In Hong Kong and Taiwan, yesterday's gruesome crime is today's digital cartoon.
Each day, more than 20 real-life crimes are re-enacted by an animation team for Apple Daily, a Taiwan-Hong Kong tabloid that markets the videos to mobile phone users. The new video service has already stirred backlash from the government, which fears the grisly re-enactments will violate privacy rights and corrupt youth. (Screenshot from website of Apple Daily's Taiwan edition)
In Taipei and Hong Kong, horrid crimes are no longer left for tabloid readers to imagine.
Crimes are now re-enacted by animators, who render the latest real-life carjackings and knifings into video game-quality digital cartoons.
The videos, as visually alluring as the Grand Theft Auto game series, are produced within hours. Recently, within one day of a police officer’s murder, the Apple Daily tabloids released a vivid re-enactment of the murder — capturing the perp’s haircut, the length of his blade and the torrent of blood spurting from the officer’s neck.
“People really want to watch stuff instead of reading,” said Simon Lee, CEO of multimedia for Apple Daily. The tabloids, which already attract Taiwan and Hong Kong readers with hardcore crime coverage in print, launched their “Motion News” in mid-November.
Some of the Chinese-language animations are posted online and can be viewed here. But the tabloids are mostly marketing the animations as mobile downloads, beamed into phones for about three cents per video under a low-cost subscription plan.
“Some people might have a hesitation about the truthfulness,” Lee said. “I debate them. Even if I write something, how true is that? We’ve been training [the animators] for two years to obtain every detail in the crime scene.”
But Apple Daily’s foray into digital gore has already riled the Taiwan government. Taipei Mayor has promised to fine Next Media, owner of Apple Daily’s Taiwan and Hong Kong editions, more than $15,500 for violating Taiwanese decency acts.
According to the The China Post, Chairwoman Bonnie Peng of Taiwan’s National Communications Commission said the videos “cannot actually be called news.” The commission has warned of further retribution, including blocking Next Media’s pending licenses to launch cable TV channels.
Apple Daily’s animations recreate police blotter items ranging from armed robbery to bizarre domestic disputes. For more than a year, the Apple Daily animators have built a library of digital knives, cars, buildings and people that can be tweaked and inserted into the recreations.
It takes only about two hours to create an animation and the tabloid attempts to produce between 20 and 30 each day. Beyond crime, the media group intends to churn out animations recreating court scenes, behind-the-scenes sports moments and medical procedures.
The roughly 300 animators work in what resembles a telemarketing call center. Each wears a headset used to banter back and forth with reporters and editors. They work using two monitors: one that displays tidbits about the crime and one that’s used to hurriedly recreate the incident.
Both the animators and reporters revel in an obsession over small details, Lee said. “They say, ‘The hair color isn’t like that. It’s darker. No, that guy is too tall or way too short.’”
A small number of readers have already objected to the service, complaining that animators could never perfectly render a horrid crime scene as it actually unfolded. Other readers, Lee said, find the cartoons uncomfortably graphic.
“People sometimes can’t handle the truth,” Lee said. “Culturally, for the generation who grew up with the internet, they know how to handle the truth. Some older people might find this too exciting. But even as they say this, they still consume our product.”
But the preliminary response, Lee said, has been overwhelmingly positive. The website’s traffic doubled on the first day the “Motion Videos” were posted.
Shortly after launching in 1995, Apple Daily’s racy Hong Kong edition was condemned by Chinese authorities. But through its relentless coverage of street violence, celebrities and auto accidents, it eventually became the second-largest circulation paper in the city. The Taipei edition was launched in 2003 to similar success.
The re-enactments, Lee said, are part of a larger strategy to wean readers off print and crank up the tabloids’ online and mobile phone offerings. “Let’s face it,” he said. “Newspapers are going downhill. And print is no longer the future.”
Through a licensing agreement, Lee said, roughly 70 percent of iPhones sold in Hong Kong are installed with an Apple Daily application that offers “Motion News.”
The tabloids eventually want to produce animations for Western newspapers, which may find it difficult to compete with Apple Daily’s up-and-running animation farms. Lee said he’s considering a “road show” to the U.S. to interest various news outlets.
Pressure from the United Patriots Front Stops Mosque Plan 2016-04-28 20:10
Pressure from the United Patriots Front appears to have killed off a mosque development in Narre Warren North.
The City of Casey council now looks likely to withhold planning approval for the development in a special meeting set for Tuesday night.
A council report, to be considered by councillors on Tuesday, recommends that the approval be blocked.
The mosque opponents’ cause has been helped by councillor ...
Police face questions over the influence of the Freemasons 2016-04-28 20:48
South Yorkshire Police today face questions over whether powerful 'secret society' the Freemasons held sway over the force at the time of Hillsborough.
Families of victims say that officers who were Masons were promoted into powerful positions despite being ill-equipped, including match commander David Duckenfield.
Duckenfield told the fresh inquests he had been a Freemason since 1975 and became head of his ...
England Bans its Own Flag to Avoid Offending Muslims 2016-04-27 2:23 St. George's Cross "racist" towards immigrants
Government officials said their city was ‘too multicultural’ to celebrate St George’s Day, England’s version of the 4th of July.
The council said that displaying the English flag may have been seen as “racist” towards immigrants.
Half of Western European men descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ 2016-04-27 2:09
Half of Western European men are descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ who sired a dynasty of elite nobles which spread throughout Europe, a new study has shown.
The monarch, who lived around 4,000 years ago, is likely to have been one of the earliest chieftains to take power in the continent.
He was part of a new order which emerged in ...
"Local Residents" Are Filmed Stealing Dozens of Bottles of Water at London Marathon Stop 2016-04-25 23:10
Editor's Comment: "Local" residents? Why bother blurring their faces? We know who they are.
London marathon runners were robbed of dozens of bottled waters when thieves raided a refreshment area armed with trolleys during today's race.
Nearby residents - including parents with children - were captured on camera piling up crates of free water handed out by volunteers during the 26-mile event.