Animation Creates a Splash

The Asia, Edgar, and Kat characters in the Deep Blue Curriculum videos are modeled in a three-dimensional format. They also star in the FREE Deep Blue Adventure App!

You’re standing in front of a bunch of squirming kids in Sunday school; before you can even begin to tell them a Bible story or teach them a song, you’ve got to get their attention. Animation might be just the way to get those kids to sit still.

“In today’s world, people have short attention spans and are unwilling to sit through anything they don’t have to,” states Neil Wood-Mitchell, creative director and filmmaker at Three Motion, an animation production company in Newcastle upon Tyne. “According to Forester Research, one minute of video and animation is worth a staggering 1.8 million words.”

One Video for All

When conceptualizing the new Deep Blue Curriculum for children, Cokesbury’s creative team immediately turned to animation for the teaching videos. Although the many other Deep Blue collateral materials, including interactive posters, bookmarks, songs, puzzles, games, and apps hit age-specific targets, Cokesbury’s strategically designed the videos to appeal to all age groups.

“We knew animation was a good way to reach kids,” explains Alan Vermilye, Senior Marketing Manager for Children’s Curriculum. “And animation spans a variety of age groups; it’s very hard to reach three- to ten-year-olds when you’re using actors.”

Of course the overwhelming successes of animated movies like Pixar’s Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Brave prove that animation is popular with adults, too. “Yeah, that’s something we wanted to do—create videos that the teachers would also enjoy, so teaching would be fun for them, too,” says Vermilye.

The Messages Comes Through

Animation not only grabs kids’ attention, it delivers a message to them in a meaningful way. “Animation transforms a message, making it easy to understand and visualize,” says Wood-Mitchell. “Any complex idea or concept can be broken down into easy to understand and digestible information with animation.”

Kelly Loosli has worked with both DreamWorks Feature Animation and Buena Vista Motion Pictures at Disney. He’s now the director of Brigham Young University’s Center for Animation. “An animator’s job is to create worlds of enchantment, transporting the audience to a different time or place,” he says in a Salt Lake City Deseret News interview. “Animation allows kids to drop their guard and go into an imaginary world. The messages come through even more vividly. This is a great way to teach audience members lessons of life and morality.”

The Bible in 3-D

Most animated teaching videos are produced in a two-dimensional format, meaning they have a flat appearance on a screen. The Asia, Kat, and Edgar characters in the Deep Blue videos, which were introduced with Cokesbury’s release of the CEB Deep Blue Kids Bible, are in a three-dimensional format; they have rounded shapes with depth that’s created by using computer-generated ‘lighting.’ “The Bible has been very popular,” says Vermilye, “and so we thought what a great opportunity to use those characters who were already built into 3-D.” The result is no less than the quality of animation you would expect to see from a Hollywood feature film release.

We hope you’ll like the Deep Blue Curriculum as much as Pam Snider, Director of Children’s Ministries at First United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. Here is her enthusiastic review:

“I think I can say I’m going to love everything about Deep Blue! Last year, I gave the Bible as our gift Bible and the children like it very much. As for the curriculum, I am attracted to the continuity with the Deep Blue Bible, the overall look, the diversity in characters, the video and music components, the downloadable option and especially the app for families. Just imagine the ease of touching base with the church at home, in the car, on summer vacation, etc. Brilliant! The content goes without saying. I always trust that no theological editing will be necessary when I use Cokesbury materials.”

We’ll let Reverend Nancy Millwater of Lees Creek United Church of Christ in Sabina, Ohio share a last few kind words. “Although I’m a UCC minister, I normally recommend Cokesbury curricula— I trust its theology, it’s user friendly with plenty of activities, it has attractive four-color components…all in all, I’ve recommended it to my current church and my last two, not only for Sunday school but also for VBS…. Our kids leave after the Children’s Message and we have one to eight with ages from three to twelve so we use the One Room Sunday school materials.”

Have we gotten your attention?

If so, check out our Deep Blue curriculum catalog here. And let us know what you think.