ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.8 - NOVEMBER 2000
The Purpose of That X-Chromosome
(continued from page 1)
Bitchy Bits, another successful series featured on Oxygen based on the award-winning comic-book series Naughty Bits by cartoonist Roberta Gregory. © Oxygen Media. All rights reserved.
Avenue Amy is produced by Curious Pictures and directed by Curious Pictures' Joan Raspo and written by Amy Sohn, based off of her New York Press column. The satirical show brings to life the daily trials and tribulations of a woman's life in the Big Apple in a unique way. It sets brightly colored, rotoscoped actors against live-action photo collage backgrounds. You have to see it to believe it. Of course another star of X-Chromosome is Hey Monie, which uses Tom Snyder Productions unique Squigglevision technique and "retroscripting" process. (It is also the first network animated series based on an African-American woman and her friends.) Closet Case, a pilot by Theresa Duncan, was done in a water color technique, enhanced by After Effects, while another pilot Female Trouble, by Amy Sohn and John Raspo of Curious Pictures, combined 2D animation with live-action and After Effects-enhanced visual effects.
Bringing all these unique styles to X-Chromosome in a variety type format is teaching viewers that animation doesn't have to just look like "cartoons." Tantillo agrees, "What we have heard from our focus groups and our own guts is, 'Use styles that are innovative and present styles that are not the same old thing. We are in the midst of a digital revolution and while I am a big fan of traditional animation and I love pencils and papers, it doesn't ever hurt to employ what is out there. All those people that have been innovating new techniques and styles and mixed up mediums can only make it more interesting and people are looking for new styles and innovations." While the show's bumpers and ID's have been carefully created to showcase the individual segments and create a cohesive whole, the fact that the segments are so different is exciting, leaving the viewer wondering what is about to come next. "People like to choose. They like to have the option. It is a psychological thing -- maybe I'm making this up - but it seems to ring true that it is nice to watch a show and say, 'I liked that one. This one didn't work for this reason. I loved this one.' It is like a buffet and I think people like that," says Tantillo. With show's sometimes coming in from outside production companies directly to the editing bay creating the flow of each episode is a challenge that also keeps the show fresh and varied.
Avenue Amy, like the character, is intelligent, self-aware, analytical and a big hit on X-Chromosome. © Oxygen Media. All rights reserved.
Some of X-Chromosome's "stars" have been split out and will appear as longer segments in the upcoming season. "We have a bunch of contenders! We backed some wonderful talent, much of it very experienced talent, women who have been working a long time and just waiting for an opportunity to be allowed to do what is really close to their heart and by offering them a platform to do that, and getting out of their way, we've been able to benefit from their wonderful creativity," enthuses Kit. However that doesn't mean that they are no longer looking for great ideas.
"We have, what we hope is an innovative way of shaking out the trees. We call it the RFP, the request for proposal, and that is a document that introduces the animation community and beyond to Oxygen and X-Chromosome. It establishes what we are, and then breaks down our deal picks right out front. We have three deal offers and everyone in the whole wide world gets the same three deal picks. It also explains what we are looking for. We don't like to narrow it down too much, but we try to describe the type of content we are looking for," explains Tantillo.
Kit Laybourne continues, "We are just beginning to figure out what new kinds of programming have the most potential. I think we have done some cool things, but I also think we can go a lot further. And that's what keeps us all jumping out of bed to come in every day to see where we can go further. It is energizing to have this freedom. You realize what a rare opportunity it is to be in a place where you can innovate and where innovation is normative. If it isn't innovative people here would look down on you!"
Going into the New Year, Laybourne explains how X-Chromosome, and in turn animation at Oxygen, will be changing: "We will be growing it in three ways. We will be taking some of the work we did before and putting a little more Miracle Grow on it. And then we have some new seedlings that we don't want to announce yet because we are still piloting. But they are clearly some new voices, or new plants, that we will start watering and giving sunshine to. Another thing that we are interested in doing, that we didn't do too much of the first time around, is to cull the world around us for interesting things that would be appropriate for X-Chromosome. One of the things that's happened in the year and a half since we started this process is that the Web has become a wonderful dynamic source of innovation. We are trying to concoct a number of different ways that we can tap into the power of this emerging creative group."
1 | 2 | 3