Brazil’s animation powerhouse spreads its wings around the world.
Animation fans all over the world are familiar with the work of São Paulo, Brazil-based studio Penguin Animation (aka TV Pinguim), thanks to hit shows such as Fishtronaut and Earth to Luna!. Founded in 1989 by animation visionaries Kiko Mistrorigo and Celia Catunda, the studio focuses on the creation and development of original content, both 2D and CG for two to 12-year-old audiences. Penguin Animation recently opened a new office in the U.S. to expand its slate of original content as well as service work.
Penguin Animation’s biggest hits to date are the top-ranking series Fishtronaut, which airs in 80 countries and the International Emmy-nominated scientific pre-school success Earth to Luna!, which is also seen worldwide and is now in the 5th season. The studio has has provided projects and series for Discovery Kids, NBC Sprout, Cartoon Network, Disney Junior, Netflix, Yoopa, Al Jazeera Children’s Channel, TV Globo, SBT, TV Cultura, and more.
“We specialize in positive, fun and informative kids content,” says Celia Catunda, “We currently have 65 employees in the studio. Fishtronaut was a pioneer in dealing with sustainability content for kids, back in 2009. In addition to the TV series (104 x 11 minutes), Fishtronaut has launched two feature films and three live shows. Our secret agent fish also made a very successful career in consumer products, with over 600 products in a wide range of categories.”
Catunda points out that Earth to Luna!, which is now in its fifth season (and is distributed worldwide by Monster Entertainment) is another exceptional case. “We have a girl protagonist in a Stem-based show. The fourth and fifth seasons offer a social studies focus, as Luna and her family travel around the world, learn about other cultures and discover dif- ferent ways to approach science. Luna is also a very successful consumer products brand.”
Among the studio’s other projects are two new series Charlie, the Interviewer of Things (52 x 11’) and Ping and Friends (52 x 7’) and two upcoming animated features: Tarsilinha, a 3D animated movie inspired by the groundbreaking work of Brazilian modernist paint- er Tarsila do Amaral, and Nihonjin, which is based on Oscar Nakasato’s award-winning book about the multicultural experiences of a Japanese-brazilian family.
Full Speed Ahead
With about 60 full-time employees, PenGuin Animation is buckling up for a very busy production period. “Earlier this year, we opened a new office in Miami,” says Catunda. “The U.S. office is now the sales hub for co-productions and worldwide content distribution. We would like to work with suitable partners to continue creating, developing and producing world-class brands that appeal to international markets. Our biggest challenge is managing a large number of productions simultaneously, since the company is undergoing a fast growing process. At the same time we have to keep up with the existing IPS, making them stronger and alive in many different platforms.”
She points that because the company is founded by two creative directors, producing its own content is a major goal. “Although the global animation market is made up of large corporations that invest tons of money to create their brands, we understand that the creative passion is the most important ingredient for a show to succeed,” says Catunda. “We’d like to work with creative companies that share our view and passion, companies that understand and appreciate our work and can make our brands stronger and to which we can also give our creative ideas.”
Ultimately, what is clearly the driving force is Catunda and her team’s love for animation. “We love to have our daily lives filled with imagination, fantasy and fun,” she shares. “We also love to talk to our young audience and get their feedback, especially because they’re always honest and spontaneous. When you go to the movies and watch your animated film in a theater full of kids, you can hear their comments and laughter. That’s a truly priceless experience!”
Working with fans all over the world also has its special rewards. “We love to know people from different parts of the globe, have our show broadcast internationally and know that kids from far away are enjoying the stories we created,” concludes Catunda. “In addition, animation is a truly collective activity, and it’s a privilege to work with the creative and wonderful team we have at PenGuin Animation!”
‘Although the global animation market is made up of large corporations that invest tons of money to create their brands, we understand that the creative passion is the most important ingredient for a show to succeed.’— Penguin Animation co-founder/ artistic director Celia Catunda