MDM students teamed up with Knowledge Kids last semester to create an online brand extension of Knowledge Kids’ popular mascots—Luna, Chip and Inkie.
The students were asked to create a web project that engaged and entertained users of the Knowledge Kids website, specifically BC children ages 2-6 years old, by teaching them more about the characters’ worlds.
The project launched early this week at http://knowledgekids.ca/.
Kids can now explore the site and find “Easter eggs” or hidden elements that bring them to animations inside the character’s homes – Luna’s observatory, Chip’s birdhouse and Inkie’s studio. The more Easter eggs a user discovers, they more they learn about the characters.
The student team—Felicia Xia, Sydney Zheng, Patricia Nunez, Judy Leung, Ethan Tan and Kevin Brown—were challenged to “…make an extension of the characters and to enhance and enrich the existing site," says Judy Leung, the Storyboard Artist on the team.
The students decided to build homes for the characters, since the characters already had existing outdoor lives on the site. "We thought that homes would help kids connect better with the characters," says Patricia Nunez, the Art Director on the project. The homes allow kids to see where the characters live and learn what they do at home.
Once the idea was approved, the student team had to develop everything from the concept art, background layout, furniture arrangement and storyboard to animation, coding and sound effects—all in 3 months.
"With ample research done on the subject, we created animation based on the characters' personality. We thought that the fun animations would be exciting to kids," say the Lead Animator, Ethan Tan.
In addition to the time constraints, the trick was integrating the web project with Knowledge Kids’ existing site, character development and branding. The student team explained that while the project may look easy, in reality there were elements, such as Luna’s nest, that went through many, many iterations.
"Reflecting the characters accurately was difficult", says Nunez. "We had to revise and redo our work multiple times to reflect the characters' personality better."
Another challenge was that the site had to be developed in Flash. “No one was a Flash expert so it was a challenge to develop a Flash-based site. In the end, it was a great lesson,” says Sydney Zheng, the Project Manager on the team.
In addition to the web elements, the students also provided Knowledge Kids with the assets and documentation and “…presented them with future possibilities for the site and these characters," explains Zheng.
The team credits their work to their faculty advisor, Larry Bafia. Felicia Xia, the Animator & Creative Director on the team, said, "We'd like to say a special thank you to Larry. He guided us through the animation and the client management side of things. Rather than a faculty advisor, he was more a member of the team."
On the project, Bafia says:
It was a pleasure to have Lisa Purdy, Ravi Singh and Janice Mazon of Knowledge Kids and BBC Kids Network collaborate with the MDM team, Appleseed. The Knowledge team worked closely with the students to maintain consistency in the Knowledge brand and their mascot characters. The students followed the Knowledge branding guide for the characters as well as the website. There was a great emphasis placed on the user experience and creating a deeper visual back-story for the three very established characters, Chip, Luna and Inkie.
When asked if they are pleased with the results of the project, Zheng replied, “Yes! It aligns well with the existing elements and, amazingly, looks like a part of the Knowledge Kids website.”
Watch a demo here:
Check out the website: http://knowledgekids.ca/.