This is the second original “number” film that we’ve made for Sesame Street. The shorts are intended to help little kids learn to count and we needed to follow careful guidelines set by the educational masters at Sesame Street. Key elements include repetition, counting up to our number and keeping our visuals simple. Very simple!
Just like in our first short, we knew that finding a whimsical, kid-friendly design direction would be key to fulfilling our vision and Sesame’s sensibility. Fortunately, we knew just the artist — the talented Daniel Sulzberg of DanVillage. We’ve worked with Daniel in the past and knew he’d be perfect for this project. Every one of his designs makes you smile!
Check out his initial sketches and style frame:
Now compare those frames to some of our final images. Pretty darn close. And the main differences (e.g. simplifying the hills) were due to small client notes. Often, production can be straightforward when you cast the right talent. And Sesame Street is such a lovely client, these shorts have been among our favorite projects over the past couple of years.
One of the fun parts about these shorts is that we get to write original music. And like in our first film, we turned to the great Richard Dickerson as our composer. Rich has decades of experience writing music for the animation space and working with him is always a pleasure. And after listening to literally hundreds of auditions our choice for our voice actor was easy. Lucy Capri knocked our socks off.
Our storyboard and animatic phase was straightforward. The only complexity was making sure that our moving camera stayed fluid throughout and didn’t seem overly rushed. Our talented, young storyboard artist, Gage Spell, pushed Storyboard Pro hard to make this work! You’ll have to subscribe to HBO Max to compare how close the animatic is to the final film, but take it from us, it’s very close!
Our super talented animator, Jon Henshaw, brought this all to life with his charming animation. We animated this short in ToonBoom and designed it using Illustrator and PhotoShop. We chose ToonBoom over Flash/Animate or AfterEffects because their rigging tools allowed us to animate the horses using simple, rubber-hose-style techniques. This style of animation is fluid and kept the look and feel childlike. ToonBoom also has nice camera tools which came in handy because we needed the camera to be a continuous move from start to finish.
And finally, our fabulous sound designer, Erik Magnus, brought everything together — creating our sound design and mixing the final elements together.
Check out our short and all the rest of Season 53’s shorts on HBO Max. Our short is part of Episode 23: Horsing Around and starts at around minute 19:25. If you don’t have HBO Max, here’s a little sneak of the final short:
If you have a project you need animated or want the best creative team around to come up with a concept for you, give us a holler!