The Speed of Technology

SXSW 2000 Interactive Festival

Animation, Gaming & Comics: Telling a Story on the Internet

David Collier (gamelet.com)

Patrick Farley (e-sheep.com)

Xeth Feinberg (mishmashmedia.com)

Lev (ingredientx.com)

Taylor, mod. (Undo Animations)

Despite the Internet's free and easy access to pornography and other lewd materials to any minor with the ability to click a mouse, this panel of storytellers unified in its support of the Web as a cost-effective distribution medium, akin to a kind of patron saint for struggling artists. Indeed, no longer must tormented animators, filmmakers, or comic book writers rely strictly on conventional avenues of distribution for their work. Success stories of unknown animators and filmmakers launching a career from simple shorts produced over the Internet are now as commonplace as IPOs turning college dropouts into multimillionaires. Panelist David Collier, whose company gamelet.com creates short games for companies like Snapple as a new type of advertising, points to South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone's irreverent animated short, "The Spirit of Christmas," which launched their careers into television and feature films, as the quintessential Net success story. "You need something short like that. That will get people to look over their cube walls." But as all the panelists agreed, it's not just adolescent kids sneaking questionable downloads off their computers these days. Rather, today's viewing audience is very much comprised of corporate America cube drones connected to their company's super-fast T1 networks. With high-speed access, an average worker can download and view a half dozen animated clips during a lunch break, or short films like the currently popular "George Lucas in Love," a humorous spin on Shakespeare In Love which spoofs the Star Wars director's inspiration behind his most beloved work. And yet despite the vast array of hardware and software at the disposal of millennium artists, many of them continue to use good old-fashioned pencil and paper to create their original programming. Patrick Farley of e-sheep.com, a comic book writer, believes that "the tools you use affect the story you tell. The important thing is not to let the tools dictate the way you tell that story."

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