Men In Black 2 - Part 5

This installment, part 5 of my parody series, Men In Black 2, Rashy launches his evil master plan with devastating results but for who? Find out in the video below. Note: be sure to watch the video below before reading further as my behind the scenes notes WILL spoil the final scene of this episode if you haven't seen it.

Pt5: Men In Black 2 by etourist

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When I started making part 5 of MIB2 I had three objectives:

  1. Explain how George and Dick came to be working for Rashy despite being on his 'hit' list in episode 1.
     
  2. Get Rashy into the White House.
     
  3. Break Barack and Joe out of their cell so they could start heading back to Earth and expose Rashy's brilliant disguise.
     
The first two were pretty straight forward. George and Dick did in fact mess up after a practical joke by Barack and Agent A. Rashy's ingenious disguises meant he'd have no trouble getting to the White House (and the loss of communication with the real Barack and Joe gave Rashy the perfect explanation for their disappearance on the spaceship).

Unfortunately the last objective was a problem because no one was really looking for Barack and Joe since Rashy returned disguised as Barack with a kill-bot disguised as Joe. I also couldn't see a way Barack and Joe could really break themselves out, believably, since their cell looked pretty secure and they had no access to any weapons or tools.

With no ideas forth coming I settled for a lame joke and turned my focus back to Rashy and his evil plan.

Initially when I started MIB2 I had no idea what Rashy's plan actually was but, like most evil geniuses. assumed it was probably world domination. Once Rashy became President of the free world it was crunch time. I had to think of something as his objective.

On part 3 I joked in the comments on GoAnimate:
Rashy just wants to make the world a better place by being its Leader... so he can send all the bad people to their rooms until they promise to be good... and so no one can send him to his room until he promises to be good ;-)
It was actually a throw away line. I never realized it would become part of the story.

However I thought about it more and the thing that started Rashy on the path of being an 'evil genius' as a character for me was my original Rashy animation, The Boss of Everything, in which Rashy is sent to his room but dreams of becoming the boss of everything so he can send everyone else to their rooms! I decided to remain true to Rashy's character.

Rashy is really just a child so the idea of him wanting to send everyone to their rooms is not that outlandish or unbelievable as an objective for him. Though strangely his access to some pretty great resources like 'kill-bots' and a spaceship doesn't seem beyond belief either!

The ending of this part with the record scratch sound and sudden cut is meant to indicate that this is not what anyone was expecting him to say... least of all Rashy's partners George and Dick. You'll see how this sudden turn of events affects them in the next episode.

Start Your Own Animation Cartoon Business

Have you ever wanted to start your own animated cartoon studio business but thought such an idea would be too complex to set up and, besides that, you need to be able to draw, right? Well, not necessarily on both counts.

Recently animation sites GoAnimate and Xtranormal announced new Commercial Use Packages that include re-seller accounts i.e. accounts that allow you to create commercially licensed video animations with their studios for clients to use in their business.

GoAnimate is a site that specializes in allowing anyone to make 2D cartoons (e.g. such as Saturday morning cartoon style animation) easily with no drawing skills required. It relies on pre-drawn and automated characters that you simply drag, drop and position on pre-drawn backgrounds. There's plenty of room for customization to give your final cartoons their own unique style.

Xtranormal specializes in 3D cartoons (i.e. 3 dimensional characters and sets generated from wire frame models - not 3D as in 3D movies and television). Like GoAnimate it relies heavily on pre-made characters and sets but there is still room for customization - even more if you download their desktop application State. Again, like GoAnimate you don't need to know anything about 3D modeling to make an animation with Xtranormal.


Both sites allow the recording of human actors to voice their characters and feature auto lip-syncing with the recorded dialogue.

The commercial potential of GoAnimate and Xtranormal, as a low budget option, for businesses to incorporate eye catching animation into their marketing and promotion, is being discovered by more and more businesses that do not have the budget to employ expensive animators and animation studios to create fully customized animations.

Not only that but the fast turn around to make a GoAnimate or Xtranormal animation means it's very hard for commercial animation studios to compete with their high quality animation that will obviously look better but take far longer to produce at a much higher cost.

To become a GoAnimate or Xtranormal re-seller you'll need to sign up for a re-seller account. This is not free as effectively, with both sites, you're paying for a commercial license to use the site for commercial purposes yourself (i.e. your own Animation Cartoon Business).

At this time GoAnimate is the cheaper option with reseller accounts starting at US$199.00 per quarter (three months) where as Xtranormal charges US$75.00 per month. Both fees represent your main ongoing expense outside of maintaining an internet connection, computer equipment and utilities.

Optionally you could start a website to showcase your work but, since both sites allow exports to Youtube you may as well use your free Youtube channel as your portfolio.

After that it's just a case of showcasing what you can do with either or both sites, depending on which one(s) you decide to sign up with. Your first job should be making an animation to promote your animation cartoon service and posting it to Youtube. Make sure you use a good descriptive title and relevant tag words so people searching Youtube will find you.

From there you can then scout the many freelance job networking sites (such as elance or odesk) for animation job opportunities.

Find out more about GoAnimate for Business.
Find out more about Xtranormal for Business.

Hire TET to create your next GoAnimate or Xtranormal Business Animation. Click the link to see samples of my work and for more information.

Binfer - File Transfers without the Middle Men

Binfer is a desktop Java application that allows you to transfer large or multiple files to any internet connected device directly - bypassing the need to upload or temporarily store anything on a server 'in the cloud'.

You can even transfer files directly to devices and computers with a modern web browser that do not have the Binfer application installed. As well those same devices can send large files directly to your Binfer Desktop application simply by filling out an online form.

Built into the desktop application is a simple text chat feature allowing you to chat directly with other Binfer desktop application users in your contact list.

Files transferred are AES 128 bit encrypted by default - which can be turned off if you wish.

There's no limit on the number or size of files you can transfer although Binfer limits the amount of data you can transfer based on your user license. A free license will allow you to transfer up to 200MB of data.

File transfer speeds will vary depending on the speed of the internet connection between devices and the number and size of the files being transferred. Transfers can also be resumed if the connection drops out.

The only caveat here is that it requires the computer with the files to be transferred to be turned on at the time and during the transfer. Which kind of makes sense of why a file transfer program has a chat feature - so you can see when people you're exchanging files with are online.

Binfer desktop application interface.

An application like Binfer is not something that I would use very often. Being a solo creator it's rare that I need to transfer large files over the internet. However I would find it useful for sending copies of completed animated videos to my clients.

The good thing is that my clients would not have to install Binfer (or anything for that matter) in order to receive the file. All they need is a modern web browser. To send a file from the desktop you just send an email to your recipient right from within the application. They receive the email with a link to the Binfer web site where they can initiate the file transfer by clicking a link.

For this review I thought I'd test out Binfer's ability to transfer files to and from a mobile device. I have a seven inch, Android 2.2 tablet that I use for playing videos. It also has a camera from which I can record video.

First up I sent a 13MB MP4 video file from the Binfer desktop application to the tablet simply by sending a message to my gmail account. I then accessed my gmail account on my tablet clicked the link and downloaded the file from my desktop computer through Binfer's site (noting that you only initiate the transfer from Binfer's site. The file its-self is not stored on the site). The file took about 5-6 minutes to transfer.

I then used the Binfer website to transfer 1MB 3GP video file from my tablet back to my desktop. Which I realize is a very small file but I really just wanted to go through the process. Entering my Binfer login email address meant the message and file went straight to the Binfer desktop application and appeared there within a few minutes.

Whilst these transfers weren't exactly a strain on the software it does demonstrate how you could use Binfer to extend your network, keeping your home or work desktop switched on then using internet connected mobile devices to transfer files back as you work.

Initially I found this application to be a little confusing (I didn't really understand that you can send a file to any email address, not just people in your contacts), but once I understood how the messaging system worked to transfer files it was very easy to use. I could certainly see how Binfer would be especially useful to anyone working collaboratively over the internet from different geographic locations.

Not having to wait for a file to upload to a server before you can then download it would also save a considerable amount of time on medium to large files.

There's not too much else to say. Binfer does the job of file transfers using the familiar process of sending a message. There's no need to mess around with FTP software, get server settings or spend ages looking around for a file sharing service that can handle large files. Almost anyone should be able to set the software up and start transferring files within minutes.

The interface can be customized with various skins if you like your software color scheme to match your desktop etc. You are also given the code to embed Binfer's web drop form into any web site so you could set up a page for people to send files right on your site.

The applications range of paid plans seems quite reasonable with plans to suit most levels of use including pay as you go and monthly options.

If you have a need to transfer big files on a regular basis then Binfer could be just what you're looking for. Definitely an ideal tool for collaborators with a need to share a lot of files with a minimum of fuss.


Men In Black 2 - Part 4

This installment, part 4 of my parody series, Men In Black 2, Rashy's disguise once again doesn't fool Agent Obama and the chase is on but who really has the upper hand? Find out in the video below.

Pt4: Men in Black 2 by etourist

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

Spoiler Alert: Make sure you've watched the episode before reading further!

Initially this whole episode was going to be Barack and Joe chasing Rashy. I wanted there to be lots of action and comedy in the style of many cartoon chases you see, such as the classic 'hallway of doors' where the pursuer and those in pursuit run between numerous doors across a hallway, almost impossibly emerging from different doors each time.

Then, as I thought about the episode more, as a viewer I'd be disappointed with a long, drawn out chase scene where the story doesn't really progress. Plus I already kind of did the same thing in the first Men In Black series with Rashy travelling to the same crime scene as Agent's AKON and Obama but unnoticed in the background by them - for the whole episode.

When I scratched that idea I'd already made the beginning (the two agents leaving the bar in pursuit of Rashy) and ending (or what I thought would be the ending) scene where Barack and Joe are about to be overpowered by Rashy's robots. I was then going to fill out the middle with the big chase.

It wasn't long before a new idea emerged that would make sense of why Rashy was in the bar with the two people looking for him, knowing that Obama would probably see through his disguise. Clearly if Rashy could get Obama out of the way he'd be free of the one person who can destroy his plan to be leader of the free world.

As this idea grew it was obvious Rashy wouldn't want the agents to be chasing him for too long - in case they did actually capture him before he lead them onto the spaceship.

My problem then became, how do I fill the rest of this installment given that the chase is now so short and I've still got a good minute and a half to go?

I solved part of the problem by having Barack communicate with MIB headquarters what they were doing. This also allowed me to not only make the chase scene a little longer but also enabled me to skip having a scene of Barack and Joe actually boarding the spacecraft. As well it gave me an opportunity to have the MIB Director warn about the spaceship being a trap (just to get the viewer thinking about the possibility of a trap ahead of all the robots appearing).

The rest of the problem I solved by realizing that, with Barack out of the way, Rashy would be completely free to impersonate the President and fast track his way into the job he set out to get, initially by impersonating Newt Gingrich and trying to win the election. (Side note: Hence the Witch in part 3 trying to get Sarah Palin to run. The Witch, as one of Rashy's class mates at Bison's Evil Genius Training Camp, is also plotting to become leader of the free world).

That did leave another problem. If Rashy didn't get on the spaceship, who is he working with that has a spaceship? I didn't have to think too hard to come up with George Bush and Dick Cheney - who had already been established as aliens in the first MIB. Though in the original series Rashy was trying to kill them but I promise this will be addressed in Part 5.

People with an eye for detail may notice in some scenes in part 4 both Barack and Joe have custom heads. This is because I'm not able to attach their sunglasses to the characters - the glasses are designed for the much bigger character of Boss in GoAnimate's Full Energy theme. When the characters run their heads bob up and down. It was just easier to make a custom head with glasses attached than to try and match the movement of the glasses to the movement of their head when they run (you can see the problem in the closing scene with the walking Joe Biden Bot. As he walks his head moves up and down whilst the glasses remain completely level).

That covers everything I want to mention behind the scenes for this episode. Part 5 will hopefully be out before Christmas.

Men In Black 2 - Parts 2 and 3

My Men In Black, episode 2, parody series continues in these latest two installments where Agents Obama and Biden, having seen through Rashy's clever Newt Gingrich disguise, are now hot on his trail.

In part 2 we see the return of Rashy's reluctant, double crossing partner in crime and what could be better than seeing a democrat firing off a few hundred rounds from a big gun!

Pt2: Men in Black 2 by etourist

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Then in part 3 not everyone is happy with Agent Barack's skill with a rifle whilst Rashy forgets his 'guest' status and clearly over stays his welcome.

Agents Obama and Biden seek solace in a few after work drinks and Rashy regroups with yet another cunning disguise.

Pt3: Men In Black 2 by etourist

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Neither of these parts have much to report behind the scenes. Everything is mostly stock standard GoAnimate born and bred - except for the community prop explosion and smoke. There is also a couple of my own props and backgrounds in there from the previous MIB series (such as the castle - ripped from the Underdog theme - and the sunglasses wearing robot head). All sounds are either GoAnimate or SoundSnap.

Just like the first series I'm writing the scripts as I create each part. So I never know what is going to happen next until I actually start making the part I'm up to. This keeps the story fresh for me and allows me to create unexpected plot twists without any care of affecting a pre-planned story line.

I've also been limiting each episode to two minutes so that making the next part doesn't take too long. The format has worked well so far, with me being able to create three episodes over a six week period.

At the time of writing I'm about half way through creating Part 4. Follows of the series are going to be a little surprised with what happens next as they start to see there's a method to Rashy's madness.

Watch this blog for future parts as they're released.

WeVideo - Professional, Collaborative, Online Video Editor for Free

WeVideo is a professional online, cloud, video editing and project sharing application that works right in your browser. It attempts to compete with equivalent licensed software that you can buy for your computer, such as (in my case) MAGIX Movie Edit Pro.

WeVideo is free for personal use and comes with a range of paid plans that give you more features and benefits depending on your needs and how much you want to spend. Check out their video below which gives a great overview of WeVideo's service.



In this review I'm going to see if I can use WeVideo to create a typical video for my main YouTube channel, etourist2, where I mostly upload art and animation demonstration/tutorial videos. Before we start, here's a run down of what a free account offers:

  • 1 GB storage
  • 360p resolution
  • 15 export minutes per month
  • Export to Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and Twitter
  • 5 invites per project
  • 390 licensed music titles

With only 1GB of storage this account is clearly targeted at short form video and the casual user. To create one of my typical art videos, where I can be filming many minutes of HD video at a time, of me painting in real time over the course of a single painting I'd fill up 1GB easily and still need more room. However with a WeVideo Plus account I'd get 10GB's of storage which would probably be enough for one of my video projects.

360p resolution is fine for YouTube and other online video sites. All of WeVideo's paid accounts offer local downloads and higher resolutions if you're all about image quality and like to own hires versions of your movies.

15 export minutes per month may not seem like much but if you keep your videos to about 3 minutes each (which is an optimal length for online video and the average attention span for many viewers) that's about 5 videos per month.

5 invites per project? What's that all about? If you're the kind of person that likes to work collaboratively on video projects then you can invite other WeVideo users to work on your project. I'd imagine this is great for people wishing to work collaboratively but suffer from the tyranny of distance (or just like working from home). Not that useful for me though.

390 licensed music titles - whilst you won't find any top 40 hits or even classic tunes that you're parents used to play, the range of mostly instrumental music is very usable as an audio backdrop to your video or as a backing track playing behind the voice track to set the mood of a scene. There's plenty of different styles and enough selection to stop your audio from sounding too repetitive across several productions.

So can WeVideo replace my video editor, MAGIX Movie Edit Pro? 

As I've been writing this review to this point I've been uploading my raw video footage into WeVideo's studio - 11 video files with a total size of approximately 495MB. About an hour has passed and my files are only about half way uploaded. As far as hurdles go this is one that puts me off most online software services in general. The need to store all the working files on a server 'in the cloud'.

As a collaborative tool, storing all the files online is necessary but I'm working solo on this... using MAGIX I'd be an hour into editing my file by now. It's not a big problem though. All it takes is planning. Upload your files when you have other things to do - perhaps the day before or overnight even. Me? I think it's time for a lunch break!

I should note that WeVideo seems to import most popular video, image and audio file formats. Though I didn't test this thoroughly. My project media files consisted of MP4 and WMV video files and one PNG image.

It would be much too lengthy an article to give you a blow by blow run down of editing my video so rather than do that I'll highlight features that I used and note any that I either couldn't find or weren't available.

The interface is laid out very much as you'd expect. If you've used any kind of video editor you'll probably be able to find your way around without too much drama (see the screen shot below). Your Private files, Projects Files, Videos, Audio, Transitions and Graphics are all filed under tabs in the top left half of the studio. A video preview window on the top right (note the Tools menu to the right of the preview window in the image - I'll talk about this later). The editing timeline takes up the whole bottom half of the screen. First time users also get some speech balloon help to guide you around which was quite useful but can be skipped.

WeVideo Edit Studio
Click for enlarged version.
The first thing that impressed me was the speed at which the preview window seemed to preview everything. From the source files up to the video being created on the timeline. For an online application I was expecting to see a lot of lag time waiting for files to stream but I didn't seem to spend much time waiting at all. Certainly no more than I do with MAGIX Video Edit Pro waiting for it to compile a lowres preview of my timeline.

That said, when returning to my project the next day it does take a little longer for files to stream and preview the first run through but I'm guessing once that happens with each clip they're stored locally for faster playback until you exit the studio.

Editing in the timeline is a combination of drag-n-drop and adjusting settings in various dialogue boxes. On the timeline its self you start with 1 Effects track, 1 Graphics track, 1 Video Track and 3 Audio tracks. You can add more Graphics and Audio Tracks if you need them. Unfortunately none of those audio tracks are the audio of your source videos which is combined on the video track but not shown - so if you want to splice a piece of video based on an audio event you won't have the video's audio wave form as a visual guide. You just have to literally play it by ear.

Creating my opening titles was a snap (almost) with text being added from the Graphics tab and edited right in the preview window. Initially I thought you couldn't adjust the font and text size of individual lines of text in a text box but discovered if you just highlight the text within your text box, click the FX button on the menu bar of the timeline, and the properties box that comes up will adjust only the text highlighted. There are a number of preset titles for various common tasks (such as subtitles, end credits etc.) to save you some time. The only negative here is the limited number of fonts (15 in total) but there should be a style to suit almost any project.

I also liked that all of the key objects placed in the timeline have, what I'm calling a 'transition' line (see image below), which allow you to either adjust the opacity of an object or the volume of a video or audio object at any stage, within the object, just by adding points to the line and dragging them. You can add additional points by clicking on the line. You can remove points by double clicking on them.

Transition lines for adjusting opacity or audio volume.
The length of most objects can be adjusted simply by dragging its left or right edge backwards and forwards. Video can be spliced either by using the video in and out markers on the preview window or by chopping it up directly in the timeline with the splitting tool (which can also be used to split audio,and other objects too).

When it comes to transitions WeVideo has quite a selection worthy of any commercial package from wipes to 3D screen switches and artsy ones like 'Filmstrip' too. These are easily dragged onto the Video/Image track in the timeline and can also be adjusted for length by dragging their right edge.  You can also click on the little 'T' button in the transition which will bring up a window to let you swap the existing transition for a different one if you don't like your initial selection.

Clicking the FX button on the timeline with a video object selected brings up a dialogue box that allows you to apply a number of creative effects to a video such as sepia tone, black and white, reflection and more - too many to list. The only effects that I've used in other software that I couldn't find in WeVideo is Chroma keying (green screening). Not that I use it often but it's an effect many home video creators like to experiment with.

The same dialogue box also gives you some options for colour correcting your video with the usual sliders for brightness, contrast, saturation and more. I found this to be very useful because I'm notorious for not taking the time to light my scenes properly. Yes I'm a point and shoot kind of cameraman (lighting... what's that?!)

My project didn't really require much other than titles from the selection of Graphics available but if you were going for a more fun project things like cartoon 'Boom' graphics, frames, speech balloons and animated mouths could be very useful.

If you need to add narration to your video WeVideo allows you to record this directly from your microphone into the timeline. For some reason you're limited to 30 second grabs which is extremely annoying for someone like me who often edits my whole video then records the entire narration directly into my editor in one file. I could certainly see myself using external audio software to record narration and then just import the file into my WeVideo media library.

I've already mentioned the licensed music tracks which are easy enough to select and drag into the timeline. What I haven't told you about is that WeVideo also includes a selection of ambient noises and sound effects which could prove useful if you need things like audience applause or ambient traffic noise.

WeVideo has some more advanced features which I noticed in some of their demonstration videos but had to really search around in the studio to discover how to use them. Effects such as Video Wall and Picture in Picture. If you drag a video or image onto a Graphic track above your video track then some advanced tools become available to you, accessed by a little arrow button on the top left of the preview window. These tools allow you to size and move your overlay videos and images. There's even a control to give them a border and drop shadow.

Once you've completed your project, with a free account, you have the option of exporting it to either  Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo or Twitter. If you're not thrilled with 360p resolution (with watermark) then for a small fee you can upgrade the export to 480p.

Unsurprisingly exports to external sites take a little time depending on the size and length of your video but WeVideo does send you an email alert to let you know when your project has exported.

My finished video, created entirely in WeVideo, demonstrating my animated monkey character is below. I'll be the first to admit my editing skills are probably not that sharp but I blame the cameraman! Essentially I was to trying to make use of as much of WeVideo's features as I could for this review whilst still maintaining that classic amateur look of all my videos.


If detailed editing isn't your thing then WeVideo's studio does include a video wizard - great if you really want to put together a slide show or series of videos in a hurry. However if that's the kind of thing you do often then Magisto just might be the better service for you. WeVideo is really for people who like full control of their video editing experience.

One thing I couldn't do with WeVideo is separate the audio from my source video. I often use narration I've recorded with my source camera footage and add it over other footage or images. As well MAGIX Video Edit Pro has tools to let me clean my camera recorded audio to minimize unwanted noise and boost my audio's volume. None of that is currently possible with WeVideo.

There's also no option to speed up footage - useful for showing passage of time sequences such as the creation of an artwork in record time (sometimes referred to as 'speed painting'). Though I read on WeVideo's Facebook support page that this is planned for a future update.

Beyond the editing studio the rest of WeVideo's web site gives you a dashboard where you can manage your projects, media and collaborative team.

Overall I really enjoyed using WeVideo. It was easy to use and easy enough to learn just by experimenting inside the studio. A complete newbie to video editing might find it a steep learning curve but anyone who's fairly competent with something like Windows Moviemaker in timeline mode or more professional video editing software should be able to get to grips with WeVideo in less than a few hours.

I wouldn't say it could replace a dedicated video editing package like MAGIX Movie Edit Pro entirely at this stage but it certainly could be used for a considerable number of projects with very professional and impressive results.

I'd definitely recommend it as a video editing tool that almost anyone should be able to learn. It's sizable array of transitions, effects and audio mean it'll take you a while to out grow it creatively - if at all.

With the addition of Chroma keying, Timelapse (speeding up footage) and the ability to see and separate audio from your source video I'd almost say it's the only video editor you may need. No doubt these things may all be added in future updates if the demand is there.

If collaboration is your thing then I haven't seen any other editor that brings people together to work on the same video project like WeVideo does.

The free account is probably not for you if you make videos every day but, for a casual user who makes perhaps one 3-4 minute video every week, it could be just enough to get by.

For more hardcore video creators a paid plan is something you'll have to weigh up against purchasing a dedicated video editing software package. A monthly plan could well be good value considering you'll always be using the latest version of your editor and will never have to upgrade to a newer version... and don't forget WeVideo's collaboration options.

WeVideo, in my opinion, is a very competent tool. It won't be the only video editing tool I'll ever use but I'll certainly be keeping my eye on it and will consider it for future projects. It's definitely something I'd recommend for amateur video creators of all skill levels.

Professionals may find it a little limiting for exceptionally creative work or extremely large projects but as a tool for editing online video projects it should meet much of their needs. Definitely worth serious consideration.

US Election 2012 and Men In Black on GoAnimate

GoAnimate recently launched it's new US Election 2012 theme with a stylish set of new characters reminiscent of newspaper editorial cartoons.

You can check the characters out right away by clicking the above link which will take you to the GoAnimate Quick App for the theme. Making your first Election 2012 animation is as simple as following the four step process in the quick app.

If you want to make something a little more advanced you'll need to choose the Full-Featured App option which will fire up the GoAnimate studio.

For me the new theme is an excellent reason to fire up a second episode of my popular Men In Black series from a year or so ago.

The premise is that Barack Obama is nearing the end of his term as President and, as a particularly gifted MIB agent who can see through disguises, he spots the Evil Genius Sock Monkey, Rashy (from the first episode), posing as Republican Candidate, Newt Gingrich.

Watch part 1 below. Future parts of this episode will be posted to this blog as I make them.

Men in Black 2 by etourist

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

If you take the time to watch the first episode, or are already familiar with it, the first thing you'll notice is that Agent A (or AKON) is no longer present. Unfortunately GoAnimate's license with AKON's team expired some time ago and the theme was removed. Which is a real shame because I really liked AKON's theme even though it had severe restrictions on audio that could be used with it.

A side effect of that was that the AKON theme had all the cool sunglasses that featured in the first series so these disappeared too. Luckily GoAnimate's Full Energy theme had some sunglasses that were pretty close -  though they were designed for a character with a much larger face. As a result they have to be sized and just placed in front of the characters faces because attaching them causes them to become too large and incorrectly placed.

That aside, I think the new political character designs do give episode two a fresh new look and, because I'm not using the AKON theme the characters can actually speak their lines. Though I've chosen to keep the speech balloons in because I feel the text does give cues as to how something is said - particularly if the character is shouting.

There's not too much else to be said. I hope you enjoy this new episode and take a moment to let me know what you thought.

Creating Custom Actions for GoAnimate Characters using Koolmoves

Bat Storm in custom jump
Action created with
Koolmoves.
My favorite GoAnimate character set theme is Comedy World. Despite the limited number of costumes I still get a kick out of using the Comedy World Character Creator to create new characters for my animations.

However what I don't like is the limited range and very wooden movement of the characters. Which is not especially good for creating Superhero stories like my Bat Storm Series.

Having recently purchased Crazy Talk Animator Pro I noticed how that software creates a lot of character actions by creating front and three quarter view 'puppets' out of similarly drawn views of your characters. I got to thinking, could I do the same thing with GoAnimate's Comedy World characters?

Initially I'd hoped to use Crazy Talk Animator to create my puppets since the software can export flash files but unfortunately my tests failed as the exported files weren't compatible with GoAnimate's studio.

So I decided creating puppets from scratch using Koolmoves was the way forward from there.

The video below is my first test animation of the technique using my Bat Storm character. It's not strictly a Koolmoves tutorial however I do take some time to demonstrate how my Bat Storm puppet is constructed and how I simply moved the body parts around to create a looped jumping sequence.

The final sequence looks a lot more natural (in my opinion) than some of GoAnimates prebuilt Comedy World Character actions and opens up the possibility for making Bat Storm episodes with much more action.

Note: apologies for the jerky stop start nature of the video in places below. My screen capture software was really struggling for some reason and wouldn't even record my narration without distorting my voice awfully - hence the lack of narration and substituted music track.

GoAnimate Complaints Dept. Basic - Sonic Edition

Ever since Chaostoon released his Sonic the Hedgehog character into the community on GoAnimate you've all thought it but it took the More Actions Protest Group and a plucky little chick to take the complaint to the top... well Happy Bunny at the GoAnimate Complaints Desk at least.

GoAnimate Complaints Basic by etourist basic

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Apologies to Chaostoon but you did commit the sin of promising so much (making Sonic available to the community) if people supported your FaceBook quest for tickets to a festival and under delivering on people's expectations - even though they knew Sonic was done as an April Fools joke and was never intended to be a full character. Hopefully you might deliver a few more actions when the paid work dies down a little.

You'll notice that this animation also includes a Sonic the Hedgehog head prop created by me and attached to a blue Happy Bunny body. That prop was the start of my own Sonic the hedgehog that I was going to make for the community before Chaostoon announced his intention to make his public.

Noticing the success Chaostoon had with his Sonic April Fools day joke (animation embeded below) I thought I'd do my own experiment based on a comment I made on GoAnimate's forums. I don't remember the exact comment but in response to someone asking how to get a lot of views on GoAnimate I joked 'just make something with Sonic the Hedgehog in it' - after observing Chaostoon's animation get in excess of 30,000 views.

Sneak Preview of Chaostoon's Sonic the Hedgehog by Chaostoon

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Now I've made a Complaints Dept. with Chaostoon's Sonic in it... we'll see if that pulls in the views to my etourist basic GoAnimate account.

By the way...I really love Johnny Hotdog's, Knuckles character. It has a few more moves than Chaostoon's Sonic and I really like the not too polished drawing style.

Note also the little nod to the recent removal of the Street Fighter theme from GoAnimate due to the license agreement expiring. Happy Bunny sure will miss Ken in that weird kind of way you become attached to annoyances.

Bat Domokun, Road Trip and Snakes on a Plane

I've just realized I haven't kept up with posting my Domo animations to this blog so here's four Domo Animations you may have missed...

Snakes on a Plane

As Samuel L. Jackson pointed out many times, the movie Snakes on a Plane has a great title, and that's reason enough to appear in the film. The title is where my parody pretty much starts and ends. It's snakes on a plane but done Domo style...

Snakes on a Plane by etourist

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Domo's Road Trip

Seeing the more and more complex prop made images by Domo Animate users and building upon the prop only characters like the Sneep and the Para-tweet that I created in earlier Domo animations I wanted to take it to another level.

The two questions I get asked the most about this animation is 'Where did you get the car from?' and 'How did you make the car move?'

Domo's Road Trip by etourist

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

The car its self uses the stick figure theme car as a base for the moving wheels. The rest is made from numerous stick figure props (for example the door handle is a stick figure mobile phone).

If you watch the animation carefully you'll see the movement of the car is all an illusion. It never actually moves from it's position on the screen. It's all done through the movement of the background props and camera pans. It was an idea I got from parallax scrolling computer games of the nineteen eighties and nineties but is actually a very old technique used in films as well as animation.

Moving such a complex prop, like this car, which at a guess is made up of more than 50 props would be close to impossible in the Domo studio because you cannot multi-select objects. Everything would have to be moved individually.

The story line for the animation took me a long time to come up with because I wanted Domo to travel somewhere that would be both funny and seem like he'd been on a road trip. Thank goodness for the picture of Mt. Fuji prop!


Bat Domo

You've probably noticed I"m something of a Batman fan with two series of animations parodying Batman on GoAnimate (Dorkman and Bat Storm). I noticed Domo Animate had a Bat mask in the Monsters and Supernatural theme which paved the way for Bat Domo.

Domo's a bit of a Bat Storm fan, dreaming of being his superhero idol...

Bat Domo - The Great Divide by etourist

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The biggest problem I had with this was the Bat mask. If I actually attached it to Domo it looked too small and didn't line up with his eyes. The only way to solve it was to make the mask bigger and move it separately.

This presented some challenges but I worked out that if I moved Domo first and found out where he'd end up in the next frame, I could then place the mask at the point it should end at. Copy that to the previous frame and use it as a guide for moving the mask.

Episode 2, Bat Domo and the Vampire Threat, completely drops the Bat Storm premise of Domo dreaming and is a more direct parody of Batman himself. I really wanted to answer the question of how could Domo be Bat Domo with a cave and a Bat mobile... plus a cape!

Bat Domo and the Vampire Threat by etourist

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

Ironman, Mt. Rushmore, GoAnimate Quick Apps

What used to be called 'Type a Video' animations is now known as 'Quick Apps' on GoAnimate. The apps have been upgraded to include a limited range of facial expressions and, if you're a GoPlus user, some apps will even let you use your own custom Lil' Peepz or Comedy World Custom Characters.

That's how I came to make Ironman Vs Metal Detector...

Ironman Vs Metal Detector by etourist

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If you've seen my previous post, Cleaning Out my GoAnimate Account - Unused and Unfinished, you'll recognise this sketch as a kind of sequel to the Super Charge/Superman metal detector sketch in my Unused and Unfinished animation. In fact that particular scene is directly referenced in the Ironman sketch.

You may also recognise my Ironman character (well as close as you can get to Ironman with GoAnimate's Comedy World Character Creator) from my Charlie Sheen animation, Charlie Sheen agrees to Rehab. I've been looking for a reason to use him again since Comedy World characters cost real money to buy and he only had a cameo role in the Charlie animation.

Ironman Vs Metal Detector has been received remarkably well (55 recommendations in 5 days) for a Quick App animation. Typically Quick Apps struggle to get views due to their visual similarity. Except for the script people have generally seen all the animation many times over.

I like to think it's the script writing that has been the major player but I'm sure it didn't hurt that both characters are custom Comedy World Characters and therefore haven't been seen many times over. Also Ironman's popularity with two kick ass movies may be something of a draw card too.

Long Time Waiting...

Another of GoAnimate's Quick Apps takes popular culture and familiar icons/items and gives them a voice with Talking Picz. I first used this theme in Smart Phones - Lost. This time I take an alternative look at Mount Rushmore with its Presidential sculptures. They're not really a tourist attraction, they've just been waiting for so long they've become one...

Long Time Waiting... by etourist

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Mt. Rushmore from the Canadian Side.
This animation was inspired by an image that's been doing the rounds of social media for a while now called 'Mt Rushmore from the Canadian side' which forces you to think differently about the monument in a very humorous idea.

I happened to be looking at the Mt Rushmore image on GoAnimate and suddenly thought the arrangement of the heads look remarkably like people queuing.

I did a bit of research on Mt. Rushmore and discovered that each head was dedicated in a different year (those are the years mentioned in the animation) with Lincoln's head being dedicated before Roosevelt's. Giving a bit of factual credence to Theo's queue jumping.

From there I did a bit more research on each President to see if I could incorporate more historic references relating to each one such as Theodore's catch phrase 'speak softly but carry a big stick' and linking Jefferson to his authorship of the Declaration of Independence.

It's always risky linking humor to historical references because it can kill the joke flat if people don't know what you're referring to. Hopefully my references aren't too obscure or there's still enough there to find funny if you aren't familiar with the history.

Cleaning Out My GoAnimate Account - Unused and Unfinished

I've been in something of a creative funk in terms of creating GoAnimations of late. I had quite a few unfinished projects in my account holding me back from starting anything new. Wanting to finish things that I had started but lost a lot of enthusiasm for was really getting to me because I don't like to quit on ideas once they've started to take shape.

Finally I decided that enough was enough and it was time to cut these ideas loose. However looking through them, I thought there were some ideas that had potential and it would be a shame to just delete them. I also noticed I still had my partially finished and unused third Bat Storm trailer. Since I did spend some time working on these ideas I thought it might be interesting to show them off in a kind of 'deleted scenes' style animation.

To that end I've put together 'Unused and Unfinished'. A collection of scenes from all my unfinished works that I've decided to discontinue.

Unused and Unfinished by etourist

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Some points of interest in this animation include:
  • The scene with Bat Storm attempting to buy a cape is the original seed idea for my later Lil Peepz Bat Star Animation I'd like to buy a Cape.
  • The scene with the glasses wearing character being zapped onto a hill side was for an animation based on the original story idea I had for The Extraordinary Tourist - the character that I created and adopted the name as my online nickname. The character in the animation is based on myself.
  • Joyce, the green haired girl from GoAnimate's Cartoon Classics theme, has some pretty unusual animation sequences that I thought would be perfect for a horror animation trailer. Plus she can hold almost any weapon with unnerving authority - a little like Hit Girl from Kick Ass.
  • The Youtube Complaints Dept. sequence was going to be the next episode in the series but I spent so much time responding to comments on my Harry Partridge response video that the idea of doing a Youtube complaints video became tedious.
  • The Slime Alien was a character designed by GoAnimate user Dalek32 who seemed to loose interest in having the character made so I never finished all the actions.
  • The Idolization Overdose trailer was a collaboration project that I pulled the plug on due to 'creative differences'. A script for episode one was written but never animated.
  • The stick figure creeping up to the fire hydrant was an experimental idea where I was trying to make the stick figure and the world around it look like it was cut from paper.
  • The How to Look After Your Zombie section was an animation I did a lot of research for on Zombies and even partially wrote a script for. However I found it too difficult to translate my ideas using GoAnimate characters - and I didn't want to do a lot of flash animation work just to make it happen.
  • The stick figure Batman and Joker I created originally to try my ideas for the Matrix 360 degree spin that I eventually used Lil' Peepz characters to create in Re-Animatrix. I created the stick figure Batmobile after creating a Domo Batmobile on Domo Animate in a currently unreleased animation.
  • The Robocop section is taken from a script I started to write and intended to animate with Crazy Talk  Animator but decided I rather animate my own characters than spend all my time working on a Robocop animation. Below is a really rough test I did using Crazy Talk Animator


  • The final Happy Bunny music video for the song Wish You Well by Bernard Fanning was something I started just because I noticed the Happy Bunny theme background with Happy Bunny walking towards camera reminded me of the actual video for the song. I toyed with the idea of recreating the whole video using the Happy Bunny theme.
That's about it. I hope you found my unused and unfinished scenes of some interest and that this article gives you a little bit of context for some of the scenes.

GoAnimate: Ryu Will Fall

Ryu Will Fall is a throw back to old school GoAnimating. There's no custom backgrounds or props and I've used speech balloons with no sound other than a music backing track.

The basic premise is Sakura is in love with Ryu (of the Street Fighter Games) and she has her sights set on capturing his heart. Hence the 'Fall' part of the title is not meant to be literal.

I must admit I'm in a bit of a slump as far as GoAnimate goes so I decided to try one of the badge challenges (Ryu's Monologue) just to animate something.

The badge challenge has some fairly strict limitations. You can only use Ryu as a character and there is no mixing of themes. Fortunately there was a prop image of Sakura so I was able to use that rather than her actual animated character.

The music track is the same music I used in my Escape animation. None of the existing Street Fighter game tunes seemed appropriate and none of the GoAnimate classic tunes were available without mixing themes.

Anyhow this is what I came up with below.

Ryu will Fall by etourist

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

Magisto - Automated Video Editing from Raw Footage

I came across Magisto's new 'Magical video editing in a Click' site via Mashable's article,
Automated Video Editing Site Makes Movie Magic Out of Raw Footage.

If the above two link titles don't give you a clue about what this new start up site does then I'll elaborate. The purpose of the site is to take a bunch of raw camera footage (i.e. unedited, direct from your camera footage) and, using the sites built in subject recognition algorithms, produce a finished, professionally edited, short video with an audio music track that you can share with your family, friends and other people in your online social networks.

The site is not targeted at the the video professional and is definitely not designed for long format video. Rather it's for the average person filming short grabs of live video such as clips of the family, places traveled to, family pets etc. who wouldn't normally take the time to edit that kind of footage together. Thus often posting lengthy unedited clips to social sites like Facebook and Youtube.

For me it was an interesting proposition. Even though I do know how to edit video with a semi professional film makers eye I do capture a lot of footage with my mobile phone and camera, mostly of our pet dog, Oscar, and cat, Casper, that I usually can't be bothered editing. Thus it sits on my hard drive unseen or, I post the occasional unedited clip to Facebook.

So this morning I went on my usual walk to the park with Oscar and filmed some clips. I tried to film at Oscar's level (though this can be a little tricky with such a small dog) as much as possible but beyond that I kept my clips as spontaneous as possible. Below is the resulting clip, which Magisto allows you to upload directly to Youtube.



The two opening shots are earlier videos that were on my camera whilst all the footage of Oscar wearing his walking harness I filmed for this test.

To create the video, I uploaded 12 clips of footage, direct from my camera, each between 20-40 seconds long. Magisto has a limit of 16 clips or 600mb. My footage was all HD footage and totaled roughly 486MB all up.

Next I entered a title - 'Oscar'.

Finally I chose a music track. There are plenty of contemporary tracks, classic tunes and older hits to choose from, which I liked.

Once you've chosen your music, you just sit back and wait for your clips to finish uploading then wait for an email saying your video is ready (the time this takes varies depending on your clip length).

From there it's a simple case of clicking on the links for Facebook, Youtube, twitter or email to share your video.

Overall I thought the site does it's job rather well. It's a little hit and miss and quite ruthless with how much it leaves out - my raw footage totaled about 6 minutes in length and was reduced to just over a minute - but the end result is still very satisfactory.

If you can't be bothered editing and you film a lot of random family moments or experiences then this just might be the tool that turns your footage into something far more watchable for your family and friends.

Harry Partridge Interview by Animation Aficionados

Harry Partridge Interviewed by Animation Aficionados in a recent (August 18, 2011) podcast interview that goes into some detail about Harry's work, techniques and inspirations. Well worth listening to, although it could have done with either some editing down or, as Harry points out, more explanation for the audience about some of the things being talked about.

However, people who've seen Harry's GoAnimate video may like to listen to the first 10-15 minutes for Harry's commentary on GoAnimate and the motivation behind his animation, which reaffirms his indifference to GoAnimate as he stated on Newgrounds in his animation description:

For the record I am indifferent to the software. I have no problem with people wanting to create animation with it for fun as long as those with loftier ambitions aren't letting their skills stagnate. I spent a lot of time with 3D movie maker as a kid because I didn't know how else I could create animation and I really wish I had discovered flash sooner. Brad Bird began his first animated film at 11 years old so you're never too young to start! 
So please remember that my animated counterpart is a caricature in more ways than one; I didn't really jump on a horse when Skyrim was announced and I'm not about to go postal on someone who wants to use some gimmicky animation software, just consider the alternatives. 
- Harry Partridge
Not only is Harry not that against GoAnimate as a fun tool but it wasn't that long ago that he was also a Family Guy fan and admits that the simplistic way the show is drawn partially inspired him to get into animation (because he thought the show made animation look easy).

Anyhow, not to harp on. I just wanted to draw your attention to this interview because it's easy to think Harry's audience speaks for Harry, when Harry is really a much deeper and more thoughtful person than the knee jerk commentary his animations often attract. Plus listening to someone talk about their own work is always worth while.


Animating Comments with GoAnimate

One of the ideal uses for a website like GoAnimate is creating animations based upon comments, feedback and conversations online.

The kind of thing you just wouldn't sit down and spend months animating - well, maybe, if you're from Ardman Animations scouting for a new season of Creature Comforts you might - but for the rest of us... probably not.

However, just for a bit of fun with your friends or simply for your own amusement, animating an online discussion or comment is one of the things GoAnimate can do well without taking months away from more important animation projects.

Here's a recent GoAnimatation I did of an email reply I received about my post, Harry Partridge, GoAnimate, What I Observed.



I did send this person an actual email reply that, after thanking him for his comment, opened with the line written at the end of the animation.

The exchange of emails did lead to a slightly more interesting and coherent discussion than is presented here but the commenter's first email just reminded me of some old guy, like Grandpa Simpson, tapping out a rant on a typewriter thinking that the words would actually make a difference. Hence the reason I was tempted to animate it.

I don't want to prolong the whole Harry Partridge thing anymore than this. I just thought this type of animation is one of the most valid reasons to use a site like GoAnimate. Animations of this kind only appeal to a very minuscule number of people. You wouldn't want to spend months animating for such a small audience.

Xtranormal Summer Movie and SOH Graphic Contests Update

Xtranormal, Star Trek Entry
Summer Movie Contest.
To begin, I'd like to thank all of you that took the time to vote for and Youtube 'Like' my entries in Xtranormal's Summer Movie Contest and the Sydney Opera House's Graphic Contest.

Thanks to your efforts I managed to place a very respectable seventh place in Xtranormal's contest - where the top ten most Liked entries received a prize. Seventh won me 2000 Xtranormal points - which I think equates to about US$20.00 in real money if I had to buy those points. Still, you can do a lot with 2000xp on Xtranormal so it was great to have even placed when I thought I'd be lucky to squeak in at tenth. You can see all the winners on Xtranormal's blog.

GoAnimate SOH Graphic
Competition Entry.
I wasn't quite so fortunate with the Sydney Opera House's Graphic Contest. My entry was accepted into the first round alongside about 53 other entries. Unfortunately I don't know if I got enough votes to make the top twenty that went before the judges (since there was no record of how many votes each entry got) but even if I did, my entry wasn't accepted by the judges for round two.

Interestingly one of the entries that has made it all the way through to round three (the final round) had the same theme as mine (Grandma coming to visit and the children not wanting to be welcomed by her)... I wonder if that one lost a few points for originality?

Since I haven't posted my SOH entry to this blog yet I've embeded it below for your enjoyment. All the backgrounds were created by me using Koolmoves and I voiced the main character (Ben). Ben's Mom and Grandma were voiced by GoAnimater, Lord Sorcery.

Relative Escape by etourist

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

If you're interested in going behind the scenes I created this semi-tutorial video that shows how I created the exterior background of Ben's house (the scene where he's falling from the window) in Koolmoves.





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