Agency Producers: David Annis

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Fallon, Minneapolis, in collaboration with interactive firm B-Reel and a crew of talented CG artists conceived the "Infinite Oz" destination (www.road2oz.com), which promoted Sci-Fi Channel miniseries Tin Man. With the emphasis on infinity, the website takes visitors on a virtual everlasting loop that transports them through various worlds featured on the show. Creativity spoke to Fallon interactive producer David Annis and got his reflections on the quirky and dark rework of the land of Oz. (KA)

What were the production challenges on "Infinite Oz"? What made them particularly unique?
The biggest challenge was building an experience that showcases the reinvented world of Oz, as interpreted by Sci-Fi, without having any of the video clips or images from the series itself. Essentially we had to build an experience referencing only scripts and concept sketches. This would allow us to present users with content from the series as it became available, but ultimately that we would not get until right before the launch. This really forced us to rely on the artist's interpretations as the "stars of the show."

What were the key decisions you made on the project?
We chose B-Reel based on our prior experience working with them and their response. They brought a lot of innovative thinking to the concept, as well as a plan to deliver a great product within the available time and budget. Then we needed to determine which scenes to work with and how those scenes would tie into one another. We paired down our options from about 30 to 15 that we thought best told the story. B-Reel then reached out to the CG
Scene from
Scene from "Infinite Oz"
community and gathered an impressive list of artists to work with. The next important decision had to do with navigation. We wanted to make sure the navigation was intuitive and readily available, but non-intrusive to the experience. The initial idea was to create a super clean and simple navigation in contrast to the highly detailed and colorful imagery. In the end, we decided to go with something that felt more connected to the look and feel of the images themselves. Finally we wanted to make sure we gave credit to the artists involved, as well as to the original ZoomQuilt art piece [an online art project that served as inspiration for the site]. To do so, we created credits pages with links to each of the artist portfolios as well as a link to the ZoomQuilt.

If done again, how would you do things differently?
I would have tried to incorporate more than 15 scenes. I would also have included a link to download the entire experience as a screensaver and the individual images as wallpapers. Pretty standard stuff, I know, but individuals out in the blogosphere are creating and sharing them on their own. It would have been nice to make those available from the start.

Another world from
Another world from "Infinite Oz"
What skills served you best on the job, and looking back, what did you learn from the project in terms of production?
Having a general understanding of web development helped with this project. I was able to comprehend the limits of the technology being used, which helped to keep the scope intact. I have also become pretty good at engaging the right partners. Some partners are good at development, and some are really strong aesthetically, while others are very strategic and innovative, but lack the proper level of artistry. I learned that even the best ideas have room to grow, and that working with a flexible concept in mind will often lead to a successful outcome. If you are too rigid in your approach, you won't be able to adjust—and the project will suffer. I think that opening up your ideas and allowing input from the right people/partners is key.

WOULDN'T YOU KNOW?

If you could be one character on Tin Man, who would it be and why?
A Flying Monkey for sure. I know they are minions of the Wicked Witch, but that doesn't mean I would be. First, monkeys are always good, secondly, flying would rule and finally, the little hats. I think as a Flying Monkey I would like sporting the little Shiner's hat.

If you were trapped in one of the Tin Man worlds, which one would it be and why?
I'd have to go with The Realm of The Unwanted. The scene is super colorful and full of interesting characters. I think spending an evening there hitting up some of the local haunts and parties would be a surrealistic good time. That said, I think I'd want to spend the next morning recovering in the Kansas Farm scene. It looks peaceful.


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