Munki and Trunk picked up by Aardman

Sunrise Productions today announced a new global TV distribution partnership between their Cape Town-based studio and the Aardman Rights and Brand Development division.

Aardman will represent Sunrise’s brand new non-dialogue animated series Munki and Trunk (52 x 7’), which will premiere at MIPCOM Junior.

Phil Cunningham, Founder at Sunrise Productions commented: “We are delighted to be working with such a prestigious studio such as Aardman. We have ambitious plans for Munki and Trunk building off the TV series including a series of feature films, physical attractions and an exciting licensing and partnership strategy. We know that the team at Aardman is the perfect distribution partners for our TV series and this is a vital part of building the brand globally”.

Commenting on the partnership, Alison Taylor, newly appointed Head of Sales and Acquisitions said: “We are really excited to be teaming up with Sunrise Productions, a pioneering studio who has a similar approach to producing high quality animation as we do here at Aardman. Munki and Trunk is a beautifully crafted CGI series, with wonderful character design and brilliantly funny storylines. It’s sure to make kids laugh out loud and we are excited to be showing it to our partners for the very first time at MIPCOM Junior”.

Sunrise made several hires this year including former Discovery and Turner Exec, Jennifer Burgos, award-winning writer Will Brenton, who has co-created, written, produced and directed some of today’s best known programmes for children, including ‘The Tweenies’, and writer Robin Crowther-Smith who has written on ‘Shaun the Sheep’ and ‘Morph’. The studio is best known for their flagship show Jungle Beat, the award-winning series that has been broadcast in over 180 countries, as well as their 3D sport animated characters for high profile sports brands including England Rugby’s Football Union, the Welsh Rugby Rugby Union and Juventus Football Club.

Munki and Trunk is a dialogue-free tree-crashing, rock smashing, water-splashing, fruit-mashing, knock about comedy adventure for kids aged 4 – 7 years. Trunk is caring, Munki is crafty. But they are the best of friends. No matter if they are facing rolling boulders, bouncing mushrooms or grumpy hedgehogs, they do it together giggling all the way. It’s the most fun you can have in the jungle!

New additions made to Sunrise team

Sunrise Productions, creators of the award-winning animated series Jungle Beat, have made new senior appointments across the business.

Jennifer Burgos will join the senior management team and be responsible for driving commercial and business development. Jennifer’s focus will be the deepening of current, and growth of new strategic partnerships globally. Jennifer’s extensive experience includes Turner Broadcasting, Aardman Animations and Discovery Networks.

Joining the Story team are BAFTA award-winner Will Brenton, and writer Robin Crowther- Smith. Will has co-created, written, produced and directed highly successful children’s television including ‘The Tweenies’, 'Wibbly Pig’ and 'Mighty Mites’. Robin has written on ‘Shaun the Sheep’ and ‘Morph’.

Eric Lessard will join the Production team as Animation Director. Eric previously worked at Dreamworks as the Senior Animator on ‘Shrek’, ‘Shrek 2’ and ‘Madagascar’, and as Animation Supervisor on ‘Shrek 3.’

Commenting on the appointments, Founder Phil Cunningham said: “We are delighted to welcome Jennifer, Will, Robin and Eric to the team. They all join us with a wealth of experience in the children’s sector and we’ve already benefitted from their expertise. We have ambitious plans for growth over the next three years and these key appointments enable us to reach our goals.”

Sunrise is currently in-production on a brand new TV series set in the world of Jungle Beat.

Animation SA interviews Phil Cunningham

In their two decades in the industry, Cape Town’s Sunrise Productions have produced a variety of trailblazing animation work, from Africa’s first feature-length animation, The Legend of the Sky Kingdom, to their award-winning, widely syndicated short-form kids’ series Jungle Beat. We chatted to founder Phil Cunningham about what gets Sunrise up in the morning.

Jungle Beat nominated for two SAFTAs

Sunrise Productions has been nominated for two South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) this year in the BEST ANIMATION SHORT category for our Jungle Beat episodes "Crush" and "There's No Place Like Home".

The Awards honour, celebrate and promote the creativity, quality and excellence of the South African Film and Television talent and productions, and serve to encourage entrepreneurship and the development of new talent within the industry.

The Awards ceremony takes place next month, and we can't wait to hear the results!

Jungle Beat at TIFF 2016

Jungle Beat Season 3’s Thunderstruck episode featuring Giraffe has been invited to screen at The Toronto International Kids Film Festival in April 2016!

TIFF Kids is one of the largest children’s film festivals in the world! Presented each April, the festival offers a diverse slate of programming from Canada and around the globe, using the power of film not just to entertain children and parents but also to foster new ideas about the complex issues facing young people today. Whenever possible, they include an opportunity to engage in discussions with filmmakers and special guests to further explore ideas, themes, storytelling techniques, and much more.

Jungle Beat is so excited to be a part of this wonderful festival.

Cartoon Network Acquires Award-Winning Jungle Beat for Latin America and Brazil

Following the launch of Jungle Beat's season 3 at MIPTV and the announcement there of a multi-territory deal with Cartoon Network EMEA, Monster Entertainment has closed a raft of new sales of the animation series to broadcasters around Europe, Africa, North America and Latin America.

The new season of Jungle Beat has been sold to major European networks including YLE in Finland, SVT in Sweden and VRT in Belgium, all of which have also renewed the first two seasons of the series. Monster Entertainment has also sold two seasons of Jungle Beat to SRC, the public broadcaster in French-speaking Canada, and Jim Jam in multiple territories all over Europe. Gulli has acquired the three seasons of Jungle Beat for its audience in French-speaking Africa, NRK has picked up the new season in Norway and Cartoon Network has also now picked up the new season for broadcast throughout Latin America and Brazil.

Produced by Sunrise Productions in South Africa and distributed by Monster Entertainment, Jungle Beat is a fun, family-friendly series that follows a team of adventurers and the different animals they encounter in nature. It's aimed at children between the ages of 4 and 8 years old, but ratings have proved its appeal for a much wider audience.

Season 4 of Jungle Beat is already in production and there are plans to build the brand further through the production of further seasons, an app which has just been completed together with web games and licensing activities.

Turner Acquires Award-Winning Jungle Beat for Boomerang in Central and Eastern Europe

Jungle Beat, the award-winning non-verbal children’s animated series from South Africa’s Sunrise Productions has been picked up by Turner, for their Boomerang channel across Central and Eastern Europe, from distributor Monster Entertainment.

The brand new third season of 13 x 7’ episodes will have its world premiere on the kids network in the third quarter 2015 in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Benelux and Eastern Europe, following which it will be licensed to free TV broadcasters. VRT is already on board for Flemish-speaking Belgium.

Monster Entertainment has sold seasons 1 and 2 to broadcasters in 182 countries, for whom the series has topped ratings, and to 30 airlines. Season 3 is being completed at present and Seasons 4 and 5 are in production.

There is also an active licensing programme, theatrical screenings, a high-end iOS and Android game, a digital kids club, and promotional opportunities underway.

Phil Cunningham, Producer at Sunrise Productions said: “Our passion with Jungle Beat is to build a quality brand in every respect and we are incredibly excited that the show will be broadcast on Boomerang.”

Sylvia Nagl, Programming Director Kids Channels Turner Broadcasting System for Central and Eastern Europe: “We are very happy to extend our program portfolio with the multi-awarded show Jungle Beat, it suits perfectly to our kids and family channel Boomerang. The world premiere of season 3 is a highlight for our audiences in Central and Eastern Europe and will bring the families together in front of the TV.”

Jungle Beat is a fun, family-friendly series of CG animated, self-contained, dialogue-free episodes focusing on different animals and the bizarre situations they encounter in nature. The stories are classic, slapstick, with simple situations that spiral into hilarious chaos.

The Jungle Beat Explorers are four intrepid adventurers on a slapstick mission of discovery! Their short adventures run alongside Jungle Beat to make 7 minute episodes, but also stand alone as 2 minute episodes.

About Sunrise Productions

Sunrise is a production company with a full service animation studio based in Cape Town, South Africa. Launched in 1998, Sunrise made an impact on the world of media with the release of the first ever feature length stop motion animation to come out of Africa: The Legend of the Sky Kingdom. Sunrise has a passion for quality storytelling, and a conviction that film is the world’s favourite media for stories. Their mission is to inspire, entertain, challenge and enchant audiences worldwide, providing the finest in family entertainment. Their flagship animation series is Jungle Beat, the multi-award winning series of animated short films that have been broadcast in over 180 countries worldwide. Sunrise has also pioneered an entrepreneurial 3D animated character branding and marketing model for high profile sports brands, and partners include England Rugby’s Football Union, The South African Rugby Union, Sharks Rugby, Cricket South Africa and the Welsh Rugby Union.

Crush screened at London Film Festival

Bruce Bailey reviews Crush at the BFI London Film Festival:

Crush is a fantastic little children’s film. It is beautifully animated story about an elephant who goes to extraordinary lengths to revive a delicate little flower that he has accidentally damaged and is in danger of destroying. His efforts lead to more trouble and a whirlwind of bent trees and flying water, though everything turns out just fine in the end. It is a great mixture of slapstick comedy with a pleasing message.

The animation is top notch CGI. Though Brent Dawes is credited as director and is senior Writer and director at Sunrise Studios in Cape Town, there is a small army of modellers and animators behind whose work is also fantastic.

Crush is part of a South African television series called Jungle Beat, which features in each of its 26 episodes a different animated character. It is a testament to the quality of work done by Dawes and his team that Crush is able to stand alone (at a Film Festival too) as a short film in its own right.

Into Film and WRU join forces to support literacy

Into Film, an education charity and the Welsh Rugby Union have joined forces to boost young people's literacy and creativity in a new initiative inspired by Scorch the Dragon, the WRU's fire-breathing, rugby-loving mascot. With the support of actor Julian Lewis Jones (Invictus), Welsh international rugby union player Ken Owens and acclaimed cartoonist Huw Aaron, Into Film has launched a competition inviting 5-19 year-olds across Wales to create a superb storyboard or fabulous short film (up to two minutes) that shows 'What Scorch did next'. The launch, including an animation workshop, and a Q&A session with Julian Lewis Jones and Ken Owens attended by around 100 pupils, took place at Fitzalan High School in Cardiff.

Jungle Beat featured on Animation Magazine

Thanks to Animation Magazine for covering our announcement of Jungle Beat Season 3:

Monster Entertainment will be launching the third season of Sunrise Production’s Jungle Beat hit series at MIP Junior. The third season is in production and will be finished in January 2015. It is part of a major expansion of the Jungle Beat brand, which includes a fourth season which is already confirmed with plans for a fifth and a sixth series, a seven-minute version and increased licensing activity, theatrical exhibition and participation in theme parks.

Jungle Beat: There's a new season, and it's doing rather well, too!

So, you’ve watched all the Jungle Beats episodes on TV, on the internet, in the cinemas, and even on aeroplanes. And you needed MORE.

Don’t worry, Jungle Buddies. We’ve got you.

Over the last year we’ve been working on a whole new season of Jungle Beat: 13 new episodes with some new characters and a few familiar funny faces.

And guess what? It’s AWESOME. The stories are hilarious, and the animation quality is out of this world.

You don’t have to take our word for it: While we’ve been working, we’ve also sent some of the episodes to film festivals all over the world to see what the critics think. And we’re proud to announce: They love them!

Fish is the first new character, and her episode ‘Tiny Bubbles’ was invited to be a part of this year’s Little Big Shots: Melbourne's International Film Festival for Kids.

We then introduced Octopus, who’s a sneaky little character. His episode ‘Can’t Touch This’ screened at the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival where it was chosen by audiences as a ‘Best of the Fest’ film. It was also selected for competition in the Los Angeles Short Film Festival in Hollywood, and again for the 6th annual San Jose International Short Film Festival in San Jose, California. It’s also just been invited to screen at the St Louis International Film Festival and is in competition for several awards, including Best of Fest and Best Animation.

Our lovely Elephant is back this season, and his episode ‘Crush’ is on a roll, being invited to the Rhode Island International Film Festival, the BFI London International Film Festival and the Mon Premiere Festival in Paris.

Hermit Crab may be the biggest scaredy-cat in the Jungle Beat family, but his episode ‘There’s No Place Like Home’ is bravely on its way to the Academy Award-qualifying Chicago International Film Festival’s October 2014 edition, along with Elephant’s “Crush”. The festival receives over 1000 submissions and selects only a fraction, so we’re supporting Hermit Crab and Elephant all the way!

There are a few other surprises bubbling away in our secret Sunrise laboratories that we can’t wait to unleash on an unsuspecting world. We won’t give anything away yet, but trust us, they’re amazing. Watch this space!

ZAC's Batting Academy

Hadlee Simons over at the iAfrica Technology Blog interviews Sunrise's head of digital, David Hecker.

"The core thing for us is to remain true to the brand and to the character. As we've been involved with these characters from the very beginning, we understand completely who they are and how they would react to situations, but it's really important to make sure that comes across to the player as well," said Hecker.