The new episode of our animated series about Bitcoin is live now. Here is a short making-of, which explains why and how we made it.
But first, have a look at the video:
It all started when Martin Albert asked us to create a series for his new Bitcoin platform Bitaloe. The goal is to reach new people, so the series should inform about various aspects of Bitcoin. Bitalo offers services in many areas, therefore each episode should focus on one area that Bitalo's platform covers. However, Bitalo's appearance should be rather subtle, with a clear emphasis on the information, not on the advertisement.
So we came up with the idea of a news show, with a host in a studio as you know it from television. While the host and the studio stay the same in each episode, a big screen in the studio can be used for animations that visualise the topic. Every animation has its own distinctive look and feel.
While the main characters and the studio are modelled and animated in 3D (we used the open source software Blender for this), as a contrast the animations on the screen are two-dimensional and rather simple. We had to produce four episodes simultaneously, and this method is practical for splitting up the tasks: while one animation team works on the main characters and the studio, a different animator is in charge of each episode.
The main characters are modelled and animated with the 3D software blender
Now the big question was, who should be the main characters and how should the studio look like? Martin wants to reach a young audience, mostly students who are open for new technologies, but not necessarily for the libertarian, free-market mindset which is the basis of Bitcoin. In fact, many of them are left-wingers who hate capitalism. So in the series we would bash banks and big corporations and focus on Bitcoin's ability to help people in poor countries and to "make the world a better place".
Our lead animator Tomek Wilk has created Captain Drakins and Nick
We suggested to let everything take place in a pirate universe, as pirates are rebels and outcasts, but lovable ones. The studio looks like a pirate ship, with a pirate captain as the anchorman. At first, we wanted to use a honey badger as the main character, because it is the most well-known "Bitcoin mascot". But Martin did not like the idea, as it is too much of an insider's thing of the Bitcoin community. Furthermore, it is hard to create a recognisable honey badger - I admit that I had never heard of that animal before. I only became aware of it through the "honey badger of money" meme.
A honey badger in the Espacio Bitcoin Buenos Aires
So we decided to go for a dragon instead and the "Captain Drakins" character was born, as a reminiscence of the famous pirate Francis Drake. It would be stereotypical to put a parrot on his shoulder, but we wanted something special, so we invented the genetic crossing of a parrot and a rat (as punks like them): Nick, the Parrat. Captain Drakins' sidekick sports the voice, wings and legs of a parrot, but the head, tail and furry body of a rat.
Episode 1 of Captain Drakins' Bitcoin Show
Tomek Wilk from Warsaw is in charge of the main characters and the studio. It was a lot of work to design all the elements, but creating the animations for each episode goes relatively fast - that was the reason to choose 3D animation as the technique for the series.
For episode 1, the 2D animations on the screen were produced in Bombay by the Network of Creative Thinkers, which was founded by Neha Shrestha and Rudransh Mathur, two of my students at the Sristhi School of Art Design and Technology in Bangalore. The screen animations for episode 2 were made by Vijayaraj Dhanajeyan from Bangalore. The symphonic music was composed and recorded by Julio Kladniew in Buenos Aires.
Even the voices have been recorded on three different continents: Chris Dabbs spoke Captain Drakins in his home studio in England, Stephanie Murphy the general narrator in New Hampshire (USA), Elisabeth Becker impersonated Nick, the Parrat, in Argentina.
You see, Captain Drakins is a really global production!