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  • Writer's pictureRavi Swami

Wonderbirds are Go !

With work thin on the ground during the lockdown it was a pleasant surprise to be referred for a job by one of my clients, Bruno Tilley.

Within the space of a few exchanged emails I was soon talking to Dee Anderson of Glotime TV, the daughter of that dynamic duo of TV puppetry, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson.

Dee had recently launched a YouTube channel called "Wonderbirds", something that sprang from a group of actresses under enforced "resting" due to the lockdown, and as a bit of fun, and within a short space of time it has built up an enviable level of traction and followers numbering the 1000's, which is no mean feat taking into consideration how long it has been going.

The assignment was initially for a title sequence to replace one that they already have on the YouTube channel (and is still being used, to date) that for various reasons they weren't happy with.

Overseeing the graphic / animation element of their fledgling brand are Dee herself, and Sherrie Hewson ("Benidorm") and Sherrie's daughter, Keelie, who had redesigned the four animated avatars of the team that make up the "Wonderbirds" ; Dee, Sherrie, Debbie and Harriet, in a show that is a no-holds-barred "Loose Women" format, but without the restrictions imposed by broadcasters.

Following a series of Zoom calls the brief soon expanded to anticipate a possible spin-off animated series, and what started out as simply a replacement for the existing animation became a template title sequence introducing the Wonderbirds as distinctive characters with different personalities.

While I had been initially contracted to design the characters and provide the animation, I took a step back from the design since Keelie Hewson's designs had been approved, so the next stage was to build an animatic around various visual elements provided by Keelie, which involved adapting a new Wonderbirds logo she had designed, into the animated sequence.

Animation of the characters was handled by Yael Biran and myself, using After Effects CC, with Yael providing the bulk of the work for 3 of the characters, following closely the timings in the animatic and with hopefully enough freedom to add her own flourishes, within the time and pacing constraints.

Overall, everyone was really happy with the final result after one round of expected changes, and while I had my doubts about it initially as something I had any affinity with, the Zoom discussions were great fun as far as being invited to help develop the characters and world-building and to be a part of the team, and I can see the quirky concept really developing wings as a distinctive, and very adult, animated series.

Wonderbirds are Go !...

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