An Israeli lesson in animation

Anyone who’s ever dabbled in video animation with the hopes of one day becoming the next Walt Disney can be thankful for a secret superhero ally. AniBOOM, an Israel-based start-up has created a video-sharing site for user-generated Flash animation videos. …

Anyone who’s ever dabbled in video animation with the hopes of one day becoming the next Walt Disney can be thankful for a secret superhero ally.

AniBOOM, an Israel-based start-up has created a video-sharing site for user-generated Flash animation videos. The site offers social networking elements, tools for uploading, and revenue sharing for content creators, based on the number of times their videos are viewed.

Touted as a cross-media, cross-platform animation content project, AniBoom is the first of its kind which focuses solely on animation in the hyper world of user generated content and Web 2.0.

“AniBOOM was created to change the distribution chain so that young talent can expose their work to animation fans and industry professionals,” said the company’s CEO Uri Shinar.

The company is succeeding in doing a lot of chain pulling along the way. It recently raised $4.5 million for its emerging online animation community, which it hopes to turn into a distributed animation studio. And it recently held an international contest which attracted 2,000 animators from 72 countries, awarded $50,000 in prizes, and has attracted 2.5 million views.

Chilean/Peruvian animator Jossie Malis and his film, Bendito Machine, won the grand prize of $25,000, while category winners, each to receive $5,000, include feel-good video/animation music video Mr. Fortune, political drama Beton (Concrete), experimental video Chaos Theory, satirical video Back in Bush and funny public service announcement cartoon Humans!

AniBOOM assembled an impressive panel of judges from the animation industry to participate in the voting process. The panel included: animator Paul Driessen, known for his work on The Beatles’ cartoon Yellow Submarine; Max Howard, former president of feature animation at Warner Bros: Douglas Wood, former VP of production & creative affairs at Universal, Turner Pictures and Warner Bros; Feature Animation, which oversaw development for films such as Iron Giant; and Arlene Sherman of Sesame Street.

However, the real power lay in the hands of the viewers as the number of times the films were watched and the votes they received from the audience accounted for an influential 70% of the final vote.

“I really admire this initiative, AniBOOM is providing a great service for animation fans and professionals alike,” said judge, Howard. “There were some great films.”

According to Shinar, the contest was the only animation awards competition that offered the animators a revenue sharing deal on the advertisements placed on the Internet site.

Another contest the company has sponsored is AniBOOM Eyedoll, a spoof of the popular TV show American Idol, which offers animators 26 parody songs to create videos for. Songs include I’ve Had Enough of My Wife, a parody of I Had the Time of My Life from the film Dirty Dancing, and She Really Likes the Polka, a parody of Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca.

According to Shinar, a former Israeli television executive, AniBOOM is looking to get more deeply involved in what goes on before an animation is posted to its site.
The company has introduced some web-based animation tools intended to make it easier for novices to learn the animation ropes.

“You don’t need 1,000 animators in Burbank to have a studio,” said Shinar. “Our vision is to create the next South Park, if you like, from animators around the world,” he told Newteevee.com.

Shinar knows his business. He was CEO and president of Keshet Broadcasting, the leading commercial broadcaster in Israel, and was instrumental in establishing the foundation for the first commercial channel in Israel.

AniBOOM’s goal, he said, is to create the world’s leading cross-media animation hub that will include the largest collection of contemporary animation worldwide, in-house production, content generated by competitions, and a variety of unique content creation tools and applications that will enable both professional and amateur animators to network with each other and gain exposure.

While the company has started with the Internet, AniBOOM has plans in its next phase to cross over to other mediums including TV, cellular, and PC games.

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