Not LITERALLY, just figuratively. Here is the trick with children's television, it is easy to attract kids attention with flashing lights and fast-cut animation, but most early development experts and research suggest that flashy television isn't great for kid's brains.
So I have been involved with a number of children's shows (including an Emmy nominated show on PBS) and am currently pitching the community on a kids' show that I love. It moves at a slower, gentler pace and exposes children to information in a way where they can engage the story. Unfortunately, this usually turns of adults. The kids will want to rewatch, and relearn, while the parents can't stand another viewing.
All we have right now is a rough animation proof and character designs for our children's program. I'd love your thoughts, but actually, I'd love you to prop your children 2-6 in front of the screen and I'd be interested in reading what they have to
Do you think small children could follow a long arc of story that stretched over a season?
Most children I know consume media on the 3rd and 4th screens, and I think Amazon studios has an interesting venue to reach them.
If you are willing to check out our promo video, and script I would love a chance to hear from you, your children, and their eyeballs.
I watched the promo video and to be honest, I'm not a fan of this Dora the Explorer-style of young children's programming. I'm speaking as an 22-year-old adult, but even as a child, I hated this style of preschool shows (of the "Can you see where the berries are?" variety). I've always found it condescending. Even a relatively decent preschool show like Jake and the Neverland Pirates is hampered by doing that. If they got rid that aspect, it would be excellent rather than good.
Look to Sesame Street as an example. I've never seen it go that route. Why? Because it has engaging and likeable characters, who treat the audience with respect. It's why it still resonates and why something like Blue's Clues has long been forgotten.
The concept of your show sounds good, with the two animals coming together despite the language barriers. But the execution needs work. You said you didn't want to bore the adults. Well, I was bored.
A Participant says:
I have 2 kids and they love the kid shows that repeat. I think if it's shown over and over they learn more and quickly. I also like what AS is doing with this series endeavor because my 4 year old boy loves our Kindle Fire. I think kids now-a-days are picking up quickly on learning gadgets. My son was even smart enough to purchase a download of "Thomas The Train".
12 episodes a year are plenty for a kids series.
Leap Frog has an ipad type gadget for kids. I think AS should create a "pad" that targets kids with its exclusive series content.
Thanks for the feedback Stefan. There is the classic Mr. Rogers versus Sesame Street dilemma, one show is flashier and more entertaining, and the other is gentler, quieter, and perhaps a little condescending, yet the flashiness of Sesame Street is not altogether good for young minds.
Personally I love Sesame street, they spoke to me as though I was an adult, and perhaps we need to include a little more of that, there could be more action on screen, but I want to create a show that will engage the kids without too many flashing lights. I would love to create a flashier show, I have a lot of ideas on where I'd like to take the characters, and as the "promo" sits, it's impossible to see us getting there anytime soon. Perhaps A simple re-edit might help speed it up a bit, or if you have the characters actually moving through the space looking for the objects, rather than sitting by passively. What do you think?
I like the app idea Maurice, perhaps even an app that they could use synced to the screen in real time (there is some technology out there that does this). When I was directing "Signing Time" we found out that most of our viewers watched an episode at least 10 times, which means we need to have a level of understanding that is both easily graspable by a young mind, but can continue to deliver information on repeated watchings.
A Participant says:
Wow! You directed "Signing Time"? My kids still watch that.
As you know year old kids and six year kids live on different planets. As a grandfather, home day care, foster parent, grade school substitute (mostly third grade and younger) surivor-type person, my own experience is to keep a two old's attention on TV longer than three minutes is pretty much impossible. Shorts of a few minutes long, strung together are your best bet, in my opinion. Sesame Street, of course, does that with their hour long program. Kids love eccentric, over the top characters. (You already know that.)
Mister Rogers succeeded because kids always felt he was holding a conversation individually with them. As a sub I survived because I'm already a documented over the top eccentric person naturally, and I would play with them lightheartedly will sneaking in the subject material.
My ex was a home day care person before we met, and continued that in our first pastorate. I would come home from working a 22-hour shift one the small weekly paper I owned part of -go to sleep for 12 hours, and wake up to six two year olds staring at me around the bed.
It also helps if you really are a kid and inside are one yourself.
I never had any problem getting my Nephews to wath tv.
All I had to say was
Watch TV of do the dishes.
Right now I trying to devise a way to write a childrens' tv show with my 8 and 10 year old grandsons as co-writers. Children are great actors and more creative than we are. I think it would be interesting to devise a way where you set up a story with a start, a beginning, and an end, and then, with as little guidance as possible, just film the kids playing the story as they go along.
Kids are much smarter really than we are. I used to tell my son as he grew up, you can learn more quickly, think better, and are actually smarter than I am. But I know a lot more because of I have lived a longer. So, for while, I've still the boss. He took over at about 8 years of age.
actually it's go play outside or clean your rooms.
Thanks, I loved working on that project. Signing Time still has a small, but loyal fan base. We had to work inside a educational structure, but it was a really great environment to try ideas, throw out intuition and see what actually worked. The re-watchability of the show is key in it's educational goals.
An 11 minute online show could do wonders for kids and education. The problem isn't getting the kids attention, or keeping it. I have been able to do that with a number of different editing tricks, but is it good for the kids?
If I could draw an analogy between food and TV. I could get Kids to eat by feeding them candy, but that isn't really good for them, so do you cover broccoli in chocolate, or teach them to like broccoli well-prepared.
Stefan made some good points. We shouldn't talk down to kids, but the action has to be more clear in my piece. The narrative is created in the kids heads when they see that A leads to B leads to C. They don't do as well if a narrator is just talking them through it. My first children's show "Howdy Town" struggled in that way. There was a lot of word-play that was clever and funny, but children didn't enjoy it as much as they enjoyed watching a goose scare a pony, or a lizard yodel.
Here is a study discussing this idea. Kids need stimulus, but not too much:
Hey, I would really appreciate it if you are willing, to sit your child on your lap, and have them watch my promo. then let me know what they say. I'd love to hear a few "i hate it", "I'm bored" and to find out where they say it, and if they participate. along.
The trouble with trying to read the script is that it has to be technical enough for the animators that it is to hard to read for a child, but the pacing is meant for a kid, so an adult savvy enough to read it will get bored I am sure.
I would offer to give you something, but all I have is good will, and some of my will isn't that good. I'd love to add a little more animation to the the characters, having them follow the narration and look in the hiding spaces but I don't know whether I should take that step myself.
I guess it's not a promo, but a video example, you should be able to see it.
Thanks for asking Maurice. Let me know if that works for you.
(and I just realized that I posted on a bunch of threads about zombies, so it makes the title of this thread a lot more ominous).
I don't know if small children be able to follow a long story arc but the truth is that it may not really matter, little kids don't just set in watch TV they tend to run around and play and every so often they watch what is going on.
A Participant says:
Damian, the project has potential. Both of my kids sat through the 3 minutes no problem. And the jingle stayed in my head for damn near a half hour. lol. Good job there.
If I were you, I would do 2 versions (english and spanish) instead of going from Tiger to Leon. And I'm saying this without knowing the shows format. Tiger and Leon has the potential to be a good educational series if the right messages are conveyed. IMO.
I liked the the shoes under the bed lesson. If you have more lessons on those lines that would be cool. On the flip side, playing ball in the house is a norm...if the balls aren't particularly large and hard. Anyway, I can't get an opinion from my 2 and 4 year old, because they're too young to offer one, but as I said, they watched it during a busy and important part of their day (breakfast) with no problem.
P.S. I don't know if you're familiar with the "Boo" series, but I felt a little bit of that here...not a bad thing...just saying.
Hey Maurice, I really appreciate your time, and your children's eyeballs. I am glad that it wasn't too hard to watch during a busy breakfast time. Let me know if I can ever take a look at one of your projects.