Russian animators look to the East

“Culture” learned about the prospects for cooperation between domestic and Asian companies in the production of animation

“Culture” learned about the prospects for cooperation between domestic and Asian companies in the production of animation

At the Asian Forum held in Hong Kong in December, the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation Olga Lyubimova and the director of the Bureau of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Government of Hong Kong Kevin Yeung agreed to intensify cooperation between cultural institutions of the two countries. At this meeting, which was held in the format of a live dialogue, the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation specifically noted the opportunities for joint film production, including in the field of animation.

Kultura decided to study this issue in more detail, and, as it turned out, the interaction between the animation companies of Russia and China has taken real forms in recent years.

The first Chinese-Russian co-production in animation was the series “Panda and Krosh” co-produced by the Riki group of companies, FUN Union and CCTV Animation Group. The signing of a memorandum on the joint production of the series “Panda and Krosh” between the Riki group of companies and CCTV Animation Group took place in July 2017 as part of the official visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Russia, and the first official presentation of the project took place in September of the same year in within the XVIII meeting of the Russian-Chinese commission for humanitarian cooperation in Guangzhou.

The premiere of the animated series on the Chinese channel CCTV took place on January 19, on the Russian TV channel Karusel on February 8, 2021. At the moment, 52 episodes lasting 12 minutes have been released, starring the Chinese Panda HeHe and the rabbit Krosh from the animated series Smeshariki. It takes place in a toy store: when the customers leave, the toys come to life and begin to communicate with each other. Character development, script creation and animation were carried out by an international team of specialists from Russia, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the USA and the UK.

Another major co-production project was the animated series Keepers of Wonders, jointly produced by the Russian company Wizart Animation and the Chinese iQIYI, one of the largest VOD platforms in the world (video on demand — “Culture”). The series was released on the iQIYI platform in June 2021 and entered the top in terms of views, ranking first in the iQIYIKids section and fifteenth in the overall top.

In July 2023, a new project of Riki Group, the Russian-Chinese animated series Ask Toma, is scheduled to be released in Russia. The world premiere of the series took place in February 2022 on the largest video hosting Youku Kids (Chinese analogue of YouTube).

Ask Toma is a series for young children created with the help of child psychologists and scientific consultants. Tom, an inquisitive baby elephant, explores the world and maintains a video blog in which he answers questions from the audience, based on his own ideas about the environment. The project aims to educate children in a playful way: it is expected that the animated series will give them a lot of useful information without overloading them with excessive seriousness.

Cooperation between Riki Group and Alibaba Group (Youku Kids is part of the holding) began in 2018 with the signing of an agreement at the Fourth Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. The agreement was an important step towards the development of cooperation between Chinese and Russian animation companies, and the Tim and Tom series was the first Russian project for preschoolers in the Alibaba Group portfolio.

“Russian animation projects have been known in China for a long time, many of them are created jointly with Chinese partners in order to jointly distribute licensing rights in this country,” Alexander Sablukov, CEO of 0+ Media, told Kultura. – Despite cultural differences (for example, the Chinese audience identified the heroes of the series “Paper Papers” as Aristotle’s elk and Tyuk-Tuk woodpecker as praying mantis and parrot) and different content consumption habits, our series were shown on the largest VOD platforms and TV channels, including CCTV-14 China’s main children’s channel. Therefore, when Digital Television entered the international market, Chinese (Putonghua) was one of the priority languages ​​for dubbing content.”

At the moment, the Russian “0+ Media” is working with a Chinese company that distributes the animation projects “Be-be-bears”, “Fantasy Patrol”, “Leo and Tig” in China. Chinese colleagues are also helping 0+ Media in finding partners for the production of licensed children’s goods.

“We are negotiating a strategic partnership for the new projects Cats-Dogs and Heroes, including the joint production of new seasons,” Alexander Sablukov shared with Kultura, “we are also discussing the release of a line of toys, some of which are already produced at the factory one of the largest Chinese companies in this industry – Alpha Group.

According to the CEO of 0+ Media, many Russian studios order animation production outsourcing services from Chinese colleagues, and our distributors purchase Chinese projects for display in Russia. Therefore, any opportunity to take part in content exhibitions, conferences and markets in China is of great interest to Russian companies.

The Russian Ministry of Culture is also interested in cooperation with Chinese filmmakers: speaking at the Asian Forum held in Hong Kong in December 2022, Olga Lyubimova recalled that the Ministry of Culture supports international projects, including through state funding of co-productions.

Photo: official telegram channel of the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation Olga Lyubimova

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Russian animators look to the East

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