The making of Super Simple Learning’s “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”: An interview with Nathan Dillow of Fuzz Animation

Based on the much-loved “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” Youtube Video by Super Simple Learning and Fuzz Animation, See Here Studios collaborated closely with Super Simple Learning and Fuzz Animation to develop the app, which includes an interactive children’s book, a counting game and two versions of the original animated video. We hope you enjoy the results!

Twinkle Twinkle storybook app, page 1

First page of the Twinkle Twinkle storybook app

We had so much fun working on this project, thanks to our wonderful creative partners. We especially loved the quality of the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star animation. So we asked Nathan Dillow, Creative Director of Fuzz Animation, if he could share his start in animation, the making of the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star video, and his artistic process:

Q: How did you first get started in animation?
A: Well I was always into drawing and involved in art, and the moment I saw Star Wars as a kid I became obsessed with movies and how they were made, particularly visual effects. When Pixar released Toy Story, it blew my mind and opened up a whole new world. There was something about it that agreed with my curiosity and love for technology and computers and animation. I was about 14 and my life changed forever when I found and downloaded the open source software, Blender 3D, and started creating and taking on jobs not long after. I’ve always been entrepreneurial minded. I love organizing and directing things – Fuzz Animation is really an extension of that and my love for animation.

Storyboards for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star video

Storyboards for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Q: How did the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star production with Super Simple Learning come about?
A: Super Simple Learning approached me about the production based on a rough concept they pitched. They had a basic idea that they wanted an owl and star character playing together in the night sky. The fun part about this project was that they gave me complete creative freedom to develop the story. They really liked some of our past work in regards to the art style, so we tried to infuse that feel into Twinkle. Five hundred billion hours later, we finished. It was quite a learning experience, and a lot of work, but to say it was a blast would be an understatement. I hope the heart we put into it shows in the final piece.

Q: Could you share some of your working process for the Twinkle Twinkle Little star video?

Character models and rigs

3D character models and rigs

A: The most important step of the process for me was to nail down the story and how we wanted everything to flow. Working with my story artist, we locked ourselves in my office and hashed out ideas and drawings until we could pin them up on the wall from beginning to end. Super Simple Learning gave us scratch track recordings of the music composition that I used to time our sequence ideas for the animatic. I’m also communicating with artists at this point to join the team while working on a rough 3D layout. I have a lot of faith in the people I choose for our projects. Although I’ll have some distinct direction, I really believe in utilizing every artists unique potential with their artistic freedoms. I’ll never forget the day a lightbulb went off in my head while I was in the shower. I realized that it’s impossible to do anything on my own at the standards I set for myself with Fuzz Animation. Always inspiring this idea is a quote from Walt Disney I look at everyday: “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”

Screenshot of 3D working process

Screenshot of 3D working process

Q: What inspires you as an artist?

Final rendered image in storybook app

Final rendered image in storybook app

A: Nothing inspires me more than a good movie experience. Anything Disney or Pixar has ever produced inspires me to no end. I also love to look at animation history as well as study drawings from, say Glen Keane, Milt Kahl, or any of the nine old men, really.

Q: What do you do to recharge or overcome creative blocks?
A: I have to recharge quite often, I get burned out easily if projects drag on. Simply taking a break from it all, getting out into nature, anything away from the computer. Surrounding myself with people always opens my mind to new and refreshing ideas. I love to run, exercise and cook. I am also a heavily involved musician and enjoy playing guitar and traveling. I try to balance my time working with plenty of “play” time. It’s easy to get into a workaholic rut, especially when there is a fun project. When this happens my brain starts accepting everything it’s exposed to and I stop questioning or looking at things clearly.

Q: What are some of your current (or future) projects?
A: Right now we’re doing some television work, and I’ve just been admitted into a training program in advanced character animation. The future is always exciting, I’m always working towards new goals to improve myself. I’ll be spending 18 months training and pushing myself and Fuzz to the next level. One of the ultimate goals for Fuzz Animation besides continuing to produce quality commercial work, is to produce an independent animated movie. So I’m always working on that when no one is looking!

Thank you for the interview, Nathan!

Categories: Blog

27 Comments

Benson Mumbo · September 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Hello,

I watched ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’. This is a wonderful job. You guys are just in a class of your own. I wish I could afford your fee. I won’t hesitate to approach you. But am sure for its not small.

Am based in Nairobi Kenya and trying to create a Swahili langauge website for Englsh speking visitors to Eastern Africa. Am planning to develop youtube videos to communicate several ideas on this subject.

However, all the best!

Mumbo

Marilyn McReynolds · March 19, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Can I get this on DVD?

    seeherestudios · March 20, 2013 at 4:32 am

    Not at this very moment, but it’s in the works!

    Super Simple Learning · December 5, 2014 at 12:33 am

    Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is now available on the Super Simple Songs – Video Collection – Vol. 1 DVD, available here: http://amzn.to/1AoTG5X ^_^

      James · November 15, 2016 at 2:06 am

      Hello I love your videos. I teach primary school in China and my students love them too! Can you please tell me what software you use to create the videos such as ‘Do you like broccoli ice cream?’. I think the style is fantastic and I’d love to learn how to create my own.

dario · April 1, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Beautiful animation and video, my soon love the owl! Did you know if someone have created a puppet of the owl?

    seeherestudios · April 3, 2013 at 12:20 am

    Thank you! Currently there is not an owl puppet, but we will forward your message to Super Simple Learning 🙂

      Emilia Stoica · November 5, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      Hello,

      Did you have forwarded the message of dario says:

      Beautiful animation and video, my soon love the owl! Did you know if someone have created a puppet of the owl? ” to Super Simple Learning ?
      I would like to buy the two characters for my little girl.
      She suffers and cries when she sees the video.

      Thank you so much.

      Emilia Stoica

        Jessica · June 4, 2019 at 8:25 pm

        My daughter cried when she watches it too! It’s the strangest thing, she get overcome with emotion .

Kelly · June 5, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Hello, I have just come across the twinkle twinkle little star and snowflake videos on you tube. Watching my 17 week old daughter coo her way through them just melted me. Please let me know if/when they are available on DVD!

Ann · June 28, 2013 at 5:05 pm

I and my son are love the version of this twinkle twinkle little star song. My son is going to be one year old, I want to get this book for him, I mean the book is printed in paper. I have the song in iTunes app already. Does anyone know where can buy the paper book of this twinkle twinkle little star story. I only want this version… Thanks a lot! Ann

Ann · June 28, 2013 at 5:07 pm

I and my son are love the version of this twinkle twinkle little star song. My son is going to be one year old, I have the song in iTunes app already. Does anyone know where can buy the paper book of this twinkle twinkle little star story. I only want this version… Thanks a lot! Ann

    seeherestudios · July 5, 2013 at 3:51 am

    Thank you! Super Simple Learning is planning to publish a printed book by the end of the year. Please check their website at http://www.supersimplelearning.com for update. Wonderful to hear that you and your son are enjoying the song, video and app!

stormy thomas · July 16, 2013 at 2:28 pm

My little nephew JJ is 6 months old he loves the twinkle twinkle video so much!! he moves his arms like he is flying , then when we saw the snowflake video he was able to recognize the cameo of his favorite owl and star. these are just beautiful videos what an amazing gift to little babies of the world you should be so proud . even if he is ever fussy all i have to do is play it and he gets so excited and happy kudos on a job very well done.

Gin Jenkins · September 5, 2013 at 2:31 pm

My grand daughter loves Twinkle and Owl on this video she is 2 and sings it all the time she wants me to play it over and over. Can you buy a toy twinkle playing the song? I would like to get her one for her birthday.

    seeherestudios · September 5, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Thank you!! Super Simple Learning is planning a plush toy of the star – please check their website for updates on when the toy will be available in the future: http://www.supersimplelearning.com. (It might not be immediately available.) So happy to hear your granddaughter loves the Twinkle and Owl!

Hakim · August 24, 2014 at 4:07 pm

You guys just did a fantastic job. My daughter is so attached to the song, she wants the owl and the star so very bad. This why I’m writing this. Can you please let me know if there is any?

Tj · October 1, 2014 at 8:17 pm

My son is 20 months and LOVES this video. He is completely uninterested in TV or screened devices unless it is playing THIS video. He loves it so much we have decided to dress him as the owl for halloween and he will carry a Twinkle Star stuffed pillow as his friend!

Biljana · October 25, 2015 at 3:15 pm

My son absolutely loves the three videos with (the owl and the star, the bears and the ice-skating snowman)! He is 19m. He learned so much just watching the videos and it is a fun opportunity for storytelling since there is no dialogue. There’s so much badly illustrated or plain dumb-down stuff for toddlers out there that it was so refreshing to see your work on YouTube.
This leads me to the next point I wanted to make. As an illustrator myself I cannot tell you how much appreciate the work that went behind the scenes of creating these adorable characters as well as telling a story with only movement and no dialogue. The songs are simple but the characters tell so much through their eyes and the way they interact. The Twinkle Twinkle Little Star melts my heart at the notion that this lonely little owl found a friend in the star and that they get to play together while everyone is asleep. And I love that all three stories take place on the same patch of land. How clever!!!
I hope you do many many more of these and if you need extra hands illustrating give me a call!

Jeanne · December 5, 2015 at 1:23 am

I discovered the Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star by chance by googling the four words and up came this adorable video that my 6 month granddaughter just loves. She also loves the snowflakes with the snowman and snowgirl. My daughter keep playing these just to hear the voices of the 2 videos. We were wondering (my daughter is a muscic teacher) who sang on these 2 videos. We would love to know if possible.

    seeherestudios · December 5, 2015 at 2:34 am

    Dear Jeanne,
    The singer on the two videos is a talented Japanese girl, Nagi. She was one of the students of the Super Simple Learning teachers when they taught English in Japan.
    Hope this answers your question! If you have any other questions, please let us know.

Cloyd Winstanley · February 4, 2017 at 12:03 am

my 1 year old daughter is so in love with this video! she watches it at least 20 times or more a day! thank you for making this.

Gabriela · November 29, 2017 at 8:32 pm

Hi! My son (1 year) adores the trilogy” of “twinkle…” “snowflake” and “good night…”, my question is, did you do another new video of this type? I mean, another song with the same characters? Or some of them?
Because i’d really like to know for my babyboy! He can ear those musics all day long! You are genius for created so beautifull characters, Thank you! Hope your answer

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