Check this out! a kickstarter champaign for a new Dragon’s Lair film!! Donate if you can!!
My beautiful Wife just got me this original Exo Squad animation cel for my birthday!! Original art work from an excellent underrated animated series about the domination of earth by the Neosapians a cloned race of blue beings that we created for slave labor. Mature themes, excellent voice acting, and intergalactic continuing story lines that advances the plot to a cliffhanger that made you wanting more. It lasted only 2 seasons, but how I wish there was a third season to wrap things up.
“Exosquad is an American animated television series created by Universal Cartoon Studios as a response to Japanese anime. The show is set in the beginning of the 22nd century and covers the interplanetary war between humanity and Neosapiens, a fictional race artificially created as workers/slaves for the Terrans. The narrative generally follows Able Squad, an elite Terran unit of mecha pilots, on their missions all over the Solar System, although other storylines are also abundant. The series ran for two complete seasons in syndication from 1993 to 1994, and was cancelled after one third-season episode had been produced. Reruns later aired on Universal-owned USA Network. The music from the show was used in the third season of the paranormal series Sightings as additional background score.”
The critical reception of Exosquad was generally positive, as it was described as “no ordinary cartoon”, “truly a superb piece of work”, “a kind show that [one]’ll never forget”, and “one of the greatest anime epics ever made”. Phil Summers of Shamoozal.com commented that while “the early 90s wasn’t exactly the best time for cartoons”, Exosquad was “one of the most underrated cartoon series of all time”. Summers spoke highly of its “serious, ongoing storyline”, complimenting the maturity of raised themes, and denoted the decision to cancel it despite the rising popularity as “weird”. Likewise, Thomas Wheeler of MasterCollector.com described the abrupt ending as “a VERY frustrating cliff-hanger”. Both Summers and Wheeler praised the quality of the toy line that accompanied the series.TG Moses of Evabeast.com pointed out that the two main strengths of Exosquad are its “phenomenal” story and its characters. Like Phil Summers, he complimented the mature themes (such as racism, religion, and politics), calling the show “thought provoking and inspiring” with “an incredible amount of depth” in it. Moses specifically praised the characterization of the Neosapien characters, which avoided “absolute good and evil” designations, and voice acting in the show, wherein he perceived it “better than everyone else”. Both Will Meugniot and Michael Edens commented that Exosquad was the best show they have worked on.
Gord Lacey of TVShowsOnDVD.com reviewed the first season upon its DVD release and likewise praised the maturity and complexity of the show, which subverted his expectations. He criticized the occasionally blurry visuals and too quiet audio of the release, rating them both 7/10. Lacey named the absence of DVD extras as a possible source of disappointment for the fans of the show. “
Recently, I got this email from animator Terrence Walker at StudioArtFX. He does bring up some interesting points. However, I look at the proliferation of 2D animation on the internet and see a new frontier. One that hasn’t totally been exploited yet. With PBS stating that over 30% of children are finding their content on the internet, 2D may have found a new distribution market. The question becomes, how can artists and animators monetize from it to continue creating content? Can animators create television or film quality animation and distribute it through the internet in a cost effective and timely manner? Are skills being lost or are they transforming and adapting to a new medium of distribution?
What do you think?
Here’s Terrence’s editorial. And check out his tutorials and “anigen” shows at www.studioartfx.com
Miyazaki Was Right. 2D Will Die!
I was putting off writing this message because it makes me angry even to think about this issue. Then, someone went and posted a quote on Facebook that got me into wanting to write about this. I figured better here than in a comment which will be lost in a sea of meaningless traffic. The quote goes:
“…it’s important to keep passing it (knowledge and inspiration of 2D animation) on, even though there’s not a huge studio anymore – at least in this country, in the U.S., who does these kind of films – you never know where it’s gonna go.
Just going back to when I started at the studio in 1980, it looked pretty bad then, too. It looked horrible, because THE FOX AND THE HOUND came out, did okay business, BLACK CAULDRON flopped, and it looked horrible for 2D animation and they had meetings upstairs about folding the department then, in the early 80’s and so, to see it swing, and come back, in this glorious way, that we were all a part of – it was kind of surreal, that this actually happened, from almost dying to almost staging a full comeback, and it can happen again. I’m telling you, it can happen again.“ – Andreas Deja
Unfortunately it may very well NOT happen again. The reason won’t be because of the financial aspects. It will be because, as Miyazaki said, the skill to do so will be lost. Miyazaki believes it is already lost! He says most animation out there is garbage because the skill with the pencil is gone. How can this be true?
I was watching some modern anime films recently, and it suddenly hit me. Anything which would be even remotely difficult to draw is done in 3D cel shading now. ANYTHING. When was the last time you saw a car, bus or plane fully hand drawn? Compare that to Akira, in 1988, when everything, even the most detailed crumbling building, was hand drawn. These things are done in CGI now for time and cost saving reasons, I know, but the skill to draw it is being lost as a result. Yes, there are guys who can still do it, but they are all getting old. Is the skill being passed on?
Young people are learning 3D and going into games because 2D animation doesn’t pay well. You can’t even make a living wage working for a studio in 2D animation. You have artists living four to a room, packed like sardines into a box in a high rent district in Tokyo. Did you know even a successful director makes about the same as a minimum wage worker at McDonalds in the USA? They don’t own the rights nor profit from their creations after all.
For years, studios in Japan and the US have been outsourcing the “grunt work”, and it is sad that it is even considered grunt work, of 2D animation, to studios in Korea, and then China. Interestingly, we are seeing some incredible 2D skill popping up in China. In a recent trailer, I saw this amazingly detailed, fully hand drawn dragon that blew my mind. Unfortunately, it is already becoming evident that these movies can’t make money in the local market. College age students realise that you can’t get a job in this industry, and so everyone is learning 3D and going into games, where there is a new startup every few days. In the countries DOING the outsourcing, artists only need to focus on design, since the actual 2D animation work is being done elsewhere. As a result, the skill is being lost.
And then there is Flash.
I’m not even going to talk about that.
When you watch a film like Akira, I think there is a certain awe that comes with the knowledge that someone draw that amazing thing you’re seeing. Even though modern cel shading has gotten really good, and it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference, there is something missing when you watch it moving on screen. It’s that awe. The same as the difference between a 007 film, where the car stunt is real, versus a Fast and Furious film where it is obviously CGI, even though both LOOK very good.
Financial reasons cannot, of course, be ignored. People want to make money and put food on the table so they are going to learn the skills that are in demand or that can make some money. Studios expect a profit on the huge investment they put into making a film. 3D is now much much cheaper than 2D, at least in the higher echelons of quality, and excluding sweat shop labor. All of this is, however, leading to one result. Young people are not learning traditional 2D animation, and they have absolutely no reason to.
Audiences still love 2D, though, so what is one to do? THE INDIE will have to keep it alive. If you have a dream of making your own 2D animation project, make it now. There will be less and less competition.
Click here to learn how to get started: http://www.studioartfx.com
Catch up with you soon,
Now the question becomes how do animators monetize off the internet so it becomes a viable option for a full time job?
Patreon? Kickstarter? Adds? Any suggestions?
Channel Frederator has expanded its digital animation network with over 90 new channels, carrying content from 11 different countries. New titles join established Frederator Studios shows like Cartoon Hangover’s Bravest Warriors from Pendleton Ward and Bee and PuppyCat from Natasha Allegri.
Among the deluge of newly signed partners are up-and-coming animation star Emezie Orakafor (a.k.a. YouTube user Xykes), creator of popular series Porkchop and Flatscreen, and Spanish-language animator Kevin Ramos, who is based in the Canary Islands. With the new channels in the mix, Channel Frederator now boasts 27 million subscribers under its umbrella, and more than 2.6 billion views across its network.”
Bee and Puppycat, Bravest Warriors, Cartoon Hangover, Channel Frederator, Emezie Orakafor, Frederator Studios, Kevin Ramos, Natasha Allegri, Pendleton Ward, Porkchop and Flatscreen, Xykes
And Here it is. Having spent the last 3 years working for a company that produces training manuals and computer based training for the mining industry, this reel really doesn’t have any character animation in it. More of a demo reel demonstrating machines and props that I have modeled and animated.
Now to discuss the real issue….. LETTING GO! No, not Disney’s Frozen!
I don’t know how many times I have watched this and I still see something that I want to change. It is a never ending critique and eagerness to put out there the best you can. But if I did that it would never get released. there would always be something to change or add to it. As my beautiful wife told me tonight, as I was complaining about the lack of character animation in it, that my demo reel is fluid and always changing and being updated. I have to view it as a living thing, constantly growing and displaying different personalities and characteristics. Some might be good, others, not as good.
And yet, does it demonstrate that I know what I’m doing, that I can use the software to communicate ideas? Some of these animations have pretty complex models and rigs, and you are only seeing a snippet of the actual animated scenes and movies. Some of the training material that I animated were 20 – 35 minute pieces that I had to take from start to finish.
I always wonder after I finish a new reel, not if it is good, but if it is good enough? Let’s be honest here, a reel is to help you get work or a job. It’s a visual resume. Over the next few days I will constantly be haunted by the question “is my reel good enough to get me a job or freelance work?” It’s a question, I’m sure, all creative types have to deal with. Is it good enough? I might think it is when I get a call for a job or job interview, until then I won’t know.
And here we come to, probably, the most important part, I had a freaking blast making this little minute long beast!! I felt the passion, the drive, the love for a medium that has always dominated my life. I have been trying to get my web series “STARFISH” off the ground for a while now. Doing this reel has renewed my lust to see, what I have called, Sponge Bob meets Star Trek in an episodic series. If all goes well, I just might have a few episodes coming out in the near future.
And the greatest joy of this whole experience, was when my 4 year old son, Bane, wanted to sit next to me at the light table so he could “work on his animation with Daddy”. Maybe, it is just that. That moment when a little boy wants to work with his Daddy and do the thing that his Daddy loves doing. Maybe that is the answer. Is it good enough to get me a job or work? I don’t know. However, to that little boy, to have that moment to sit next to his father and share his love and passion, it is good enough.
I’m very excited to be working on a new demo reel that will include some new work that I’ve done at PAI inc. here in Tucson. I’m also going back to my roots and trying to produce some 2D material. Some test footage from my ongoing STARFISH project. I’m even contemplating taking the plunge into freelance work. I image that I’m going to be pretty busy in the next few weeks. However, I will enjoy it. I love animating, and getting a chance to produce my own material makes me giddy with joy.
Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki
Music by Joe Hisaishi
Made with Blender, Gimp, Octane and Natron.
Thanks to Blackschmoll, Boby, Christophe, Clouclou, Cremuss, David, Félicia, Frenchman, Sozap, Stéphane, Virgil !
And Thanks to Ton Roosendaal, the Blender community, the developers of Blender, Gimp and Natron !
Check out this Interview with Flash Gordon Classic Creator Robb Pratt!! It is very inspirational!! Then go back and listen to the other Rubber Onion Podcasts! Great information on animation. Positive, funny, and upbeat, these guys are becoming one of the best animation podcasts that deal with independent and professional animation!
I’m a big fan of the serials from the 30’s and 40’s. Here is a man after my own heart!! An excellent animation from Robb Pratt. I would love to see this go to series as these shows were so much fun!
And more Flash Here…. I grew up watching Filmation’s Flash Gordon. When I meet Lou Scheimer he mentioned that Flash was the series he was most proud of because he grew up watching the classic Serials.
And the original Classic serial:
And let’s not forget this gem…..
Finally, the 2D animation software CACAni that in betweens your keys for you has been released! Compared to other 2D animation software, price wise, it is a steal! Currently, a promo price of around $167.00 US makes this software a must have. Made to create cel style digital animation and to increase productivity for the artist, CACAni does some amazing things. Understanding CACAni’s workflow is important to getting the inbetweens to work right. Creating strokes in the right order and right direction makes auto inbetweening easy and fast. The smart paint feature lets you paint one frame and then the software will paint the other frames in the sequence with a push of a button! There are other tools that make the automation of the animation fast and efficient. CACAni Amazingly gives the ability for a small number or even one person to create a full feature film! This software could possible revolutionize the 2D animation industry. I can see the internet erupt with 2D animation made amazingly fast and with full feature quality, not the “flash” minimalistic quality we have come to expect from animation created for the net. Get it! And show the world what you can do, fast and with television or feature film quality! Then let me know what you think of CACAni!! Go to: