The widely popular Nelly Jelly books will soon be turned into an animated series. MeinArt Animation Studio was chosen to create it for the Lithuanian and foreign markets. A large team from Lithuania and abroad is working on the project along with Lina Žutautė, the creator of Nelly Jelly. It is planned that the world of Nelly Jelly will come to life as early as next year for an 8-episode series as well as on the big screen, featuring a longer, expanded version of Nelly Jelly’s adventures.
The aim is to convey not only beloved characters, but also meaningful stories
Although the exact date of the release of the Nelly Jelly series has not yet been revealed, the creators hint that the premiere of the series will take place not just in Lithuania, and in the future there will be even more surprises related to the creative team of the series.
“Creating a new format, i.e. animation, when we already have the books we love, is a difficult and responsible job. We want to convey all the magic of the books as well as to surprise the fans with new ideas. However, we primarily strive to maintain the essence: to continue telling meaningful stories that develop curiosity, emotional intelligence and life skills for the whole family. Quality is without a doubt one of the most important cornerstones on this creative path, but at the same time we do not prevent creators from achieving self-fulfilment and putting their vision into action,” says Simona Krasauskienė, head of NJ world, which represents the Nelly Jelly brand in the international market.
The creator, illustrator and writer of Nelly Jelly, Lina Žutautė, is also a participant in the creation of the new animated series. She advises on the development of the script and illustrations and is also involved in other production processes. “This is a new journey for us, so we chose our partners for animation creation not only based on their work portfolio. The qualities of understanding the character, an empathetic attitude towards young viewers and an ambition to create high-quality, global market content for the whole family were all extremely important to us. We also greatly appreciate the fact that MeinArt Animation Studio, the company which we chose, has in-house talent. Also, this company is able to attract creators from all over the world and has a lot of experience in successfully creating and producing animation not only in Lithuania, but also abroad,” reveals Mrs Krasauskienė.
The biggest challenge is telling a story in 11 minutes
“Creating an animated adaptation of Nelly Jelly, which will be seen not only by Lithuanian, but also by foreign audiences is a true joy and a big challenge,” declares animator Meinardas Valkevičius, the Head of the MeinArt Animation Studio, who has been creating animation for more than 20 years. The representative of the studio does not hide the fact that this task is also important personally, as he has been familiar with the world of Nelly Jelly for six years and he himself and his children are loyal fans of the adventures of Nelly Jelly.
“The world of Nelly Jelly is unique and magical because it is told from a child’s point of view. We also seek to convey this in animation, in which we portray what is magical, unexpected or maybe even non-existent in the real world, as something indistinguishable and ordinary,” says Mr Valkevičius.
“MeinArt is home to animation where a team lives with one common goal: to bring images to life and tell stories with them. In 2012, the studio was founded based on the dream of creating colourful and characterful animations and memorable characters. This guides us to create all sorts of projects: from 2D to 3D animation, from commercial works to original studio short films. The studio films ‘Hunt’ and ‘Look’ picked up a bunch of awards at international festivals a few years ago, and in 2022, MeinArt released the film ‘The Perfect Fit’, which is screening in festivals around the world. The studio also animated the feature documentary ‘Aurora’, which premiered during the competition programme screening of the largest animation festival ‘Annecy’. The studio is currently working on short films ‘Banginio šokis’ and ‘TEN’ as well as on the children’s series ‘Nelly Jelly’.
As one of the most important creative challenges, the Head of the MeinArt Animation Studio identifies the limited duration of the series: “Telling the story of Nelly Jelly in a short and concise way and in 11 minutes is a really big challenge for us. Every story could be told in a half-hour animated episode. On the other hand, there is a lot of work, because one animator can animate only 5 to 8 seconds of animation per day, and if there are three or more characters in the frame, it may take up to 3 days to animate one scene. That is why a very large team is working on this project: more than 20 people from Lithuania and about a couple dozen more from abroad,” explains Mr Valkevičius.
Special attention not only to the visuals, but also to the soundtrack
As Mr Valkevičius tells us, the world of Nelly Jelly is not only visually recognised, but is also popular because of audio recordings, as there are numerous dedicated songs, which children have learned by heart. Special attention will also be paid to the music in the animated series. “The soundtrack for the Nelly Jelly series is currently being developed by a composer from Mexico who has extensive experience with similar projects,” says the head of the studio.
The fact that music is an integral part of the world of Nelly Jelly is also observed by Simona Krasauskienė, the Head of NJ world. “We strive to create not only a magical visual portrayal but we also want to incorporate music and sounds, so that the journey of learning about the world together with Nelly Jelly is even more fulfilling for the children and can be experienced in all the senses. Our main goal is positive emotions, new discoveries and a strong friendship between Nelly Jelly and her little viewers,’ emphasises Mrs Krasauskienė.