>> Friday, November 23, 2007
Anonymous insight views of the Philips Sidewalk Studio: "We created 12 CD-i and 2 CD-ROM titles for Philips (some of the CD-i titles were ported to CD-ROM, all were released in multiple languages). Also, we conceived
and executed the rather large project to put movies on CD, first for the
CD-i player (Green Book Standard) and soon after for computers, too
(White Book discs). This was a complex situation that established the
Video CD standard. Let's say this about the project at this time:
If there were, say, 15 things that needed to be done to lead to DVD, we
did 13 of them. What we did not do was enable disc based media to have
enough storage to contain a movie on one disc, while increasing the data
rate (from 1.5 mb to the variable 3-10 mb) so that the movies could look
as good as laserdiscs. That's what DVD did. But Philips, instead of controlling most of the license for DVDs, ended up having 1/15th (or something like that), which
is a shame considering that we had a 3 year lead on the rest of the
"Here's the list in chronological order: Cartoon Jukebox, Sandy's Circus Adventure, Mother Goose Hidden Pictures, Mother Goose Rhymes to Color, Richard Scarry's Best Neighborhood Disc, Richard Scarry's Busiest Neighborhood Disc, Tales from Aesop's Fables, More Tales from Aesop's Fables, the Wacky World of Miniature Golf, The Berenstain Bears On Their Own -- And You On Your Own, Surf City, Crayon Factory, The Babysitter's Club Friendship Kit (CD-ROM only), Story About Me (CD-ROM only). Movie titles: hundreds (I'm not sure how many) all of which used our Edison System to turn them out.
The main other production group at Philips was POV, which finished around 8 titles, although a number of them were ports from CD-ROMs. Beyond that, all the other producers finished between 1-3 discs during the course of things. The Funhouse group you mentioned, finished 3 discs using the animation techniques that Sidewalk invented. BTW, Cartoon Jukebox was the first disc ever to be finished in the CD-i format; although others had started earlier (some as many as 2 years earlier), we were much more organized and got it done relatively quickly.
Philips Media was organized in various ways over its 8 year period. At its most organized, Games and Children's were the main divisions. Children's did more titles in-house, Games almost all out-of-house. That's because the Children's stuff was well managed (mostly by Sidewalk, in my pov) and figured out the production pathway in a superior fashion. The Games was poorly managed (in my view) and therefore went outside, except for POV. POV even was quasi-outside in that it was 45 minutes from headquarters and was successful because, like Sidewalk, it had strong leadership apart from the bureaucrats.
The reason that edutainment was so prominent was because of the very limitations of the CD-i platform vis a vis computers and other game machines. It was very difficult to do realtime 3D kinds of games, whereas bit-mapped titles that children liked took advantage of the platform's strengths. Also, Sidewalk was so productive, organized, efficient, and budget-conscious relatively to other groups that they just let us keep creating. And create we did.
I was approached, as a leading maker of titles, when MPEG 1 came along to make an interactive movie. But I had my suspicions about the value, in terms of genre, of such things, and I knew that we would face many technical difficulties and expenses doing one quickly, so I suggested strongly that we put movies on disc first, and that we develop an authoring system, an interface, that we work with Hollywood labs, etc. There were some good guys who supported our efforts, so we got to do the project and run it, and the rest is history."