Meet Our New Friend - TADO



The world of hello sanrio is filled with so many supercute surprises! Take a peek and see for yourself!

Ready for another sweet surprise? Here’s a behind the scenes peek into the creation of this video by our pals TADO!

In case you didn’t know, TADO is made up of design duo Mike and Katie. They are based in Sheffield, UK and have produced an endless list of darkly adorable characters, artwork, and projects that have terrorized and delighted people world wide for over a decade!

Technically, TADO is really not a ‘new’ friend – Sanrio first met TADO in 2014.  The pair was commissioned to create an animation by the Japanese American National Museum to celebrate Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary for the Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty exhibition. Sanrio also teamed up with TADO again in 2016 for the very first hello sanrio video!

Recently, we had a chance to chat with TADO for a little Q&A fun and got to dive into their immersive world of design, friendship, and fun!

We always have to ask, which Sanrio characters are your favorite?

Our joint favourite would have to be Hangyodon. We first met him on a trip to Japan several years ago and fell in love with his handsome charm! It’s been amazing to be able to animate him in our style - his poses and features made us laugh a lot.

How long have you been a Sanrio fan?

We’ve both had a fascination with cute characters for as long as we can remember - so have been fans of Sanrio both in growing up as kids and also in a design-aware sense later in life as well.

The iconic Hello Kitty was probably one of, if not the first cute character either of us were aware of. When we first met, one of the things that we shared was our love of discovering more of these characters, especially some of the more obscure ones. We were able to visit Puroland on the same trip to Japan we mentioned before - for us, this was like a pilgrimage to the temple of cuteness!

How did you get started in design?

Both of us came through pretty much the same route - both loved to draw as kids and went through school with that being ‘our thing’. We’re both 80’s kids so were raised on a fantastic diet of action figures, 2D and stop-motion animation, comic books and crude computer games.

We both eventually went to collage and then on to university in Leeds (where we met) to study Graphic Art and Design (UK).

When did you meet and how did TADO get started? 

We met at the end of our second year at university.

A tutor of ours suggested that we should try collaborating as we both shared similar obsessions with comics, toys, and anime and both wanted to learn animation. Since that day 16 years ago we’ve barely been apart! We began working together on everything, taking on little jobs whilst studying and went on to set up TADO officially at the end of our third year in 2002.

What is your creative process like as a team?

We’re quite unusual in that we both do pretty much everything exactly the same rather than having separate roles. We both draw, both make, both paint, both animate, both pretend to be the boss etc.

We always joke that TADO is very much 1 creature with 2 heads and 2 pairs of hands.
Over the years we’ve developed our style together, so now we both draw in a very similar way and both instinctively know the direction things move in.

How long did it take to create the newest video?

From start to finish about 3 months, 1 month of planning, 1 month making, and 1 month of shooting and editing the footage.

Can you tell us a little more about the process of creating the video?

We’re very lucky to be able to work with a small but insanely talented team of friends who all contribute their magic (music, photography, editing and directing skills) to making the video come together.

The process begins with us jotting down some very rough ideas to chat about with the guys at Sanrio (who are always super awesome to work with!) about the overall direction and story for the piece.

After picking our collective favourite route we then work out some rough storyboards and style frames to show the scenarios and key moments we’d like to include.

After that, it’s a case of filling out these storyboards and creating an animatic that allows us to rough out the animations, add the first rough soundtrack and nail down all the timings.

Once the animatic stage has been signed off we can start on the real fun - the making!

We design the characters digitally and use our laser-cutter to cut most of the tiny little parts out of wood. Most of the characters use a series of ball-joints and magnets to create their movements and expressions.

We assemble all the individual parts by hand and then spend a loooooong time sanding them all and prepping them for painting. All the parts are then painted by hand.

When everything is ready we move into the photo-studio and the super fun but very intense process of animation begins - it’s the moment the magic really happens as you watch the photos play back in sequence and the characters spring to life.

Eventually, we end up with literally thousands of photos, which are then assembled into clips and edited together to create the final piece.

Eventually, we end up with literally thousands of photos, which are then assembled into clips and edited together to create the final piece.

What are you inspired by and what motivates you to create?

The corny answer is very much each other! When you work in collaboration and enjoy what you do things seem to fuel themselves very much - we always bounce ideas back and forth between us. Having a huge amount of shared influences is a great motivation too - we both still get overly excited by comic books, toys and all manner of cute merchandise. We both still really enjoy discovering new and obscure things to obsess about and collect - whether it’s a strange new mascot character from the other side of the globe or the seriously dorky model kits we love to amass.

We like to create work that makes us smile and laugh whether it's illustration, animation or toys. Being able to have fun across a wide range of mediums and disciplines definitely keeps us fresh and excited. 

Do you have any advice for others designers that are just starting out?

Collaboration collaboration collaboration! It’s the best piece of advice we were ever given - being able to share ideas, combine skills and learn from like-minded folk is a huge help when you’re getting going, especially if you’re working in a freelance role.

By forging relationships and working together combining skills you can tackle much bigger and more exciting things! Having fun and mucking about is essential too - if you’re enjoying what you’re doing it will show in the work.

Finally, at the end of the day, what do you do for fun?

To be honest, when you’re making wooden puppets and animating them for Sanrio there’s not much other fun that you need! hehe.

We love to ride our bikes and are fortunate to live on the edge of the Peak District National Park so there are tons of amazing trails that get us away from the glare of the computer screens. We also love collecting all manner of junk, watching a lot of animation, and eating too much ice cream!

Thank you to everyone at Sanrio for another amazing project opportunity and to the brilliant team of Editor/Co-director Gavin Strange ( @jam-factory ), Photographer Mark Howe (@HowieHowe) and music-whizz Eye On The Wall Recordings (@eyeonthewallrecordings) for helping us out with their brilliant skills.

Aww TADO, you truly are sweeter than sweet! Thank you for creating such an extraordinary video and for sharing a small glimpse into your world with everybody. For more fantastic fun, make sure check out their website and to follow TADO on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter !

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