I Have a Question – Sichuan HongYao Culture Communication Co., Ltd.
CGGE: Mr. Wu, I am pleased to have the opportunity to talk with you about your panda Pango. Could you briefly introduce the history of your company?
Mr Wu: During the 10 years in Shenzhen GDC, I mainly served as a project manager, art director and executive director, thus exposed to a number of overseas animation and film projects as I had to work with their executive production teams, assist them with the production in China so that the cooperative projects can be carried out efficiently. Most of them were American animation projects. In the course of work, I had been learning project ideas, process design, schedule management, and business ideas from foreign counterparts. I had been thinking all the time through learning and practice. Is it possible that our Chinese team can continue to create an original anime IP role that meets the international stanrdard and a unique story with Chinese characteristics through our own unremitting efforts? Constantly considering this issue and encountering changes in work and life, I founded Sichuan HongYao Culture Communication Co., Ltd.” in the hometown of Panda Pange, Chengdu, Sichuan in 2012.
As I am one of the first animation practitioners to enter the 3D animation industry in China, I have already had some thoughts and project plans for how to operate HongYao Culture and original projects. At that time, I thought that I would do a good job. However, after a few years of entrepreneurship, I gradually found a huge reality problem: The envisioning of a new career path in mind is utterly different from doing and performing it yourself. The working environment and the overseas projects that I encountered at GDC as well as the business environment of foreign animation industry differ a lot from their counterparts in China. What’s more, my current identity and career orientation as the CEO of a startup company burdens me with all the planning of the company. In fact, I still underestimated the challenges I would encounter in the future!
As Chengdu does not have abundant industry resources and talents like metropolis do, we need to build a new team and train it. Afterwards, various problems that appeared in the process of developing the projects made me realize that, even if the founders of Hong Yao Culture once served as the senior executives and professional backbones of famous domestic animation production companies with over 19 years’ experience of the industry, there would still be countless problems with the project waiting for us to solve.
Since its establishment, Hong Yao Culture has been committed to integrating high-quality animation design, production and management experience with the animation brand operation concepts, creating the No. 1 brand of Chinese animated Panda IP, and striving to become the top original animation IP brand operator globally. “Panda Pange” is the first original IP series created by Hong Yao Culture. Up to now, we have introduced content products like IME skin, mobile phone themes, emoticons, animation shorts as well as a shop on Taobao. Up to now, Hong Yao Culture has licensed 50 well-known social brands, with brand types and names on the cooperating list still increasing.
At present, Hong Yao Culture is working with various partners to build commercial complexes, children’s theme inns, VR theme parks, leisure health food chain stores and develop other offline commercial cooperation projects with the theme of tourism and Sichuan specialties, featuring Panda Pange IP as the hero.
CGGE: Why do you choose the images of panda, orangutan and rabbit among many others? How was it originally considered?
Mr Wu: As a national treasure of China, the panda is a business card of Chengdu and Sichuan while the orangutan represents the West. Hong Yao Culture intends to create interesting stories with the personality conflicts and cultural background differences between the two heroes. In order to ensure the quality, Hongyao Culture has spent the past four years polishing the images, completing the image design, character positioning, animation test and story frames of a total of 9 main characters of Panda, Orangutan, Rabbit, Cat, Polar bear and 4 piglets. Once publicized, the images were highly recognized in and out of the industry. In the early stage, we focused on promoting the two heroes of Panda and Orangutan. As many fans are eager to see us launch female characters, we also launched the emoticons and shorts featuring the rabbit.
CGGE: Many animation companies want to build successful IPs. They start with animated films or TV series to plan IP developments. Then why do you choose to authorize the images first, including WeChat emoticons promotions and authorization cooperations? How does it benefit your overall IP operations?
Mr Wu: It is a traditional practice in the industry to start with animated movies and TVs to create IP. In recent years, with the rapid development of mobile Internet, emoticons have become an emerging way to promote IPs. At present, Hong Yao Emoticons has been launched on 5 platforms: WeChat, QQ, Baidu input method, Sogou input method and Line. The cumulative download volume has exceeded 50 million, and the cumulative transmission volume has exceeded 560 million times, laying a foundation for the IP image popularity. The launch of WeChat emoticons attracted many fans, and some brands took the initiative to find us to cooperate, including 30 domestic brands like CCTV Panda Channel, Baidu Input Method, Sogou Input Method, Chengdu Ito Yokado and Wacom. The cooperations bring affinity, distinctive personality and visual beautification to the authorized brands. At the same time, it increases the online traffic volumes of the IP and generates revenues for the franchisor. The authorizations are not restricted to films and televisions. Excellent IP images with popularity and traffic can also be used for authorizing cooperations. Of course, with the continuous launch of the follow-up film and television contents of Hong Yao Culture, it will definitely bring more cross-platform authorization cooperations.
CGGE: I heard that in terms of film and television animations, you have already planned several shorts that received great responses. What are the major broadcast channels for these shorts? Will you continue to develop shorts in the future? Will they be on TV or even the big screens? Do you have such plans? How many years will it take to complete the shorts?
Mr Wu: Hong Yao Culture has already launched two shorts, “Biangbiang Noodles” and “The Wave”, on mainstream video websites such as Youku and Iqiyi. “Biangbiang Noodles” is the first episode of “Pange and Pakun Food and Scenery Series Shorts”. In each episode of this animated series, Gorilla Pakun is led by Panda Pange to make a Sichuan specialty at a well-known Sichuan attraction. In the following works, we will present the audience with the three cannons of the Broad and Narrow Alley, the Sorrow Bean Jelly of Luodai Ancient Town and so on. Panda, special foods and nice sceneries are the most representative elements of Sichuan. We hope that, through the vivid and funny 3D animation, we can bring the recipes of Sichuan specialties, as well as the beautiful sceneries of Sichuan and Chengdu to the audience, so that they can have a taste of Chinese culture. “The Wave” is the first episode of the shorts “Pange and Pakun’s Daily Series”. This series uses the two cultural characters of Pango and Pakun with distinctively contrasting cultural backgrounds and personalities, telling their funny daily things in urban life. In the future, Hong Yao Culture plans to launch two short film series on mainstream video websites and domestic and foreign TV stations. The film is the highest level of presentation of film & television contents. We have been planning, and it is estimated to be on big screen in 3 to 5 years.
CGGE: Your image of Pange is a very representative image with Chinese characteristics. What do you think about the fact that overseas IP images from animation companies like Disney and DreamWorks occupy more than half of the Chinese market? Can you defeat these overseas IPs and maintain your own ones?
Mr Wu: I think the overseas companys’ commercial IP building paths are our good examples, but we can make the most authentic cultural content products with Chinese characteristics. Strictly speaking, the careers of our core members started with learning from the Disney animation system. We learned a lot of animation technologies, process management, quality control and progress control methods from foreign animation peers. We are actually the first Chinese animators who were trained in the productions of many overseas projects. It is precisely because we have learned so much about agriculture. In the future, our mission is to make a Chinese animated film with the Western technology and project operation concepts, presenting wonderful Eastern animated characters and stories to the West and the global market.
Hong Yao Culture has spent 7 years exploring the Panda IP commercial system and initially established the IP commercial small ecological framework of the world’s most professional and systematic audio pandas. We hope to take advantage of the first-mover advantage of Panda IP commercial operation with the birthplace of panda culture as the starting point, and take the same international design and production quality of Disney and DreamWorks to combine the unique Chinese story, customs and local conditions. The unique road to the rise of China’s IP.
Panda Pange is the representative cartoon IP star of Sichuan, originally designed by Hong Yao Culture. It is a unique species in China, a business card of Sichuan and a national treasure of China. At present, the cute panda Pange has wide audience bases and strong referentiality. Everyone has the first impression of Panda Pange: cute, honest, attractive to children and the animation market.
CGGE: Currently, more and more Chinese companies hope to go globally. Many companies already aim at the global market. Is this also one of your future goals? What do you think of Chinese IPs entering the overseas market?
Mr Wu: Since its establishment, Hong Yao Culture has always been aimed at the global market. All image designs and developments adopt international first-line standards of company processes, designs and productions. At the Hong Kong Authorizing Exhibition and the Annecy Animation Film Festival in France, the “Panda Pange” IP is recognized as the most international Chinese IP. Some international counterparts do not even believe that “Panda Pange” is designed by China, thinking that Hong Yao Culture is the agent of the US IPs. There were even incidents of the theft of Pange T-shirts.
As a local Chinese animation IP brand operator, we always believe that our products must deeply rooted in the cultural soil of our motherland, so that it can have a solid cutural foundation. Only if the product becomes one of the representative national animation brands can it go overseas.
At present, the Panda Pange series emoticons has been launched on 230 countries and regions through the Line platform and has become the most popular Chinese panda series emoticons. The sample short “Pange and Pakun” has also been highly recognized by the international market. The films currently under development of Hong Yao Culture is also aimed at the global market.
CGGE: What are your major concerns about the company’s future development? As the sizes of animation users and markets continue to expand, will you take in more foreign investment?
Mr Wu: In terms of the company’s future development, our main focus is the enhancement of IP values, which is to consolidate creative content and achieve the most business revenues with high quality contents. Hong Yao Culture welcomes investors with long-term planning and various channel resources in animation areas to join, accelerating the IP incubation and increasing the commercial values of Hong Yao Culture’s “Panda Pange” IP.
CGGE: In the end, can you simply exchange your opinions with us on China’s future animation market?
Mr Wu:China’s future animation market has a huge room for development, with the IP contents and presentation methods diversifying. The licensing and derivative sales will not only be promoted by traditional film and television animation contents. With the popularity of mobile internet, VR/AR technology, the evolving of animation technology, and changes in social needs, the development models of animation IPs will continue to update. However, it also requires practitioners to have better commercial operation abilities. Those who want to make quick cash out of the industry should tkae care. Generations of the 70s and 80s who had grown up watching animes have now entered middle age and become the dominant forces in society. Anime is no longer the exclusive products for children and young people. As the quality of audiences in the Chinese television & film market continues to improve, only the excellent IPs with international high-quality creative designs and productions can survive in the future, maintaining a position in the industry and the market.
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