Monkey Domo Postcard from TET

TET Monkey Domo Postcard.

I haven't spent a whole lot of time on Domo Animate of late. I just want to assure people I haven't completely forgotten the site with this postcard (above) I created in the Domo Animate Studio.

Something that is fairly unique to Domo is the creation of still image artwork slide shows using just the shapes and props found in the Domo Animate Studio. You get it to some degree on GoAnimate but I've never seen it to the extreme detail of some of the talented artist/members on Domo.

The image of one of my own cartoon monkeys that I've created using just shapes in my postcard above is a simple example of what I'm talking about but you should go over and explore Domo Animate for some of the excellent and highly detailed examples.

Wildlife, Drunk Elephant by Cartoon King on GoAnimate

GoAnimate has introduced another Type a video, Quick Template only theme with their new Wildlife Animals cartoons. Mathieu Leader, a.k.a Cartoon King, who recently did some voice acting for me on Harry Chalk 3, has put together this humorous animation featuring the theme's elephants.

Drunk Elephant: by Cartoon King

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

These quick templates are actually a lot of fun to just pass the time with. You can't really save your animation mid process which means you know going in that you're probably only going to spend an hour or two at most creating an animation.

It may not sound very creative but from a script writing point of view it's not a bad way to practice writing  short funny sketches or humorous anecdotes without all the extra effort of animating it as well.

Harry Chalk 3 - Matt Fights Back on GoAnimate

Harry Chalk 3 - Matt Fights Back continues on from Harry Chalk 2 - Bill's Revenge. Bill's supernatural powers have enabled him to free himself from the confines of the black board world. Now he's continuing his pursuit of Matt who broke every stick in Bill's body in Harry Chalk 1 - Secret Agent.

Harry Chalk 3 - Matt fights back by etourist

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

I was reading my previous post on Harry Chalk 2 and was reminded that the whole reason I started this series was to do a really cool stick figure fight - which I've yet to do in the series. Ahem... well, I guess I failed miserably with this episode on that goal. However I hope I still delivered with a cool story.

Previously I've voiced every character myself in this series but with Sally White having so many lines my really poor female voice (that you can hear in Harry Chalk 2) just wasn't up to the task. Thankfully GoAnimator, Rocque, answered my call for female voice talent and did a great job recording her lines.

Mathieu Leader a.k.a. GoAnimator, Cartoon King, volunteered maybe as far back as February to voice Matt and Coach James. Which makes it seem like he got in early but in actual fact I was hoping to release the third installment in March.

Truth is, I've been trying to come up with the script for this episode since about October 2010. The only thing I knew for certain was that Matt would enter the blackboard world. It was the obvious progression and quite a few fans of the series had suggested it.

So, when I say 'trying to come up with the script' that's basically a lot of thinking time, trying things out then going off and working on something else because inspiration hasn't hit. I didn't start working on Harry Chalk 3 properly until perhaps February 2011. By April I'd animated about half of it and got stuck (at the point where Matt and Sally head to the drama center). Then in June I had a brainwave and finished off the second half.

The problem was that this episode started to become much bigger in the themes covered by script. I wanted to take it into a story about an oppressive school establishment that was trying to crush creative and imaginative thinking among its students. Hence the inclusion of a closed down drama center.

In the process I was trying to superimpose characters like Sally White and Bill Duster onto people in Matt's real world - this is why Matt question's if Ms White the Geography teacher is actually Sally White.

Unfortunately it all got too complex and my brainwave in June was to scale it all back down and make it all just be about Matt, Harry, Sally and Bill. If I hadn't done that, I think I would've still been working on it for another couple of months.

Thanks to Chaostoon's wonderful custom Wolfman and Dragon characters I was able to clearly show that all these events really do take place in Matt's head and that finally he discovers he can control what happens too.

Beyond that, there's not much custom work involved other than prop masks of the the desks in the classroom background so that the characters could walk behind the desks - as the standard background doesn't allow it.

Obviously this episode leaves the way open for a fourth installment but whether I'll do another I don't know. This was very hard to write. Maybe if I do another I'll try to focus on that Stick Figure fight that I set out to do in the first place.

Smart Phones. Really?

The modern day mobile phone is often referred to as the 'smart' phone. At the top of the list is the iphone with Android handsets becoming increasingly more popular.

But are they really smart? Let's listen in on a random conversation in the video below.

Smart Phones - Lost by etourist

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

This animation features one of the quick templates in GoAnimates latest Type a Video theme, Talking Picz. The theme is a departure for GoAnimate as it uses templates and talking faces unique to the theme i.e. you can't access any of the backgrounds or faces in the GoAnimate Studio.

I'm still not a big fan of the Type a Video themes. No matter what I make I can always see how I could improve it if I could just edit it myself and add my own custom sounds, voices etc. However, as I've said previously, they are a great way to get down a quick idea for a bit of fun - such as I have done in the video above.

Give them a try if you have a talent for writing comedy and just need a quick way to put your words into a visual performance.

Ep1 Pt4 Bat Storm: Financial Crisis on GoAnimate

It was a long time coming and a whole lot of thinking time too but Episode 1, Part 4 of Bat Storm: Financial Crisis is finally here. This is the exciting conclusion.

Of course, if you haven't seen Episode 1, Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3, clicking those links will take you to their respective blog posts where you'll find that episode.

In this final part, Bat Storm and Bat Flash follow the clues and close in on their man. With the reward money for the safe return of the missing girls back in their sights it seems financial prosperity will soon be theirs... or will it?

Ep 1 / Pt 4 Bat Storm: Financial Crisis by etourist

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

Part of the reason it took so long for me to make this fourth installment was finding a 'family friendly' motivation for James (a.k.a. the Jokester's employee Jokester). I didn't want this episode to go down that dark path where the two girls got hurt in any way so I came up with this idea that the Jokester i.e. James had, at some point, met each girl and convinced them to go on a 'fun adventure holiday'.

Knowing how precious parents can be with their kids James anticipates a reward will be offered which he will then collect when he shows up with the girls at the police station in his regular street clothes. Hence all the time the girls have been missing they've been having a lot of fun in order to stay co-operative.

Don't analyse James' plan too closely. I know it's riddled with plot holes and not thought through particularly well. I'll put it down to James not being a master criminal. I mean, he panics when he sees Bat Storm instead of holding his ground and feeding Bat Storm the story he was going to tell the Police.

The other difficulty I had was laying down a trail of clues for Bat Storm to follow in order to find James. In the end they get lucky but at least it's 'believable lucky' as they were already in James' neighborhood.

Back in my post on part 2 I eluded to some proof that I made up this script as I went along. If you look at the Jokester in the hospital scenes in Part 4. Take a close look at his face - and compare it with the Jokester in the hospital in part 2 you'll see that in part 2, it is actually the real Jokester at the hospital and not the James Jokester.

Back in Part 2 I had no idea of the events in part 3 and especially not in part 4. If I had the Jokester at the hospital in part 2 would have been the James Jokester. I didn't make the James Jokester until I started work on Part 4.

Again there's not too much custom flash work in this apart from James' mini van, which I also used in Pimp My Ride, and a new version of the bat grappling hook so Bat Storm could spin it around and then throw it.

I'm surprised no one so far has picked me up and wondered how Bat Storm suddenly is holding a grappling hook? I'm hoping most people just assume he pulled it out of his utility belt - as Batman would.

Over all I like how this part came together. With so many characters it could easily turned into a confusing mess but everyone's story seems to wrap up nicely. I particularly like how I was able to bring Super Charge and Charge Girl back into the action in a way that made sense - due to having already established that Super Charge is not only watching Bat Storm's movements but actively interfering in his ability to fight crime.

Although I haven't really met my original goal of writing a long episode quickly (the whole episode was meant to conclude in January!) I do think I've shown I can write a good, funny story for a sitcom length cartoon. However, I don't think I'll really have proven this until I have a few more episodes complete.

I had a great time making this and I do intend to write a second episode. After all, I bet you're itching to find out if Bat Storm buys that truck!

Pimp My Ride, GoAnimate Style

Pimp My Ride is a short and quick animation I made to showcase my mini van, flash made prop (made with Pencil Animator) and how to use the prop with the Stick Figure car.

The idea for the joke is that Bob is the master mechanic but he spends so much time working on cars he really doesn't have time for things like picking up girls. He just doesn't have any concept of what girls would find cool in a car...

Pimp my ride - new van prop by etourist

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

I made the van for the final installment of episode 1 of my Bat Storm series but I just couldn't be bothered trying to animate the wheels with Pencil Animator. You literally have to draw every frame by hand and I didn't want to spend the time when I could use some perfectly good animated wheels from the stick figure car and get the same result in no time at all (thus proving that GoAnimators sometimes are a bit lazy!).

The second installment came about because it didn't take me a lot of time to create the mini van and I had this idea about Bob having a second crack at Pimping Dave's ride...

Pimp My Ride Again by etourist

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

This time I made the Volkswagon especially for the clip but discovered it didn't actually fit over the stick figure car all that well. I had to squash it horizontally and chop the back off the stick figure car to make it kind of fit.

Later on I made a version of the Volkswagon with its own wheels just because using the stick figure car was actually impractical if you wanted the car to move. You wouldn't be able to hide the back of the stick figure car with a rectangle that matches the garage floor like I did here.

I have in mind to make a third installment of this series where Bob actually gets it right but that's not exactly funny so I'm still looking for a punchline. If I come up with something I'll certainly make it.

Put Yourself in Your GoAnimate Video

Ever since the introduction of the the import video feature for GoPlus users of GoAnimate people have thought about the possibility of creating Roger Rabbit style animations, combining live action people with cartoon characters.

I first attempted this when the video import feature was introduced with my animation TET's PA Video Test. In that animation I simply overlaid cartoon elements and characters in front of the video. It worked reasonably well.

However to truly combine live action people with cartoon characters you need to be able to place the cartoon background and characters behind the live action video as well. To do that you need either a blue or green screen to combine the cartoon and video together in a technique known as chroma keying (more commonly referred to as 'green screen' or 'blue screen').

Watch my test video below to see my completed example using GoAnimate. Note that I recorded the video with a really short time frame to get it done so I pretty much just said some words off the top of my head.

Blue Screen Test - Plasma TV by etourist

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

Chroma keying is actually not that hard to do in theory. However the wider the live action area you want to film the harder it becomes to light the scene evenly. I'm getting ahead of myself though.

Before you do anything you'll need some video editing software that supports Chroma keying. I use Magic Movie Edit Pro 10 but the software is now up to version 17 and still very affordable at just US$59.99. It's great as an all round video editor too.

Next you'll need to grab a video camera and record some footage of your actor in front of a blue screen (or green screen, either colour will work fine. Just make sure your actor isn't wearing either blue or green unless you want them to be see through).

In the image below you can see my very, very, very make shift blue screen set up using a bed sheet and a bunch of desk lamps. You'll need this kind of set up if you want to film your actors entire body for your animation.



Note that this set up wasn't really adequate as the desk lamps weren't strong enough to light the screen evenly. Industrial halogen lights work best. When lighting your screen you need to set up your lights so they remove all shadows from your blue screen including the shadow cast by your actor. The lights on the screen should be behind where your actor is standing and angled towards the screen. What you're going for is an even shade of blue over the whole screen.

You will need at least one light to light your actor as the lights on the screen behind them will throw their face into shadow. Any lights on your actor need to be placed to the sides so that they don't cause a shadow to be cast on your blue screen.

If you only need to film a head and shoulders shot of your actor (as I did in the above animation) and you have a large plasma TV then the TV will make a great, evenly lit blue or green screen. This is what I used for my blue screen. I got the idea from youtuber, richw4. His instructional video is embeded below. He also shows you how to use the footage you record in Sony Vegas.



The beauty of this set up is that you don't need any lights for your screen as a TV is effectively just a big light bulb. However you may need an additional lamp or two to light your actors face - which I did. If this is the case then make sure you don't get any reflection from your additional lights in your TV screen.

When I finished filming my footage for my video it looked like this still from my video below - notice how evenly the blue colouring of the screen is. This is pretty much a perfectly lit blue screen.


Using your video editing software and the Chroma key effect you can easily replace all that blue with anything you like, a still image or even moving video etc.

For my video I simply took a snap shot of the Star Trek sick bay background. Imported that into my video editing software then rendered the combined video to a .wmv (Windows Media Video) file. I then uploaded that to GoAnimate and then overlaid the View screen and animated Spock on top of that in the studio.

If, for example, I wanted to have Doctor McCoy come up behind me in the sick bay I would have had to have made a separate animation of just Doctor McCoy in the sick bay walking towards the camera. I'd then have to download that video and import it into my video editing software to combine with my blue screen footage of me. I'd then render the combined footage of me with Doctor McCoy walking up from behind out to a .wmv file, upload that to GoAnimate... hopefully you get the idea.

It all sounds very complex but if you're prepared to do all the work you could make some pretty impressive animations that are bound to make people sit up and take notice - my test animation has received over 14,000 views to date and it's not even that great!

On a similar note, even if you don't have a big screen TV there's plenty of ways to improvise. Perhaps you don't want to film yourself or your friends to put in a video... what about filming toys and combining them with animation?

Below is a really rough video I made using my laptop computer as a green screen and a Lego Knight on a horse. I'll admit it's not perfect by any means but it does show that you can experiment with chroma keying with a bare minimum of equipment.

Lego Knight test by etourist

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

GoAnimate March Madness and Type a Video

GoAnimate introduced its new 'Type a Video' Quick Templates with their March Madness Competition themed around the game of Basketball. The criteria was simple. Make an animation using the March Madness template and make it relevant to the theme. The best judged entry would win.

I actually made four separate entries using four of the five available backdrops for the template. Each of my animations told a small part of the same story about the leagues top player, Larry Throwgood. Rather than embed four separate animations I've used Youtube's online video editor to compile all the animations into one short video. Each scene transition is the start of a new part of the story.



None of my entries won the competition (or even placed) but I wouldn't have like to be a judge on this one. Since the only real involvement a user has after they've chosen their set and characters is the script, that's really all the judges could judge. Click here to view the winning animation by Chaostoon.

Since the competition GoAnimate has expanded it's Type a Video, Quick Templates (which are a direct compeditive response to Xtranormal's online Movie Maker) to six different themes including; Talking Picz, Arrrrrrr! (Pirate theme), Lil' Petz World, Slices of Daily Life, Office Gossipers and Basketball World.

Here's a sample of Office Gossipers in a humorous animation I made below.

Whoopee Cushions for Third World Countries. by etourist

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

All of these animations I made with just a notion of an idea for the script then I started to add more to see where the idea went. This is really what the Type a Video Quick Templates are good for. They're the kind of thing where, if you have a little bit of time to spare, you can explore a script idea and end up with a fairly reasonably constructed video at the end. A really fun way to spend your time and to make something easy just because you were bored.

There are a few problems though that more experienced GoAnimators, used to making their animations from scratch, will find frustrating. Watch the following animation which I created using the Quick Template, Slice of Daily Life...

Obama Flies Air Force 1 by etourist

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

Notice that, in this animation, the pilot never once looks at Obama as he's speaking. Obama isn't even holding the controls of the plane and neither character has much expression on their face. Also the camera framing is passable but it could be better.

You can't actually go in an edit an animation made with the Quick Templates so I've recreated all the characters and backgrounds from scratch (including the nice soft focus backgrounds that are only available in the Quick Template videos) and made the animation (below) how I might have made it if the templates allowed for a little more tinkering with character placement, camera framing and character expressions.

Obama Flies Air Force 1 - TET Edit by etourist

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

I think you'll agree that, although this also has its problems, it's a vast improvement on the Quick Template version. Having said that though, having too many settings on the quick templates would kind of defeat the purpose of making a really quick, fun animation.

The real limitation with the templates is that all the animations created by different users tend to look identical, using the same camera shots, characters, backgrounds etc.

Already I've found myself being disappointed when someone on GoAnimate asks me to watch their videos and I see a bunch of Quick Template animations. Which is a little unfair because the templates are all about writing an original script. A good script is a good script even if it's animated with a template.

Overall I think the templates are a good introduction for new GoAnimators but hopefully the templates limitations will encourage new members to move on to making their GoAnimations from scratch.

iPad 2, Steve Jobs, Charlie Sheen, GoAnimate #winning

GoAnimate is #winning when it comes to creating topical animations whilst a hot topic is on fire. No matter what all the GoAnimate detractors say, there's few traditional animators that can get a one minute or greater, satirical animated cartoon made within hours of a topic exploding.

Take the launch of the iPad 2 or Charlie Sheen's Two and a Half Men melt down. There are few traditional animators that would sit down and make a cartoon specifically to make fun of these events. It's a lot of work and time to devote to something that will be out of date probably within months or maybe even days of being finished.

That's a niche that GoAnimate can fill. In the right hands a fairly good satirical animation can be made in hours, providing a fun way to interact with an issue beyond writing a blog post or filming a live action response video.

Below is my iPad 2 parody promotional video that I created for my main blog post titled, iPad2, Steve Jobs - Easy Targets. WARNING: Strong language.

Steve Jobs - iPad 2 Simplicity by etourist

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

With the parody video I was trying to suggest that perhaps Steve Jobs isn't quite the genius we all know but is more like the stereotypical, blinkered, Apple product consumer... essentially Apple test markets their products on Steve to see how he reacts.

Earlier this year when Charlie Sheen exploded with his Two and a Half Men melt down and subsequent emergence as an internet sensation I made the video below. Everyone was thinking Charlie was headed for rehab because his behaviour seemed erratic and possibly drug fueled.

However Charlie was more interested in reinventing himself and I thought maybe he could do rehab and work at the same time...

Charlie Sheen agrees to Rehab by etourist

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

Obviously it plays on the idea that both Robert Downey Jnr. and Mickey Rouke have both struggled with substance abuse but both have made a comeback. Robert in particular started his come back with the first Ironman movie (or is that the Ironman Rehabilitation Program?).

As you can see both these animations are short and simple. Both took a few hours to create. To do the same animations drawn from scratch would be too time consuming and hardly worth the effort for a few cheap laughs.

In my opinion good quality animation should be made for good quality scripts that can be watched over and over again. Let people appreciate all that really hard work. I know that's what I'd prefer for my own hand drawn animations.

Real Superheroes Have Capes - Tell that to Ironman

Bat Star who appears in this short comedy sketch called, I'd like to buy a cape, was my first attempt at creating a Bat Storm character with GoAnimate's Lil' Peepz character creator. I actually made him around the same time as I made my Lil' Peepz, Bat Flash character (who appears in Lil' Bat Flash, End of the Road), but didn't really have a project to use him in.

Since then GoAnimate has added a whole bunch of Superhero costumes and I've made a better Lil' Peepz Bat Storm (pictured left). Which is why Bat Storm, Mark 1, is now called Bat Star.

Up until very recently you couldn't add a cape to any GoAnimate Lil' Peepz or Comedy World character - This is why my Comedy world Bat Storm character does not have a cape.

In one of my unreleased early previews for Bat Storm I had him in a clothes store very similar to this video (but using a Comedy World background) asking about buying a cape. However that's as far as I got and never expanded on the idea.

After creating a lot of adult language (read lots of cursing and adult themes) animations for the Youtube Channel Direturtle (you can see a playlist of the videos I created on my tetanimations channel) using other peoples scripts I felt like creating something similar but with my own script.

Superheroes don't usually curse this much so it's kind of both funny and confronting at the same time. If you're not into cursing then don't watch. Note that the Text to Speech voices would not pronounce the word 'cape' correctly no matter what I tried so 'gape' is what you hear.

I'd like to buy a Cape by etourist

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

This joke kind of evolved over the course of making the video. I just started with the idea of Bat Star wanting to buy a cape and then set about seeing where it went and how I could make it funny.

My Lil' Peepz Ironman (referred to here as 'Ironcan') wasn't made specifically for this video. I just made him to see if it was possible to make a good Ironman Lil' Peepz character. When I realised he fit right in with opposing Bat Star's premise that all real superheroes wear capes I just had to include him.

If the text to speech voices could say 'cape' correctly this would be what I consider the perfect GoAnimate short. It's a bit edgy and it tells an original, short but funny story (rather than just animating a familiar joke).

I particularly like the soaking they all get at the end. Even buildings have no respect for superheroes these days!

Robot Turkey, Cyborg Bunny and GoAnimate Complaints Dept.

GoAnimate Complaints Department - Cyborg Bunny was prompted by me being featured on the first episode of GoAnimator, RoTV's series, Robot Turkey. However the idea to replace Happy Bunny with a robot rabbit at the complaints desk is something I thought of way back in December of 2009.

GoAnimate, Product Manager, Nicolas, created his own custom character set known as Isometrix which I featured in my animation, Blink in December of 2009. At the time Nicolas suggested to me he would create an Isometrix rabbit character. I said, if he did I'd definitely use it in an episode of the GoAnimate Complaints Department.

I guess Nicolas got too busy because, as far as I know, he never made a rabbit Isometrix character so I never used it as a robot rabbit on the Complaints Desk.

Then in January of 2011 RoTV released his parody of Adult Swim's, Robot Chicken, called Robot Turkey, featuring me, which prompted me to revisit the idea of a robot Happy Bunny. Ro's animation is below. If you watch it first it'll help you understand some of the references in Cyborg Bunny.

Robot Turkey - ETOURIST EPISODE by RoTV

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

RoTV invited me to record my own voice for his episode which was pretty cool. Though he only gave me my lines so the jokes were still a complete surprise to me when he released the episode.

Having watched Complaints Department - Cyborg Bunny again I've noticed a considerable amount of it references some very specific events on GoAnimate that newer users won't be aware of. So here is the cheat sheet for what you need to know going in...
  • The opening Bat Stick preview came about as a prize I awarded to the person who made the best comment on Episode 1 / Part 3 of Bat Storm. The winner could have any of their animations featured on this episode of the Complaints Dept. (Note: GoAnimate CEO, Alvin Hung, really did give a presentation at TEDx in Bangkok).
     
  • Musics Milky Boy was a very controversial GoAnimate member for about 5 months before he suddenly quit the site, renouncing it as a waste of time. He gained a genuine following of core fans but he also systematically tried to fan every new user, knowing that a good percentage would fan him back. His catch cry was 'Everybody deserves at least one fan'.

    He not only managed to get multiple animations listed on the Top Animations page frequently he also progressed through the sites levels to level 28 (I think) in record time and is the only GoAnimator to be the featured animator two months in a row. Musics Milky Boy was a fairly young member (aged 15-16 I think?) he seemed to be involved in a lot of forum discussions that would incur the wrath of many much older members.
     
  • The girl complaining about no one believing she is really dead is based on an actual user (who's name escapes me now) who pretended to be dying right to the point of writing a last forum post on the day she supposedly died. She later admitted to faking it all for the attention.
     
  • The phrase "We are the borg of GoAnimate" comes from a GoAnimate site meme that only got minor traction (unlike the 'plague' meme before it that really did spread like the plague on the site) in October/November of 2010. Essentially it involved users creating a 'cyborg' version of their profile picture and changing their username to read their name 'of borg'.
     
  • The Lil' Peepz theme, just like the Comedy World theme before it, came with its own pre-made Santa character.
That should give you enough background. Everything else should be pretty self explanatory to anyone who has used GoAnimate for a reasonable length of time - the Complaints Dept after all is really meant for GoAnimate users rather than general viewing. Without further ado...

Complaints Dept - Cyborg Bunny by etourist

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

Oh... in case you were wondering... anything that sounds like a real human voice was voiced by yours truly.

Bat Storm's Bitter Sweet Moment

Bat Storm's Bitter Sweet Moment is my second collaboration with Cartoon King a.k.a. Mathieu Leader (the first being Undead and Unemployed). Matt really wanted to write a Bat Storm story so I said okay. It's fair to say Matt and I did quite a bit of back forthing over the script with a couple of re-writes.

The problem we had initially was Matt was writing for Batman not Bat Storm with a script that was actually too large for Bat Storm's world. Which is something any aspiring writer should take note of. If you're going to write for someone else's characters you need to learn who those characters are.

Matt scaled it back and came up with this story about Bat Storm's past as an unsuccessful small time thief.

Bat Storm: Bat's Bitter Sweet Moment by etourist

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

The first thing you may have noticed is that the title refers to this episode as 'Alternate Universe'. This is something similar to what DC Comics have done with Batman which allows other writers to come in and write for Batman but what happens in the comic is not considered Batman 'cannon'.

The same goes for this episode. Matt deals with Bat Storm's past as a criminal and even gives Bat Storm a real name. These are things that I haven't really thought much about myself so I didn't want to be tied to the events in this story. Hence this is an alternate universe to that you see in the episodes written by me.

Matt again chose all the music used and it was his decision to use stick figures for the flash back (not a choice I would have made myself).

I couple of aspects that I really like in this animation include;
  • Bat Storm's leap over the Donut shop counter - makes me laugh every time!
  • Bat Storm crashing into the guy with the donuts - I think I managed to animate this sequence particularly well.
There's really not a lot more to say about this animation. It's fairly straight forward and quite a bit of fun. It's interesting to see how other people write for Bat Storm too.

GoAnimate's Bring on the Noise Contest

Between December 2010 and March 2011 GoAnimate ran their Bring on the Noise contest in partnership with the Tribe of Noise indie music sharing web site. Animators could choose from a selection of about 15 songs and make an animated music video for their favorite.

You could enter as many times as you like. I managed to create two entries, the second of which you can see at the bottom of my post about Episode 1, Part 3 of Bat Storm: Financial Crisis which didn't get the required number of Facebook Likes to be considered a valid entry in the competition.

My first entry, below, not only made the cut it was the first runner up in the competition (effectively second place). As well it was the most viewed and the most recommended of all entries by the close of the competition.

Re-animatrix: 'Afghan Sands' by Stoneye by etourist on GoAnimate


Obviously my video is inspired by the closing battle in The Matrix: Revolutions but it wasn't the music that prompted me to go in that direction. In fact this animation did not start out to be a music video at all. It's beginnings were in my GoAnimate forum post, You Can't Do That on GoAnimate Challenge where Mr Holiday (who has since changed his screen name to Gangster Fart) wrote:


As you can see in my response I took up the challenge and set myself the task of achieving it with GoAnimate only props and characters.

Initially I was going to use GoAnimate's stick figure theme because those characters already have a Matrix style leap as one of their fight actions. I even made a start using some figures I created to look like Bat Storm and the Jokester (see image right).

I spent a lot of time with the stick figure version trying to work out how many steps were needed to spin the characters fluently through 360 degrees and how to hide the point where the characters have to flip.

One thing I discovered was that the moment I flipped the jumping character it reset their jump to the pre jump position, making that nice Matrix jump action virtually useless. Looking back I can see how I could solve this problem but at the time it was one of the catalysts for making me switch to the Lil' Peepz theme.

The other reason was that Lil' Peepz had just been given new fighting and gun using action packs that I thought would be great to feature in a Matrix style animation. So off I went to design my Neo and Agent Smith in the Lil' Peepz character creator.

To cut a long story short, the 360 degree spin I created requires just four GoAnimate Scenes to do the full spin. To help you understand how it all comes together look at the diagram below:

The diagram shows the scene slightly from above at the point where agent Smith has just jumped and frozen in mid air. The circles on the ground represent the space in which everything will spin through 360 degrees. The axis are labeled like a clock face with 12 at the top, the 3 on the right, 6 at the bottom and 9 on the left.

Over four scenes you have to move each object to the next axis in a quarter circle motion (add a control point or two to your slide movement) following a clockwise rotation (as indicated by the arrow line A). For example, Neo is standing on the 9 axis. By the next scene he needs to be on the 12 axis at about the same position he is standing on the 9 axis.

Things to keep in mind include perspective. Anything moving away from the viewer will get slightly smaller (i.e. anything moving towards the 12 axis). Anything moving towards the viewer will get slightly bigger (i.e. anything moving towards the 6 axis).

Characters crossing over the 6 or the 12 axis will need to be flipped in the next scene. Seeing the flip spoils the effect some what, which is why the scene includes two trees that rotate in front of viewer, hiding the flip. The trees also help to make the scene seem more like a real environment. The trees should move in quarter turns just like the characters.

The city line on the horizon should scroll/slide to the right (as indicated by arrow B) if the characters are spinning in a clockwise direction (it should move left for anti-clockwise). You will need to repeat the city scape prop so it forms a continuous, unbroken line of buildings through the whole spin. This will give the impression that the characters are surrounded by buildings - as if they're in a park in the middle of the city.

Note that the buildings are quite far away so they will move much slower than the characters. I used the default slide length of 75 pixels in my animation.

The whole effect can be helped by framing the scene tightly on just the characters using the CUT tool - that way the trees passing in front of the camera are less noticeable and seem more realistic.

It's a complex scene to set up and not that easy to explain clearly but hopefully you get the idea. If you look at the animation you'll see the man hole cover prop (i.e. the large grey circle I use on the ground in the animation) from the Lil' Peepz theme is a good substitute for the guidelines in my diagram above.

After all the hard work of trying to do the 360 spin using only GoAnimate props and characters it seemed a shame to release the animation with just that one move. GoAnimate had released its fighting and gun action packs so I decided to extend the fight scenes and add a music track.

I'd already heard the Afghan Sands music track by Stoneye, which other animators were associating with war and the Middle East for obvious reasons, but to me it felt like the faced paced music that I could picture being part of a film like the Matrix. Some people said it didn't suit but I think it does, given the Matrix is very much about a war and has plenty of Middle Eastern and Asian influences in its design and style.

Since the 360 spin played with perspective I expanded on that quite a bit to make my environment seem larger. Hence there was a lot of shrinking of props to create different camera angles and illusions of height and distance.

The closing tag line of "Clearly these two are not the One" was something I came up with because the end really needed some kind of statement after the two characters collide and vanish in a cloud of flames. Something to explain why I ended it where I did.

I never expected this animation to do as well as it did. Some people went so far as to say it would win the competition - quite a big call since I released it in December and there was plenty of time for someone to do something even more impressive before March.

Had the competition been about the most views I would've just made it but as it was a judged competition it turns out the second most viewed video won it - and deservedly so since that actually was a very creative music video and not just an extended fight video. The winning video is below...

Alice TERMINA by TOUJOURS on GoAnimate

GoAnimate Vs Xtranormal (PG13+)

This animation is not a swipe at either GoAnimate or Xtranormal. I'm a strong supporter and user of both sites. The only reason I don't use Xtranormal as much is, as the video points out, it costs REAL money... and, whilst GoAnimate isn't 100% free either, its flexibility (again pointed out in the video) means it's where I get better value for money.

So watch the video and then I'll tell you what it's really all about...



I created this animation as a way to try out Xtranormal's new Stikz theme - which is some weird merger between 2D and 3D animation, resulting in a few awkward angles by the auto camera that really aren't appropriate for the theme (notice some of the side views where the stikz guy's face is almost a line).

Partially inspired by TinyWatchProductions' iPhone4 vs HTC Evo Xtranormal video that went viral on YouTube back in June of 2010 (Just imagine the Xtranormal character as the iPhone4 customer) my animation is a parody of some of the mostly pointless discussions I've been involved with on my Harry Partridge - GoAnimate Responds? animation.

Why people feel the need to blatantly insult GoAnimate and the people who use it and then expect a considered response to their rants I'll never know. Further more, just because they've made up their mind that GoAnimate is worthless why do they think they're going to convince someone, who finds GoAnimate both fun and useful, to agree with their point of view.

I understand GoAnimate isn't for everyone but if people comment negatively, in an insulting way, on my video I'm not going to just sit back and let them get away with it without a rebuttal - for my own twisted amusement, just to see how long I can string out the futility of it all (and to see how long it takes that person to click that they're not getting to me at all).

Back to the video... I doubt Xtranormal users think like the girl in my video. As an Xtranormal user I certainly don't but I thought this animation would be more interesting to contrast two competing animation programs rather than GoAnimate and some random GoAnimate hater.

Both sides of the argument actually contain a light sprinkling of facts about both applications and it's debatable as to which one is hit with the most insults. It seems like GoAnimate is getting the lions share of the negativity but then the Xtranormal user comes across as ignorant, closed minded, slow and short sighted. Finally being revealed as having never tried GoAnimate in order to form her opinion of it.

I do get a laugh out of this nearly every time I view it mostly for the last line "Why would I want to try it? It's shit!" Which sums up for me the attitude of most negative comments. Just think about the line literally. You don't need to actually try shit to know it's shit. If you've decided something is really that bad why would you try it?

There in lies the futility of arguing with people who have already made a decision.

Ep1 Pt3 Bat Storm: Financial Crisis on GoAnimate

Episode 1, part 3 sees another child reported missing and another reward being offered for information leading to the child's where abouts. It's incentive enough for Bat Storm to resume his role as the world's greatest detective (well he likes to think so).

If you haven't seen episode 1, part 1 and part 2 of this superhero series then click the links to visit their corresponding blog post and episode.

Ep1 / Pt 3 Bat Storm - Financial Crisis by etourist

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

In this episode you get to see more of Manfred's role as Bat Storm's personal assistant. Not only does he organise party appearances he also does background research on cases Bat Storm is working on.

You also get to see some of Super Charge's motivation for trying to undermine Bat Storm's crime fighting abilities... essentially he's looking out for Bat Storm and Bat Flash because he thinks their crime fighting efforts are misguided and dangerous.

There's really no custom flash work at all in this episode except for the Grappling Hook prop... (and of course the already mentioned in previous posts, police car). All of the sets are mash ups using existing GoAnimate backgrounds and props.

As far as the script goes, back in episode 1, part 1, I established the Jokester was seemingly able to be everywhere as the volume of parties he had booked was seriously hurting Bat Storm's children's party business. However at that stage I had no idea how the Jokester was doing it.

I entertained several different notions including the Jokester being the son of a corporate magnate with access to all kinds of resources. By part 3 I had to finally think of something for how the Jokester was able to be so widespread.

It finally dawned on me that the Jokester wears make up and a specific costume - hence you could put anyone in that makeup and suit and it would be The Jokester. Thus the 'multiple Jokester theory' became a reality. It fit really well with the story and makes for a great, unexpected development, as even viewers just assume the Jokester is always the same guy.

In my post for Part 5 of Men In Black I talk about dropping a piano in the works if you get writers block writing comedy. In part 3 of Bat Storm my 'piano' is Bat Storm crashing through the roof of the Jokester's house mid questioning by Bat Flash.

At that point I still had no idea about who had kidnapped the two girls (other than it was a Jokester employee) or why. Bat Flash literally did run out of questions that I could answer. So I dropped Bat Storm through the roof and came up with his very 'shakey' mind trick that lead into the closing sequence.

I wasn't exactly sure about how the 'video evidence' mentioned at the end fit into the big scheme of things either but I figured maybe the Jokester's employee was trying to set the Jokester up in some way to damage his business. It was only after months of thinking during the creation of part 4 that everything fell into place.

Incidentally the closing theme music, A Superman by Odimusic, was one of the songs in GoAnimate's Bring on the Noise contest. I liked it so much that I set up a basic GoAnimate Account and made an entry featuring Bat Flash (below). My only regret is that I made it on my Basic Account which meant I couldn't animate the whole song.

A Superman - Odimusic by etourist basic

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

Where's Your Helmet? - Behind the Scenes

Where's Your Helmet? is a short animation I made to accompany a post I wrote on my main blog titled "Life's Tough, Get a Helmet" - Literally!

Both the post and this animation are inspired by the quote "Life's tough, get a helmet" and both are humorous ideas about the thought that what if we took 'getting a helmet' literally.



You might think there's not really a lot of behind the scenes stuff to talk about on such a simple looking animation... and you'd be right. However that really is the point.

After creating so many fairly complex animations I thought I'd set myself a goal of doing something really simple. Just a simple script and a sparse execution. Make it all about the joke and not about the animation. I also wanted to create it as fast as possible.

Although it probably looks like I only spent ten minutes putting this animation together it was actually closer to two hours including coming up with the joke.

Animations like this are misleading in their simplicity. The character movements and how each shot is framed still has be planned out for maximum effect.

Then there is the audio which helps to bring such a simple environment to life. Hearing a character's footsteps and the scrunching of the paper bag add a touch of realism to a very unrealistic environment.

Based on the success of how this animation came together I really want to do more similar animations for my main blog but so far haven't written the type of posts that this kind of humor fits with.

Funky Cold Medina: Tone Loc Vs Star Trek on GoAnimate

I think the fact that Captain Kirk had a bit of a reputation of being successful with the ladies was what prompted me to use the Star Trek theme on this animated music video for Tone Loc's song, Funky Cold Medina.

Although I'm a huge fan of the song when it was released back in 1989 I uploaded it to GoAnimate intending to use it as a backing song to my GoAnimate Complaints Department Plus animation. However it just didn't seem to fit.

In December of 2010 I decided it would be a great song to help feature Some of GoAnimate's new Musical Action packs including 'Lead Singer', 'Black Guitar' and 'Drummer' as well as the not so musical action pack, 'Romantic Male'.

Those of you with a musical ear should listen out for all the different samples Tone used to create this awesome track. Funky Cold Medina was made at a time when mix artists were ripping samples from all kinds of songs without a care in the world for copying rights. One of the fact sheets I read on the song, notes that you just couldn't make a song like this today without going through a legal minefield of attribution and royalties.

GoAnimate.com: Funky Cold Medina - Tone Loc VS Star Trek by etourist

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

This was a difficult music video to make because I tried really hard to synchronize the action with the music and lyrics of the song. The difficulty was compounded by the GoAnimate studio suffering performance issues on longer animations that used Lil' Peepz characters.

Thankfully, despite listening to the song more than 100 times during the making of the video, I never got tired of hearing it - and still don't even when I listen to it now. It's just that good a song.

Some things to note about the making of this video...

I really did my best to make the Tone Loc Lil' Peepz character look like Tone Loc as much as I could.

The I.T. Guy features on guitar... now you know what he does when he's not fixing copy machines.

The whole idea of the eyeball being related to the evils of Funky Cold Medina evolved as I made the video. You first see it on the Enterprise's view screen where I placed it because I thought it would look cool to have an eyeball planet.

As the clip progresses you see the enterprise trying to avoid the danger of the eyeball planet but then you see crowds cheering it and then finally people who've drunk medina have their heads turn into a giant eyeball. I don't know what that means... maybe it has something to do with being singularly focused on one thing?

Notice that Tone's Tribble has two of the crazy eyeballs used through out the clip.

The live action video section is cut directly from the official video of the song. I decided to use it because; it was an easy way to fill a lengthy instrumental break; it's the only section of the official clip that contains cartoon speech balloons that fit nicely with GoAnimate's cartoon concept and; you don't see too many hand held, guitar like DJ turntables these days so I thought it would be cool to show that instrument from the video.

Despite all the problems I had with the studio's performance I was really happy with how this music video finished up. The Lil' Peepz mixed well with the Star Trek Quogs, I got in a few visually interesting ideas and it's fun and funny too.

I was surprised when I published this at the number of people who hadn't heard of the song but I was glad I could introduce people to it twenty years later.

Oh... and in case you were wondering... at the time the song was released there was no such drink as 'Funky Cold Medina' however, after the songs release, several drinks were given this name taking their inspiration from the song.

You Can't Do That on GoAnimate Challenge

At the beginning of December 2010 I was inspired by another discussion to issue a challenge to any GoAnimator that wished to participate. The challenge was called 'You Can't Do That on GoAnimate' which I posted in GoAnimate's Forum.

Several newer members had been complaining that they found GoAnimate limiting because many character actions that people would like just weren't available. For me part of the fun of GoAnimate is working out how to overcome those limitations and make the characters do things beyond what their pre-animated actions allow.

Hence I issued the challenge in two parts as follows:

Part 1: [ for everyone ] Suggest an action scene or sequence that you think isn't possible to achieve on GoAnimate in the studio. Suggest as many things as you want. e.g. a fight sequence using only comedy world characters. (short sequences/scenes only please)

Part 2: [ for super awesome animators ] see a suggestion that you think you can animate? Go ahead and give it a try. Keep it under a minute then post a link here and show everyone how it can be done. Show us just how awesome you are.
There was no prizes for completing a challenge it was just a chance to showcase your animating and problem solving skills.

The forum took a while to get going but once it started quite a few interesting challenges were made and animated. One GoAnimator made this suggestion:


Notice Argetlam wes's reply. Not to be deterred I decided to take this particular challenge on myself and this is the resulting animation:

Zombie Loses it's head! by etourist

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

GoAnimator SnakeYukin was first to describe in detail how I did it:

Yeah, I can see that you used a brown square (or some shape) on the head on the ground. The lines of the boards are no longer visible. The actual head decapitation had the body (with the head) just rotated off screen very quickly to give the illusion. If you go slide the slider slowly through the :12-:14 area, you can see that the head is still attached to the body and there's a headless version behind it.
You can also see that headless and with head body if you slowly go through at :28-:30.
I really wouldn't have noticed if I didn't go frame by frame to see it: though you can briefly see it while going at normal speed. Great effect work though.
He pretty much had it right. The whole section where the Zombie actually loses its head is movie sleight of hand. Here's what I wrote in response to SnakeYukin:

@SnakeYukin - you're pretty much right. I made two versions of the character in the CC - one headless.
With a bit more effort I could have hidden those brown squares completely but you really only notice them once you start looking for how the whole effect was achieved.
Same with when the head gets chopped off. You only start to notice that at normal speed if you're looking to see if you can see it. I could've removed the body completely by uploading a custom head but I was trying to keep this whole effect within the reach of a basic account user.
Something a little harder to spot is the two extra bodies (out of shot) I used in the final shot of the zombie attaching its head (when you hear the squish noise) so I could have two arms reach up and adjust the head into place.

This was probably one of the most complex challenges issued with exception to The Matrix 360 degree spin that people wanted to see in an animation (which I eventually also demonstrated could be done too).

With the many challenges that were put forward I think we clearly demonstrated that despite GoAnimate's limitations most obstacles could be overcome in one way or another with a little bit of compromise and creative thinking.

Who said GoAnimate is for people who lack creativity!

Undead and Unemployed on GoAnimate

In Undead and Unemployed Mr Tom Mortis applies for a job hoping to achieve his dream of being employed.

This animation was inspired by a comment made by Matheiu Leader, A.K.A Cartoon King, in response to a forum topic that I think I may have started on GoAnimate's forum. I'm unable to find the post or the quote but Matt posted to a topic about Zombies and used the term 'Undead and Unemployed'.

I responded by saying that would make a great title for an animation, which inspired Matt to write a script. He asked me if I'd be interested in animating it. I said yes and that's how this collaboration came about.

Undead and Unemployed by Cartoon King and TET by etourist

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

Here's Matt's comment from the animations page on GoAnimate talking about where he got his inspiration from:

The idea for Undead and Unemployed. It came from a short story idea that I was going to write: It was about a company who makes the dead come back to life as cheap labour and form a union and the leader of the zombie union becomes boss of the company!


Also Mortis is pun on rigamortis the act where people die and Umbra tech is a reference to the Sombra Corperation!
Matt did a little more than write the script. He also picked out all the music used in the animation to complement the scenes he'd written.

I suspect Matt reads or has an interest in some fairly obscure topics as his humor sometime references subjects that occasionally require a little more insight to fully appreciate the jokes. Personally, ideas like Communist Zombies is not something I'd ever imagine!

This was the first time I've ever animated someone elses script and I learned a very important lesson; Creating an animation can be done much faster if you write the entire script first.

I think, once Matt gave me the script and I got started, I finished this in a little over a week.

Of course I've ignored that lesson for all my own animations but every time I create an animation from someone elses script it always speeds up my production schedule by as much as 80% (at a guess). I'm starting to think there's probably something to this writing a script first idea.

In creating this animation I do know that what you see isn't exactly what Matt had in his script. There were a few limitations that I just couldn't overcome using GoAnimate's studio so I was forced to make a few minor changes (mostly in the flashback scenes). However it's still pretty close to Matt's vision.

My favorite scenes are the flashbacks, particularly the King Kong scene. I just like how that looks and the Zombie falling seems pretty funny too.

I also like the Zombie uprising scene. I wasn't sure how I was going to do that given the limited movement of the Comedy World Characters but I think it worked out pretty well with the suggested violence rather than actually showing them attacking.

Overall this was well received by the GoAnimate community and got some pretty flattering comments. For me it was a welcome change to work on something where I wasn't writing the script as I made the animation.
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