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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 dreaming.

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 these.

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 Vision

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.

A Collaboration

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.

Sponsors

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.


Rosie Allimonos
Creative Director
ABC Executive Producer


Delphi - click to enlarge
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