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PBS KIDS’ ‘City Island Sings!’ Music Videos Coming May 29

From Augenblick Studios’ Future Brain Media, the ‘City Island’ spin-off series kicks off a new slate of civic-themed content that supports how everyone, including kids, of any background and ability, can contribute to their community.

PBS KIDS has just announced City Island Sings!, a new series of community-minded music videos premiering May 29. The first of the network’s new slate of civics-themed content, the show supports the core idea that everyone, of any background and ability level, including kids, can be active, contributing members of their communities.

City Island Sings! Is produced by Future Brain Media, the new offshoot of Brooklyn-based animation house Augenblick Studios (Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans, Adult Swim’s Superjail! and The Jellies). It’s a spin-off of City Island, a series of comedy animated shorts focusing on a civics curriculum and that explores the people and places that keep a community afloat.

City island Sings! is set in City Island, a thriving metropolis with businesses, organizations, government institutions, and a diverse citizenry, where every car, tree, building, and lightbulb(!) has a character with its own name and distinct personality. The inaugural season includes 10 episodes.

According to Aaron Augenblick, creator of City Island and City Island Sings! and founder of Future Brain Media, “With these music videos, we were able to explore the style of City Island and push the edges to fit the feel of the song. All the design starts with our art director Gemma Correll, and we mixed in visual influences like Mary Blair, Liechtenstein, Yellow Submarine, and Vaporwave. We produced all the animation inhouse in our Brooklyn Studio, which allowed us to play around and experiment.”

In addition to the new music video series, PBS KIDS’ new civics focused slate includes City Island Season 2 premiering July 5, and the new music-focused Sesame Street series, Together We Can debuting on July 3.

“Kids are so perceptive to everything happening around them, and at PBS KIDS, we believe it’s important that they have a place to go to learn about civics in an age-appropriate way,” says Sara DeWitt, Senior Vice President and General Manager, PBS KIDS. “At a time when many K-12 schools have cut back on civics curriculum requirements, we are significantly expanding our offerings to meet the growing need, reinforce the core principles of citizenship, and help kids understand how they can be a good neighbor and have a positive and lasting impact in their communities.”

“For City Island, we're lucky to have the amazing Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio creating original music for every episode of the series,” Augenblick shares. “Tunde is both a musician and an animator himself, so he totally gets the medium. I always tell Tunde that his music is the heart of the show. When we were given the opportunity to make 10 new music videos, I was overjoyed! With music videos, we can concentrate on making the animation look and sound amazing.” 

Noting his studio’s streamlined production process, Augenblick explains, “First, my creative team would get together to brainstorm ideas, musical genres, and comedy. Our lyricist Dan Powell worked closely with Tunde and the curriculum advisors to ensure that every music video contained important messages about how communities work. Everything on PBS KIDS has to be meaningful, and I love that. Tunde wrapped everything up in these awesome songs that span a number of our favorite musical genres, including rock, pop, hip-hop, indie, country, and electronica.” 

“We had a lot of fun animating these music videos,” he continues. “I think that music and animation are the two art forms that are the most closely related. Both mediums are essentially creating emotion to time. Most of my favorite animation in history was integrated with the music: Fantasia with Tchaikovsky, Looney Tunes with Carl Stalling, and Betty Boop with Cab Calloway (to name a few). Our animation director Josh Pilch is a musician himself, so he expertly matched the visuals to the shape of the music.”

Source: PBS KIDS

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.