Last week I attended the Korea Media and Content Market sponsored by the Korean Trade-Investment Agency (Kotra). The event was held at the Hollywood & Highland Center and was designed to introduce a number of Korean animation and media companies and their projects to interested investors and potential partners.
The conference opened with the attending companies holding brief meetings with interested attendees and then Mr. Won-Sok Yun, director General of Kotra LA welcomed everyone. This was followed by an additional welcome from the Council General of the Republic of Korea, Mr. Yeon-Sung Shin.
Once the formalities and niceties were concluded, Jim Chabin, President of the International 3-D Society spoke about the exponential growth of that industry and how it effected the film and gaming media as well as television and mobile devices.
I thought his presentation offered a clear forecast of what we all needed to be aware of in the coming year or two. Some of the more salient points he offered are as follows:
3-D Television Sets
Channels and Networks
Fighting through these numbers and the shotgun like presentation left me thinking seriously about 3-D and how I would need to deal with it in my own work. Anyone that has read a few of my pieces knows that I am not normally in the vanguard, rather the opposite most of the time. Anyway, all of this rather left me chewing on my mustache and wondering how much catch up I needed to at least get close to current. The more I’ve investigated the more I see that I have a ways to go….
In closing, Chabin outlined his industries main concerns over the rapid growth of 3-D platforms and the lack of good content. He pointed out that due to everyone’s desire to get in on the ground floor, a good deal of troublesome 3-D content has been flooding the market. Lastly he pointed out that retailers are poorly organized and have not yet offered buyers the ease of comparison and demonstration at the point of purchase.
To finish off the 3-D notes, James Cameron spoke the day before at the 3-D and Mobile Entertainment Summit, which was held at the same venue. His feelings were that many of the new conversions of older films into 3-D for rerelease, did not properly showcase the application and that the viewer was not getting the full bang for his buck. Not that James Cameron needs my endorsement of his position but I give it nevertheless. Cameron talks about the conversion work they are doing on “Titanic” and explained further in a L.A. Times interview that the cost will be a good deal higher to do it right, rather than the perfunctory conversions that most of the films are undergoing.
I am miles away from being an expert, or even a knowledgeable dilatant in this field, but I do know that from all the animation 3-D projects I’ve come across recently, there should be a directorial philosophy on the 3-D action and staging from the very beginning (Script/Storyboard). Storyboards should reflect a down view of the stage as well as an audience viewpoint and that the final product should have a cohesive style as guided by the creative eye of the film’s director. This is not easy to do once the film is completed.
Now to return to the second half of the Korea Media and Content Market, I will begin by thanking the organizers, and particularly Mr. Sang Lee for all the help in getting me access to all the participants and for the nice lunch that was provided.
I won’t go through all the participants, as there were a number of companies that had come to show their properties and look for distribution and/or partnerships. We all know that Korean animators and artists have been producing high-level 2-D animation for years and they now have adapted quickly and easily into CGI animation as well.
A good deal of the shows that were brought to the market were aimed at a young 3-5 audience, with the majority animated with CGI. They were all well produced and animated but tended to look and feel very much alike, which to be fair might be said of most animated shows aimed at that demographic (very colorful, very cute and very warm and fuzzy). Nearly all were voiced in English and clearly made with an English speaking market in mind. Nice work but nothing really ground breaking as far as kids shows go.
Brandstory Inc. was offering one project that caught my eye. This project departed from the others in that it is an Edutainment type profile and is somewhat unique enough to separate it from the children’s animation. The property is being pitched under the title “7 Days Conference with The Great Men” and while the format maybe a bit shaky, the underlying concept is interesting.
The idea is to create avatars for 20 historical figures using motion capture and accessing historical records, speeches and written accounts of the figures to create lectures delivered as if in person. For some characters the producers would rely upon death masks, for others various pictorial information. As far as distribution, this project could go any number of ways from pure educational to an entertainment/entertainment mix with figures debating current events. Ms. Jung Young-Sun gave a very well thought out presentation and judging by the foot traffic at the company’s booth after lunch, I was not the only one intrigued.
Little Farmers was another property that I thought had merit. Already highly popular in Korea, the property boasts a large merchandising arm geared toward young children. The animation is pleasantly simple and with that simplicity delivers soft, charming viewing that may better serve a young audience. Think Hello Kitty and although far less visually complicated, Strawberry Shortcake. There are retail outlets and a modest theme park already in place in Seoul. Interesting and pleasing design along coupled with some obvious market knowhow – might be worth a look.
Last note – Netcomics offered an interesting array of online published comics – all well drawn and full of all the stuff young comic readers seem to love…..
If anyone would like to contact any of the companies I’ve mentioned, you may email me directly or contact Kotra (www.kotrala.com ) directly.