Thursday, October 21, 2010


I just logged into my blogger account today for the first time in quite a while (certainly the first time in a long time I've looked at the last time I posted) and noticed my last post was one year ago today. I'm increasingly using my deviantArt journal and Newgrounds news to post bloggish things, especially things about Enthalpy, so this blog isn't nearly as necessary as time forgot. This certainly hasn't been a production blog... until now. This place is a good place for posting records for myself that I'm not necessarily showing other people for critique.

Frame-by-frame animation of Nicholas and his similarly drawn comrades is getting easier and I'm keeping the proportions consistent more intuitively. Frequency of Ctrl + Z usage is slightly above acceptable limits. My current strategy is to animate everything on twos and then go back and continue adding tweeny keyframes to the spots in which 12 FPS looks too jerky, but unfortunately so far that seems to be just about everywhere.

Here's an example of a bit of in-progress animation that I assumed I could do on twos but I couldn't. In its current state, there are a couple of problems I'll have to go back and fix, most notably that the paper changes size as Nicholas lifts it up, but when I started it didn't look right at all and I wasn't sure why. At first I thought I didn't ease the movement enough, but that wasn't the problem. I decided to watch myself do the motions in the mirror and made these important notes:

-The most obvious difference between what I did and what my animated doppelganger did was that the side of my shirt was lifted up as my arm tugged it. TV cartoon clothes are usually drawn as though they're skintight even when they're not, and I'd fallen into that trap. I went back and redrew the side of Nicholas' shirt so that it's very subtly pulled up near the sleeve as he raises his arm. Not nearly as noticeable as my real-life shirtpull, but it works better.

-When I lifted my arm, it stopped moving slightly after the rest of my body. Ah, right, of course, I thought. Overlapping actions. Of course I knew of the principle of overlapping action in animation, but I didn't even think to apply it yet. Silly me.

-When I lowered my arm, it bounced as it hit my leg. In fact, it bounced twice. When I tried animating this it didn't really look right and I eventually ended up making a rubbery, cartoony smack. I'll probably try the bounce again.

I'm still doing a lot of learning right now. Hopefully future cartoons will take way less time because these sorts of things I'm still teaching myself will immediately come to mind as I'm drawing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dreams Should Be Grand

Well, my deviantArt journal is serving me quite nicely, so what is this blog still good for? Pipe dreams, yes. Yes, yes.

Unlike most individuals my age, I haven't had any interest in moving out into a house, apartment, etc. This changed when I found out about Tony Alleyne's Star Trek: Voyager apartment. I am not particularly into Star Trek (I've seen one episode of the original series and two films; that's it), but the place is absolutely aesthetically lovable. If I could afford an apartment and was able to make it look all awesomely futuristic, I'd do so in a heartbeat. I mean, it'd take way more than a heartbeat to move all my belongings, paraphernalia, and crap over to my world of tomorrow, but idioms rarely make sense when analyzed.

Then a few minutes ago I somehow stumbled upon THIS. Hitoshi Takahashi is some strange kind of hero to me; he built a fully functional giant robot beetle called Kabututom RX-03. It has a moderately spacious interior and, unlike that cheapo lifesize Gundam, can actually walk. It took ol' Takahashi-sama eleven years to build the thing, but I say it's time well spent. The YouTube video embedded on the site was removed for copyright infringement, but it or a similar video is still up here:

Watching that video, it hit me: the ideal home isn't a house or an apartment with a futuristic interior. It's a mobile giant robot with a futuristic interior. Some people have mobile homes; why not an awesome mecha version? The obvious answer is that, even if I knew how to make something of that sort, it would cost a porkload of money and apparently take over a decade to finish, but I already established that this is a pipe dream.

So there it is. I'm making it my goal to someday live in a giant robot with a sleek, futuristic interior. Or at least it could be my summer cottage or something.

Monday, May 18, 2009

This Isn't a Production Blog for Nicholas' Weird Adventures at All, Is It?

So it turns out I'm 19 and I haven't finished any other Flashes except Saunich der Hejhaug. I think it's the best looking Flash I've ever made, though I know I can do a lot better if I work on it for more than four days.

I'm learning Torque X 2D and C# now to attempt to make an Xbox 360 game to sell in the Community Games section. Please make a note of it.

Oh yes, and it turns out I'm still making YTPs... for now. I just made my first one in quite a long time last night after a long drought. I enjoyed making that one, but I don't expect to make frequent poops.

Friday, March 13, 2009

,,ɹoop s,uǝʌɐǝɥ uo ,uıʞɔouʞ,, ɹo 'puǝ ǝɥʇ puɐ buıuuıbǝq ǝɥʇ

Making Youtube Poops doesn't really hold much joy for me anymore. Currently I'm going through a couple of leftover jokes that I want to use, then I intend to retire. Consider this your warning, world.

Now, not only has it been nearly a year since I started Enthalpy, but I am almost 19 years old. Crot! I'm supposed to finish some kind of epic masterpiece by the time I turn 19! I wonder if that's the least bit feasible at this point.

I recently began to feel like I really want to make something very artistic and masterful and not just fun and silly like I've been doing. That's on my to-do list. My left eye itches. I recently came up with a great plot for a serious, short animation, but... for some reason, I don't feel like doing it. Yes, I love the idea and the story and everything, so I have absolutely no idea why I'm not that interested in making it.

I have the eventual goal of making an animation that breaks Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings' record of being the world's longest animated film. Not that I'd want to pad something out just for the sake of having that record; goodness, no. Actually, it wouldn't be hard at all for me to fill up two hours and forty-five minutes with tons of story. It's really hard for me to write short things because all my ideas tend to end up epic in nature.

Wouldn't it be great to see a feature-length animated film with visuals made entirely in iClone and music made entirely in Songsmith? I think so. Not that it'd be possible for the end result to be taken the least bit seriously.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Technically, it's been almost a year since I started work on the first episode of Enthalpy. However, I didn't start any REAL work until May 5th, and never actually used what I made on February 25th last year, so I'm counting May 5th as the actual start date. I'm really concerned about the time it's taking me to finish this, as I don't want any of the future episodes to take nearly this long to animate.

Of course I haven't been working on the episode this whole time. I'd say more than half of the days of the year I haven't worked on it at all. I've spent a lot of time making other things, such as YTPs and computer games. Today is the first time I've made any real progress on the episode in weeks, but I animated a whole four seconds today. I'm going to try to stick to the Harvey Birdman routine of animating an average of four seconds a day... I meant to do that from the beginning, and indeed did stick to that schedule for a while, but then didn't.

I MUST finish this episode by the beginning of May. I'm still sticking to my plan of not releasing the first episode until I've nearly finished the second one, and BOY do I hope the second doesn't take nearly as long to finish as the first. It's certainly not as elaborate in terms of what I'll have to animate, but the fact is I'm not just making two episodes. I have scenarios written down for over THIRTY episodes that I intend to make, so I'm going to be occupied with Enthalpy for the next several years at least. I hope to eventually be able to afford to have an actual animation studio animate the series, with me animating the parts that I need to have done a certain way, but I don't see myself being able to afford something that expensive in the near future.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

History of Internet Flash Quality

After making my previous post discussing Flash animation and tweens and such, I remembered my fourteen-year-old self being annoyed when people on Newgrounds criticized certain Flashes (particularly those made by Legendary Frog) for using "too much tweening". I didn't think tweened Flashes looked worse than FBF Flashes at all; they were just "different".

I knew I wanted to get into Internet animation when I was 13 years old once I saw The Return of Ganondorf. I was really into Ocarina of Time at the time, which made this video really stand out to me. You can view it here. Not only did I find the video hilarious, but I thought it was amazing that it was animated entirely by one person. The best Flash cartoons I had seen in the past had animation like this at best:

I still find the video pretty hilarious, and the animation gets the job done as well as it needs to, but it's nothing special. Note, however, that I said the Flashes I had seen were animated like that at best. They were usually much more simplistic and had absolute minimal movement. Unfortunately, the joke sites I visited back then are no longer in existence now. I was able to view using the Wayback Machine, but none of the Flashes were available and, sadly, I can't find them anywhere else. Most of those crappy short 'toons seem to be lost in the mists of time...

Anyway, my point is, I thought that The Return of Ganondorf's animation was amazing. I scoured the rest of Newgrounds for more Zelda animations, but was rather disappointed that none of them seemed to be nearly as high quality in terms of animation (and most weren't nearly as funny, for that matter). See, back in 2003 and earlier, Legendary Frog quite possibly did put the most effort into his Flash animations. Making a Flash frame-by-frame was completely unheard of. However, as time went on and more and more people started using Flash, more people started putting more and more effort into their animations. Countless people could make Legendary Frog-quality Flashes and higher. From what I remember, the first people I saw truly transcend the 2D motion-tween style were John and Richie Zirbes, the creators of Perfect Kirby. The first two episodes (broken up into six Flashes) were nothing that special in terms of animation quality (though I still found them pretty funny), but with the appearance of Perfect Kirby 3.1, the bar was definitely raised. No one (on Newgrounds, at least) had tried to give the impression of 3D movement using shape tweens. In fact, it was so unheard of that many people assumed a 3D program was used for a large quantity of the animation. It was, however, made entirely in Flash, which was pretty mind-blowing.

Looking back on the animation of Perfect Kirby 3, the animation is still really smooth, but the drawings themselves are generally pretty bland and amateurish. The limb joints don't fit together that well, and the 3D tweening often distorts. At the time, however, it was the epitome of great Flash animation. It remained that way until Fallen Angel: Teaser came along in 2004.

The animation was still mostly motion tweened, but a lot more detail was put into the individual drawings than in most Flashes. The first Flash I remember seeing that used a lot of frame-by-frame animation was part 2: synj vs horrid, which can be viewed here. The drawings were rather simplistic, but the cartoon had a lot of fascinating environmental effects, the likes of which I had never seen in an Internet cartoon before.

Of course, that meant I had missed the animations of professional Disney animator Adam Phillips, whose cartoons were the most widely acclaimed on Newgrounds. I didn't think that much of them at first, but after viewing an editable .fla of a scene from Prowlies at the River, I was in awe as everyone else. Phillips mainly animated environmental effects, so that's where his greatest abilities were. Pretty much no Internet Flash animator has surpassed Phillips' abilities yet except Phillips himself, who puts more effort into every Flash he makes than the previous one.

Now, Prowlies at the River was released in late 2004. A bit over a year earlier, The Return of Ganondorf was the epitome of webtoon animation quality. But Prowlies COULD have been made in 2003. The technology was available. No precedent existed, however. Most people were used to seeing stiff, minimal animation in Flash cartoons, so most people didn't aspire to do that much more than what had already been done. Thus, Flash evolved over time based on the fact that people gradually tried putting more effort and time into their work.

Now, it wasn't until very, very recently that I found out that John Kricfaluci was, in fact, the person who made the first ever Flash cartoon. Before The Goddamn George Liquor Program, Flash was pretty much just used to make banner ads and simple games. Macromedia continued to develop the Flash program based on Kricfaluci's input, and he help shape Flash into what it's most known for today: making Internet cartoons. Of course Kricfaluci dislikes most of what's done with Flash today, but he still uses it. To quote his blog:

Flash looks like Flash no matter how hard you try to hide it. At least so far. It is basically an inbetweening program, not an animation program. The inbetweens - like in all computer programs are too mathematical. Hand drawn inbetweens make your animation feel more natural, because things don't move mathematically in real life.

Flash is only as good as the drawings you put into it- and how many good drawings. The less you do, the more fake it looks. Ever since I started using Flash as a necessary evil, I have been trying my damnedest to make it look as little like Flash as possible. If I was able, I would go back to the 60s system of limited animation. The reality of the situation today is that there are no animators capable of what the animators in the 60s did. We have not done animation in the country for 35 years now so no one even knows how it works.

Generally, I concur. Boy, would I love to make traditionally animated cartoons, but it's just not realistic. I have no budget whatsoever and no animators working for me. I have to make the whole thing myself, and the only way I can do that is in Flash. If I want to actually finish more than one Flash a year, I have to use tweens.

However, I disagree with John K. on a couple of things. For one, he mentioned that he prefers 1960s Hanna Barbera limited animation to Flash. As I've said before, I just can't make myself see what he likes about The Flintstones. While the character models themselves can look rather appealing, the animation just hurts. I definitely prefer the animation in The Return of Ganondorf.

For another thing, he said "Flash looks like Flash no matter how hard you try to hide it." It's very, very rare for me to see a Flash cartoon that I don't realize is made in Flash as soon as I see it. However, I occasionally do. For example, I had no idea that those Cocoa Puffs commercials were made in Flash before I read that they were. Another example is a Flash version of the theme song to Azumanga Daioh!, "Soramimi Cake". The person who made the Flash version just traced the original version of the theme song in Adobe Illustrator and made the final product look... exactly like the original. I can no longer find the Flash itself, but here's a link to a blog entry from the person who made the Flash version which shows several screenshots detailing the process.

This post was supposed to be about tweens vs. FBF, but before I got into that I felt I should post this stuff. My next post will be about what I meant for this one to be about.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Wii Wiill Waiit a Whiile

I came upon a fact a couple of days ago that threw a wrench-type dealie at my WiiWare plans. You know that menu that comes up whenever you press the Home button on your Wii remote? The one that shows the buttons asking if you want to return to the main Wii menu, reset the game, or view the operations manual? It turns out that the only way to implement that menu is if you have the official Wii development kit, which I don't. And if you want to get something published on WiiWare, Nintendo has sole discretion as to whether your title is made available or not. Of course they're not going to avail a game that was obviously made using a freeware homebrew development kit and doesn't even have the same Home-button menu that every single other Wii game ever made has!

That is why I've decided to return to DS development for now. I'm more familiar with DS programming anyway...

Since I never got past pre-production, I now intend to develop Enthalpy: Detectiventure for the DS. I figure it'll have enough gameplay that a buyer wouldn't be disappointed (I'm expecting/hoping that it'll be released as a "budget title" anyway); I also read IGN's review of the Shaun the Sheep game for the DS a couple of days ago, and it apparently only has about one hour of gameplay. IGN gave the game a 6.6 out of 10. While I'd hope for my game to get a better score, at least that shows me that my game won't be the shortest.

I'm not starting development on Detectiventure just yet, though. Back in October (I think), I entered DA YCP MAKE A VIDYA GAEM CHALLENGE, intending to make a 3D computer game to teach myself to use Torque Game Engine. A lot of slacking and a lot of problems/glitches led me to decide to make a simpler 2D game instead. I still want my game to stand out, though; thus, I am making the game for the DS. It'll also be a good learning experience, as I'll be teaching myself how to do certain things along the way.

The game is still planned to be called Saunich der Hejhaug and feature that creepy Sonic doppelganger guy. I've already finished the opening splash screens and title screen (music included). I'm pretty sure I can finish this by Christmas.

Currently planned game timeline (subject to change based on my decisions as well as those of others):

-Finish Saunich der Hejhaug game for the DS by Christmas and release it for free as homebrew
-Make a 2D Enthalpy game, also for the DS, and contact O3 Entertainment or another company of that sort. Release it as a commercially available game in stores and such.
-Form an actual company (a sole proprietorship, of course) and apply to be an officially licensed Nintendo developer.
-Buy a Wii devkit, most likely using money obtained from sales of the Enthalpy DS game.
-Hooray! I can make Wiistuffs now (and by now I mean in the semi-distant future).

Irrelevantly, shortly after my previous post, I started feeling like I was being too hard on automatic tweens. I'll talk about that in either my next post or the one after that.