Present days. Saint Petersburg. Four friends — Art, Kira, Phil and Vic are the coolest gamers in school. Eventually they find a suspicious laptop with «Heroes of Envell» game installed on it. Turns out that this very laptop is a portal to another dimension, a game realm which is full of adventures and real-life danger.
The audience under 3 years old is as undemanding to the quality of content as possible, of course, we mean children. Parents are the main censors on a child’s way to the cartoons. Parovoz studio always searched for something catchy for a child in a cartoon, the reason he would want to see the cartoon again and again. We believe a gentle voiceover, almost mother’s intonations, likeable characters, bright picture and stories without violence and quick action are the key criteria.
As for 10 to 14 years old viewers, we have to talk about love and sometimes show some violence. I guess, we are not yet ready for it and still learning to tell stories to this audience. However, these viewers watch our Heroes of Envell and Fantasy Patrol animated series.
RUSSIAN ANIMATION MARKET
Unfortunately, there is still lack of content on Russian animation market today. Existing major players such as Soyuzmultfilm, Animaccord, Aeroplane, Melnitsa, Petersburg, and certainly our studio can’t provide enough content, because they have to compete not even with each other but with foreign content which comes to Russia with sponsor support and large budgets for broadcasting. Moreover, work experience is not transferred from studio to studio: the key players develop their own expertise without sharing it. That’s why each studio in a way has to reinvent the wheel.
The lack of content is acutely felt on industry events: the same cartoons are nominated for competitions from year to year. As for us, we strive to go beyond Russian festivals and nominate our works for international competitions. For instance, our animated series Fantasy Patrol and Paper Tales have become participants of Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France in 2016-2017.
There are a lot of professionals in the market, however each studio prefers preparing its own specialists «customising» them to its own needs. At they same time, animation and game industries fight for technicians who are few in number in the market. Our studio is only 4 years old but we have gathered more than 300 professionals by the moment. We also try to provide freedom for our creators to enable them to make author animation which is quite interesting for audience.
Today, animated shows of the studio are watched on all continents where broadcast exists. In the past year, children from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Slovenia, Papua New Guinea, Estonia, China, the Netherlands, Hungary, and Sweden had the opportunity to see the animated series of our studio.
Our cartoons are very popular in China because their own market doesn’t produce such content: they are still learning and don’t know yet which plots to choose and how to tell an interesting story to audience.
ADAPTATION OF THE ANIMATED SHOWS
Dubbing and revoicing are provided not by the studio but by the right holder or directly by the buyer. This is how it works: colleagues give us the sound (english dubbing) and we adjust the picture to the sound.
The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation certainly tries to support animation through its grants as well as Cinema Foundation does, but the bigger issue here is that their patronage doesn’t extend to animated series. Yet there is some good news — the law which implies reducing of tax rates for animation studios is about to come.
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
We are eager to grow into creativity, we want to work with foreign companies and channels. It’s pleasant and interesting to make children’s content, yet we strive to learn how to tell amazing stories for teenagers as well.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU FOR CREATION OF THIS ANIMATED SERIES?
Anton Lanshakov: We try to create an adventure story. I always loved series with adventures where heroes were in a real danger. I took an example from Avatar: The Last Airbender and Dragon Hunters. To be honest, I watched only two episodes of The Last Airbender. It’s true that sometimes you draw inspiration even from few seconds of watching. I can add here Regular Show (there are unusual plots) and original Jumanji (comedy and adventure in the ideal proportion), and Time Masters.
Heroes of Envell • Castle concept
Alexander Billione: Exciting screenplay and realistic characters! Each time I start writing music for an episode it feels like I’m living it through together with the characters! I always want to know what is going to happen later!
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE SPECIAL THING IN HEROES OF ENVELL?
Heroes of Envell • School teacher first fight
Sergey Moiseyev: Evolving story, excellent atmosphere, gorgeous antagonist, jokes and plenty of easter eggs and references.
Anton Lanshakov: For me, it’s in realism! Okay, in real life, a giant lizard couldn’t animate exhibits in Cabinet of Curiosities with the help of clever devices — museum employees wouldn’t allow it! But the way the characters react to this and to many other events is way that anyone would react to it. I like that the action takes place here and now. I like that the characters have simple and familiar to everyone problems except fights with monsters. Yes, they have to save the teacher, but still they do have to go to school. So, the special thing is realism. Okay, realism and new outfits of Buckwheat. Okay, okay, new outfits of Buckwheat is a true special thing of the series.
Alexander Billione: I agree, the peculiarity of the series is that the characters very realistically perceive all events in the cartoon. For instance, in the first episode, when all main characters fell into the world of Envell they didn’t just begin to admire the unusual views, but asked themselves a number of logical questions such as «how did we get here» and «what is it».
Heroes of Envell • Player screen
ARE THE CHARACTERS BASED ON REAL PEOPLE?
Anton Lanshakov: Yes, Art, Vic, and Phil were modelled after my friends. Ilya is inspired by the neighbour living next to my dacha. And my sister was inspiration for Kira. That’s why relationships of Vic and Kira are very much like to those that I have with my sister. But Vic is not the only one that resembles me. All main characters were partially based on me. Many their personality traits are similar to mine. I’m as proud as Art, and as lazy as Phil. Morgarth is an exception. He’s completely made after me. I always loved bad guys in films.
Heroes of Envell • Phil gamestream
IT WOULD BE INTERESTING TO KNOW WHETHER THOSE PEOPLE LIKE THE SERIES?
Anton Lanshakov: Funny, but only one of them has watched the series — the one who provided inspiration for Art. He saw an episode, heard his last name, and was surprised. He called me: «Hallo, Anton. There, in your series, a character has my last name. Is this me?» «Sure!» I replied. He said: «Cool!» There’s one more fan of the series now.
DO YOU LIKE PLAYING COMPUTER GAMES? WHAT GAMES INSPIRE YOU WHILE WORKING ON HEROES OF ENVELL?
Sergey Moiseyev: I adore computer games. Undoubtedly, the series is built on strong basis provided by games. The main narrative is made like in Online RPG. Animated inserts are inspired by immortal platformers. I won’t mention the games we were focused on. Let everybody imagine his own one.
Alexander Billione: Of course, I do love! It seems to me, the one who doesn’t love to play just hasn’t tried. Especially when there are games with entertainment and story as good as in films. But when composing soundtrack I drew inspiration from adventure fantastic films such as Back to the Future.
Heroes of Envell • 2D fight art
Anton Lanshakov: I always liked weird, bizarre games such as Earthworm Jim or crazy Alice, which is American McGee’s Alice. We used those games with a little-known Skullmonkeys and Oddworld series as a models when creating the world of Heroes. Metal Slug, previous Castlevania, and new Terraria games provided inspiration for 2D pixel inserts. I wanted the game to look retro, but still more visually interesting than old games of 80’s.
HEROES OF ENVELL ARE FULL OF PUZZLES AND EASTER EGGS, WHY? WHAT ARE THEY MADE FOR?
Anton Lanshakov: It’s simple, we put our favourite games as easter eggs. Except Mario. I don’t like it, but everybody knows: the series becomes cooler with a reference to Mario video games.
Heroes of Envell • Backvit concept art
WHAT’S YOUR ATTITUDE TO FANFICS, TO CREATIVE ACTIVITY OF FANS?
Anton Lanshakov: It’s wonderful, when our series inspires you to create something! This is the best thing that can happen to a producer of animated series. You don’t have any restrictions such as only 10 minutes for an episode. You are not constrained by your own plot. You are not constrained with the limits of your budget. You don’t have deadlines. I saw many fan arts, but I haven’t read any fanfics yet. I will do, when I end up the project. Because I’m sure, when I open the first page the initial thought will be: «That’s it. They did it better.»
Heroes of Envell • Morgarth 2D concept
Sergey Moiseyev: I don’t have enough time to keep an eye on fan communities of Heroes of Envell due to my constant occupation at the project. But I regularly visit some of them. I constantly follow the official group.
GRAPHICS AND ANIMATION ARE VERY PECULIAR IN HEROES OF ENVELL. SERGEY, WHAT GIVES YOU INSPIRATION IN ELABORATING THE STYLE OF THE PROJECT?
Sergey Moiseyev: The style firms up episode by episode. Each new episode is a challenge for us. We try to make it better and better every time. We strive to take into account modern tendencies and popular things. The cartoon is thoroughly worked out. Many aspects and details can’t be noticed when you watch it for the first time. Well, the Inspiration for me is what we get in the end, the final version. This happens again each new episode. Just like other viewers, I can’t wait to see what is going to happen, what will it look like.
HOW THE MUSIC STYLE OF HEROES OF ENVELL MAY BE DESCRIBED?
Alexander Billione: Musical style of Heroes of Envell is a film score where elements of cyberpunk and fantasy are combined. We had agreed about that with Anton before the work on the project started, even before the theme song was written, because the fantasy game world of Heroes of Envell is filled with high technologies of future.
ALEXANDER, YOU WORK ON DIFFERENT ANIMATED SERIES, WHAT’S THE MAIN FEATURE OF THE WORK ON THIS PROJECT?
Alexander Billione: The main feature of my work on this project is that I write music for Heroes of Envell as though it were a real full-length film. But again, before I began writing music, we had considered this issue with Anton and decided that everything should be serious like in superhero movies.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CHARACTERS? DO YOU HAVE THE FAVOURITE ONE?
Anton Lanshakov: I adore my characters. I’m happy and I’m worried for them as though I were one of them. It is a pure pleasure to write their dialogues. Most of all I like to write for Val.
Alexander Billione: Of course, I do love them! Before I begin composing I experience all their emotions and adventures in my mind. And my favourite character is Phil.
Sergey Moiseyev: How can you feel about your characters? No doubt, I do have my favourite ones, but in general, I think of all of them as old friends. We grew up together, we know all their secrets and vices. We have much in common, we love the same things. Art is my favourite character. He’s very daring and brave. Yeah, and he owns a shotgun. Though people often say that I resemble Phil.
Heroes of Envell • Party 2D concept
ANTON LANSHAKOV, AND ONE MORE QUESTION: HOW DID THE HISTORY OF THE PROJECT BEGIN?
Anton Lanshakov: One day, Evgeny and I were playing in LittleBigPlanet. Evgeny is a creative producer of Parovoz studio. LittleBigPlanet is a console game. The game initially seems good and simple, but it turns out to be a complete nightmare in the end. Evgeny’s and mine characters were trapped between a hydraulic press and a girdle under power on the last level. A jump to the left — and the characters would be crushed by press. A jump to the right — and they would get shocked. It was a desperate, hopeless situation. The very situation when the most interesting ideas could be brought to life. We wondered. And suddenly we had an insight.
Heroes of Envell • Main characters concept
Evgeny said, «It would be great to make a series where the action takes place in a computer game». And I replied for that reasonably: «Yes, but not the whole action. It is better when one half is in a game and the other takes place in usual real world.» We forgot about the game and went to develop the idea. Then, half a year after that bad session in LittleBigPlanet, after dozens of versions and hundreds of written pages we were finally satisfied with the scenario and started creating the first episode. Okay, joking apart. The truth is that Evgeny said: «Anton, we should jump on the press when it comes above the girdle». And I replied reasonably: «Then we will be smashed against the ceiling.»
You can find more information about the animated series Heroes of Envell at our website!
In the beginning of 2018 Parovoz Animation Studio, Interactive Moolt and Digital Television company will launch the first family VR cinema Moolt VR with game and interactive options.
Location From “Heroes of Envell” Animated Series
Moolt VR is application for smartphones that support VR glasses. It combines favorite activities of families with children: playing, cartoons watching, going into the cartoons atmosphere, communicating with animation characters as well as visiting cinema. Before watching users can choose location from cartoon where the VR session will take place and animation characters that will accompany them at cinema.
Content Inside Moolt VR App
Some locations have been already created on the basis of animated series of its own production: Be-be-bears for the little ones and Fantasy Patrol and Heroes of Envell for an older audience. The app creators plan to agree with right holders on cartoons produced by other animation studios and to create new locations with favorite characters on their basis.
Most of Moolt VR possibilities haven’t been used in mobile VR apps before that’s why this application is unique.
Location From “Fantasy Patrol” and “Be-be-bears”
Moolt VR Will be Launched in the Beginning of 2018 All Around the World
Moolt VR is released in three languages – Russian, English and Spanish. The app will be released in Russia simultaneously with other countries: the USA, Spain, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Latin America countries.
It will be possible to install Moolt VR app on Samsung smartphones that support Gear VR. One can also download it in Oculus store for the same name headset.
Moolt VR – is the second app involving virtual reality technologies developed by Digital Television company and Parovoz Animation Studio. In February Interactive Moolt studio released Magic Lantern VR project – the game for VR devices based on the same name animated series. Russian VR game is available for every user of Steam – global game service that totals hundreds of millions of players all around the world.