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Featured Animator: Manta Team Studios - The Adventures of Dr. Metal and Mr. Robotix

Dr. Metal and Mr. Robotix.
Dr. Metal and Mr. Robotix.
Starting up a one person, independent animation studio, creating an original series, seems like a daunting task but this article's featured animator, Ray Hohnecker, shows that if you just keep the animation simple, and focus on story, you can still create something extremely engaging that keeps viewers coming back for more.

Originally Ray sent me the fifth (and latest) episode of his animated series, The Adventures of Dr. Metal and Mr. Robotix. I was so interested in the premise and humor that I went back to the first episode to see how things began, enjoying that episode so much, I watched the next, and the next. 

All you really need to know is that Dr. Metal is an evil genius and inventor plotting world domination.  Watch episode one below.


If you enjoyed the humor as much as I did you'll want to view further episodes right now. The full playlist is on Ray's Manta Team Studios Channel on YouTube. To find out more about Ray, Manta Team Studios, and how this series was made read my interview below.

TET: Tell me a little about yourself. Who you are, and why you started animating? 

Ray Hohnecker - Manta Team Studios
Ray Hohnecker
Manta Team Studios
My name is Ray Hohnecker. I have a small animation studio that I started called Manta Team Studios.

I'm currently am working on a cartoon series called The Adventures of Dr. Metal and Mr. Robotix. It is about a "mad scientist" type character who is fixated on world domination, and he has his trusty robot side-kick, Mr. Robotix. 

I am a video editor with my own video production business. I love to create things. I'm one of those people that have made things my whole life through every stage, from cartoons and stories growing up, to music with several bands once I was in high school and a little after. I even made furniture with a friend after college. 

I finally found video editing a few years back and didn't look back. 

I grew up loving cartoons and drawing, and I actually ended up going to school for Visual Communication Design, a mix of web design, graphic design, and animation. When the pandemic hit and the whole world stopped, I felt like I had all the tools I needed to create something but with no place to go. I didn't feel like I was ready to make the leap to become an on-screen YouTuber, and so I decided to try something completely new with an animation series.

TET: Can you tell me a little more about your Animated Series? 

Dr. Metal's secret lab.
Dr. Metal's secret lab.
The Adventures of Dr. Metal and Mr. Robotix is a comedic, witty series revolving around a "mad-scientist" character, Dr. Metal, and his robot side-kick, Mr. Robotix, inside their not-so-secret secret lab.

In the lab, Dr. Metal works tirelessly to create an arsenal of weapons to help him achieve world-domination. 

Mr. Robotix is, himself, a creation of Dr. Metal, giving him his own feedback along the way. This doesn't always go over well with Dr. Metal, which he is quite vocal about. The two characters' have a love-hate relationship that drives the plot of the story, and sometimes leads to almost destructive endings.

TET: Inspiration for the series? 

Dr. Metal
Dr. Metal
Funny enough, I actually created the character of Dr. Metal sitting in class in the 3rd grade. When I was entertaining the idea of making an animation series last year, I just kept thinking back to the character of Dr. Metal. Honestly, I trusted my creativity that I had in the 3rd grade more than trying to come up with an original idea altogether, and so I just ran with it. 

I actually drew Mr. Robotix as a fill-in character only a few days before I started any work on a script for the show. I just felt that he was the complementary piece that the show needed.

There's a lot of camera animation in the series but not so much character animation. I'm guessing the limited animation is a deliberate style choice? Is it one you made to save time so you could get the episodes animated quicker?

Yes, you pretty much hit the nail on the head. I realized that not having the mouths move might not be the most optimal for a cartoon series, but I felt that, as a single animator starting up an animation series/studio, I could spend my time more on getting the story done and making a series in a shorter amount of time.

I think further down the line, if there is actually some monetary income through the series, I would definitely transition to the more traditional animation of characters. I definitely want to work to get to that level.

TET: What applications do you use to make the series? 

I use the Adobe Creative Suite to make each episode. Adobe Illustrator to make all the graphics (characters and props). Adobe Photoshop for all of the background settings. Adobe After Effects to move the pieces and camera around for each shot, and I use Adobe Premiere Pro to edit the whole project together. 

I record the voices using an H5 Zoom recorder, which I then bring into the project file. Sound effects I get mainly from SINGULARITY, which is an assortment of cinema-quality sounds that can be used for personal projects.

TET: Your biggest challenge(s) making the series? 

The biggest challenge for me right now is probably just finding the time and motivation to keep working on the animation. I do still run my own video production business, and so finding the time and also the motivation to work on a startup, animation side project on top of everything that needs to go into running a successful business is tough for me.

TET: Future plans for you and/or the series in relation to animation goals? 

I do want to continue learning and growing in terms of storytelling and animation techniques. I want to continue making more episodes of The Adventures of Dr. Metal and Mr. Robotix, and maybe even more cartoons in the future. If all goes well, I hope to create a fully operational, thriving animation studio someday!

---o ---o--- o---

Thanks to Ray for taking the time to answer my questions. If you would like to see more of Ray's animation process he has a great, behind the scenes video for how he animates a shot.

If you would like to see future episodes of The Adventures of Dr. Metal and Mr. Robotix, and more of Ray's animations, consider subscribing to his YouTube channel, Manta Team Studios.

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