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Making Duduvision

The Africa United animators talk about their process creating Duduvision:

It was very clear to us from the beginning that to understand the mind of a Rwandan kid, especially one like Dudu, we had to go and hang out with Rwandan kids!

In late January 2010, five of us travelled from freezing cold London to Byumba, in the far north of Rwanda to immerse ourselves as much as possible in the culture, sights and sounds of Rwandan life.

For 4 days, we worked with a group of about 30 children at a centre for child-headed households. We wanted to get a real taste of the kids' imaginations and see what they thought all the worlds that we wanted to create for Duduvision should look like.

We had a few things that we really wanted to get their opinion on - what the Cacoochie was for example. So it was really good fun getting them to imagine what a monster that lived in a lake might actually look like. Some of the kids had never been to a lake before so some of the best images we got were really unexpected! We ended up leaving Byumba with hundreds of amazing, colourful images.

The thing that really grabbed us whilst we were in Rwanda was the way that everyone recycles and recycles. From things in their homes to things in the street, there's nothing that isn't used and re-used. We realised that this was the perfect way to portray Duduvision - it is exactly what Dudu does, from condom footballs to recycling phrases and sayings from the TV.

We spent the next week or so trawling through markets and taking photos of anything and everything we came across that everything in Duduvision was made from things that Dudu would recognise and associate with. It made perfect sense that the worlds we created recycled things from Rwanda- It just wouldn't be right heading off to the shops and building worlds out of pre-existing models.

When we came back to the UK we set about physically building the worlds for Duduvision- Trying to keep that sense of inventive recycling that we'd fallen for in Rwanda.

Two of our team are Jonny and Will (www.darkvast.com) and it was their job, with Simon the director (www.blinkink.co.uk/directors/view-work/item211/Simon-Willows/) to try and channel all of the amazing things we'd seen into physical worlds.

We built sets of Football Eden, big, dark scary trees and jungle for the Super Congo Rubber Jungle and lots of horrible, rusty-looking buts and pieces for the Cacoochie Lake.

Once we'd built our sets we had to photograph them all so that we could build the worlds on the computer.

Then we spent a week in a bluescreen studio filming our puppet characters.

We'd spent a long time developing ideas for the puppets- Especially George and Celeste's characters. It allowed us to have real fun- Creating the Soldier Ant out of grenade and gun parts felt just right. Comedic and relevant at the same time. Even God's body was created from a coaster that we bought in Byumba!

Gary Carse and Daniel Waterman (www.carseandwaterman.com) are animation whizz kids who spent a long time with us getting our horrible mossies looking good. They really brought our evil insects to life with stop frame animation.

Joseph Mann (www.josephmann.co.uk) created all of the gorgeous 2D banana leaf character animations for us. One of the skills that the kids we'd worked with in Rwanda are taught is making cards and pictures using banana leaves.

We commissioned some bespoke images from the banana leaf artists, like footballs and weapons, and also used images they'd also created. Joseph was able to turn them into really charming animated loops which we used throughout Duduvision. Most of his stuff ended up in the title sequences too! It was a great way of bringing some very authentic Rwandan artwork in our storytelling.

Once we had the photos of the worlds and we'd shot the puppets against bluescreen we had to pull together an amazing team of post production wizards to pull it all together and make the worlds of Duduvision as magical as they could be.

For that we used our friends at UNIT who crafted the worlds out of the materials we'd filmed, made and gathered up over the previous months.

The guys at Unit had almost 100 shots to make for us and had to start by preparing close to a thousand stills to work with- Everyone pulled together, from the runners to the Head Of Creative!

Once they'd got those together, the guys had to turn the images into moving shots, using the elements we'd collected in Rwanda and the puppets we'd filmed in London. Sometimes up to 10 people were working on each scene.

All in all, a lot of people worked really hard to make Duduvision the best it could be and we made lots of friends along the way. A bit like Dudu!

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