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Tiny Planets is an educational website, virtual world, and British television series geared towards children ranging in age from 4 to 7. The website was launched in May 2001 with the television debut on ABC in Australia in October of the same year.
The television series consists of 65 five-minute dialogue-free episodes featuring two small furry aliens traveling their universe figuring out important stuff. It is actively licensed worldwide for broadcast and video distribution. Both the series and website is created with CGI animation giving the series a spectacular depth of scale and unique vibrant color.
- 1 The Television Show
- 2 Characters
- 3 The Tiny Planets
- 4 Online Learning
- 5 The Team
- 6 Awards and Honors
- 7 External links
The Television Show
Deep in the heart of the Tiny Universe lies the Home Planet where the main characters, Bing and Bong, make their home. These two explorers are catapulted to the surrounding worlds in their solar system on a fluffy white sofa where they explore, learn about the inhabitants, grow friendships and have fun.
Each episode encourages young children to make their own discoveries as they solve problems. The program’s aim is to help children examine how things work, strengthen their observation skills, consider underlying relationships and identify and test new ideas. Each 'silent' episode tells a simple tale that children can watch by themselves and understand. The website is designed to be an extension of the videos and allows parents to access hand-on learning activities, lesson plans and Explore page to complement each episode.
Bing is older and much larger than Bong and with a huge heart to match, Bing’s enormous appetite for exploring is dwarfed only the endless supply of useful gadgets in an ever-present pouch. Wise and determined, Bing often takes the lead in adventures. Patient and thoughtful, Bing loves nothing more than a problem to be solved or a job to be done. Bing likes to help others and has an optimistic approach to life and its problems. Bing doesn’t speak, but communicates with body language, expressive eyebrows, and an expansive grunting hum! Voiced by Nelson De Freitas
Bong, the smaller one, is appealing, coy, impulsive, and a bundle of energy. Impish, playful, gregarious and incredibly compassionate, Bong is especially miserable when on bad terms with Bing. Bong loves to join in games and be the center of attention. Bong doesn’t speak but has an expressive face and body, a high-pitched kind of ‘greak’ (cross between a grunt and a squeak), and a multi-decibel ‘Yarrroooohh!!’ of joy. Voiced by Damon Albarn.
Flockers live on each of the Tiny Planets, each with its own distinctive population. More often than not, it’s these social creatures that Bing & Bong are helping out of a jam. Whether it’s cleaning out-of-reach windows or fortifying a house to withstand wind, Flockers are a perpetual source of problems begging to be solved. The Flockers do not speak. Voices are Bob West, Remi Kabaka, Haruka Kuroda and Frank Meschkuleit.
Locals are smaller inhabitants of the planets and can appear in greater numbers than the Flockers but are just as dim. They are mostly globular in shape with blinking eyes and little antennae on top of their heads. They communicate by bouncing, blinking and squeaking. On certain planets, the Locals are geometric shapes: squares, circles and triangles. Locals are always colorful, appealing and friendly.
Robots are segmented spherical creatures with mechanical arms and helicopter rotors. Found on the Planet of Technology, like all robots, they are linear thinkers attempting to multi-task. They are there to help but do not take instructions well. Thus they are a challenge and Bing and Bong learn to work with them to get the best out of them. Voiced by Cass Browne and Rosie Wilson.
Halley, named after the comet, is a small wide-eyed alien who provides a running commentary from her flying saucer and “films” the action with a remote camera to provide a summary at the end of each of the television episodes. Halley only featured in the version of the series that was broadcast on Nickelodeon’s Noggin digital channel between 2002 and 2005. She is voiced by the singer of the theme song. So she is rarely seen but she is still somewhere out there … Voiced by Stacey DePass
The Tiny Planets
Bing and Bong live inside the home planet. From here they set out every morning on a new adventure. It is an icy world, covered in snow-capped ice floes. Inside one of these is Bing and Bong's home, decorated in a steampunk idiom, with much brass work. The main and most notable feature is the fluffy white sofa that doubles as both their bed and their means of intergalactic travel. Tethered to the Home Planet by a bungee cord it is launched into space by a monstrous catapult.
Planet of Light & Color
Bing and Bong discover rainbows, shadow play, animation and color mixing. This is an environment where Bing and Bong explore optical phenomena. Around the planet there is a wide, circular, semi-transparent band inlaid with parallel strips of ever-changing colors. The landscape is similar to a desert, and the most notable features are the bullet-shaped rock pillars with faint colored spots on them.
Planet of Nature
Bing and Bong discover weather, the seasons, the power of wind and the way rain turns to snow. This is a verdant and lush world, with trees, lakes, mountains and flowers. The seasons there are much like a temperate part of the Earth, with snow in winter, hot sun in summer and falling leaves in autumn.
Planet of Stuff
Bing and Bong explore groups of things and what they’re made of. They play with patterns and numbers and sort things by color, shape and sound. The planet is shaped like a gigantic Möbius strip and patterned like pink-and-blue graph paper, this is where Bing and Bong solve problems involving arithmetic, logic and geometry.
Planet of Sound
Bing and Bong join bands, play tubas, beat on drums and experiment with rhythm, harmony, pitch and acoustics. This is a rocky desert, with odd flora such as Pitch-Plants (extendible flutes that can be blown), maraca leaves and self-playing Tom-tom trees. Flockers and Locals often hold concerts here. The planet is blue from orbit, and is surrounded by a swarm of small asteroids which spiral from pole to pole.
Planet of Self
Bing and Bong encounter fitness, cleanliness and healthy eating and learn more about themselves and others. This is a loose cluster of rocky outcrops floating in a sunny atmosphere, linked by rows of stepping-stones. There are pagoda-like pavilions and a sports arena here, and local transport is by sky-boat. Lessons of health and good manners are learned here.
Planet of Technology
Bing and Bong design gadgets to discover the properties of springs, wheels, levers, pulleys, balance, friction, gears and structures. The planet consists of a massive detailed brass sphere, with four tethered satellites: two cubes and two spheres. The action takes place inside this planet, with an emphasis on structures and principles of physics.
TinyPlanets.com is the website companion to the television series designed for children ages 4 to 7. It provides a safe place for children to explore and apply many of the lessons learned from the series with the help of their friends Bing and Bong.
On each of the Tiny Planets episodes are available to watch and games specific to the planet are there for children to play. On each planet you will also find animated eBooks, downloadable comics, coloring pages, as well as offline educational materials called “Explore Pages.”
“Stars” are used as currency throughout the game. Children can earn Stars by playing the games, watching full episodes of Tiny Planets, tagging craters on the moon, reading an eBook, adding a friend in Central Space or completing a mission. Stars can be used to customize your spacecraft, your planet, and your space station or to just buy toys and games for your friend Boing.
Children can adopt a furry alien called “Boing.” Boings lives in an orange space station ready to play with visiting children. Boings are very special creatures in the Universe of Tiny Planets. They have six legs, they're furry and they're incredibly inquisitive! They're all related to the cosmically famous Bong. Boings, as well as the space station they live in, can be customized to suit the children’s individual style. Children can play games with their Boing, as well as purchase new toys and accessories for the space station.
Designed with older children in mind, there is a wormhole called “Central Space” which contains laser tag and other arcade-styled games. Players travel from game to game in their spacecraft which can be customized in a variety of ways. There is a messaging system in place that allows the Explorers to communicate with their friends via smiley faces and pre-approved messages.
Moon Explorer lets children help space scientists map the Moon. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) was put into orbit by NASA to take pictures of craters, to do all sorts of science experiments and to find out more about our nearest neighbor in space. When children play Moon Explorer you get to see the latest pictures from the moon and identify craters, boulders and all sorts of interesting features using your crater marker to circle craters.
“Boulder Wars” helps scientist to find locations that are free (or full) of rocks. This is really important, because it helps the scientists to locate good spots for landing space probes and other materials.
The Planet-o-Matic is a tool that is used to terraform planets in Tiny Planet space. Children select the area they want to customize by clicking the arrows on the outer ring - you can choose from Sky, Ground, Mountains, and Orbitals (satellites and moons) for the four planetary Zones.
The kernel of the idea for Tiny Planets was written by Casey Dobie and then developed out by a small in-house team including Richard Davis and Antony Hatfield and led by Andy Park (former commissioning editor at the BBC and Channel 4). Ed Taylor produced the first designs for Bing and Bong. Richard Morss then took on the project as in-house producer.
The project caught the eye of Julian Scott and the late Nina Elias-Bamberger at Sesame Workshop. The resulting project, produced by Richard Morss and directed by Alistair Mcilwain, took 20 months to produce in co-production with Sesame Workshop. All production took place in the company’s studios in the UK.
Tiny Planets is privately held by My Tiny Planets Ltd. The original concept was conceived in 1998. The television series was produced from 1999 until 2001 in a co-production with Sesame Workshop. It has been honored with multiple awards including three BAFTA Awards for entertainment website and for interactive. In addition it was nominated for two additional BAFTAs for preschool animation and online learning. The show was also the first television show to be endorsed by Montessori Centre International.
The production was ambitious from the outset being the first television series to feature high quality computer graphics including Bing & Bong’s CGI generated fur. Carl Goodman, technical art director at the time, specified the techniques and full equipment specification to use and also produced the www.tinyplanets.com website with a small dedicated team.
Today Carl continues to work with Bing & Bong as Creative Director alongside, among others, Managing Director, Paul Michael as well as Founder of the Learning Company, Ann McCormick, Interface Designer, Interface Designer, Ann Lasko-Harvill, Community Manager, Cheryl Khalid-Henderson and Florida-based Online Games Developer, ZeeGee Games.
It is rumored that Tiny Planets will appear on Mini CITV in April 2012.
Awards and Honors
- 2001 BAFTA Winner - Interactive – Entertainment Website
- 2002 BAFTA Winner – Interactive
- 2003 BAFTA Nominee – Preschool Animation