ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.10 - JANUARY 2000

Quenching The New Millennium's Thirst For Animated Fare

by Lee Dannacher

Nailing down distinct models of animation distribution on the web is like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. Describing who-does-what mutates faster each day as bolts of "new deal" announcements hit the Headline News. These first days of the 21st Century are ablaze with innovative creators and company players whose manifesto infusing animation with the Internet's "space" seems to be: no deal or alliance is too crazy to pursue.

Distribution companies are becoming actual producing partners; producers and creators are themselves becoming netcasters and distributors; traditional broadcasters are building separate, branded online NETworks; technology companies are creating site departments for animation syndication; toy companies are producing inhouse merchandise-based web toons to play on their own dot coms; and old-guard newspapers are adding toon series to their daily online publications. Adding more models to the mix are the portals and browsers and other "straight" corporate entities who have suddenly become animation-hungry in their efforts to entice repeat visitors to their online sites.

Although some of these new media combinations appear to be based upon historical models of entertainment partnerships, most seem utterly fresh and unconventional, promising inexhaustible possibilities for new artistic exposure.

Level13.net promises a new host of animation professionals. Here we see Willis & Jonah. © Film Roman/Level13.net.
Just A Few Examples
Looking at a few examples from this mixed bag of showcasing "hybrids," we find: John Kricfalusi, long at the center of net animation, and his company Spumco's building of www.realcartoons.com, a site set to feature K's own stuff including a new series creation using historical Harvey Entertainment characters. Realcartoons.com will also be looking to acquire outside shorts to program and develop for this newly designed destination site. . . .For its part, Harvey Entertainment's expanding foray into deal-making includes a co-production, co-marketing arrangement with digital media company Spunky Productions based on Harvey's early Richie Rich comics adventures. True net veterans of over 4 years, Spunky Productions created www.SpunkyTown.com to showcase their own original work on separate Kids and Teens channels (with subsites such as Scary.com and Claus.com) and are now primed to continue a whirlwind expansion of creative production. . . .Film Roman's Level 13.net contains a Program Guide to screen, create and interact with various animated fare while also offering chat, email and an easy page explaining how to submit your work for their review. . . .DreamWorks and Imagine Entertainment are pairing to introduce POP.com sometime this spring, a much anticipated online entertainment site whose content will be a mix of live-action and animation, video on demand, live web events, and non-linear interactive features and games. The POP principals hope to encourage other artists and filmmakers to join them in creating original programming for their site. . . .Shockwave will soon be expanding the cartoon area of www.shockwave.com (already offering audiences classics like South Park, Dr. Katz and Dilbert, along with a Cartoon Vault and the new Ed's Head anthology). They've just signed Trey Parker and Matt Stone to create a net exclusive series and shorts program. At the same time, Shockwave is allying themselves with Stan Lee Media for future material, thereby accelerating the construction of their site into a desired destination place-to-be. . . .stanleemedia.com sounds like it's getting primed to jump into just about everything net related, promising a new set of super heroes revolving around his 7th Portal creation. . . .Mondo Media, a San Francisco digital production company founded in 1988, just expanded its major net presence by adding Netscape to the syndication roster of its two original series Thugs On Films and Like, News to play under the banner "Mondo Media
Kicking butt and taking names with style, Whirlgirl is still coming on strong in her weekly episodes. © Visionary Media LLC.
Minishows." (To give you an example of how broad the distribution can be for original net creations, the other six sites now carrying the Mondo Minishows are Shockwave, Snap, international distributor Canoe, web host Alta Vista, teen site Ugo and the Washingtonpost.com) Mondo Media's big new year's splash has come by way of their co-production of The God and Devil Show, now running exclusively on the newly launched Entertaindom channel. . . .iFILMS, a company originally structured for netcasting existing short films, recently coaxed Spike Decker onto its board of advisors while acquiring library material from his festival organizing Mellow Manor Productions' Spike & Mike's Classical Festival of Animation and Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation. Decker will soon oversee iFilm.com's selection of both library films and outside original animated content in that company's efforts to become a greater destination venue. . . .Nickelodeon Online, in the process of converging several existing Nick sites under the direction of senior vice president Taran Swan, will also create new opportunities for original animated works in that NETwork's quest to develop a large interactive online community for kids. . . .Showtime's whirlgirl.com is still going very strong, expanding its scope, interactivity and convergence ideas. WhirlGirl producers Visionary Media are sure to announce new creations shortly . . . .and, the deals go on and on and on as the ideas of today fly into tomorrow's realities.

For now, let's take a closer look at five companies who are journeying at quicksilver speeds in giving shape to the net's animation evolution.
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Note: Readers may contact any Animation World Magazine contributor by sending an e-mail to editor@awn.com.


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