ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.01 - APRIL 2000
Shockwave.Com: Fun and Games on a High-Flying Hub
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As Senior Animation Producer at shockwaves San Francisco base, Eric Oldrin sits at the core of the companys production activity. With a Web-focused background, he first worked with Mondo Media in fully ramping up their Flash production capabilities before signing up nine months ago with the burgeoning shockwave site. Oldrins depth of experience with budgeting, scheduling and producing Flash animated series is invaluable in shockwaves commitment to offer continuous support and knowledge to all their content creators. Although mostly working with external studios for the sites varied programming, Oldrin says they do have incredibly talented in-house artists and creators as well, with the company total now over 100 in number. The expansion will undoubtedly continue, he thinks, because, "We want to have new content in peoples faces as much as possible. We want to be a place where people know they can come and see new exciting experiences on a daily basis." He exclaims, "Were rocking here!"
Adding It On Then Taking It Off
Adding on to last months deluge of major content agreements, shockwave introduced two new entertainment art forms with the launch of Shockwave Singles and Shockwave MixMakers. The Singles are a new visual format for music videos combining full screen Flash animation and MP3 audio compression. The MixMaker application, with technology and content from Beatnik, Inc., enables fans to remix the guitar, vocal, drums and synth elements of a song. Sharing the same launch date, the MTVi Group (a leading music content company) partnered with shockwave to provide the sites first Internet radio services. Online now, they are delivering a wide variety of Radio SonicNet stations to shockwave visitors through a co-branded radio tuner hosted and served by MTVi.
The Shockmachine in use. Courtesy of Shockwave.com. © Shockwave.com.
The extremely innovative virtual device called Shockmachine was introduced at start-up last year. This technology "unit" enables the viewer to take selected games, cartoons, puzzles and greeting cards and play them offline in full screen format. The user can download and store hundreds of titles in conveniently designed cartridges, place them in designated carousels, rename, reorganize, add, remove and control the playback like a VCR. Creative author deals will designate which titles will be accessible for this "take-out" vehicle, with scores of content currently available for downloading. Shockmachine is causing a lot of buzz and has become vastly popular with a large audience of game and cartoon aficionados -- not the least of which are the traveling ones looking for fun while trapped without an Internet hook-up on planes, trains and automobiles.
Similar to Macromedias consistent technology up-dates, the shockwave.com site is in constant evolution. A next generation design was recently launched which now offers visitors a kind of immersive "home theatre" feel. Entertainment consoles appear giving viewers a choice of differing environmental background themes. Sensitive to each persons location, these set designs morph into appropriate looks for either morning, afternoon or evening viewings. New navigation has been designed with "anywhere-to-anywhere" pull down menus, allowing the audience to jump instantly around to their favorite content. Just like Macromedias intent with the imminent release of the next Flash version (Flash 5), shockwave continuously strives toward taking the viewer experience "up."
Rob Burgess has repeated many times that shockwaves vision is "to be the United Artists of the Web." His enthusiastic mantra has spread like wild-fire throughout the companys troops, becoming gospel to many and feeling like heaven-has-landed to scores of artists longing for just such new relationships. Burgess says, "The kinds of deals that were trying to do are deals where we all share in the success. We provide distribution. We provide capital. We provide technology advantage and we want long-term participation. But we would like the artist to have creative control and we want them to have long term participation as well, so that if they do a hit, they really benefit."
shockwave is gambling that the "takeaway" from distributing such a powerful breadth of expressive freedom will be a massive and loyal Internet audience. With Macromedias foundation, Burgess seems well positioned to lead this new company -- with its bevy of known and newly discovered creators -- in interpreting the future of our amusement.
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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