Gallaudet University, Pigmental Studios Releases “Here Comes Mavo!”

Here is Mavo! Artist credit: Yiqiao Wang

“That’s exactly why we created ‘Mavo!’, not only to deliver powerful, authentic and culturally relevant programming to deaf children who have been largely excluded from this educational experience, but also to revolutionize the future of storytelling and animated.”

The Motion Light Lab and Pigmental Studios at Gallaudet University today announced the launch of “Here Comes Mavo!”, the first animated children’s television series featuring a deaf main character and 3D avatars using language signs. This groundbreaking series is designed to advance deaf-led storytelling, increase diversity and engagement in entertainment, and make sign language in animation a prolific global reality.

Gallaudet and Pigmental created “Here Comes Mavo!” to be the definitive destination for deaf and hearing children to learn and use sign language while being educated in social-emotional concepts and, just as importantly, entertained. With plans in discussion for worldwide distribution and the inclusion of various sign languages, “Here Comes Mavo!” will feature 52 eleven-minute episodes, including “Embarrassed,” “Confused,” and “Curious,” all centered on the magical land of the Baobab universe. It is here, in her hometown, that Mavo, a curious deaf eight-year-old girl, falls into the roots of a tree, learns to manage her emotions and finds ways to communicate her feelings with the other characters in this adventure. . world.

“Mavo! was created to address the lack of deaf and ambitious signature characters in children’s media. The series has four main goals: to increase appreciation and awareness of Deaf cultures, Deaf communities, the Deaf experience, and ways of being Deaf; introduce viewers to sign language; encourage viewers to use and value visual communication; and support the social-emotional learning (SEL) of viewers. In addition to enabling deaf children to see themselves authentically and positively represented in powerful roles in the media, “Mavo!” also helps hearing children explore and develop their knowledge of different languages ​​and cultures.

Custom motion capture technology creates 3D avatars that speak fluent sign language

One of the distinctive elements at the center of “Here Comes Mavo!” is a custom motion capture technology solution developed by the Motion Light Lab at Gallaudet University. This state-of-the-art motion capture technology – a multi-camera system with facial technology – has been specially designed to capture the essence and unique nuances of sign language, including finger and body movements and facial expressions, and to represent the complexity of movement, flow and grammatical structures of sign language. Mavo’s World 3D Signature Characters are the first-ever avatars in a series dedicated to children fluent in American Sign Language (ASL).

The main character of “Here Comes Mavo!” was inspired by Melissa Malzkuhn, founder and director of the Motion Light Lab at Gallaudet University. Malzkuhn is a leading technologist and educator who is Deaf, a former Obama Scholar, a current Ashoka Scholar, and one of the developers of The ASL App, a premier language-learning app. signs. In 2013, with an all-deaf team, she created and launched “The Baobab,” the world’s first bilingual ASL and English storybook and the origin of the character Mavo. More recently, Malzkuhn co-founded CREST Network, a global network to promote research and equity in sign language technologies.

The TV series was created by Marina Martins, CEO and Creative Director of Pigmental Studios, working closely with Malzkuhn. An accomplished storyteller, Martins founded Pigmental Studios in 2014 as a global animation studio focused on immersive and collaborative storytelling. With studios in Washington, DC, on the campus of Gallaudet University, Los Angeles and Ireland, Pigmental is an independent, global entertainment company with funding dedicated to animated feature films and television series. For the past five years, Martins has taught a Storytelling in Animation course that focuses on teaching Deaf students to tell their stories in an industry-grade format, engaging them in all aspects of the studio.

“At a time when diversity and inclusion is vital, how is it possible that there isn’t a single dedicated animated television show, aimed at the deaf community and sign language users? ” Malzkuhn asked. “That’s exactly why we created ‘Mavo!’, not only to deliver powerful, authentic and culturally relevant programming to deaf children who have been largely excluded from this educational experience, but also to revolutionize the future of storytelling and animated.”

“We are very pleased to partner with Gallaudet University to launch this groundbreaking new children’s series,” said Martins. “This is so much more than a television show, it is about filling an important gap in the world of entertainment and addressing the critical need for storytelling by and for the deaf community. Mavo will undoubtedly bring a leap forward much needed towards greater linguistic and cultural diversity to our industry and will forever inform the development of inclusive storytelling.

“There’s Mavo!” has a solid foundation of curriculum. It was developed with several experts in early childhood development, neuroscience and bilingual learning, including leaders from two leading Gallaudet University research labs – the Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning and the Gesture Literacy Knowledge Studio.

One of the goals of ‘Here Comes Mavo!’, added Malzkuhn, ‘is to develop a strong pipeline of Deaf talent in storytelling and animation. With ‘Mavo!’, we definitely want to expand opportunities for students deaf people and young deaf creatives in the entertainment industry.”

Martins adds, “Pigmental’s goal is to provide professional development, transitional work experience for students, and most importantly, to provide the financial and training resources necessary to create authentic Deaf-led content to a global audience. .”

Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, and multicultural institution of higher learning that provides intellectual and professional advancement for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind through American Sign Language and American Sign Language. ‘English. The university has over 1,600 students in more than 40 undergraduate majors and numerous master’s and doctoral programs. He also conducts research in a variety of areas, including accessible technology, Deaf history and culture, Black Deaf history and culture, brain imaging, educational neuroscience, education, linguistics and psychology.

Motion Light Lab (“ML2”) is an award-winning research and development laboratory at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC ML2 is part of the National Science Foundation/Gallaudet University Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning. ML2 engages in a wide range of research-based projects, creative R&D, including developing and distributing bilingual storybook apps, providing training to support literacy development for deaf children and creating advanced 3D avatars with sign language fluency through movement. capture technology. ML2’s efforts intersect creative literature and digital technology that integrate with VL2 science to create new knowledge, immersive learning experiences and benefit society.

Pigmental Studios brings carefully crafted stories to life through animation and authentic, cultural collaborative storytelling. Another type of animation studio, Pigmental Studios develops high-value in-house properties that delight global and underserved audiences across many vehicles, including feature films, television, and games. Led by CEO and Creative Director Marina Martins, Pigmental Studios delivers groundbreaking and immersive storytelling in cooperation with award-winning writers, artists and technologists. Currently based in Washington, DC, Pigmental Studios also operates globally, including Los Angeles, CA, Vancouver, Canada, and London, UK, with a recent expansion to Navan, Ireland. Find out what stories we’re working on by visiting

Media contacts:

Gallaudet University

Robert Weinstock

[email protected]

The Durkin Agency

Alana Cowan

[email protected]

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