Animalia: articles

Morphing for TV

ANIMALIA, the picture book loved by adults and children alike, is set to be a major television series.

Queensland will play a leading role in the production of the multimillion-dollar series to be made at animation studios on the Gold Coast and in Scotland.

Written by Australian kid-lit hero Graeme Base, Animalia will be turned into a half-hour television series for Network Ten in Australia as well as channels in the UK and the US.

The series has been developed by Australia's Burberry Productions and Emmy Award winners Porchlight Entertainment in the US and will take up to 18 months to complete.

Executive producer Ewan Burnett said Animalia would feature the kind of animation used in films such as Shrek.

"High-quality CGI animation will allow us to maintain the rich imagery and whimsical humour of Graeme Base's picture book, a perennial favourite with millions of children around the globe," Mr Burnett said.

"There has been small computer animation series made in Australia but nothing of this magnitude."

Mr Burnett said he had originally wanted to make the series in Victoria where he and Base live. However he said the Pacific Film and Television Commission (PFTC) pursued the production. The project represents a $2 million investment by the PFTC.

Henry Tefay, head of production at the PFTC, said Animalia would put local computer animation house Photon VFX (Inspector Gadget, Superman Returns) on the world stage.

"This ground breaking series will be a fabulous showcase for the quality, creativity and technological capabilities of our Queensland talent," he said.

Animalia, first published in 1986, has achieved classic status with worldwide sales of more than three million copies.

Author Base will be intimately involved in the project that is targeted at six to nine-year-olds.

"The book is 20 years old this year and I have always hoped we could do something like this," Mr Base said.

"The books work on different levels and we are hoping the TV series will have the same depth."

Ms Cherrie Botger, network manager of children's television for Channel 10, said the series was aimed at six to nine-year-olds however she predicted older viewers would also tune in.

"Children love it because of the beautiful animation but kids who first read it are now a lot older and they too will want to see it," she said."Adults also love it because of the little tricks he uses in his pictures."

The Animalia series is a coup for Queensland which is basking in a boom in children's television production.

As well as Animalia, two children's TV shows - Mortified and H20: Just Add Water - have been filmed on the Gold Coast this year with a combined production budget of more than $20 million.

Both Mortified and H20 will be seen by millions of children around the world.

Mortified, seen in Australia on Nine, will be screened by Disney and the BBC.

H20 has already been pre-sold to Ten, Disney and ZDF in Germany.

By Sandra Mclean
March 08, 2006