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Seen the wacky CGI animations of Tiger Woods, Justin Bieber and the Jersey Shore crew? I talked to the Taiwanese animation studio behind them and discovered what they're all about.

The animated shorts of Next Media Animation have gotten hugely popular across the globe over the last year. The studio is able to churn out these computer animations within hours of the story breaking. Remember when that Jet Blue employee went postal and slid down the inflatable slide? NMA created the following video within a day to illustrate the incident for its Taiwanese audience. The video has since earned over 600K views on YouTube.
I was able to catch Mark Simon, a representative of NMA, as he was waiting for a flight at JFK International Airport. Before I could ask him about the goofy animations that have gone viral, he was quick to emphasize that a healthy portion (easily more than 90%) of the animations his company makes aren't meant to be funny.
The real videos are the ones to watch. Apple Daily (a Hong-Kong based newspaper owned by NMA's parent company) brings us 5.5 million views a day. We run 13 minutes of fresh content daily, only about 1 minute of that is the fun stuff.
Apple Daily and NMA's enigmatic owner Jimmy Lai wanted to provide newscast viewers with a visual accompaniment to the stories they're hearing about on the news.

Recently they've shifted their focus into online video content.
Regular newscasts miss most of the story because when you show up it's over. You're taking a picture of the accident. Now the recreations allow us tell people what happened. You can show people what happened.
Mark explained that television newscasts are essentially the same as radio with photographs. NMA's product allows the media to take full advantage of the visual medium.
People don't watch the nightly news. They listen while they're busy with something else. Our animations give people something to watch.
This technology has historically been used for documentaries, police reports, law firms and defense contractors. CGI animations are expensive to make, but way less expensive than hiring a bunch of actors to dramatize the nightly news.

Mark said that when he approaches media outlets with his company's services, he is often greeted with hostility. Potential clients often assume that the new technology will mean that they'll have to cut jobs. But according to Mark, animators and editors will have new work to do creating storyboards for the new animations.

But what about the WTF factor? Where do these bizarre, exaggerated concepts come from? For instance, check out the animation they made to cover the allegations of former Vice President Al Gore's infidelity. (Warning: Video kinda NSFW)
Mark explained to me that most of his animators have a good grasp of American pop culture.
We get Fox News. CNN is always on our radar. American culture still drives Taiwanese news. People care what Angelina Jolie is doing. Getty makes their money selling images of Snooki to the Taiwanese. [The animators'] take on stuff isn't meant to be derogatory. They just have a different perspective. It's meant to be funny.
He was quick to clarify that their Taiwanese viewers are in on the joke. In other words, they aren't watching the videos, muttering "Crazy Americans!"
The Taiwanese love Disneyland and all, but America is not the center of their universe. They don't watch everything we do. Americans think we're the center of the world -- this beautiful prom queen who thinks everyone is still looking at her years after high school.
Apparently their animators recognize that and are able to have a little fun skewering American pop culture. Mark explained that there was one video that he made his staff run by him before it went live. One of the newest videos on NMA's feed deals with the Muslim Community Center at Ground Zero. "I didn't want to get death threats," he admitted.

And this is just the beginning. According to BusinessWeek, the clips have helped Next Media nearly quadruple site traffic.