If you have never been to Tokyoplastic, it is your duty to do so. The first time one embarks on the journey that is Tokyoplastic there is undoubtedly an initial shock to both the auditory and visual senses. It will stun you, and we speak entirely without hyperbole here. But the disbelief is a good thing of course. For this is animation at its most imaginative and original height. In the same vein as their imagination, there is no line drawn between the mediums of art that they work in. ‘Drum machine,’ one of the highlights of the site, has already won a plethora of awards and achievements in film festivals all around the world, most notably the people’s choice winner of best animation at the 2004 Sundance film festival. The website has millions and millions of visitors per month. Their works span all across the Internet, television, and film. So just what is Tokyoplastic all about? How does one even begin to conceptualize such a thing? What other venues do these insane geniuses plan to explore and conquer? To get to the bottom of this, we spoke with Sam Lanyon Jones, one half of the dynamic duo that founded Tokyoplastic (Drew Cope being the other half), who took time out of his extremely hectic schedule to enlighten us on the inner workings and future of Tokyoplastic.
JXM: Hi, Sam! How are you doing?
Sam: Yeah, very good, cheers. Very busy.
JXM: Thanks for taking the time out to do this, even with your very busy schedule! Now the first thing we wanted to talk to you about was ‘drum machine’. How did ‘drum machine’ first take shape?
Sam: That was something that predominantly Andrew did with a composer friend Ed Cookson, from the Sancho Plan. It was an interim project where we could take the doll character that had already been created and was already recognized as the icon for the site and run with it and do something more interesting with it. The way in which it was actually created in the end was that the dolls were each assigned a specific sound depending on where they were playing, and then as the piece of music took shape, at the same time, the animation took shape. So it evolved as a symbiosis between the music and the visuals, a composition of both animation and sound.
JXM: So how did the idea actually come about? Did you initially intend to do something musically and visually together?
Sam: Yeah, totally. For a long time we wanted to push the whole synthesis between animation and music but it was an opportunity to do something that enabled both sound and picture to grow at the same time and affect one another. The way it was created was quite an evolutionary new way for a piece of animation to be created.
JXM: That kind of answers our next question as well, which is, what was your process when you were doing drum machine?
Sam: Yeah essentially that was it. Of course, you know, the actual process that the animation then goes through to be optimized to go online further complicates things; using nested movies, movies within movies and what with the synchronisation of sound and dozens of layers all that becomes very harrowing. There ends up being lots and lots of layers in flash.
JXM: We understand your background is in photography and Drew’s is in industrial design. Was it a conscious choice to do this in flash?
Sam: Well, both of us, we met a long time ago and we’ve wanted to work together on a project for many many years and we kind of tried it out before and worked on little projects here and there together but the first site was created by Andrew and at the same time I was experimenting with 3D and flash and all sorts of stuff and so when that happened and was enormously successful and I suggested that we come together and actually take advantage of the success and push it further.
JXM: And we think you definitely did!
Sam: Oh cheers!
JXM: So what type of design aesthetic were you aiming for when you did drum machine? What kind of experience were you trying to achieve?