Japanese artist Mariko Suzuki-Bertocci hopes to encourage children to brush their teeth regularly with a stop-motion video that’s both unconventional yet effective.
Seeing how her own kids hate brushing their teeth, Mariko sought to find a YouTube video that’ll change how they see the daily habit. However, she saw that most of these video were all the same: animated in 3D, and with the same old nursery rhyme.
So Mariko decided to make her own.
Using her knowledge in clay animation, she made a grungy video complete a catchy rock song from musician Sean Greathead. The result is something that’s refreshingly different – a children’s nursery rhyme seen through a different artistic style.
Mariko was raised born and raised in Japan but has been living in NYC for the past 17 years. Aside from making clay animation, she also works in different media and styles, such as oil painting, coloured pencil illustrations, pen and ink drawings, and felt dioramas.
We had the chance to talk to Mariko to find out more about her educational video. Take a look:
We loved the animation you did here. Can you give us a little insight into the process behind it?
“Thank you so much! I set up a small scene on a small table (3ft x 1.5ft), using three small table lights and my husband’s slightly fancy Sony camera for shooting.
“The figures are all made by clay, and the background diorama are made by mostly cardboard. I just moved these objects little by little and took pictures each time. Then I used iMovie to edit. It was my first try at stop motion animation.”
Most educational videos for kids aren’t usually grungy. Why did you go with that particular aesthetic?
“Most of the kiddie animations on TV or especially YouTube are 3D these days. It’s beautiful and clean, it looks perfect. These characters move like real people, the backgrounds are so bright and clean.
“Yeah, it’s great, but I wanted to make something different, something where you can feel that ‘someone’s hand REALLY made this’ stuff. You can see the fingerprints or dust on the clay characters in my animation. They don’t move smoothly, you even can see some out of focus scenes too.
“Hopefully, seeing my rough, relatable interaction with clay will inspire kids to create something too.
“I know that making 3D animation is really difficult and requires a lot of effort and skill, I respect it so much. But to me, the difference between 3D animation and my grungy animation is the same difference as saying hi through FaceTime and a real warm hug.
“Hopefully, the viewers of my animation can feel warmth, awkwardness, compassion, and imperfection similar to real love.”
How long did it take to finish the entire project?
“It took about two months. I worked on it every night after my kids went to sleep.”
Let’s talk about the music. How’d you come up with the song for the video?
“Again, I wanted to make something different than other kiddie videos. Since I have some musician friends and most of their music is rock, I got an idea to make a kid’s nursery rock song.
“I asked my super talented friend Sean Greathead from the band ‘No Shields’ to make a ‘brush your teeth song’. He made the perfect song, better than I could have hoped for!”
You mentioned you have plans for making more educational videos. Care to share what they are?
“I will make more and especially more with Sean’s music. Since the reason I started to make an ‘educational’ video was to show it to my own kids, I will keep making the videos I need them to watch each time.
“Next, I have to make ‘sibling song’ because my older son’s jealousy towards his new little sister is insane! And since I believe that personal is universal, these videos are for all kids and parents who have the same issues.
“Also, I really feel like I found my favorite medium and I would love to pick up some freelance stop-motion work if possible, so the more videos I add to my portfolio the better!”
Lastly, are your kids brushing more often, now that you’ve made a video just for them?
“My son definitely brushes his teeth without struggles after he watched this video, and he sings this song every time he brushes. My daughter is still nine months old so she doesn’t sing – but she dances with it!
”And all my friend’s kids love it and I’ve heard it works great for them too. Also, it works for grown ups too!”