The Pets Factor - Animating animals for the CBBC series

Animals’ ailments are brought to life in over 150 unique animations for CBBC’s award-winning flagship show, The Pets Factor.

  • TV & Film

Horses, poodles and gerbils oh my!

A depressed chicken, a beagle with whiplash and a snake with constipation are all in a day’s work for the vets in CBBC’s show The Pets Factor. The Pets Factor follows the plight of people’s poorly pets in a fun documentary style show and is a huge children’s TV hit. But when you’re tackling gruesome or difficult medical conditions how can you make it suitable and entertaining for kids?

 A production puzzle

When Pets Factor production company,True North, approached us with this challenge we jumped at the chance to be involved. Daunting as it might be to create over 50 unique broadcast quality animations in double-quick time, we threw ourselves into finding the right style and slick production approach to fit the bill. The key was in finding the place where creative and production meet and streamlining the process so the team could move fast and efficiently. No compromise on creative and no compromise on quality.

Ready, set, draw!

A video arrives. It’s from the crew at vet Rory’s practice where Apollo the budgie is being treated for a broken wing. Apollo’s fifteen minutes of fame have arrived. Armed with the footage and the script describing how the injury happened, the animator gets down to drawing the style-frame that’ll bring Apollo’s story to life. The countdown begins.

When the thumbs up comes in from the client, the animator jumps back into action to kick-off storyboarding. Two hours later the storyboard is back with the client for review. We’ve got amends. A thirty minute turnaround and the final storyboard is back and quickly approved. With the clock ticking the animator is drawing, rigging and editing, bringing Apollo’s predicament to the screen. As Apollo’s animation goes out the door for review another video arrives, Casper the chameleon is suffering from anxiety. Start the countdown again. Just as Casper’s style-frame leaves the building there is time for a quick breath before the final amends are needed to Apollo.

By the end of the week we’ve worked through seven animations concurrently. After a few finishing touches, we go home and await the next batch of videos.

And the award goes to…

Now in its sixth season, over 150 individual animations have been made and broadcast across CBBC. For us it’s an exercise in prolific and skilled creative production as well as maintaining a strong long-term relationship with True North. The show goes from strength to strength and is praised for its balance of education and entertainment.  It’s been nominated at the Children’s BAFTA awards 2019 and even won the Best Factual Entertainment show at 2019’s Royal Television Society Yorkshire Awards.

“Working with Brass on The Pets factor across 6 series to date has been an absolute pleasure.  The team have been great to work with – from creative input into the titles and transitions to the management of the monster schedule (& occasional gentle reminders to keep us on track!) plus we’ve loved seeing the animation scripts we write come to life in each and every series and watching them go from strength to strength.”

Sima Ray, Series Producer, CBBC The Pets Factor.

“Pets is a challenging, but interesting and fulfilling project. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to work out how to get the most out of different animations techniques. And to have our work feature in such a highly regarded programme for the BBC is an honour.”

Andrew J Brown, ECD

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