Bet on Your Baby is a television program which has seen versions in the United States, South Korea, Mexico, Ukraine, Argentina, and other countries. That’s understandable as people everywhere have babies and love them. In China, the version of this show is known as Babies are Coming and airs at the prime time of Sundays at 6PM on CCTV1, the country’s most popular channel and during its most valuable hour. The visual approach of Babies are Coming relies heavily on Xiabo “Daniel” Ma who is the the art director for show designing and post production. Overseeing a group of thirty-six artists who undertake a myriad of tasks, Daniel and his team’s contributions are inseparable from the tone of the show. One of the absolutely most popular shows on air in China at this time, Babies are Coming displays the sort of high-tech visual approach that is wonderfully congruent to the heart-warming tone of the toddlers at the center of this gameshow.
Babies are Coming is a show which appeals to the better parts of our nature rather than the more salacious ones. Challenges featured in the show provide the opportunity to win awards when wisdom, care, and love are used to overcome obstacles. The program spotlights how families can bond and become better as a unit. This popular TV program has a signature visual style which has become its calling card to the viewing public. In addition to contributing his own animating talent, Daniel Ma leads a team of artists designing elements in the show that include creating digital assets, creating short films, designing lower thirds, and the full production creative directing of the show’s opening. Such an all-encompassing perspective requires insight and careful planning as Daniel explains, “Designing for a family focused show is a little bit different than designing for other shows. While the show subjects are families and their babies, the viewing audience ranges from young adults to the elderly. This age diversity can have a huge impact on what we design and what our approach is. For example, when we design the 3D element in the opening, we needed to avoid making it too abstract or too exaggerated because this could be confusing for audiences who are not familiar with these bold styles. In texturing, we need to avoid being too realistic or too cartoonish. It’s vital that our approach is universally appealing and pragmatic. Creating a show for the general audience really tests my art direction skills to be precise and accurate.” The show opening is a perfect synergy of live action talent featuring the program’s host and babies augmented by 2D and 3D elements. This brief thirty-second-long shot comprises over fifty 3D elements and more than thirty clips of 2D animation handmade by Ma and his team. This animation becomes in essence a co-host of Babies are Coming as elements are featured throughout the entire episode, from the 3D animated logo to the lower third animation elements tailored to identify the different family competitors.
Being a successful animator in his twenties who leads a sizeable team on a hit television series about babies brings its own peculiar experiences for Daniel Ma. He confesses, “Working on this production is both a fun experience and a lot of hard work. It does bring the occasional weird moment into my life. My roommates give me an odd look when they all want to play PlayStation and I want to watch a baby-centered program because it’s exciting to see my work on the number one network in the country. That feeling is offset by moments like when my uncle, a new father, told me that he watches the show and is learning some important things from it. It’s truly satisfying to think that my work to some degree might inspire parents and make people’s life a little bit better and sweeter.”