A treasure trunk of knowledge opened at Animation Masters Summit 2017 as the Masters spoke about the burning topics in the media and entertainment industry.
YouTube Kids programming manager, Amy Blair shared her thoughts on the topic ‘YouTube Kids (app) and Why Global Communities Matter.’ There is a lot going on in the kids and family entertainment space. “I’ve been absolutely amazed by the quality and creativity coming out of the industry,” Blair smiled. Some fundamentals are significant she thinks for YouTube Kids app to have a lasting impact on the audience even beyond screen.
YouTube Kids with its presence in 26 countries and five languages has a lot of animated and original content for the app. “What I love about the creators is that they have stories to tell,” she said, “whether they come in the form of a narrative, a memory or a lesson.”
In her career, Blair has worked with books, apps and games, and seen interactive storytelling but after working in video formats, she has realised that it is the best format to bring different mechanisms together to showcase different stories. “Kids by their very nature are open. They have no biases or expectations. They are very curious and don’t see any borders.”
How has YouTube and internet transformed the family entertainment industry into an era of no walls?
Blair explained three principles in this era of no walls:
Communities are global, not local
A 10-year old Australian girl who with the help of her family makes stop-motion videos with her doll received a letter from a six-year old autistic boy of UK. “This boy – like a lot of kids with autism – doesn’t understand how people relate to one another and how conversations work. His mother wrote to Grace telling her how Grace’s videos have helped him interact,” Blair elaborated. The boy is not able to respond in a classroom or to his parents but repeats what Grace’s dolls say in the video, which has increased his ability to communicate and open-up with the world. “What is incredible is how 9,000 miles away, global impact is possible.”
Access to learning is universal
There is no limitation to learn anything. Kids are influenced more than just cartoons and “as animators, you also realise that there is something far more behind a story – there is a lesson.” Kids go to the internet to figure out how to build things themselves. Kids learning stop-motion from YouTube is building a generation of kids going to YouTube to become animators of the future.
60 per cent of the views on YouTube Kids come from outside of their home country. Thus, the creators can help families around the globe discover more about the world around them. “Videos can help fulfill their thirst for knowledge.”
New storytellers are emerging daily
YouTube Kids is a platform for anyone who wishes to share her / his story and memory. In an era of no walls, it is now possible for anyone to be able to create and influence.
YouTube Kids looks at programming with an impact beyond the screen by referring to what they call as the three Es – entertainment, enrichment and exploration.
Entertaining content comes in all shapes and any format, and depends on what users find entertaining. “On YouTube Kids, we make sure there is accessibility and we are not forcing one type of genre.” It can be episodic or scripted with recognisable characters, like Peppa Pig. The activities shown in this pre-school series is what kids find very relatable.
“When we say enrichment, people often jump to content about lessons, but enriching goes beyond that.” It makes kids think about the social world, ecosystem and community around them. Talking about the animated show Small Potatoes, Blair said that the starchy adorable friends “talk about amazing things that can bring enriching elements in their highly entertaining animation.”
According to Blair, kids should not just sit in front of the screen all day long. At YouTube Kids, they think about play-time and how they can interact with kids to get them active. Jaime was a yoga instructor who realised that she loved teaching Yoga to kids and started a YouTube channel Cosmic Kids Yoga which mixes an animated background and a storyline for teaching, “and it makes kids want to participate in something beyond what is only happening on the screen,” Blair explained.
“As you create and inspire the industry, we hope that you continue doing it,” she added, thanking everyone present in the crowd for contributing to breaking walls and creating content that is entertaining, enriching and exploratory.