Here Comes Mavo!

Washington, District of Columbia | Series

Animation, Family

Melissa Malzkuhn

1 Campaigns | District of Columbia, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $50,653 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

197 supporters | followers

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Support "Here Comes Mavo" to champion diversity, inclusivity, and the power of communication. As the first animated series created by the deaf, your contribution ensures the representation of an underserved community and brings the magic of sign language to screens worldwide.

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

We aim to create an inclusive animated series for children showcasing sign language and Deaf culture through core themes of community, connection, and communication. We envision building a pipeline of diverse Deaf animators and storytellers through this work.

The Story

Hello, my incredible friends!

I've got something truly enchanting to share with you – a journey that's more than just a story. It's a movement, a celebration of diversity, and a testament to the magic of communication.

Imagine a world where every word is a spark of magic, where friendships form through gestures, and understanding knows no bounds. That's the heart and soul of "Here Comes Mavo."

In this captivating animated TV series, we venture into a realm where sign language isn't just a way to communicate – it's a symphony of expression. Through the adventures of me and my pals, we're on a journey of discovery, empathy, and learning that bridges the gap between all of us. I must return to the Baobab Universe now, but I hope you join us on this exciting adventure!

With all my sparkle and high-fives,

Mavo✨ & Team

"Unveiling 'Here Comes Mavo': A Journey of Diversity, Inclusivity, and Magic"

In a world brimming with stories waiting to be told, some narratives stand out not just for their entertainment value- but for their potential to reshape perceptions, celebrate diversity, and ignite change. "Here Comes Mavo" is precisely that kind of project. This animated series goes beyond the screen to advocate for inclusivity, foster an understanding of the Deaf community, and create a realm of magic that transcends language barriers.

Spreading the Magic of Communication

Communication is a bridge that connects us all. "Here Comes Mavo" takes this idea and runs with it, not just through captivating storytelling but also through the unique medium of animation. Through the adventures of Mavo and her friends, we delve into a universe where communication isn't limited by words, but enriched by the expressive beauty of sign language. This series doesn't just entertain; it educates and inspires, reminding us of the power of understanding and empathy.

Learning Moments through Media

We have worked hard to develop a curriculum for the Here Comes Mavo series, which with each episode will aim to meet these four primary goals:

• To increase viewers’ appreciation and awareness of Deaf cultures, Deaf communities, Deaf

experience and the Deaf ways of being

• To introduce viewers to sign languages

• To encourage viewers to use and value visual communication including the use of gestures

• To support viewers’ Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)

Each episode will build these key goals in the story, and provide learning moments for all children.

Impact & Accessibility

Decades of research on language acquisition show that young babies absorb language from the moment they are born. The first few years of a child's life in language exposure and communication significantly impact the child's cognitive, social, and academic development. Deaf children, like any other children, require the same level of language exposure-- which means access to sign language. However, 95% of deaf children are born to hearing parents, and 85% of those parents do not use sign language at home. This has devastating consequences on deaf children's language and literacy development.

There is a gaping void in children's entertainment and media for children who need sign language. There are no animated shows for children featuring sign language constantly or deaf characters as a central focus --- if any, sign language or deaf characters only appear in an occasional episode or as a special feature. "Here Comes Mavo" would change all that. We are talking about *52* full episodes featuring Mavo, a Deaf character going on a range of escapades.

Groundbreaking Technology with Top Talent

The development of “Here Comes Mavo” uses cutting-edge and customized motion capture technology designed to create fluent signing characters and avatars. All the nuances are captured by our technology to show the essence of sign language, facial expressions, and tone.

This technology was developed by a Deaf team at the award-winning Motion Light Lab at Gallaudet University. The team consists of native signers with top-level expertise in sign language capture, recording, and publishing. This is not the team's first rodeo -- they have had experience creating cinematic signing characters. Motion Light Lab created a short 3D animated film with signing characters called Dimensions that won Best in 2D/3D Animation at Clin d'Oeil, a prestigious international film festival. Dimensions has been featured in many festivals all over the world.

The team will expand to welcome more emerging Deaf animators, storyboard artists, and designers to this project. The newcomers will work alongside industry veterans brought in by Pigmental Studios, a seasoned animation studio working on multiple projects. Through this series, we aim to create and build an inclusive pipeline, opening opportunities for underrepresented communities to have an impact in the entertainment industry.


Your Role in Making a Difference

By contributing to the fundraising campaign, you're helping to bring this vision to life. Your support will enable more episodes, wider reach, and a louder voice for the deaf community. It's an investment in a future where stories aren't just told – they're experienced, celebrated, and shared. We have already raised some funds and need further funding to complete our first groundbreaking pilot episode.

Funding breakdown:

• Development - DONE

• Pilot episode script - DONE

• Curriculum - DONE

• Here Comes Mavo! Production Bible - DONE

• Mocap Tests - DONE

• 2D/3D Characters development - ALMOST DONE


• Production (Directing, Talents, Crew) - $10,500

• Episode Assets - $4,300

• Animators and 2D/3D Artists - $7,300

• Storyboard and Animatics - $4,000

• Motion Capture (Rigging, Cleaning, Process) - $12,500

• Sound Composing - $3,800

• Animation Post Production - $7,600

Join the Magic

"Here Comes Mavo" isn't just an animated series; it's a movement. It's a movement driven by passion, fueled by the desire to create a world united by shared experiences and understanding. By supporting this project, you're joining hands with a community that's dedicated to making a difference. You're becoming a part of something bigger than entertainment – creating a wave that will transform the planet.

As we stand at the cusp of a new era in entertainment, "Here Comes Mavo" invites you to step into a world where voices are seen, hearts are touched, and magic is real. Join us on this journey of diversity, inclusivity, and above all, the celebration of the human experience. Together, let's make history, one magical frame at a time.

Thank you for believing in magic. Let's step into the wonders of "Here Comes Mavo" and be a part of a movement that's rewriting the narrative.

With our deep gratitude for your support and with hopes for a better-represented media landscape,

Mavo & Team

Melissa Malzkuhn and Marina Martins, Producers

Motion Light Lab x Pigmental Studios


Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Production (Directing, Talents, Crew)

Costs $10,500

Creating our pilot episode requires a team. Expenses will go towards our Deaf talents, crew, production assistants, and directing.

Episode Assets

Costs $4,300

2D and 3D assets of characters, materials, textures, and environment details to be used in episodes

Animators and 2D/3D Artists

Costs $7,300

Work with a team of Animators & 2D/3D artists including emerging Deaf animators/artists to animate and develop the episode.

Storyboards and Animatics

Costs $4,000

To fully develop scenes, we start with storyboards and animatics (animated sequences of a storyboard) before entering production

Motion Capture (Rigging, Capturing, Cleaning)

Costs $12,500

We will work with young Deaf actors for this show; and capture their signing & facial expressions to create quality 3D signing characters!

Sound Composing

Costs $3,800

Implementation of sound, voice-overs, and music through sound editing and composers.

Animation Post Production

Costs $7,600

To work with a team of Deaf & hearing animators, on mocap data, texturing, lighting, shading, etc, to present Mavo to the world!

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

About This Team


Marina Martins, CEO of Pigmental Studios in the USA & company director of of Pigmental Limited, PLC was privileged to have the opportunity for immersive working, living, and travel exposure in the Middle East, Asia, the Far East, Australia, and Europe.

Marina is a storyteller, sharing her love of the craft in the role of writer, Director, and Producer, with an emphasis on development, which she defines as the process of concept through the return of investment for the investors. Ms. Martins is best known for her international co-production expertise and has spoken on many panels discussing the pros and cons of production in international locations.   Marina believes that storytelling is the most effective way to enhance cultural interaction, understanding, and social action and that the gift of creative vision can and should be employed responsibly to improve the quality of all life without sacrificing the audience's desire to be entertained.  

In searching for the right location to land her team and offices in Washington D.C. Marina was emotionally struck by the passion and desire of the university to grow opportunities for their students and open the community to successful integration with the hearing community.  That is how the Pigmental/Gallaudet initiative was born and continues to grow.  

Marina wants to open the world of animation to deaf learners so that they may know that they are capable and valuable in a working environment in the entertainment animation industry.  Marina recognizes and supports the unique talents of the deaf community in acute nuanced recognition of emotional expression – a key component of animation storytelling.  

Marina is a member of BAFTA and is an annual judge for the Students Awards in film, documentary, and animation – offering opportunities to international up-and-coming storytellers to join the studio or receive mentorship for the company team.


Melissa Malzkuhn is the Founder and Director of Motion Light Lab. Third-generation Deaf, and a native ASL signer, Melissa has 15+ years of experience leading innovative work that creates tangible benefits for Deaf children. Melissa received her BA in Communication Studies and her MA in Deaf Studies from Gallaudet University, and her MFA in Visual Narrative from the School of Visual Arts. 

Melissa translates research to impact by using creative literature and digital technology to create immersive learning experiences. Her ground-breaking contributions have included the development of training programs, the publication of over thirty bilingual storybook apps, and the creation of signing avatars through motion capture technology. Melissa’s accomplishments include important “firsts”: she created the VL2 Storybook Apps, the world's first bilingual ASL/English storybook for young readers, and she helped establish the world’s first peer-reviewed journal in sign language through her role as the Managing Editor of Deaf Studies Digital Journal. Her film credits include the award-winning short documentary film, TARA'S STORY, and most recently, DIMENSIONS, which won Best in Animation at Clin D'Oeil, a prestigious film festival.

Melissa aims to affirm the human rights of Deaf children by building learning tools for Deaf people, by Deaf people. Her pioneering efforts have earned her recognition and awards both nationally and internationally, including as an Obama Fellow, an Ashoka Fellow, and a recipient of a $1M grant from the LEGO Foundation to advance her work to improve language access for Deaf children. She is the co-founder of CREST Network, focusing on equity and inclusion of deaf people in sign language technology. She produced and developed The ASL App to teach conversational American Sign Language, which has been downloaded over 3 million times. She is an artist fellow with the CripTech Metaverse Lab and is leading an art commission to create a DEAF CLUB in the metaverse. She continues to serve on numerous boards and committees and publish and present her work to bring recognition, resources, and opportunities to the Deaf community.



Pigmental Studios was founded in February of 2014 to fill a space in the Worldwide Marketplace for independently made, studio quality, brandable, franchisable Animated Feature Films, TV Series, Games & Apps, and L&M-driven content. 

Pigmental Studios has, over the last few years, established itself as a known and formidable animation studio focused on the extensive and meticulous development of high-value, internally owned IP in feature films, TV series, Gaming, and L&M. 

The company is positioned for long-term asset valuation to grow robustly, enhancing the viability and desirability of intellectual properties, for the benefit of Pigmental and its partners. 

Pigmental opened its renovated offices on the Gallaudet campus in the fall of 2016 with the purpose of piloting a learn/work in situ program, created by founder, Marina Martins, for deaf students, providing real-time work experience in an actual animated TV series.  The students learn and interact with Pigmental’s team at our hearing animation studio.

Pigmental has an international presence with offices in Los Angeles - CA, Washington - DC, Vancouver – Canada, and London – UK with new offices opening in Navan – Ireland in 2021.  Pigmental enjoys robust partnerships with global partners to support multicultural storytelling.


Motion Light Lab is an award-winning creative lab founded by Melissa Malzkuhn in 2009, with a mission to create an equitable world. Housed at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., and part of the National Science Foundation/Gallaudet University Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning, Motion Light Lab engages in a wide range of programs, projects, and creative research and development, including the development and distribution of bilingual storybook apps, the provision of training to support literacy development for Deaf children, and the creation of advanced 3D avatars with sign language fluency through motion capture technology. Motion Light Lab’s efforts intersect creative literature and digital technology with science to create new knowledge and immersive learning experiences to drive social impact. The lab's work is deeply rooted in the belief that the Deaf experience is a gift meant to be shared with the world, beginning with universal access to sign language.


Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind individuals through American Sign Language and English. 

Current Team