SplashDance – Children’s TV Show Brand Design, Art Direction, Motion Graphics, and Illustration

From September 2015 to February 2016, I had the great opportunity to be part of the key crew for a new concept in kid’s TV programming, SplashDance. Shown on ABC Kids in Australia.

SplashDance Opening Title Animation

I was commissioned for all the visual design for the programme; show Art Direction, Set Design, Illustration, Animations and Motion Graphics. Additionally, branding, packaging and communication design work.

For the shows, I undertook the rotoscoping and compositing of the live footage over my set designs for the 26 episodes for Season 1. And a further 5 episodes for part B of Season 1.

Branding work. Logo variations for all touch points that the logo needed to reside.

Working with the Producer / Creator: Maree Kirkland-Morris; Director: Deb Ryan; and Composer: John Field, I was able to create a lot of fun, colourful, and child friendly worlds for the performers to exist in. We referenced colour palettes and patterns of the 1960’s and 70’s throughout to give an energetic vibe to the show.

SplashDance is a TV series all about Dance, Music and Energy, with a hint of magic and weirdness thrown in. Aimed at the under 6s market. To get to design the show, illustrate, and animate the 26 (now 31) wonderful worlds was certainly one of the most comprehensive and enjoyable projects I’ve worked on for many years. Looking forward to more in the future.

Below is a  selection of the  illustration work. I used Affinity Designer for most of the illustration work, and some elements were modelled and rendered in Cinema 4D. The final animations, green screen, and composition was completed in Adobe After Effects and broadcast colour within Premiere.

My process

Starts with rough sketches, or scamps as I call them, of individual elements and the sets that are needed for the scenes in the episode. These scamps go through a discussion with the client, the approved scamps are then rendered as a final sketch in ink on paper of the prop or set design. Once this is final drawing is approved the illustrations are created in Affinity or if it’s 3D in Cinema 4D. This will also go through an approval process. Once all the elements are ready for the episode and I receive the edited raw vision of the episode and audio, I can then key the footage, and composite, and precisely animate timed to the music in After Effects. This is then finally brought into Premiere for the colouring process ready for delivery to be broadcast.

SplashDance---Love-Bananas---childrens-illustration Sketches, studies, design, and final composite from I Love Bananas – 1 of 31 episodes. This still from the Banana episode showing Daniel Milne performing.

SplashDance - Colour Wrong Farm - Steven Santer SplashDance Colour Wrong Farm Set design illustration. Filled with wrong coloured farm animals!

Underwater World Illustration - created in Affinity - for SplashDanceUnderwater World Set Design Illustration

Jellyfish underwater scene - Children's Illustration Sydney
This was part of an R&D sequence that didn’t end up in the show (while beautiful, these jellyfish are a little sinister for the children). The illustrations were completed in Affinity Designer and the animation in After Effects, using character rigging for the jellyfish body and tendrils. The swarm of jellyfish was generated with Trapcode’s Particular. Lighting with CoPilot’s Optical Flares.

After Effects render of set up test for one of the illustrated scenes showing a magical twilight forest setting for Waltzing episode.

SplashDance - Tiger Roar Landscape Set - Steven Santer

Extended set design of the SplashDance Tiger Roar episode.

The water feature on the side is shown in one side shot during the song and gives the sense of a more complete environment the actors are inhabiting.

SplashDance-Hot-Beach-Hop Set Design- Steven Santer

Tropical setting for the SplashDance Hot Beach Hop Episode. The cast hop over the hot sand to the shaded grass areas on either side.

A series of branded colouring-in activities that highlight some of the detail in the illustrations throughout SplashDance.

Part of the privilege of being able to work on children’s entertainment is receiving feedback from parents on how their children are enjoying the show. Following is one such message (names of the sender and child have been changed):

Hello M,
My 4 year old son Robert and 2 yr old daughter are absolutely obsessed with splash dance. Can you please tell me if a dvd/ cd is going to be released? Robert often refers to himself as Adrian now, and only wants to wear the clothes that he is seen wearing in the clips. I would set up to record them on my set top box however ABC don’t have them programmed on their own so I can’t. Any light you can shed would be most appreciated.
Cheers Anne 

Credits ———————– Executive Producer / Producer — Maree Kirkland-Morris Director / Choreographer — Deb Ryan Director of Photography — David Collins Music Director / Composer — John Field Art Director / Illustrator / Motion Graphics — Steven Santer Editor / Director’s Assistant — Brianna Cook Audio Engineer / Post Sound — Phil Grove