Aah, television, our old friend. What madness the power of a child with a remote control instills in us...
Television is our friend. It is that bright and shiny box that brings fun and information into our homes. Because it's a guest in our house we expect it to be bright, polite and non-offending. The United States Federal Communications Commission has recently passed laws encouraging U.S. networks to host more educational programming. What's On? TV Schedules From Around the World shows that this will influence the world, not just the U.S. due to aggressive international sales. There are potential substantial changes that the FCC ruling could bring to the U.S. market. Viewers are already migrating toward cable in record numbers. With a ramping up of educational shows on networks, it's hard to know if even more viewers will turn to cable for the cutting-edge, instead of the soft-edge. At the same time, the worldwide market place is becoming more competitive as well. Europe is a lively market that is producing first-class animated entertainment. Australia is struggling to find enough animators to handle their new crop of animated programs and as Detelina Kreck's AnimExpo'97: An Introduction to the Rising Tiger review and Milt Vallas' The Korean Animation Explosion indicate, Korea is eager to enter the market with its own creative product. If we were to do What's On? TV Schedules From Around the World in the future, will we see less U.S. programming?
No matter how much the animation industry rushes around trying to make the best possible of all children's shows, it all boils down to a child with the power to choose. For the most part, they don't care which shows will be canceled because they aren't watching them, or who will lose their job as a result. They also aren't concerned about the fact that the show has been in development for a year with only the top professionals, or that the producers banded together a group of the most respected studios in order to make a show. They don't care which government quotas are being fulfilled or who made the sale of the programming to the network, cable or satellite distribution mechanism. They don't care about the artist who went to school for years and they probably don't even think about the person who put down the cable or launched the satellite into orbit. Thousands, upon thousands of people are employed to get television shows on the air, with the toys in the stores at the same time. However, it all still revolves around a child and what makes him or her giggle. What a mad, mad business! It is such an expansive business that involves, big, big money and yet, there is absolutely no science to what will make a child laugh whatsoever.
Our issue reveals the new shows that studios and networks are rolling the dice on this season as well as the influence that MTV and CTW has had on the animation community, its audience and even the world of animation festivals and advertising. Mo Willems hosted A Conversation With: Arlene Sherman and Abby Terkuhle one evening in New York and spoke to the heads of these groundbreaking studios. We are also looking into France's proliferation of channels in Mushrooms After the Rain: France's Children's Channels that also includes a short description of the CSA, the French Audiovisual Council, which governs French programming.
In our Reviews section we are also reviewing San Diego's Comic Con: The King of All Cons, Seattle's Masters Of Animation: An Unprecedented Opportunity, and, of course, SIGGRAPH '97: Too Much to Do, See and Think in a Week. Our SIGGRAPH review includes an online version of the Computer Animation Festival, complete with Quicktime clips and much, much more. SIGGRAPH is a fascinating experience that is half about today's innovations and half about the future. It is unlike any normal trade show in that, while there are product demonstrations and companies vamping, there is also an undercurrent. A feeling that one gets that great minds are meeting in the corners, discussing innovations and scientific theories. The murmur was most loudly heard for me in the Electronic Garden, which is a collection of the newest ideas that range from art pieces to possible theme park attractions to the next step from the Jet Propulsion Laboratories.
In this issue we are continuing on with our Student Corner and Hidden Treasures columns. I hope that a number of our readers are finding these new articles useful. Are we missing something? Which specific topics or places would you like to have addressed? Please drop us a line. We are always interested in listening.
Until Next Time,