A selection of the best animation news, opinions, and features from around the world for the week ending February 2nd, 2020.Read more
- lack of viewers/eyeballs
- lack of new content
- poor site design
- original content not optimised for the web
While all of these are valid points, they do tend to focus on the practical aspects of the site. In other words, things that can be changed relatively easily. New content is not hard to come across, site design can be improved and as for the original content, well that is something that can’t be helped once it is made, but it is hardly likely to pull the entire site down, especially if it is dedicated to showcasing a wide range of films.
No, there is one thing and one thing only that really caused Kaboing TV to stutter and that is community.
Yes, community is something that is still being figured out in the webosphere. Lots of social media “experts” will tout it, plenty of marketing folks will emphasise it in their presentations but “community” is still something that is spectacularly difficult to pin down.
First of all, is it viewers? Is it commentators? Is it creators? It is, in fact, all three.
Websites are the foundation of a successful community but their continued existence is dependent on the nature of the community as well as their level of involvement.
Let’s take for example, Cartoon Brew. It’s a website/blog that focuses on animation issues just the same as many others. So why do we keep it as our homepage and check it at least once a day? The answer is that Cartoon Brew has spawned a community with which we share a common interest (animation) but also because we have reasons to keep going back. If it isn’t for the exclusive news and videos, then it’s the comments or perhaps the comments on the comments.
If Cartoon Brew was lacking the surrounding community, then it would simply be another animation site on the web with nothing to differentiate it and it’s traffic would certainly reflect that.
So look at Kaboing TV in the same light. What was there to commend it outside of the site itself and the content? Very little I’m afraid. Kaboing TV sadly failed to grow a sustainable community that had people coming back regularly and interacting with each other.
Now of course, it’s hard to get a completely new site off the ground and Joe’s (quite logical) reasoning was that if he had some new shorts to go along with it, they would add something extra that would entice people to visit regularly at the beginning and hopefully spur the creation of the community.
Visitors are encouraged to comment, share and otherwise engage on the site, but that is the limit of what they could do. Content is curated (ostensibly to keep standards up) and favours the creator submitting their work. That’s great, but also assumes that there is a community ready and willing to devour the content. This wasn’t the case, and most people won’t put the cart before the horse.
What needed to happen was that the community would submit, approve and vote on new content themselves. The internet is full of examples where so-called crowd-sourcing has worked quite well in helping to build communities and websites. While it admittedly takes time for the numbers to grow, there is little sense in handicapping things from the start.
Kaboing TV is a fine idea and it is a concept that has promise. It’s just that someone was highly likely to fail with the first effort and unfortunately that someone was Joe Murray. The good news is that whoever chooses to follow him stands to learn from his mistakes and will hopefully create an animation site complete with a vibrant and active community to support and sustain it.
Dave Levy recently posted a list of the animation websites he reads on a daily basis (and his blog should most definitely be in your bookmarks already). Seeing as he is a man of good taste, there is no need to amend his list. Indeed, you should check it out to make sure you are reading the same websites he does.
So, as an addition to those, here are 11 more that any self-respecting animation fan would readily admit to reading on a daily basis.
Industry standard-bearer and the home page of anyone who is anyone in animation. Guaranteed to either raise a smile or your ire, Jerry beck and Amid Amidi offer up a continuous stream of animated goodies. From the latest TV series to the weirdest merchandise known to man, no animation website is more respected.
The Animation Guild Local 839 is your one stop shop for all the labour news and views from the Golden Coast. Dishing out equal amounts of industry headlines and labour items of note. The TAG blog is a must for current affairs relating to working in the animation business. Sometimes trite, it is nonetheless peppered with commentary from workers and sage advice from union heads.
The website for all things Chuck Jones. Run by his grandson Craig Causen, Chuck Redux features everything from Oscar’s worldwide travels to the creations from the mind of the man himself. I wrote about it a while back and if you are in any doubt as to why you should read it, look no further than here.
The one and only John Kricfalusi. As if you needed a reason to read his blog, where he discusses techniques, characters and animation in general. Always controversial but guaranteed to advance your knowledge of this fantastic artform.
Floyd Norman remember Disney when it was run by Disney and then some. Every day he posts his thoughts on working then and now, sometimes throwing in a witty cartoon for good measure. Looking for insights on what it was like to work way back when? Floyd’s is the only website you need.
Writer and broadcaster from the UK, Brian has not one, but at least three blogs that are worthy of reading. Purveyor of tidbits that are absolutely not to be found anywhere else on the web, Brian’s blogs are a must read. Heck if Michael Sporn recommends them, you know they’re among the best to be found.
Andreas Deja, famed animator with a sense of humour, recently started his blog. The guy’s one of the best animators about, so expect plenty of technique analysis from the Nine Old Men and more. What more can I say, I look forward to every post.
If you’re looking for various bits and bobs from the history of Disney, look no further than Didier Ghez’s blog, self-described as:“Interesting discoveries about Disney history, vintage Disneyana, Disney artwork, the Walt’s People book series, and new books about Disney.” Do you need any more reasons to visit? I think not!
Creator of Rocko’s Modern Life and Camp Lazlo, Joe Murray has been around the circuit more than once, and he’s learned a thing or two in the process. On his blog, he offers updates on his studio, news on KaboingTV, anecdotes from the past and advice on how to make it in a fiercely competitive industry. One that should absolutely not be overlooked.
Independent animator, free thinker and open-culture advocate, Nina Palely uses her blog to document the latest in her working life, spread thoughts on free and open culture and to advocate changes in the way the entertainment industry works.
Do you even remotely like old Hanna-Barbera stuff? Good, Yowp has you covered for just about anything and everything to do with early Hanna-Barbera. From the animators to the writers to contemporary media coverage, this blog has it all.
Yesterday, it was announced that YouTube/Google had acquired Next New Networks. While this may not be of huge interest to those of you who tend to skip the business pages, it is nonetheless significant and will likely have some bearing on entertainment for years to come.
The reason is outlined in Fred Seibert (the co-founder of NNN) in his blog post announcing the sale. In it, he draws a lot of similarities between the current state of internet broadcasting and the fledgling cable networks back in the early 80s.
The similarities are, in fact, eerily similar. Back then, no-one really know how to make money, the established players were (extremely) wary of the new medium and the content that’s being offered wasn’t all that great (at least back then it wasn’t).
What does all of this have to do with animation? The answer is plain to see. Without cable, it is highly unlikely (impossible even) that we would have seen the explosion in animation that we saw with the three original Nicktoons, followed by the proliferation of creator-driven shows with (I suppose) a bump in animation at the movies too.
The originial Nicktoons didn’t come around for about 10 years after MTV. The reason for this was basically the lack of cable customers, which has a direct effect on the revenue of a network and as we all know, animation ain’t cheap.
Fast forward to today, and there exists a similar situation. People are embracing the internet but overall penetration is still way below cable, content will be king even more so than in cable and last but not least, even more money will be made by those who get it right.
Next New Networks may not be focused solely on animation (although it does broadcast Channel Frederator) but I think it is extremely likely that within 10 years, we will see a channel devoted solely to animation. Joe Murray is off to a great, early start with KaboingTV, which launches next month.
As the optimistic type, I think animation will continue to be a part of the entertainment landscape long after Comcast has been de-throned.
Joe Murray (erstwhile creator of Rocko’s Modern Life and Camp Lazlo) has announced that his fledgling online TV network, KaboingTV, will make its grand premiere on March 11th. In case you didn’t know, KaboingTV is Joe’s attempt at creating an online TV station devoted solely to cartoons and also passing more moolah back to the creators.
Why is all of this important? Joe, for all his track record in producing hit TV shows, is moving in an entirely new direction. Heck, in one sense he is being a true pioneer. Some people have tried to do what he’s done (and been successful too) but none have done so with the specific aim of mutual benefit and comradeship.
Joe is not resting on his laurels and has actively searched out new ideas and potential sources of income when he hasn’t been making cartoons. There are tons of people out there who would never in their right mind take on what Joe has. It’s just not in their nature, and that’s fine. We can’t be an entire nation of Warren Buffetts (although I sure could use the kind of money he has).
I’m not saying that you need to go out and repeat what Joe’s done (for starters he’s already beaten you to it), just that actively toying around with new ideas, any new idea, will reap rewards. Maybe not initially, but down the road. It’s kind of like me and the MBA. I’m not going to see the payout immediately, but I do expect to see a difference maybe 10+ years down the road, when I am in a better position to use the knowledge I’ve learned.
On the flip side, you don’t even have to come up with a new idea at all, just engage in something you don’t normally engage in! For animators, this could mean attending a life drawing class, learning a new computer program, exploring the fun (or serious) side of your creativity. You have no excuses for not doing so, and in the end, there are great benefits to be had.
We all know who Joe Murray is, right? No?! Humph, I bet you know his TV shows though right? Not really? Aw c’mon, you guys gotta be kidding me. No? Alright, Joe Murray is a guy who’s been in the animation game for at least 20 years and has managed to carve out a grand career for himself by consistently devoting himself to creating great characters and stories.
What shows has he created? How about one third of the original Holy Trinity of cable cartoons, Rocko’s Modern Life. Later on, he developed Camp Lazlo for Cartoon Network. But that’s enough about his past work, this post is all about what he’s doing now!
Joe’s Journal is his personal blog, where he offers plenty of opinions, thoughts, recaps on events and of course, updates on his many projects. He also posts plenty of upbeat, positive quotes that encourage the reader to focus and think about life.
With his current projects, Frog in a Suit and Kaboing TV, Joe is a busy guy, but that doesn’t stop him from updating fairly regularly. His blog also contains lots more information in events and articles that Joe has for sale, many of which he does to raise money for charity.
Joe has also managed to build a very successful and devoted community around his blog that has brought him and his readers many benefits, not least the funding necessary for a Frog in the Suit short film. Joe should be commended for his devotion to interacting with his fans.
Most artists would just prefer to paint, draw, play, create all day without a thought of how they are going to pay the bills. But that is not reality. The trick is to pay the bills while keeping your individual spirit as whole as possible.
It’s an absolutely spot-on observation on how animators have to combine art with making a living. Joe should know, he’s been in the position of having to do it himself, and so far he seems to be doing OK for himself.
I know myself, when I graduated from university, no-one told me anything about running a business or even how to manage my money. Thankfully my uncle gave me one or two excellent books by Ric Edelman on how to keep basic tabs on your money and where it goes.
Finding a job in animation is tough, becoming a success is even tougher and being a continual success is near impossible, but it can be done. Having even a basic business knowledge can be a huge benefit, and the library is full of excellent guides and textbooks on business. You don’t need and MBA to be a success, so take Joe’s advice to heart, and learn how to balance your art and your bills. It might be a little painful now, but it will pay off in the long run.