Sweeping the Nation

Gareth Bale celebrates with team mates as Wales qualify for Euro 2016

Image: ITV Credit: PA Images

After a staggering success in the Euros, Welsh football saw a surge in their world rankings. Not only creating wide spread national pride in a sport not usually associated with Wales, but also creating worldwide hype about a country previously overlooked. After the Euros was over I managed to go on a short trip, whilst I was away people who asked where I was from actually knew where it was….all but one knew because of Wales’ presence in the Euros. I was staggered at how one tournament could influence so many people’s knowledge and perception of a country.

Wales’ digital visibility rose tremendously throughout the tournament, and continued to do so after. Through their unpredicted performance, the team representing Wales football managed to create an unprecedented impact on so many people, football fans or not.  From travelling fans, to those watching at home, many Welsh and British football supporters were promoting Welsh football through the digital sphere. Allowing the underdogs to grow in popularity.

The Euros had a huge impact on Wales culturally and creatively. As it is widely known Wales is predominantly known for its rugby, and is an aspect which plays a tremendous part in the countries culture. Originating from the valleys and the mining industry, the roots grow deep for rugby in Wales. To now be seen as a country which has talent in both sports created many discussions about the culture of Wales. There appeared to be numerous debates on whether football was now the national game of Wales, overtaking rugby! I argue not, but believe we should celebrate the success of both sports and be proud to have such talent! This also goes to show  how success in sport can help boost the digital presence of a nation.

Throughout the tournament there was an abundance of hash tags and social media campaigns to promote individual teams. However the importance of getting these slogans right proved to be paramount. A variety of firms were drafted in from the creative industry to generate these ideas. The English football team chose to have “One team, One dream” as their slogan, which unfortunately received little appreciation. On the other hand, Wales adopted the phrase “Together Stronger” which promoted a sense of inclusion and embracement. This phrase then became a prominent hash tag throughout the Euros, enabling a digital focus and increasing links to the team. Wales as a nation seemed more sociable and had a strengthening community as a result of online sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It appeared that everyone was behind the Welsh team and this arose because of the use of social media and the digital sphere.

Although this demonstrates a sense of unity within Wales, there were still many football fans who were in the dark when it came to the social media. Many places in Wales find that access to broadband  is a rare treat! It has been found that Everest has better broadband than some rural Welsh Villages! So although the presence of Wales online was surging, many people in the country couldn’t necessarily be a part of this. You could argue that people within Wales are already a great part of the community, but being excluded from the hype which was occurring digitally about Wales would have been a shame to miss out on. With farming still being a strong part of the culture in Wales, much of the population live in rural areas. It has been said numerous times that Wales is evolving into a digital nation, but this can only be said for a small proportion of the country.

 

 

 

 

Thrown in the Deep End of the Pula

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Image: WeAreInsert (https://weareinsert.com/event/outlook-festival/)

To say my first ‘real’ festival was incredible is an understatement! Having only ever been to our local North Walian festival when I was around 16 years old, to jump on a plane and end up in the stunning Croatia, attending one of the most understated festivals in Europe, is something I’ll never regret. My love of bass music is something which has developed dramatically over the past five years, but with hectic summers my schedule didn’t allow much room for festivals. However, I was determined to make last summer count. Tying in with a trip to Prague and Amsterdam, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to experience the sensation that is Outlook; a festival which perfectly combines a variety of bass music with the historic culture of Croatia.

The festival itself began in 2008 and was appropriately named Outlook. However the roots of the festival come back to Leeds, one of the most inventive British cities for music development. If you are a fan of bass music you will be familiar with one particular event which has been influential in the success of bass music promotion. This is where Outlook originated from, and is known as SubDub. Established in 1998, SubDub has expanded rapidly since, branching out to different areas and stages. Showing how the culture in Leeds has broadened and developed across seas. Tying in the music creativity born in the North of England with the continental climate of Croatia. Not only this but the organisers come from the UK attempting to combine the British festival, with that of the abroad. Clearly doing this successfully as Outlook was awarded the ‘Best Overseas Festival’ in 2011.

Being located in Fort Punta Christo, Outlook offers a picturesque landscape to host a festival. With smaller Islands off the coast, Christo provides a perfect venue for the increasingly popular boat parties. If you aren’t a fan of massive stages and packed crowds, or fancy trying something different, the boat party is the place for you. Each boat offers a more individual and select playlist of bass music.

Outlook itself is set in Pula on the North West Coast of Croatia, creating a perfect combination of holiday and festival. This has clearly been picked up by British festival goers as there has been a heavy increase in attendance since 2011, so if you’re looking for a British festival with a twist this is your ticket. Not only are the surroundings beautiful, but the Mediterranean climate offers something unique from British held festival. No need for those wellies or rainmacs, but plenty of use for those bikinis and shades!

With SubDub being an event promoting bass music, Outlook also took on this genre but added a few subgenres of its own. One being Reggae, which fits the setting of Outlook perfectly. There was  a particular act which appeared to define Outlook for me. This being the incredible Damian Marley. Born to the legend himself, Bob Marley, Damian replicates the raw talent performed by his father, but adds a contemporary twist. Junior Gong aka Damian Marley, was the headline act on the opening night performing in the incredible Roman Amphitheatre in the centre of Pula. Creating a unique combination of historic architecture with contemporary reggae music, marrying two extremely different cultures.

This festival demonstrates the importance of the creative industry in Britain, not only in creating and ensuring the success of events such as Outlook. But also in bringing together various different cultures to create something remarkable. So if you’re’ looking for something to make your summer, I couldn’t recommend this festival highly enough!

 

 

The Magic of The Minack

 

The Minack Theatre is a bespoke cultural offering and an absolute must-see attraction when visiting Cornwall. Where else in the country can you sit in an open-air theatre, carved into the granite cliffs that overlook the stunning panorama backdrop of Porthcurno Bay?

Following a recent visit to this idyllic location, I have compiled together the top reasons why the Minack Theatre holds such cultural significance and is a theatre like no other.

The History

The enchanting history of the Minack Theatre lends itself to the remarkable experience, creating a cultural experience like no other. A visit to the theatre by day provides an insight into the fascinating history of how Rownea Cade, a visionary theatre lover, moved tons of granite over the winter of 1931 and 1932 to build the foundations of the theatre that stands today, with only the help of her gardener. The very first performance was performed on the 16th August 1932, where members of the local village community staged a performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. From this unprecedented success, the theatre has grown and grown, to the point that today the theatre stages 20 plays in the summer season from Easter to September, all of which are a sell out success at the box office.

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Photo credit: Cornwall Guide

b.pngA Midsummers Night’s Dream 1929

Photo Credit: The Minack Theatre

The Architecture

The theatre itself is as enchantingly archaeological as it gets. Made entirely of granite building stones, the theatre has the Atlantic Ocean as an interchangeable background to the sun-spilled terraces where the performances are staged. The views are absolutely breathtaking. Prepared to be as fixated on the stunning surroundings as the incredible performances. And if you can’t get enough of these beautiful ambiances, Porthcurno beach is just around the corner if you fancy a visit.

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The Performances

Whether you want to soak up some of Cornwall’s finest weather during the day, pasty in one hand, Cornish cider in the other, or enjoy the gorgeous sunset over Porthcurno Bay at a matinée performance with some wine and cheese, the theatre offers a diverse range of performances to be enjoyed day or night. Performances range to suit that of a family audience such as Hansel and Gretel, to other productions which include an annual performance of a Shakespeare play as well as musicals and comedies. Examples of current performances for 2017 include Hansel and Gretel, Pride and Prejudice and the Vicar of Dibley.

4.pngPhoto Credit: The Minack Theatre

The Location

Better known for being the home of surfing, pasties and ice creams, (also very important attributes), Cornwall as a hub for cultural activity is often forgotten about. When we think of creative cities we typically think of London and its exciting buzz of creative activity. Or perhaps Glasgow, the music capital of Scotland. But actually, Cornwall has on offer an increasing amount of creative activity that replicates that of a large city, making Britain’s most southerly country a unique cultural region that sets it aside from anywhere else in the UK. 1Photo Credit: Visit Cornwall

Cornwall as a Cultural Capital

It is any surprise then that Cornwall is set on becoming European Capital of Culture in 2023. An ambitious move you may think, but with its unique environment that allows culture and creative activity to flourish, what’s to say Cornwall cannot succeed in obtaining the bid for European Capital of Culture by the end of the decade. After all Cornwall is thriving with cultural industries that offer wonderful diversity of creative talent such as the Tate St Ives and Newlyn Art Gallery. Cornwall is also home of the renowned Kneehigh Theatre Company that tours all over the country. These cultural industries combined with the magic that is the Minack Theatre aid in cementing Cornwall’s place within the cultural sector.

2 Photo Credit: Cornwall Live

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Participatory Marketing

Yello Brick is a successful, creative marketing agency based in Cardiff that creates engaging and participatory experiences for brands and organisations. One example of their work is “Eyespy” – a multiple location street game involving 12 indoor and outdoor locations, performers, telephony technology and excited participants that have two and a half hours in which to emerge themselves in the narrative of the game.

All of this, as exciting and innovative as it sounds, may cause some people to question its success. However, participatory marketing is not quite as new, as you may believe and has proved its efficiency long time ago.

 

History of participatory marketing

The idea of this marketing originated back in 1924 at a factory in Chicago called Howthorne. At the time researchers from Harvard and MIT were using the factory workers to test their productivity under different circumstances. The conditions they were put under would vary – brighter or shorter light, longer or shorter hours and even no light at all – working in complete darkness. No matter what conditions the workers were put under, test results would always come up showing improvement in productivity. Not only that, the workers were becoming advocates to whatever it was that was tested on them. Pretty soon the researchers realised that it was not the tests that were manipulating the results, it was the effect of participating in something – people enjoyed that so much, they would become more productive. Thus the “Howthorne” effect was borne. After 1924 the concept slowly started changing and evolving more and more.

Basic timeline of participatory marketing

1930 – Supermarket co-development

1979 – Customer source of productivity

1989 – Customising consumer

1996 – Customers contribute to quality

2000 – Active role

2007 – DEWmocracy

But what exactly is it?

By definition participatory marketing is “ A collaboration between the consumer and the company, where input from the consumer is just as valuable as that from the company” It is also referred to co-creation, crowd sourcing, consumer-generated content or co-development. The basic idea behind it is that marketing is created with the people, rather than just targeted at them. It has many different forms such as tech challenges, online brainstorming or just word of mouth networks. It has been estimated, by P&G, that participatory marketing is five times more effective than standard marketing and can boost sales up to 10%. The main reason behind it? It stimulates key growth factor- recommendations. It has other benefits as well, such as cost reduction, strengthening of customer relationships by empowering the consumers and revealing unmet market needs. There are a number of risks that should be taken into account, depending on the campaign – secrecy, product feasibility and ownership in intellectual property rights are a few.

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DEWmocracy

In November 2007, PeopsiCo launched a new Mountain Dew marketing campaign called DEWmocracy that was to become a famous example for how extremely successful participatory marketing can be. Designed in three phases, the campaign wanted consumers to create a new, permanent flavour for the drink. The first phase involved a short film, a website and an online role-playing game. The movie would explain the purpose of the campaign and the game, while the actual game would involve people choosing flavours, brand designs and names for the potential new drink. 700 000 individual users spend about 27 minutes on the designated website, which proved a definite success for the brand. Phase two began in January 2008 and three final drinks were selected – Supernova, Revolution and Voltage, that were later released in shops all over North America and people started voting for their favourites, as part of phase three.

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Just another ‘yello brick’ in the Wall: A Meditation on the Future of Creativity

The wild west of contemporary creative marketing has enabled the innovation and collapse of several companies, and nobody has made light of this more than the team at yello brick. Their ethos provides a service to companies and brands who want to reimburse their image, with either digital or physical campaigns.

Established in June 2012, the secret to their success is through the elucidation of campaigns through narrative. There are countless examples, but one worth focusing on is their work on the multi-platform game Reverie. It focuses on the blending of different layers of narrative mediums, such as game, theatre and technology. In fact, Reverie was so successful that it netted yello brick a commendation during the BAFTA Cymru Game Awards for Technical Achievement.

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A brief summary graph of the elements that make up Reverie. Image Source: yello brick

According to Alison John, producer at yello brick, over 250+ street players were involved and 4000 people were engaged online. It involved a mixture of advanced mobile phone interaction and ‘RFID’ technologies over 12 sparse locations in Cardiff Bay. It also utilised social media sites such as Twitter and emails sent by the ‘main character’ to participants She notes that two of the key aspects to the success of Reverie was:

“Our approach is centred around the audience. People want to create connections with what they see, buy and use.”

 

“Unlike traditional theatre where audiences are passive, Reverie encouraged its audience to be active throughout the production.”

 

The teaser trailer of the event also had its own website, which can be viewed below:

 

 

According to the official yello brick website, this level of interactivity and the combination of the digital and physical realms meant that the show itself sold three times as much as previous shows! In this humble blogger’s opinion, this trend of creative marketing is indicative of the future of the industry itself.

In the current economic climate of Brexit, we’ve got to rely on the industries that are currently pulling in the big bucks. Just last month, the BBC published an article on how trade bodies believe that the creative industry is the key to economic success. The Creative Industries Federation themselves stressed the economic benefit, that currently the industry supports 2.9m jobs which is a huge rise of 5.1% between 2014 and 2015!

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An info-graphic depicting the statistics of the UK Creative Industry in 2016. Image Source: thecreativeindustries.co.uk

The federation’s chief executive, John Kampfner, exclaimed that the government will soon need to realise that the creative industry:

 

“”will be as important to future economic success as traditional industries, such as cars or oil and gas”.

 

In the case of Reverie this may seem like a mere pipe dream. But alas, my dear reader, even now similar real-life multi-platform adventure games are seeing there slow and steady rise to the top of the creative industry! Take for example the extremely popular Escape Rooms, which currently has branches all over Britain and has several different themes and puzzles to complete!

 

I think we’ve got to admit something folks. Companies like yello brick and Escape Rooms are the future of the creative industries. In my opinion, it feels like the resurgence of the table-top, a rejection of the over digitisation of communication and entertainment without necessarily removing it altogether. I think we can look forward to seeing more adventurous titles like Reverie in the future! (Still waiting on The Crystal Maze though…)

 

You can visit the official Reverie website here: reveriethegame.co.uk

 

Or you can visit the official yello brick website here: http://yellobrick.co.uk

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Daring adventurers on the hunt, following instructions of Reverie’s main character. Image Source: yello brick

Featured Image Source: yello brick

Cardiff’s Creative Collaboration Through Independent Venue Week

Cardiff has become a hub of creative flair, showcased through a number of different platforms and events. A particularly successful feature of Cardiff’s creative scene has been its involvement with Independent Venue Week.

Independent Venue Week is funded by the Arts Council and celebrates the spirit of independence and culture of live music at small venues around the UK. Lasting 7 days, the event allows artists to experience playing live in cool, funky venues that draw in big audiences. This included 5 venues in Cardiff: Buffalo Bar, Clwb Ifor BachGwdihw, 10 Feet Tall and Undertone. All these venues have a unique vibe and lively atmosphere but most importantly, a forward-thinking music scene.

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Independent Venue Week: Love Buzz take to the stage

A large amount of support for this event has been gained, evidenced by Frank Turner who emphasises the importance of local venues:

“Without small, independent venues, there’d be no small, independent bands, and without them there’d be no big acts either; these places are the lifeblood of any music scene, and any music fan should care about them and support Independent Venue Week.”

Indeed, by working with Independent Venue Week, it brings together Cardiff’s local businesses, creative musicians and music lovers. Additionally, Cardiff is able to network with many other creative cities that are also involved with Independent Venue Week, creating a nationwide creative collaboration.

These collaborative ideas are reinforced by the Creative Cardiff Network, who suggest that by working together “we can make Cardiff the most creative place it can be”. It is this collaboration and sharing of ideas that Creative Cardiff promotes through events which “encourage more innovation and creativity in our city”. Independent Venue Week has certainly achieved this aim, evidenced by the popularity and success of the week-long event. It is these experiences that are driving Cardiff’s creative ambition to turn the city into a “capital of creativity”.

The Welsh Government are also behind Cardiff’s creative aims and focus particularly on the creation of digital creative content to grow alongside industries and businesses. This is especially important for small businesses, like the Cardiff bars that are involved with Independent Venue Week, as it allows them to “compete with the largest and the best” of the companies (Ron Jones, Creative Industries Sector Panel Chair).

These interactive and creative business models can be seen by the independent bars in Cardiff. They all have a strong social media presence to engage with their audiences and post regularly. This interactivity is key for digital creative success, a must in the age of social media. This, of course, is aiding Cardiff’s creative aims and in turn, promotes the various events that symbolise the cities progressive approach.

Alongside Cardiff’s venues supporting its creative ambition online, the Creative Industries team within the Welsh Government are also especially enthusiastic. Keeping Cardiff’s citizens up to date with all things creative, their Twitter feed engages with their followers to get involved through the hashtags  

It is this continued collaborative force of not only Independent Venue Week but also the various events held in Cardiff’s local venues and the Welsh Government that is driving Cardiff to be one of the most creative cities in the UK. We applaud you, Cardiff!

Check out Cardiff’s bustling music venues or see what they’re up to online…

And don’t forget to have a listen to the Independent Venue Week music on Soundcloud!

 

 

Photo credits:

Featured Image – By Independent Venue Week – Copyright © 2011 – gained permission through Laura Bradley (Independent Venue Week Press and PR)

Love Buzz performing – By Paul Hudson (Independent Venue Week: Love Buzz at the Horn [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)%5D, via Flickr

How Zootopia changed the animation game (for animals!)

I don’t have to tell you that Zootopia had one of the best animated film in 2016 because the film already has an Oscar to prove that. What I can fascinate you with though, is the creative and technical work behind-the-scenes that might change the way you watch and appreciate Disney or any another animated film for that matter.

Zootopia is your typical mammal metropolis with residents that are 100% clothes-wearing and upright walking and talking animals. Like any world, it is comprised of various neighbourhoods from meadows to snow and to sand which mesh together to form a community where no matter who you are, you can be anything.

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Zootopia (Image Credits: Disney 2016)

Visually, the film is delightfully outstanding and evidently shows how far the animation industry has come since the hand-drawn-frame-by-frame days. Sadly, while the film has been soundly celebrated for its original, well-rounded story and lovable characters, the aesthetics and meticulous effort in detailing have not.

With a thriving inspiration and ambitious goal to push animation technology and innovation, the film brings animal animation to the next level. Featuring over 64 animal species (around 800,000 character builds), each animal species has been extensively researched into to understand their specific movement and characteristics. Luckily for animators, in this day of digital-age, most animations are now computer generated. Still, it doesn’t mean extra time to sit back and watch the tech do the work. For a team of animators and directors, 18 months were spent studying animal behaviour in the Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World and safaris of wild Kenya, in order develop an accurate and realistic representation of each species.

Of course, with so many different animals builds, textures and colours, the team had to find quick and simple technological adjustments even if it did mean taking 550 people and 5 years to bring the film to life. Pre-existing software was continuously built upon to make the talking animals life-like and more realistic. But dreams to push animated technology meant creating new programmes that didn’t already exist.

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Animation. (Image Credit: Disney 2016)
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Final fur & flesh added. (Image Credit Disney 2016)

For Zootopia, fur and hair was its game-changer. Different fur-types were studied under a microscope in various lighting setups to see how different fur-types reacted to light and make the animals look as accurate as possible.  A giraffe from the film had 9 millions strands of hair. And a mouse? 480,000. That beats Elsa’s 400,000 strands of golden locks. To master fur manipulation, each piece of hair had to also be manipulated individually. Animators and engineers created a specialised fur shader program ‘i-Groom’  – a never-before used fur controlling tool which would brush and shape individual hairs after being applied to the design.

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i-Groom Fur Generation (Image Credit: FXGuide)

An imaginary underlayer was added to give the animal ‘plushness’ – the illusion of fur density which made each character that much fuzzier and realistic. Combined with path-tracing, a technique that predicts how light will move between the fur, these techniques are what makes the bunnies so fluffy, otters oily and every animal so cuddly and real.

To develop each character further, flesh simulator PhysGrid was introduced and also extensively developed to mimic muscle and fat movements beneath the skin for each character, giving them a natural build and shape and expanding their life-like and lovable characterisation.

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Visual Development for flesh and muscle simulation of ‘Clawhouser’ the Cheetah (Photo Credit: Disney) (2016)

Between enhancing existing technology and creating new ones, Zootopia establishes new standards in replication real and naturalistic animal characters. However, the film itself is also one to be praised. Hidden beneath layers of innocent humour and cute, cuddly characters, Zootopia is harsh but profound social commentary, that shines light upon the dangers of stereotyping and discrimination in a multicultural society. Bright, inventive and very colourful, Zootopia sparks inspiration towards budding animators and continues to push the already high-bars within the animation industry, while continuously evolving the art of animation.

For more behind-the-scenes animation work, check out Fusion’s documentary ‘Imagining Zootopia’

Header image credits to Disney 2016.

Why transmedia storytelling is so important – as seen through Overwatch.

As it is coming up to the one year anniversary of Overwatch’s initial release (24th May), I thought I’d look back on the game that made a self-proclaimed non-gamer like me spend all of my very limited free time playing this game.

Overwatch is a multiplayer first-person shooter video game for both PC and console created by Blizzard, where you play as one of 24 currently playable characters in competitive 6-person team shooting matches.

overwatch characters.pngThe game encourages us as players to join in the battle, stating ‘the world could use a hero like you’. (Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment 2017)

The addicting FPS has just recently amassed 30 million registered players, but what is more impressive is that even before the game went online, there were already over 10 million people who were on its servers, eagerly awaiting its release. The great interest in Overwatch before and after its official release has been explained by many as due to its engagement with transmedia storytelling, especially through its animated shorts that gave viewers a richer understanding for the Overwatch characters: why they are who they are, and how they tie into the over-arching narrative story within the Overwatch universe.

My personal favourite short without a doubt is ‘Dragons’ that introduced “one of Overwatch’s biggest rivalries” between brothers Hanzo and Genji.

It’s still hard to believe that the short was only just over eight minutes long, yet managed to illustrate the beautiful setting of Hanamura (which is a map playable on the game) and both Hanzo and Genji’s game play styles and abilities in action while simultaneously exploring the complexities of the brothers’ difficult history and relationship.

The short flawlessly packed in all the necessary elements for a feature length film – the internal and external conflicts, the dramatic reveal, and of course the epic fight scene when both characters reach their maximum potential and use their ‘ultimates’, filling the screen with roaring luminous dragons in a great climactic event. It also boasts some unreal graphics and animation, which would give even animated film giant Pixar a run for its money.

(Image Credits: PlayOverwatch/Youtube)

The thing is, Blizzard as primarily a video game developer had no need to create these shorts – players could get to know the characters, at least on a surface level, through the gaming experience itself, through skins, voice-lines and interactions with other characters. But, as James Waugh, director of story development at Blizzard, says “At Blizzard, we don’t just make games – we build worlds”.

With Overwatch, Blizzard wanted to make sure the shorts made the universe feel alive, and that the characters were more than just an avatar; that they were telling their own stories that contributed to a larger living world, giving the game’s players a real reason to fight.

Blizzard has gone above and beyond in telling the story of Overwatch, releasing other transmedia communications such as graphic novels, virtual comics and Easter eggs within the game itself for players to continue discovering and piecing together, providing a deeper connection with game character for players by creating a “realm of imagination that you step into” and further building on and constructing the Overwatch universe and its character’s intricate personalities and life narratives.

Overwatch’s success is well earned, as it has designed and developed itself into more than just merely a game; Overwatch is the result of an incredible feat of creativity and the coming together of multiple creatives from different sectors, accomplishing great transmedia storytelling that immerses its players in their fictional world, giving them reasons to keep coming back for more.

Is There ‘Something There That Wasn’t There Before’?

 A childhood favourite, a kind of messed-up love story, homage to bookworms everywhere — it could only be Beauty and the Beast.

So… was the remake nostalgia filled dream? Or should you blow the dust off your old VHS and stick with the good old classics? Because the true question is, can you really ever out preform anything from the 90’s?

Nostalgia of course, is becoming big business within the film industry, and as successful as it may be – it also lives with an overwhelming amount of criticism. Disney began to capitalize on remaking their own classics in 2010 with ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and has since released, and planned countless others. For the most part, it seems as if Disney is using its economic advantage in order to refuel its best work, and in all honesty… seems a little lazy.

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Emma Watson was critiqued for her auto-tuned voice.

Its truly undeniable that the recreation of this film was not put together in a sloppy way, whilst watching and familiarising yourself with the cast it morphs and develops into a weird game of ‘where’s wally?’ except more; ‘where’s are the plethora of award winning actors?’ (Not as catchy, perhaps). Despite Emma Watson’s questionably auto-tuned rendition of ‘Something There’, the acting and actors within the remake are second to none – as are the CGI effects used throughout the film.
One of the most intercut details and aspects remains to be the talking furniture, the famous characters of Chip, Mrs. Potts, Lumière and Cogsworth amongst others, returned for what could only be described as captivatingly lifelike versions of their previous selves.

 

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That face you make when he won’t leave you alone. 

The transformation that this film was treated with however was not purely based on appearances, and yet looking at the changes that were made to the script, storyline and characters, things start to become…minimalistic. Whole scenes have been replicated, every single frame becoming a more finely tuned version of the original. An undoubted improvement to the original, and yet aren’t there always ways to improve something? The worry is remaining in a constant lapse of ‘remaking classics’ over and over.

Despite the 90’s nostalgia that comes with these remakes, they offer little in the way of originality. Perhaps if Disney were investing their time, energy and resources into new and innovative productions, the appreciation for the rejuvenation of older originals would be welcomed more warmly.

I cant deny, that whilst watching the film that us nineties babies will do anything less than love it, even if you despise Emma Watson, or if its been a while since you even watched a good old ‘Walt’ classic – the remake will re-ignite your passion for all things ‘Beauty and The Beast’ and suddenly you’ll be singing along to the new and improved auto-tuned Belle.

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The original ‘Mr. steal your girl’

All in all, it seems like were in the generation of the remake – and Disney seems to be the leader of the trend. Whilst these productions aren’t thrown together to any degree, Beauty and the Beast seemed ever so similar to the original, that the only thing changed is a bigger and better cast, production and set. There is only so far that ‘generation remake’ can go, and Disney will have no choice but to reinvent themselves and not their films at some point in the future – and it could ultimately be their downfall if they don’t get it right.

Oh and if you fancy yourself a chip mug of your own, you can pay a small fee of £14.99 here.

 

*All images sourced from Flickr.*

What the growth of Facebook means to journalism…

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, published a declaration article titled ‘Building a Global Community’ in February this year to outline long-term development plans for his world’s biggest social media platform. It seemed as if the manifesto was written in response to the recent criticism against Facebook that the social networking site has been partially responsible for fake news and the rise of populism in Europe and America. This long declaration indicated that Zuckerberg is now trying to become the world leader of humanitarianism. Based on the belief that most of today’s issues facing humanity require global responses, Zuckerberg writes:

‘In times like these, the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us’.

Zuckerberg outlines five key sections that need to be achieved in order for Facebook to become a global community in the next few decades:

  1. Supportive Community – Following the declining participation in traditional institutions such as local communities, Facebook is going to revitalise these important social infrastructure.
  2. Safe Community – Facebook is going to help people avoid harm and danger and offers support in the time of crisis for restoration.
  3. Informed Community – Facebook is going to achieve a society in which anyone can express his/her opinions while exposing themselves to new ideas to accelerate mutual understandings.
  4. Civically-engaged Community – Facebook is going to encourage civic participation in order to alter the situation in which only half the population participates in elections.
  5. Inclusive Community – Facebook is going to achieve an inclusive society, which is based on shared values and humanitarianism, transcending the differences in cultures and nations.

 

Optimism

Following this manifesto, as a user of Facebook, I’m now looking forward to seeing a further technical improvement on the platform as well as provision of new, convenient services. For example, as shown in the video below, Facebook can help people meet others who might share the same problem and establish social networks for mutual support to overcome various issues together. I expect that the development in the analytic quality, including AI can improve the accuracy of group recommendations as well as leading to many other functional improvements.

 

Pessimism

Having said that, I’m very concerned about the future of journalism given that Google and Facebook enjoy extreme domination over the digital advertising industry. When you consider the striking fact that Facebook generated a total profit of 8 billion dollars over the past 4 years, you can’t expect what the future financial devastation will be for journalism.

Following the rapid digitalisation of advertising industry, the revenue stream for journalism has been hugely damaged and the past decade saw closures of a number local newspapers. One of the important roles that used to be, and still are played by local media is to function as a social infrastructure that enables a supportive, safe, informed, civically-engaged and inclusive community, which is exactly what Facebook is now proposing to achieve.

If existing local media continue disappearing due to a growing number of people relying on Facebook instead for the provision of information, who will be a watchdog of the local authority and who will carry out investigative reporting? Unfortunately, I don’t think such question was adequately addressed in the letter from Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook has been testing various ways to coexist with journalism, but it still feels likely that local media will continue to vanish unless they make effective changes in their business model. Zuckerberg is not obliged to solve these issues for journalism, but given his excessive financial capability, his cooperation will be urgently necessary for media organisations. In other words, He’s the one who can destroy journalism, but he’s also the one who can save it.

 

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/27620885@N02/5262946223