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Endangered animals get voice on YouTube

Characters in the series include Eric the Pangolin

The former creative director at Popcorn Digital in the UK is working with a charitable foundation on a new series featuring anthropomorphic virtual YouTubers who give a voice to endangered animals.

Bruna Capozzoli, who stepped down from her role at UK kids’ entertainment specialist Cake’s digital arm earlier this year, is now head of creative content at On the Edge Conservation (OTEC).

The not-for-profit is dedicated to the promotion of biodiversity and conservation and has today launched a weekly shortform series aimed at 9-12s on its YouTube channel.

Created by Capozzoli, characters such as Lexi the Aye Aye and Eric the Pangolin are designed to entertain and engage young online audiences while also highlighting the threat to their existence.

Tegan the Kakapo will join the group in the coming weeks, with each character getting their own Instagram profile. Associated TikTok channels will launch in February.

The animals have been created using a new form of motion capture, where the face, hands and body movements are rendered simultaneously, instead of afterwards. This process enables animation in real time, “delivering the pace and feel of a classic vlogger,” OTEC said.

The tech was designed by Doppelganger, a collaborative of technical specialists who came together to deliver OTEC’s brief for the project.

The characters’ stories have been written by Emmy-winning screenwriting partnership Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler.

OTEC said it had “ambitious plans” to leverage the IP across different channels including licensing, third-party brand collaborations and coproduced content.

The On the Edge YouTube channel follows the launch of mobile game, Kakapo Run, while digital specialist Capozzoli has previously worked with firms and brands including digital producer Diagonal View and Talking Tom & Friends.

During Capozzoli’s three years at Popcorn Digital, the company established itself as a key destination for brands and producers looking to learn more about YouTube consumption and to boost online engagement.

Beth Blood, founder and CEO of OTEC, said: “By giving a voice to unfamiliar but endangered animals through modern storytelling techniques, we will promote biodiversity as something to be celebrated in pop culture.”

Capozzoli added: “In this project, we have really evolved our storytelling. Through the beauty of virtual influencers, we have surpassed relaying retrospective news and moved towards cultural commentary. The key to ensuring our characters could evolve and gain lives of their own was mastering the technology that sits behind motion capture.”

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