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JibJab’s StoryBots Learns Its ABCs

JibJab has completed the series of ABC videos that is part of their new children’s learning project StoryBots. The last video in the series—Z, of course—was directed by Max Winston, whose mastery of classic cartoon timing and movement is second to none among stop motion animators. [UPDATE: Max has posted behind-the-scenes photos from the short on his blog.]

When I was in LA last month, JibJab co-founder Evan Spiridellis gave me a sneak peek of the StoryBots material they’re producing. The StoryBots website doesn’t give much away, but some bits and pieces of concept art can be seen on their Tumblr. The company is busy producing a significant amount of interactive storybooks, games and animated shorts to support the StoryBots iPad app. Beginning this Spring, the app will be available for a flat monthly subscription fee of $4.99.

The thing that strikes me most about the whole StoryBots endeavor is the consistency of quality. JibJab uses a large crew—both in-house and freelancers around the globe—to create its StoryBots content. Working with such a large group of people has the potential to yield a mixed bag of results—for example, see the TED-Ed animated videos.

In JibJab’s case, however, there is a remarkable through-line that stretches across the entire StoryBots universe. This doesn’t mean that every StoryBots piece will wind up as a classic piece of children’s entertainment, but like the early Sesame Street, there is a sensibility of fun and creativity that binds the various parts of StoryBots together.

It’s the type of result that can’t be achieved overnight. Evan, who is the de facto creative director of StoryBots (I’m not sure what title he actually uses), does an incredible job of mixing and matching creative talents, casting the right crew for each segment, and then letting each person do what they’re best at doing. He credits the large amount of content they create for their e-cards division, which remains JibJab’s bread and butter, as preparing him for the demands of putting together StoryBots. At this early stage, the hard work is paying off, and StoryBots could become one of those rare children’s educational products that appeals to children and parents alike.