By E. Brown

Profile In Creative Learning - Bert Smets, HoplaBert Smets is the CEO and Creative Manager at Bert Smets Productions, the production company of Hopla, based in Ostend, Belgium. They focus primarily on child edutainment and children’s merchandising. Being active in the children’s market since 1988, Smets worked as an illustrator for numerous European children’s magazines and publishers. Since creating his character Hopla, both creatively and business wise, it has been the only thing he has worked on.

A featured artist with Strata3D, Smets says he learned 3D by teaching himself the application over two years. He immediately started creating children’s content using rounded shapes with bright and vivid colors.

Smets decided to produce all aspect of a television pilot except for the music. His target audience was infants/toddlers. In 1999, Smets took samples of his work to the international TV Fair in Cannes, France. He landed a 1-year, 52-episode deal.

Handling Success
Smets enlisted the aid of his wife and immediately got to work. Since the shading and animating of Hopla is very basic, the render time was short. By 2000, Hopla was a hit and expanded to other markets. In 2001, Bert Smets Productions started producing books and videos.

Today, all merchandise is created in-house and the business is run by a four person staff. They predominately use Strata3D for most all their creative designs. Smets loves the ease of use and ability to repurpose his creations in StrataCX. His team has also started selling 130 Hopla episodes worldwide and offers 32 children’s books, plus other merchandise such as puzzles, stamps, rattles, and blankets.

Currently, Hopla airs in 35 countries and should soon be in the United States. A recent deal signed with NCircle Entertainment, a division of Alliance Entertainment calls for 26 episodes a year from 2007-2010.

Profile In Creative Learning - Bert Smets, HoplaKnow Your Audience
Hopla teaches infants and toddlers such basics as:

  • Color recognition
  • Shapes
  • Sounds
  • Spatial recognition

Character qualities like:

  • Friendship
  • Respect
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Kindness
  • Sharing
  • Working together

Our hats are off to Bert and his staff. He took a passion for creativity and compassion for children and wove the two together into a learning platform that is reaching kids all around the world. I love to see creative learning done right!

Related Links

Hopla TV
– Bert Smets on Wikipedia
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