An emerging independent animator. Beta tester for GoAnimate.com. I'm making a festival film too.
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Before I start, I just want to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Amazement Square today! They hosted the first film festival where I was a guest speaker and I am eternally grateful for that. Have a GREAT celebration this weekend!
I hope you all like the new look for the blog. I made it wider to host more high resolution drawings and videos and changed the look a bit. This post, I’ve got a bunch of videos!
Okay, last video:
Hello everyone! Sorry for the long wait for the update. I know you have been wondering what in the heck have I been doing! Well, here’s the deal:
I did storyboard this thing out… the next step is to take the storyboards and the audio from the actors and create a little movie called an animatic. You do this to get an idea of how your movie is gonna look. Well, I did that, and it’s not working for me… not the whole thing anyway. My friend Brian said he didn’t like the timing, so that’s what I thought the problem was. So, I went back and reworked the timing over and over… and it still didn’t work for me. So I went back to my storyboards… and slowly remembered that I really don’t know enough of what I’m doing to fix what I’m feeling is wrong. So, I did a Google search to see what I could learn online about storyboarding... and I found Karen Lloyd.
Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!
Go!Animate is a website where, as their tagline reads, “anyone can animate”. I discovered this site after Go!Animate followed me on Twitter. They have created a unique platform where you can create a simple Flash cartoon with pre-animated characters and preloaded backgrounds, sounds and special effects, even camera moves. They have licensed characters from various properties including Street Fighter, Star Trek and even Akon (the rapper!) and they also have a custom character creator. They have a very clean and simple interface for their animator program. You drag and drop your elements onto the “Stage” and adjust the length of time your elements appear. You add another Scene to make a change. You can import your own sound and images. You can also sync sound and music to the elements. The site has a community of GoAnimators that regularly chat on the forums and there is a Facebook Chat like feature so you can instant message other GoAnimators. You can even easily share your creations on the various social media portals.
At first glance, a professional would call it “cheating” or “lazy”(and they have, I asked.) The program gives you a very small level of control and the controls you do have are imprecise and clumsy, especially to sync your sounds and music. The pre-animated characters have limits on what they can do, thus limiting what you can do and the story (if any) you can tell. You need Firefox or Google Chrome to run the site without it crashing or locking up. If you have ever felt that you had to fight Flash to get the results you want, you feel that in spades here. Granted, this is a new site and they are still working out the bugs. So, why would someone like me even bother with a website like this? Several reasons.
This is the perfect platform to teach kids how to animate and I saw a tweet where Go!Animate is creating a special educational version. I’ve been using it to teach my nephew Jamari about some of the basics of animation. Yes, the characters are pre-animated… but to create something of quality you still need the basics of story, staging, pacing, etc. Jamari is seeing these basics and understanding them with this platform because he can see the results instantly and apply them himself to his own cartoons. Once he learns to draw and is ready to take intro to animation courses or learn Flash or ToonBoom or even Maya, he will already know how to compose his shots and tell a story visually. His eyes widened when I explained why you use an establishing shot and why and when you change a scene. I’m so proud.
Go!Animate now has the option to download your films so you can host them wherever. This can now be a very quick and elegant tool to create animated content for YouTube or Hulu and potentially have a solid animated series, as long as the story is there. Hey, look at South Park, its all about story. Its way faster than animating in Flash so you can be razor sharp with topical humor and you can crank out tons of episodes in a very short period of time. You just have to pay a small fee to download the toon.
Also, its FUN! I love animation and I love animating, so this is almost like playing with a toy for me. Yes, its not very sophisticated and you feel like you’re fighting the program, but that’s part of the challenge. Creating something of quality here is difficult and limiting so when you get that scene to read the right way and everything is timed right and acts right, its awesome! They also recently made me a beta tester so now I can add my own pre-animated characters. I’ll be able to work with Jamari on animating elements in Flash which will be even more fun.
But here is the latest cartoon from Jamari and Bralyn, their Christmas Special. We created it to enter Go!Animate’s Jingle Bell Blowout contest to win a Nintendo DSi! I think they’ve got a real shot to win this thing even though there are some good entries there. I’m really hoping that they don’t get beaten by one of the more lude entries that they can’t watch.
And because it has become a family thing for me, I chose Go!Animate to create my Christmas card this year. Everyone else is making those JibJab dancing elves cards, I wanted to be different. I went and found a Christmas song with a Creative Commons license (a concept the GoAnimators haven’t grasped yet… pray for them) and made a little music video card. Check it out!
Merry Christmas again to everyone and I’ll leave you with this link – Larry Lauria’s Christmas Animation Festival
One of the reasons I love animation is that the process of creating it always leads to little memorable adventures in life.
The recording session for Jamari Animated was on November 9th at 90.9 The Light – Liberty University. I had NO IDEA that Liberty was so busy at night! The campus is a lot bigger from when I was at Boys State there and I got lost! The students were very helpful in pointing me in the right direction though. The 90.9 facility is great and Justin Berry, their sound mixer that did all the recording, was very nice and very helpful. To support 90.9 The Light, they accept donations at this link. 90.9 The Light.
The boys did a great job! Special thanks to Rhyan and Tyler Cooper who voiced the bully characters! Josh Sosin is the voice of Raincoat, and he did an outstanding job. Thank you Jen Staton and Ginger Cooper for arranging for them to come, and thanks to the dads, David Sosin and Steve Cooper for coming! Facebook made it all possible!
Thanks to my sister Michelle for bringing her boys too. I really appreciate her help with Jamari and Bralyn at the recording session. It was a little bumpy at times, but we got it done!
Jamari and Bralyn have been recording for animation a LOT here lately. They recently created a Halloween Special on GoAnimate.com. It was so well received; the boys have decided that they want to create their own little animated series for the internet, just for fun. They’ll record episodes whenever they get the chance. Part one of episode one is online now.
GoAnimate.com’s Jamari and Bralyn
I also wanted to take a moment and say Happy 40th Anniversary to Sesame Street. I grew up with Sesame Street and loved it. I have fond memories of all the great animation (hmmm) and I remember that I could count to 10 in Spanish in pre-school! Sesame Street was the first "edutainment" for kids and laid the groundwork for films like Jamari Animated to be made. Thank you Sesame Street and may you have another 40 wonderful years. http://bit.ly/4FnFHQ
For the newer followers of the production blog, you may have read the blog posts and you may not know exactly what this film is going to be. All we’ve talked about here is that this was a birthday present for my nephew Jamari, Amazing Space Films and fundraising, promotion on Twitter and that the film will be stereoscopic, but that’s not the whole story behind this film. This blog actually started in the Notes section of my Facebook page for my family and friends. A good friend suggested that I make this blog and promote the film to everyone. The next blog post will be a review of those old posts from my Facebook Notes and will be devoted to what Jamari Animated is, the story, the characters, its focus and the fact that this is a “Christian Action” cartoon…
Cheers until the next post!
I hope everyone had a great Halloween! I had a great time with my nephews Jamari and Bralyn. While I was helping babysit them Halloween morning, we created a Halloween cartoon over at GoAnimate.com. I broke out my little microphone and they went to town. They wrote it and Jamari co-directed with me... and their grandma was the voice of the ghost! You can check out Part 1 and Part 2 of Jamari and Bralyn's Halloween Special here.
Jamari and Bralyn's Halloween Special, Part 1
I'm really proud of this... they did a great job!
The recording for the Jamari Animated project is on again. The best time for all involved seems to be November 9th. Cross your fingers and say a prayer everyone that it happens this time. I'm praying that it goes without a hitch! I'm going to take advantage of the recording time and get the actors to also record for fundraising trailers. I've got a week to figure that out, so I'm watching tons of fundraising trailers on IndieGoGo.com. I really want to avoid the clichéd "Making of" video... I want them to be fun and interesting so people get excited about being a part of it. I'm leaning towards either an "interview" kind of thing or a dramatic movie trailer voice over kind of thing... or maybe a combo of both.
I'm thumbnailing out some of the scenes from the project that will be using the stereoscopic effects heavily. Here are some thumbnails from the scenes where Jamari is running from Raincoat throwing lightning bolts. Jamari grabs onto a merry-go-round and swings around it, dodging the bolts.
The plan with this is for Jamari's feet to swing out of the screen as he spins around the merry-go-round. I'm learning as I'm designing this and I'm not sure how much of a challenge doing this with Flash (or possibly ToonBoom) is going to be. I'm just thumbnailing the depth script and going from there.
I just wanted to take a minute and talk about Twitter and what it could mean for my project... and all audience funded film projects. At first, I didn't get it. I thought it was just a site for "Facebook Updates". After using it and watching other Twitter users use it, I get it now. Twitter can be just for personal updates if that's what you want, but it's also a fantastic tool for fast, viral networking, promoting your work and tracking performance. For example, I posted my nephews' Halloween cartoon on my Twitter page and checked its performance after a day. When I checked the stats, GoAnimate said the cartoon had 30 hits. Bit.ly reported that 13 of those hits came from Twitter. Bit.ly can also tell you if your link has been retweeted or shared on Facebook.
So, as a creator, I can put a piece of work out there and be able to tell exactly how popular it is and how big of an audience I have. This is key with fundraising (in sales, we called it prospecting). Using Twitter and Bit.ly as tools, I can tell how many people see my fundraising trailer, how many of those people actually donated and come up with a success ratio. With that ratio, I'll know how many people I need to get my trailer seen by to raise the amount of money I may need during my projects. Right now, I have around 100 followers on Twitter and 13 Twitter users watched the Halloween cartoon. That's 13%. So I know that around 10 -15% of my followers will click on one of my links. For sake of argument, lets say 1 person made a donation. So, I would then know that for every 13 views I should get around 1 donation. Of course, those numbers wouldn't stay the same. I would look at those numbers over time and analyze how effective the tweets are, follower to click ratios, click to donation ratios, etc, and I would repeat what works and stop what doesn't. And I used to think that a background in sales was a waste for an animator...
Of course, I'm not saying that we must spam people. I've seen that the best Twitter users mix promoting their work with personal tweets, news related posts and trending topics, all related to what they do. I think the key is that your Twitter stream has to be interesting and fun... while staying focused and true to your brand. In other words, your followers expect a certain kind of tweet from you.
....haha, as if i'm a social media expert. I'll keep you informed on the results as I go, though.
I also want to thank Twitter for their new lists feature. They basically took the weekly Twitter ritual of "Follow Friday" and turned it into a feature. Now, we're all grouped together in iconic categories. It might seem shallow for some, but hey, every time I'm on an "Animation" list, that's a little victory. It makes things easier too. Say, for example, you're after tweets about cooking, and you trust Paula Deen's opinions on the subject. Well, if Paula Deen's Twitter page makes a list of chefs or cooking Twitter accounts, you can just follow Paula Deen's list instead of tracking them all down yourself. I see it as a Twitter user giving a "seal of approval" to other Twitter users on a specified subject. If you're on Twitter (and if you're not, I highly suggest it), check out my @chaostoon/coolpoints list. Thanks to @GoAnimate, @Hollywood_Tweet, @TheBriness and @Skookum86 for putting me on their lists of professionals. Thanks to @mbusse as well for putting me on a followed Lynchburg, VA list!
Check back for pictures from the recording session!
Got an update on the fiscal sponsorship. Fractured Atlas has approved the expansion of my fiscally sponsored project to include all films I create for any local film festivals. This includes the Jamari Animated project! The name of the project at Fractured Atlas is "Amazing Space Films". Here's the best part:
Amazing Space Films is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of Amazing Space Films may be payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductable to the extent permitted by law.
You can make a donation here.
Everyone who donates to Amazing Space Films for the Jamari Animated project will get their names in the credits! Any major gift donation of $1000 or more will receive an Associate Producer credit. Your donations will go towards making our films stereoscopic and providing 3D glasses for our audiences!
Of course, Studio Luke 15, LLC nor myself are not directly affiliated with The Amazement Square Rightmire Children's Museum or Riverviews Artspace.
My prayers go out to everyone with the flu this season. My actors for the film have it, my best friend is just getting over it... and I just found out that my good friend Steven, owner of Cryptarchy VFX in Aspen, Colorado, is in critical condition with the H1N1 virus. I've never met him in person. He sent me a connection invite on LinkedIn and we would chat on Facebook all the time. We would talk about how he wanted to create an visual effects house with a strong visual and marketing brand. For an animator with a background in sales like me, he spoke my language. He's an inspiration, a kindred spirit and an honored colleague. If you can spare a prayer, please pray for my friend.
Well, I haven't worked on Jamari Animated much this week, but for good reason. The deadline for Channel Frederator's 4th Anniversary film project was today. They called for 4 second shorts to be combined into one big film. The premise was "What would Fredbot do on his 4th birthday?" Well, what do all 4 year olds do on their birthday? They go to Chuck E. Cheese! You can see my 4 second entry here. Special thanks to Joey for offering critique. Facebook is SOOO useful!! You can see a pic from the short above, and you can see the 4 second short here.
Check back for updates... the next goal is making a fundraising trailer, so I'm definitely animating scenes from the project to make one.
There’s a quote from the movie Spaceballs where Dark Helmet says, “Preparing, you’re always preparing… just go!” That couldn’t be more true for me. So, I’m gonna just go. This week, I’m going to finalize the rigs for the Jamari and Raincoat characters and just start thumbnailing and animating some of the simpler scenes. While I’m doing that, I’m going to plan out the 3D for the film. Yes, I am officially going from “thinking about” to “preparing for” stereoscopic for the film. For those who don’t know what “stereoscopic” is, it’s when you wear the red and blue glasses and see the characters appear to jump right off the screen. I believe that the aerial scene in the film will be amazing.
I also want to get some of the simpler scenes animated for fundraising sake. We need a fundraising trailer. I am awaiting approval from my fiscal sponsor on my other film, Fractured Atlas, to approve fiscally sponsoring ALL of my festival films. That way, I can raise funds for additional computer programs for the stereoscopic effects and for the 3D glasses for the venues… and YOU can make a small (or large) tax-deductable donation and get your name in the credits! Fingers are crossed…
Here are some pics from the festival! Good times!