Blink - Paranoid GoAnimate Isometrix

GoAnimate's Product Manager, Nicolas, created a series of Isometrix custom characters and props which I wanted to try out but really didn't have anything in mind in terms of a story line.

Not to be deterred I decided to start putting together a scene with the available props in the hope that something would come to mind as I worked. The result was Blink which you can watch in the player below.

Blink by etourist

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This animation is probably a classic example of an idea that just evolved as I worked to find inspiration.

As mentioned I started to piece together a background using the available Isometrix props. Nicolas had designed an orange picture frame for the theme which I decided to use on the wall of my background set. Trouble was I needed something to go inside it.

Trying to feature as much of the Isometrix theme as possible I decided to use some head props inside the two photo frames I'd placed each side of the flat screen TV. The head with the green hair was fine and motionless but I couldn't find a yellow haired head that wasn't animated.

I chose a yellow haired head with the least amount of animation and put it in the frame. Looking at it, that's when the idea for Blink hit me. The old classic - spying through the eyeballs of a picture on the wall.

From there it was just a case of having the guy sitting on the chair say the right things. The blinking photo is never explained. You only get the guy's assumptions - which come across as some what paranoid.

I only intended this animation to be short so having him sneak out the room seemed like a good ending point. Then I thought it might be even funnier if someone else came into the room, unaware of what the viewer has just seen.

The character that runs in is Happy Bunny. Chosen simply because I went into the GoAnimate Studio via the Happy Bunny theme. It gave a reason for the copyright, Jim Benton water mark that appears on the background.

Obviously Happy Bunny notices the picture blinking and I end it there hoping you'll get that the cycle will start again with Happy Bunnies own delusions about what the blinking picture means.

The whole thing is just a bit of fun and probably a one off. The Isometrix characters are really cool but it really needs the right idea to make them work well. Who knows? Maybe I'll think of something for them in the New Year.

Domokun: Tashanna and the City

Unlike my other previous Domo Animate animations, Tashanna and the City is not a short comedy sketch. Started way back at the end of May 2009 I always intended this to tell a more complete Tashanna story but with my usual light humored approach.

I had the basic idea early. Tashanna is interested in fashion and style (what female 'tween' Weasel isn't?) and longs to be glamorous like her TV idol of all things stylish, Katie Teen.

One day, after watching Katie's show, Tashanna hits upon the idea to go to the city to ask Katie how she can become glamorous?

The scene was set. It sounded like a great idea so I started to animate. I never thought I'd need six months to get this story completed!

Tashanna and the City by etourist

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The title came about early and is inspired by the TV show Sex and the City which I used to watch. Had I not watched that show I would've probably come up with something different but the title seemed to suit for this even though it's not really about the city so much.

As well the title screen and opening scenes in Tashanna's home were all completed on the first day of animating. The problem was I didn't have any idea for how Tashanna would get to the city or how she would find Katie?

My initial idea was to have Tashanna seek out the help of Domo and Mr Usaji to travel with her to the city thus making this something of a 'road trip' story. However as I began to animate Tashanna going to Domo's house (well, hole in the ground) it all seemed kind of linear, boring and predictable.

I don't know exactly what caused me to think of putting Tashanna in a rocket ship but switching from her wondering how to get to the city to Mr Usaji putting Tashanna into a rocket ship and telling her to 'watch for the bright lights' was just funny. It's so far out of left field that I had to use it.

Not only that but it meant I could skip the whole 'getting to the city sequence' - or so I thought? You'd see the rocket take off and, in the next scene, you'd see it landing in the city - easy!

Then I thought, wouldn't it be interesting if Tashanna crash landed the rocket through someone's roof in the city, instead of making a boring, safe landing? Not having the ability to make any custom props - such as roof debris from a rocket coming through a ceiling - I decided, if I can make this look good with what I have available it's in.

So... to make a crash believable, you need an out of control rocket. Suddenly Tashanna's journey to the city is back in. We see her take off and shoot straight out high into space. The engine stops. Those immortal words of impending doom, "Uh, Oh!". The engines fire and the rocket hurtles, in a slightly less controlled manner back to earth.

To make things seem higher you see the rocket come down past the moon and continue down past an office tower window before CRASH!!! The rocket is through someone's ceiling.

If you've ever seen the spaceship sequence from Monty Python's Life of Brian you'll recognize the similarity of Tashanna walking away completely unaffected by the whole event - "You lucky b.. weasel!".

I was surprised that on my very first attempt at making the actual crash look believable - it looked believable. Five props for dust and debris combined with a screen shake was all it took. I never changed a thing to get it looking just right. Not even the scene length.

Obviously an event like a rocket ship crashing through your roof is pretty major but I didn't want to get caught up in that whole scene of the occupants of the house investigating the noise, being surprised, shocked etc. etc.

Hence Mr and Mrs we're not phased by anything in the lounge room glued to the television. Not even a talking weasel walking across their line of vision can disrupt their viewing.

At this point I have to mention how much of a 'God send' the Stick man theme is to Domo Animate. Specifically all the geometric shapes included in the theme that can be colored to any shade you like.

Not being able to import custom props, these custom shapes come in handy when you want to do something like create ceiling debris, hide the pointy end of a rocket ship so it looks like it's stuck in the roof of a house (as seen in the background when Tashanna sets off to find Katie after crash landing) or create the back end of a bus (seen briefly when Tashanna arrives at the TV Studio).

Another problem to overcome with Domo Animate is finding backgrounds - again because you can't import your own. Much of the time I spent looking at backgrounds to see if I could zoom in on areas to use as backgrounds and/or rearrange things to create new backgrounds.

For example in the two scenes pictured on the right. The top scene is the exterior shot of the rocket ship crashed into the house roof. Although you get the sense Tashanna is out on the street in front of the house she's actually in the Classic Characters, backyard background.

The bottom scene demonstrates how the Cafe, that Tashanna is seen in later, became the interior of my bus simply by deleting the table, moving the seats closer together and then framing the shot very tightly. I also added the screen shake effect on this scene to suggest the movement of the bus.

Another challenge for anyone who uses Domo Animate or even GoAnimate is what to do when your predesigned characters don't have the actions you need to tell your story. Simple actions like getting up from a seat in a cafe.

One way around this is a distraction technique that's kind of like animation slight-of-hand. If you've established your scene correctly so the viewer knows where everything is you can use different camera shots to distract the viewer while your character does whatever action you require 'off camera' (in other words you don't need to actually animate the character performing the action. You just imply that they did that action whilst the viewer is watching the distraction).

I actually perform this technique twice in succession in the cafe scene with Tashanna and Katie. Take a look at the sequence of images on the right. These are shown in exactly the same order they are shown within the animation.

You'll notice the first image establishes the scene. The viewer knows Tashanna has fallen on the floor, lying under the table and Katie is in the booth behind.

In the second image I distract the viewer by focusing on Katie - giving Tashanna time to get up off the floor into a sitting position 'off camera'.

In the third scene I focus on Tashanna, who is now sitting, to distract you from Katie who is climbing out from behind the booth 'off camera'.

The final scene both Katie and Tashanna are standing in front of Tashanna's table yet you never saw either of them actually go from a sitting to a standing position (note that the change of camera shot was enough time for Tashanna to go from sitting to standing without the viewer thinking it odd that suddenly she is standing).

Your mind doesn't pick up on this because, just like in real life, you know things can happen whilst you're not looking. Hence you accept that both Tashanna and Katie had time to stand in the time you were distracted from actually seeing them perform the actions to stand.

Note however, you do need to make sure that whatever a character does off camera you give them enough time to do it. I couldn't, for example, have Katie change outfits in the time she had to stand up because the viewer would notice she didn't have time to do that.

Speaking of the Cafe Scene... I got to this point - Tashanna sitting in the booth wondering what to do next? The booth behind her was empty because, I too, had no idea what to do next (I hadn't thought of the idea to put Katie in the scene yet).

It took several weeks of thinking and throwing around ideas in my head. At one point I thought about having Tashanna looking for some where to stay in the city and getting into all kinds of trouble from scary things like muggers and who knows what else?

The only problem was I really didn't want to turn this into a series. So I kept thinking, then realized, in the story it was early evening. Tashanna was at a cafe, most likely near the TV Studio. It wasn't that far fetched for Katie to be out having her dinner too.

From there I kind of coasted to the ending, knowing there was no need to show Tashanna and Katie's conversation - you get that it must have gone well since Tashanna appears on Katie's show.

The joke about Katie getting fan mail from Grizzly Bears was a deliberate set up for Hungry Bear's lines in the final scene. Katie doesn't find it odd that Grizzly bears write to her because, in this world, it's kind of established animals can talk and be upstanding members of the community (which is why I chose an actual Gorilla as security at the TV Studio).

The closing remark about glamor being a state of mind was nice but just wasn't all that satisfying to end on. I haven't met (or know of) any glamorous women that don't have a thing for a great pair of shoes. Whilst the shoe joke is some what predictable, it's still kind of funny in contrast with the earlier, more thoughtful, take on glamor.

The final comment I wanted to make about the creation process is the audio. There's no sound effects, only music because Domo Animate just doesn't have the sounds I needed (as mentioned previously - you can't import custom anything). For the most part I feel the music suited the actions on screen but I am getting tired of hearing the same pieces of music on many animations, including my own.

This has been a fairly long post so if you've read up to this point, thank you for sticking with it. I do hope you've found it interesting and perhaps learned something too.

I'm very proud of this particular animation because of the many challenges I faced to make the story work as I wanted to tell it. For the most part I didn't have to compromise on anything because of the limitations of Domo Animate. Which is quite an achievement in its self.

If you enjoyed Tashanna in the City then I hope you'll use the sharing options and show it to anyone who you know is a Domo and/or Tashanna fan. I'd also love to get your feedback on the animation. Feel free to do that using the comment section of this blog post.

Men In Black - Part 4

It's been several months since episode 3 of my Men In Black series staring Barack Obama and AKON but finally the two MIB Agents are back and hot on the trail of wanna be Evil Genius, Rashy (the sock monkey) - or are they?

If you haven't seen the previous episodes then I strongly urge you to take the time to watch them otherwise the current episode may not make a lot of sense. You can either click the links in the GoAnimate player below to view each episode on GoAnimate or, if you'd like to read my background notes, then click the following links, Episode 1, Episode 2 and Episode 3 to take you to each animations corresponding blog post.

MIB - Part 4 by etourist

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As with previous episodes, when I started I had no idea where the story would end up. Episode 3 ended with Rashy about to set his special robot agent onto Bush and Cheney with Barack and AKON heading out to track Rashy down.

I did know that I wanted to put more action into this episode. A lot of my animations tend to involve characters in verbal exchanges but the MIB films that this series parodies isn't all talk. It was definitely time for some action.

In the opening scene I was really struggling for a logical location for Bush and Cheney to be, using the existing backgrounds on GoAnimate. Standing outside the White house seemed logical but why? Then I thought who better to give guided tours of the White house than the ex-administration. Unlikely but kind of funny too.

Observant viewers will notice the 'tourists' are all characters from GoAnimate's I'm a Mac, I'm a PC parody ads (because I knew the PC guy had a really good action where he goes flying after being kicked - useful in 'explosive' situations).

Note that when I started this series many of the props and effects that appear in this episode didn't exist as GoAnimate didn't have the Stick Man theme (where those beams of light both the Robot Agent and Alien Bush shoot at each other come from) or the Custom World backgrounds (the subway station, Agent Roy's Office and the Interrogation room). This is most evident in episode 2 where Bush turns the first MIB Agent to 'Poo' using a very poorly made prop from the GoA community.

In the second scene of episode 4 when we first see Barack and AKON there is a wide shot in which you can just see Rashy in the bottom left corner of the frame. This was meant to be a one off, throw away a joke for Barack's line about Rashy being a 'sneaky little monkey' but then in the subway scene I thought, why not put Rashy in the background again?

However in doing that it gave the impression that perhaps Rashy was following Barack and AKON when in fact he isn't - well not really.

In the last scene with AKON where he reports in that they haven't seen Rashy all day it was just too good an opportunity to have Rashy walk across that scene in the background. It wasn't like I planned it that way. Fortunately there was good reason for Rashy to be in the exact same location as Barack and AKON, with the destroyed Robot - so it worked well in the end.

I really like that Rashy is making no attempt to hide himself. It reinforces the idea that he's not actually trailing the two agents - they just happen to going to the same place and the agents just didn't notice him.

Unfortunately up to that point nothing in episode 4 really advances the storyline. It's all just a bit of a chase with no one being successful. Rashy doesn't kill Bush and Cheney. The Agents don't locate Rashy. I needed something to hook people into episode 5.

Part way through making episode 4 I discovered the Interrogation room background and knew I'd be using it at some point. Having brought Rashy's Dad into the story in episode 3 it occurred to me Rashy already had a former arch nemesis in the form of his brother SuperRica. Rashy was always playing some very cruel tricks on SuperRica so who better to haul in for questioning.

However brothers are still brothers so SuperRica isn't going to just rat out on Rashy that easily. You'll have to wait until episode 5 to see if SuperRica will crack.

I don't think there's anything else to say about this episode other than a side note about the joke relating to AKON looking like he needs to pee when he's on the phone. Unfortunately for most of AKON's body actions he dances - including talking on his cell phone. Obviously in this series he needs to use the phone a lot and it just looks odd that he's dancing whilst talking - I felt it needed some explanation.

It's kind of a shame really that all the characters in AKON's theme are mostly designed to dance along with AKON's music. They're some of the best drawn characters on GoAnimate. If they had more non dancing actions (and the whole theme wasn't so restricted in terms of not being able to add custom audio or mix the characters with other themes) I think people would have used them a whole lot more.

GoAnimate Complaints Department Christmas Special

People seem to like Happy Bunny so much as GoAnimate's Complaints Desk Operator that he was the obvious choice for this years Christmas animation from yours truly.

This outing I wanted to get back to a more universal humor and move away from some of the GoAnimate member centric humor of the previous episode, hence no members where parodied, sent up or poked fun of in the making of this animation. Except perhaps for myself.

My goal was to try and use as much of GoAnimate's Christmas theme as possible whilst still trying to maintain the idea that this is a Complaints Desk and therefore people should be complaining.

GoAnimate Complaints Christmas Special by etourist

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It was obvious to me that Happy Bunny would naturally be cynical about the whole Christmas Holiday season and not really appreciate any attempt to decorate his space with 'holiday cheer'. However he would also get a certain satisfaction out of undermining the Christmas spirit by spreading the cheer with 'False Hope'.

This time around Street Fighter's, Ken only makes a brief appearance because I kind of feel I've done the Bison, 400 GoBuck, joke to death - though Bison's cameo I just couldn't stop myself from including.

Other regulars, The More Actions Protest Group nearly got a bigger role because all of the Christmas Theme characters could quite legitimately join their group. However this idea was canned when I realized the new character creator now included (just in time for Christmas) a Santa, standard template character - and his female assistant.

Naturally the original GoAnimate Santa would be threatened by this development and would certainly have grounds to complain.

There were all sorts of ways I could have gone but the idea of the new GoAnimate Santa having a beautiful assistant with a mouth just like Happy Bunny's really does appeal. Can you imagine her keeping all those unruly kids, wanting to sit on Santa's knee, in line with some kind of back hand remark.

Bison's Evil Genius Training Camp

Street Fighter's M. Bison is a mysterious boss and head of the crime syndicate and military organization Shadaloo. He is responsible for the murder of Chun Li's father and Guile's friend Charlie. Making him the ideal choice to train wanna-be evil geniuses from the GoAnimate cast of characters.

Of course, having spent 400 GoBucks (US$4.00) just to obtain Bison for my latest GoAnimate Complaints Department installment, was also a factor in making sure I got my monies worth from the character.

Evil Genius Training Camp by etourist

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It was GoAnimate member Coady who planted the seed for this concept in an unrelated GoAnimate forum discussion called Great Tactics for getting fans although I suspect his comment "TET, do I feel an evil genius video coming back?" was referring to my original Evil Genius series for getting views.

I remember a few years back reading a list of things an Evil Overlord should do when plotting to take over the world and just now spent some time searching for it online. I was almost at the point of giving up when I found the very list at: Peter's Evil Overlord List which includes the Top 100 things you should do if you ever become an Evil Overlord.

The list includes such gems as:
No#15: I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation.

You should definitely take the time to read the entire list. Your face is guaranteed to hurt from smiling and/or laughing by the end.

Anyway, I digress, it was my memory of this list that prompted me to create Bison's Evil Genius Training Camp but, rather than point out the flaws in many Evil Geniuses plans, I thought why not make those flaws a requirement to becoming an Evil Genius?

To explain further, you've all seen the movies where the Evil Genius is foiled yet again by either his own or his armies incompetence right?

For example, in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Obi-wan is clearing up the smoldering remains of some Jawa's and explaining to Luke that only Imperial Storm Troopers are 'so precise' (in how the Jawa's were slain) yet through out six films it's evident the average Imperial Storm Trooper isn't going to trouble the movies heroes too much any time soon.

Hence one of the jokes in my animation is about why Evil Geniuses tend to hire henchmen that never seem to hit their targets.

Probably the only other explanation this animation needs is the choice of characters who appear as students.

Regular viewers of my animations will recognize Simon Bar Sinister and Witchy from my aforementioned How to Get Views The Evil Genius Way series.

Happy Bunny is an aspiring Evil Genius with his acerbic tongue who is learning his craft on the GoAnimate complaints desk whilst Rashy (the sock monkey) is a running joke for an unlikely Evil Genius in several of my animations but most famously in my Men In Black series.

George Bush... do I really need to explain or does the phrase 'War on Terror' make it clear enough? George tries to be the good guy but he's just too incompetent - he has to be an Evil Genius in training!

Pencil - Free 2D Animation Software


Pencil is a 2D bitmap and vector based, free animation tool for MACs, Windows and Linux that I'd like to say is the perfect introduction to 2D, computer assisted animation but can't.

It is a great tool. Clearly set out, easy enough to learn, versatile. In fact you can create an entire animation within Pencil, including audio tracks, and then export it all to a single movie file that you can upload anywhere. It will also export files as Flash/Shockwave movies (which is my interest in using it).

However, the Windows version of Pencil is extremely buggy making it frustrating to use and sometimes down right impossible (forced software closures, lost work etc.).

I suspect as a tool for creating animations, using bitmap images, Pencil is ideal. There's much less to go wrong. On top of that you could choose to edit all your frames in any bitmap editing software you choose then just import them into Pencil, add some sounds, export to a movie file and you're done. If that's all you need to do I highly recommend this software - its free - so give it a try.

Once you get into vector animation the frustration starts to set in. Specifically with the vector 'area fill' tool. If you haven't properly closed an area you'll keep getting a warning message telling you there's a gap in your drawing or you've 'Zoomed Out too much'. This is a known problem that is documented within Pencil's manual.

It's frustrating because often there are no obvious gaps - even if you zoom right in to check. I've found that larger areas are likely to trigger this warning. If you can't find any gaps then the best solution seems to be to break the area up into smaller fill areas using the 'invisible line' tool. Then fill each section as you go until the area is all filled.

Because of the buggy nature of this software, personally I wouldn't use it to create anything too advanced like a full vector animated movie. However if you're just looking for some vector animation software to create scalable, animated props, heads and backgrounds for your GoAnimate movies this is a good stop gap until you can get your hands on something better.

Pencil features a nice 'onion skin' tool that allows you to import a bitmap image onto one layer then use the vector tools to trace it - as I did with my animated campfire prop below (you may need to click on the image to see the larger version and my vector lines traced over the bitmap image).


By converting the bitmap animated campfire into a vector animated campfire it will now look great in any scene without becoming pixelated if you zoom in for a close up.

You can see the fully animated version of the campfire in Deer Hunters Creek.

Pencil creates animation through the use of Key Frames. This is great because it means you don't have to draw everything on every single frame. For example, with my campfire I drew the rocks onto one key frame then, over the next ten frames I only drew the fire (which obviously had to move on every frame to look like, well... fire).

If you look closely at the image of the campfire above you can see along the bottom of the screen there is a time line featuring two Vector Layers. Within that time line there are rectangular boxes. Each box represents a key frame. On the first vector layer there is one key frame for the campfire rocks. On the second there are ten frames for the fire.

You'll notice there is also a camera layer in the time line. This layer is used to size and frame your various 'shots'. Just like other layers you create key frames for the different camera shots.

For GoAnimate users you'll need to create a camera layer for your object with just one key frame. The camera size should be the same size as the GoAnimate Studio Stage (550 x 354 pixels).

You'll then need to size your object relative to how big you want it to be (initially) compared to the stage (generally it's best to make sure your object always fits within the stage. You can easily make it larger once you've imported it onto the GoAnimate Stage).

You'll then need to position your object in the top left corner of the stage with the corner being approximately in the middle of the object as shown below. (If you're creating a head prop then the top left corner of the studio is roughly where the neck of your characters body will be).


From there you simply export the file as a Flash/shockwave file (you will have to add the '.swf' extension to the file name yourself) ready to import into the GoAnimate Studio.

Note that for any GoAnimate users thinking that Pencil would be great for creating fully fledged GoAnimate compatible characters with, unfortunately you're out of luck. Whilst it's great for backgrounds, animated props and heads, it cannot save files in the correct format for characters.

Despite it's short comings I've used Pencil to create all my vector based props on GoAnimate. Sometimes I drag my feet thinking, oh no, I don't want to use pencil again, but, unless you want to buy some software, I haven't come across any other free vector animation software compatible with GoAnimate.

Like I said it's a good stop gap. If you find yourself using Pencil a lot and you're really interested in flash animation then you'll probably want to buy something better eventually.

That aside, for a free program it really does have potential. The drawing tools are quite basic but, with enough patience, you really could do some very impressive animation work.

More GoAnimate Complaints and Domo Gas

It appears you can't keep a good (or even a bad) rabbit down. Not even death has stopped the return of GoAnimate's favorite complaints desk monitor, Happy Bunny.

This time around the rise and rise of GoA member, Coady, is one of the main themes. Coady is so nice and so popular that other members just can't help but devote entire forum topics to We Love Coady!!

Coady recently passed me on GoAnimate for most views of all time so this video is therapy whilst I try to recover (LOL).

Of course the Complaints Department wouldn't be the same without Street Fighter's, Ken, complaining about having to pay real money for Bison. I've extended that theme with a special guest appearance by me complaining about all the money and go-points I had to spend just to make the video.

Then there's the usual random references to things on the GoAnimate site like the regular complaints about no Sonic the Hedge Hog or Mario themes and more. Oh, and if you've never heard of T-Roll, click the link in the video to find out who he is.

GoAnimate Complaints Rise Again by etourist

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I will admit that Coady's animated head - that he made - really does make this installment work so much better. I'm really glad too that Coady's such a good sport for making it public and letting me use it to poke some fun his way. No wonder everyone likes him!!

Baby Bears Meeting is my latest Domo Animate creation. For anyone that likes a bit of 'Fart' humor, Domo's always good for that. I think this is my third animation with Domo that features his ferocious flatulence.

This time Baby Bear's called a very important meeting to discuss the issue of Green House Gases, clearly an issue that Domo may just be contributing to!

That's about all the set up you need, so enjoy the video below.

Baby Bear's Meeting by etourist

Like it? Create your own at DomoNation.com. It's free and fun!

Animator Dominator Winner Announced

TET's Animator Dominator Competition has ended. It was well supported but perhaps didn't get quite as many entries as I hoped. However promoting the contest was a lot of fun in the GoAnimate forum on this thread that ultimately became the inspiration for the winning entry.

The forum banter that went on between various people, who are featured in the winning animation, as well as others, gives some good insight into the various characters.

The same thread also inspired the story line for my official announcement animation below. So without further a do - watch the video to see who won then keep scrolling to watch the winning video.

TAD Winner Announcement by etourist

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After the view collecting portion of the competition ended it looked all set for an easy win by the front runner but a decision by entrants in the voting forum to up the voting points from 20 to 50 points per vote changed things considerably.

In the end it came down to one vote that could've changed the out come but the entrant with that vote never placed it (voting was optional for all entrants) despite a last minute reminder.

So the winning animation was Ryco's, The Dark Lord of Death, embeded below.

The Dark Lord of Death by Ryco

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I think it's definitely worth mentioning and showing you the second place entry, Skitzo - Introductions, by Panda Boy, which features some really nice animation techniques, original voice work and really good timing.

Skitzo - Introductions by Panda Boy

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I'd like to finish up by Congratulating the Winner, Ryco, and thanking everyone who either entered and/or supported the contest by promoting it or watching the various entries. Whilst it was a small field of entries it did contain some big hitters and a few future big hitters to watch out for.

Of all the contests I've ever been part of there's something really special about one that has no material prize yet is still well supported and just a whole lot of fun.

Thank you all. I do hope you'll continue to support this competition on GoAnimate in the future.

TET's Animator Dominator Competition

As it turns out when I entered the last Unofficial, Official Animator Dominator Contest on GoAnimate I meant to let you know the results but didn't. Quite remiss of me considering I won and was crowned the new Animator Dominator.

If you're not familiar with this competition then here's some background.

Originally the competition was inspired by an animation by skits called Ryco vs Ro (two high profile GoAnimate members) where viewers could vote for who they thought would win. A debate then ensued.

Ludvig II then made a joke comment that the only way to settle it was to have an 'Animate-Off' with Ryco and Ro actually competing to determine who would win. Ludvig came up with some pretty crazy and humorous rules. His original comment was as follows:


The comments on the animation show that Ryco was inspired by Ludvig's rules to actually attempt an animation based upon them. From there Ro soon followed and the informal competition was on. The winner was determined by community vote. You can follow what happened in this forum thread on GoAnimate.

In the end Ryco emerged victorious and became the first Animator Dominator.

From those small beginnings the competition has grown with each new Animator Dominator devising the rules and when the next competition is actually run.

As far as I know I am the third title holder, with GoAnimate member, Mojochi, being the previous winner before me.

So that's the history as far as I know it.

Last week it was my turn to launch my version of the Animator Dominator contest which I did with the animation below.

TET's Animator Dominator Competion by etourist

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

The publishing date for animations is November 16, 2009 so if you're reading this before that date and are a GoAnimate member you might like to consider entering. Click on the links in the animation for your animations requirements and information for how the winner is chosen.

The previous incarnation of the competition was purely who could get the most views on their animation would win. This has been a common way to run competitions (including official ones) on GoAnimate that I wanted to address because it favors animators with the most fans and all time views.

Hence, to give lesser known animators some hope, I've combined views with a voting system that can be manipulated to favor more resourceful animators if they so choose. It's not necessarily fairer but it should make the out come a lot less predictable.

I announced this competition in the GoAnimate forums where you can follow the competition and read some of my humorous tips for winning.

I'll also be featuring the winner and perhaps the runner ups too in this very blog. The winners will be announced on November 30, 2009.

Domo Cooking Again

Ever since I made Domo Cooking (Internally) I've wanted to try another cooking episode because the first wasn't really what I had in mind. The story just kind of followed a path of it's own. I was also unhappy that Domo wasn't in a proper kitchen.

Finally I've completed Domo Cooking Again (see animation embeded below), which I started quite some time ago and kind of got side tracked.

This time Domo has a full kitchen and is aided by his capable assistant, Tashanna.

Domo Cooking Again by etourist

Like it? Create your own at DomoNation.com. It's free and fun!

Once again the storyline kind of went off on a tangent that wasn't there when I started. However these things happen once you start feeling the pinch of the limitation of movement the pre-made Domo Animate characters have.

I was originally hoping I'd be able to have Domo do some actual cooking this time around but I still haven't come up with a satisfactory way of getting him to pick up and put down objects.

If I was doing this on GoAnimate I'd be able to make some custom Domo arms and fake it a little with them but unfortunately Domo Animate doesn't allow custom... anything!

In the end we get what you see. For some reason both Tashanna and Mr Usaji have the mystical ability to bend spoons so I used that to suggest, somehow, that Mr Usaji had tampered with Domo's cutlery.

It kind of works as a joke.

I also like the interaction between Tashanna and Domo. I think I'm getting the hang of helping the audience understand what Domo is saying through the technique of using the surrounding characters to semi translate.

As I said this still isn't quite what I had in mind for a cooking episode so I expect I'll eventually give another episode a try. Once I've worked out how to fake Domo's hands picking things up and carrying them.

GoAnimate Spooktacular Contest

GoAnimate launched its Spooktacular Halloween Contest this week and although I missed the first deadline I've just managed to get this in before the October 25th (2009) deadline for tallying up total views during the contest period. So, if you happen to be reading this and it's October 25 or before please watch the animation below ASAP so I can get the view recorded in my tally.


Deer Hunter's Creek by etourist

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

The ten animations with the most views will go on to be judged for the major prizes (which are only exciting to GoAnimate members - so don't think I'll be inviting you as a guest on my prize of an ocean cruise or anything).

Anyhow all the animations are themed around Halloween and in particular Ghost stories. If you've already watched my animation you'll know it features GoAnimate's Full Energy Cast of characters as well as a couple of cameo appearances from characters in their Classics theme.

Of particular note is the animated fire pit which I created myself using Pencil Animator, a program that I will be reviewing on this blog in the near future.

Finally, I know the ending of my animation is pretty lame but, with a time limit of two minutes and the closing date looming, I just had to bite the bullet and end the story as best I could. Once the competition is over I may go back and do a better ending but for now, it is what it is. Hopefully the journey will make up for the ending.

Star Trek Quogs: The Re-animation of Khan

The Re-Animation of Khan may only be four minutes and fifty three seconds long but it took just over four months to get the script out of my head and into a completed animation.

It truly was the script that was the stumbling point as this animation features only one custom prop that was specifically made for it (the GoAnimate screen shot). Everything else is 'straight off the shelf'.

Before I go into to detail of what went on behind the scenes please watch the final animation below.

The Re-Animation of Khan by etourist

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

The Re-Animation of Khan originally began as the third installment of my original series, How to Get Views - The Evil Genius Way. Khan was the ideal 'Evil Genius' since his back story from the nineteen sixties TV show placed his origin firmly in twenty and twenty first centuries - hence he just may of heard of GoAnimate (well, you never know... could happen!).

So sure was I that this would be the third installment I even made an announcement on twitter on June 8 of this year.

Not being a Star Trek fan and only having seen the movie, The Wrath of Khan, once when I was about eleven (maybe), I had to do some research to find out Khan's origin in the TV show. I did that because GoAnimate's Quog Character for Khan is based on the TV show version of the character and not the later, much cooler looking version, from the movie. Hence the back story Spock reveals in my animation is the true back story for Khan. Even the year 2267 is accurate for when Khan was revived by the crew of the Enterprise.

So the animation began as a parody of the TV show in which Khan first appears. Obviously the GoAnimate element of the story and Khan's pursuit of fans comes from my Evil Genius series.

By the 11th of June I had about everything complete up to the point where Khan escapes and then a bunch of half done ideas for scenes after that. Not only that but I still didn't have a punchline - which was needed to match the format of the Evil Genius series.

The animation was already well over the one minute mark of the previous two in the series and I wasn't prepared to release something that just didn't live up to those animations. For the first time ever I decided to consult someone else on one of my animation scripts.

RoTV is one of the many people on GoAnimate who are real Star Trek fans and came to the site through the Star Trek Quogs theme. He's made some of the best and most innovative Star Trek animations on the site but, more importantly for me, he's pretty good at comedy too. Which is why I sought his help on June 11th.

Rowdy Friends + One by RoTV

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

To date RoTV is the only person who's ever seen one of my unfinished animations (and he may even be able to recall a scene or two that I deleted by the final cut).

Whilst there probably isn't a lot of RoTV's suggestions in the final cut he did feed me a lot of information about the particular episode of the TV show I was trying to parody (but had never seen) and reminded me of a few elements in the Khan movie that I had forgotten. All of it was very useful in helping me advance the script.

Unfortunately Ro didn't have any suggestions for a final punchline either. This became the real hurdle and is the reason why this animation took so long to develop.

Several animations and two and a half months later (plus one fatal computer crash to recover from) I decided to try and finish this animation once and for all.

The first decision I made was to remove it from the Evil Genius Series. It was already way off format and far too long. However it wasn't until the day before I made the animation public that I came up with the new title, The Re-Animation of Khan. A kind of play on the Khan movie title.

The first draft (if you can call the way I script a draft) was that Khan would try to get more views of his animations by broadcasting them on the ships viewing screens, however he would be discovered when he accidentally invokes a new GoAnimate feature and broadcasts a live feed of him and Nurse Chapel to the bridge of the Enterprise. A chase would ensue and... well I don't know where I was going with that?

In the next version, Khan and Nurse Chapel take over the bridge of the Enterprise with the intention of broadcasting an animation across the galaxy. Kirk willfully submits to Khan's use of the bridge because he has a plan... don't know where I was going with that either.

Third version, Khan captures Kirk and holds him hostage in the Engine room (much like in the TV show). He then communicates up to the bridge his demands to take over the ship. Spock takes his demands on board but contemplates the success of the show if Captain Kirk died in this episode (Khan appeared in the first season of Star Trek). An argument with the crew ensues as they worry about their future careers on the convention circuit... umm... yeah... not sure where that was headed either.

The final script evolved as I just let the characters play the story out, all the while thinking 'Can I end this yet?!'.

Everything up to Khan's animation is almost exactly as I created it right from the beginning. It all started heading a new direction when I realized, wouldn't it be funny if Kirk was faking that he knew nothing about GoAnimate?

Thanks to GoAnimator, Coady, as well as a few others, GoAnimate has been a very popular place for William Shatner's other creative pursuits. What if it was Captain Kirk, himself, that was posting all those animations? Plus, there is a great ongoing story here for Khan being Kirk's arch nemesis in popularity on GoAnimate.

iam.bill! Canada Day July 1st!! by Coady

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

Next up, I liked the idea of Kirk being held hostage in the engine room. Originally I had Doctor McCoy chasing Khan and Nurse Chapel down the hall but I quickly replaced him with Kirk.

I got to the point of Khan relaying his demands to the bridge and suddenly remembered my first original Star Trek Quogs series, Laundry Day. This was the ideal opportunity to self reference my previous series hence Uhura's statement, "Let him kill the pompous twit!" (it was at this point that the Laundry day premise and the washing machine was added into this episodes opening premise - making it a kind of continuation of that story).

I also like the idea of Spock contemplating the show without Kirk so managed to work that in without the objections from the crew as Kirk was able to cut this short with his line "I can still hear you, you know!"

At this point I knew if Khan actually made it to his ship the animation may never end so I was searching for ways to make sure he didn't.

First I thought, what if Nurse Chapel came to her senses and, when they got to the transporter room, she set the controls so that only Khan got beamed back to his ship? Seemed like a plan - so that's what I went with... except Kirk had demanded the crew to come and save him?

Right. Spock's in charge so he should come up with a plan. It occurred to me that much of the Enterprise's control systems must be configurable from the bridge. I don't know if they are but for the purpose of my animation I made it so. However, for a little more comedy I thought it would be cool to have Spock formulating a plan whilst the rest of the crew jumped straight into action. Which worked out great because Khan could be outnumbered instead of having time to find some other way to get back to his ship.

It also made sense that the stale mate between Khan and Spock would be enough to make Khan back down - since he was already in one stale mate situation between him pointing a gun at Kirk and the crew all pointing guns at him.

Khan backing down wasn't the right point to end it all. There was still the unresolved issue of Kirk being outed as GoAnimate legend. I swear he'll deny his popularity on a 'kids site' until he dies!

So that's the epic story behind The Re-Animation of Khan. Possibly one of the most difficult scripts I've put together to date!

Man of Action - Dudeman32 Story Challenge

Dudeman32 is a GoAnimate member whom I felt created an interesting animated character coincidently called, Dudeman32.

This beer drinking, head transplanted, war hero with the unusual looking head seemed to have a lot of potential for some serious animated action adventure. At least that's what I thought after watching Dudeman's Story below. It's a bit of an epic but you really only need to watch the first five minutes as the second half is just listening to music.

Dudeman's Story by Dudeman32

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

Dudeman32 himself (the GA member not the cartoon character) asked if I'd be interested in participating in his Dudeman32 story challenge. I said maybe but, after seeing the rules of what to include, I had an idea just snap into my head. Hence I decided to put something together.

The animation had to include Barack Obama, Sara Palin, Tom (the blue body used for the Dudeman Character with Dudeman's head) with any head, and the Doctor. The whole thing had to be two minutes or more long. Although I could've put any head on Tom I chose to stay with the Dudeman32 head because that character was the whole reason I got interested in the first place.

Below is what I came up with.

Man of Action - Dudeman32 Story Challenge by etourist

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

Initially I only had enough of an idea for one minute of animation. Originally it ended after the head transplant scene with the doctor. However Dudeman32 wanted two minutes so I extended it out with the bar and TV studio scenes.

So far the animation has been well received and was a Staff Pick on GoAnimate.

Smash Mash TV, Online Animation Tool

Whilst GoAnimate's studio is one of the best, free online animation tools around it's not the only free tool out there. Hence I thought I'd start an occasional series looking at what other animation tools are availble, the first being Smash Mash.TV.

Smash Mash.tv is a combination of a free online animation and slide show application teamed with a downloadable 'Pro' version with more features that you can trial for 30 days then opt to purchase.

What makes Smash Mash interesting is that it specializes in one particular style of animation - the mash up. It allows you to take any bitmap image(i.e. photos etc.) and simply, by defining areas you want to apply movement to, make an image come alive.


Each area can have up to two preset movement effects applied to it as well as one flash (or colour) effect. All the effects can be adjusted using sliders to vary how much of the effect you want to apply.

You can also add text and speech balloons to your images as well as draw directly onto each frame with the paint brush tool. There is also the ability to add sound to your shows.

I was very impressed with how easy Smash Mash is to use. I simply watched the short demonstration video and then dived right in learning the tools and sliders as I went. In less than an hour I had a three slide animation with music and speech balloons finished and ready to share (which the site makes very easy to do with links to a range of popular sites). You can see my simple animation below.


Anyone who has ever used the lasso tool in any graphics software will find Smash Mashes editor a breeze. That's really as technical as this application gets. However as simple as it is I'm sure with further exploration an advanced animator could really produce some impressive shows.

Probably the only disappointment I have with the online version of Smash Mash is that, just like GoAnimate, there's no way to download your animations or export them into a single video file. However if you're prepared to buy the downloadable pro version (which is not that expensive) then this issue is solved. The pro version not only allows you to create your animations offline but also gives you the option to upload it to your Smash Mash account or save it to a video file (that you can upload anywhere).

I haven't covered all the features of Smash Mash such as the ability to import audio from Youtube videos amongst other things. If this type of animation sounds like your sort of thing then I'll leave it up to you to really explore what Smash Mash has to offer.

Happy Bunny Vs Street Fighter's Ken

A recurring theme through my GoAnimate Complaints Department animation series was Street Fighter's Ken complaining about the need to pay 400 GoBucks in order to fight the Street Fighter Character, Bison.

This complaint is actually a common one from GoAnimate members (particularly younger ones who are unable to spend real money online) who feel you shouldn't have to pay for anything on the site. Well at least not the characters they really want.

I've been wanting to do a real 'fight' animation for quite a while but the Street Fighter theme has never really inspired me. There are just too many Street Fighter, fight animations on GoAnimate. It's hard to come up with something original.

As Ken's complaints became more persistent through the course of the Complaints series it was clear I'd found an angle for something new in the fight genre for GoAnimate. Happy Bunny Versus Ken!

It sounds silly. A cute bunny rabbit up against a martial arts extraordinaire - which is the exact reason I wanted to do it. Happy Bunny isn't that sweet either. His character comes with a surprising array of fight options including knives, hammers, zap switches and more.

I don't usually create previews for my animations but GoAnimate experienced some technical issues over a weekend that prevented many animators from working on their more complex animations. With no fix in sight until Monday I decided to make a short preview of the fight to come.

Preview - Happy Bunny Vs Ken by etourist

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

Surprisingly the simple mirror effect I used on the characters was commented upon quite a bit. Perhaps I was the first to join the dots to make this effect work but anyone could have thought of it as it doesn't require any custom props at all.

I particularly liked the music I created on this which is two separate pieces of ambient music, readily available to anyone on GoAnimate, run at the same time. Really sets the mood.

Whilst I was quite happy with this preview I actually had I much more complex idea in mind that would have been like one of those 'preparation' style previews. You know, lots of close ups of Ken getting ready to fight. This would have been interspersed with sweeping overhead camera vistas of a car driving down a desert highway at speed.

The more Ken prepares the closer we get to the reveal of Happy Bunny as his opponent. It was quite grand but way too hard to figure out in the end. However that's how the prop of Happy Bunny driving a sports car in my Animator Dominator Contest entry came about. It was going to be used for this preview.

The actual fight between Happy Bunny and Ken was very hard to choreograph. Mostly timing the actions so that the various hits seem like they actually connect.

There is also a slight hint towards the Star Wars prequels when we see Yoda fight with a light sabre for the very first time. George Lucas once commented about this that a little dwarf guy like Yoda fighting taller opponents had the potential to look ridiculous but they managed to make it look cool. The same could be said for Happy Bunny and Ken. I hope I made it look cool.

Happy Bunny Vs Ken by etourist

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

There is actually a lot more of the Happy Bunny theme in this than the Street Fighter theme. The knife, Hammer, Zap Switch, Trident, Devil Bunny and Skeleton Bunny are all from that theme.

I like the escalation in the fight and the fact that Happy Bunny isn't intimidated by Ken despite being physically out matched. It's also nice that Ken isn't shown to be a total idiot either. Technically he wins this fight it's just that Happy Bunny doesn't let a little thing like death get in the way of victory.

The tank is the only custom prop used in the whole thing. I can't claim to have made it from scratch but I did base it on a line art technical illustration which I coloured and modified to suit my needs. The tanks gun barrel is a separate prop so it can be raised and lowered as needed.

Just a quick mention on the audio on this. I don't normally include so many sound effects. Usually I'll just have a music track and that's it. However I didn't want to short change people. I felt the sound effects would really help those hits feel like they hurt just a little bit. I like the contrast of the song, Peace on Earth, too. It really adds another layer to the whole thing.

In the end this is a very different animation to what I had in mind but that's not so unusual. Most of my animations are. I hope it's one of the better fight animations on GoAnimate.

Full Energy Fishing

GoAnimate's Full Energy theme is intriguing. I can conceive many ideas for it however the individual characters have such limited movement that it would take some dedication to realize what I had in mind.

My animation, Full Energy Fishing, below, is a case in point.

Fishing - Full Energy by etourist

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

I won't go too much into explaining the joke. You either understand the absurdity of what Dave is doing and his attempt to rationalize it by pointing out that Boss is doing something even sillier or you don't.

The point of this article being that when I started this particular animation I had a much bigger and potentially funnier story in mind but didn't want to get into the technicalities of making it happen. I needed actions like Dave being able to use a fishing rod and to fire a shot gun. Two actions that you might expect these trailer park dwellers to perform but unfortunately they can't.

To make those actions happen I would've had to created a few custom props of Dave using a fishing rod and a shot gun. I just didn't want to get into something that complex because the only reason I started this animation in the first place was to get a bit of a break from another complex animation I was working on. Essentially this animation was just meant to be a bit of easy fun.

I do like the end result of what I eventually made but one can only imagine what this animation could have been had I given it more time.

Puppy Love - Red Riding Hood Revisited

Puppy Love is an original animation I created many years ago that parodies the story of Little Red Riding Hood. It posses the question of what if Little Red Riding Hood really, really wanted a puppy?

You'll find out more about Puppy Love shortly but first, a bit of history that inspired my interest in animation.

Way back in the late nineteen eighties and early nineteen nineties animation on home computers really started to take off - especially on the Commodore Amiga range of home computers. Back then the king of animation, who became synonymous with the Amiga brand was a guy called Eric Schwartz and more specifically his character, Amy the Squirrel.

My animation is probably going to pale at the side of Eric's but keep in mind Eric's animation, "At the Movies 3", below, is Eric really at his peak. You can watch much of his earlier work at this YouTube Channel most of which was created on the Amiga platform.



I've digressed from the point of this article because I was a huge fan of Eric's work and it was really him more than anyone else that got me interested in Animation (Disney probably got me into cartooning but Eric showed it was possible to make quality animated cartoons at home - back in the early nineteen nineties).

Puppy Love is not the first animation I created on my trusty but humble Amiga 500 (and later Amiga 600HD) but it was my first and only fully completed, original animated story from that era of my life. Prior to this I had animated a series of comic strips I'd drawn based on an original cat character I created years earlier, as a fifteen year old, called The Night Stalker.

Eric used Deluxe Paint III and IV teamed with GoldDisk's Moviesetter software to create many of his animations so I got my hands on both as soon as I could.

For those of you that have never heard of Moviesetter the easiest way to show you how it worked is to show you GoAnimate's Animation Studio. Moviesetter worked almost exactly the same way except you could fully customize your own characters and their movements as well as drawing upon a library of predefined characters and backgrounds. (for the technical minded, Moviesetter was bitmap animation not the vector, flash animation used on GoAnimate).

Like Eric, I completely by passed all the predefined characters and went straight into customizing everything. In Puppy Love there is nothing that I didn't make myself other than perhaps one or two sound effects (but it is my distorted voice yelling 'Puppy!').

I won't go into much more description here as, if you have ten minutes to spare, I'd really appreciate it if you watch my video below where I tell you about some of the behind the scenes work. Everything from showing you my character design to story boarding and transferring my drawings into the computer.

The video then finishes up with the full remix of my original Puppy Love animation - which I've had to painfully reconstruct because I never had any way to directly convert the animation from the original source.



Compared to Eric's work Puppy Love is hardly earth shattering but I hadn't really come into my own yet. I was still coming to terms with the software, plus the lack of a scanner really made animation both a challenge and a chore.

After Puppy Love I began work on a completely new animation series called Detective Duck which never got beyond some character design work and a demo of the opening titles (seen here as an animated gif file). The original version had music and the sound effect of a car coming screeching to a halt. In this case the car was the titles screeching to a halt to avoid Detective Duck running past.

I do have other small samples of animation from this period, which I may post in another article, however I'm fairly certain Detective Duck marked the end of my interest in animation for many years.

I'm not sure exactly why I stopped. Perhaps I just got busy with other things? 1995 was the year my freelance Graphic Design career really took off with a major client offering me a contract that lasted for many months.

Whatever the reason I pretty much stopped animating my own stories until I discovered GoAnimate, by chance, in July of 2008. I certainly wasn't looking to fire up my interest in animation.

Just happened to read about the site in Mashable's social media blog that I've followed for a couple of years. I'm really glad they wrote about it because it's the most fun I've had on the internet since I first found Youtube.
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