Richard Thomas | Creative Director, One Animation
As the Creative Director of a prominent animation studio in Singapore, Richard has gained keen insights about film and animation.
In collaboration with the Asian Festival of Children’s content (AFCC), and the Southeast Asian Audio-Visual Association (SAAVA), Media Connex speaks with Richard Thomas, the Creative Director of One Animation Pte Ltd.
In this interview, Richard shares about his experiences at One Animation’s, as well as his insights about the local media industry.
Image Source: Richard Thomas
Who are One Animation’s target audience, and what kind of shows do you intend to produce for them?
Our target audience is most definitely children and family. The content of our shows has varying age demographics but we never lose sight of our core audience.
The main show in development right now, ‘Oddbods’, is targeting boys and girls of 6-9, but reports suggest we’re reaching are far broader audience. It airs all over the world and is already one of the top five kids shows in some countries. In fact, we receive fan mail from parents who watch it with their kids – so our age range for that show would appear to be anywhere from 12 months to full grown adults.
One of our award winning shows, ‘Insectibles’, is aimed at a slightly older age group and is more focused on the boy’s demographic of 5-8 years. But we also produce shows aimed at younger kids, such as ‘Rob the Robot’ which is specifically for pre-schoolers.
How are One Animation’s products different from its competitors’?
The two key reasons why we are different from other studios both involve the team of people who work here.
Firstly our big strength is that we have an incredibly multicultural infrastructure, with staff coming to work for us from literally all over the world. From a creative point of view this gives us something that I think is really unique and impossible to replicate. And it probably explains why our shows do well all over the world from Asia to the Americas, and Europe to the Middle East.
Again, you only have to look at the feedback we get from fans, whether it’s emails telling us how much people love the characters and storylines, or the volume of Youtube views we get, the appeal of the shows is universal.
Secondly I think we stand out because of the production quality of our shows which is exceptionally high. In fact when we meet with networks and partners around at the international trade shows our TV content is often mistaken for feature film. This is testament to the the very high standards we set here. Even with the amazing technology we use nowadays, animation is not a swift process and an incredible amount of hard work and dedication goes into crafting each and every show, from story through to the finished rendered product.
What current trends can you observe in the Media industry, and how is One Animation addressing these trends?
The way One Animation develops ideas and our technology, and how we work as a team, means we are always ahead of the curve. But it’s a constantly changing industry and there’s no room for complacency – no studio can afford to lose sight of the bigger entertainment industry picture, or audience viewing habits, and how this has to help shape productions as well as distribution.
For example, one of the biggest changes in recent times has been the way in which audiences consume content. Not too long ago people watched through one or two means, either their television set or at the local cinema. But now there are a multitude of platforms to watch your favorite shows on, and a growing trend to binge-watch those shows on demand.
In addition to that there is an ever increasing volume of user generated content and platforms for this to be distributed, such as Youtube. Whilst One Animation can stand out from this because of the quality of our work, it does represent a challenge to the industry as a whole, with studios needing to achieve cut through amongst the millions of hours of video that is introduced into the public domain on a daily basis.
What is the difference between the content that is premiered in the West (E.g. USA and UK), and in Southeast Asia?
Story is king. We all know that, it’s drummed into us in the entertainment industry on a daily basis. Fantastic visuals, great voice and beautiful music are all well and good, but if the story is weak then chances are that product will fail to ‘travel’.
One Animation is particularly focused on this point and we specifically aim to make our content work globally rather than packaging things regionally.
We achieve this because we look for themes and messages which are firstly strong, and secondly encompass global ideals or values. Oddbods for example is all about human quirks and oddities. And we all have these, whether you’re from Singapore or Cincinnati. So that’s why fans from all walks of life, all cultures and all societies, can connect with the show. Yes, we do some episodes which might refer to themes which are more significant in some regions than others, such as Chinese New Year. But these episodes are equally popular around the world because the storyline hinges on the idea of ‘celebration’ and ‘festival’, rather than specific references that would only work with an Southeast Asian audience.
Once our content is acquired by the broadcaster, however, it’s really their prerogative how they package and present that show to their audience. And they certainly will do this depending on their local markets and the current competitive environment they work in.
Do you use different marketing strategies across these regions?
There are some differences. The sensibilities of the broadcasters in Europe for example, are more ‘sensitive’ than say those in Southeast Asia, in particular when it comes to standards and practices. The content is often presented in a way to reflect those attitudes. A great example of this would be our show ‘Insectibles’. Certain territories will emphasise the comedic component of the show, whereas others will tend to focus their marketing towards the action. We have to trust each broadcaster to know their audience best and represent our content in the most favourable manner possible.
Regarding our merchandising strategy for ‘Oddbods’ we absolutely need to tailor our efforts, as consumer trends can change drastically from one territory to another.
What are One Animation’s future plans?
Our core business is producing wonderful stories and characters, whilst pushing the boundaries of current technology to make these groundbreaking. And we will be building on this and developing it further.
But we also have several exciting developments involving everything from licensing to digital, which are happening around the world. These will see One Animation step into new markets, generate new revenue streams, and help assert the Southeast Asian animation industry on the global map.
The Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) is an annual festival in Singapore that celebrates and promotes the creation and appreciation of children’s books and content, with a focus on Asian themes.
It will be held on 25 – 29 MAY 2016 at the National Library Building, Singapore.