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Meet "Africa’s animator to the stars" with 1 billion YouTube views

April 2022
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Toon53 Productions Animation Studio

Dubbed "Africa’s Animator to the Stars" by Africa.com, Michael Robertson is the owner and director of Toon53Productions from Randburg, an area located in the Gauteng province of South Africa.

Robertson has built up a notable portfolio in the music and lyric video industry. Coming from a brand advertising background, he has maintained versatility in animation production, and offers award winning animation, concept art, direction, editing and animation effects.

The boutique animation studio Toon53 Productions was established in 2008 and, having initially focused on film and television, recently Robertson has successfully pivoted his focus on the music industry.

Under Robertson’s directorship, recent clients include Anne-Marie, Marshmello, Chvrches, David Guetta, Aloe Blacc, James Arthur, and many more and the studio has scooped many accolades. They are recipients of the Best Music Video at the Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival; Best Music Video Platinum Award at the Hollywood Film Competition; Best Music Video at the Chandler International Film Festival; and Animation Winner at the Bucharest Shortcut Cinefest.

One billion views

So in Michael's opinion, what's the best lyric video that his studio has made?

"Choosing a 'best' is very difficult," he says, "because what does 'best' mean? Favourite? Most viewed? Most liked? Most enjoyed? So this is a difficult one to answer."

Toon53 have had lyric videos features on talk shows, at Vegas Night Club grand openings, news channels and "so many other weird and wonderful places," Michael continues.

"But I think I am going to have to go with one of our more simple creations and say Marshmello's FRIENDS lyric video. It has almost 1 billion views on Youtube and over 9 million likes."

For someone who has seen so many lyric video briefs, we asked Michael what makes a good one from a creative perspective.

"Over the years I have found that when clients give us a basic idea of what they want to see we can work a lot more confidently," he says. "If the brief is too open then we have no idea if what we are creating is anywhere close to what they want. Which can lead to wasting a lot of your own pre-production money and time."

For a closer look at the perfect lyric video brief, check out our interview where five animators write the dream lyric video brief.

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