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Superheroes invade cyberia

Very large expansion plans for verysmalltv
Using the trade show platform to promote a new community web portal, yafoule.com, French prodco Alphanim was garnering attention for yafoule.com's webtoon arena-verysmalltv-even before its official launch on-line in October 2000.

After viewing two test...
December 1, 2000

Very large expansion plans for verysmalltv

Using the trade show platform to promote a new community web portal, yafoule.com, French prodco Alphanim was garnering attention for yafoule.com’s webtoon arena-verysmalltv-even before its official launch on-line in October 2000.

After viewing two test eps on-line at MIPCOM 2000, international broadcasters are already looking to take Shorts of Steel-one of five projects currently webcasting under the verysmalltv banner-to TV. Shorts of Steel (13 x 2 1/2 minutes) is the story of a has-been superhero father grappling with the trials and tribulations of family life. ‘The graphic design stands out,’ says Julie Fox, head of distribution at Alphanim. ‘And I think that there will be a huge demand for this teen/adult targeted type of property on TV as a result of people being able to find it on the Net as well.’

Interactive comic book series Reality Police (13 x three minutes), X-Duckx (26 x 1 1/2 minutes), live-action photo novellas Love Novellas (13 x three minutes) and Urgent, an interactive live-action take on ‘choose your own adventure,’ round out the current web offering. The provisional budget for verysmalltv is set at plus or minus US$2 million per year. All created in Flash, verysmalltv webtoons are targeted at the 15 to 25 age demo, one that ‘is not particularly well looked after in animation terms on free- or pay-TV today,’ according to Fox. ‘I think that will be an advantage in the medium-term.’ At this point in time, verysmalltv is very male-oriented, but Alphanim will be angling development at an even number of series targeting a female audience as a surprising number of girls are clicking on.

Alphanim has 24 different series in development, 15 of which are animated. This, combined with plans to create one new ep per week for each of the up-and-running series, has sparked the search for international partners for yafoule.com. Alphanim plans to develop the site for exportation into different linguistic zones under the name verysmallcity.com for international sales, and will look to license either individual content or the whole site. All series under the verysmalltv banner may be sold independently from yafoule.com domestically and verysmallcity.com internationally.

According to Christian Davin, president of Alphanim, the site’s financial model rests upon the currently free subscription numbers as a trigger to advertising, sponsoring and e-shopping revenues. Fox says that most of the initial business will come in via sponsorship and banners. Among the first sponsors is French record store Snac.

In the long term, Alphanim has plans to launch a portal aimed at a younger audience. As a distributor, the prodco has one preschool series in its catalog-totally Flash-developed and Net-ready-that could lead the way. For now, efforts will concentrate on increasing Alphanim’s visibility as a web content developer. To this end, the prodco will have a presence at Milia (held in Cannes this coming February) for the first time.

Clash of the Flash animators

In November 2000, AtomFilms launched Animation Showdown, a Net showcasing of Flash-animated pilot projects from various webtoon studios and undiscovered animators.

One of five pilots will be chosen by Atom’s 1.5 million registered Insiders to be greenlit for actual series development. The winner will receive US$20,000 to develop four Flash-animated eps based on their pilot for debut on www.atomfilms.com in January 2001. The final series will stand a chance at being picked up by Atom, as well as by its on-air partners for premier and development on TV.

Round one of the showdown clicked off with five pre-selected pilots based on the theme ‘would-be superheroes’ battling it out in cyberspace. Ranging from kid-friendly entries to college student fare, entrants included The Bottle by Mongadillo Studios, Hammond Rye by Hyperbole Studios and Canadian project Night and Shadow by up-and-coming animator Peter Lacalamita.

Also created by newbie animators were the two kid-friendly projects in the November showdown, Jack Picklebutt and Hat Bat Louie. Created by U.S. animator Bradley Anderson, Jack Picklebutt follows the story of a mad scientist and his henchman as they do strange things to a pickle in a dank dungeon laboratory. The result: Jack Picklebutt! Hat Bat Louie is truly family fare. Creator Kenn McDonald borrowed the voices of his kids, Alex and Zoe, for the title role (grade-schooler Hat Bat Louie, defender of American City) and the evil BooBooHead.

At press time, the theme and titles for December’s Animation Showdown had yet to be announced.

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