Storytelling and young children
The key factor that went into the decision to have hover chairs was developmental. At this age children are still learning the language of visual storytelling, the editing and cutting that we all take for granted. If our show was for an older age group we could have DottyWot seeing an animal through the periscope and then we could cut to a shot of her arriving at the enclosure, they would accept that a little piece of time had been snipped out and our view of the story had jumped to the next important moment. But our younger audience would not; they would see this as two DottyWots, one in the ship and one outside. The convention of cutting and jumping units of time is something we learn slowly in these early years. So in the WotWots all the narrative beats in a sequence are shown. The WotWots will spot an animal through the periscope, they will open the ships hatch, we see them leave the ship, and we have a short ‘travelling’ moment as they zoom through the zoo and only THEN do we see them arrive at the enclosure.
Kids deserve the best
I am so proud of my team here who have made the WotWots with me, and it’s a wonderful testament to their craft, that the show is watched by millions of children around the world and celebrated by parents and teachers. Kids are the future, they deserve the very best we can give them from the food for their bodies to the food for their minds.
All WotWots head off from their home planet to see the wonders of the universe because when they grow up they can choose what they will be. We travel back with them to their planet where they visit their many exotic Uncles and Aunties. These colourful relatives have chosen all kinds of forms, colours, patterns and attributes. Some have antlers, some wings, some have four legs some have flippers – but all WotWots delight in these differences. They celebrate the richness and colour that comes from diversity. What could be more important than celebrating this message with young children in a hundred countries here on planet Earth.
Fact or Fiction
Wearing my book-author hat I enjoy spending time visiting kids in schools, and one discussion I’ve always enjoyed is the fact verses fiction debate. 5 to 6 year olds have a fluid notion of this concept that gets a little more solid as they hit 7 and 8. When asked if dinosaurs are real most kids answer yes immediately. It gets a little more fuzzy when I hold up a book of fiction where a child has a pet dinosaur as an imaginary friend. Yes the book is real, after all, there it is in my hand in front of the class – I have just read it aloud. And is the story real? Yes, I just read it aloud so it is real – as a story. And dinosaurs are real; and children definitely can have imaginary friends. But are the events as depicted real? One way teachers used to help children make such discernments was the illustrations. If these were photographs then is was most likely to be fact, not fiction.
Now digital effects allow any feat of the imagination to be rendered as realistic as reality itself. For everyone reading this, we grew up at a time where that discernment was a lot simpler, we all developed a radar for fact and fiction and the ability to challenge things we were shown and told. But every parent of young children know that process has got a whole lot tougher. Its why shared reading and co-viewing is so important, as parents we can be there watching the same programs and can use moments of confusion as opportunities for discussion and learning.
In the WotWots it was easy to reverse the stereotype roles and make DottyWot the ship’s captain. But I wanted more of a debate than that, a debate for mums and dads, so I made a very conscious decision to have DottyWot pink and SpottyWot blue – how outrageous! Yes, it’s provocative, deliberately so, and it’s been great to get all the wonderful feedback from parents who have realised what we have done and why. DottyWot is a girl, and she’s pink, but she has blue spots and blue tufties, she has aspects of boy in her makeup. And SpottyWot has pink spots and pink tufties. He has aspects of girl in his makeup. It’s child centric, it’s easy to point to and to explain, all of us have pink and blue in our natures.
Weta Workshop’s Richard Taylor talks about the Wotwots
Lanky Landing Legs iPad App
The WotWots feature in this interactive digital KIWA BOOK™, Lanky Landing Legs.
SpottyWot is busy fixing the long, lanky legs of the spaceship when his sister discovers two other long, lanky and very pink legs through the sneak-a-peek. Join SpottyWot and his sister DottyWot on an adventure to discover what the strange creature with the long, pink sticks really is.
Go to iTunes to get the interactive book >