Award-winning Black-owned, U.K.-based children’s media publisher Kunda Kids has launched its new 10-episode, 3DCG kids’ series Kunda & Friends on its YouTube channel. Oladele and Louisa Olafuyi, a mother-and-father duo who struggled to find an animated educational show for their son that portrayed African culture, decided to create one themselves. Together they founded the media company in 2020 and tapped Uganda-based Creatures Animation studio to produce the series.
Directed by Creatures Studio’s Raymond Malinga with illustration and story by Chike Obasi and Chiderah Monde and music by Nigerian composer DJ Klem, the music-filled animated series, targeting children ages two to five, aims to positively impact kids’ understanding of African culture and foster conversations about essential life skills often overlooked in preschool learning settings – such as confidence, kindness, and teamwork. The show’s soundtrack is inspired by African culture, influenced by genres like Afrobeats and Amapiano.
“The show’s music is a significant component of its charm, as it is all set to beautiful African tunes,” shares the series director. “The music is upbeat and catchy, making the show feel like a fun and joyful experience. The vibrant colors and characters of the show are also a visual feast for the eyes, and they will keep children engaged and entertained throughout each educational song.”
Creature Studio’s production team started with 11 people spanning various stages of production, including management. But, according to Malinga, the team has subsequently expanded to 12 full-time people – “We’re a lean and capable team, with every member wearing many hats!”
Regarding the decision to use 3D animation instead of 2D, Malinga explains that although 3D’s expense is initially high, it allows the team to “build an asset library and reduce the costs involved in building new assets.”
He also discussed practical aspects of the decision, noting that it is faster to bring a new 3D animator up to speed than a 2D animator, adding, “Interestingly enough, the adaptation of 3D animation is also helping with the transition to 2D.”
The team used real-time rendering to save time and meet the deadline challenges. They used the open-source 3D software Blender to create the series and its native real-time renderer Eevee. According to Malinga, this was the team’s first use of the technology on this scale production. “Our team began production to preserve the original concept art that carried the unique vision for the show. Meaning our rigs and models were built to bring the artwork to life as close as possible rather than jeopardize the show’s artistic integrity. A common issue during 3D production is that the 2D artwork gets compromised.”
Projects such as Kunda & Friends have not typically been produced in Uganda due to the lack of dedicated artist teams – Creatures Animation is an exception.
Malinga notes, “We aim to build a company capable of handling even larger and more complicated productions at the highest level. This way, we can become the trusted provider of animation services and production in the region, the continent, and for anyone worldwide. The team is also working towards creating our original properties with this news business.”
Watch the Kunda & Friends – Music Preschool Animation Trailer: