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Editor's Notebook

Editor's Notebook: Interactive Animation

Harvey Deneroff

Interactive Animation

It was only a few years ago that the interactive revolution swept down on the animation industry almost overnight. All of a sudden, technology had allowed home video games to display real, albeit very limited animation. Multimedia computers were all the rage and it became de rigueur to have a fully loaded system for you home, either to play Myst or to allow the children to use Math Blaster.

Interactive companies sprung up all over the place. Unable or unwilling to hire animators in an increasingly tight labor market, interactive producers turned to conventional animation studios to handle the burgeoning demand for higher and higher quality animation.

The gold rush mentality that went along with this boom in interactive animation soon came tumbling down. However, while the interactive industry may have been bloodied, it still promises to remain a potent force in animation for some time to come. With these thoughts in mind, we thought it would be interesting to take a brief look in this issue at several facets of interactive animation, along with providing a venue for some thought on what the future holds from some of the industry's movers and shakers.

First off, Andrew Zucker explores some of the implications of new technologies and markets on animation, from computer animation to the now ubiquitous CD-ROM in "New Media--A Ringside View of Trends in the Industry." Then, I wade into some of the problems and opportunities presented by interactive animation in my interview with Sue Shakespeare and Duane Loose in "Visioneering: Interactive Animation at Creative Capers," which also shows how one company deals with the onslaught of new technologies. In "Lettuce Entertain You: A Visit to Sierra On-Line" Judith Shane takes a not always serious look at what's going on at the Bellevue, Washington company, as some of the animation staff takes her through the process of creating the latest episode of the adults-only Leisure Suit Larry series.

One of the most visible signs of the influence of interactive animation has been the varying attempts to make both feature films and TV series based popular video games. In "Street Fighter--From Video Game to Anime," Brian Camp examines in considerable detail the various adaptations of the Street Fighter games in the United States and Japan, and what they reveal about the very real differences between American and Japanese approaches to filmmaking.

We end our look at interactive animation with "Interactive Trendlines," Frankie Kowalski's compilation of thoughts by a sampling of interactive animation executives representing both "old line" game/edutainment companies such as Davidson and Electronic Arts to newbies from animation's mainstream such as Film Roman and Rhythm & Hues.

It's too early to review Tim Burton's new live-action/animated feature, Mars Attacks!, but we thought we would celebrate the occasion with Michael Frierson's "Tim Burton's 'Vincent'--A Matter of Pastiche," which examines the director's first studio-made film. The article was adapted by Frierson from the manuscript of a forthcoming book on Burton. In "The Animated World of John Canemaker," Mike Lyons examines the multifaceted career of one of New York's most respected independent filmmakers, who constantly pushes the boundaries of what topics animation can deal with, as well as influencing a new generation of animators and scholars as teacher and historian.

With Linda Jones' "Through the Looking-Cel . . . er, Glass," we offer our first look at the burgeoning world of animation art. Jones was involved with some of the earliest efforts to establish a market for limited edition animation art and provides an eyewitness account of what she saw. In a somewhat related story, Frankie Kowalski takes a nostalgic peek back at one of her favorite films in "How The Grinch Stole Christmas . . . and My Heart" on the occasion of the celebration of the Chuck Jones classic's 30th anniversary celebration.

One of the things readers most frequently ask us about is animation schools, and which ones are the best. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to give very specific advice on this subject, but what we can do is start to provide profiles of some of the leading animation academies around the world. The first of these occasional pieces is provided herein by Philippe Moins in his "La Cambre, an Animation School in Brussels."

In our review section, Nedd Willard reports in from the latest edition of the Esphino Animation Festival in Portugal, while I take on Space Jam. And finally, Frankie Kowalski's Desert Island provides some feedback from a couple of interactive types, along with the two animation directors of Space Jam; while John R. Dilworth provids us with the latest installment of his Dirdy Birdy comic strip.

New Horizons

I would like to take the pleasure of announcing that, starting with the next issue, Wendy Jackson, will be our new Associate Editor. An animator, animation historian and writer, Wendy promises to bring her unique energy, experience and imagination to the editorial side of the magazine. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she previously worked for ASIFA-Hollywood before joining AWN as its US Sales Representative.

I also want to thank Frankie Kowalski, our current Associate Editor, who is leaving to join the staff of Animation Magazine's World Animation Celebration to handle publicity and marketing. Frankie played a vital role in getting the magazine started and keeping it on an even keel once it got off the ground. We will all miss her and wish her all the best in her new position.

Harvey Editor-In-ChiefAnimation World Magazine