ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.01 - APRIL 2000

Shockwave.Com: Fun and Games on
a High-Flying Hub

by Lee Dannacher

There’s a cultural energy splashing over the Internet these days, generated by the zillions of animated images coming at us with virtually every click, wherever we go. Decode the vast majority of this commanding imagery and you’re apt to find the industry-leading technology products called Flash, Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Shockwave -- all created by the engineering genius of Macromedia, Inc. So why wouldn’t these same guys want to show off their audacious, next-generation tools on a playground of their own?

A scene from comic book legend Stan Lee’s first new comic in over 20 years, 7th Portal. Courtesy of Shockwave.com © Stan Lee Media, Inc.

shockwave.com, Macromedia’s spin-off entertainment destination, is now defining the front edge of seriously fun web animation and interactive fare. Following the age-old fundamentals of entertainment (engage and involve!), then applying them across a broad menu of audience choices (games, animations, music and creativity applications), the site now boasts over 13 million registered users. Launching just 8 months ago, its audience continues to multiply at a dizzying rate. More than 80,000 new visitors each day are taking the time to register with the site, personalizing it to their specific interests then playing around with the latest in shockwave’s top programming choices.

We wouldn’t be talking these kinds of numbers (here or practically anywhere on the web) if it wasn’t for the break-through, ubiquitous Flash technology. Macromedia’s inventive authoring tool has inarguably become the industry standard for developers of high impact, vector-based Web sites that want to deliver stunning motion, sound and interactivity. To date, the Flash software player has been successfully downloaded by over 200 million users around the world. This means that veritably 90% of the people on the net now have Flash. Its compact format makes it accessible to users of any bandwidth on any Web browser and it currently ships with most leading operating systems and media players. This is, of course, a huge success story for Macromedia. And, in turn, these achievements are now electrifying the company’s separate entertainment hub by stimulating traffic and fostering lucrative creative deals that could eventually cross over all media platforms.

Rob Burgess, Chairman/CEO of Macromedia. Courtesy of Shockwave.com.

Rob Burgess, Chairman/CEO of Macromedia and the indisputable leader of shockwave.com, sits astride these two companies, producing cutting-edge technology with the one -- then orchestrating its intersection with the imagination and economy of a full-fledged entertainment venue with the other. Joining Macromedia in 1996, Burgess says the idea of creating an entertainment site evolved gradually as "we started seeing the incredible traffic associated with Shockwave and Flash, and then we tried an experiment called ‘shockrave.’ We were just putting clips of things like South Park onto the site and we found there were tens of millions of people that came. There was an audience -- and we could provide an art form that we thought the world wanted. So it was about a year and a half ago that we really figured we had an incredible opportunity here." With an increasing amount of animated shows streaming and pushing their way across the web, Burgess understands competition for "eyeballs" will be fierce. "I believe this year we’re going to see a huge break-out of entertainment on the Internet," he states. "I just think it’s ready for explosion." In no small way, his dual companies are primed to direct the blast.

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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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