Men in Black - Part 5

Mid last year I finally concluded my Men In Black series staring Barack Obama and AKON, the parody series I started way back in December of 2008 - and boy had things changed at GoAnimate by August of 2010 when Part 5 was finally released!

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. Click the following links, Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3 and Episode 4 to take you to each animations corresponding blog post.

I was lucky to have started Part 5 before all the major changes came in at GoAnimate with the introduction of Premium Goplus+ accounts because one change was that AKON's theme vanished from public access. Even for Goplus+ members.

Fortunately, if you already had an AKON animation in draft or previously published, all the themes components would still show up in the GoAnimate studio. I think this is still the case too. If you copy an old AKON animation that you've made and rename it, you can still make new AKON videos.

I don't know why the theme has vanished but I really wish GoAnimate would bring it back. As I've said previously the characters within it are some of the best drawn on GoAnimate.

Moving on to the final part 5 episode, I knew this was going to be the conclusion. It had been many months since part 4 and I just didn't want to drag out this series any longer.

Given my writing style of making up the story as I go I'm pretty proud of just how well everything comes together in an ending that is completely satisfying yet, like all great endings suggests this may not be the end.

MIB - Part 5 by etourist

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I remember when I made this, the opening scene of Rashy flying down from space I completed fairly soon after part 4 and then I got really stuck. I didn't know what Rashy's lair really looked like or how I'd get Agent A and Barack onto Rashy's trail.

All I knew is that I had Super Rica refusing to rat out Rashy at the end of episode 4. Rashy was still mad at Bush and Cheney and that the trick alien glasses hand controller I set up way back in episode 1 still hadn't been put to good use. All of this kept me stuck for months - which is why these characters made a special appearance in Moonlighting - TET's New PA to complain about the hold up on their series.

Sometimes to get out of writer's block with a comedy you just have to drop a piano from a great height and see how the characters react. In this case, my Piano was Brittany Spears crashing a Ferrari into Rashy's flying saucer. It's a little random but it worked in with the idea that any human could be an alien in disguise (just like Bush and Cheney) and Britney did have a thing for accidentally crashing her car into things at the time.

This got things moving with Barack and Agent A and it took George and Cheney out of the story in a natural conclusion that meant they didn't need to be saved from Rashy.

Also this episode continues the whole joke of Agent A dancing every time he uses the phone. It's really the one thing Barack has over Agent A that he knows will annoy him.

In previous episodes I'd already established Rashy as a master of disguise - even though he never disguises himself at all. I also established that Barack could see through Rashy's disguises way back in episode 2. Both points provided some great comedy in the chase into the subway where Rashy finally gets to use that trick controller to lose himself in the crowd - the first time you could say he actually does disguise himself.

This segwayed nicely back to the interrogation room where Roy and Agent K are trying to break Super Rica into revealing Rashy's lair.

Once Barack and Agent A are told of Rashy's lair it's a great opportunity to once again point out the two agents are walking everywhere. I'm noting it here because I use almost the same running joke in my later Bat Storm: Financial Crisis series. Who said a good joke can't be recycled!

Rashy's lair was an interesting development. In episode 3 I established Rashy had a lair with a dungeon like room where we first see his new, improved killer robot. At the time I hadn't thought about what the exterior of his lair might look like. Then I had a brain wave of continuing to self reference my other animations - as MIB does by bringing Rashy into it in the first place.

Thus Rashy's lair became the same castle complete with the same Witch that I used in my earlier series, How to get views the Evil Genius way (episode 2). The premise of that episode was that the Witch had purchased a flying monkey army (which all looked like Rashy) with monkeys that couldn't actually fly due to their wings being fake.

Rashy kind of takes over her lair (because he's just that resourceful) but when MIB track him down the Witch tricks Rashy into using the wings to fly away. Stroke of genius - if I do say so myself.

This meant I could recreate my favorite scene from the How to get views episode - a monkey jumping straight out the tower window only to discover the wings don't work - and have Rashy just drop into Barack and Agent A's hands - literally. No need for any big confrontation or final battle - and it works beautifully because it's funny and completely logical.

From there it was easy to tie up the loose end of what happens to Rashy since the MIB movies, which this series parodies, established the whole memory erasing ability that MIB has.

I like that the whole script comes full circle for Rashy and he's back in his room where his megalomania began way back in The Boss of Everything.

To sum up the whole series, this my first full length script for any animation. That is, something that tells a complete story with plot twist and turns untill finally everything is brought together in a satisfying conclusion. I learnt so much constructing the story that I later used when creating the first episode of Bat Storm. It's a body of work that I'm most proud of.

Summer Fun - Full Energy on GoAnimate

This Full Energy cartoon won one of GoAnimate's semi regular 'Quickfire' contests with the theme of 'Summer Fun'.

A quickfire contest is exactly as it sounds. You get given a theme and a few days to make an animation and the toon judged the best by GoAnimate Staff usually wins. There's no real prize except the winning entry is a guaranteed Staff pick and you get bragging rights for that particular competition.

The Full Energy theme was a natural fit with it's existing trailer park background complete with fold out chairs and kiddie pool. The theme already had a BBQ too (or outdoor grill if you're not familiar with 'BBQ').

Quite a number of people have commented on my Full Energy cartoons saying I'm the best at coming up with ideas for the theme. I'm not sure what that says about me. Maybe I just have an eye for 'low rent' style characters since my Bat Storm series is also about 'low rent' characters.

My cartoon is a pretty standard take on a classic joke. A few guys sitting around hanging out. A pretty girl walks by and everyone kind of just smartens up a little hoping they'll catch her eye. The punchline is what happens after she's passed by...

Summer Fun - Full Energy by etourist


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

Although everything looks like it's 'off the shelf' GoAnimate props and backgrounds there is quite a bit of custom work in this one scene.

The original trailer park background wasn't hot enough for a real hot summer's day so I took a screen shot and did some image processing to make the scene more yellowish-orange.

The original background also doesn't allow you to have people walk out from behind the caravan (as the girl does) or to have a character properly seated in the pool (like Dave is) so there are two additional mask layers added to make these things possible.

The Dave character also has no action to make him sit in the pool the way he is. If you look real closely, just below Boss's right arm you can see part of a second Dave's hat (I just couldn't be bothered fixing the mask so that this wouldn't be seen - you probably didn't even notice it until just now anyway).

The pretty girl's head is custom too and is one I created for an earlier Full Energy toon called The Ladies Man.

Finally the smoke, and I think even the flame are custom props from the GoAnimate Community. I don't know who actually made them though?

The punchlines are very much my style of humor. They're not jokes as such, they're just funny lines that flow naturally from the action. I think people relate better to that style of comedy because it's more like real life.

You can kind of imagine real people in this kind of situation, bagging each other out as to who was the most impressive, even though the girl probably thought everyone looked like a tool.

GoAnimate Complaints Department Plus+

GoAnimate made some major changes to their site mid way through 2010 creating something of a divide when they introduced Premium GoPlus+ accounts. i.e. paid accounts that give you access to more features.

Unfortunately what this meant for free GoAnimate users, who now found themselves with a 'Basic' account, was that they lost a lot of things that they used to get for free. A major loss was the ability to mix themes - which now became a Goplus+ feature. Basic account holders also had their animation lengths limited to 2 minutes where as previously there had been no limit.

Adding further insult to injury, in order to upgrade a basic account to Goplus+ users needed access to a credit card. With many younger users on site you can imagine the uproar as trying to convince your parents to pay for an upgrade with their credit card is not always the most easiest of tasks.

At around the same time GoAnimate started to roll out its Lil' Peepz theme and Character Creator with more momentum, adding a lot of features in the way of backgrounds and costumes and mixing the theme's props into all the other themes. This didn't sit too well with users who wanted to see their favorite themes such as Comedy World, Star Trek or even the Stick Figure theme get some new stuff too.

As you can imagine, all of this created a lot of complaining on GoAnimate's Forums and gave me plenty of material to launch into another episode of The GoAnimate Complaints Department with new and improved Plus size desk!

Complaints Dept. Plus+ by etourist

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

This episode borrows a joke from the old Monty Python 'I came here for an Argument' sketch where the customer is belled at the end of 2 minutes, indicating his argument time is over.

You'll notice that the Complaints Desk switches from the new and improved desk back to the desk we're all familiar with every now and then. This is because I didn't want the new three window desk to take over from the iconic desk that everyone is familiar with. The old three boxes desk is as much an icon of the series as Happy Bunny is working behind it.

There are a couple of other references thrown in there such as Ken's assertion that people are gaming the Top Animations page. This was actually happening as many unscrupulous members realized you could bump up your animations position in Top Animations by recommending it from multiple 'fake' accounts set up specifically for the purpose recommending animations in a users main account.

The Zombie joke was one I threw in there because there was a real trend for making Zombie animations (big enough for the Comedy World Character Creator to receive some Zombie outfits and heads). There were so many zombie apocalypse animations I figured the zombies must've been getting tired of being portrayed in such a stereotypical way.

In general I was very happy with this episode because almost all the jokes were inspired by real complaints - which is why people enjoy the series so much. It's also why occasionally I get comments on the animation from people who really do agree with the complaints being made.

It was a bold move that GoAnimate made, taking things away that used to be free, however it is the strength of the application that people didn't leave in waves of disgust. I'm sure a few people did leave but the ones who really liked the site... I doubt they stayed away for long.

Harry Partridge, GoAnimate - What I Observed


GoAnimate, MJ's Gay Lobster Arm
by Cut Paste Anime
I don't wish to harp on about a subject having already been accussed of PR speak for GoAnimate but now the issue of Harry Partridge Snubs GoAnimate is over being a hot topic I felt a review of would give me some closure. So here is what I've observed from the whole she bang.
  1. Harry Partridge is an awesome animator. I've seen Harry's work long before his jab at GoAnimate. I wouldn't class him as one of my heroes but he definitely knows his craft. He does some fun animations and has a great sense of humor.
      
  2. The majority of people who commented in support of Harry's GoAnimate Video on Newgrounds, Cartoon Brew and especially on Youtube really had no idea what GoAnimate is or what it can do yet they felt they had enough knowledge to call people who use GoAnimate 'lazy', 'untalented' and ignorant of what professional animators actually do to make cartoons. Not to mention all the trollish hate speech and unnecessary name calling (mostly on Youtube).
      
  3. Of those commenter's who said they did try GoAnimate out, all of them reported making a really bad cartoon in minutes and based this as justification for their negative comments. Most people who discover GoAnimate and enjoy what it has to offer make really bad cartoons in the beginning and often delete them as they make better work.
      
  4. My video response to Harry's video made the point that GoAnimate's ability to respond to a hot topic quickly was a strength. Harry uploaded his video on April 21. I uploaded my response on April 25 just as Harry's video was reaching a peak as a hot topic having been posted on industry blog, Cartoon Brew the day before.
      
  5. Of all the video responses posted to Harry's video on Youtube mine received the most views and comments (excluding the Spanish fan dub - which wasn't really a response) with to date, 1417 views, 91 comments. Almost 3 times more views and nearly ten times more comments than another GoAnimate response by Cut Paste Anime uploaded on April 28 that included a custom animated flash prop especially created for the response (see video embeded below).

      
  6. Point 5 proves my point on speed. My video contained no custom flash and (with the exception of Harry's video) only used things created with GoAnimate. If my video was really as bad as the commentators said, it would not have inspired so much discussion. Another GoAnimate created response by The Comedy Quickies was released faster than mine on April 24 but it was so bad it only got 261 views and three comments. It agreed with Harry and deliberately set out to demonstrate GoAnimate's limitations but really only succeeded in demonstrating the creators poor film making skills and inability to use GoAnimate effectively (See clip embeded below).

      
  7. Another GoAnimate video response by Reddplague that included specially made custom flash did receive more views than mine (9833 views) even though it was released later (April 26 - see video below) however this was as a result of the GoAnimate version being featured on Cartoon Brew which has a fairly substantial readership and being Staff Picked on GoAnimate. Note that my view and comment figures in point 5 don't include the views and comments I received to the original GoAnimate version (to date: 508 views, 22 comments on GoAnimate).

      
  8. Many people who commented on my video thought I was being hateful and was attempting to prove GoAnimate was better than quality produced animation simply because it could respond faster. As a result they assumed my response was made in a few minutes with no thought or effort and was a 'knee jerk' response.
      
  9. None of the detractors seemed to make the connection that, if I wanted to prove how good GoAnimate was, I wouldn't use characters and backgrounds that look like Family Guy, mention Family Guy in the animation and use computer generated voices - everything those very same people didn't like about GoAnimate.
      
  10. I probably didn't do GoAnimate any favors by making a video that intentionally reflected back everything most people don't like about GoAnimate but if the negative responders weren't so lazy and took the time to think about what a video is trying to say before they typed their knee jerk responses... I hope I made up for it in the discussion on mine and Harry's videos on Youtube. 
Ultimately, after all the discussion I've been a part of, I've come to the conclusion that GoAnimate is actually a filmmakers tool that happens to use animated actors. Harry and his supporters seemed to focus only on the animation quality and the computerised voices but it's so much more than those two features.

Since the voices are optional - you can record human actors if you want - that leaves the animation - which is certainly limited to the filmmakers creativity and ability to overcome those limitations. Granted it will never be as fluid and smooth as a professional animator working from their own frame by frame drawings but does it really need to be?

GoAnimate was designed to make cartoons for online distribution. The idea was to make the ability to create animated cartoons accessible to everyone however that seemingly simple task involves so much more. GoAnimate encourages a single creator to:
  • Develop scripts for animation.
  • Design characters suited to their script.
  • Visualise, plan and animate scenes using various camera angles.
  • Design and edit together audio tracks with music and sound effects.
  • Work collaboratively with actors if choosing to record voices.
  • Encourages the use of external Flash and Paint software programs to add custom components.
  • Take advantage of the tools and support provided to help publicise animations on and off site.
  • Have fun bringing ideas into a visual/audio experience.
The list is by no means exhaustive but I do think it demonstrates my point that GoAnimate is a Filmmakers tool whether you view it as a beginners tool or not.

As far as professional animators using GoAnimate, there certainly are few, usually because it's fun and a little bit of a welcome break from using Flash proper.

A lot of commentators on Harry's video spouted that a wannabe professional animator should use professional software like Adobe Flash. I'll just finish by saying a professional animator should use whatever gets the job done for them.

Maybe it's wise to learn Adobe Flash if you want a career working as an animator for someone else but, if you're like me, and you consider yourself an 'indy' filmmaker, you can use whatever the hell you like. Whatever gets the job done.


Footnote - 11th August 2011

The video below is an almost word for word response I received to the above post by a reader. All I've changed is a word here or there for continuity so it translates better into spoken word from the written word. My response at the end is the opening line to the email I sent back after thanking the person for their feedback.

No, GoAnimate Still Sucks by etourist

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

I felt compelled to turn the message into a GoAnimation because it clearly was a rant that reminded me of the kind of thing Grandpa Simpson (of The Simpsons fame) might do in one of his letter writing frenzies at the typewriter. Particularly the way the message was signed off, with the polite invitation inviting me to email back should I wish to discuss this matter further.
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