iam8bit

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iam8bit
Type Private Company
Industry Entertainment, Marketing Boutique
Founded 2005
Headquarters Los Angeles, California
Key people Jon M. Gibson, Founder/Partner
Amanda White, Producer/Partner
Website http://www.iam8bit.com

iam8bit is a production company, creative think tank and art exhibition based in Los Angeles, California. The company works in many entertainment industries including video games, film, fashion and music. They have produced many projects including exclusive taste-maker mailers, large scale community events and short films. In 2011, iam8bit rebranded their identity to be more broadly focused, launching with a new logo and website.

History[edit]

iam8bit was originally conceived by videogame/tech journalist Jon M. Gibson in the summer of 2004.[citation needed] Gallery Nineteen Eighty Eight in Los Angeles served as the show's venue for three years, but even after the first opening, it was obvious that iam8bit needed a more spacious home. Nearly 1,500 people attended the opening night reception on April 19, 2005, with thousands frequenting the show during its month-long run. "To see that kind of stretch along sidewalks, weaving in and out of back alleys, leaning into traffic," Gibson told Kotaku in July 2010. "It was so fucking cool."[1]

However, the company has since expanded its focus, delving into both gaming and non-gaming arenas, but always with a slant towards artistry, design and innovation.

In January of 2014, the official website for the group was hacked by Anonymous.

Partners[edit]

Since expanding its focus from the inaugural group art show, iam8bit has matured as a company, becoming a full-on artist collective with the addition of a partner, Amanda White, who owns an equal stake in the organization. "It was just me before, by my lonesome for so many years," Gibson said to Joystiq. "And now I have a partner and we're taking charge."[2] The two partners are:

  • Jon M. Gibson is the Founder of iam8bit, with a focus on writing and directing the collective's various commercial and in-house projects, including the live-action/animation hybrid trailer for Capcom's Mega Man Universe.[3]
  • Amanda White (producer) is iam8bit's co-owner and in-house producer, hailing from the movie industry where she produced the Joaquin Phoenix mockumentary, I'm Still Here,[4] as well as the executive producing the documentary Long Gone about six tramps hopping trains across America.[5]

iam8bit Brand[edit]

Since its inception as an art event, iam8bit has become a full-fledged lifestyle brand, focused on the artistic side of gaming—whether it's old-school or not. It began with a collection of "limited edition" t-shirts (printed in no larger quantities than 500), adorned with popular images from the exhibition, but quickly branched off from there. Chronicle Books published an official collection of pieces from the inaugural show in April 2006 entitled, iam8bit: Art Inspired by Classic Videogames of the '80s,[6] and was promptly carried in stores like Urban Outfitters, Barnes and Nobles, Giant Robot, and many other museum and boutique shops. It is one of the best-selling videogame-themed books of all time. A sequel to the book, called SUPER i am 8-bit: More Art Inspired by Classic Videogames of the '80s is to be published by Insight Editions in June 2010.[7]

An alliance with Blik,[8] a manufacturer of vinyl wall decals, was formed in 2005 after the company created a custom, large-scale window installation for the iam8bit. The result was a series of high-end, removable Space Invader-style wall stickers that, after several years, have been a consistent seller for Blik.

In 2007, iam8bit formed another partnership with Couch Guitar Straps,[9] a vegan-friendly manufacturer of designer guitar straps, to create an exclusive line of straps created for use with Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Each strap was handmade/sewn in downtown Los Angeles (sweatshop free) and numbered. The straps themselves are also cut slightly shorter than normal guitar straps to more comfortably fit the gaming peripherals.

For New Line's 2008 DVD release of The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, iam8bit produced numerous supplemental features, including the "iam8bit Music & Gallery," which featured Donkey Kong-inspired art from the first three years of the show, as well as an accompanying soundtrack by renowned micro-musicians like 8 Bit Weapon, ComputeHer, and several others. Director Gabe Swarr and writer/producer Jon M. Gibson also created an original, one-minute animated short entitled, A Really, Really Brief History of Donkey Kong,[10] which received both critical and fan praise[11] and also featured music by 8 Bit Weapon. Gibson, along with IGN Entertainment Editorial Director Chris Carle, also provided a full-length commentary track recounting the cultural and historical significance of the 80's arcade scene.

iam8bit Productions[edit]

iam8bit is a full-service production company, event house, and boutique marketing firm having created marketing and promotional materials, live events, commercial, television and film projects for a wide range of companies, including 20th Century Fox, Radiohead, Capcom Entertainment, Inc., Electronic Arts, New Line Cinema, Nickelodeon, Nintendo of America, Universal Interactive, ngmoco, Spike Digital Entertainment, Walt Disney Consumer Products and many others. Two of the studio's most notable projects are A Really, Really Brief History of Donkey Kong, featured on the The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters DVD, as well as a one-minute Radiohead music video for "Bodysnatchers" created in conjunction with the band to inspire animators to enter a "Create Your Own Radiohead Video" contest on Aniboom.com, an animation community website. Both videos were directed by Gabe Swarr and produced by Jon M. Gibson.

Street Fighter Club (2008)[edit]

In July 2008, over nine months from planned release of Street Fighter IV, Capcom hired iam8bit to produce a series of underground community-targeted events called Street Fighter Club[10] themed around their legendary player vs. player franchise. In conjunction with PR firm fortyseven communications, the events received a tremendous amount of mainstream media coverage, including Sports Illustrated for Kids, AOL, G4,[12] Spike, Entertainment Weekly,[13] and many more.

Mega Man 9 Press Kit (2008)[edit]

In the summer of 2008, iam8bit was hired by Capcom Entertainment to create the cover artwork for Mega Man 9, a sequel to the best-selling videogame franchise. The painting by Gerald de Jesus (part of the iam8bit artist collective) is reminiscent of the European boxart for the original Mega Man game. According to Chris Kramer, Senior Director, Communications and Community at Capcom Entertainment, the marketing group felt that if they were going to release a game that looked like it came from 1987, it would be best to have the marketing campaign reflect that.[14]

A "limited edition" press kit using that cover art was then created by iam8bit.[15] Being as faithful to the original 1987 release as possible, the i am 8-bit crew disassembled hundreds of vintage NES cartridges, magnetized them, and inserted mini "asset" CDs inside, featuring an array of screenshots, character art, etc. originally intended for members of the media, but later sold to fans via the online Capcom Store.[16] That was then packaged in a custom-created, classic-looking NES box, complete with shrink-wrap and bargain bin price tags (i.e. SALE $9.99). The fanfare for the press kit resulted in eBay listings of upwards of $1,200, making it one of the most sought-after promotional items in videogame history.[17]

Tricell Progenitor Virus Detection Kit (2009)[edit]

Following iam8bit's usual directive of expanding the mythos of the IP, the Tricell Progenitor Virus Detection Kit was devised to hype the release of Resident Evil 5 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in March 2009. Sent to select members of the videogame/technology media, and sold in limited quantities to consumers via the Capcom Store,[18] the kit was designed to look like an off-the-shelf pregnancy kit. The box lacks all Capcom company branding, focusing only on the fictional corporation of Tricell from within Resident Evil 5.

Inside, Tricell-branded protective nitrile gloves, surgical mask, hand sanitizer, and bio-hazard bag are provided, as well as a two DVD "Detection" and "Suppression" kit. Inserting the DVDs into your console provides for a convincing corporate presentation, complete with the voice of a soothing female narrator. The DVDs "analyze" your system, detecting various levels of infection with the Progenitor virus.

Much like the Mega Man 9 press kit, also produced for Capcom, the Tricell Progenitor Virus Detection Kit was critically lauded by the videogame press.[19]

I'm With Coco (2010)[edit]

In January 2010, in collaboration with artist Mike Mitchell, iam8bit was integral to the propagation of the viral sensation that was "I'm With Coco" (the original image was created by Mitchell). Contrary to popular belief, "I'm with Coco" was a self-started and financed initiative showing support for talk show host Conan O'Brien following his falling out with NBC executives over "The Tonight Show" throne; it was not instigated by Conan's camp. Mitchell first contributed to the iam8bit art show in 2008, and frequently collaborates on iam8bit projects. In July 2010, Mitchell told videogame blog Kotaku: "I think 'iam8bit' is one of the most exciting, popular and most talked about art shows in the world. Why wouldn't companies want these guys helping them reinvent the way they do marketing, make commercials, videos games, etc.?"[20]

Tron Evolution Vinyl (2010)[edit]

In promotion for the release of "Tron Evolution," the companion videogame to the film "Tron Legacy," iam8bit Productions produced a custom vinyl picture disc[21] that was sent out to an exclusive list of journalists. Only 200 were reportedly printed, featuring some of the game's soundtrack by renowned DJ Sascha and visual design by famed artist Jim Rugg.

Marvel VS Capcom 3 Fight Club LA (2011)[edit]

Days before the launch of Capcom's "Marvel VS Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds," iam8bit threw another in their seminal "Fight Club" series. The event played host to over 1,500 fans from 8pm to 11pm and featured an almost complete version of the game. It was also the first public demo location to play Nintendo's 3DS console, featuring Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition. Community members started lining up for the event at 1AM, 19 hours before doors opened.[22]

Astro Gaming Alliance (2011)[edit]

On August 11, 2011, iam8bit and Astro Gaming announced a seasonal design collaboration initiative,[23] calling to action fans and artists to submit graphics via Facebook[24] for Astro's trademark replaceable speaker tag system for their A30 and A40 audio headsets. The ASTRO Prize Pack includes a Scout Backpack, an ASTRO Headset Stand and 3 sets of speaker tags with the winning design.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - Hyrule Room (2011)[edit]

To further commemorate The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary, Nintendo of America decided to create a Zelda style room in Redwood City. The company enlisted the help of Iam8bit.[25]

Exhibitions[edit]

iam8bit is produced annually and held in Los Angeles. Featured artists include Gary Baseman, James Jean, Tim Biskup, Seen, Luke Chueh, Joe Ledbetter, Jorge R. Gutierrez, Amy Sol, Brandon Bird, Mike Mitchell, and hundreds of others.

Year Show Date Location
2005 April 18 - May 19 Gallery Nineteen Eighty Eight
2006 April 18 - May 19 Gallery Nineteen Eighty Eight
2007 April 17 - May 12 Gallery Nineteen Eighty Eight
2008 August 14 - September 7 World of Wonder Storefront Gallery
2011 August 11 - September 10 iam8bit Gallery (2147 W. Sunset Blvd)
2013 June 7 - June 30 iam8bit Gallery (2147 W. Sunset Blvd)

iam8bit Exclusives[edit]

Throughout the years, iam8bit has attracted a wide variety of artists and developers to its unique synergy of videogames and art.

In 2006, developer Harmonix created an exclusive version of Guitar Hero just for the second annual iam8bit show, which included playable tracks like the Mega Man and Ikari Warriors theme songs.

Renowned comic book artist Seth Fisher created the promotional poster for the 2006 exhibition. Due to his untimely and unexpected death in January 2006, the unfinished piece, thought to be his last published work, was printed as a tribute piece, with all proceeds benefiting his survived wife and child.

In 2007, artist Jason Torchinsky designed a massive, interactive sculpture in the form of a 6-foot-tall, 200-plus-pound Atari 2600 controller. It was totally functional, requiring the player to mount the base of the controller, stepping on the button while leaning their body weight against the control stick. Atari founder Nolan Bushnell attended the opening event, finding the over-sized controller a fascinating evolution of his original creation.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brian Ashcraft (2010-07-21). "I Am Way More Than 8-Bit". Kotaku.com. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  2. ^ Mike Schramm (2011-08-12). "Super iam8bit debuts Los Angeles gallery space, begins month-long art show". Joystiq.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  3. ^ "Mega Man Universe trailer". GameTrailers. 2010-07-19. Retrieved 2010-07-19. 
  4. ^ "Long Gone (IMDB)". IMDB. 2011-08-12. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  5. ^ "Long Gone (IMDB)". IMDB. 2011-08-12. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  6. ^ "i am 8-bit: Art Inspired by Classic Videogames of the '80s". Amazon.com. 2006-04-01. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  7. ^ "SUPER i am 8-bit: More Art Inspired by Classic Videogames of the '80s". Amazon.com. June 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-31. 
  8. ^ "Blik Surface Graphics' iam8bit mini-site"
  9. ^ "Couch Guitar Straps iam8bit mini-site/"
  10. ^ a b Gabe Swarr (2008-02-07). "A Really, Really Brief History of Donkey Kong(The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters)". YouTube. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  11. ^ "Ain't it Cool News DVD review of The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
  12. ^ "All Access: Street Fighter IV Fight Club". G4. 2008-07-28. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  13. ^ Gary Eng Walk (2008-10-27). "On the Scene: Videogame Fight Club!". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  14. ^ Chris Kramer (2008-07-22). "Mega Man 9 crazy "boxart" spotted in the wild at E3". Capcom. Retrieved 2008-07-27. 
  15. ^ JC Fletcher (2008-09-16). "Mega Man 9's press kit inspires more NEStaglia". Joystiq. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  16. ^ "Mega Man 9 Press Kit". Capcom Store. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  17. ^ John Diamonon (2008-09-16). "Mega Man 9 Retail Package?!?". Capcom. Retrieved 2008-09-22. 
  18. ^ "Tricell Progenitor Virus Detection Kit (Press Kit)". Capcom Store. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  19. ^ Brian Crecente (2009-03-10). "Tricell's Real Progenitor Virus Detection and Suppression Kit". Kotaku. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  20. ^ "I Am Way More Than 8-Bit". 
  21. ^ "Tron Evolution Game Soundtrack Released on Futuristic Vinyl". 
  22. ^ The First Rule of Fight Club is Talk About Fight Club
  23. ^ Justin Hutchison (2011-08-13). "Design Your Own Tag, Get On A New Pair Of Astros". Dual Shockers. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  24. ^ Astro Gaming (2011-08-11). "Astro Gaming > Contest". Facebook. Retrieved 2011-08-11. 
  25. ^ Nintendo decide to create a The Legend of Zelda style room to commemorate 25th anniversary

External links[edit]