Interview with Steven Read, Founder of One Animation, Singapore

By AMRITA VALECHA | 12 October, 2011 - 10:30

Rob the Robot, a Canadian- Asian pre- series, developed and conceived in Singapore based One Animation, has been sold to over 77 countries and the studio is currently in the development of the 2nd Season. Steven Read, Founder, One Animation talks about Rob the Robot


Could you tell us about the deal with Disney Junior for Rob the Robot Season 1?

Disney has acquired RTR as part of its 2011 slate of brand new 3D animated shows. RTR will be officially launched on 'Disney Junior' later this year .This is in order to take advantage of the year end school holidays. It’s airing throughout Canada, Korea, France, Latin America and nationwide in Australia. 77 countries have acquired airing rights and we expect those countries to begin airing the show within the next 6-9 months.

What is the current stage of season 2?

We have had a tremendous response from broadcasters about Season 1 and its ratings. Rob The Robot has already been nominated for two Gemini awards and was very well received at the Ottawa Animation festival in 2010. We will also be featured in CNBS Business Magazine as a brand to watch, so it's all very exciting. As a result we have begun pre-production for season 2. We are very much looking forward to the show and fans should know that there will be new planets and adventures for Rob and his friends to explore.

What are the L&M plans for Rob the Robot?

Even before we completed production on the show, both us and our Canadian co-producer, would receive e-mails from parents (whose children were familiar with the book) wanting to know when toys would be on the shelves. This prompted preliminary discussions with major toy companies as established licensing agents were already knocking at the door. Focus tests further substantiated the demand, even though season I production was not finished. So far, all indications are extremely positive and the show's popularity continues to grow. The RTR brand story is certainly moving in the right direction with positive TVR's, M&L deals in the process of being finalized and broadcasters already committing to season 2. Along with moving ahead with these deals we plan to release a Rob The Robot game in November for smartphones and tablets and hopefully books & eBooks will soon be available through Amazon, Waterstones and Chapters.

Are you working on any other property?

Yes! Two animated features and two TV shows, all of which are our own IPs and all of which have been conceived entirely in Singapore. It’s great news that as a company we have been able to do this in-house. We have already received strong broadcaster interest for one of the two animated features along with both the TV shows, so we are very excited by the positive feedback One Animation is receiving and the year ahead.




Since you are not a Singaporean, how has it been working and doing business in Singapore?

I arrived in Singapore in 2005. Working here has been a very positive experience for me. It's a great place to conduct business due to the sound business practices and government incentives (particularly within the animation industry) that make sure business does happen here. It's now home for me and I officially became a resident in 2009.

How has the government's assistance been to establish and grow your studio here?

Government support has been vital for us and a major part of our success. We were very much a start-up studio 3 years ago, we saw Singapore as the perfect platform to develop and grow our animation & VFX business.It was clear the government recognized the industry potential and was taking steps to ensure its growth here.

The Media Development Authority (MDA) were there from the get-go to provide support for us, our studio was only three months old at that time when we began production on Rob The Robot. They moved extremely fast to partner with us financially in the production of our first 3D animated production and have continued to offer support through their manpower programmes enabling us to recruit specific overseas talent required for the high level work we are interested in pursuing. It's great that they have announced the new grant schemes and we have already begun discussions with them about their continued support and their commitment to this media's future.

What is employee strength of your studio?

20 artists but we are in expansion mode and have just moved into a new 6000 sq. ft. facility to accommodate this growth.

Could you share with us about the making and developing of your property? What were the challenges you faced from concept to execution to distribution?

One Animation handled the full production for RTR. We shared script development with our Canadian co-production partner who also undertook storyboards and voice recordings. All creative work, design, building assets, production, pipeline tools, animation and direction were done here in Singapore. Designs for the show began with focusing on the main character and how he would translate into 3D as he was originally a flat 2D character. Once that design was locked in, design concepts for the other characters became realized.

In every episode the characters visit a different planet so our approach in handling the numerous sets/back-drops for each planet, was very much in keeping with how young children play by focusing on a few key props which create the world they are playing in. It was very important to us that the show resonated withchildren and judging by the ratings and feedback we have received we feel we have achieved that and hope to continue advancing the standards we set in Season 1 into Season 2.