6th December 2022
Kong Studio Excel in Animation with the Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Hub and Pentagram
Launched in 2018, the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation’s Global Education Program seeks to improve reading and maths outcomes, also referred to as foundational literacy and numeracy, among children in their early years in sub-Saharan Africa and India. The foundational literacy and numeracy hub aims to provide data and resources to help identify barriers and provide support to make meaningful progress in improving learning outcomes.
Pentagram, a multi-disciplinary and independent design agency, approached us to create an animation to explore the issues around learning outcomes for low and middle-income countries. It was important that the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on educational attainment was also included, stressing the urgency to reverse the last few years of disrupted learning.
American illustrator Alleanna Harris designed the characters which then became part of presenting the literacy data from the Foundational and Numeracy Hub. Pentagram wanted a visual way of presenting the data in an accessible way. The main character is a young girl called Abeo and we follow her as we see what her life chances are as she learns to read versus not being able to learn independently.
To bring Harris’ characters to life, we called upon the services of hand-drawn animation expert, Elroy Simmons. Elroy had previously designed and animated another Pentagram project, ‘Colour of the Climate Crisis’ so he was our first port of call for this project.
Elroy said, “I was pleased to be asked to animate Abeo. I immediately thought of my nieces when they were Abeo’s age. Working on a character that would potentially be ‘familiar’ helped me get a handle on her character. Tom Baker and I worked together acting out various bits of the film to figure out the movement of the characters.
I felt a responsibility to keep Alleanna Harris’ Abeo from being watered-down or turned bland. I also had the voice of a director, Alys Hawkins, in my head reminding me ‘Be careful not to turn her into a bloke’.”
Tom Baker adds, “We love working with Pentagram as they have such an amazing reputation for quality and this project was a fantastic opportunity to blend old talent with new. This was character animation at its purest – bring Abeo to life. An animation like this has over 2000 different drawings and they all need to be cleaned up, coloured-in, on model and sensitive to the subject matter. It’s a lot of work. At Kong, we’re lucky enough to know quite a few talented recent graduates and some seasoned pros, so were able to create an efficient and happy pipeline.”
The result is a touching and visually beautiful animation that explains the literacy data in a simple and accessible way.
A Kong Studio Production
Animation Director, Elliott Baker
Lead Animators, Elroy Simmons, Harriet Gillian
Additional Animation and Clean-Up, Mia Tommasoli, Amy Wilkinson,
Sebastiano Fossali, Wiktoria Lewandowska and Tomas Eisenberg
Producer, Emma Burch