Motionographer® Simple: The Tales of the Negro Leagues

The significance of illustration can by no means be overstated. To have the ability to see folks which you could relate to on display screen, in individual, or reaching unbelievable 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 saved within the tales we inform one another. With each story that’s misplaced to time, we lose the richness and variety that allows us to push the boundaries of our creativity and interpret the human expertise. Preservation of those accounts is significant as we entertain, encourage and inform ourselves and the generations that comply with. By amplifying marginalized voices, we are able to preserve cultures alive, smash stereotypes, and affect systemic change.

All of that is simple!

To rejoice Black Historical past Month, we requested Carl Jones and Justin Polk to interrupt down their unbelievable collection of movies for MLB, “Simple: 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 varied 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 colour all over the world whereas supplying the rising international urge for food for variety 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 in addition the worldwide inhabitants. We additionally make certain our administrators mirror these demographics as nicely as a result of we consider that one of the best and most genuine work is created by collaboration between folks of assorted views.

Our forward-looking mission has led to work with a few of the greatest manufacturers, Verizon, Amazon, Google, Netflix, MLB, and Spotify, to call a couple of,  and it motivates us day by day to proceed broadening the kind of messages and artwork folks soak up.

Inform us concerning the staff behind your challenge.

Carl Jones: 

The collection 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 my studio Martian Blueberry.

Love Barnett and Omar McClinton had been additionally Government Producers.

How would you introduce your challenge to somebody anticipating the primary time?

Carl Jones: 

That is an integral a part of American historical past, not simply sports activities. It’s vital for at this time’s era to grasp how these iconic legends overcame great adversity. So even in case you’re not into baseball, you will discover the collection 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 data with the Negro League’s data, 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 strategy that appeals to a youthful era—each younger and previous love good animation.


Are you able to inform us concerning the collection 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 collection referred to as Simple, MLB’s first animated collection that tells distinctive brief tales from the historic period of the Negro Leagues.

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

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

Episode 2 highlights the league’s worldwide influence.

Who narrates the collection?

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 go away 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 concerning the gamers. We then took these tales, researched them as a lot as we may, and put them right into a script.

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


Take us by your total course of. How lengthy did it take? What methods did you utilize? What applications 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 a whole lot of daring black strains and heavy black shadows to present the characters weight and power. Then I used some barely muted colour pallets to present it a nostalgic feeling.

As soon as we landed on the look, we labored intently 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 stress did you are feeling to do justice to this matter?

Carl Jones: 

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

Did you face any difficulties alongside the way in which? If that’s the 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 strategy 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.


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


Carl Jones: 

I flip to Tiktok and Instagram for inspiration. You will discover a few of the most inventive minds on social media. There are tons of novice artists and writers which can be typically much more proficient than folks I’ve labored with in Hollywood. They encourage a whole lot of what I do.

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

Carl Jones: 

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

What’s subsequent for you and your staff?

Carl Jones: 

The primary objective of our firm now could be to proceed to push the door open for extra various tales to be informed 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 manner of claiming “Strange Fruit.” Based mostly on the favored music carried out by Billie Vacation, that turned 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 stuffed with so many untold tales that the world must know. In fact, everybody is aware of about Jackie Robinson now, however what about all the nice 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 challenge for me. I grew up speaking concerning the Negro Leagues at residence once I was a child, and these are the sorts of tales I need to inform with Invisible Collective as a result of these are our tales; that is our historical past.

These had been Black legends who by no means bought their due, and extra folks ought to find out 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 influence 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 long run; 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, revolutionary, and premiere expertise by working with a few 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 offered Peabody Award Successful and NAACP Picture award-nominated writing, directing, and animation for varied studios and networks throughout the leisure spectrum. With a main give attention to animation, we intention to produce the rising international urge for food for variety and inclusion through the use of our wealth of expertise, manufacturing information, and trade sources to speed up the corporate’s development into the forefront of the worldwide market. We’re a younger, blossoming, vertically built-in firm that provides 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 revolutionary concepts and expertise that attain far past the boundaries of custom.