Producing Toby's Travelling Circus

Key Facts

  • Project status: In production (series 2)
  • Media: Stop frame animation
  • Audience: 36 year-olds
  • Territory: Worldwide
  • Copyrights: TTC Productions Ltd
  • Network: Channel 5 Milkshake
  • Medium: Television, interactive and home entertainment

Komixx Entertainment employs the Manchester-based production company MacKinnon & Saunders to photograph and animate Toby’s Travelling Circus, now in production for its second series. The puppets and sets are made in their workshops and brought together in one studio, where the sets are lit and the puppets are animated.

All animated films start with the design of the characters and an understanding of their roles in the storylines and plots. The scripts for the episodes are then written and approved.

Voiceover artists are recorded and the resulting tracks are cut together into an ‘animatic’, which combines the storyboard and the voice track to sketch the shape of the episode. Once the soundtrack from the animatic is broken down into individual frames, the animators can get to work.

The puppets and sets are by now ready for assembly and lighting in the studio. Each puppet is around 20 centimetres tall, with a metal skeleton inside its costume. All sets and props have to be specially made to scale.

The skeletons or ‘armatures’ allow the puppets to move in small fractions that give the illusion of smooth movement in the final film. The animators’ skill lies in conveying the emotion of the voices and the direction of the plot.

Once the scenes have been completed they are edited together into a finished programme, and computerised visual effects are added by the special effects department. The musicians and the sound effects department are then left to finish the process, adding a wonderful depth to the final soundtrack.

For more on Toby's Travelling Circus, see here.