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.
Former Chief Security Officer for NewsCorp: N. Koreans Not Behind Sony Hack, Interview Leak 2014-12-20 2:17
Hemanshu Nigam, a former federal prosecutor and former chief security officer for NewsCorp/Fox studios, says North Korea isn’t behind the Sony Hack.
Nigam gave several bullet points for why the hack was likely an inside job.
Attack code borrowed from a previous attack on Seoul, that’s why it’s in Korean. Private hackers typically borrow malicious code from other hackers.Nations state attacks follow ...
Sony Fires Back at Obama: Actually We Did Call the White House – Several Times 2014-12-20 2:13 Sony fired back at Obama after the press conference saying they had several conversations with the Obama White House before and after the movie was canceled.
Via The Hollywood Reporter:
After President Obama criticized Sony for its decision to cancel The Interview's release after theater chains decided not to show the film, the studio has issued a statement elaborating on the move.
The Bankster International 2014-12-20 1:55 Geopolitical analysis, the art of explaining power relationships through the prism of impersonal geography, can be a helpful tool for observers of the Great Game – but it also has its limitations. A case in point is the renewed US-Russia confrontation. Think tanks and policy insiders easily sell the narrative that from the dark days of the Cold War to ...
Another banker dies under suspicious circumstances 2014-12-20 1:09 52-year-old Belgian Geert Tack – a private banker for ING who managed portfolios for wealthy individuals – was described as ‘impeccable’, ‘sporty’, ‘cared-for’, and ‘successful’ and so as Vermist reports, after disappearing a month ago, the appearance of his body off the coast of Ostend is surrounded by riddles…
Impeccable. Sporty. Cared for. Successful. Just some qualifications that are attributed to ...
NATO increases military presence on Russia’s borders 2014-12-20 1:14
The Pentagon has confirmed the military buildup along Russia’s borders to ensure long-term “peace and stability” in the region.
Earlier Moscow accused NATO of a sharp increase in air activity and intelligence flights in the border zone.
Replying to RIA Novosti’s query on the increased number of NATO flights around Russia’s borders, a Pentagon representative told the news agency that the military ...