Thursday, October 27, 2005

Under the influence... of Anger.

Maybe I should make all the titles for these things sound like taglines from 60's and 70's horror films. Yeah. We'll see how long that lasts.

Unpop culture references aside, I am, indeed, angry. Today it's the New Media types. Exponents of story, cross-media communicators, theorists and speculators and all those people who are trying to tell me that the world will soon be awash with richly woven tapestries of complementary platform delivered story experiences.

And I don't disagree. But it sure as hell ain't gonna be written by most of the people doing the theorising. I visit their pages/blogs/university sites and the very first thing I'm greeted with is reams of text, with long paragraphs, extending right across my browser window (which at 1600x1200 is a lot of wpl) and none of the 'cross-media' crap they're promising (Like a diagram maybe? But then, pictures are SO old print media...)

I'm sorry people, if you can't master the written form of communicating ideas, which has been studied and understood for a hell of a lot longer than this intermatron thingummy, I don't really want to know your theories on where 'new' media is heading. Stand up, turn around, order another cappucino, and get back to your important dissection of the underlying metaphors present in modern literature.

By the way, Richard Fidler? You really ought to know better by now. For shame.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Where is my mind?

Not an accurate title, but one should never pass up an opportunity to quote the Pixies. After a hiatus (during which the tooth fairy got a little impatient and ripped out four of my third molars, after which she forgot to leave me any money and in fact charged a small fortune for the inconvenience) I am back to ruminate at length in another T&T&T edition this time on the subject of imagination, or disturbing lack thereof. (Well, maybe not at too much length - t**sday is approaching fast)

Now I am well aware that lamenting the follies of youth is traditionally the prerogative of the old and toothless, but given that in the last fortnight I have turned 25* and lost nearly 10% of my teeth, I feel qualified. So. Imagination. Where'd it go?

About a year ago some friends and I went into a toyshop. We wanted some Lego. Or Mecchano. Or some blocks. What there was, was a heap of Shrek branded thingies and Hulk Fists and Spiderman whotsits. Absolutely nothing in there was a toy in itself. There WAS Lego, yes, but it was all Star Wars kits - AT-AT's and Pods and little weird things from those horrible excuses for films that make up episodes 1-3. Everything had to tell you how to play with it. "This is how fun happens - do what we say and you will have fun."

Where was the magnadoodle? Where was the huge mismatched bucket of lego blocks that you could make into ANYTHING? Why did I have to get past the latest useless schlockbuster to get to the toy?

A retired teacher remarked to me the other day that young children today use the phrase "I'm bored" a lot more often than they used to. This doesn't surprise me one bit. If you can't summarise the fun in the length of a ringtone, no one is prepared to give it the time of day. I'm guilty of the same instant dismissal. I'll gladly dismiss things before I've even seen them. (Big Brother, Australian Idol, almost everything in an Aria chart)

Fortunately, we may live in a time where imaginations are not nurtured and encouraged, but there is a low barrier of entry for those who seek to right the ills of the world. One could choose a vow of silence. One could choose to become a children's entertainer and do something at the grass roots level. One could become The Blogger We All Hate and start a blog to whinge and bitch and moan about the world.

Or, you could get out there and make some cool toys...

Soon, My Pretties, soon....

Damn. T**sday crept up on me again.

* Ok, so that's not OLD, but my generation are meant to have at least 3 complete careers to look forward to, so I must be fairly well advanced through the first one and approaching retirement.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

How To Win

There comes a point in every OZ viewer's life (that is, the viewers who are enjoying the show from the new vantage point of the net-savvy* tv-without-ads-on-demand-watching-whole-seasons-over-a-weekend-rather-than-a-few-months, as opposed to the populatation that unfortunately have to have it delivered to them via expensive and inefficient channels) when they have to ask themselves - can I stop now?

Working, as we at souptoys do, in a decommissioned penitentiary, the show gives an interesting insight into what was going on here before we turned (part of) it into a toy factory. I can't say I've watched as much as my colleagues, but the bits I've seen (complete with french subtitles) have been more than shocking enough to convince me that it's a worthwhile, if not a happy, production. The shivving and OZ-style 'fraternity' is portrayed in such a vivid way that to watch can be at times cringemaking, if not painful.

When is enough? With six seasons and no happy end in sight (HOW can this have been made in America?) how does a viewer decide they've had all the beatings, shivving and rape they can handle? If you quit before the end do you 'win'? Having gotten the point that the prison system is, like t**sday: Fucked, can you stop - or do you owe it to the characters (representative as they are of a large portion of society) to watch to the bitter end and in doing so understand their situation somewhat better?

My guess is watch as much as you can stand - education can be a painful process, but understanding is the first step in a Jerry Springer Closing Thought.

Here's something fun

Coming soon on T&T&T - "The Blogger We All Hate" and "Where Did My Imagination Go?"

* Normally, I wouldn't use the word 'savvy' but fortunately Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio have put it in context that makes it a worthwhile word, rather than a term used by people with no technical knowledge to describe people who can remember how to do simple things on computers.

[Editors note: Where possible, entertaining and whimsical links are provided by Rory]

Broadcast Artisans Call To Arms!

I found John Doyle and Greg Pickhaver a taste that took a long time to acquire, when my first exposure was JJJ's This Sporting Life segment. As I am with olives, I am glad that I took the time to get used to the taste as now it's one I savour.

In the wonderful tradition of people reading these things to be told what to do/read/think/eat, I am linking to John Doyle's Andrew Olle Lecture 2005. You can read it, but to really appreciate it, I'd recommend downloading the mp3.

It's all here.

For anyone reading outside Australia, it may be a bit cryptic in parts, (Hell, for someone living in the west of australia bits of it were a bit cryptic) but he raises some excellent points. Especially the taxing of commercial networks to fund ABC drama.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Open Source and Other Industries

Specifically: Animation.

I read a laughable quote from someone at Disney a while back saying "People just don't want to watch hand animated movies any more..."

Of course! That's gotta be it! Spirited Away, Triplets of Bellevue - they were successful because why exactly? Can't have had anything to do with actually having decent stories.

But hey - shortsightedness at large companies is something every young artist should be encouraging - especially now.

Let's look at an animated feature: Long development time, expensive development time, expensive distribution. How do we fix it?

Why not take a leaf out of the *nix and open source dev world and open up animated movies? Have a few key and motivated people keeping the thing alive and making necessary decisions (directors, if you will) then leave what can be out there for people to do themselves out there.

Script development can be done with something like Writeboard, from there storyboards can be done by whoever wants to, and ok'd by the directorial staff when they're done. Character sheets can be uploaded, commented upon, designs defended and retried, all through a combination of blogging and source control for the actual images.

Flash isn't expensive, and what's more, thousands of talented people already have it. If they could come to a site, see which shots need doing, grab the storyboards and have a crack at animating it themselves. Editors can come and grab the swf's and splice them together as they see fit. Sound engineers can stop by and add effects, actors can record their interpretations of the dialogue and upload them for use and/or scrutiny...

It might be horrible. It might never see completion. It might find enough like minded people to get together and do it themselves outside the public eye of the internet. If it gets people interested in making movies and telling stories, then as far as I'm concerned - it's worked.

It's certainly possible. Anyone up for an animated Macbeth?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Magic of the Toasted Sandwich

We're talking the shell and the filling. The inside's got to be liquid enough to whet and wet the cripsy outside, and the outside's got to be crisp and firm enough to support the gooey, liquid centre.

It's a balancing act to make Casanova's secretary look on with an expression of quiet jealous awe. Get it wrong and you're in trouble. Send your top five fillings to

Friday, October 07, 2005

Blog This!

A significant moment is happening. It's happening.

This is what my old friend and colleague norman is saying right now. It's quite interesting to think that defining moments in your life are happening and you have absolutely no control over them. Such is the case right now with our little project.

We know certain things: They've been there for long enough to have downloaded our little project and had a look. What they are doing there RIGHT NOW is beyond our control, but to have worked towards this moment and to know it is happening is, well, rather satisfying.

But that's a bit self-centred and egotistical a subject to wax lyrical on... That's why I'd like to talk about something irrelevant and hopefully amusing. So, let's hear it for: A Guide to Ringtone Fortune and Success.

So, you want to make the next ringtone fortune? What do you need:

1) an incessant and catchy tune
2) an animated and cute character
3) some form of distribution channel

Option three seems to be the easiest to acquire - all you need is options one and two...

One: What are your options? Write one - a jingle, a rhythmical spoken or onomatopaeic sequence... or... you can trawl through the AM dial listening out from catchy and most importantly out of copyright tunes, then acquiring the rights.

Number Two: Getting an animated cute character. Now here's a heads up to all the talented and time rich, asset poor animators I know over on sites like Seriously people - if you've got the price of a krispy kreme doughnut and a cup of costa rican mocha on you, you can afford an animated character.... Animators didn't just create Dumbo, the new breed will work for peanuts, just the same as everyone's favourite elevated elephant. There are oodles of talented people out there, and by god advertising folks, they're dieing to get a shot at the [pick appropriate size] time. With the cost of software through the floor these days, and hardware following fast, there's nothing to stop the energetic youth acquiring the means, and with the lack of a decently supported education system, procuring the time, to make some of the most professional and inspired animations/characters you've ever seen.

of course, a lot of it's crap, but if you've ever had anything to do with a signal/noise ratio, you'll know it's a worthwhile search.

and there was me, about to write a post on the physiology of the common garden slug, but that's the intermatron for you kids. Send me your best recipes for beer based foods based on beer to

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


A lengthy discourse on the ills of vegetarianism can wait for a later date, but for now I would like to introduce a close personal friend of mine - Meat Man! He came to life one dark and stormy TPB night (which traditionally falls on a t**sday evening) when a pile of burger mince was left to its own devices for a little long at that den of iniquity that is Railway (the house, not the long winding dual stretches of steel)

While we were out by the chiminea, Meat Man was brought to life by a Spotty Man and his Cosmic Dust. (also some spoons)

Now, thanks to the magic of googlevision, we can present Meat Man to the whole world for all to enjoy here.

Personally, I'm looking forward to the third part of Meat Man's documentary, all about slugs...

Bibo ergo sum

Okay, that's kicked it all off with a little Shakespeare. Congrats to Lord Homans who spotted the deliberate mistake. He wins a cold, wet, UK winter for his troubles.

Perhaps someone with a more classical education can clear up any grammatical or latinical mistakes in the title, but even if it's wildly wrong, it's one of my favourite sequences of words in any language I've come across. Born (for those of you born after latin went off the syllabus) of the phrase 'cogito ergo sum' or "I think, therefore I am" and the basis for the word 'imbibe' in 'bibo', we get the nice little phrase "I drink, therefore I am."

Now, if Bruce, Bruce, Bruce and Bruce are to be beleived, René Descartes was a drunken fart, so I like to think he would approve of the sentiment. Certainly it has not done me any harm in the short term. Which brings me to the point of the post.

Tuesday. Do we need it?

At the souptoys office over the last year or so, we have come to regard tuesday with the sort of contempt we vaguely knew it deserved, but had never put into words quite why. Now, if Jim Davis is to be beleived, (and please, if anyone reading this has laughed at a garfield comic in the last 20 years, for the love of god go buy yourself some Watterson) Monday is the traditional worst day of the working week. Witness the opening scenes of 'Office Space' for more on 'the mondays' Anyhow...

Even when I wasn't working at a job that stretches my mind and lets me put basically all my hobbies into a 'working' day that I kinda feel guilty about having because it's so much damn fun, I never had a problem with mondays. It's a monday. You get over it and get on with it. You've just had 2 days off and you're in need of some mental stimulation on some level other than 'where will we go to bibo next?'

But come tuesday... well... You get to realise that you actually DIDN'T need a change in mental gear after all, and it's a few too many days before you can start planning your weekend shenanigans and you're still kinda groggy from the weekend, and all the work you did yesterday with your wonderful monday weekend hangover you didn't quite realise you were having will have to be redone.

End effect? Crap day.

So, what we've done at souptoys is to give the working week a bit of a reshuffle. Eventually the plan is to do away with tuesday altogether, but we recognise that the journey of a thousand wossnames begins with a single credit card booking on virgin blue, so we have devised a mutli staged attack on that most evil of days. Tuesday has thus been re-christened Boozeday, and you can find us in the office kicking ideas around over a few pints. This keeps the whole 'seven day week' thing in check with the rest of the western world and prevents unnecessary confusion (because, let's face it, we're sloshed by the time any other timezone that we work with comes online)

So there we have it: Part one of the eradication of t**sday. Why not talk it over with your boss today? We've found it leads to greater monday productivity (the next 'weekend' is only a few hours away) and a shorter, more effective working week for all.

I'm sure it'll be all the rage with management types in no time.