Sunday, December 07, 2008

An Army of Wrists

Two of Facebook's corporate partners, Intel and Dell, have been promoting Mass Animation, a crowd-sourced effort aimed at the popular ethos of participatory culture that is intended to include average Internet users in the highly specialized practices associated with 3-D computer animation, despite the fact that CGI content represents the results of arcane knowledge of the peculiarities of sophisticated 3-D software packages and apprenticeship experiences in niche fields in computer animation. How can what is almost a medieval guild system be brought to mass audiences? Videos on the site show the first-person pitch of former Sony executive Yair Landau to potential participants, who says that "there are so many talented people, like yourself, out there who may not have had a chance to work on a major feature film yet but really want to. And I thought that I would bring that opportunity to you no matter where you are in the world, no matter what stage of your talent development you're at." Would-be animators are urged to use the application to create five-minute CGI animated films with the soundtrack and storyboards that Mass Animation provides, and then online audience members can vote for winners in this wikified venture that promises to tell the best possible story collectively. Of course, cynics may wonder how much creativity these plug and play functions will really generate and what is motivating corporate sponsors to farm out digital labor.

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