The story of how Netflix creates cartoons that match the quality of the work of the leading animation studios, and gives creators creative freedom.
It’s no use trying to pinpoint the common theme of the dozens of animated projects that Netflix is working on: it’s not there. This is the point. Unlike Disney, Pixar and Illumination, Netflix doesn’t try to endow children’s content with a particular look or tone.
“We don’t do this on purpose. I also asked this question when I first came here. I thought: “We need a brand!”. This is because I have worked for Fox, Disney and DreamWorks. But then I realized it wasn’t important to grow the brand because we target such a wide audience, ”says Melissa Cobb, vice president of content for kids and families at Netflix.
Netflix is watched by a huge number of children, they are a serious engine of development for any streaming service. 60% of monthly Netflix viewers watch kids’ programming. This explains why the company is investing so actively in this area. According to Loup Ventures, Netflix will spend $ 1.1 billion on animation in 2019, or 11% of its annual budget.

This is how the company manages to maintain its brand.

Look for content creators with different styles and looks

Netflix differs from the competition in that it hires a variety of animators and directors and lets them do their thing. Cobb says they are doing this on purpose. Netflix is committed to attracting talent “who has confidence in what the company will do.” This shows that they will do their job well. The main idea is not to come up with a brand, but to allow creators to create a vast and versatile content catalog.
Netflix’s quest for freedom sometimes means going in a completely different direction. For example, Pinky Malinky creators Rikke Asbjorn and Chris Garbutt are working on an interactive show about a cat and a dog who woke up one day and saw that all people had disappeared. They go in search of their friends, and viewers can choose for themselves whose adventures to follow – a cat or a dog.

Create content that the whole family will love

If Netflix could be of interest to a Cape Town and Minneapolis kid, the next question is, how does the company manage to get entire families of these kids to watch with them?
The answer is to create content that isn’t just about entertaining kids. Today Netflix is pushing the boundaries and entering production levels that match those of the leading animation studios. Glen Keane directs the musical “Over the Moon”, in which a girl builds a rocket to fly to the moon and prove to her dad that the legendary Moon Goddess exists. Sergio Pablos is now in Madrid directing the 2D film Klaus for the holiday season.
Pablos’s cartoon tells the “story of Santa Claus” – a capricious postman is sent to a Scandinavian town in the 1800s on a mission to run a postal service there. The only thing is that the locals do not like each other and refuse to write letters, so the postman turns to the toy manufacturer and the children for help. “It’s a great, funny and moving story,” says Pablos.

Make content easily accessible

The last difficulty is to show children all the content and get them to watch it. Since 2011, Netflix has been diligently trying to make its interface clear and accessible, and to neatly group content by genre and user preference. The company even created a system where children – who can’t read yet – can flip through images of characters from different cartoons by hovering over a TV show or movie.
Now, Netflix is experimenting with another way to get kids interested. Now the company plans not only to show the character when the child hovers over the film, but also to accompany the picture with a short video, which explains what kind of character it is and what its peculiarity is.
“We think we need to explain to children who the character is. He’s funny? Interesting? What does he do? He’s a good friend?” Says Cameron Johnson, director of innovation.
Netflix will begin testing the format later this year, although there is no guarantee it will work out. Nonetheless, Johnson thinks it is a good indicator of “where the company is thinking.”
“Imagine that you are five years old again, you have a TV remote in your hands, and you choose what to watch on Netflix. You are wondering, “What does Netflix have to offer me?”

 

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Reference Sources:

  1. Animation World Network: https://www.awn.com/
  2. Cartoon Brew – Technology: https://www.cartoonbrew.com/tech
  3. Befores & Afters – Visual effects and animation journalist: https://beforesandafters.com/
  4. Bloomberg News: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/
  5. Insider: https://www.insider.com/