1992: James Plummer and David Mingay set up a multimedia studio
to undertake projects together through the multi media production company Prospect Management? that had been created from James’s existing technology recruitment business. They developed a number of projects and researched into the funding and distribution of interactive multimedia
1993: Initiating links with the rising stars of the nascent multimedia sector they began discussion with David Collier and his Decode posse, and writer Alix Sharkey and Guy Nisbet, the original authors of the VNC concept.
1993: Cyberspace, a visualisation of an alternative youth culture was filmed and early partnerships with electronic music culture icons like the Shamen, and alternative record labels like Warp Records, etc were formed.
1993: David and James visited Philips’s Research Laboratories in Dorking to investigate providing content to their new CD-I format that was unsuccessfully being marketed.
1993: A development deal for a CD-i version of the VNC was struck
between Prospect and Philips Media.
1993: Titus Forbes Adam came on board as Associate Producer
to develop a sponsorship package for VNC, to open discussions with major youth brands and develop ancillary revenue streams.
02.1994: David Mingayand filmmaker Dick Jewel? filmed Soho’s growing cyber culture
and developed interactive navigation systems.
1994: A prototype of the Virtual Night Club? was created
in conjunction with David Collier. Concurrently, Eitan Arrussi, David Collier, Graham Deane and Olaf Wendt, by now resident at Prospect’s offices at Charles House, 7 Leicester Place, WC2, began development for Philips of what would become the award winning CD-i action adventure, Burn Cycle.
Titus produced a VNC installation event sponsored by London Arts that was shown at the Ministry of Sound and the Love Bytes Festival. A tour of the VNC prototype was sponsored by the British Council and traveled across Europe to Ars Futura, St Petersburg, ISEA and Madrid.
During this period Ken Olisa, of VC company Interregnum, joined the team in an executive production capacity.
James developed a relationship with Bertlesman Music Group and negotiated an investment of £150,000 for Thumb Candy Ltd to become an interactive music label for BMG, with the VNC as the first of 6 titles.
1995: An application to the Club MEDIA d'Investissement was successful
and funded promotion and software tool making for the Virtual Night Club?.
James attended the MILIA Festival in Cannes to seek distribution support for the VNC concept.
The Producers agreed with Olaf Wendt and David Collier to work together on the VNC project.
02.1995: The Virtual Night Club? name was patented.
05.1995: A £1m plus publishing deal is negotiated
Working as Executive Producer for the VNC, James negotiated a £1m plus publishing deal with Michael Kushner VP of Philips Interactive Media in New York (fresh from Woodstock) to develop and distribute the title on MAC and PC formats and feature artists from the many labels that were now under Philip’s control via their investment in Polygram.
Titus secured sponsorship deals with Levis, Dr Martens, Stella Artois and Lynx. He worked directly with the brands and the agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, to produce interactive advertising ‘inside the Club.
The exploratory documentary nature of the VNC became influenced by the burgeoning video game culture and the desire of Philips to create a linear story line that they believed would be more appealing and understandable to consumers.
07.1995: David Mingay took up the role of Producer
of the now final version of the VNC.
Rokeby and Olaf Wendt commenced script writing and a cast of more than 150 characters, dancers, actors and voice over artists was assembled.
Those agreeing to appear as themselves included: Mark Wigan, Terrence Mckenna, Scanner, Matt Black, Eva Pascoe, James Lavelle, Redma and Neal Stephenson among others.
Labels involved included: Def Jam, Warp, R&S, Apollo, Sounds of the Underground, Island, Moving Shadow, Ninja Tune, Gee Street and ITP providing artists like Herbie Hancock, Jo Henderson, PM Dawn, Redman, the Stereo MCs, Benny Rait, Cru and Suga.
Joe Henderson was filmed in London to appear in the VNC’s bar scene.
08.1995: 75 nightclub characters / dancers were filmed
on ‘blue screen’ in London.
The British Council presented the VNC in Buenos Airies.
09.1995: Herbie Hancock was filmed in LA directed by Olaf Wendt
playing a surreal piano for a key scene in the story.
Technology development was led by Graham Deane who created a navigation technology akin to Quicktime3D.
As Director, Olaf Wendt was responsible for the look and feel, creating 3D visuals and leading developments in this area. David Collier focused on the interactivity embedded throughout the 3 disc set and commissioned many ground breaking interactive ‘toys’.
The production of the VNC employed many other people during this period and well into 1996 including:
Darius Fisher, Adam Hawkey, Anthony Pearson, Rusell Tickner, Jess Scott Hunter, Marcus Lyall, Jeremy Quinn, Mark Wilson, Andy Allensen, Tim Wilson, Mark Logue, Neil Jones-Cubbley, Kym Seligman, Kumi Akiyoshi, Gavin Fernades, David Scweinberg, Tony Marcus, Ian Martin, Bryan Carr, Edwin Veitman, Ted Cohen, Derek Richards, Thomas Roope, Nick Roope, Justin Blampiod, Matthew Mayes, Tom Jacobsen, Lucy reed, Michael Bergman, Andrew Riddington and about 100 others directly and many more indirectly.
10.1996: David Collier left London for San Francisco.
11.1996: A trailer for of the VNC was created.
12.1996: Def Jam acts were filmed in NY
The Stereo MCs were filmed in London.
1996: 3D navigation, rendering/, programming continued.
08.1996: Interactive Designer, Simon Atherley, integrated the game visuals and the interaction with custom created code.
03.1997: Final testing of the VNC was undertaken
and the 3 disc set was submitted to the pressing plant for replication.
05.1997: The VNC team was wound up
and Michael Kushner left Philips for Sony
06.1997: Phillips Interactive Media was re-organised
and the games division closed.
06.1997: The Sony Play Station? emerged as the main platform for interactive software.
1997: Thumb Candy purchased back the rights to the VNC
and marketed the VNC directly via the Sci-Fi Channel and the internet.
Comment submitted by Tom
Once dubbed the "Sargeant Pepper of CD ROM multimedia", this was a magnificent, expensive, career halting disaster. There are still 20,000 discs somewhere in a lock-up in Wembley - someone should go in search of these, and save a copy for posterity.
Comment submitted by lankyphil
Oh yeah. I remember Alex (Boyesen, of Flabberghasted) slaving over a hot Mac laying down audio & effects for this. Olaf (Wendt) & the crew seemed possessed by this project...
Bizarrely, you can still buy it at http://www.organa.com/vnc.html<
Comment submitted by Tom
Amazing that it's still on sale. For a while it seemed that every single interactive designer in London was somehow involved in this one.
Comment submitted by Anonymous
Yeah David Collier was into Philips development studios bigtime - CDi was notoriously hard to author for. Dave gave me Virtual Night Club? stills for Cyberspace Lexicon in 1994 - looked very cool..
Comment submitted by wilson
I worked on this title for a couple of years. It was my first real experience of 'multi-media' but I came away from it some great experience. The team was first rate... Tim
Comment submitted by nemo
I got inspired by this to dig out an old copy and run it last week. Made me very nostalgic for the good old days of multimedia.