A Look At The Hub

Rounding out this week’s look at the main US kids channels is newcomer, The Hub, which if it feels I’ve already covered it, you aren’t far wrong. I recently wrote a post on the channel’s biggest hit, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

The Hub is basicially a reincarnation of Discovery Kids and is a joint venture between Discovery Communications and toy maker, Hasbro. Interestingly enough, no content was carried over, so The Hub really is having to prove itself in the tough world of kids programming.

Surprisingly enough, it seems to have done quite well in the year and a bit it’s been around. Good quality content including MLP, Strawberry Shortcake and Transformers have helped there. Yup, they’re all toyetic, but are also much, much better than their former 1980s incarnations.

The only handicap is that Discovery Kids was carried on relatively few cable and satellite systems, and not at all onĀ  basic packages. The house I’m staying at has Time Warner Cable and it places the Hub waaaaay up in the 130s along with Disney XD and the other Nick channels. Having said that, word of the shows has gotten around and the channel has more than made its goals for the first year.

The Hub does seem to skew more towards girls and is the only channel out of all of them that makes this noticeable. In that respect, it can be seen as a bit of a balance to the boy-scentric channels like Disney XD. All a good thing in my opinion.

Admittedly enough, its surprising that someone would launch a new channel now, just as internet viewing is starting to really kick off. The Hub required a masive investment and while it will surely pay off for Discovery/Hasbro, one can’t help but wonder if it’s the last of a dying breed.

We’re unlikely to see a brand new kids channel launch again, and it remains to be seen whether or not kids are capable of utilising the internet for viewing. They seem to be able to work iPads fairly well, so perhaps the next big breakthrough will be a child-friendly interface for watching shows.

Overall, the Hub is OK. Yeah, the shows are good, and I’m dead happy for the likes of Lauren Faust and the gang of awesome artists she’s kept employed as a result. The only faults I could find is the proximity of the shows to established toys (although that it probably a given, seeing as who’s funding it all) and the fact that as a channel, it remains to be seen if it can follow up it’s initial hits with others.

Update from Ireland: The Looney Tunes are Alive and Well!

Just a quick update from Ireland.

I have found plenty to write about in regards to animation. It’s actually quite interesting to see the differences between how animation is perceived on this side of the pond,

Anyhoo, the picture above was snapped in the Castlecourt Shopping Centre in Belfast, where it appears that the Looney Tunes are still giving kids a bit of excitement.

Three Solid Steps To Encouraging A Kid To Take Up Animation

Via The Animator’s Survival Kit.com

Animation is kind of a funny industry in that a vast majority of its ultimate customers have no idea about the nuts and bolts of the products or even the industry behind it. OK, granted, that could be true about any industry, for instance, do you know how roads are designed? Perhaps, but could you tell me how to lay out a road profile, complete with PVC, PVT, K, SSD, HSD and e values? You could! Oh I see, you were pulling my leg, well, shame on me.

One difference is that adults can generally go and read about how to do it but the real difference is that adults have a choice about whether they go and read about it. Kids (for the most part) do not care.

This morning as I sat down to write this post, it occurred to me that the path to my current career was pretty much laid out in advance, school-wise at least. I mean, civil engineering isn’t a spectacularly complex career; it’s not like we’re competing with the medical or law colleges for the best minds in the nation so planning for a career as one was fairly simple.

Which got me thinking, how would you encourage a child that seems hell-bent on doing animation? It’s a bit of a tricky one because plenty of kids love animation but only a select few can understand it and reproduce it.

The first way would be to find the signs. Do they enjoy watching cartoons? Do they doodle all the time? Do they make rudimentary comics? Have they created a universe for their comic/characters? These are all traits of a creative mind at work. I distinctly remember the kids at school who were always drawing or doodling. During the intensely competitive newsletter market in 5th class, there were one or two comics floating around trying to lighten the atmosphere a bit.

Now that you’ve noticed the talent, how do you go about building the foundation for a career? It can vary, but most animators I am aware of (and have talked to) strongly hint that their parents had a fairly large bearing in their early days. This ranges from buying the necessary supplies to, in Brad Bird’s case, driving two and a half hours to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in a hokey-poke cinema in Oregon. So the answer would seem to be to encourage creativity and to ensure that the kid has plenty or opportunities to experience the artform.

The third and I suppose final way would be to ensure that the kid receives some sort of formal education in the field. I mean, it is one thing to have natural talent but more often than not, such a skill can run wild and some instruction can go a long way to channeling that energy into something truly creative. There are plenty of good schools out there, both expensive and not so expensive. What matters is that the child at least has the option of going to one.

The ultimate point of this post is that you sometimes hear the stories out there of how parents almost admonish a kid for drawing or doodling in the false belief that they could never earn a living from animation or the creative arts. Such a mindset is defeatist and such discouragement is a sign of ignorance on the part of the parent.

I kinda feel like I’m preaching to the choir on this one, but as a non-animator, this is the kind of stuff I see animators complaining about or regaling in stories about themselves or people they knew. There is no excuse for it so hopefully this post will serve as a bit of a reminder to everyone that we should be encouraging kids to take up the skills if they have an interest in it.