ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.01 - APRIL 2000

Miss Spider Is Having A Tea Party
(continued from page 1)

Getting The Story Right
While the animators were challenged with bringing Miss Spider's neon-bright universe to life, the program’s producers at Simon and Shuster and Hypnotix worked with David Kirk to create tasks that would meld the story -- Miss Spider's desire to have her bug-friends come to tea -- with the activities.

Animators had to handle two forms of animation in Miss Spider’s Tea Party: cut scenes and gaming scenes. © Simon & Shuster Interactive.

Unlike animating a feature film or cartoon, the process of creating a game requires that the animation be able to react believably to the player's input. For example, with the "maze" game, the ant's movements are basically right and left and up and down. For each of these movements, an animation was created that could then be looped and seamlessly run for the length of the maze section. Additional animations for this game included movements an ant would make when resting, such as moving his legs or shaking his head, while waiting for the player’s next action. The final animation in this game is when the ant exits the maze he does a little jump and runs off screen. The animators also needed to work in audio prompts and hints to help encourage the child to continue playing.

David Kirk and Rosie O'Donnell, who will be the voice of Betty the Beetle in the new Trendmaster Miss Spider toy line, at Toy Fair 2000. © 2000 Jacquie Kubin.

"Of the games, my favorite must be Beetles' River Cross," said Kirk. "Not only is it challenging, but the beetles’ response to Miss Spider's invitation is one of my favorite parts."

Kirk was enlisted to write all of the verse for the CD-Rom including that beetlely response of, "We shall try to visit you if you will bake us cupcakes too."

"Children's writing is complex and unique to the individual author," said Siegel. "People are expecting David Kirk's unique style, which they know, and another writer could not come in and accomplish this."

All that dialogue meant that the sound of those characters, the music and vocal talents, must be chosen with extreme care. "The voices needed to match the bugs. For instance, we saw Miss Spider as being very soft spoken and motherly in contrast to the image we might have of a spider," said Mike Taramykin, President Hypnotix, Inc.

A Quality Product
For the producers of the program, Miss Spider presented a universe that is deep and has enchanting characters. "The sensibilities of David's work was very attractive to us," said Siegel. "I want to reference the Charlie Brown and Warner Bros. cartoons. They don't play down to the children. They go a little deeper than they have to and there are lessons interwoven with the story."

In the world of children's activity CD-Roms, Miss Spider's Tea Party is a stand out. The electronic medium carries the look and feel of a storybook and just as children revisit her book-tales every night, they will want to revisit this animated world during daytime play.

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Note: Readers may contact any Animation World Magazine contributor by sending an e-mail to editor@awn.com.


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