New £1.3m animated TV series will boost creative sector in Wales

Dinamo Productions – the Welsh company behind BBC’s colourful and highly successful Rastamouse series – has been commissioned to produce a new £1.3m animated series for pre-school children.

Dinamo is co-producing the new series with Dublin based Kavaleer Productions and support from the Welsh Government will ensure the majority of the production is undertaken in Wales, providing an important boost for the creative sector.

The Treforest based company has been offered £150,000 of repayable finance, which Dinamo’s Commercial Director Hywel Williams described as a crucial part of the funding to complete their financial model.

It means that 70% of the production will be carried out in Wales which is expected to generate a guaranteed spend of at least £800K within the creative sector in Wales.

The series will also be the first project CBeebies, RTE and S4C have collaborated on together and will be premiered concurrently on all three channels on October 24 2011 as well as appearing on Gaelic language channel MG Alba in Scotland.

The funding package means that Dinamo also owns the Intellectual Property (IP) enabling it to sell the production internationally and benefit from a range of merchandising opportunities.

The new series, Abadas, is set in the magical world of a pop-up book when young children are transported to the playful world of Pop Up Island and join Hari the Hippo, Seren the bat and Ela the Fox.

Series Producer, Siwan Jobbins, explained that Abadas is designed to help the language development of youngsters through the use of visual comedy, music, songs and interactive word and sound association.

Using live action sequences mixed with animation, the programme will initially be available in Welsh, English and Gaelic and can be adapted for use in any language.

The series has already been pre-sold to Al Jazeera who will re-version it into Arabic whilst Target Entertainment have been appointed to distribute the series internationally.

Business Minister Edwina Hart welcomed the news and said she was pleased that business finance from the Welsh Government had helped the company.

 “The creative industries advisory panel and the Hargreaves Review of creative industries advised the Welsh Government should focus its support on companies that are selling products to markets outside of Wales and bringing economic benefits back to Wales.

“I am delighted to see that this is exactly what Dinamo Productions is doing and that it is also creating, retaining and exploiting its IP, which has opened up a range of new business opportunities with spin-off benefits for other businesses in the sector.”

Ron Jones, chair of the Welsh Government’s  Advisory Panel for creative industries, said: “Our television producers in Wales have been over-dependent on Welsh-based broadcasters and it is refreshing to see companies like Dinamo selling Welsh creativity to a wider audience.

“Public money is now being targeted at those companies who can demonstrate that they are bringing economic value to Wales. This approach, and companies like Dinamo, are the way ahead.”

The Abadas commission will create work for other companies in the sector including Cardiff-based audio post production company Cranc will handle sound recording and mixing; Native Post, based in Penarth, will carry out final grading and transfer of programmes to tape for delivery. The live action sequences were shot at Stiwdio Ceidiog in Treforest.

Animation specialist Dinamo Productions was formed in 2004 and employs a core staff of 35, which increases on a project-by-project basis. It has built up a reputation for the quality of its work specialising in 2D, 3D, digital animation and visual effects for TV, film and the web.

Dinamo was previously responsible for the CGI animation and visual effects on Grandpa in my Pocket, another highly popular programme for children, whilst Rastamouse, one of Dinamo’s best-known works, has been showing on CBeebies since January.

During the summer, Dinamo completed work on Iconicles which has also been seen on CBeebies, whilst the company’s latest offering, Soli & Mo’s Nature Show, an original Dinamo series, launched this month on ITV’s Children’s channel, Mini CITV.