Friday, July 07, 2006

Technically Attractive Animation

I don't do a heck of a lot of TV watching, probably 4 or 5 hours a week total. It's usually late at night, and usually comedic in nature (think Trailer Park Boys, Reno 911, and The Daily Show/Colbert Report).
However, one thing I have kept up with over the past few years is children's programming - toddler age stuff. My 4 year old daughter doesn't spend all day in front of the tube either (there are messes to make, cats to corral and things to get into) but it's likely she watches significantly more TV than I do. I also have a tendency to sit and watch a fair amount of it with her when she does. Not because I'm worried about what she's watching (TreehouseTV is quite good) but because I don't like using it as a baby sitter, and I like to find out what she finds funny, challenging and interesting. She likes to ask questions and I like to be there to provide some kind of answer.

One other, perhaps less noble reason I sit and watch a lot of it with her is that I actually like most of it. She has her favourites (Little Bear, Max and Ruby, Berenstain Bears and more recently, George Shrinks and Rolie Polie Olie) and I have mine: (Peep and the Big Wide World, and Pocoyo). Note: If you don't see Dora on that list it's not a mistake. She's ok with it, but it always seems to me that everyone's always shouting everything on that show.. like each character's volume knob is on 11 the whole time.. grrr.

Anyhow, Pocoyo is outstanding to me not only because it's simple, educational and engaging, but I immediately found it attractive technically. What I mean is that the animation, colours and perhaps most notably, textures and lighting set it apart from other computer animated shows I've seen. The soft cushy textures and simple white background with soft shadowing are endearing to me (as funny as that sounds). It's almost...dare I say it... Web two-oh-eee - Only this has real substance ;).

They use a system called XSI by SoftImage for modelling and rendering.(And wouldn't you know it, they have a blog too!). They've got some full size wallpapers available for download on their site (a piece of which heads this post). You can also watch little animated shorts at the site as well to see what I'm talking about.