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More Child's Play for The Machine Room

1 September 2003

Soho DVD facility provides full concept to disc service for Little RobotsTM

LONDON, UK, September 18th 2003: Soho DVD facility, The Machine Room, is scripting, encoding, designing and authoring the Little Robots 'Hooray! Let's Build and Play!' DVD for BBC Worldwide. Little Robots is a popular new stop-motion animated series for older pre-schoolers, featuring voiceovers from Lenny Henry, Su Pollard and Martin Clunes. Finding themselves abandoned on a metal scrap heap, the Little Robots use their combined skills and imagination to turn all the junk around them into a place they can call home. The disc is due for an Autumn release.

Suzannah Harding, Project Manager Children's Video & DVD at BBC Worldwide, gave The Machine Room a fairly open brief. She left it to their creative talent to generate ideas, the only criteria being that 'it must reflect the programme and also educate children in an entertaining way about working together and exploring creativity.'

After considering a number of concepts, The Machine Room's DVD team settled on using a large metal wheel to create an interactive menu-set. The wheel is operated by the central character, Tiny, who via user prompts pulls a lever to make it rotate and land on the desired menu, just as the sky of the Little Robots world rotates from Day to Night when Tiny pulls the Day-Night Lever in the TV show. In addition to the programmes and a special bonus episode, the disc also includes a trailer, two interactive games, a sing-along and a web-link.

The games include a version of hide and seek, where children use their remote control to find Tiny in the 'Nut and Bolt' tree. Audio and visual prompts such as 'Keep Looking' are given if they guess incorrectly, or a 'Well Done' message and video reward if they find Tiny. The 'Mend the Machine' game enables children to re-build a broken machine by identifying the missing piece and replacing it. If they guess correctly, the fixed machine whirrs into action.

Supervised by Machine Room producer Saira Bhatti, smoke editor John McLaren built a huge wheel in smoke and designer Stan Lau came up with the menu design based on segments from the wheel in Photoshop. Once the wheel was built, a specially recorded voice-over session was recorded to add flavour to the games and menu transitions. An animated Tiny was then composited into the menus so that he could respond to the user prompts.

The DVD was authored in Spruce DVD Maestro, and designed using Photoshop, After Effects, Avid off-line, digital linear online and smoke.

Harding said: 'I was very impressed with the menu concept which is both fun and interactive. The overall style of the DVD is bold and stimulating and allows simple navigation. It certainly reflects the fun and creative nature of Little Robots.'

For further information, images or to arrange interviews please contact: Rob Ettridge at Red Lorry Yellow Lorry Tel: +44 (0) 20 7434 2950 Email: robe@rlyl.co.uk