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Thursday, May 16, 2013 - Page updated at 11:30 a.m.

Port Angeles bulldozer rampage: now an animated YouTube video

By Erik Lacitis
Seattle Times staff reporter

You could call it a dubious-achievement award of sorts.

That rampaging Port Angeles bulldozer suspect now has been featured by the Taiwanese animated video company that first got notoriety in 2009 with its cartoon re-enactment of Tiger Woods’ car crash and subsequent dressing-down by his then-wife, Elin Nordegren.

That got the firm noticed by Jon Stewart and Jimmy Kimmel, and now its videos are a regular Internet feature.

Already, Next Media Animation posted on YouTube its version of what happened in Port Angeles.

That’s the incident in which Barry Swegle, 51, was arrested for investigation that he allegedly used a bulldozer to take out three homes, crush a pickup and knock down a utility pole, cutting power to thousands.

A judge set bail at $1 million. No injuries were reported in what investigators say was apparently motivated by a long-running property-line dispute.

How did Swegle come to the attention of NMA?

The company employs 500 animators, news writers and other staffers to produce videos, says Emily Wu, senior production manager, in a phone interview from Taipei, where the firm is based.

“We have American, British, Canadian, French, Australian, Taiwanese writers, and they look at all the top news all day,” she says. “We look for news that people are talking about.”

And the Port Angeles bulldozer rampage certainly was a talker, being featured everywhere from British tabloids to New Zealand to Malaysia.

The video has joined others of similar type — “Woman singing forces American Airlines plane emergency landing,” “Old lady robbed by man on mobility scooter?” -- on the firm’s YouTube channel called TomoNewsUS.

With such a big workforce, NMA turns the videos around in a short time. In a 24/7 world, the value of a news story fades fast.

These animated videos have helped give the firm publicity for its real moneymaking work, which includes providing straightforward “with no editorial tones” animation to explain everything from science to military stories.

For the likes of the bulldozer story, Wu says its writers spend half an hour to two hours gathering information, which these days is easily available online.

“Bulldozer rampage: Port Angeles man destroys houses after spat,” for example, starts with a few seconds of actual news video from Q13 Fox News, followed by a mug shot of Swegle grabbed from the Peninsula Daily News, and then it’s on to the computer-generated animation.

To create that 76-second clip takes all of 90 hours, says Wu.

It being a re-creation, NMA does take a little bit of literary license.

In the re-enactment video, “Barry,” as the video prefers to refer to Swegle, is shown giving the finger to his neighbors as he drives his sedan.

A spokesman for the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office says he is not aware of any police reports about “Barry” making such a gesture.

“Sometimes we do exaggerate a little bit,” says Wu.

Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or elacitis@seattletimes.com


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