Monday, 1 September 2014

National Book Week

National Book Week is a wonderful initiative from the South African Book Development Council. This group of dedicated individuals aims to make reading a national past time. They have been holding a yearly event for the last five years but this year is special, this year is big, this year they're going places. In fact they are going all over the country in a funky wrapped bus. With their new mascot Funda Bala, they are planning to hand out around R1 million worth of books to children in the various indigenous languages.

Inkblot Pictures was so very happy when On Point PR offered us the opportunity to help them design and create the graphics and TV promo for this exciting project. As awesome as we are, we needed a little help in the design and animation sectors for this, and so called on our good buddies, Paul Loubser (character design) and James Finnemore (animation). They were totally excited and pulled off little bits of magic to help us make this a wonderful, exciting graphic project.

Costume based on Paul Loubser's mascot design:
Funda Bala The NBW Mascot

This year the SABDC wanted a bus wrapped in a design especially for this week of touring. So Crispin took elements from James and Paul's work and whipped them up into a lovely wrap, that you can see here on the bus.

The covered NBW tour bus

The TV promo was not only James' excellent skills, but also required my writing, Crispin's voice direction and the mixing skills of Final Fade (another of our friendly suppliers.) to pull it off. Here it is.

And then once all of that hard work was done, the mascot costume was made and everything was ready, we received invites to come and film the launch. We were so excited!

Friday 29 August 2014 was possibly one of the coldest days of this Highveld winter. The wind was howling through the buildings in Parktown, chilling everything as it went. The only thing it didn't freeze was everyone's enthusiasm for this project. The launch was held at Emoyeni, the home of the first Minister of Finance for South Africa, Mr Henry Hull.


When we pulled into the parking lot with the Funda Bala costume blocking Crispin's view out of the back window, the first thing saw was the covered bus. We were so excited to see the wrap design on the actual bus that we almost forgot why we were there. But it was all covered in black material and we couldn't see a thing!

So we got work delivering the costume, made for us by Hollywood Costumes. Carrying the costume in the gusting wind was interesting, but we managed to get it on board the bus to wait for the unveiling. Then we found our way inside the mansion turned conference venue, to the warmth and possibly the best cup of coffee ever. It was smooth, and warm and someone else made it... but I digress.

It wasn't long before things got under way. We were entertained with poetry by Paul Said, with a great performance from Kwesukela, and insightful speeches by various speakers including the CEO and the Chairperson for the SABDC, and the Minister for Arts and Culture Mr Nathi Mthethwa.

Jenna Dover Reading to Children

Jenna Dover reading to children

While all of this was going on in the one hall, children from Cotlands had been playing quietly in another room. As we were ushered outside to see the unveiling of the bus, the children joined us, wrapped up against the cold. We all stood in the chilly air and waited as the Minister cut the ribbon, the black cloth came down and there was our handy work, all over the bus!

The NBW Tour bus

NBW Tour bus 

The NBW front of tour bus

Suddenly Funda Bala jumped out of the bus, the kids went nuts for him and soon the Minister and his Deputy were engaging with the children while the media snapped pic after pic. We even got a few.

Then it was story time and the Minister and his Deputy went back inside to read to the children.

It was a very special launch for such a great cause. We loved being a part of it.

Of course since today is 1 September, it's not only Spring Day, it's also the day that the bus leaves from Emoyeni and begins the week long journey across this fair country of ours. At each and every stop that they make, there will be fun events and Funda Bala will be handing out those precious books to the children in their own languages.

Personally I think that books are worth more than all the diamonds and gold in the world. A book can take you out of your own skin and put you in another. There is no better way to explore the world of human knowledge, imagination and experience, than through books. We can go back in time or shoot into the future, we can visit worlds that were, that are or that never will be all by casting our eyes across a page. The skill of reading is vital and without it we have seen what happens. A country that doesn't read, can't grow.

So I leave you with this fabulous little voxie from Shaka Sisulu.

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