Ugandan Creatures Animation debuts its first series, "Kundah & Friends"

Creatures Animation Studio in Uganda released the first batch of episodes of the first animated series Kunda & Friends earlier this week.

The series represents a major step forward for the new company in the country's early industry, but you can get to know it from talking to creatures co-founder Raymond Malinga, director of the cg short story "A Kalabanda Ate my Homework" and contributor to Disney+'s upcoming African anthology series "Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire." It is not possible to do so.

According to Malinga, the studio's mantra is "boldness to dreams," and his long-term plans for creatures are nothing more than boldness. The mantra is ambitious, but it's also practical, because almost everything the studio does is groundbreaking in some way. There is no proven roadmap for building an animation studio in Uganda, and most of those who want to work in the industry are self-taught enthusiasts. That is why Maringa and his team need to educate, train, adapt and produce everything at the same time.

The studio's first series, Kundah & Friends, is a musical cg animation series for children set in an African landscape. It is based on the IP Kunda Kids of Children and Families, recently closed a pre-seed funding round led by Zrosk Investment Management with participation from Z700Voltron Capital, Argentil Capital, HoaQ, Kaleo Ventures, along with angel investor Abi Ajayi, Adetayo Bamiduro of MAX, and Benjamin Fernandes, CEO of NALA Money. The plan is to grow the brand, and the basic part of that strategy is the animated series. Other future investments include further building the Kunda Kids mobile app and working with creative talent from across the African diaspora.

In the show, which is anchored in friendship and gives lessons of pro-social life, Kunda, a four-year-old boy of mixed African heritage, explores the world around him with his friend Sana

Kunda & Friends is heavily driven by its music and inspired by African culture influenced from genres like Afrobeat and Amapiano. It features a soundtracks that have been specially designed for use in music, music, and music.

We recently set up our own studio in Uganda, worked with Kunda IP and talked with Malinga about his high ambitions for Creatures Animation Studio.

Cartoon Brew: Tell me a bit about your studio, and what you want is something to the future of Creatures Animation and the Kunda & Friends series-

Raymond Malinga: My studio consists of 13 people, including me. As you can imagine, animation is not necessarily appreciated, or works like this in my country where people are still learning to understand and appreciate it, so you know, because we're bold to do it - and we believe in the future of animation. In Kundah, we are trying to do a few things. One is to prove to the world as well as to ourselves that we can do this. It's meant a big transition for my team. In the past, I only produced a 1-minute explanatory video for NGOs every month. So we had to figure out how to get it up to two or three episodes each month.

One key is that we do not expect to be only 13 people forever. We are proving that the model works, so we will continue to scale up. We are proving that we can do this from here, and the quality of the episode is improving as we progress. And we are getting faster.

Apart from scaling up, what else do you do to increase productivity in the studio-

Now we are trying to introduce a system. The good thing about working on Kizazi Motow is that we were able to see what was expected in a high-quality, stressful environment. So, right after finishing Kizajimoto, I came back to my studio and said, "Guys, we need to fix some things."For example, I used to use Clickup, but I switched to Shotgrid. We've improved our file management system and have everyone upload their backups to back up their backups. We became clear in the schedule, comments and reviews of the shots...Everything that happened while we were working on Kunda happened. And that's the nature of this production. The team I worked with will not be the same as the team I work with now and will be even bigger and more knowledgeable in the 12 months.

The idea with the team is to improve everything that could be within our power. Of course, there are problems with money, problems with equipment, and such things are somewhat out of our control at the moment. But we can be more efficient. Everyone on my team wears multiple hats. It is necessary. Most of the people working with me graduated from local schools here and I taught them at school. Others only had the experience of making a 30-second ad for a phone company or soda or something. They had no experience working on the production of high stress. And some are self-taught fans that I train at work.

You can talk a little about the visual development of the series, and how you adapted the original books to this new format -

We are not really adapting those books; we are adapting music. They had put some music online for a few brief explanatory videos, and we built our world so we listened to the song and created a visual script around it. This is a very music-driven series. That said, as we make more episodes, the shows and the world we create are starting to influence the songs.

You can talk a bit more about developing the world your team has created -

It's still a small world, a small place, but we want to grow it. So, really, our visual development was from scratch. And the show has its own aesthetics because we always make toys, merchandising, live events, and something that can live beyond the screen in terms of all this stuff. It's obviously a 3d show, but we tried to stick to a simple shape with a bit of a 2d feel. It was actually a rigging nightmare for some of my teammates, but I told them, "It doesn't matter, your rig will improve over time" and they have. With each episode, the show looks more and more good.

What are your plans for the upcoming studio-

The plan is to regularly make new Kundah episodes and grow the team. When we grow up, we expand to other Ips and original ones that we want to do for ourselves. There is a lot of interest here, but first, we have to change our mindset. We need to convince the team that we can do whatever we want to do, and I think that's happening. The team I have now can train the next group, and if I follow that model, it can grow exponentially as long as there are more job opportunities