On Animation World Magazine's three year anniversary, Dan Sarto, Co-Publisher, writes about his memories of the beginnings and hopes for the future.
Our story begins with little fanfare in May of 1995 with two guys sitting around talking one day. One, a successful producer of animated films and commercials. The other, a successful computer network integrator. "What's with this Internet thing I've heard about?" the producer asks the integrator. "Well," the integrator replied, "it's this special communication network the Defense Department built many years ago. If nuclear bombs fall on the US, you'd still be able to contact your animators in the UK to inquire as to why their storyboards aren't finished." The producer mulled this over for a moment. "I like it," he said. "What else can it do?" "The Internet allows one to link people from all over the world," the integrator continued, "so they can instantly exchange ideas and information. You could, for example, publish a magazine electronically in Los Angeles, and people could read it immediately in Scotland...that is, if they weren't too busy drinking, and if they had computers." The producer mulled this over for a few more moments. "This could be big," he remarked. "Real big," said the integrator. "I predict that the Internet will fundamentally change the way business is done across the globe. Just imagine being able to distribute any digital content directly to the people who want it, with no middleman, anywhere in the world! Plus, they could instantly tell you what they thought about it. We could create an electronic network that brings together the international animation community's best resources, and make them available to everyone. The possibilities are endless!" "But will people be interested?" the producer said. The integrator responded, "Of course they will! You're talking about breakthrough technology that lets you get dirty pictures delivered instantly, right to your den, over the phone, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for $20.00 a month! The Internet is the greatest invention since napkins! Is this a great country or what?" The producer mulled this over even longer. Then he asked the integrator, "Can we do it?" The integrator thought for a moment and said, "Sure we can do it. Risk everything we own. Work day and night with little reward but the sense of satisfaction knowing we're creating something quite special. Piece of cake. After all, spending weekends with the family is overrated anyway." "What would we call it?" said the producer. The integrator replied, "How about `Ron and Dan's Great Publishing Adventure!'" The producer replied, "I think that's already been done. How about, 'We're Nuts Dot Com'?" From such humble beginnings AWN was born. The company came together shortly thereafter, and after many months of backbreaking work, AWN's flagship publication, Animation World Magazine, was ready to launch. Fast forward to March 31st, 1996. An hour before launch. AWN's small staff is considering breaking a champagne bottle over one of the Macintoshes (to me, hitting a Macintosh with any heavy object is always a good idea), but AWN's French webmaster, Guillaume Calop, had already drank it. Midnight approached, and everyone prepared to "go live" with this new, daring publishing creation. The producer and the integrator looked at each other, each wondering what the future would bring, and whether their new company would succeed. At one minute past 12, Guillaume uploaded the new "index.html" page onto the site, and AWN was officially born. Everyone stood there, in silence, and nothing happened. Nothing was supposed to happen, because for the most part, the digital revolution is a silent one...except for the opening and closing of pizza boxes. And just like that, with the simple click of a mouse, AWN ventured forth into cyberspace.
I'm not an expert on animation theory or history. I know nothing about storyboards and style sheets. I am a good cook, but I can't draw and I certainly can't sing. To me, "keyframe" was always a bowling term. However, when it comes to animation, I do know this: In three short years, AWN has grown from a slap happy publishing group jumping for joy upon reaching one thousand visitors a month, to the largest slap happy animation-related publishing group on the Internet, with two magazines, three newsletters, and tens of thousands of loyal readers from 151 different countries around the globe. We've published 36 monthly HTML editions of Animation World Magazine, on the 1st of every month, as well as 36 Acrobat editions of the magazine on the 15th of every month, without missing a deadline. We've gone from 16,000 hits and a couple of hundred visitors our first week, to over 1 million hits and over 10,000 visitors per week today. Moreover, our original premise is as important to us today as it was at the beginning. AWN was founded by people who are passionate about animation, with a deep foundation and commitment to the business. Every day, we try to bridge the physical boundaries that separate people and provide them with a wide ranging array of interesting and entertaining animation-related information resources. I'm pretty sure we're succeeding. So to all of the people who helped us reach our fourth year on-line, I offer a heartfelt thanks. Sincerely, Dan Sarto Co-Publisher
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.