Men In Black 2, Part 7 - The Final Part

It took a long time for me to complete the final part of my Men In Black 2 series. The Super Rica and Rashy theme license on GoAnimate had expired and the finale of Rashy's master plan had already come into play in episode 6. I had to find a way to tie up all the loose ends without Rashy.

Unfortunately I just couldn't come to a satisfactory conclusion without Rashy but I did manage to keep his scenes to an absolute minimum - which was necessary since I didn't have the animated Rashy to use.

Pt 7 - Men In Black 2 by etourist

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I think I wrapped up the story reasonably well considering, when I started MIB2 the plan was for Rashy to return to his family, memory erased, as he did in the original MIB.

The scene with Agent Obama explaining things to the media is my favorite part of this installment. It's a little out of character for Obama to slip up with the Jedi mind trick line but I figure he's trying to rescue a difficult situation and isn't exactly thinking logically.

The mind trick joke was just too good not to throw in there once I'd decided that some people could be unaffected by MIB's mind erasing technology.

If you've seen the MyNetworkOne animation that I was commissioned to make you'll recognize the spinning newspaper is a custom flash prop that I made and adapted with new headlines and Rashy photo.

It was the final scenes with George, Dick and Rashy that caused the delay. It seemed like something of a stretch for MIB to re-employ George and Dick considering their history with Rashy but then I figured, this is fiction, could happen - and they did bring Agents Obama and Biden back.

Note in the scene where George and Dick are in the cell and the prison bars appear that's a new GoAnimate Entry/Exit effect. Which is a new feature that allows you to apply multiple transition effects like 'Fade' to individual objects and even characters in the studio.

As you can see Rashy is just a static image in his few scenes. It's a little disappointing because Rashy is really the whole reason my MIB series began. His role as an Evil Genius Sock Monkey has been a running joke in my animations almost since I first joined GoAnimate and started making Super Rica and Rashy animations.

Not that it was my idea entirely for Rashy to be an evil genius. In his very first official GoAnimate Cartoon he does cut Super Rica in half with a bow saw. I just figured cutting your own brother in half is a pretty evil genius thing to do and ran with it.

A few people have commented on the final part that they want to see an MIB3. It's great that people have enjoyed the series so much that they'd want another one.

I think I'd have to do a reboot of sorts if I went ahead. It's a series that is a lot of fun to tinker away at - since I don't write the scripts for it before hand. So I wouldn't rule out MIB3. Could be a while yet before I get back to it though.

GoAnimate for Business Animation

GoAnimate's new Business Friendly Theme.
GoAnimate recently launched its Business Friendly theme of characters, props and backgrounds specifically for use by businesses to create promotional animations of their own products and services.

The theme is limited to anyone with a GoAnimate Business account so you won't see these characters popping up in main stream animations by GoAnimate's more familiar demographic (which ranges from as young eight but more generally covers the teen to mid to late twenties age range).

This new theme builds on GoAnimates range of commercial use accounts introduced late last year and some are seeing it as a bit of a game changer for promotional business animation. Not least because the graphical look of the theme is very much in the style of business promotional animations that we're already familiar with.

The pre-animated character movements are quite varied and can be adapted to many different situations. Teamed with the most extensive range of props and backgrounds of any single theme on GoAnimate. There's a good chance you'll have to add very few of your own customized images.

It's actually possible to make a promotional animation for your business in a matter of hours if you're super organized but, more realistically, you could have something done inside a week or two - depending on how many people have input on your work.

Regular readers of this blog will know that as part of my design business, Art Time Productions, I offer my services to create GoAnimations for Business clients. Visit my Art Time Animation Page for details of my service and a playlist of animations that I've created for clients thus far. I can also help with writing a script if need be.

Why wait for up to four weeks to get an animation made, when you can have something up and running in less than two that is high quality but at a fraction of the cost with GoAnimate?

In the current economic climate businesses need to save every dollar they can whilst still creating engaging promotional campaigns. Online video is a very popular and affordable advertising medium that can reach a lot of people very rapidly. A well scripted and skillfully made animation could easily bring the most value per dollar on a very minimal outlay compared to other avenues.

If you haven't considered animation before because you thought it was too expensive then GoAnimate gives you a way into this promotional method without the price tag.

The Last GoAnimate Complaints / Animal by Neon Trees

The Last Complaint...

March 12, 2012 is the day Jim Benton's Happy Bunny Theme license expired on GoAnimate. Before it did I wanted to release just one more episode of this topical and much enjoyed series. This was the result, completed in just five days. (I usually spend at least a couple of weeks on these).

The Final Complaint - GoA Complaints Dept. by etourist on GoAnimate

Animation Software - Powered by GoAnimate.

Over the years my series The GoAnimate Complaints Department has become synonymous with the Happy Bunny theme for many people on GoAnimate. Here's something I wrote in the comments on the video...
The Complaints Dept. is one of GoAnimate's longest running series, with the first one minute episode appearing about two and a half years ago. Even though there's only 10 episodes it's continued to be popular and has been one of the most imitated series from my own catalogue. All but one uses speech balloons to tell the jokes.
Including this episode there is, in fact, 11 episodes created in the two and a half years of it's existence, among them Christmas and Easter specials. The Easter special is a particular favorite as I love the scene of Happy Bunny trapped on top of his stand's sign trying to convince a bunch of kids he's not the Easter Bunny.

In this latest episode it seemed only right to focus on the 'More Actions Protest Group' featuring the chick and the Dog that are also part of the Happy Bunny theme. The MAPG have been a part of the series from the beginning and appear in almost every episode. I did all their scenes first and then wove in the rest as I thought of different ideas.

I had to start with Captain Kirk from the Star Trek theme, as that theme is the only licensed theme left on GoAnimate. What Kirk says about licensed themes 'making this site' is partly true. Quite a lot of GoAnimate's most respected members discovered the site through the introduction of the Star Trek theme (including RoTV - featured at the end of the video inquiring about the Water Cooler Valet position).

Incidentally RoTV made it into this episode because on the GoAnimate forum he recently mentioned he'd consider any opportunity to work at GoAnimate if something came up.

That idea of Happy Bunny's job opening up became the second running theme through the episode and enabled me to do a lot of self referencing to earlier episodes in the series.

Only Robo Cop seems completely random but I figured the last episode, Cyborg Bunny, had featured a robot Happy Bunny so why not include another cyborg - plus I had Robo Cop already made up for another animation that ultimately didn't get made.

Having the chick burn down the Complaints Desk wasn't meant to be as sad and reflective as it feels with the video finishing on the smoldering remains. I just thought it would be funny if the chick got the last laugh after two and a half years of being pretty much ignored.

I actually don't see this as being the last Complaints Department I'll ever do which is why I left it with the idea that the Complaints Department was just closed for renovations. I'm sure it'll be back some day with a new look and a new character at the desk.

Animal by Neon Trees...

GoAnimator, Rocque, issued a music challenge on GoAnimate's forum asking members to suggest animated music videos they would like to see other GoAnimators make. It's been one of the most popular forum topics in a while with plenty of music videos being created - purely for the fun of it, since there are no prizes.

The song Animal by Neon Trees was suggested for me by GoAnimator, TheseStars. It wasn't a song I was that familiar with. In fact I'd really only heard bits of it in play outs to commercial breaks on some TV shows I watch.

At first I wasn't too inspired by the lyrics but I noticed they weren't too specific and were open to interpretation so I thought I'd give it a go. Plus it seemed like an ideal song to do something a little more significant with GoAnimate's Lil' Petz theme.

It was TheseStars that suggested Chaostoon's Wolfman make an appearance somewhere. Which further inspired me since I've only ever used Wolfman briefly in the third of my Harry Chalk series. This would be a chance to feature him a little more.

Animal by Neon Trees by etourist on GoAnimate

Video Maker - Powered by GoAnimate.

I have to admit that through the course of making the video the song really has grown on me. Whilst I'm not a big fan of the bands original video, despite its art gallery theme and people transforming into animals, I'm very happy with how my own video turned out.

Probably the only thing that seems a little unexpected is when the girl Petz starts shooting fireballs from her fingers. This came about because wolfman was kind of heading towards a creepy, stalker kind of character by looking into her window. I didn't want girl Petz to seem like a victim and I thought, why can't the she not be all she seems too - in a Buffy the vampire slayer kind of way?

Pt3: Simple Perspective for 2D Animation - Camera Movement

Part 3 of this series will focus on moving the camera forward into a scene and is the final part of this series. The concepts explained here are  kind of a combination of Part 1, One Point Perspective, and Part 2, Parallax Perspective Scrolling, so it will be helpful if you've read and understood those beforehand.

This article focuses on moving the camera forward only because, once you know how to do that you simply reverse the process for backwards. As well, by the time you've worked your way through all three articles in the series you should know enough to be able to move the camera around in any direction fairly convincingly using correct perspective.

The best way to start is to show you the demonstration video which is made up of three scenes.

Camera Forward Movement Demonstration by etourist

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Scene 1

This type of ZOOM scene should be familiar to most GoAnimators. It's a simple use of the ZOOM tool to move in closer to a point in the scene. What you'll notice is that everything in the scene remains where it is, flat, and, were you to keep zooming, there comes a point where the camera cannot zoom in any more.

Scene 2

In this short scene you'll notice that the camera appears to move along behind the car for a short distance. objects in the background move independent of each other, similar to the way I made objects move across the scene in our horizontally scrolling, parallax scene in Part 2 of the series. As well objects appear to get larger as the camera moves forward (in line with our one point perspective concepts).

What is being simulated is the change of position of the camera in the scene (even though technically the camera isn't actually moving - we're creating the illusion that it is). The camera isn't ZOOMing in, as it does in scene 1. The lens stays fixed. It is the whole camera that appears to move closer to the policeman on the footpath.

I realize scene 2 is a very short demonstration due to the complex nature of constructing the scene and the limited time I had to make it. It's beyond the scope of this article to give you a 'how to' construct this kind of scene. However, if you take what you've learned in Parts 1 and 2, you should be able to work the technique out.

Scene 3

The final scene 3 is a more common illusion of camera tracking that combines both the use of an actual ZOOM of the camera and parallax movement of objects in the foreground.

If you look closely you'll notice the two tables at the left and right of scene 3 move independently of the background as the camera ZOOM's in. The ZOOM gives the impression the tables are moving closer, whilst the movement of the tables sliding out of the scene creates an illusion of depth in the scene.

You can see how this scene is constructed in the two images below. Note that I've used the PAN tool rather than the ZOOM tool because I wanted to crop out part of the scene at the start of the zoom.

I've used the PAN tool to create my
ZOOM in on the scene.
The tables, chairs and table roses all move just
50 pixels to either the left or right.
To finish up I'll leave you with some general guidelines when working with Simple Perspective in your scenes.

  • Generally the horizon line of your scene will be across the middle of the scene and the vanishing point will be in the middle of the horizon line.
  • Objects to the left of the vanishing point will move off the left edge of the scene and get larger as they move closer to the camera.
  • Objects to the right of the vanishing point will move off the right edge of the scene and get larger as they move closer to the camera.

  • Objects directly in line with the vanishing point will simply get larger as they get closer to the camera until they crash into it (if they don't change direction).
  • Objects above the horizon line will move off the top edge of the scene and get larger as they move closer to the camera.

  • Objects below the horizon line will move off the bottom edge of the scene and get larger as they move closer to the camera.

Note that the concepts of perspective are far more extensive than I've covered but, by adapting the relatively simple techniques I've described in this series, you can make your animations seem more professional and visually interesting.

Pt2: Simple Perspective for 2D Animation - Parallax Scrolling Backgrounds

In part 2 of this series I'll show you how to create a horizontally scrolling, parallax background. If you're not sure what that is just know that it will make your chase scenes look amazing by adding a kind of 3D depth to them.

You will understand the concepts better in this article if you've read Part 1 in the series before hand - which covers basic one point perspective.

Parallax Scrolling Perspective - What is it?

Look at almost any 2D side scrolling video game from the late 1980's or early 1990's (such as Super Mario Brothers or Sonic the Hedgehog games) and you can see Parallax Scrolling Perspective at work. Objects in the foreground of the game appear larger and move side to side (and even up and down) quicker than those in the background even though everything is drawn in two dimensions.

The technique is not new and grew out of 1940's animation where a multiplane camera was used to shoot through several layers of backgrounds to create the illusion of three dimensional depth in a scene.

You can see my very first attempt at creating a horizontally scrolling parallax scene in the Domo cartoon I created below. Notice in the scenes where the car is driving how the lamp posts move across the scene faster than the hills, trees and clouds in the background. This is the kind of scene I'm going to show you how to make with GoAnimate.

Parallax Scrolling Perspective - The Physics of the Scene

In order to understand how to create a parallax scrolling background you need to know the physics behind why things that are further away move more slowly than those up close. The diagram below should help.
Distance traveled by Objects across
the camera's line of sight.

The grey area in the diagram above represents what the camera can see through the lens. You'll notice that objects moving across the camera's line of sight, close to the camera, have less distance to travel than those far away.

Visually, this has the effect of making objects passing the camera at a close distance appear to move faster across the line of sight than those further away. Also, the further away an object is from the camera, the slower it will appear to travel across the line of sight.

In GoAnimate it is useful to remember this diagram in reverse - items you want to move slower across the scene should have a shorter, dotted slider arrow between them (you'll see what I mean in the next section).

Obviously, in terms of perspective, objects further away from the camera should appear smaller in the scene.

Creating a Parallax Perspective, Horizontally Scrolling
Scene in GoAnimate

Before I begin I'll show you my demonstration animation of a spaceman running which I will then refer back to as I talk about how it was made. You'll see each GoAnimate Scene (i.e. one scene in the studio) is numbered so I can refer directly to it in my discussion.

Parallax Scrolling Demo by etourist

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Initially you'll probably think it doesn't look all that much but by the time you get to scenes 4 and 5 you'll see the effect becomes more convincing the more objects you have moving past the camera. The goal is to create a single scene that will seamlessly repeat that you can then just copy and paste to create the illusion of  a continuous scrolling scene.

Step 1: Choose Background

The illusion of movement and depth works best if you choose a ground surface that will always look the same no matter how far you scroll. In my demo you can see the ground is a uniform grey colour. In my Domo animation at the top of this post you'll see I've created a road with the grass, pavement and road all being the same continuous colour.

Step 2: CUT Frame

Reduce the size of the scene using the cut tool. This will give you more room to work and enable you to add those objects that have to move extra fast.

Step 3: Add Horizon Objects

If your scene is like my spaceman scene where you can see right to the horizon, then you can safely add some distant mountains (and even a moon). These things are so far away that they will barely move. You can get away with them being stationary in the scene without spoiling the illusion.

Step 4: Add Other Objects and Character

Now you're ready to add your first few objects in the landscape. In placing your first objects remember the one point perspective concepts I covered in part 1. You don't need to draw the guidelines and vanishing point (as shown in the image of Scene 1 below) but keep them in mind when sizing different objects. Things closer to the horizon will appear smaller than things close to the camera.

We're creating a single scene that loops seamlessly so all of your moving objects need to be placed outside the CUT frame. Start with the object that is the furthest away (in my case that's a space base). This should be placed right on the edge of the CUT frame - but out of view - and very close to the horizon line.

Place your second object (mine's a rock) mid way between the bottom of your first object and the bottom of the CUT frame. Space it across about half way between the edge of the scene frame and the edge of the CUT frame.

Place your third object (I've chosen a clump of grass) about mid way between the bottom of your second object and the bottom of the CUT frame. Position it across from the edge of the CUT frame so it's almost touching the edge of the scene.

Next add whatever it is the camera will be tracking horizontally (such a s my running spaceman) inside the CUT frame so that it's almost but not quite touching the bottom of the CUT frame.

Step 5: Add Movement

Now to make everything move. If you're using a running character like my spaceman, you'll need to select the run action. This will make the space man run but will also cause him to slide forward in the scene. We don't want that so, with the character still selected, click the Slide button (located next to the Action drop down menu). This will keep the running action but remove the slide movement.

Select each of your objects in turn and click the Slide button (usually the first icon/button next to the props thumbnail image in the object properties window). Then drag the objects ghosted destination image in an exact, horizontal straight line, through the CUT frame window and  then past it's opposite edge to about an equal distance away on the opposite side (see diagram below).

Scene 1: Click to enlarge.
Once you've done this with all three objects set the scene length to a custom length - I used 13 seconds for my scenes but it will depend on how fast your character is moving.

At this point your scene is all set up and you can see how it looks by watching Scene 1 in the demonstration animation above. You'll notice that all my objects line up behind each other when they get to the middle of the CUT frame and then separate again as they reach the opposite edge. This is how objects that are all lined up should move across the frame.

At this point you could copy this scene two or three times and preview the animation. The spaceman would appear to run across the landscape for all scenes without the viewer seeing the scene changes. However it wouldn't take long for the viewer to realize the same objects are going past each time.

Step 6: Add More Objects

The illusion of this effect looks more realistic if you add more objects to the scene and stagger their positions (so they don't all line up in the center of the CUT frame). In Scene 2 below you can see I'm adding a second clump of grass at the same level as the first clump of grass but closer to the CUT frame.

Scene 2: Click to enlarge.
In order to keep how fast this grass clump moves across the CUT frame consistent with the first clump it must move the same number as pixels as the first (427px). Which is why you can see in the above diagram that the second clump of grass moves so far past the opposite edge of the CUT frame.

The effect can be enhanced even more by adding objects that pass in front of your character. In Scene 3  below I'm adding another clump of grass that passes in front of the spaceman across the bottom of the CUT frame.

Scene 3: Click to enlarge.
Notice that I've made the grass clump bigger than the others because it's much closer to the camera. Also notice that it slides much further than everything in order to make it pass in front of the camera quicker.

Keep that in mind. The closer something is, the faster it needs to move past the camera. Also keep in mind that everything added needs to begin and end its slide path outside the CUT frame area. This will allow you to duplicate the scene over and over for longer sequences.

As I said at the start, the more you add to the scene the more convincing the effect looks. Though be careful not to over load the scene as too many moving objects may slow the GoAnimate player down on some computers.

Hopefully I've explained the concepts for creating your own horizontally scrolling, parallax backgrounds that give the illusion of depth and correct perspective, clearly enough for you to follow. It's a good technique to learn and can be used to make even interior scenes look more dynamic.
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