Taiwan CG house creates satire web clips

A hit on the Web, Next Media Animation’s clips of CGI-animated news, commentary and straight-up surrealism draw 13 million viewers internationally each month, and it has Tiger Woods to thank.

Founder and CEO Jimmy Lai — whose Next Media is Hong Kong’s largest publicly listed Chinese-language print media company — has always enjoyed blending entertainment and news. His Apple Daily has been responsible for shaking up the media landscape in Hong Kong and Taiwan, leading to more tabloid journalism and celebrity scoops, as well as encouraging investigative journalism.

Lai was frustrated over the lack of film footage of newsworthy events, which he feels made reports dull and boring, so he decided to create it. Taipei, Taiwan-based Next Media Animation launched in September 2009.

Its first clip, an animated dramatization of golfer Woods’ marital woes, was a global Web sensation. NMA now produces more than 30 computer-animated dramatizations of news events every day.

In Hong Kong, the org’s vids average more than 4 million hits a day, the second-most watched channel in the territory.

In March, the company signed a five-year deal to produce content for Spike TV.

Favorites are NMA’s take on the Amy Chua Tiger Mom debate, Jet Blue flight attendant Steven Slater losing his cool, and a dramatization of the Irish financial crisis featuring Guinness and leprechauns.

“What sets NMA apart from other animation studios is our speed,” says spokesperson Jenna Manula. “From concept to storyboard to 3D modeling to production, NMA’s turnaround time per story is three hours.”

A typical day begins with the staff scouring the Web for breaking news stories, after which the writers meet, choose topics and start putting together scripts. Once the scripts are ready, they’re storyboarded, 3D models are designed and everything is sent off to production.

Recent clips feature NMA’s take on Chinese porn pic “3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy” and, of course, a daily take on Charlie Sheen.

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