Advantage Creative

Award-winning animation CharacterShop


CharacterShop is an award-winning animation studio and production company based in Birmingham. Established in 2004, CharacterShop specialises in character animation and digital effects production for TV series, commercials, idents & branding, film, interactive and mobile media. Over the years CharacterShop has created many hundreds of different characters for TV, media and leisure clients reaching a huge range ofaudiences – from pre-schoolers to teens to grown-ups. Some aredesigned simply to entertain and amuseand someto delivera more serious message. Advantage Creative Fund invested in 2008 to help the business grow at a crucial stage in its development.

It's been a really rewarding relationship because apart from the financial investment, which has helped us go from strength to strength, Advantage Creative has hooked us in to a network of creative industries across the Midlands and they have been a huge source of support. Their team really understands creative businesses in a way that an ordinary investment company might not. That's made a real difference to us. — Mark Vale, Co-founder of CharacterShop

The origins of CharacterShop lie with a Birmingham-based animation team that originally worked for the BBC on major digital projects. The dotcom crash led to the closure of their parent company so Mark Vale and Creative Director Paul Howell asked if they could acquire the equipment and the staff and take the company private. Since then, CharacterShop has delivered a wide range of exciting animation and special effects work for companies as diverse as Haven holidays, CITV, McCann Erickson, Animal Planet, O2 and also for the computer games industry.

We provide specialist animation and additional resources for game companies. We worked on an XBox Kinect game called Disneyland Adventures that gave our team the privilege of working with classic characters from the Disney and Pixar studios including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Buzz Lightyear. It was a dream come true for our animators.

CharacterShop also has some exciting projects of its own in development, thanks to the prestige the team has acquired through the success of Woolly and Tig.

Woolly and Tig is the first job we have done for the BBC - so given where the team began it's particularly great that it's been such a triumph.

Woolly and Tig, commissioned by the CBeebies Channel, is a co-production between Birmingham-based CharacterShop and Tattiemoon, the Scottish production company that created Balamory and many more television favourites. Series one - consisting of 30 five-minute episodes - launched in March 2012 and it's been consistently the most popular show on the CBeebies iPlayer. CharacterShop Managing Director and producer, Mark Vale, says:

It's also regularly the only childrens' show in the top 20 most requested shows on the main BBC iPlayer.

It charts the adventures of a three year-old girl, called Tig, and her toy spider who 'comes to life' to help her cope with new experiences like going to the dentist, starting a dance class or meeting a family member's new dog for the first time. The live action sequences are shot in Scotland with actors and the footage is sent to CharacterShop to add an animated Woolly. CharacterShop has been inundated with emails and letters from parents whose children adore the show and are now desperate for a Woolly spider of their very own.

The feedback from the audience has been tremendous. It's fantastic to have a hit show but we're also very proud to learn from families that the shows are helping children cope with difficult and unfamiliar situations more easily.
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