A Move­able Feast

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Hu­mor and fun are the main in­gre­di­ents in the mouth-wa­ter­ing new com­edy By Ramin Za­hed

Some­times the sim­plest ideas can in­spire bril­liant an­i­mated shows. Take, for ex­am­ple, the up­com­ing new toon from Boat Rocker Me­dia (for­merly Fre­mantleMe­dia Kids & Fam­ily) and Shell­hut En­ter­tain­ment, which fol­lows the ad­ven­tures of three an­i­mal pals who travel the world in a food truck in search of ex­otic in­gre­di­ents and killer food con­cepts. Like a plate of hot, freshly made tacos, the new CG-an­i­mated Tasty Tales of the Food Truck­ers is hard to re­sist and easy to de­vour.

The ori­gins of the show go back to Bangkok­based Shell­hut En­ter­tain­ment ( Shell­don), who came up with the premise a few years ago. “We thought the ba­sic con­cept was a good one, but we thought it was a bit too young,” says Boat Rocker’s EVP of kids & fam­ily Bob Hig­gins. “There was such a glut of preschool shows at the time, and we felt we could do a great com­edy. We had this op­por­tu­nity to turn it on its head, add a more of an In­di­ana Jones el­e­ment to it, and make it a big­ger, bet­ter, fun­nier ad­ven­ture show.”

To help bring the show to an­i­mated life, Hig­gins reached out to L.A.-based an­i­ma­tion vet­eran Dan Clark. “We had worked on a show to­gether for Dis­ney years ago called Team Smithereen, and I knew he could bring that level of en­ergy and za­ni­ness to the show,” says Hig­gins, whose many cred­its in­clude The Ricky Ger­vais Show, Kate and Mim-Mim and Dan­ger Mouse. “Dan is one of those guys who can take a ba­sic con­cept and turn it into some­thing unique and re­ally spe­cial. We did a big re­design and came up with these three crazy char­ac­ters. Dan also brought the food truck el­e­ment and made it re­ally timely and amped up the comedic ele­ments.”

Clark says when you look at the show from a dis­tance, it’s an ad­ven­ture com­edy about three char­ac­ters who travel in a food truck, al­most get­ting killed, cook­ing great food and mak­ing friends all over the world. “But it’s also a show about char­ac­ters who are pas­sion­ate about things, and it re­ally cel­e­brates the pos­i­tive,”

he notes. “We also want it to be both ac­ces­si­ble and quirky. We con­stantly tried to make a show that could be watched by ev­ery­one. We asked our­selves, ‘Are we cool enough for the kids, and are we emo­tional and ironic enough for adults?’ We bring the char­ac­ters into sharp fo­cus, and each time we peel back the onion, they be­come more ac­ces­si­ble.” An Ap­petite for Team­work

The main char­ac­ters on the se­ries are very easy to root for. Sonny is a lit­tle bear who is pas­sion­ate about food, cook­ing and travel, while Andi is a red panda who is all about solv­ing prob­lems and crit­i­cal think­ing and knows how to fix the truck. Tong, the tween mon­key, is a dif­fer­ent story al­to­gether! “He is based on my own per­sonal, neu­rotic envy,” jokes Clark. “I used to see these young peo­ple on In­sta­gram, who travel all over the world, hav­ing ad­ven­tures and find­ing out ways to mon­e­tize their life­style. They made me re­al­ize how small and hor­ri­ble my own life is! Tong is a great com­mu­ni­ca­tor and film­maker and is a whiz on so­cial me­dia, just like the young boy in the movie Chef.”

The show’s de­sign was done in Thai­land by the team at Shell­hut En­ter­tain­ment. “I I loved this show from the mo­ment we dreamt up the idea,” says s Dr. Jwan­wat Ahriyavraromp, di­rec­tor and CEO of Shell­hut. “We brought on the most ost ac­com­plished de­sign­ers es­ign­ers and artists who o shared our vision to cre­ate the show’s how’s beau­ti­ful aes­thet­ics. Since nce it’s an ad­ven­ture ure se­ries based on real in­gre­di­ents and d real places, our au­di­ences nces will be able to iden­tify en­tify with our friends on n a more per­sonal level. Sooner or later, our friends may visit your coun­try look­ing for the rarest, coolest in­gre­di­ents!”

While the pre­pro­duc­tion, script­ing, voic­ing and post is done in Los An­ge­les, the se­ries’ an­i­ma­tion pro­duc­tion stu­dio is Sin­ga­pore’s Tiny Is­land, headed by David Kwok who has also exec pro­duced se­ries such as Dream De­fend­ers and Shell­don. “They are re­ally killing it over there,” says Clark. “They are very de­tail-ori­ented and very smart about phys­i­cal block­ing and com­edy. The char­ac­ters’ ex­pres­sions, the eyes, the way they hold their hands — they make re­ally smart, em­pa­thetic choices for them. We’re re­ally proud of their work.”

As Kwok points out, “The char­ac­ters are very funny and their jour­ney is hi­lar­i­ous. The kids are go­ing to love it. Work­ing with Dan and the rest of the cre­ative team has been a lot of fun.”

Clark says when the show’s bi­ble was fin­ished, his knee-jerk re­sponse was to drive the de­sign to Los An­ge­les, but since Shell­hut wanted to keep the de­sign in Bangkok, he agreed. The re­sult has been one of the great­est col­lab­o­ra­tive ex­pe­ri­ences of his ca­reer. He es­pe­cially tips his hat to the work of lead artist/pro­ducer Kan­tapong Ta­pa­nyo (a.k.a. Cheer). “He is the su­per-tal­ented man be be­hind the de­sign of the Food Truck­ers and their w world,” he notes. “The end re­sult is a very cool Ea East meets West combo that feels both clas­sic an and dis­tinc­tive at the same time.” The Se­cret Sauce

An­other ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to the project is Os­car Co­var, Clark’s pro­duc­ing part­ner, who cre­ated the show’s pre-pro­duc­tion pipeline from scratch. “A very tight bud­get and sched­ule can some­times trans­late into so many sac­ri­fices that one may end up with a medi­ocre TV show,” notes Clark. “But for Food Truck­ers, Os­car built a pipeline de­signed to give our writ­ers, sto­ry­board artists, ac­tors, an­i­matic ed­i­tors, com­poser a struc­ture tailored to sup­port the cre­ative and guard the bud­get and calendar. Thanks to Food Truck­ers, our com­pany now has a pre-pro­duc­tion pipeline that’s based in Hol­ly­wood and is also more cost effective and cre­ative than an over­seas tax credit deal.”

Clark is also thank­ful for the work that L.A.based record­ing stu­dio and post fa­cil­ity Bang Zoom! En­ter­tain­ment have done on the show. “The big sur­prise for me was find­ing out that they’re also do­ing great vfx, color cor­rec­tion and pic­ture post, too,” he says. “They’re mor­ph­ing into a sound and pic­ture com­pany. We’re su­per lucky to be work­ing with them.”

Look­ing back at the ex­pe­ri­ence, Clark says the in­ter­na­tional co-pro has been bet­ter than he ever imag­ined it would be. “We have peo­ple work­ing on the show in Bangkok and Sin­ga­pore. Bob is trou­bleshoot­ing in New York, and we have our team in L.A. Some­one is work­ing on the show around the clock in dif­fer­ent time zones. It’s true that work­ing glob­ally is a lot bet­ter than tin­ker­ing in a box in Bur­bank by your­self. We now have a great-look­ing show that is made by a group of peo­ple who re­ally care about what they are pro­duc­ing. We hope kids find Food Truck­ers as de­li­cious as we find it.” The first 26 x 11’ episodes of Tasty Tales of the Food Truck­ers will be ready for de­liv­ery this sum­mer. For more info, visit shell­huten­ter­tain­ment.com and boa­trocker.com.

much fun to just let our imag­i­na­tions run wild. We had done this se­ries about three teenage nerds who loved to role play, but we thought it would make a lot more sense to ex­plore this premise with three young kids.” ‘The creek is just a patch of woods in a sub­ur­ban neigh­bor­hood, but it’s a con­cept that kids can un­der­stand no mat­ter where they live.’

“We re­ally value the fact that our crew rep­re­sents so many dif­fer­ent walks of life, back­grounds and eth­nic­i­ties,” says Bur­nett. “The point is to make the sto­ries feel per­sonal, and you just know that some­one is go­ing to con­nect with it out there. We saw how fans em­braced Steven Uni­verse. That re­ally ex­cited us. We will carry that through the rest of our ca­reers and hope we can help kids see them­selves re­flected in the shows that we cre­ate.”

Like many of Car­toon Net­work’s other pop­u­lar shows, Craig of the Creek is a sto­ry­board-driven pro­duc­tion. Five dif­fer­ent teams of board artists work on each episode, which takes roughly less than a year from writ­ing to de­liv­ery. The show uses 31 in-house staff mem­bers at Car­toon Net­work Stu­dios in Bur­bank, while the an­i­ma­tion pro­duc­tion is done by Rough Draft and Saerom An­i­ma­tion in South Korea, us­ing Toon Boom Har­mony.

Bur­nett and Levin, who are both 35, says the show is hugely in­flu­enced by The Simp­sons and Looney Tunes. “We both grew up watch­ing those shows,” says Levin. “Then when we be­came teenagers, we dis­cov­ered anime as well.” Bur­nett adds, “We both love the full range of an­i­ma­tion styles we grew up with. There were also these won­der­ful shows like Daria and King of the Hill, which were re­ally grounded in re­al­ity. We wanted to cre­ate that same feel­ing in Craig’s town, where the au­di­ence will be re­minded of their own town. Our char­ac­ters are cute and car­toony and get to do larger than life things, and we have lots of ref­er­ences to live-ac­tion films, too. For a

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