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Hong Kong Animates World Cup

  Jidou Studios, Alexander Wong
  Jidou Studios’ founder and CEO Alexander Wong says his company has worked hard to create an animated version of Zakumi, the mascot for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa
A cheerful African yellow leopard with bright green hair and a fierce determination is lighting up television screens just in time for the world’s most widely viewed sporting event, thanks to the work of Hong Kong-based animation company Jidou Studios.

Zakumi, the official mascot of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, takes his name from the letters representing the host country and the word for “number 10,” which is used in many African languages. As the first World Cup to be held on African soil gets underway, Zakumi himself is making history as only the second FIFA mascot to star in an animated cartoon series.

Pitching a Good Story

Zakumi  
Many of the artists who worked on the Zakumi animation project are keen football players  
Jidou Studios founder Alexander Wong, one of Asia’s top designers and architects, said the project got underway in 2008, when the company was contacted by Peppermint, a global programme distributor operating in Germany and Malaysia.

“They were involved with the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup animation series for their mascot, so they were acquainted already,” Mr Wong said, adding that when Peppermint had the opportunity to do a similar project for the 2010 event, “they came to us,” Mr Wong said.

Over the next two years, the Hong Kong company and its partner developed an original design from South African artist Andries Odendaal into a 20-part animated series that brings Zakumi to life.

“It’s basically a story about this character travelling around the country with a bunch of kids in a bus and having fun and learning about sportsmanship and how to become grown-ups,” said Mr Wong.

International Talent

   
Jidou relied on a team of international talent, including scriptwriters in France, audio experts in Malaysia and animators on the Chinese mainland. But Hong Kong’s unique advantages were what allowed the company and its partner to capture the spirit of the World Cup and its host nation.

“Hong Kong, as we all know, is Asia’s World City, which means that we really have international exposure and a good understanding of world cultures,” Mr Wong said. “In this case, because we have to portray South Africa and the kids of South Africa, coming to Hong Kong also helps.”

Hong Kong on the Ball

Zakumi animator   

Zakumi and his friends are expected to appear on television in at least 43 countries, including Croatia, Egypt, Germany, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Nigeria, Portugal, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates

 

 
Mr Wong said Hong Kong’s legal and financial systems made complex issues related to intellectual property rights and fund-raising easier to handle. He added that the city’s efficiency and work ethic makes “Hong Kong a good choice for any kind of animation production.

“Most of the animation nowadays is either done in India or in China, so actually coming to Hong Kong is really an obvious choice,” he said. “We worked not only here, but also with mainland Chinese animators. And that became a very important part of this production because, given the time limits, we had to produce a lot of footage within a very short space of time.”

Jidou Studios hopes its work on Zakumi will lead to other sports-related projects, including the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

“The fact that up to 200 million people may be watching the show on television during the World Cup month helps to open doors for Jidou, and also for all the animators and production people involved in this project,” Mr Wong said.

“It’s just a great opportunity to put Hong Kong animators on the map of world animation.”


Related Links
Jidou Studios 
2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa 

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