Update: This is a detailed account of the creation of JellyTelly. Since JellyTelly now exists, you can just skip this narrative if you want and go straight to the real thing at www.JellyTelly.com! (Then come back later and read all the details!) – Phil
Many of you have emailed to ask, “Hey Phil, whatcha workin’ on these days?” Typically, my response to these queries has been, “Too soon to say – but you’ll hear about it soon!” I realize I’ve been saying this for well over a year now, which may lead some folks to wonder how exactly I define the word “soon.”
The fact is… we are working on something pretty interesting here at Jellyfish Labs. And I have been meaning to tell you all about it – just as soon is it was ready to go and all polished up. The trouble is that the old saying about home remodeling holds true for new business ventures as well: “Everything takes twice as long and costs twice as much as you think.” Our new venture is taking a long time to put together, and I’ve been trying to keep it more or less “secret” until it was all ready to go.
Well, I’m a big fan of Apple (as I write this on my MacBook with my iPod in my pocket). I love how Apple will create something new under complete secrecy, then one day Steve Jobs will walk out on stage, and with a wave of his hand, voila! Boom! The iPod! Boom! The iPhone! And by the way, you can buy it… tomorrow! (Or next week – or whatever.) And the press says, “Holy cow! How did he do that? It’s magic!” And everyone swoons and the new, amazing, didn’t-see-that-coming product is a big hit.
So I think that’s what I wanted to with our new project. Voila! Boom! “Where did that come from? It’s perfect! We’re swooning!” Maybe this was my favorite model for launching a new project, or maybe it was just the model that was on my mind, what with all the Apple-hoopla. (I think that was the original name of the company – “Apple-hoopla.”) So that’s what I was aiming for, and that’s why I wasn’t revealing anything.
And then I noticed another model. I was reading about a guy named Evan Williams, the guy who more or less invented blogging with his easy-to-use software, Blogger. He later sold his first company to Google, then struck out on his own a few years later to do his next “big thing.” What was interesting, was that he blogged about everything – the rise of Blogger, the sale to Google, the decision to leave Google, the fact that he didn’t have a clue what he was going to do next – everything. Nothing was secret. No years of silence and then a sudden voila! at a big media event.
As I thought about the two models, the Apple model seemed almost “old-school” – it was a model geared for a mass market, dependent on mass media. It was a model that assumed the creative genius – Steve Jobs in this case – had all the right answers, and could dazzle the crowd with a fully-formed solution to whatever ailed them. Evan Williams model, though, was smaller scale and iterative. It was web 2.0. Involve your ultimate audience in the whole process – not just the grand revelation. Get your ideas out there early, and let your friends poke at them, contribute to them, improve them. Let them vest in the process, not just the final product. Take cues from the open source movement. Less Microsoft, more Mozilla.
Immediately, the question appeared before me, as if handwritten by God on the wall: “Why aren’t you talking about what you’re making?” “Because it isn’t finished!” I responded. “Let them help you make it better,” God replied. (Okay, this wasn’t actually a conversation between me and God… but grant me the creative license.) I realized I was being silly. I was trying to be Steve Jobs in a world that had gone all Evan Williams on me. Especially since what we’re developing here at Jellyfish is really more of a “movement” than a product. And, let’s face it, even if I “perfect it” and pull off an amazing Steve Jobs-ian launch event, Business Week still isn’t going to give a rip. Being the VeggieTales guy is cool and all, but it isn’t quite like being “the father of the personal computer.”
"So – what’s the point, you rambling, blogging fool?" The point is – it’s time to pull back the curtain. It’s time to open up the lab and invite everyone inside, to poke around, ask questions, and leave Post-it notes all over the place. It’s a new day. It’s a new blog. It’s time for you all to join the movement.
Tipping Point anyone?
I know what I’ll be loading up monday morning at work right away!!
Sounds good, Phil! I’ve been looking forward to “next week” because of this, for all of this week, now..! And now, only a few more short days to go, until all of us find out this big old huge secret!
As a Microsoft employee (replying right now from work, in fact), I think the implication here is a bit unfair:
“Less Microsoft, more Mozilla”
Microsoft has far more active bloggers and community outreach programs than both Apple and Google put together. Yes, pure open-source models like Mozilla are even more open, but knocking MS as lacking transparency ignores a great deal of very intentional effort that we’ve put forth in the past few years.
You’ve probably read “Wikinomics”, but if you haven’t, I recommend it (required reading in my group). The book is a bit naive and breathless at times IMHO, but they have some great case studies – and at a macro level, I think they are on the right track. The authors would agree very much with the collaborative approach you’re describing.
I continue to admire your understanding of today’s entertainment culture – you are unique as far as I’m aware in terms of being a Christian voice who has real insight there, which is what made your DVD commentaries so fascinating to me in years past and has continued through your book and blogging. I pray for your continued success in your new venture and look forward to more details!
*gasp!* you tease!
I can’t wait to take my first look!
Be back next week!
you knoooow, since its Saturday, its still this week, and next week starts tomorrow, so are we talking bout tomorrow next week, middle of next week, or end of next week, cause i’m not sure how much more waiting i can do phil. you’re kiiiiiilling me over me over here.
patience is a hard virtue…lol!
Yes, I see what you’re doing. You’re building the suspense! That’s right, a good old storyteller’s technique! And you have opened with a bang…. that bang probably being Veggie Tales, and the next step is going to be a little more…. thoughtful? I don’t know if I know what I’m talking about. But it sounded cool in my head.
myspace.comi am genuinely intrigued.
Colorado Springs, CO
red.com)I am so glad to hear this new “open” direction that you are taking. I have been thinking a lot about it myself, and for new projects like Evan Williams creates and Mozilla creates it really helps to be able to build a community around the new product long before the final release. I humbly submit the production of the new Red Camera (www.red.com) that followed this “business” model quite successfully all the way to release.
I will most definitely be back.
“It’s time to open up the lab and invite everyone inside.”
Ooo! At last! What we’ve all been waiting for, ever since you shut the door in Buck’s face when he pestered you with questions about what you were doing (remember that news short, everyone?). Exciting!
Should I bring cookies? 🙂
I look forward to Buck Denver hosting the big reveal.
Whee…! Should be a fun story to see unfold. Everybody loves a good sneak peek behind the scenes.
Heck, I’m one puppeteer that has been excited ever since Buck announced that new stuff “may include puppets.” 😉 Hmm… perhaps he has some insider information?
How fun is this?!
I am so invested in your story, and in your ultimate success, that I feel honored to get the chance to “poke at” your ideas.
You’re not just toying with us, are you?
Yippee!! Can’t wait!
My little one loves the J-Fish books, can’t wait to see what else is in store!!! Maybe if Steve went a little public that iphone would have had more than 4 gigs!
Hurry up week
I should have known you’d leave us in suspense. But it’s cool. I can’t wait a little longer.
That was just mean, haha. I read that whole thing, thinking you were going to reveal everything at the very end. 😛
Phil Vischer! How cruel – like Brian said I thought you were finally going to reveal what you guys are cooking up at the Jellyfish Labs.
Yes Yes, this is my second post. one and a half days later and I came back to check… are I sucked in!!!!!
This post reminds me why I enjoyed listening to the “commentaries” on the VeggieTales DVD’s. They reveal what a GEEK Phil Vischer is! I love those commentaries because Phil talks about software and rendering and anti-aliasing and all kinds of neat Geek stuff that I like.
This post gives away Mr. Vischer’s Geekocity as well. Phil, you’re a Geek! And that’s high praise from me.
Eeep! A tease! I can’t wait to see what you’ve got!
Nothing wrong with being a geek. I can say I am proud to be a geek. Though when he gets all technical I feel like my brain turns to mush, lol!
So maybe I’m the simple geek. My technical knowledge only stretches as far as…well, somewhat far, but not as far as him. LOL!
Ugh, but I was sucked in too…part 1? no no this was more like a preface, or introduction. No part 1 in here.
You know I figure the only way to solve this “must know what Phil is working on” urge is to just apply to work for you in the next few months. Wouldn’t that be a trip, me on your team. i could take that empty office that was off to the right of the conference room yeah? And I wouldn’t complain about your Macs, not too much anyways, LOL!
Yes yes, open your doors! Hurry! Pleeeease! See? I said please.
“Come back next week for the first look inside…”
It’s next week.
Hey people, try this! Tell us in what your favorite character, phrase, or scene in veggie tales. could be anything you want from veggie tales. and tell us why… if you want! 🙂
Right off the top of my head, the favorite that comes to mind is:
“How are we clapping?” from Josh and the Big Wall
You know, it’s really hard to let people in on your adventure when you don’t know for sure where it’s going to end. Thanks for inviting us along for the ride!
Interesting. It’s the “sales mentality” (which says, “here’s my product–buy it!”) versus “marketing” (which says, “Here’s what we’re thinking of dong; what do you think?”)
I’m not a big fan of Jobs, because of his cultish ideology. His whole “big reveal” attitude is based upon the cult mentality he creates among his employees and “fans.” The secrecy creates buzz and anticipation, and the “sudden reveal” makes him look like more of a “wizard” (literally). But it’s also about the fear of competitors getting wind of a project and copying it.
He learned long ago not to let Bill Gates get a hint of his works-in-progress.
That said, a more open attitude is thus more indicative of trust, and you never know what you’ll find from it.
I’m so excited to read on because this one didn’t really tell me about what’s happening at Jellyfish Labs. I like apple too and I agree that we should be sending microsoft to the antiques department.
Just read your book, “Me, Myself and Bob.” It was given to me by a “Creeker” (Willow Creek). I can’t tell you how much it touched me. You write so well! Keep up the good work. I hope your next venture goes well and remember to “watch your pride.”
Read your book. Had to laugh about the olive tossing in the dining hall in college. I lived on 1st east next to Mike and Eric that first semester. They always came in for fried fish or fried squirrel. Sorry I never took time to get to know you but it sounds like you were good at hiding then. I bailed out for the year of 1985 and returned to finish in 86′ so I missed a year and whatever went down. Lots of good memories of those years.
The jellyfish exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium is my absolute favorite! If you haven’t seen it, it is worth the price of admission. I didn’t realize there were so many different sizes and shapes of jellyfish. Why would God bother to create such diversity in a creature no one can really see? That is, until the black light is turned on it. Wow! The colors – the shapes – the sizes. What a revelation! Is that us as Christians? We’re “invisible” until the light of the Lord shines on us, in us, through us.
I don’t have a website or blog. I’m a greatgrandmama and looking for Christmas gifts b.d., etc. beginning at ages 2 and up. Thank you for your time.
Over 25 years ago, I believe God gave me ideas for children’s books and animations.
Well, for whatever reason, I sat on them until recently. I just started putting the ideas down and playing with them, making sketches, and suddenly things began to happen. Over the past several years I have been going through a lot of trials, like most Christians. I felt like giving up on my ideas and dreams. Over the last few days I have been enjoying your testimony on Moody Radio. Thanks for the encouragement…you have been an inspiration, over the years, in your success. Now I feel you are even more of an inspiration in your failures…turned over to Christ.
Thank you for your dedication.
Hey Dad! How’s buisness going for ya? I love you lots!!
Wow… I just finished your book this morning and then went straight onto jellytelly. Isnt God so amazing?!?!
Your book spoke right to the heart of what I am going through right now in my life and I thank you for being obediant to God and writing it.
I am so excited about Jellyfish labs and the new Jellytelly and I will be tracking you guys from here on!!
P.S. Just thought you should know that my wife and I do NOT have kids YET and are in our mid – late 30’s. 🙂 …. maybe we are still kids at heart… We love what you are doing!!
I read your book, and really appreciated the honesty you wrote with. But I missed the WHOLE POINT! I recently lent the book to a friend who called it “life changing” and “radical thinking”.
I’ll admit, I thought – did he read the same book I did? So I read it again. Today. In one sitting. My friend was right. I totally missed the point earlier, and now I see. God really wanted to get my attention. Thanks for helping Him do so. He now has my fullest attention, and I’m going to have a hard time learning to wait. But it will make all the difference instead of spinning my wheels going nowhere.
Thanks for the book, thanks for the message. Kudos for your bravery. This must have been difficult to write at times. I get the feeling that telling this story cost you something. Like David, who said “I can’t give God a gift that costs me nothing.” God is so honoured in this book.
So I checked out one of your episodes of Jelly Telly. Had a good time – my kids were late getting to bed, they didn’t want to miss anything. Promised to show them another episode tomorrow. Yay God, for answering prayer! All along the difficult period we were praying for God to make something beautiful and wonderful come out of all that mess. God is so great, and faithful. Keep walking with him, and we’ll keep watching and praying. 🙂
Just checking out yesterday’s Jelly Telly and wanted to let you know that I was looking for something fun. I felt a bit mopey and now, well a fai bit less mopey. A bit of a smile on my face – just a bit – getting wider though, slowly.
Hopefully my Daughter and Wife will check it out as well!
Phil, I saw your interview on YouTube at home, and I thought that was a cool story. And I was wondering if I could tell you that I you need to find a good bible story. I think you should lokk at the New Testament when Jesus brought Lazarus back to life and see if you can make a VeggieTales Story about that with Mr. Nezzer as Lazarus.
youtube.comI posted a VeggieTales video saying you should stop making JellyTelly and start making more VeggieTales please!
It on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86pJcl_4KSw&feature=related
Please come back now!
Hi It’s me again. I kove you! Me, My Dad, and a friend of Mine when we grow up can help you make more VeggieTales Episodes with you and Mike Narworcki.
It’s me again. I like the Bunny Song with ”I don’t love my mom or my dad” and ”I won’t go to church and Iwon’t go to school”
P.S. 5th Comment
P.P.S. Did parents really say that they like that song.
6th Comment I’ve made. Hello Phil. Are you going to answer please? I’m being nice.
7th Comment. I’ve always told my dad to stop watching baseball and Start watching more VeggieTales. What do you say?
I saw your video on Youtube on Friday and heard that You are doing 13 episodes of What’s in the Bible with Buck Denver. I was wondering if you can do a 14th episode about how the Bible applies Today to Society. Thanks Austin and John Schivera
P.S. I know that I said I don’t care about Jelly Telly but My Dad said That’s Not Nice So I’m sorry!
P.P.S. Email me Soon
P.P.P.S. You’re Like The Father I Never Had!
P.P.P.P.S. When is VeggieTales Swepeta Beatuy coming out.
Hi again. When are you going to speak at a another meeting I love seeing you on YouTube.com
This summer I going to buy Episode #1, #2, and #3 because i like Jelly Telly mainly because of the Jokes.
I have another question. Three characters Phil plays is Archibauld, Mr. Lunt and Pa Grape. When Mr. Lunt and Pa Grape with Larry find the Help Seeker Pa Grape and Mr.
Lunt are Takling at the same time and In the CD Bob and Larry sings ”The Crocodile Rock” sung by Archibald and Mr. Lunt. Those are two times I found when Phil two characters at the same time voiced by Him. How can He do two played by him at the Same Time. How Can You Do That? Thanks Liz!
What I meant to say was How can He do two characters played by him at the Same Time. How Can You Do That? Thanks Liz!
Phil is able to have two of himself on at once by “movie magic”. Essentially he records himself doing different characters at different times, then just adds/edits them together.
Austin, it’s called overdubbing. He records each voice separately, and they’re recorded on different tracks. So, for example, he does all of Mr. Lunt’s lines on track 1, then rewinds the “tape” (I’m sure they’re recording digitally these days) and records Archibald’s part while listening to the Mr. Lunt track so he can “react”.
lAST nIGHT iWAS READING aBOUT 1 AND 2 Chronicles about how in 1and 2 Chronicles largely parallels the Davidic narratives in the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings. It appears in two parts (I & II Chronicles), immediately following 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings as a summary of them with minor details sometimes added. The division of Chronicles and its place in the Christian canon of the Old Testament are based upon the Septuagint.
1Kings and 2 Kings are about how Queen Jezebel got rid of the Prophets of god and Elijah ran to Mount Sinal where god talked to Moses years before.
1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles talks about the descendants of Adam and Eve to Davisd and Soloman.
I’m Sorry about my comments about your private life. I have been watching This weekend I going to get Episode 1,2,and 3. But does Phil still like me?
P. s. I made a 92 on my Math Quiz because My Dad said If I made a good grade I could get a prize and I decided that my prize should be your 2005 book Me,Myself and Bob on Saturday.
I’ve read the first chapter of Myself and Bob. I found at Books-A-Millon.com and Amazon.com
My Sister starts working at Books-A-Million this Tuesay so I can Get Me,Myself and Bob.
P.S. I sent a email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you got it.
I lkie your work I finally got 1,2,3,and 4 of What’s in the bible with buckdenverr
Hi Phil! I’m Rustin Harrison, and I’m one of you and Mike’s biggest fan! I love VeggieTales and What’s in the Bible.I am 12 years old.My Mom said that when I was about 1, they had just bought a couple of VeggieTales for my church(my Dad is a youth pastor)and thought they were kind of silly.But in the middle of the show, they had noticed I had sat down on the floor with my eyes glued to the screen.Ever since, I have every movie(including Sweetpea Beauty,even though it’s kind of a girls movie)and counting.(Can’t wait til It’s a Meaningful Life.)The only two problems with me being 12 and Loving VeggieTales is 1. I get teased at school(even though I don’t care)and 2. I have to buy the movies with my own money now, though I have a plan. My little brother just turned one in May and he’ll sit down and watch VeggieTales too.So maybe if a lie back a little and let Rafe ask for them at Mardel,she’ll get them. We’ll, I’ve got to go now.And remember, God made YOU special and he loves you very much!Goodbye!
Dear Mr. Vischer It’s me again Your Number One Fan. I finally have your Me,Myself and Bob book. I like it but most of the time i don’t know what you’re talking about. Like when you talk this CEO person. But other than that I like your book. Thanks! And Remember God made you special and he loves you very much. Goodbye!
I love how it looks, esp the two older ladies….very cute!……….but please make the words more kid friendly. There are some very LARGE words in the beginning of the video(when the newscaster is talking about the cupcake). Sorry, my child would loose interest very quickly.