Taiwanese animation company admits exaggerating Port Angeles bulldozer incident
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Next Media Animation
Taiwanese animators' image of the Gales Addition neighborhood where Barry Swegle drove his bulldozer.

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PORT ANGELES — A computer-animated video by a Taiwanese animated video company took snippets of TV news reports — plus a copyrighted PDN photo of suspect Barry Swegle — to construct its view of the Gales Addition incident in which Swegle is accused of pushing his bulldozer into four houses.

At one point, the computer animation out of Taipei shows Swegle flipping a profane finger gesture, which the Clallam County Sheriff's Department has no indication ever occurred in connection with last week's incident.

The Seattle Times today quotes Emily Wu, senior production manager for animator Next Media Animation, or NMA, admitting: “Sometimes we do exaggerate a little bit."

There's more exaggeration: North Olympic Peninsula residents familiar with Gales Addition — the postwar subdivision in unincorporated area just east of the Port Angeles city limit — will have difficulty recognizing that neighborhood in the backgrounds of the animators' vision a half-world away.

Keep in mind that Swegle pleaded not guilty in a Clallam County courtroom yesterday and still has the right to a trial.

From Erik Lacitis, Seattle Times staff reporter at www.seattletimes.com :

How did Swegle come to the attention of NMA?

The company employs 500 animators, news writers and other staffers to produce videos, says Emily Wu, senior production manager, in a phone interview from Taipei, where the firm is based.

“We have American, British, Canadian, French, Australian, Taiwanese writers, and they look at all the top news all day,” she says. “We look for news that people are talking about.”

And the Port Angeles bulldozer rampage certainly was a talker, being featured everywhere from British tabloids to New Zealand to Malaysia.

The video has joined others of similar type — “Woman singing forces American Airlines plane emergency landing,” “Old lady robbed by man on mobility scooter?” -- on the firm’s YouTube channel called TomoNewsUS [not to be confused with the PDN's news partner, KOMOnews.com].

With such a big workforce, NMA turns the videos around in a short time. In a 24/7 world, the value of a news story fades fast.

These animated videos have helped give the firm publicity for its real moneymaking work, which includes providing straightforward “with no editorial tones” animation to explain everything from science to military stories.

For the likes of the bulldozer story, Wu says its writers spend half an hour to two hours gathering information, which these days is easily available online.

“Bulldozer rampage: Port Angeles man destroys houses after spat,” for example, starts with a few seconds of actual news video from Q13 Fox News, followed by a mug shot of Swegle grabbed from the Peninsula Daily News, and then it’s on to the computer-generated animation.

To create that 76-second clip takes all of 90 hours, says Wu.

Last modified: May 16. 2013 11:47AM
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