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Uncle Morty's Dub Shack, ImaginAsian TV

The stars of “Uncle Morty’s Dub Shack”: from left: Trevor Moore, Alladin Ullah, Jimbo Mattison and John Chou

In a spoof of the 70s film “Fist of Fury,” a Bruce Lee-lookalike shows off a high kick for students at the Ching Wu martial arts school. Cut to his grandfather, frowning, who observes from the sidelines: “He’s the worst driving instructor this school has ever had.”

The absurdity is deliberate in “Uncle Morty’s Dub Shack,” an original series on ImaginAsian TV, a scrappy new 24-hour Asian-American channel.

Many Nations, One Channel

“Uncle Morty’s Dub Shack” — think “Mystery Science Theater” meets “The Beastie Boys” — has already attracted a cult following for its hilarious dubs in English over Asian B movies (see sidebar) and psychedelic animations.

“There are Hispanic networks and African-American networks. The Asian-American community was the only segment of minority population that wasn’t being addressed.”

But the channel itself casts a wide net with original and acquired programs produced by and for Asians from Korea, China, Japan, India, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Shows include children’s anime, dramas, variety shows, cooking shows and prime-time movies. And all of the content for the network — both original and acquired — is produced or edited on Power Mac G5s running Final Cut Pro.

Serving an Overlooked Community

“There are Hispanic networks and African-American networks,” says Bobby Choe, one of the channel’s four founders. “The Asian-American community was the only segment of minority population that wasn’t being addressed.”

It doesn’t take much to see that Asian Americans — considered the most affluent and fastest-growing ethnic group in the U.S. — are rarely portrayed with any depth of character on traditional U.S. television programs.

”Over the last 20 years, Asian Americans have taken prominent roles in society as a whole, but they’ve been underrepresented in the media” Choe says. “With ImaginAsian TV, now we have a media network that caters to the Asian-American community.”

ImaginAsian TV

ImaginAsian TV broadcasts dramas such as “Damo” — set in 16th century Korea — as well as anime, movies, documentaries and music videos.

Choosing Macs for Production

Choe says the decision to adopt Macs as the production platform came out of discussions with his partners, three of whom had used Avid systems for 20 years in their work with Comcast, A&E, Paramount Pictures and other mainstream media companies.

“We had a debate about which operating system and which hardware platforms to use,” says Choe. “In the end, the overwhelming advantages of using Macs — for example, smaller storage space requirement, shallower learning curve, easer networkability and less maintenance — put the decision to go with Macs for our entire production department.”

Choe says the Avid veterans were initially skeptical about switching to Macs. “But now I hear, compared to the problems of using Avid systems on PCs, there are practically no issues, work stoppages or maintenance problems using Macs. And we do some very, very heavy graphics.”

Finding Creative Freedom

At ImaginAsian TV’s headquarters the Power Mac G5s handle everything from simple jpegs for videos to station IDs, animations and the content for three original programs: “Uncle Morty’s Dub Shack,” “Asian Reel” for documentaries and “The Lounge” for dramas.

Jimbo Matison, ImaginAsian’s vice president and creative director, produces, directs — even stars — in the quirky “Uncle Morty.” (Never mind that he’s Latvian American.)

Previously an animation and live-action director for media such as Nickelodeon, MTV and Fox, Matison relished the opportunity to influence a startup network.

“There’s so much more creative freedom here,” Matison explains. “I love starting with something from the very beginning and making it into the best thing that I can.”

Next Page: Room to Grow

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