This week I redesigned Cecil the snail to have a more usable mouth and arms as before people were getting confused as to whether he was eating or holding items.
Below on the left is the original design, on the right is the first redesign. It looks a little strange that Cecil is smiling so this week I am doing character, expression and turnaround sheets for all the characters to see if any more changes need doing. The third design is with modified colours as I felt Cecil was a bit drab and not too appealing colour wise. His hands take the form of the tentacles that snails have. He is also much more upstanding and able to interact with the world much better.
I also did a lot of research into preschool TV for children and how it can be educational. I read a number of books on the subject and referred to the national curriculum - one of the strongest 'selling' points for Alphabet Patch is it's educational value and also if it is educational for young kids I feel it is more worthwhile for me to make.
I found Shalom Fisch's book 'G is for Growing - 30 Years of Research on Sesame Street' particularly helpful as there is such a strong focus on education in Sesame Street and a lot of research went into making it so.
Some of the other books I read discussed how children actually learn - Naima Browne's 'Young Children's Literacy Development and the Role of Televisual Texts' introduced me to Paulo Freire's 'problem-posing' method of education as opposed to 'banking education'. Problem-posing invites the children to think about their own answers instead of just telling and filling them lots of information. (At this point I am wishing that I could be writing my dissertation on how animation can actually be very effective at aiding children's education if done the right way, because all this research was actually very interesting and I wish I had time to do more).
As a result of reading these books and others I decided that Alphabet Patch should avoid passive viewing and instead encourage the audience to actively engage. Thus, Paddy will ask a lot of questions and there will be opportunity for the audience to shout out the answers - however to avoid awkward silence the child will be able to shout out the answer in time with the other characters.
Each episode will make use of the five senses so that children will learn much more about objects than they would just by looking at a picture book.
Alphabet Patch will involve much more than just teaching letters: numbers; shapes; problem-solving; personal development; society; the world; and more will be included throughout the series. AP will teach how letters and numbers look, how they sound and what words they relate to. Most importantly though, I want to avoid being patronizing and boring - not to include the educational aspects at the expense of fun. AP will be fun for kids to watch and hopefully will provide lots of laughter.
With all this research in mind, my story group and I have been developing the script and have now arrived at a strong draft. I am in the process of storyboarding Episode A, and we will spend the next week developing it further and hopefully creating a rough animatic with a scratch track of the dialogue by the end of the week. The series has become a lot more dialogue-heavy than I originally intended but I am excited for the challenge of this - I have not worked much with sound previously.
The other main task this week is to create turnarounds for all the characters and to rig them up in CelAction ready to start testing and experimenting with