ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.03 - JUNE 2000
Dotcomix: Capturing Animated Motion On The Net
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Sister Randys all about entertainment! © Protozoa, Inc.
Mapping Future Motion
In discussing the future, DotComix is taking what Danielson calls the "sneaker approach" in syndicating their shows to outside partnerships while simultaneously building their body of work into a magnetic Web destination. He states, "All of the entertainment that you would find on our Web site, we would work with other distribution partners on the Web -- and now on television, as well -- to syndicate the properties and to generate revenue through doing that." In the process, he continues, "Those relationships, we think, will bring us traffic and keep our eyeball acquisition costs very low in terms of driving people back to our own site." DeGraf jokes that, "The whole issue of being a portal vs. syndication -- weve been too wimpy to choose!" But the reality is that they have a very savvy business plan in place. Having just completed a Series C financing round, they can now shoot forward with plans for a rapid expansion on both the companys production and business fronts.
Although creatively and financially satisfying, DotComix has backed off producing for-hire entertainment projects (such as last years highly regarded series The Dog & Dinosaur Show for BBC Choice and the creation of the successful "M&Ms" live Crispy character for its national media tour). The exception would be, Danielson notes, if "something so stupid and so good walks in the door that you just have to do it something that may be strategically relevant or we think its going to make a big splash in the marketplace." Otherwise, they are staying focused on their own intellectual properties while remaining open to joint productions involving equity and ownership positions.
With ambitious goals to reach a more diverse Internet audience, DotComix is prepping an agglomeration of community-targeted channels. Up first will be the launch of its broadband venue sometime this month. Bringing on name-brand directors, DotComix has developed a clever strategy of stringing their immense 3D library of productions together with original fare into a network-type format that will exhibit richer programming for the high bandwidth audience. Next to hit the Net will be a channel targeting the younger womans audience which is expected to be up within a couple of months. At the same time, PolkaDotcomix, a kids destination channel, is in significant development for an expected launch sometime next Fall.
Megadude struts his stuff "Just Stayin Alive." © Protozoa, Inc.
Located in an old mayonnaise factory, DotComix has three motion-capture stages, a blue screen set-up, plus a portable performance animation stage for producing certain live events out-of-house. They are in the process now of retrofitting their space to accommodate the brisk expansion of programming and requisite creative personnel. Hayes is keen on ramping up to an even greater series output, confident in relying on the fast turnaround of DotComix production style. "The advantage to the speed within which we work is that if a show is not working, we can acknowledge that and go on to something else that does work or we can craft it to the point where were happy with it," he explains. "I think our model is we can do a whole series in the amount of time and effort it takes most people to do a pilot." From an audiences point of view, however, he believes strongly that its important to "not put technology in the forefront and just make entertaining cartoons -- however they get made." He goes on, "The important thing for us is that we get the chemistry going, get the writing to gel, get everything to work because thats what its all about, entertaining and good writing and character designs. Its not about pixels and digibytes."
What makes their Alive! system shine in the industry, Hayes advocates, is the fact that they can adapt their programming so readily to achieve simultaneous life-forms on the Web, television, cable and live events. "Were trying to do shows that filter out into all those areas but bring people back to the Web where they can catch up on the episodes they missed. Plus, they can find out more information about the shows and all that kind of stuff rather than try and force the Internet to somehow be a television station." Hes also stimulated by the high-speed capabilities of producing with Alive!, "in terms of how we can make stories that are very reactive to whats going on in the news and in the world and the flip side of that is that the fan base lets us know right away whether they like it. So its a very nice feedback loop."
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