Quenching The New Millennium's Thirst For Animated Fare
(Continued from page 4)

The Big WB Comes To Play launched onto the Internet November 29th of last year in what felt like one of the largest (if not the most mega) entertainment net-site launches of all time. Although the Time-Warner company's new online destination hub will continue to expand and add one entertainment content in library fashion, the premiere of this site was truly extensive in what it immediately offered to the online audience and the animation world at large.

Jim Banister, Executive Vice President of Warner Bros. Online, has been working over the past five years in architecturally designing and creating Entertaindom's extensive mixture of online entertainment, news (with items coming from sources including Entertainment Weekly, CNN, Reuters and Variety), a myriad of unique Entertaindom services (such as Looney Tunes Teach The Internet, the official "help" area featuring original material with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Yosemite Sam), music and TV stories, movie reviews, hit lists and critics' polls, shopping features, interactive community functions such as e-mail and chat, as well as an Entertaindom home page community service, giving fans the capability of viewing or creating their own pages based on celebrity and entertainment properties. This latter service is powered by Acme City which is a joint venture between Warner Bros. Online and Not to be forgotten in's new online world is an area that could get very hot called Entertaindom Auctions. They describe this area as a personalized entertainment trading community, hosted by eBay.

With a fervent belief that the "time is now" for short-form animated online programming, Banister and his boss Jim Moloshok, President of Warner Bros. Online and the executive in charge of Entertaindom, have developed the site's initial presentation of animation by dividing the three types of toon programming as follows:

1) Born-on-the-web originals that have the possibilities of crossing over to other media;
2) online extensions of their "branded" toons with new webisodes mixing existing footage with newly created content; and
3) original entertainment that has been re-programmed for the web or syndicated from outside sources such as AtomFilms.

One of the premiere web originals is The God And Devil Show, co-produced with Mondo Media and scheduled as a weekly interactive talk show toon featuring celebrity legends like John Wayne. Audiences can use special online "Ask God" confessionals or leave messages on "The Devil's Answering Machine." It's an edgy, very clever show. When asked about the target audience, Banister makes the general note, "Entertaindom is not intended to be a kids site. We will have a version of Entertaindom in the near future that will be specifically and protectively designed for children but for now, this is a site more designed towards 18 and older."

Another original web series called Dr. Science is co-produced with Dotcomix utilizing Pulse Entertainment's new 3D technology which Banister believes is "very articulate for certain types of animation." He is very pleased with their association with the Pulse group and plans are in development for several more original series specifically produced in that style.

Brilliant Digital Entertainment, headed by Kevin Bermeister, is currently co-branding with Entertaindom in the "Multi-Path Movie" serial based on WB's Superman: The Menace of Metallo, a weekly 3D series of seven minute episodes. Banister explains BDE's innovative work as "one of those pseudo broad band technologies that allow us to deliver a broad band-like experience over a narrow band pipe. It's a style of animation that nobody's seen before except maybe in feels like a game but plays like a movie. It's something that a year ago was impossible to do." The BDE/Entertaindom alliance will be strengthen further as they continue working together in creating a new animated online series based on Universal's Xena, the Warrior Princess.

There are many other animated shows to check out on including additional "native-to-the-web" series such as Floops and Spoofs N' Goofs, Looney Tunes' Cartoon Cinema (a sub-channel which will carry full-length Looney Tunes for the first time anywhere on the web), and Cine Minis, a selection from AtomFilms of popular animated shorts from a variety of sources, all signifying Entertaindom's belief in the future success of online animated fare. They are taking pitches and submissions from a broad variety of independents and artists but Banister states, "One of our favorite things to do is to find a really clever independent, strong point-of-view company or strong group of individuals who actually know how to execute on something and we'll partner with them in a second." He mentions that by way of describing their existing beneficial alliances with Mondo Media, Brilliant Digital and Pulse. From another angle, he continues, "If somebody has been able to do something onto video or onto the web already and they're looking to partner with a company that can do the marketing and the promotion and the sponsorships and the ad sales, etc...that's the kind of people we're looking for, too."

When asked for some parting advice to encourage young animation creatives going forward into the 21st Century, Banister responded, "I guess I would say to them try to become less audio-video centric because there are new techniques and new technologies to create very entertaining animation experiences. Computer literacy for animation as a commercial art form is essential, and I think the economics are going to require that anybody who really wants to make money doing animation is going to have to embrace computers as a tool, simply a tool of their palette. It's apparent that with the creation of, everything Banister is bringing up today is working to propel us all forward into the art of animation's future on the net.

Fishbar is Honkworm's type of bizarro cool. © Honkworm
Also speaking to this new millennium's arrival, Honkworm's Johan Liedgren had this to say: "If you want to take the 60,000 foot view, I think you can say, well, the 1600s was music, in the 1700s it was theater and then in the 1800s it was literatureand the 1900s, where we have just been, it was TV and film as the predominant media shaping our culture, shaping the way we think, shaping religion, shaping everything. I think we're kidding ourselves if we don't recognize that in the next 100 years, starting January lst, the predominant medium for entertainment and the way people communicate and share their storytelling is going to be the web."

You can see, then, that the New Year 2000 marketplace feels strangely unique, brought about by the interconnectedness of all things new media. It is a time to be both gratified by and grateful to the passionate folks out there who are working hard to make it viable either to show one's completed animated works online or in providing the atmosphere necessary in developing brand new ways of animation expression. Cheers to them all.

Lee Dannacher is an animation producer/sound track director of over 300 half hours of television films, as well as numerous network and video holiday specials. Currently based in New York, she is freelancing in audio, project development and new media productions.
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