Sheridan faculty, alumni take a stroll down Sesame Street
How do you get to Sesame Street? Stop-motion professor and Bachelor of Animation coordinator Christopher Walsh (Media Arts ’98) and fellow alum Geri Bertolo (Classical Animation ’93) can tell you.
The pair are the owners of Mad Lab Productions, an animation production company specializing in stop motion, and the creators of Moogaloops – an animated series that will air on Sesame Studios, a YouTube channel from the makers of Sesame Street.
Launching on Sept. 11, Moogaloops consists of three episodes that will be shown throughout the fall. Each three-minute installment tells the story of a clay character named Mooga, designed by Walsh. Mooga lives in a gentle alien world with his companion: a magical box with a big red button on top. When the button is pushed, the magical box causes something new to appear. Mooga then plays with the new “thing,” and through that play, he learns about the world. Each episode will deal with various age-appropriate curriculum, such as movement, counting, drawing and sound.
The idea for Moogaloops was conceived in fall 2018, when Sesame Studios put out a call asking for original story concepts. Sesame appreciated the simplicity and purity of the series, along with its potential for future stories. The idea was picked up, and Mad Lab Productions spent a good portion of 2019 bringing Moogaloops to life, working with Sesame at every stage of the project to ensure that it worked for them and for their young audience.
“Geri and I both grew up loving Sesame Street, so in a very real way having a chance to develop an original series with Sesame Studios was a dream come true,” says Walsh. “They were very supportive and trusting of us, while still providing clear feedback and insights. For our part, we repaid that trust with deep dedication to the project, and a desire to bring our very best work to the table. After all, we didn’t want to let Bert and Ernie down!”
Walsh and Bertolo serve as the writers, directors and producers of the series. Walsh, who recently authored his first book Stop Motion Filmmaking (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019), handled all designs for the project, while Bertolo provided the voice for Mooga.
The pair brought on experienced and multi-talented artist Alexander Gorelick to help with the extensive clay animation of the series. They also tapped the talents of additional Sheridan faculty to lend a hand. Film sound designer, composer, and Animation professor, Bruno Degazio, provided music for the series. Mac Technologist Emiliano Paternostro provided the sound design.
“At Sheridan, we take pride in knowing that our faculty incorporates first-hand experience into the classroom,” says Angela Stukator, Associate Dean, Animation and Game Design at Sheridan. “They’re animators who teach. We’re thrilled to have our faculty inspire students by continuing to contribute to the industry in meaningful, inventive ways.”
Bertolo has over 25 years of experience working in the animation industry. He’s directed animated series for Fisher Price, Amazon, and Mattel. Walsh has worked extensively in the stop-motion television industry, and his own short films have screened at animation festivals internationally.
“Creating and producing more original animated series is really where Geri and I see Mad Lab Productions heading, so we’re very excited to see what future opportunities might exist, as a result of this project’s successful completion,” says Walsh. “And of course, as a college teacher, all of these real-world experiences only give me more to share with my students, as a way to deepen the quality of their training here at Sheridan.”
The debut episode of Moogaloops will premiere on Sesame Studios YouTube Channel on Sept. 11, 2019. Subsequent episodes will be released on Sept. 25, 2019 and Oct. 9, 2019.
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