However, fidelity to the original texts was paramount in the minds of the creators as the episodes sought "to educate their audience into an appreciation and love of Shakespeare, out of a conviction of Shakespeare as a cultural artifact available to all, not restricted to a narrowly defined form of performance.Screened in dozens of countries, The Animated Tales is Shakespeare as cultural educational television available to all." The dialogue was recorded at the sound studios of BBC Wales in Cardiff.
According to Garfield, editing the plays down to thirty minutes whilst maintaining original Shakespearean dialogue was not easy; "lines that are selected have to carry the weight of narrative, and that's not always easy.
It frequently meant using half a line, and then skipping perhaps twenty lines, and then finding something that would sustain the rhythm but at the same time carry on the story. In the tragedies, you have a very strong story going straight through, sustained by the protagonist.
Grace had previously worked with Soyuzmultfilm on an animated version of the Welsh folktale cycle, the Mabinogion, and he turned to them again for the Shakespeare project, feeling "if we were going to animate Shakespeare in a thirty-minute format, then we had to go to a country that we knew creatively and artistically could actually deliver.
And in my view, frankly, there was only one country that could do it in the style that we wanted, that came at it from a different angle, a country to whom Shakespeare is as important as it is to our own." Grace was also very keen to avoid creating anything Disney-esque; "Disney has conditioned a mass audience to expect sentimentality; big, gooey-eyed creatures with long lashes, and winsome, simpering female characters.
During the recording, Garfield himself was present, as was literary advisor, Stanley Wells, as well as the Russian directors.
All gave input to the actors during the recording sessions.
Edwards' job was to keep one eye on the creative aspects of the productions and one eye on the financial and practical aspects.
This didn't make him especially popular with some of the directors, but his role was an essential one if the series was to be completed on time and under budget.
The episodes continue to be used in schools as teaching aids, especially when introducing children to Shakespeare for the first time.
The series was conceived in 1989 by Christopher Grace, head of animation at S4C.
The series was commissioned by the Welsh language channel S4C.