Google gets punked by Taiwan's NMA animators

Google gets punked by Taiwan's NMA animators

Summary: When Tiger Woods crashed his car last year, one of the beneficiaries was an Asian media company, Jimmy Lai’s Next Media Animation. NMA produced a computer animated news report illustrating the crash, and it went viral.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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When Tiger Woods crashed his car last year, one of the beneficiaries was an Asian media company, Jimmy Lai’s Next Media Animation. NMA produced a computer animated news report illustrating the crash, and it went viral. It was the sort of thing NMA produces for Hong Kong and Taiwan, mixing real news footage with game-style graphics to fill in the missing action. This success encouraged NMA to open a US-oriented YouTube channel -- World Edition -- and blog, and to create more videos with viral potential.

So far, NMA has covered Apple’s Steve Jobs (antennagate), Sarah Palin, Lindsay Lohan, the “fun sized” Snooki from MTV’s Jersey Shore (you don’t want to know) and JetBlue’s job-quitting flight attendant Steven Slater, among others. It’s probably fair to say that one recent effort, Google's domination of the world and loss of mojo (below), does not show the company in a good light, unless you are particularly fond of people sprouting horns and holding tridents in front of flaming backdrops or, like aliens, invading Earth from space.

Although NMA’s World Edition does cover real news such as the Australian polls, plane crashes, and even finance, a lot of the stories are sex driven. The treatment is generally more Benny Hill than News of the World, but the company’s approach has aroused controversy in its home markets. Rose Chao, a spokeswoman for the Taipei city government, said that what Next Media’s newspaper, Apple Daily, has done “is to package sex crimes with animation under the name of news, and this might endanger the hearts and minds of children and adolescents,” according to The New York Times.

NMA’s staff of 200 animators knocks out videos at an impressive speed -- including more than one per day for the World Edition. Apple Daily is the most widely read newspaper in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and in the latter, its videos average more than 4 million hits a day.

The videos in the NMA World Edition channel on YouTube are narrated in Chinese but have English subtitles. Look for the red CC to turn on “closed captions”, if available. The videos in the NMA News channel are in Chinese with Chinese subtitles.

In a report broadcast earlier this month on Radio Australia, Professor Alan Knight, from the Asian Media Information Research Centre said:

Television news already relies heavily on constructed images, we use a lot of computer graphs, we use a lot of computer information, animation is a logical way to go, provided it's accurate and it's done in an ethical manner, just another technique for journalists. Of course, the temptation is to go a bit too far. In some ways animation is less than a problem than digitally altered images because with animation at least you know at this stage, it's cartoons, whereas with some of the ways images are manipulated, it takes an expert to work out that they've been constructed to influence your opinion.

As video animation technology is developed, you can expect to see more news outlets doing the same thing. And what the TV channels won’t show you, the web will.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YncVKgpTd6E Google's domination of the world and loss of mojo

Topic: Tech Industry

Jack Schofield

About Jack Schofield

Jack Schofield spent the 1970s editing photography magazines before becoming editor of an early UK computer magazine, Practical Computing. In 1983, he started writing a weekly computer column for the Guardian, and joined the staff to launch the newspaper's weekly computer supplement in 1985. This section launched the Guardian’s first website and, in 2001, its first real blog. When the printed section was dropped after 25 years and a couple of reincarnations, he felt it was a time for a change....

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2 comments
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  • haha, love the viral video.
    ving2010
  • Animated news???

    Jimmy Lai and NEXT MEDIA are not the only boy on the block - although this is a case of 'David and Goliath'...

    At the same time, Chelm-on-the-Med©- Online - an open source website of zany news from Israel was ALSO busy developing an animated news wing for television. Without a $30 M R&D budget and 200 employees. Four Israelis – myself included – developed a FAR SUPERIOR PRODUCT in our spare time on PCs and on spec (in six months, not two-and-a-half-years)! Lai's 'creation' has (rightly) been derided in the West by professional news-gatherers. Yet it is questionable whether one can stop technology-driven distribution of information, including news. Lock the door, it will climb in the window. The only question is – what standards will the industry set – where and what kind of 'animated news' is suitable, and what is detrimental or irrelevant. Anyone who wants to see a SERIOUS use of animated news segments that can TRULY challenge traditional means of presenting news on television, check out the "demo" for this Israeli initiative at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoUmGgbD6uk

    The 'model' is applicable to any light or odd news beat
    – not just Israel.

    Short three to three-and-a-half minute segments like this will be a weekly feature, designed to follow or 'close' regular conflict-driven HARD news from and about Israel, with one nutty SOFT news story from Israel for balance. Two leading Jewish stations – JLTV and JTN - that reach tens of millions of households in the USA are interested in airing the segments, and others (not all Jewish) are weighing becoming affiliate stations, as well. The production team is now looking for a backer to cover production costs and get this baby on the road. (Spielberg? Katzenberg? Are you listening?)

    In the meantime, Jews (and odd news junkies everywhere) can feed on similar wild and wacky news stories from Israel that are available in columns published on Chelm-on-the-Med© Online at http://www.chelm-on-the-med.com – a contribution to the popular 'odd news beat' (where Israel has been missing) – such as the Technion alumnus who creating an "Honorable Menschen" award for lectures who not only know their stuff, but also know how to 'be a mensch'. Or the divorcee who stole her ex's toilet, and he wasn't even pissed off… (see August 2010 Column 2 on the website)

    For more information contact me at chelmonthemed@gmail.com
    offthewall-d0b36