Ni Hao, Kai-lan is a Nick Jr show created by Karen Chau that focuses on teaching children emotional empathy and Mandarin. The show was directed by Dave Marshall who I worked previously with on The Xs. Dave made extensive use of my group on The Xs so I could expect the same for this new show. Even though it's a show aimed for a younger audience, that doesn't mean the artistic and technical challenges are easier. If anything, they're more challenging because shows for a younger audience are much more focused on audience participation and emotional interest.

Mr. Sun and his couterpart, Mr. Moon, started out as drawn characters but eventually got converted to 3D rigs. This made keeping them on model much easier and made it much easier to create subtle animation for those long quite moments in the show. In the beginning, the facial animation was done with image sequences but this setup made the creation and editing of animation very cumbersome. At the time, LightWave didn't have lattice deformers but I was able to create a facial rig that respected the flat 2d shapes of the face while conforming to the shape of the head. Having this rig made animating these characters significantly easier and quicker.

Mr. Sun and Moon weren't the only characters that were converted to 3d. A 3d rig was created for Mr. Dragon where it was deemed easier to animate him in 3d compared to 2d. Mouse over the image to see the 3d rig of Mr. Dragon.

There are even shots in the show where the kids were created in 3d. Below is a frame from a shot where both the kids and the dragon are done in 3d.