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Will the real web franchise please stand up?

Millennium technology creates medieval webtoon
What has ended up as a many-tentacled multimedia concept actually had much smaller beginnings. Brussels-based animation studio Imagination in Motion initially came up with on-line hero Night Knight simply to show off the studio's 3-D animation...
January 1, 2001

Millennium technology creates medieval webtoon

What has ended up as a many-tentacled multimedia concept actually had much smaller beginnings. Brussels-based animation studio Imagination in Motion initially came up with on-line hero Night Knight simply to show off the studio’s 3-D animation streaming technology RealActor. Two webisodes featuring the character were produced in 2000 to illustrate the free, downloadable, 200 KB Active-X plug-in.

Revolving around the adventures of a Clousseau-type knight, Night Knight-aimed at kids eight to 12-is currently being developed as a 52 x 13-minute CGI-animated series, a shorter webisode/TV-interstitial series, a computer game, a special website and an interactive TV host using IIM’s VIPresenter software. ‘Night Knight is what we call an integrated media package,’ says IIM CEO Rudy Verbeeck.

With a web and interactive TV format plan roughed up, IIM took Night Knight to MIPCOM 2000 last October to seek out potential co-pro partners and presales, and Verbeeck expects announcements will soon follow.

By late November, two experimental eps of the web series were testing on-line at www.djungo.com, the website of IIM’s entertainment brand division. At press time, a cool 100 episodes of the web series were in production, with an estimated budget of US$3,500 to US$4,000 per 30-second segment. Night Knight’s official premiere was set for December 2000 on www.djungo.com and www.nightknight.com.

The site’s financial model rests heavily on content syndication, although plans for future revenue based on Night Knight merchandising are in the works. On-air and on-line, IIM plans to promote the property through advertising across all media.

Night Knight is the first of several kid projects IIM eventually plans to house together under the djungo.com banner. Projects set to launch on djungo.com include IIM properties Lemon, currently registering on the U.K. music charts as a virtual pop star, and Tabu (www.go2tabu.com), soon to be launched as a virtual music star in the U.K. and Canada.

Hookt on SlimShady webtoons

Racking up a whopping 200,000 in hits for its host site Hookt.com, rapper Eminem’s web initiative SlimShadyWorld.com is rolling out another 26 eps of flash-animated SlimShadyWorld, with the third in the series webcasting at press time.

To get the word out, Hookt is running: banner ads on Yahoo! and across the Hookt family of websites, an e-mail campaign to SlimShadyWorld.com’s registered users, and print ads that began in December 2000 and continue this month. ‘The Party Crashers’-the first episode in the SlimShadyWorld web series-debuted on the music star’s site in November. Marshall Mathers (a.k.a. Eminem) provided the digital voices of SlimShady and Marshall Mathers. The SlimShadyWorld webisodes mark Hookt’s first foray into original on-line programming, and the company plans to develop other animation and reality properties.

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