originally posted at https://canmom.tumblr.com/post/623172...
First of all, check out this fantastic illustration that @cyborg-sevalle drew! (ft. aeon flux, lightning, beatrice, 2b, kainé, the me! me! me! girl and terezi)
The theme tonight is independent web animators. We’re going to sample from the early days of flash animation on sites like Newgrounds and AlbinoBlackSheep, to the growing Youtube animation scene we have today. For some animators who’ve been here the entire time, we can see how their style’s developed over the years.
Some of the people we’re going to see…
- Felix Colgrave is an Australian animator who made a big splash a few years ago with his short film Double King, using a fascinating blend of religious imagery, geometric patterns and excellent character design. As well as Double King, we’ll watch a couple of his other shorts, Dry Run and The Elephant’s Garden.
vewn, aka Victoria Vincent, is very mysterious… we know she’s from the States and a pal of Jonni Phillips, but that’s about it! Her animations are incredibly stylish and really capture a sense of brutal capitalist alienation, and she should have way more attention imo. We’ll watch four of her pieces, including her most recent Twins In Paradise.
Cyriak Harris has been at this for years, with an incredible ability to distort photos into growing fractal, body horror patterns, timed perfectly to his electronic compositions. We’re going to watch some of his older work like ‘moo!’, and his most recent film, a music video for The Existential Threat by Sparks.
Andrew Hussie has been a huge figure in the Flash world through the many, many animations he produced for his comic Homestuck. on an animation level, Hussie’s shorts lean on relatively simple motion tweens… but what makes it work is the extremely stylish editing and shot composition and what grew to be a small army of volunteer musicians and artists supplying material. Hussie knows exactly where he can use ‘incorrect’ perspective and repating patterns for greater rather than less effect. We’re going to sample three points in Homestuck: [S] Dave: Ascend to the Highest Point of the Building (one of the earliest significant animations), the (in)famous [S] Cascade (the sprawling 14 minute finale to Homestuck’s Act 5, tying up dozens of storylines all to a series of great tracks, which crashed Newgrounds and even threatened Megaupload when it was released), and then Homestuck’s finale in [S] Act 7, a ten-minute animesque short largely animated by Angela Sham.
Temmie Chang may best be known for supplying her likeness to a certain cat in Toby Fox’s Undertale, but she’s an extremely skilled animator; we’re going to watch her extremely charming short film Potion Shop, about a small witch and a dragon. Chang is a really good character animator and her creatures have ridiculous amounts of appeal.
flash animation in the 2000s was heavily dominated by one particular subgenre: the choreographed stick figure fight, a convenient way for new animators to focus on smooth motion without having to worry about 3D forms and complex drawing. and - as established by a Chinese court in a lawsuit with Nike! - these all come back to one person: Zhu Zhiquiang, whose Xiao Xiao series kicked off the whole thing. We’re going to check out one of the most popular, Xiao Xiao no. 3, which has some silky smooth, well-timed fight choreography.
Stick figures have fought in all sorts of settings, and sooner or later it would go meta. Alan Becker started an inventive series in 2006 where his stick figure battles its creator’s cursor in the Flash interface… which is somehow still going today, maybe the only stick figure series to last this long. We’ll check out the first one.
while we’re in a Newgrounds block, we’ll watch something a little self-indulgent… back when I was very small and watching a lot of age-inappropriate flash animations, I really loved one called Walk-Smash-Walk by Sakupen, a music video about a small robot which hammers nails. On watching it back, it remains a nicely timed and edited little music video.
one of the biggest names in the Newgrounds flash animation scene was Adam Phillips, whose Bitey of Brackenwood series - about a woodland full of charming creatures and a nasty little faun man who runs about causing them trouble, much to his own misfortune - was definitely one of the high points in terms of drawing and animation. We’ll watch the original Bitey of Brackenwood, and a couple of the later shorts. (Incidentally, Phillips is still working on Bitey material, now using Unreal to compose 2D and 3D animation to some pretty gorgeous effect…)
- the other big name in Newgrounds flash animation was the three-person South Korean animation team SamBakZa, who produced a series of manhwa-styled short films called There She Is! about a relationship between a cat boy and a rabbit girl in a world where there is a massive cultural divide between cats and rabbits. The metaphor may be a little heavy-handed, but these shorts have a ton of good editing and charm.
- next, we’ll head back to Youtube for the most recent film on this list: Little Runmo by Gooseworx, about a squishy character in a Mario-style platformer who investigates the infrastructure behind their supply of lives while desperately chasing a one-up. The sense of humour is very similar to Felix Colgrave, and this short features a ton of great creature designs as things get weirder and weirder.
- also on Youtube, we have Swedish animator Guldies, who does some incredible work animating liquids, physics and transformations in clay, all conveyed with some really neat foley.
- next, a couple of samples from Betsy Lee’s No Evil series, a fascinating blend of recent and more distant mythology featuring a cast of spirits who are simultaneously Aztec mythological figures, and more modern American folklore characters. And also furries. No Evil has a ton of plot that we don’t have time to show, so I’m going to play some of the self-contained musically oriented episodes and invite you to check out the rest yourself sometime.
- recently, there’s been an explosion in people making animatics to play with choreography, timing and the like without the enormous time investment of full animation. One of the more interesting is ToastyGlow’s two-part Church and Heaven, about (as you might guess!) a character battling an oppressive church, all timed to music.
- let’s roll the clock back a little, and check out some of the work of Monty Oum, undoubtedly the best fight animator in the machinima space. Monty made a massive splash with his films of videogame characters having absolutely frenetic martial arts fights, such as Haloid and Dead Fantasy… and then he joined the studio Rooster Teeth, first to contribute fight scenes to their long-running Red vs Blue, and then to direct an original series called RWBY, which is by and large a super chuuni excuse to choreograph fights between his characters. Tragically, he died (of complications from an operation) near the end of production of RWBY season 3 in 2015. We’re going to watch two of Monty’s RWBY trailers (which show his style better than many of the episodes), and then one of the last (non-spoiler) fights he animated from RWBY season 3.
- machinima hasn’t gone away, but now it’s increasingly identified with Valve’s Source Filmmaker package. as an excellent example, we have the mysterious “McVee”’s End of the Line, which uses Source Filmmaker to tell a story about the TF2 characters with a strikingly similar tone to Valve’s own work. McVee gets a lot of great bits of character animation and weighty action out of Valve’s rigs, and it’s a strong, well-paced short.
- multiple have asked, so we’re going to include one Weebl’s Stuff video, Badgers. if you like looping animations with silly lyrics though, oh boy does that guy have you covered.
- likewise, David Firth leaves a long shadow, mostly for his early series Salad Fingers about a mouldy, dirty world where a green guy says mildly disturbing things in a funny voice. he’s continued making films, moving into a more photo-manip oriented style to parody the news and tell quite heavy-handed parables such as Cream. but i’m just gonna put salad fingers in unless there’s a really high demand tonight :p
- in a different direction, the whole pony fandom thing is now largely regarded as an embarrassing memory, but in its time it was an explosion of fan work. one of the most impressive is the work of Duo Cartoonist, consisting of Spanish-Canadian couple Richard Sirois and Jordana González. we’ll watch their film Children of the Night, which approaches a similar animation quality to the original show. Princess Luna guides a group of children to the Moon in a kind of pied-piper scenario, set to Kate Covington’s haunting cover of a song from the film Hocus Pocus. sadly, Duo Cartoonist have removed their work from the internet following Youtube’s new rules about monetising videos aimed at children, but a fan has preserved a copy for us to watch.
- to finish up, we’ll check out the work of Jonni Phillips, starting with her collaboration with vewn A Dog That Smokes Weed, which is kind of a satire on the state of animation nowadays, and has a really neat paper cutout animation style. then we’ll check out a few episodes of her Secrets and Lies in a Town of Sinners series, which strikes a very similar tone to vewn with low-key voice acting and a sketchy, lively art style…
and then if people still want to watch stuff, we’ll be back on the PV list.
Animation night will be playing at 7pm UK time at twitch.tv/canmom, four hours from this post going up! hope to see you all there! in the meantime I’ll be working on some animation of my own.