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And Now, the Animated News 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the portions-of-this-report-have-been-re-enacted dept.
theodp writes "'You have a lot of missing images, in the TV, in the news reporting,' explains billionaire Jimmy Lai. It's a gap that Lai's Next Media intends to fill with its animated news service. Artists lift details from news photos while actors in motion sensor suits re-create action sequences of stories making headlines. Animators graft cartoon avatars to the live-motion action, and the stories hit the Web. When news agencies didn't have footage of scenes from the Tiger Woods car crash, Lai's team raced to put together animation dramatizing the incident that became a YouTube sensation. Thus far, Lai has been denied a television license, but with or without his own station, he thinks his animations are headed for televisions worldwide. His company is currently in talks with media organizations to churn out news animations on demand using Next Media's graphic artists and software tools."

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And Now, the Animated News

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  • by syousef (465911) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:41PM (#31000010) Journal

    Can't you just see Elin as Miss Piggy? Haaaaayyyyaaaahhhh!

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      Actually, it's like geocities all over again!

    • by severoon (536737)
      This animation-as-news stuff is brilliant! This is just what the news has been lacking, the presentation of a completely imaginary, emotionally laden point of view brimming with value judgments!
  • by OG (15008) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:46PM (#31000068)
    My first thought was that this is totally unnecessary and sensationalist use of technology. My second thought was that CNN is going to love this.
    • I for one welcome the new CNN Hologram Cartoon Avatars of remote field reporters that are beamed in next to Larry King....

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      My first thought was that this is totally unnecessary and sensationalist use of technology. My second thought was that CNN is going to love this.

      Yeah, mine too.
      My second thought is "Fox news won't get it"

      I picture Rupert Murdoch yelling: "Someone hire that camera man for me! He's phenomenal! He gets everything! Stupid CNN doesn't know what they've got, look at the lousy equipment they give him, everything looks like cartoons."

      and Glenn Beck shouting: "See! See! They're making this up. How do we known their 'Obama' really exists?"

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Yeah, mine too. My second thought is "Fox news won't get it"

      I picture Rupert Murdoch yelling: "Someone hire that camera man for me! He's phenomenal! He gets everything! Stupid CNN doesn't know what they've got, look at the lousy equipment they give him, everything looks like cartoons."

      and Glenn Beck shouting: "See! See! They're making this up. How do we known their 'Obama' really exists?"

      { Pardon the double-post, browsing past the first one just looks like I'm saying "dur-hur me too!". I prefer to be seen a

      • by XanC (644172)

        If you use <quote> instead of italics, then the /. blurb will skip the quoted part and go straight for your new content.

      • by paiute (550198) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:16PM (#31000504)

        Are you kidding? Fox will jump on this like an ugly centipede.

        Sean Hannity: Some people are saying that Mr. Obama makes obeisance to Mecca every night and kisses a picture of bin Laden. We are not saying that we agree with that, but here is a vivid recreation of what that would look like if it were true.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          ...and kisses a picture of bin Laden

          Why would he be hanging out with George Bush's business partners?

          Oh yeah, bipartisanship.

        • Exactly my though when I read this.

          As if they would need even more possibilities to plain out lie to the people.

    • by flyneye (84093)

      This only opens the door for The National Enquirer Evening News.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        This only opens the door for The National Enquirer Evening News.

        That door was opened wide on October 7, 1996.

        • by flyneye (84093)

          Well, for Gods sake, shut the door. The wind is foul and blows in off the cesspit.

    • My first thought was that this is totally unnecessary and sensationalist use of technology. My second thought was that CNN is going to love this.

      A vapid and useless implementation of technology that is to information what a cheeto is to nutrition. I don't see how this could possibly go right.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        A vapid and useless implementation of technology that is to information what a cheeto is to nutrition.

        I'm afraid that "cheetos" are exactly what the people who turn to cable television as their main source of news want.

    • by TBoon (1381891)

      My second thought was that CNN is going to love this.

      Which brings up the question, "is showing anthropomorphic animals bleeding more or less child-friendly than showing real humans being shot?"

    • by sorak (246725) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:38PM (#31000816)

      My first thought was that this is totally unnecessary and sensationalist use of technology. My second thought was that CNN is going to love this.

      "Today on CNN, teabaggers are alleging that the president is actually from Narnia, and that he killed the Lion, had sex with the Witch, and hid in the wardrobe. Here is a cgi rendering of that event, with a bad-ass dragon added in, and for some reason, Rush. Who the hell listens to Rush? Our CNN instapoll says that 15% of you listen to Rush, 80% do not, and 5% of you were just pressing buttons. Next, we're going to spend thirty minutes reading twitter"

      • by FSWKU (551325)

        Who the hell listens to Rush?

        "Rule Number One: In my van, it's Rush. All Rush. All the time. NO exceptions!"

  • by happy_place (632005) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:46PM (#31000072) Homepage
    I can't wait to see what my favorite cartoon characters are doing day to day, when they're not starring in films/television.
  • by starglider29a (719559) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:50PM (#31000120)
    Enactors learn that the report couldn't be true. Slow news day makes up news. Enactors actually commit acts which they re-enact as news. Political assassinations, for example. Private company fakes moon landing... the works...
  • by Jesus_Corpse (190811) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:54PM (#31000198)

    Although from a technological point of view it is very interesting, a lot of details missing from the regular videos need to be 'made up' for the reconstruction. I think that's a dangerous move, as the viewer may base its opinion on video footage.

    • by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:00PM (#31000278)
      Exactly. Someone already tagged this "idle", but I think it should really be "yro", because this opens up the possibility for mass-market real-time "Wag The Dog" scenarios.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by maxume (22995)

        Have you seen one of their reconstructions? It offers no credibility that is not already carried by a (misleading?) verbal description.

        • by jeffmeden (135043)

          People tune into what they want to see, fake or real, and if you tell them it's "news" then not only does it entertain but it satisfies what little intellectual desire they manifest. "Editorialized" video is just the next step on the march to edutainews channels that are completely wrong in everything they report, but are watched and believed thanks to the complete suppression of the will to seek out unbiased, factual sources. Why not? It sure is easier to be told what to believe than to put the effort i

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by natehoy (1608657)

          There's a big difference between a misleading verbal description and a misleading reconstruction. The human mind is more likely to accept and believe something it's seen over something it's heard.

          A lot of it depends on the quality of the "reconstruction" or "enhancement". An adjustment of just a few pixels in certain news shots could turn a story completely around. "Is that a plasma cannon from Unreal Tournament that Ghandi is holding up? I always thought that was a spinning wheel."

          Adding a few special

          • by maxume (22995)

            Have you actually seen their work, or are you just explaining how compelling you think it is?

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by natehoy (1608657)

              It doesn't have to be particularly compelling. I could make a static pie chart and "explode" some small minority of the pie chart to make it look bigger, and mention specifically how small a percentage it represents, and I'll have a room full of audience members with a significant percentage who think the number is much bigger than it really is.

              If anything, cartoony reconstructions are (for a while) going to be more compelling because they are a novelty. And many people won't believe them at a conscious l

    • by khallow (566160)
      I have to disagree. The Tiger Woods incident, for example, begged for a reconstruction based on very little detail.
      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        Did it now? Really? Where is your rendered news video footage of the incident (represented by a humble looking man in jeans and a t-shirt) begging at the knees of Jimmy Lei (in a heroic suit of white, shining armor)? Until then, I won't believe you.

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Dangerous? Why not a medium for plain propaganda? Why just report that some foreing country authorities met, when you can see them in the meeting, maybe eating something that your religion forbids or telling jokes about your country? And that just about international policies, think it being used about your rival political party or justifying some unpopular move.

      Heck, if this gets a bit more realistic we could totally buy that we landed in Pandora just to preserve their ecology taking out some dirty metal b
    • by jfengel (409917) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:09PM (#31000412) Homepage Journal

      I think that's a dangerous move, as the viewer may base its opinion on video footage.

      As opposed to now, where viewers are only to happy to base their opinions on nothing whatsoever.

      It's six of one, really. It's disappointing how easily viewers are manipulated. You could stick a flashing RECONSTRUCTION over the footage, and they're still going to come out convinced that they were right there when it happened.

      And worse... they'll hold the same opinion, almost as strongly, if you just tell it to them.

    • Although from a technological point of view it is very interesting, a lot of details missing from the regular videos need to be 'made up' for the reconstruction. I think that's a dangerous move, as the viewer may base its opinion on video footage.

      If Barry Hussein Obama isn't a secret muslim, then why come I have this computer animation of him praying on a carpet in the oval office?!?!!?!? The facts make up themselves!

    • viewer may base its opinion on video footage.

      "May" ... it seems that almost everyone DOES. In fact, it seems many people base their opinions on movies in theaters. I have no doubt they base opinions on video footage (animated or not) when they see news, far more than any actual facts that may (or may not) be recited by the newscaster...

      • Yes, you're right.. However, when people SEE something happen in a video they're probably more likely to believe it than when a newscaster says it. The brain processes this information in a different way.
        On the other hand, the FOX/CNN have commercial interest as well, so exciting news will generate more revenue. So maybe the speculation just shifts from the news channels to this commercial company

        • However, when people SEE something happen in a video they're probably more likely to believe it than when a newscaster says it. The brain processes this information in a different way.

          Agreed. Most people seem to "observe" things that visually far more than aurally.

          And yes, Fox, CNN, and pretty much all news groups have a commercial interest in garnering viewers, so exciting news definitely generates more revenue...

          Which is why celebrity news, I suppose, seems so popular, too.

    • Aren't we used to seeing reenactments using live actors? This is just taking it one step forward, offering a faster, more affordable service. I say give them some time to improve the facial animations (I'm thinking http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLiX5d3rC6o [youtube.com] ) and it'll really take off.
  • It's not news, it's news branded entertainment!
    (or is that entertainment branded news?) ...not that we are aren't knee deep already... but, seriously?!

  • The basic idea isn't new.

    The Evening Graphic's tabloid reality [stepno.com] of the twenties was "staged, faked and mostly naked."

    Radio's The March of Time [radiohof.org] used its resident company of actors to vividly recreate events that couldn't be broadcast live.

    • by taustin (171655)

      "Staged, faked and mostly naked."

      Isn't that the corporate slogan for Faux News?

  • by jjoelc (1589361)

    ...Using state of the art technology... [youtube.com]

    This is what it would have looked like if the plane had crashed into a school building full of bunny rabbit!

  • by mi (197448)

    If, for whatever reason, it will ever begins to matter to me, who delivers the news, rather than what the news is, I'll pick the Naked News [nakednews.com] over anything "animated", thank you very much.

  • If it's anything like the Conan O'Brien animation [youtube.com] I look forward to getting 100% of my news this way.
  • Remember "A Current Affair?" Tabloid TV at its nadir. Apparently, this guy is trying to sink even lower. He didn't get the memo that this sort of thing was so "been there, done that" two decades ago.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Current_Affair_(U.S._TV_series) [wikipedia.org]

    • by LanMan04 (790429)

      Oh god, that "wa-CHUNG!!" sound of the pyramid flying onto the screen is FOREVER seared into my brain. Heaven help us.

  • by idontgno (624372) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:16PM (#31000498) Journal
    Malcom McDoohanigan, Director of the MiniTrue, and Big Brother and I approve of this technology. DoublePlusGood!
  • News agencies should be reporting, not making up the news.
  • Fox News will be your first customer.
  • This should make fabricated news more believable!

    Win/win? /facepalm

  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:21PM (#31000570)
    Number 10. Carmack and Romero fist fight
    Number 9. Woz sex with Kathy Griffin
    Number 8. A series of tubes, not a big truck
    Number 7. Wesley Crusher sucked into a warp drive
    Number 6. Ballmer doing Dancing with the Stars to the 'Developers Developers Developers Developers' remix
    Number 5. Darl McBride being force fed into a wood chipper by the guys from Fargo
    Number 4. Stallman and Schneier as banjo dueling Santas
    Number 3. Cowboy Neal
    Number 2. 10,000 Anonymous Cowards hacked to bits by the 300 Spartans yelling "This is Slashdot!"

    And the Number one re-enactment wish for Slashdot: Duke Nukem Forever
  • The tiger woods thing was funny as hell, saw it a couple days after the "reports" were in, this will be great for trash tv and tabloid journalisim I suppose but I really think that the new legitimate news sources out there should really step away from this. It looks more like a way to really get into hot water as they seem to be created based on their interpretation of events rather than actual factual information. Initial opinion and actual findings tend to vary greatly.

  • When I first saw the headline, I thought to myself, y'know, if what they were doing was doing an animated news program as in making a series of hand-drawn cel animations for the various stories and anchorpeople, as well as reasonably well-drawn though still simplified and stylized backgrounds accurate to the locations in which the news takes place, AND keep it a relatively serious program, THAT would impress the hell out of me. Granted, this would partly be due to the sheer technical infeasibility of the o

  • Crap. (Score:5, Informative)

    by MaWeiTao (908546) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @04:00PM (#31001102)

    I remember when this guy's magazine, Next Magazine, was introduced in Taiwan. It was basically a sensationalist tabloid style rag. The magazine's big thing was shock. They ran stories which graphic photos of dramatic accidents, high-profile murders and sex scandals. Or at least they went as far as they could get away with, which was pretty far. They were also notorious for running stories which turned out to be untrue. If I remember correctly they were one of the originals to run the story of people in China supposedly eating unborn fetuses. It turned out it was all staged as a statement by some artist.

    This new concept seems designed to skirt the sensors. However, I'm curious to know if this guy has been inspired by others. A couple of years ago I found Taiwanese magazines publishing illustrations of crimes to depict what had happened. Except that they get comically gratuitous with what they depict. It was so absurd I had to clip a few of these to show some friends in the states. In one case a girl was about to get raped and instead offers to perform fellatio on the rapist instead. When he's done his business and leaves, she takes the "evidence", spits it out in a napkin, and takes it to the police. This was all conveniently illustrated in detail, the girl on her knees with the guy standing in front her, and the girl spitting out the stuff. While this technique has been applied to many kinds of stories, predictably, the majority involve sex crimes of one sort or another.

    I think news networks have already been running similar cartoons and the Taiwanese government has gotten involved to deal with this. It's pretty much a blatant violation of broadcast rules, but it's pretty easy to dance around the rules there. I'm sure many will argue free speech, but the think here is that this is not driven by desire to inform the public. It's driven by a desire to shock and titillate to boost ratings. People will definitely complain about how indecent it is, but they're all going to happily tune in anyway. It wont be long, however, until this guy no longer has a monopoly on this sort of thing. Everyone will be quick to copy this, at least until the government puts a final stop to this.

    • It is not a requirement of free speech that it "inform the public." 99% of all communication always has been and always will be bullshit and pornography. An illustration of a girl giving a blow job is less obscene than most political coverage, for example, and in this case is quite educational for young women on how to mitigate rape and responsibly implicate their assailants.
    • by Dirtside (91468)

      This new concept seems designed to skirt the sensors.

      That's impossible! No magazine that small has a cloaking device.

    • I start reading them when I was 10 years old in Hong Kong, and that was 1995. Little bit too "colorful", but more or less expose stories that are "hard to discover". Now here in the U.S. I still shell out $8 per issue to buy the Next Magazine (HK version). And don't forget they come out once per WEEK.

  • I had heard about the accident, but had no idea what really happened. Having now watched that thing I totally know what went down. Not that it makes it any more meaningful.
  • Prior art (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SteveFoerster (136027)

    How is this philosophically different from courtroom sketch artists?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mhajicek (1582795)
      Courtroom sketches don't really show anything happening, at least not anything controversial. They're just pictures of people standing around talking. I would say there's a fair amount of liability in this "animated news". If you show someone doing something based on hearsay, and you can't prove it happened, you could get slammed for slander. That could even include your depiction of a bystander gawking at the incident.
  • How long will it take before someone is convicted because of one of these reenactments?

    Mr. Burns, you are hereby sentenced to 10 years in prison for selling Homer to the North Koreans.

    • by mhajicek (1582795)
      Come on, Mr Burns would never be convicted. He can buy too many good lawyers. He could probably buy the judge too.
  • LOL the xtranormal.com bits on Red Eye are better

  • by uglyMood (322284) <dbryant@atomicdeathray.com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:03PM (#31003128) Homepage

    After the Cunard ocean liner Lusitania was torpedoed by the German U-Boat U-20 in May, 1915, the great Winsor McCay was asked to animate the disaster. This was not a minor film; McCay was not only the best animator alive, he had invented the medium himself. It was released in 1918 and used as part of the ongoing anti-German propaganda effort.

    Curiously, even this 92-year-old pioneering classic demonstrates the dangers of using animation based on incomplete, mistaken or biased reportage and presenting it as fact. The film depicts the liner being hit by two torpedoes, when in fact the second explosion was internal. The Lusitania was described as an innocent passenger liner, but the Germans contend to this day that she was transporting far more munitions than were recorded in her manifest, and was thus a legitimate target. The English have not helped their cause any in the intervening years: they did their best to destroy the wreck with depth charges in the 1950s. More recently, millions of rounds of unrecorded ammunition have been found by divers at the site, lending credence to the German claims.

    On a mildly related note, around this time the Hearst papers (and others, but Hearst was notorious for it) routinely used artists and retouched photos to "reenact" extremely lurid depictions of crimes, with helpful arrows and labels presenting their suppositions as fact. This practice was continued for several decades, and Lord knows how many innocent people were sent to prison or executed because of the bias these "reconstructions" introduced into society.

    It was bad then. It's bad now. This is a dangerous path to tread.

  • when it was called "The Running Man."

    ...aaaaand activate traveling matte.

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