown.co.uk for more information!