Fans would be willing to accept further adventures of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly in an animation style. The bigger question is would the general public accept further adventures in animation style? Would the studios have the patience to back and distribute further adventures in animation style?
Joss Whedon has already transitioned those settings and characters into a comic format. There is great acceptance and love for the continuation of the series in print comic form. This leaves a short step to move from print to animation.
The current success of animated shows both on TV and in the direct to DVD markets also support the plausibility of doing more animated shows. Clone Wars had a rocky start getting accepted though most of it was due to the new style they used in animation that took some getting used to. The Simpsons had a lucky start with "bartmania" that still gets large ratings decades latter. Both DC and Marvel’s direct to DVD animated movies prove both quality in animated projects and how they can cater to the adult market.
We face several problems that are hindering future projects.
General Public Prejudice
The general public in the American market has a prejudice against animated shows. When first approaching an animated show they presume it is for children not adults. Many don’t even bother to give those shows the time of day unless they are bringing their kids to watch it.
Though this public prejudice has decreased some in recent years it is still rampant. I could not count the number of adults that give subtle nonverbal clues of disdain when they find out I’m watching Clone Wars or Planet Hulk. Others still voice their prejudice by replying “I thought that was a show for kids?”
Many creators of animated projects have their demons to wrestle with too. First, before the project is even done they have to admit they won’t win any prizes for the work due to the prejudice in viewing it as less no matter how brilliant and deserving. Look at Avatar, the movie would have been better going full animation but instead it went with live action parts so that it could be a “movie with cool special effects”.
This prejudice holds back studios from giving a green light to an animated project that is not targeted toward the children / young adult markets. This forces many good projects to include in kidsey elements and to remove some of the better adult elements. Clone Wars season one is a great example of this problem. The show was so much less than it could have been. Once they got past the prejudice it got better in season two.
I Find Their Lack of Faith Most Disturbing
Because of the prejudice against animated projects they tend to take longer before picking up larger audience share.
Studios have been trending toward a less lenient policy when it comes to new projects. They have been quick to cancel projects that don’t show immediate success.
This is a recipe for failure by proclamation instead of giving the project time to get over the inherent hurdles.
A New Hope
I hope that the American public continues to learn from the Japanese, and Korean animated markets.
I hope that we continue to see the trend in the decline of prejudice against animated projects.
I would love to see the continuing adventures of Firefly and Buffy the vampire slayer in animated format.
I've always wanted a Faith The Vampire Slayer series and wrote up a series outline. Maybe one day I will hook up with some animators.
I hope John finds some animator to help him with his Faith the Vampire Slayer project and that they then check in with us for many more projects.
Avatar: the best planetary romance movie since the Dune miniseries just ignore the problems in the human parts, read the full review here. Warning this is just the movie, Cameron said they will not release special features and Blue Ray versions of the movie until fall of this year.
Star Wars Omnibus: Boba Fett: good timing for the release of this comic collection with the Boba Fett episodes to air soon on Clone Wars. I love the character Boba Fett and this is an ideal omnibus for fans of the bounty hunter.
Xena: Warrior Princess - Season One: Fantasy fun that fans of sword and sorcery will enjoy. Netflix has it streaming online. This series deserves respect for paving the way to bring us Legend of the Seeker.
After Avatar premiered on the big screen I noticed it having a strange effect in some of those around me. Then the headlines pointing out how there was a rise in depression from some who watched the movie. This cause was pinned on the movie being “a little too real” CNN with that being followed up by pinning it on the intense visuals.
This left me curious, there is a real effect being caused but the explanation of visuals for the cause did not make sense. After watching Avatar Eric and I talked about the experience and the feelings left behind and he pointed out the cause.
Experiencing Avatar gives one a religious experience stimulating metaphysical urges. If lacking in one’s life this will leave a longing, drawing attention to the emptiness that already exists in their life. Due to our secular society this whole event is felt but probably not realized on a conscious level.
It’s Human nature
It’s human nature to feel the need for a connection. This need is what drives us as a species to be social creatures. This is not only one sought between each other but also between our environment around us and to a greater universe.
This is the deeper purpose that mythology and religion serve as they help us to get connected to one another, our environment and the greater universe.
Without it one is left with a restless longing. This longing can be ignored or temporally filled but it still persists if those connections are not made. Our secular society has become quite adept at even distracting ourselves so much that the longing is numbed.
How Avatar stimulates it
Avatar does something amazing by giving the viewer an experience of a beautiful setting in which the characters have a deep connection to each other, the environment around them and to a greater universe giving immediate validation of that connection.
This starts with the viewer being able to relate to Jake who through a dreaming state gets a direct neural transmitted connection to a Na’vi. Through the Na’vi we are connected to the rest of the world around.
A Na’vi does not just climb on a mount and ride around or fly around on it. They make a neural connection to the mount, a bond that is very deep and reciprocal. It is a connection that has immediate reward and shown true through the creatures response.
They connect with those that came before them through the Tree of Voices. This connects the Na’vi to their ancestors and validates this afterlife with immediate feedback. Connecting to the Tree of Voices they can hear the voices of their ancestors.
The connection to a greater universe is shown through Eywa and the Tree of Souls. Through this experience we see the validation of a person's soul and it’s ability to transfer from one back into nature and even it’s ability to reincarnate transferring from one body to a new one.
The validation goes so far that even Eywa validates the prayers of the people.
While experiencing the movie we also experience the deep connection and the validation of that experience. Once the movie ends so does the experience. The audience member returns to their life and if they have a longing it is made apparent and thus the feelings of depression and a strong desire to return to the Na’vi.
The sad thing is because we live in such a secular society many will not realize on a conscious level those metaphysical urges were stimulated. Then the distractions set in and attempts to ignore the feelings. Pushing the longing back down into the unconsciousness and Missing the opportunity to take edifying action.
Exploring Avatar’s Religious Elements
Eywa is the great spirit of Pandora revered by the Na’vi and represented through the interconnectedness amongst all of the flora, fauna and indigenous peoples. The Eywa is most represented through the Tree of Souls, Tree of Voices and the Atokirina which are little floating airborne jellyfish like creatures.
Emissaries of Eywa
The Atokirina’ are seeds from the Tree of souls that float around on the air of Pandora. They are viewed and revered by the Na’vi as spirits sent from Eywa. Their presence is viewed as a sign to the people to help them and guide them.
Tree of Voices
The Utral Aymokriyä is a tree kind of like a weeping willow but the branches hanging down are full of neural connections. These trees are viewed as a sacred space. The Na’vi can connect to the branches and hear the voices of their ancestors, kind of like a prayer space. They also partake of the more sacred rights under the branches of the tree like marriage rights.
Tree of Souls
The Ayvitrayä Ramunong is a tree similar in appearance to the Tree of Voices except it has a massive root structure that is close to the surface. The Tree of Souls can make neural connections to the Na’vi and other creatures around it by sending out many small tendrils. Through that connection one can get a direct experience of Eywa. They can even transfer souls from one body through Eywa and back into another body.
Leaving the theater I was disappointed in Avatar’s marketing efforts. If only they told me this movie was a Planetary Romance I would have had much more interest in watching it. Avatar is the first good Planetary Romance in a long time. They are hard to pull off with the last really good example being Dune.
A planetary romance is a story style where the setting becomes the main character. In Avatar we get to explore Pandora, it’s inhabitants, and the unique interconnectedness of everything on the planet.
I was so proud with the introduction into the depth of the setting. This begins with a subtle clue from the scene where Dr. Grace and Norm studying the root structure of a tree and noticing how vast that structure stretches and how interconnected it is with all other plant roots in the area. The big reveal after Jake slowed down listening to Neytiri and actually looked around is a breathtaking scene with all the plants glowing and even the moss lighting up with each foot steep.
The Na’vi are the indigenous species of Pandora. 9 to 12 feet tall, blue skin with bipedal humanoid features. One of the most distinctive feature is the series of tendrils that protrude from the back of their head masked by their hair which is in a long braid. These tendrils are used to make a neural connection with the Pandora’s plants and animals. This gives the Na’vi a more direct means of communicating with their environment and even leaving impressions upon the fauna that can be recalled by latter generations.
Called a Direhorse by the humans. It is used by the Na’vi like a horse as a mount to ride around on. Standing in at 13 feet tall and 14 feet long, mostly grey in color with blue stripes. The Pa’li has two long antennae that the rider connects to the tendrils in the end of their hair. Through that connection the rider can direct the mount through mental commands. This makes the training process very quick because once the connection is made all the rider has to do is think stop, go, slow down and gets the desired result. The tricky part in riding is for the rider to realize the Pa’li is like an extension of self rather than this other thing to be ordered around.
Called a Mountain Banshee by the humans. The Ikran are a flying predator with four wings used as a mount by only the strongest of the Na’vi warriors. Like the Pa’li they make a neural connection through the Iran’s antennae but this is a life long connection meaning an Ikran will have only one rider.
This process is a dangerous one performed alone in front of the other warriors. This part of the movie has many similarities with Dune and the Fremen sandworm riders who go through a similar ritual to become a true warrior and one of the tribe.
The Ikran are mythically like the Sandworms in Dune leaving the Toruk like Shai-Hulud. I loved how the name means last shadow because it’s the greatest predator of the skies with nothing as large or as fierce as it. The Toruk has only been tamed five times before. Those instances were at times of great trouble where their riders brought the tribes of Pandora together to overcome the adversity. The Na'vi celebrate the Trouk in dance, song, and with elaborate totems that symbolizes both the fear and respect accorded to the creature.
Toruk is massive in size, scarlet in color with black stripes and a midnight blue crest on top of the head and on the lower jaw.
Eywa is the great spirit of Pandora revered by the Na’vi and represented through the interconnectedness among all the flora, fauna and indigenous peoples. The Eywa is most represented through the Tree of Souls, Tree of Voices and the Atokirina which are little floating airborne jellyfish like creatures. For more on the interconnectedness read Avatar’s Religious Experience.
The technology behind the Avatar program turned out to be more interesting then originally believed. From all of the trailers I expected the Avatar’s to be like a big mech suit or something, thankfully I was wrong.
The Avatar’s are a biological creation made up from a blending of human DNA and Na’vi DNA. This creates an avatar for the human to operate that would be entirely biological and can function within the same environment as the Na’vi.
They use a machine that not only uplink the human to it’s avatar but makes a much deeper connection. The tube that the human sits in gives full neural feedback so the Human feels what the Na’vi feels. This is like experiencing things in a dream state.
On the plus side if your avatar dies you don’t necessarily die. But as shown through Norm’s experience the death of the avatar does put a great shock to ones system.
I really loved how the Na’vi viewed the avatars. They called them dream walkers and demons. Dream walkers is very fitting first because of the obvious reasons of how unlinking and downloading from the avatar is like falling asleep.
One thing that bothered me some was the need to have the avatar genetically matched. They introduce this concept early on which at first seems ok. Unfortunately there is no more justification for this particular need. I was left with the feeling that the matching was only required to justify why Jake was brought into the program.
James Cameron’s Avatar gets two overall ratings a 10 and a 3. The 10 rating is for the Na’vi parts of the movie that were so well done the 3 is for the human parts that were worse than a Sci-Fi original movie. Overall Avatar is a visually beautiful planetary romance that is worth watching.
This is the first good planetary romance in a long time. Planetary romances are hard to pull off with the last really good example being Dune. For more read Avatar The Planetary Romance.
The beginning of the movie is too slow, the first hook was terrible and I was glad once they got to Pandora. It’s offensive to use a wounded vet with a dead brother to make me feel sad and to peak my interest in a movie. Then to use a "genetic match" excuse that has no further explanation as to why it was so important… weak.
The saddest thing is that this movie would not make it past the studio's slush pile if someone other than James Cameron sent in the script. The studios would have read the first few pages, printed a rejection letter and tossed the script into the trash. Thankfully this was not the case.
Avatar’s Immaculate reality issues made watching it harsh. I felt like Jake fully immersed in the immaculate reality exploring and enjoying the depths and wonder of Pandora only to have the red button mashed ripping me back to reality sitting in a theater watching a movie. This back and forth was jarring and upsetting because James Cameron was able to reestablish the immaculate reality, which is not easily done once broken, only to break it again every time we went back to the human parts.
The parts with the Na’vi exploring the wonders of Pandora were so well done. The animation makes everything seem so life-like. All of the characters and setting elements have such depth that their reactions and interactions are so believable. Watching these parts I wish the movie was two hours longer.
The human parts on the other hand is why the movie was an hour too long. They were so bad it even dipped below the quality of a sci-fi original movie. The characters are flat, poorly acted, stock characters taken from other sci-fi and westerns. This flat, lack of depth issue in the humans parts of the movie is exacerbated with the overuse of the desaturation effect used on those scenes.
Confusion is added to the human parts because they aren’t clear if the soldiers are actual military or private contractors a la Blackwater style. A small effort would have cleared this issue up. This may seem like a small point but it is distracting taking the attention away from the experience.
Avatar’s religious experience is a more insidious issue brought up by experiencing this movie. For more read Avatar’s Religious Experience. This heightens the absence of that connectedness in our own lives even if not realized on a conscious level. Thus many leave the movie longing to return and with a sadness over their own situation.
The sad thing is produced in any other culture other than the U.S. we wouldn’t have had to deal with the human parts and Avatar would have been an amazing animated movie. Unfortunately due to the prejudices of the American audience we had to have human parts in the movie so that Avatar could be classified as a movie with special effects. This is a must see movie and probably an owner for me.
Plot / Story:
A planetary romance about Pandora and the indigenous people the Na'vi as they struggle against the Human corporation that wants to strip mine their homeland.
Theater or Renter: December 2009 includes five SF movies Transylmania, The Princess and the Frog, Avatar, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Sherlock Holmes. Will we watch? Will we rent? or do we even care?
Rules of the Game: Watch the trailers. Rate the Trailer. Then share with us your comments: does the movie, it’s trailer and buzz make you want to watch it in the theater, rent it, or not interested at all, and why?
Release Date: DECEMBER 4th
Listed as: spoof horror, Vampire movie
Studio: Full Circle releasing
Director: David Hillenbrand, Scott Hillenbrand
Produced by: Radu Badica, Viorel Sergovici, Kim Swartz, Sanford Hampton, Jor Van Kline
Written by: Patrick Casey, Worm Miller
Stars: Patrick Cavanaugh, James DeBello, Tony Denman, Musetta Vander, Jennifer Lyons, Oren Skoog, Paul H. Kim, David Steinberg, Irena A. Hoffman
The Plot / Story: A group of not-too-bright American college kids on a semester abroad at Razvan University realize that if the partying doesn't kill them, the vampires might. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)
The Princess and the Frog:
Release Date: DECEMBER 11th
Listed as: Disney animated fantasy tale
Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
Produced by: Peter Del Vecho, John Lasseter
Written by: Ron Clements, John Musker, Rob Edwards
Stars: Anika Noni Rose, Oprah Winfrey, Keith David, Jenifer Lewis, Jim Cummings, John Goodman, Bruno Campos, Michael-Leon Wooley, Peter Bartlett, Terrence Howard
The Plot / Story: When the free-spirited, jazz-loving Prince Naveen of Maldonia comes to town, a deal with a shady voodoo doctor goes bad and Naveen is turned into a frog. In a desperate attempt to be human again, a favor in exchange for a fateful kiss on the lips from the beautiful girl, Tiana, takes an unexpected turn and leads them both on a hilarious adventure through the mystical bayous of Louisiana to the banks of the almighty Mississippi and back in time for Mardi Gras in New Orleans. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)
Release Date: DECEMBER 18th
Listed as: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: James Cameron
Produced by: James Cameron, Jon Landau
Written by: James Cameron
Stars: Sam Worthington, Zoë Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Stephen Lang, Joel David Moore, Giovanni Ribisi, CCH Pounder, Dileep Rao, Matt Gerald, Laz Alonso, Peter Mensah, Wes Studi
The Plot / Story: The Story: On a small moon called Pandora during the 22nd century a paralyzed Marine named Jake Sully volunteers to exist as an Avatar on Pandora due to the hostile atmosphere. The avatar is a human/Na’vi hybrid. The Na’vi are ten foot tall, blue humanoids that are peaceful inhabitants of the moon unless attacked. Jake falling in love with a Na’vi princess and becomes caught up in the conflict between her people and the human military that is consuming their world. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus:
Release Date: DECEMBER 25th
Listed as: Adventure, Fantasy, Mystery
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Terry Gilliam
Produced by: Samuel Hadida, Amy Gilliam, William Vince, Terry Gilliam
Written by: Terry Gilliam, Charles McKeown
Stars: Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Verne Troyer, Lily Cole, Andrew Garfield, Tom Waits, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jude Law
The Plot / Story: Thousand-year-old immortal Doctor Parnassus leads a travelling theatre troupe that offers audience members a chance to go beyond reality through a magical mirror in his possession.Parnassus had been able to guide the imagination of others through a deal with the Devil who now comes to collect on the arrangement. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)
If you want to get my attention a 14 foot tall Mech suit will do the trick. This prop piece was on display at Comic-Con International in San Diego this year.
Avatar is a James Cameron 3D science fiction film due out on December 18, 2009.
The Story: On a small moon called Pandora during the 22nd century a paralyzed Marine named Jake Sully volunteers to exist as an Avatar on Pandora due to the hostile atmosphere. The avatar is a human/Na'vi hybrid. The Na'vi are ten foot tall, blue humanoids that are peaceful inhabitants of the moon unless attacked. Jake falling in love with a Na'vi princess and becomes caught up in the conflict between her people and the human military that is consuming their world.
Ira Rubenstein is the Executive Vice President of Marvel Comics' Global Digital Media Group. Dave Roman is associate editor of Nickelodeon Magazine and a cartoonist. Stuart Levy is the chief executive of Tokyopop.
This is a conversation they had at ICv2 Graphic Novel Conference:
Rubenstein: But Dave, I think there’s a difference. No one can write about Spider-Man or X-Men except for us.
Roman: I disagree.
Rubenstein: Those are our characters. How could someone else write another Spider-Man story?
Roman: Because fan fiction is becoming so powerful. I’ve seen the power of fan fiction. Working at Nickelodeon, there are people out there doing ‘Avatar’ comics that are soooooo much better…
Rubenstein: But that’s like saying YouTube is a real entertainment channel. It’s not.
Roman/Levy/like five people in the audience: It is (THE BEAT).
They just don't get it.
Caretakers of Legends
As I said in What makes a fan a fan, studios and publishers have to stop thinking of themselves as copyright holders and more as caretakers of the franchises we love. The good and the bad of the dialogue above is that Dave Roman and Stuart Levy seem to understand, but Ira Rubenstein still doesn't.
I have a feeling that many companies will go out of business before their leaders who do not understand the changes in the marketplace are replaced by people who do understand. If there is a future, then we have to change the economic model from the owner/consumer model to a new fan based model. Here are some of suggestions for a possible way forward.
Producers of media have to come to terms with the fact the days of closely controlled monopolies they once held over the franchises in their care are over, and that they have to open up to accept new methods of distribution and a new relationship with their fans.
National Borders are meaningless
The first lesson may be the hardest. We have believed for so long that National Borders were meant to limit trade. Where media is concerned this is a recipe for piracy.
With the advent of digital downloads, online streaming, and print on demand, it is easier than ever for any and every release to be global. Distribution models have to built that will allow for a studio/publisher to monetize their work in every country simultaneously.
Ads, Subscriptions, Purchases and Give-aways
Studios and Publishers have to realize that they will never again be able to rely on a single method to monetize their works. There are four main ways businesses make money on the net:
Ads: Not too many or it turns people off, but the opportunity to direct targeted ads to reader and viewers.
Subscriptions: Allow readers/viewers access to ad free versions of your content that they pay a regular recurring fee. There are two major subscription models:
All you can eat: Allow your subscribers to full access to your content library so long as they pay the subscription fee.
Ala carte: Allow your subscribers the right to own so many files a month based on subscription level.
Purchases: Allow your readers/viewer to purchase copies of your work.
Give-aways: Sometimes you have to give your work away to find an audience and make your money some other way. For example: give away the streaming, but sell the file.
Don't tie your work to one platform. Give your readers/viewers options.
Let us stream with ads or subscribe by the season or purchase outright. You offer every method, we chose the one we want.
Don't tie our purchases to a single player or device. If I want to watch my DVD on my AppleTV, let me. If I want to watch my digital files at a friend's house, let me. If I want to watch my iTunes purchases through Boxee, let me.
The more restrictions you place on your files, the more you encourage piracy. The more freedom you allow you readers/viewers, the more money you will make. You cannot expect to be respected by your reader/viewers, if you do not treat them with respect. If you treat them like pirates, don't be surprised when they act like pirates.
You have to understand that you do not own this media. If you allow your fans to have a sense of ownership over franchises under your care, they will feel a greater sense of responsibility for the future of the franchise.
Next time we will discuss the Fan Side of the new marketplace.
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