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Motionographer® Plain: The Tales of the Negro Leagues

9 min read

The significance of illustration can by no means be overstated. To have the ability to see folks that you could relate to on display, in particular person, or attaining unimaginable feats can redirect the trajectory of your life. Particularly as an adolescent, understanding that heroes, princesses, and even CEOs are available in all appearances opens your purview to what’s attainable. It’s simple.

Historical past is stored within the tales we inform one another. With each story that’s misplaced to time, we lose the richness and variety that permits us to push the boundaries of our creativity and interpret the human expertise. Preservation of those accounts is important as we entertain, encourage and inform ourselves and the generations that comply with. By amplifying marginalized voices, we are able to maintain cultures alive, smash stereotypes, and affect systemic change.

All of that is simple!

To have fun Black Historical past Month, we requested Carl Jones and Justin Polk to interrupt down their unimaginable sequence of movies for MLB, “Plain: The Tales of the Negro Leagues.” 


Give us a quick introduction to your self and the studio.


Carl Jones: 

I’m Carl Jones, animation director and producer of assorted Peabody Award Successful and NAACP Picture award-nominated exhibits.  Most notably The Boondocks, Black Dynamite and The Final OG. 

I just lately launched my very own animation studio — Martian Blueberry,  with the first focus of offering inventive alternatives for artists of coloration around the globe whereas supplying the growing international urge for food for range and inclusion. 

Justin Polk:

I’m Justin Polk, a director and Co-Founder at Invisible Collective. My companions and I created Invisible with the objective of uplifting thrilling work that’s culturally reflective of the U.S. but additionally the worldwide inhabitants. We additionally be certain that our administrators replicate these demographics as effectively as a result of we imagine that the most effective and most genuine work is created by way of collaboration between folks of various views.

Our forward-looking mission has led to work with a number of the greatest manufacturers, Verizon, Amazon, Google, Netflix, MLB, and Spotify, to call a number of,  and it motivates us daily to proceed broadening the kind of messages and artwork folks absorb.

Inform us in regards to the workforce behind your mission.

Carl Jones: 

The sequence was created and produced by Justin for Main League Baseball (MLB). He additionally directed the live-action portion of the episodes, whereas I directed the animation by way of my studio Martian Blueberry.

Love Barnett and Omar McClinton have been additionally Government Producers.

How would you introduce your mission to somebody looking ahead to the primary time?

Carl Jones: 

That is an integral a part of American historical past, not simply sports activities. It’s vital for right now’s era to grasp how these iconic legends overcame great adversity. So even when you’re not into baseball, you’ll discover the sequence to be inspiring in addition to informative.

What was the inspiration for this piece?

Justin Polk:

Once I first heard about MLB merging its baseball information with the Negro League’s information, I needed to do one thing that honored that. So I reached out to MLB to pitch them some concepts.


Why was animation vital in telling this story?

Carl Jones: 

Animation permits us to inform a narrative with a singular visible language that captures the emotion, temper and nostalgia of that period whereas giving the motion a really cinematic method that appeals to a youthful era—each younger and outdated love good animation.


Are you able to inform us in regards to the sequence this piece is part of? What number of are there? What are they about?

Carl Jones: 

This piece is a part of a three-episode sequence known as Plain, MLB’s first animated sequence that tells distinctive quick tales from the historic period of the Negro Leagues.

The MLB Authentic Collection is only one of a number of initiatives by Main League Baseball to have fun Black Historical past Month.

Episode 1 focuses on the good feminine gamers of the Negro League.

Episode 2 highlights the league’s worldwide affect.

Who narrates the sequence?

Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.


How lengthy did the script take? Inform us about the way you researched it. How do you know what to depart out?

Justin Polk:

It took us about six months to get the scripts proper. We did a deep dive with Bob Kendrick, talked about above, and requested him to present us as many tales as he may in regards to the gamers. We then took these tales, researched them as a lot as we may, and put them right into a script.

To be sincere, we simply made Bob’s tales extra concise and prepared for animation.


Take us by way of your general course of. How lengthy did it take? What methods did you employ? What packages are you utilizing?

Carl Jones: 

It took us about 13 weeks in all.

First, we needed to develop the look. I needed to discover a visible language that communicated the vibe of this historic period so folks may join with these tales emotionally. I used quite a lot of daring black strains and heavy black shadows to present the characters weight and power. Then I used some barely muted coloration pallets to present it a nostalgic feeling.

As soon as we landed on the look, we labored carefully with MLB and Invisible to land the storyboards and designs. We then animated all of the scenes,  added Bob’s superb voiceovers and edited the ultimate items.

We use conventional 2D animation mixed with Concord.

How a lot strain did you’re feeling to do justice to this subject?

Carl Jones: 

There was undoubtedly quite a lot of strain to correctly symbolize these large heroes that had such an vital position in affording black folks quite a lot of the alternatives we have now right now. Not solely have been we cautious to not do something to tarnish their pictures, however as this era’s new griots, it’s our responsibility to inform these tales whereas defending and preserving them on the identical time.

Did you face any difficulties alongside the best way? In that case, how did you overcome them?


Carl Jones: 

The largest problem for me was ensuring that the animation resonated with all age teams. So I borrowed anime’s cinematic method to storytelling. We additionally used some very dynamic angles and poses mixed with sturdy compositions to present every scene a sure vitality and a extra modern really feel.


If you really feel caught or want inspiration, the place do you discover it?


Carl Jones: 

I flip to Tiktok and Instagram for inspiration. You could find a number of the most inventive minds on social media. There are tons of newbie artists and writers which are typically much more gifted than folks I’ve labored with in Hollywood. They encourage quite a lot of what I do.

Cash no object; what would you like to work on most?

Carl Jones: 

I’d like to do a Star Wars-like franchise however populated with folks of coloration, pulling inspiration from Egyptian mysticism and African cosmology.

What’s subsequent for you and your workforce?

Carl Jones: 

The primary objective of our firm now’s to proceed to push the door open for extra numerous tales to be instructed authentically. Inclusivity is the first focus of our studio, as we plan to hold the torch of all of our nice ancestors who fought for justice. It’s why we named our firm Martian Blueberry, which is a inventive approach of claiming “Strange Fruit.” Based mostly on the favored music carried out by Billie Vacation, that grew to become the anthem for freedom fighters.

Thanks a lot for being right here. Earlier than we allow you to go, is there anything you’d prefer to share about your piece?


Carl Jones:  

I’m proud and honored to have the chance to assist share these vital tales with the world. Black historical past is wealthy and filled with so many untold tales that the world must know. After all, everybody is aware of about Jackie Robinson now, however what about all the good black feminine baseball gamers like Mamey Peanut Johnson and Connie Morgan? Organizations like MLB and Invisible are serving to to make that attainable.

Justin Polk: 

This was a real collaboration with Main League Baseball and an actual ardour mission for me. I grew up speaking in regards to the Negro Leagues at house after I was a child, and these are the sorts of tales I wish to inform with Invisible Collective as a result of these are our tales; that is our historical past.

These have been Black legends who by no means bought their due, and extra folks ought to learn about their legacy.

Extra about The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum:

The world’s solely museum devoted to preserving and celebrating the wealthy historical past of African-American baseball and its affect on the social development of America. The privately funded, 501 c3, not-for-profit group was established in 1990 and is within the coronary heart of Kansas Metropolis, Missouri’s Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District. The NLBM operates two blocks from the Paseo YMCA, the place Andrew “Rube” Foster established the Negro Nationwide League in 1920.

Extra about Invisible Collective:

A manufacturing companion constructed for the longer term; conviction is constructed into the mission assertion of Invisible Collective. Since 2019, the nimble, inventive manufacturing firm has delivered on their mission round inclusivity, championing typically ignored, modern, and premiere expertise by working with a number of the greatest manufacturers to create dynamic and genuine campaigns that talk to viewers from throughout the globe.

Extra about Martian Blueberry

Martian Blueberry was co-founded by animation veteran Carl Jones, who has supplied Peabody Award Successful and NAACP Picture award-nominated writing, directing, and animation for numerous studios and networks throughout the leisure spectrum. With a main deal with animation, we purpose to produce the growing international urge for food for range and inclusion by utilizing our wealth of expertise, manufacturing information, and business assets to speed up the corporate’s development into the forefront of the worldwide market. We’re a younger, blossoming, vertically built-in firm that gives full-service animation capabilities, specializing in high-end 2D/3D animation, visible results, and design—serving quite a lot of leisure endeavors, together with promoting, episodic television, movies, NFTS, WEB3, and music movies. MB is a collective of progressive minds with modern concepts and expertise that attain far past the boundaries of custom.


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