Re­vis­it­ing the Ba­bies’ Rain­bow Con­nec­tion

Animation Magazine - - Tv -

Dis­ney Ju­nior de­liv­ers an awe­some new CG-an­i­mated re­boot of Mup­pet Ba­bies, pop cul­ture ref­er­ences and catchy tunes. By Ramin Za­hed

packed with clever ad­ven­tures,

11-minute sto­ries that fol­low the gang on var­i­ous ad­ven­tures — from build­ing a time ma­chine to fly­ing through outer space. The project em­pha­sizes the im­por­tance of imag­i­na­tion and friend­ship, with­out be­ing pedan­tic.

One episode finds an im­pa­tient Miss Piggy want­ing her birth­day to ar­rive faster. So the gang uses a time ma­chine, but ends up go­ing too far into the past and the fu­ture. In an­other, the Ba­bies learn a les­son about di­ver­sity when Gonzo be­friends a potato, of all things!

War­bur­ton says he found his new job to be both a mas­sive honor and a ter­ri­fy­ing chal­lenge at once. “Here you are be­ing given this huge honor, and it’s dropped into your lap,” he notes. “Your first re­ac­tion is, you’d bet­ter not mess this up. We had about one-third of the de­vel­op­ment time that you usu­ally get, so we didn’t waf­fle over stuff. We had to fix things quickly. We ended nded up do­ing a lot in a short amount of time e — in fact, we had less than a year to do this.” his.” It’s Time to Get Things Started night Moon or Where the Wild Things Are that makes kids im­me­di­ately grav­i­tate to them.” One of the big sell­ing points of the new show is its eye-pop­ping de­signs and ap­peal­ing CG an­i­ma­tion, which is pro­duced by Od­dBot in Los An­ge­les, and Snow­ball Stu­dios in Toronto and Tel Aviv. “We wanted to re­ally feel the ten­nis ball tex­ture on Ker­mit,” says War­bur­ton. “They are us­ing Maya in con­junc­tion with new pro­pri­etary tools to re­ally de­liver the qual­i­ties we were look­ing for. This is a great chance to show these Mup­pets with feet as they walk around, and we can hear their flip-flap. I have to say the an­i­ma­tion is so good, you want to hug Fozzie Bear, you re­ally want to touch the Mup­pets.” Since the show is about imag­i­na­tion, each episode finds the Ba­bies go­ing to dif­fer­ent places or even time pe­ri­ods. De­pend­ing on the theme of each ad­ven­ture, the an­i­ma­tion ex­per­i­ment ex­per­i­ments with dif­fer­ent styles as well. “For one o show, they are do­ing col­lages of o their fa­vorite places and Miss Mi Piggy says, ‘Let’s go to Paris.’ So we used an an­i­ma­tion col­lage style for that episode. For an­other oth one, we use kids’ crayon-style cra an­i­ma­tion. For Fo one episode, we have them the against a live-ac­tion beach bea back­ground. We use a torn-pa­per style for a pi­rates’ trea­sure hunt episode.” Just like l the old se­ries, the show also als pays homage to fa­vorite TV shows sh or movies, which won’t mean any­thing to the preschool pres au­di­ence, but can be en­joyed by par­ents and older o fans of the show. Of course, course War­bur­ton points out that it’s much harder to get clear­ance for the old movie clips these days. “I won’t give any ti­tles away, be­cause we like them to be more of a sur­prise, but there are some that are in the pub­lic do­main,” he says. “We try to use any­thing that fits well into our sto­ry­lines. We even have lit­tle clips of GoPro footage some­times.”

The creators of the new se­ries also thought it would be a good idea to in­tro­duce a new friend to the mix: Sum­mer, the pur­ple-and­white pen­guin (voiced by Jes­sica DiCicco). “Since the show is about friend­ship, we thought it would be fun to bring in a new friend, who is from the deep south of Antarc­tica!” ex­plains War­bur­ton. “I think she is so cute. She’s like our art school girl, a cre­ative pow­er­house who looks at things in a dif­fer­ent way. And we could re­ally have fun with her re­la­tion­ship with Piggy!” It’s Time to Play the Mu­sic

As ex­pected, mu­sic plays a huge part in the new world of Mup­pet Ba­bies. Each episode features a catchy song by Andy Bean ( Wan­der Over Yon­der, Dan­ger & Eggs), who also scores the show. “He makes these in­sane ear­worms. They are funny and mem­o­rable, and he cov­ers many dif­fer­ent gen­res. We also brought back the clas­sic ‘Rain­bow Con­nec­tion’ theme.”

Look­ing back, War­bur­ton is pleased that he and his team were able to cre­ate a show that can re­flect the enor­mous legacy of its char­ac­ters. “My big­gest fear was that [The Mup­pets Stu­dio Vice Pres­i­dent] Deb­bie McClel­lan would think that our show wasn’t Mup­pet-y enough, and I was so happy to find out that she’s thrilled with it,” he says. “One of the ex­ecs told us that you can re­ally tell how much fun we are all hav­ing mak­ing the show. We’re mak­ing a show that is true to the spirit of the Mup­pets, who are fun, funny and adorable.” Dis­ney Ju­nior’s Mup­pet Ba­bies pre­mieres on March 23 at 10 a.m. on Dis­ney Chan­nel and the Dis­neyNOW app.

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