Producing Christmas station IDs has become an annual tradition for the biggest TV networks in the Philippines. Since this tradition has been running for more than a decade, these yearly videos tend to become predictable and repetitive at times.
(Read: COMMENTARY: 2016 ABS-CBN Christmas station ID "Isang Pamilya Tayo ngayong Pasko")
Fortunately, GMA Network shakes things up once in a while so as not to repeat or rehash the same themes and styles year after year. In 2010, for instance, the Kapuso Network went beyond the usual parade of millisecond-exposures of celebrities and highlighted inspiring stories of real people in a series of what they then called "Christmas vignettes." In 2013, there was the CGI-heavy recreation of the nativity scene to make it look like the entire Kapuso stable was there when Jesus Christ was born (Yes, this happened. Thank you YouTube for
2016 is no exception. This year, the Kapuso Network pulls out another surprise by not going the route of the usual Christmas music video. It veered away from the usual formula by launching a Christmas campaign highlighted by three animated shorts with the theme "Maniwala sa Magic ng Pasko."
GMA refers to this series of animated stories as the first locally-produced 3D animated Christmas campaign. True, locally-produced animations are rarely seen on Philippine screens, despite the abundance of Filipino talents in the global animation industry. It is commendable for GMA to put a spotlight in this largely untapped arena.
First to be released is "Magic Crayons," which shows the story of a little girl who discovers anything she draws with her crayons become real so she draws her Christmas wishes on paper. Obviously, magic is the major theme in the series and we can expect that in the storylines of the succeeding videos. The message--believe in the magic of Christmas--is very apt for GMA Network that built its leadership with a string of fantasy and magic-themed TV series. GMA knows how to show magic in stories as exhibited in its long history of producing "telefantasyas."
"Magic Crayons" is an attempt at telling a touching story through short animation--a technique perfected by the likes of Pixar which can make even grown-ups cry with their shorts. The storytelling and the graphics are obviously not at that level yet. Technically, the animation is better than most local TV animations and special effects we've seen so over the years, but truthfully, there are animated TV commercials that look more polished and advanced. However, one can appreciate the details added to Magic Crayons, like how the Filipino home and the Christmas village are depicted. Also, the music and sounds work harmoniously with the visuals as a result of good editing.
Also, seeing Magic Crayons builds anticipation for the next videos in the series. We hope that the next featured stories are much better story-wise, and can evoke more heartwarming and touching Christmas memories.
We hope GMA can fully master and utilize this medium to further level-up its expertise in the fantasy genre as well as become a venue to showcase outstanding works from the local animation industry.
In the age of multiple media platforms and increasingly social and connected audiences, the Christmas station ID is no longer just a music video that is aired in between TV programs and the networks are now recognizing that.
The music still plays a key role in the full campaign, and this year's theme song was recorded by Julie Anne San Jose. A full recording hasn't been released yet, but as heard in the snippets used in the animations and promotional videos, the song has potential to be a contemporary Christmas hit.
Also part of the campaign are the video conversations about the Maniwala sa Magic ng Pasko message led by select GMA stars, encouraging viewers to reflect on their own magical moments during the Christmas season. Again, this shows that the campaign aims to build a full experience supported by conversations and personal experiences.
This year, fans of GMA Network may have been used to the practice of spotting their favorite stars in a Christmas music video, but it's good to see something different, fresh and promising.
More importantly, it is exciting to see variation, creativity and immense growth in the storytelling, use of a new medium and technical proficiency, and in the long run, this can somewhat benefit viewers and bring magic to the local TV industry.
Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial staff.