A Scanner Darkly

This is totally cool. There’s a new movie coming out called that’s based on the novel by science fiction writer . He’s the same mind that brought us and the classic (upon which . A Scanner Darkly is written and directed by and, like his previous , is done using the animated technique called rotoscoping.

Anyone who knows me knows I love animation and this movie looks awfully cool. The movie has the same and  that’s probably because it looks like Linklater got Bob Sabiston, the animator who worked on both and the Schwab commercials, to work on A Scanner Darkly. Watch the trailer below or for a longer trailer in QuickTime format–it’s worth the download time.

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Super Bowl Advertisements

Considering all the Super Bowl advertisers have made all of the Super Bowl ads available online, perhaps companies have finally figured out that it makes a hell of a lot of business sense to put your television commercials on the Web. It has annoyed me for years that so few companies practice this…practice.

If I like a company’s commercial, I want to be able to find it on their web site. I may even, as I will shortly, blog about a particular ad, extending the reach of that commercial message. With that thought in mind, even gives you code to paste an ad directly onto your web site or blog. No brainer, huh?

So, I’m happy that all of the .

For my money, by far the best commercial was ‘s Caveman, what with the caveman doing his best impression:

ad featuring a city populated by stuntmen was clever:

had a very clever ad made that much better by the fact that is in it:

‘ ad was great simply because of the cool animation:

And, finally, ‘s ad was funny for the concept: A hamster make the case for why he’d be an excellent football mascot:

Are Gamers Athletes?

I know this story is a week old, but I must address it. A week ago Sunday, on professional gamer Fatal1ty and how he’s making a ton of money winning .

The piece details the exploits of Fatal1ty (a.k.a.  Jonathan Wendell) and his growing celebrity as a gamer and his clout as a commercial endorser. His agent tries to argue that Wendell is an athlete for a new form of sport.

No. No no no no no no no no no NO. He is not.

I’ll agree that video games are sport in that they consist of people competing against one another and that they are quickly becoming a spectator sport, but gamers as athletes? Please.

One of the primary aspects of being an athlete is skill of a physical nature. Don’t tell me that a largely sedentary activity such as playing video games is a sport, the most excursion of which requires sweating over controller.

Wendell clearly has mad skills as a gamer (and actual athletic skills, as the piece points out), but to call someone an athlete merely because they excel at video games is purely absurd.

Watch the 60 Minutes Video:

This Week In Internet Marketing – 1/24/06 – 1/27/06

Here’s a roundup of this week’s posts at my :

HBO’s Football Show – 1st & Ten

is the best. I mean, who needs TV when you’ve got Home Box Office? ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; and now and –the list goes on.

Apparently, it goes back as far as the 80s, when HBO boasted their comedy series , a sitcom about the fictional NFL team the California Bulls. The show stars as a divorcee who seizes control of the team from her ex.

The show ran from 1986 to 1991 (before I started subscribing to H-boe) and featured appearances by a plethora of NFL stars and former stars.

With the Vikings season over, I’ve been filling my time watching episodes from the box set of 1st and Ten. The highlights for old school football fans like myself, no doubt, will be the player appearances. The Vikings featured on the show include , , , , and .

While , you can find the box set now at Best Buy, Circuit City, Wal-Mart, Borders, and Barnes & Noble.

Halo – The Movie

Video games morphing into movies is nothing new, but I am following the Halo movie developments with great fascination. Yesterday it became official; Fox and Universal closed a deal with Microsoft to put the mega hit video game on the silver screen, Variety reported.

I’m fascinated with Halo, the movie, because I’m a fan of the game but also because it interests me as a pop culture phenomenon and from a marketing perspective.

It’s no surprise to anyone who has followed Microsoft over the years that the company tried to play hardball over the rights to the Alex Garland (28 Days Later) script. It makes sense, too. For a property whose two versions have generated more $600 million in sales, it is only logical to want as much control as possible over related products. One of the reported stipulations to the rights was that production of the film would take place under the auspices of Bungie Studios, the Microsoft-owned developer of Halo.

Looks like Microsoft didn’t get the control they were looking for, though. According the Variety article, Microsoft "is now guaranteed extensive consultation on the project, but won’t have approval over any elements." Rather than having creative control, Bungie employees will serve as creative consultants.

Considering the robust sales for the Halo franchise and the video game’s nearly fanatical following, the built-in audience for the film is significant. The fans of the game are practically a self-generating buzz machine. Hard core gamers are frequent contributors for online forums where they discuss all aspects of the game. The built-in communication features of Halo using Xbox Live helps gamers create buzz amongst themselves. The Internet is rife with speculation about the movie, with people wondering if Ridley Scott will direct and Ed Harris and Samuel L. Jackson star in the movie.

The nature of the Halo fan base helps explain why two Hollywood studios would agree to take the rare step of collaborating on a movie.

The thing to remember is that most people think Microsoft is a technology company. But it really isn’t–at least that’s not their expertise. Sure, they sell software but they excel at marketing it. Microsoft is less a technology company than a marketing firm.

So look at the timing. The movie is slated for a Summer 2007 release. Microsoft’s next-generation video game console, Xbox 360, will be available for this holiday season, probably in November. Halo 3, which will be designed specifically to take advantage of the new high-definition capabilities of the Xbox 360, is scheduled for release in the second quarter of 2006. And that gives it just enough time for sales to taper off for the release of the movie to boost additional sales. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bungie develop additional maps and/or vehicles specifically tied to the movie and available as a download through Xbox Live.

Halo The Movie should be a textbook case in marketing convergence with each product driving sales of the other.

“Is it a curse that I love football so much?”

That quotation is from K.C. Joyner, a man who’s passion for the game is so great that he’s written a 467-page painfully detailed statistical analysis of the game entitled Scientific Football 2005.

I could have said it. But I didn’t. So I’m stealing it.

I first read that quote in June, buried at the bottom of a fine and long column on Joyner’s book  by SI.com‘s Dr. Z.

Here’s a taste of Joyner’s book for Vikings fans:

Or how about the Vikings’ little-known TE, Jermaine Wiggins? "The most amazing stat … Wiggins was thrown 102 passes but only one of them was deep … He ranked second in the league in medium completion percentage and first in short completion percentage … Wiggins is not the best receiving tight end in the league (he is not even close), but he’s the best short-receiving tight end. He will have a role in this offense regardless of how vertical the Vikings decide to be this year. He is a perfect fit in his role and could threaten for the Pro Bowl."

Is it a curse that I love football so much? Joyner asked the question of his step-sister. Her reply?

"Most people go through their lives without finding any one thing to love so much … a person, maybe, but not a thing. Be thankful. You’ve found it."