Tuesday, January 08, 2008


If you've flipped past CBS recently on a Saturday morning you might have seen some animated shorts starring a few of the friendly faces in the photo above. I love these little guys and am proud to have been part of the team that helped bring them to life.

Tinpo was created by Derek Welch and Jason Bacon, the creative..dare I say, geniuses...behind UNKL and Big Giant.

A few years ago, our studio chief Jeffrey Conrad came across their booth at Comicon, bought all their toys and decided to option the property. Since then we've developed 10 animated shorts, each 30 seconds long, and added Tinpo to the AG Properties library permanently.

You can see the shorts online at AG Kidzone.com as well as on CBS Saturday mornings.

When we planned to do the shorts, we had to figure out what the Tinpo world would look like. We threw around the idea of these Tinpo working inside a factory and thought it would be cool if the characters looked dimensional, yet the backgrounds were more graphic. I created a little animated test where I used an illustration of what I thought a machine would look like in the factories from our AG Properties logo.

The idea behind the test was not only to test a "look" but also try and sell everyone on the idea of using 8 Bit music for the shorts (which I used as background music.)

I'd already had a slew of 8 Bit music from the site 8 Bit Peoples that freely shares music created by artists using Nintendos, Gameboys and all kinds of crazy stuff to make music. I became a fan of Anamanaguchi aka Peter Berkman. His music is fun and quirky and doesn't sound straight out of a video game. It's more organic and he layers in other 'real' instruments as well.

Everyone here was on board with having Anamanaguchi do the music as well as Anamanaguchi himself, so we went for it. Listen for it in the shorts. Oh, and I should point out a cool thing he did. In each of the shorts there is what we call the "aha moment." No it's not the moment where everything switches into a black and white comic book and they begin singing "Take On Me." It's the moment where the Tinpo figures out the solution to a problem. You'll notice that in each short, the music is only 8 bit before the "aha moment" and then turns into full instrumentation after he figures it out.

Let's not forget the animation! It was done in sunny Dallas, Texas at Reel FX Entertainment. These guys are awesome to work with and did an awesome job. Check out their reel and prepare to have your minds blown. They treated Tinpo like it was their own baby and really went the extra mile for us. Anthony Davila set the visual direction for the shorts and worked closely with Reel FX to get everything look nice and pretty. Anthony has a talented team of illustrators here in Cleveland who designed most of the props, vehicles and things. Once they set the style, Reel FX also helped conceptualize and design things too.

We talked with Reel FX early on about how the Tinpo should move. We all thought it would be cool if the Tinpo moved as if invisible hands were playing with them and moving them along, versus just always moving under their own power. Reel FX also approached the sound design as if things were more "digital" in a way in order to make things feel like they're part of a unique world. Lots of bleeps and bloops.

Look for future posts where I hope to share more of the stuff we're creating.

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At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Say, Brotha! Cool blog. Glad to see things have continued to soar with your career. Continued wishes for great good luck in 2008!

peace out - B

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Jon said...

Hey there -- I just googled Tinpo and found your post (I'm a little late to the game, I know). Thanks for sharing the background of these little guys. My 5- and 2-year old love the Tinpo shorts. I dig the music...takes me back to the happy gaming days of the '80s. :)

At 8:15 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Great concept and great execution - my 5 year old daughter and I were watching CBS kewltopia this morning for the first time and she instantly loved Tinpo, especially the 'martian elf' - thanks for making them


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