YouTube Originals show “Behind the Beats” has clocked up almost 12 million views since the release of its first eight episodes, which began on Nov. 17. It has 6.7 million subscribers. The 26-part animated music anthology is produced by leading French animation company TeamTO, with rights clearance firm 22D Music Group, in partnership with public broadcaster France Télévisions.
The series takes viewers behind the scenes of the emergence of key trends in the global music scene, such as punk, grunge, techno, funk and salsa. Each six-minute video features three tracks and has a lead protagonist – such as Debbie Harry in the first episode, “Punk + Disco = New Wave.”
The series has a fast-paced music video/video game graphic style and the narrative revolves around how young musicians made their dreams come true, in interaction with local music scenes and other artists.
The show is produced by Corinne Kouper (TeamTO) and Emmanuel Deletang (22D Music Group). Craig Hunter, global head of kids and family originals for YouTube, is the creative lead, with Zoë Di Stefano as creative executive. Creative lead at France Télévisions is Pierre Siracusa.
Creator and director Baptiste Jaquemet produced the initial trailer by himself, aiming for an accessible style that avoided the need for complex modeling.
“Baptiste has this talent to represent people,” explains Kouper, TeamTO’s senior VP production and development. “The characters look like real people but they’re stylized, a bit like a caricature.”
The series is modeled using Maya, and then animated with TeamTO’s inhouse software Tangerine. It also uses Pixar RenderMan and the effects are done on Houdini, with compositing on Nuke.
The French-language version was launched exclusively on france.tv on Nov. 19. There is a six-month holdback for the launch of the English-language versions in France. France Télévisions also has first-window exclusivity for the French-language version, with a one-year holdback.
The Spanish-language version will be released on YouTube shortly.
In addition to YouTube as the majority partner, and France Télévisions, the series has funding support from the CNC national film agency, the SACEM author’s society, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Drôme & Valence Romans Agglo regions, and the Creative MEDIA Program of the European Union.
“We’re very excited about how well the show has performed so far, both in France and worldwide,” says Kouper.
“This is the first example where we’ve combined a very classic French public service channel with one of the world’s biggest media companies, YouTube,” explains Patricia de Wilde, TeamTO’s director of marketing and new business.
Kouper says that she was thrilled to develop an animation project that has a documentary dimension to it. “I learn new things with each episode. It’s not just about creating joyful and amusing stories. You get a lot of interesting information, which can appeal to kids and adults. I think that’s why it’s been so successful on YouTube, because many people go there to learn.”
TeamTO owns the IP, and one year after its launch can sell the rights to broadcasters worldwide. Kouper believes that even with the exposure on YouTube the show will be attractive to broadcasters. “Everyone wants to attract viewers. Streamers are taking shows that are also available elsewhere.”
TeamTO is also producing action-comedy animated series “Jade Armor,” which in the fall of 2022 was launched to strong ratings on France Televisions in France, Super RTL in Germany and HBO Max and Cartoon Network in EMEA. It has also been sold to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
“Jade Armor’s” all-female creative team is led by Kouper, supported by showrunner and co-creator Chloé Miller; head writer MJ Offen; French story editor Ghyslaine Pujol, and co-developer Mary Bredin.
“It’s a very appealing and very modern show, that comes from an all-female team and has strong female characters,” says Kouper. “It addresses subjects that are rarely shown in such shows, such as romance between different generations and same sex couples.”
De Wilde says that “Jade Armor” has performed well in its core 7-10 year old audience, and in the 10-13 age group, for both boys and girls. The creators are now writing season two.
Team TO’s is producing eight shows, including in-house productions and serviced shows and has more than 500 staff in France.
Other in-house shows include season five of “Angelo Rules,” for France Télévisions, and its serviced productions include “PJ Masks,” for France 3 and Disney, two shows for American clients based on videogames and a series for Dreamworks. It recently delivered the first season of “The Creature Cases,” for Silvergate Media/Netflix.
TeamTO recently moved into a cutting-edge eco-friendly animation studio in the Bastille neighbourhood in Paris, that houses over 200 staff, which will cut its carbon footprint by 63%.
The studio incorporates a datacenter connected to all workstations, which significantly reduces power consumption and noise levels. It is powered by enhanced by an AI-based open-source management software, with an in-house production tracking system, that makes it possible to streamline production across all shows.
Guilaume Hellouin, co-founder and president of TeamTO, comments: “It’s a dream come true. We’ve been working on the new studio for almost four years. No-one has done this before.”
With its low-noise environment and filtered air, Hellouin says that the new studio “brings a feeling that is very different from traditional offices. It has a Zen-like atmosphere, which is very conducive to creativity.”
Looking ahead TeamTO is developing several animation feature film projects and Kouper says she would like to develop a second season for “Behind the Beats.” “We have a big list of well-known artists, songs and trends we’d like to feature. It has huge potential.”