| A Dream
The Winged Sandals site began with a dream. I kept
dreaming of an animated version of the Homeric Hymn
to Pythian Apollo where Apollo transforms himself into
a dolphin and founds the Oracle at Delphi.
I grew up between Athens and Melbourne and was immersed
in the stories of Greek mythology from a very young
age. The stories of magical flight, of heroic journeys
into the Underworld and of immortal gods captured my
imagination as a child.
Classical mythology is truly timeless because it can
still create such strong visual imagery in our minds.
The images of these characters have always been locked
away in my imagination and I wanted to create a project
that would inspire children around the world to keep
Greek myth has been passed down to us through ancient
vase painting and through oral and written traditions.
I chose this subject partly because I knew that the
stories of myth would inspire animators but also to
use the latest technologies of digital storytelling
to let the stories speak to web audiences and inspire
a thirst for the classics in a new generation. This
content was literally screaming for a chance to be translated
onto the web.
Themes: Magical flight and the Three Realms
The underlying themes of the site were established
at concept stage and the content for the site was deliberately
chosen to bring out those themes. Melbourne University
and ABC staff collaborated to create a strong subtext
and metaphor for the site which is essentially: magical
flight in the three realms.
The characters of classical mythology occupy three
realms: the gods live on Olympus, the mortals (and mosters)
occupy the Earthly Realm and the dead live in the Underworld.
The stories and games were deliberately chosen to represent
Hermes the navigator and messenger god is the only
character who regularly flies between the realms and
a close examination of the animated stories reveals
what happens when mortals and immortals venture out
of their respective realms.
The core brief for ABC Online is to create websites
which "inform, educate and entertain" and
Winged Sandals is a perfect example of how this guiding
principle can been implemented.
Winged Sandals has animated stories and interactive
games and an online version of the Delphic Oracle all
presented with a focus on entertaining and engaging
a young audience.
The animations are full of humour and exceptionally
beautiful illustrations of mythical people and places.
The games are varied and unusual; by avoiding the "shoot
em up" online gaming cliché we were able
to create music making machines and a game where you
can make wings to help Icarus fly.
We have included activities to encourage our website
visitors to step away from their computer and have some
fun. Kids can use what they have learnt from the website
as a source of inspiration to create their own artworks.
Winged Sandals is targeted primarily 6 - 12 year olds.
We have, however, avoided an oversimplified account
of the stories, instead chosing to provide multiple
layers of meaning, so that, hopefully, adults too will
find the site engaging.
Overall, our vision to create an online microcosmos,
a dreamy space whose style is contemporary yet 'digital'
and based on ancient architecture combined with the
classical tradition of storytelling has been achieved.
I have been fascinated by the diverse ways in which
Greek mythology has been told by artists throughout
history and these unique interpretations reveal alternate
contemporary readings of myth.
As Creative Director, I urged the animators and game
developers to create their own versions of the stories.
We provided them with in-depth research on the characters
and they were encouraged to translate the stories into
their own unique styles.
It was emphasised to the animators that they could
create contemporary versions of the characters, as long
as they captured the true 'essence' of the character
or the core message behind the story and it is this
drive to communicate the 'spirit' of Greek myth which
has proven to be a real point of difference. It is the
special combination of tapping into the stories of the
collective unconscious, the thorough and accurate research
undertaken by the Melbourne University staff who worked
on this project and then commissioning the talented
local animators, musicians, actors, designers and programmers
to bring it to life.
This website's core strength however is the accurate,
in-depth research provided by Melbourne University for
the Who's Who in Classical Mythology database. This
project was set up as a collaboration between ABC online
and the University of Melbourne precisely with a view
to avoiding the 'Disneyfication' or dumbing down of
the Classics, while at the same time interpreting the
stories and characters of these myths in a contemporary,
entertaining and engaging way.
The project was generously supported by the ABC Development
Division, which enabled me to commission local multimedia
talent. This production model has turned out to have
many positives- the diverse Winged Sandals team of ABC
staff, academics, animators, musicians and local and
regional programmers were able to share their skills
to 'imagineer' a unique vision of the Classical Mythology
on the web.
ABC Executive Producer