All my life in my creative works, I’ve pushed to make something less of a product and more of an experience. When you go to one of those movie-studio owned theme parks and you, say, hop on the Back to the Future Ride, what do you get? Hustled through a winding line around plain iron fences until a ride operator loads you in, you ride, you leave? No. You get an experience. The line winds through Doc Brown’s time institute, past (faked) exhibits of historical finds he’s made, video walls showing promotions for this fictional science foundation, and more. There’s even a pre-show to set the stage for the ‘plot’ of the ride. Then when you’re hustled into the ride, it’s by guys wearing jumpsuits similar to the ones in the videos. The whole thing is immersive; you feel less like you’re hopping an amusement park ride and more like you’re having an EXPERIENCE.
I take the same approach to my writing. This is why the FFML sucks nuts as my primary distribution node; I want people to come to me, so I can give them an experience. Graphics and sound, writings and fanart, the message board, and the story itself. It’s a complete package, and each story has a different package. Slayers Trilogy had individual themes for each of the three stories. Starboard’s site kicked ass, even if the story skid to a halt. And Sailor Nothing… well, I pulled out the stops on the frontpage. I could have slapped up an ordinary web page, saying ‘Hi, this is my story. here are the chapters. Mail me.’ Forget that; I want people to FEEL this in their bones. I want to spread the music that influenced it, I want to make sure that reading the story becomes more than just scanning alphanumeric characters.
It’s all about hype. It’s all about style. It’s about attention to detail and presenting a complete package. And tonight, I found a damn good example of this. www.Gorillaz.com.
Gorillaz are… well, they’re a band. A bizarre mixture of trip hop, sample loops, guitar, folk music, rap, and moody ballads. But their site is not “Hi, we’re a band, here is our music.” No. These guys have poured it on thick and yummy. The four members (if there ARE four members) are always represented as comic art characters, and each has their own gimmicks and quirks. The entire site is laid out like a virtual building, sort of a MYST on Crack(tm) done with Shockwave; they’re very techno savvy and this is clearly the headquarters of the ‘Gorillaz Experience’ instead of just a marketing hype webpage designed by a record label to jam manufactured product down your gullet.
The art style extends beyond the site. There isn’t a single photo of any member of the band on the site; it’s always the comic art characters. Album covers, and even the music videos use these characters. The image they present is unified with that, so that it’s to ordinary pop music what sports entertainment is to amateur wrestling. Maybe they don’t exist, maybe it’s all one guy’s work, but if you buy into the amusing little fiction it makes the experience richer.
Total experience packaging for a creative work. You don’t just listen to the music, you buy into the world, you get immersed. SWEET.
Scope the site. For a quick sample, visit this page where you can watch a streaming video of ‘Clint Eastwood’, which is pretty well animated and looks good even at dialup speeds. Also demonstrates their weird blended musical style. The album isn’t out in the states yet but is available to import from the UK, and should be here eventually. You can import the two singles too (Tomorrow Comes Today and Clint Eastwood), and each disc has a Quicktime version of the music video. As I said… total packaged experience, on ALL levels. Very nice.