Business Network Solution - Trouble in MyTown: Behind the Scenes

Just before Christmas 2011, approached me to create a general animation, using GoAnimate, to promote their new Networking System that is set to launch in February 2012.

In just over a week on Youtube the animation has received more than 3500 views with many of those coming through sharing of the animation on Facebook. Which I think gives some food for thought on the value of utilizing animation to promote a business.

The completed animation is below...

My original first draft story board.
Click to see bigger version.
Story Boards

The process for creating this animation began with MyNetworkOne coming to me with a script outline and a very rough storyboard that still needed some fleshing out.

I took their ideas and created a rough draft story board (pictured right - click to enlarge). You'll notice this version ends with the MyNetworkOne Super Hero at the podium. Very different to the final animation.

Over the course several emails we brainstormed further ideas mostly for how the animation should end as the scenes leading up to the interior Town Hall scene were fairly clear right from the start.

Second draft of the story board.
Click to see larger version.
Rather than wait for the script to be finalized I knew there were certain characters and scenes I could make a start on so that MyNetworkOne could get a feel for how the animation would look. This I did in my second story board (pictured right - click to enlarge).

Notice in this story board I was originally using GoAnimate's Election 2012 character set for the two main characters (Lois and Kent).

MyNetworkOne was happy with these but in future animations they wanted Kent to wear different outfits depending on the situation. Something that can't be done with the Election 2012 characters - so we changed over to using Comedy World Theme characters which can have their outfits changed.

After creating this story board I started animating everything in GoAnimate. One of the good things about GoAnimate over other animation systems is that it is quite easy to change things on the fly as you animate them.

If you compare the final animation with the second draft story board you'll notice Kent and Lois' dialogue is completely different and there are two extra scenes; Lois at the podium and an extra spinning newspaper just before the end credits. These were all things that were changed or added as I showed the animation to MyNetworkOne during its creation.

Custom Flash

As much as possible I try to do everything with GoAnimate but there are some things GoAnimate just can't do at this stage. So in order of appearance...

Lightening storm: The lightening bolts you see flashing in the opening scenes are a custom flash storm that, if you watch carefully as the camera pans over the city, most of the businesses highlighted are hit by a bolt of lightening just before their little speech balloon appears.

Spinning Newspapers: Based on GoAnimate's own newspaper prop in the Comedy World Theme, I recreated it in flash, not only to make it spin but also so I could change all the content on the page easily and quickly. You'll notice each paper that spins into view has different headlines and photos.

Signage: The Town Hall's sign above the entrance and the first placard you see inside the Town Hall are both flash props... simply because GoAnimate cannot display its own text on an angle.

MyNetworkOne Toolbox: This was a simple flash prop created because that was MyNetworkOne's vision. Kent is handing Lois the 'tools' to solve the business networking problems in MyTown.


All the music is stock GoAnimate music library tracks. All the sound effects are sourced from SoundSnap via GoAnimate's studio interface.

MyNetworkOne supplied all the character and narrator voices, trying a few different people for Kent's part to get just the right voice. If you listen closely on the exterior Town Hall scene, that's my voice shouting out the protests.

Other details

If you watch closely there are other subtle details that anyone can incorporate into their GoAnimations that will help set them apart from the rest.

Parallax Movement in Animation: If you don't know what this is click the link on the left where Gopal Raju gives an excellent overview with many examples. In general terms, with animation, it's a technique to create a sense of depth as you move through a scene - such as the opening scene in my animation, as we descend through the clouds. I also use it in the opening scene of the Town Hall interior as Lois and Kent come into view.

Scene dressing and populating: I mainly do this in the exterior Town Hall scene. I could have just had the Town Hall as an image but the scene is made more interesting and realistic with the addition of people, including one walking towards the steps. You also see a car drive past in the foreground helping to create more depth in the scene as if the car is getting in the way of the camera.

I think that about covers everything of interest behind the scenes on this animation. I feel I tend to try that little bit harder for clients than I do with my own projects, often producing my best work. Trouble in MyTown is no exception to that feeling.

Terry Gilliam - The Original Lazy GoAnimator

Terry Gilliam may never have used GoAnimate but I suspect, if there was a tool like it back in the days when he was producing his most famous cut-out animation for Monty Python's TV show, he would have used it in a second. "What there's something out there that's quicker and easier than cut outs and I'm not using it?!"

The clip below is of Terry Gilliam running you through his entire process of creating cut-out animation. What strikes me most about it is that he spends the opening part of the show lampooning his 'laziness' and then  emphasizes that he chose cut-out animation because it was the "quickest and easiest form of animation that I know".

As you watch, if you're familiar with GoAnimate's Studio, you'll realize that all of Terry's process could be done with Photoshop and GoAnimate. Not only that but you could make the process even quicker and easier since, with GoAnimate, you'd no longer have to painstakingly shoot every single frame.

Back in the day Terry's animation was considered revolutionary yet I doubt few people (beyond Terry himself) would have called him lazy, lacking in talent or uncreative for appropriating many of his backgrounds, characters and props from magazines, books, popular culture and even other artists work (cupid's foot anyone?).

Though he did actually draw and create many of his cut out characters, much of his animation work is simply manipulating props and characters taken from other sources such as the Christmas card example shown in the video.

I'm not saying the work produced by the majority of GoAnimators is on the same level as Terry's work. I wouldn't rate even the best GoAnimators on Terry's level - not even 1960's Terry Gilliam. However, after watching the above video, imagine how much more Terry might have done if he had access to GoAnimate and Photoshop back then, when animation was his central medium of choice.

What this video shows is what I've always thought about GoAnimate and Terry's similar animation techniques (since I'm a die hard Monty Python fan and have been familiar with Terry's work for almost as long as I've been alive). In the right hands and with the right creative mind GoAnimate could easily be a serious animation tool.

You may not make a feature film using GoAnimate's existing preset graphics but an artist importing their own style of art into the GoAnimate studio could do some amazing stuff... and never need to 'get flash or something'.

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