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"I am asking each person in every country not to be silent witnesses to this devastation but to answer our SOS by raising both awareness and the vital funds necessary to fight and win against this disease."
- Nelson Mandela, December, 2002

We hope these Questions and Answers will cover most of the questions you have.

You are welcome to write to the Producers at: info@thethreeamigos.org. Unfortunately, they may not be able to reply to every e-mail personally.

What is the Concept?
What about promoting other approaches, such as abstinence?
Who are the target audiences?
What is the reach?
What is The Three Amigos project trying to achieve?
What is the format?
What are the durations?
What are the names?
Why are there 20 spots?
Why did the Producers choose animation as the medium?
Are the PSA's in English only?
Where were the PSA's created?
Did anyone get a fee for their services?
Who are the Producers?
Who is the Director?
How is Archbishop Tutu involved in The Three Amigos?
Who created the PSA's?
Who are the voices in the English version (Canadian voices)?
How were the scripts written?
Who designed the three condoms?
Who wrote the music?
Who did the animation?
Will there be more PSA's?
Are there radio spots available?
What are the copyright restrictions?
Can broadcasters and NGO's edit the PSA's or put their logo on them?
How can broadcasters get tapes?
How should broadcasters broadcast the PSA's?
Can NGO's, hospitals, community groups and other users get tapes or DVD's?
Can individuals get tapes or DVD's?
Is there any charge for the tapes or for broadcasting The Three Amigos?
Do users have to report anything?
Is there a large staff working for the project?
Are there Three Amigos condoms?
Are the Producers available for interviews and speeches?

What is the Concept?

The Three Amigos is a HIV/AIDS prevention strategy consisting of a series of 20 Public Service Announcements (PSA's) in the form of short comedic sketches, featuring three animated, talking condoms. 20 spots have been created to offer a wide selection.

The PSA's use the images of three condoms, to convey through comedy the important message of using condoms to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. The Producers chose comedy to create messages that were non-threatening and broadly appealing across all age groups, social strata and cultural boundaries.

The Three Amigos have been created by volunteers. The series has been directed, co-produced and adapted into 41 languages by Mr. Firdaus Kharas. The Three Amigos is a series of purposely varied animated spots that use humor to counter the spread of HIV/AIDS. The series has been adapted under his supervision into 41 languages, thereby enabling a potential reach of about 80% of the world’s population in their own language.

The Three Amigos has been used intensively in a wide variety of countries, ranging from liberal democracies to conservative theocracies, from countries in southern Africa where AIDS is rampant, to countries on the threshold of a possible AIDS crisis in Asia and Eastern Europe. Broadcasters have donated millions of dollars worth of free air time to air the series, in some cases up to 20 times a day. Thousands of health clinics, hospitals, non-governmental organizations and universities across the world currently use the series.

The series has received 30 international awards and hundreds of articles in many languages have been written on its creation and impact.


Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu is the principal supporter who has called the series in an open letter “a powerful communicating tool” and has written "in creating the The Three Amigos PSA's (you) have made an outstanding contribution to the campaign against HIV infection in providing material that can be easily understood by most people irrespective of language or culture". Hundreds of testimonials from around the world have been received from every walk of life, from powerful government officials to AIDS educators to ordinary people who's behavior has been influenced by the series.

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What about promoting other approaches, such as abstinence?

The Producers feel strongly that ALL approaches should be used in combatting this dreadful disease. The Producers salute all those working on prevention, regardless of their approach.

Subject to funding, in the next round of PSA's, several spots will be produced on abstinence and being faithful. The current PSA's should be used as part of a comprehensive "ABC" programme on prevention.

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Who are the target audiences?

The principal targets are 16 to 24 year-old but anyone sexually active is a target. The PSA's should not be played to children.

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What is the reach?

The overall goal is to have the PSA's in at least 50 languages seen by a billion people in 100 countries.

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What is The Three Amigos project trying to achieve?

Ultimately, the project aims to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.  It does this specfically by:

Building awareness that safe sex prevents the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Transforming the stigma about condoms.

Communicating a message that condoms are friends or Amigos.

Entrenching condom usage, in both male and female viewers, especially in casual sex encounters.

Empowering women in particular to demand the use of a condom.

Promoting open discourse and a proactive mindset towards HIV/AIDS prevention.


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What is the format?

2D Animation. The animation is entirely hand-drawn. There are approximately 14,000 drawings in the PSA's.

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What are the durations?

There are 20 PSA's of classic PSA length: 2 x 15 seconds, 4 x 20 seconds, 9 x 30 seconds and 5 x 60 seconds. The total running time is 11 minutes, 20 seconds.

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What is the formal name of the project?

The project is formally called The Three Amigos HIV/AIDS Prevention Programme.

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Why are there 20 spots?

The Producers created 20 spots in order to provide a wide selection. It is not expected that all 20 spots will be effective or appropriate in every situation, in every country or in every language.

Not all the PSA's will be appropriate in all cultures or situations. A variety has been provided so that a selection may be made.

The Producers used a variety of comic situations to convey a serious message. The Producers were cognizant that the PSA's have to be appreciated by people all over the world and created 20 PSA's to ensure that the comedy would be varied enough to reach audiences in every country of the world.

Some spots are more visual and others have more dialogue. Some spots are targeted for a younger audience, some for an older audience.

Broadcasters and NGO's may choose to play all 20 or any of the spots they like. The Producers expect a selection to be made.

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Why did the Producers choose animation as the medium?

Animating three condoms and personalizing the 'means to safe sex' creates the type of suspension of disbelief required for a shift in mindset. Through the genre of comedy, viewers of both sexes, irrespective of sexual preference or age, are presented with a new and positive image of the condom.

Animation also has the advantage of being non-threatening, translatable into various languages and accessible cross-culturally.

Animation has not been used to make the spots appeal to children.  The spots should not be played to children.

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Are the PSA's in English only?

All 20 spots are already available in 41 languages listed in the Languages section.

The PSA's are designed to be translated and dubbed into all the languages of the world.

In each country or region of the world where the PSA's are broadcast, the broadcaster can work with the Producers to obtain local languages. Broadcasters may request fully dubbed versions, funds permitting. Or, they may request the dialogue scripts. The dialogue tracks and M & E tracks are separate to facilitate dubbing.

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Where were the PSA's created?

The Three Amigos was conceived and written in South Africa. The characters, props and layouts were designed and created in Canada. The backgrounds and animation were done in India. The digital ink and paint, voice recording, music, audio and video post production were done in Canada.

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Did anyone get a fee for their services?

No. This was a voluntary effort. The project did receive a small anonymous donation for direct expenses and has subsequently received limited grants from the Canadian Government for distribution in South Africa, from OMNI Television in Ontario for re-creations into different languages and from the Lloyd Foundation for tape duplication and distribution.

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Who are the Producers?

Brent Quinn of South Africa and Firdaus Kharas of Canada are the Producers and creators.

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Who is the Director?

Firdaus Kharas of Canada is the Director.

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How is Archbishop Tutu involved in The Three Amigos?

Archbishop Tutu was shown the proposal and the scripts by the Producers. He read them and immediately lent his support. His endorsement has been an inspiration to the team that created the spots. This Nobel Laureate is a compassionate man and an activist on HIV/AIDS. Besides, he has a great sense of humour.

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Who created the PSA's?

Over 400 people have been involved in the creation and adaptations of the spots, mostly on a volunteer basis. Of those, 80 were involved in the creation and 320 were involved in the adaptations.

A consortium of leading companies in Canada, India and South Africa committed to creating these PSA's. The consortium was put together by Firdaus Kharas. The companies involved are located in:

· Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
· Johannesburg, South Africa
· Mumbai (Bombay), India
· Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
· Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
· Toronto, Ontario, Canada

They include world-leading specialists in:

Concept and Scripts – Brent Quinn
Scripts supervision - Firdaus Kharas
Character Design – Funbag Animation
Storyboards – Dan Craig
Pre-production, layouts and posing – Helix Animation
Background colouring, animation, in-betweening, clean-up and scanning – Future Thought and Animation Bridge
Digital ink-and-paint – Helix Digital
Voice Recording and Music composition - GAPC
Audio design, effects and post production – Atomic Productions
Video post production – Affinity Productions
Graphics – Loop Media
Tape Transfers – Precision Transfer Technologies
Web hosting – Tomahawk Technologies
Original Web-site concepts - Ignite Studios and Digg Design
South African language versioning - Videolab
Language Adaptation Coordinator- John Kambites

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Who are the voices in the English version (Canadian voices)?

Rick Jones are two male voices. Robin Dumas is the third male voice. Tori Hammond is all the female voices.

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How were the scripts written?

The script-writing process was executed carefully and with wide consultation. The first drafts of the scripts were written by Brent Quinn in South Africa. He then sent them to Firdaus Kharas in Canada, who was script editing. After a process of revisions, the scripts were commented on by students at Wits University in Johannesburg and several international diplomats, media professionals and AIDS activists. Over twenty people were involved in the script-writing process.

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Who designed the three condoms?

Gordon Coulthart and Brent McNeil of Canada designed the characters. The creators created characters that are dark brown/black, white and blue to represent all the cultures of the world. The blue character talks the most and is the “star” of the series.

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Who wrote the music?

Andrew Huggett of Canada wrote all the music. The music is universal, written by a composer skilled at creating cross-over music that can travel around the world. The instruments used are varied and include a few kazoos.

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Who did the animation?

The animation was done by Future Thought in Mumbai, India. Each PSA consists of several thousand drawings.

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Will there be more PSA�s?

Subject to funding, the next round of PSA’s will cover more issues and several will be produced on other approaches towards HIV/AIDS prevention.

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Are there radio spots available?

The Producers do want to create radio spots. They will be created if funding is received.

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What are the copyright restrictions?

There are no broadcast or use restrictions. The tape or DVD may be played, in whole or in part, without cost and without requesting permission. 

There are no repitition or time period restrictions.  Broadcasters, NGO's and all other users may use the tapes and DVD's as often and for as long as they wish.

Neither the tape or DVD nor the contents (including any images) may be duplicated or extracted without permission. Please request additional tapes or DVD's if needed.

The PSA’s must be played as they are and cannot be edited or altered in any manner. No changes, editing, logos or names are permitted including at the beginning and at the end. Each spot must be played in its entirety.

The PSA's may not be played or placed on the Internet without permission.  Links to this site may be placed on any other site without permission.

All elements are © copyrighted.

Can broadcasters and NGO's edit the PSA's or put their logo on them?

No they cannot. While broadcasters and NGO's can pick the spots they wish to play, they may not alter, edit or modify any spot or attach their name or logo to any spot. The spots must be played individually, as they are.

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How can broadcasters get tapes?

Simply by writing to info@thethreeamigos.org. Broadcasters should specify NTSC or PAL formats. All tapes normally sent are BetaSP. DigiBeta are available upon request but a tape cost might be requested.

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How should broadcasters broadcast the PSA's?

The PSA's are designed to be viewed several times. Broadcasters should spread out the PSA's over several months, playing them frequently. Indeed, a single viewing of a spot may not result in the audience grasping the message. Broadcasters should roll them out, like an episodic series, playing a few at a time.

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Can NGO's, hospitals, commuunity health clinics, educators and community groups get tapes or DVD's?

Yes, by writing to info@thethreeamigos.org.

Tapes are sent to broadcasters.  All other users receive DVD's.  There are limited supplies of DVDs available.

Requests should specify NTSC or PAL formats, if the format is known. 

Please note that not all requests for tapes and DVD's can be filled as they are personally funded by Firdaus Kharas.

NGO’s and all other users should send an e-mail with details about themselves and why they are requesting The Three Amigos.

All users should note that they take on the sole and complete responsibility of ensuring the spots are used appropriately, within a cultural context.

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Can individuals order tapes for their own use?

No. Unfortunately, due to limited supplies, tapes cannot be sent to individuals for their personal use. This is a volunteer activity.

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Is there any charge for the tapes or DVD's for broadcasting The Three Amigos?

No.  Not even for postage.

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Do broadcasters or NGO’s have to report anything?

All users are requested to send an e-mail to info@thethreeamigos.org with usage or transmission details, including number of spots used, duration, time and dates of transmission and estimated viewership.

Users are also requested to forward comments from the public, whether favorable or unfavorable.

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Is there a large staff working for the project?

The entire staff consists of Firdaus Kharas and Brent Quinn and their wives. They work part-time on The Three Amigos out of their respective residences in Ottawa, Canada and Johannesburg, South Africa. Between them they do all the work, including getting tapes out. There is no office or staff.

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Are there Three Amigos condoms?

No. There will never be any actual condoms. This is not an advertising campaign; it is a behaviour modification and prevention programme to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

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Are the Producers available for interviews and speeches?

Yes, the Producers are very willing to do interviews and speeches anywhere in the world. The Producers speak about both the HIV/AIDS crises in general and The Three Amigos in particular. Please send requests in writing to info@thethreeamigos.org.

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hosting: Tomahawk Technologies Inc.

Copyright (c) 2004 The Three Amigos HIV/AIDS Prevention Programme