Archive for April 2012

Blog Post #14a: Newgrounds, a Flash Animation Site   4 comments

In 2005, I had undiagnosed depression, which led to me locking myself in my room for days at a time and not eating. As you can imagine, slowly starving yourself to death is a pretty boring way to get through the day, but fortunately for me I rediscovered I had initially “discovered” it way back in 2000, at the ripe old age of 13. Back then, Newgrounds was an 18-over site. It had such games as Pico’s School, where Pico attempts to escape from a Columbine Massacre-esque situation by shooting goth kids, and Nene Interactive Suicide, where you help an angsty girl kill herself using only the objects found in her bedroom. My mother banned us from ever going on the site ever. In 2005, however, I was totally in the mood to help an angsty teenage girl kill herself, so I went to the site and discovered that it had completely changed.

The site’s creator, Tom Fulp, had become overwhelmed by the amount of Flash-animated movies and Flash-animated games that viewers were sending him that he set up a “portal”, which allowed for anyone to submit movies and games. This means that Sturgeon’s Law is in full effect: 90% of anything on the site is crap — well, it’s not very good — but there’s the remaining 10% that is fantastic. The site is apparently where the early internet meme “Numa Numa” premiered.

I haven’t been on the site since 2007 or so, and I was extremely surprised to learn that I could still login. Unfortunately, they aren’t embeddable, so I can only give you links, but here they are, some of my favorite videos in 2005 and 2006.

Paladin 4: A blue-haired Paladin is on an epic quest to kill an evil sorceror who’s blighted the lands. In this episode, he gets a snarky crow sidekick and enters the evil sorceror’s castle (episodes 1-3 are not very good, except for watching the animation improve)
The Little Girl: Emmeline is a three-year-old who was forgotten by absolutely everyone. She wishes upon a star for a real friend.
There She Is!!!: One of the most popular flash animations ever, about a cat who is being pursued by a lovestruck rabbit. It’s a metaphor for the Korean/Japanese conflict, but it’s very silly. The story continues with three sequels; here is episode 2, Cake Dance, where the cat tries to get the rabbit’s birthday cake to her safely.

The site has undergone some further revamps in the five years or so since I’ve last been on the site. I highly recommend that you browse the site, and see what other animations it offers! There are movies and games available, in case you get bored by passive entertainment. I know I’ll be doing that, too, you know, once I finish up with this semester’s work.

Posted April 27, 2012 by agentksilver in animation

Blog Post 13b: Comments of the Week   Leave a comment

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Posted April 24, 2012 by agentksilver in animation

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Blog Post 13a: The Politics of marriage in Disney Princess films (pt drei)   7 comments

Pocahontas (1995)

Pocahontas holds the record for Disney Princess with the most publicity photos of her hair blowing randomly, the most geometrical face, and also the least amount of marriages. She does, however, follow a long Disney tradition of not having a nose.

She gets married in the sequel, to the man she married in real life, John Rolfe.

I’m not going to lie: the only Disney sequel I’ve ever seen was a sequel to The Little Mermaid, which I think was called The Littler Mermaid but I’m probably wrong (it was Return to the Sea). According to the Wikipedia synopsis, John Rolfe and Pocahontas fall in love while she acts as ambassador to England, trying to prevent a war between the Powhatan tribe and England; hijinx ensue, lessons are learned, Ratcliffe is a jerk, etc. The love story between John Smith and Pocahontas is not forgotten, but apparently the story ends with Pocahontas saying that it’s time to move on.

In real life, Pocahontas and John Rolfe met on April 5, 1614, when she was about 19, and he was 39. He was a tobacco farmer, looking to introduce Spanish tobacco into the area. She was a Powhatan princess. They were married (his second marriage), she was baptized, given the Christian name “Rebecca”, and eventually had a son, Thomas. Unlike in the Direct-to-Video sequel, she was received as royalty on her trip to England. So she was viewed as a princess, and she married a tobacco farmer? Hm.

Mulan (1998)

Now wait a second! Mulan also doesn’t get married at the end of her movie! Did Disney go through a weird period of deciding that marriage does not, in fact, make one a happy and complete person? No wait, according to Wikipedia, she and Shang got married at the end of the second movie. Hey, that’s faster than Jazmine, who waited three movies to get married.

Hijinx ensued before Mulan and Shang got married. Not just the cross-dressing part, or the extremely short war against the Hun/Xiongnu, but also in the sequel, where they have to escort three princesses to their arranged politcally-advantageous marriages. Unfortunately, the three princesses fall in love with Moe, Larry, and Curly on their way to the wedding.


Mulan and Shang make sense. In that time period in China, the gentry was split between military families and gentleman scholars, who pursued painting and calligraphy. Mulan and Shang are both from prominent military families; it makes sense for them to marry. But Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po are conscripted men — peasants, most likely, whose military service is a form of taxation. While it’s noble to marry for love, it’s hard to stay in love when you’re so far down the totem pole your father-in-law could have you executed in the square, and no one would care. Their lady loves can read, write, maintain family accounts, and have been trained as international ambassadors and diplomats since they could talk. The three stooges can bring in a crop, maintain mulberry trees, and count on their fingers. They come from such opposite worlds, I can’t even see their love lasting, much less being allowed in the first place.

Even in the sense that “opposites attract”, there’s usually an underlying sameness that keeps two people together. A liberal and a conservative can find love, if they steer clear of politics and expect the same sort of house and future. A city boy and a country girl can love for a lifetime, if they find time for each other’s worlds and keep their perspectives voiced. But Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po need women who can weave, cook, and till, while the three princesses need someone who can provide servants to do all that. I just don’t see it working for them.

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

Disney covered all their bases with this one. Yes, a poor black girl from New Orleans married a prince, like a real prince kind of prince.

Who wouldn’t?

It’s stated in the movie that Prince Naveen such a hopeless layabout, constantly spending his cash and causing political scandals, that his parents have cut him off from money and political interests, in favor of his little brother.

Who may be starting on some scandals of his own pretty soon

So essentially he’s royalty enough to magically make poor girls into princesses when they get married, but not royal enough for the secular world, so he can kick back and help Tiana run her restaurant without worrying about the rate of taxation in Maldovia.

A princess in name only, in other words.

Posted April 23, 2012 by agentksilver in animation

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Blog Post 12b: Comments of the Week   Leave a comment

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Posted April 17, 2012 by agentksilver in animation

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Blog Post 12a: Last-minute animations   Leave a comment

I’ve actually made a grand total of three animations. You can view my first video in this entry here. I have two others, Pizza Boy vs. The Mole, which has like an actual plot, and Give Me the News. That one was based on a song I hate, Robert Palmer’s “Bad Case of Loving You”.

The three animations, together, took me about six hours to make. Do you know what else took me about six hours? This animated gif.

gif maker
Gif maker

I made this back in late January, or February 1 at the latest. It was extremely difficult to make the images all look exactly the same, yet moving. Six hours, ten frames, my mouse, and MSPaint (I am not cool enough for photoshop). I even found a way to turn a grid on, and I still had difficulty lining up the face.

Goanimate took all the work away, which was something I was looking for. But it had its own limitations. In the end, I think I lost something, in not having to do the work, in having to force my ideas into pre-built animations..

This (final) video features bad language.

This video, sent to me by a friend, encapsulates a lot of my later frustrations with Goanimate. Yes, you can make things move and say what you want them to say. But they say it with canned, electronic voices, and very, very limited movement. I had to edit my stories, such as they were, very heavily in order to get from the beginning to the middle to the end. They didn’t feel like my characters at all.

I suppose, after all this, I’ll go back to writing and drawing comics.

Posted April 17, 2012 by agentksilver in animation

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Blog Post 11c: Comments of the Week   Leave a comment

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Posted April 9, 2012 by agentksilver in animation

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Blog Post 11b: I Came to Bury Caesar   1 comment I Came to Bury Caesar by Kelsey
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Okay, so I’m not sure what’s going on, but the video box is not showing up for me. I was able to successfully post this to facebook and livejournal, but not wordpress? Also, lately wordpress has been blacking out whenever I go to a screen that has my site stats on it.

Clicking that link will take you directly to my video, though.

I’d meant to do a stop-motion animation version of this, but that was a better idea when I thought our animations were due next week, not this week. The site that I used — — was certainly a big help and saved me a lot of time, but there were definitely limitations.

1) No zombies (my original script called for a zombie)
2) The lip-synching is terrible — the mouths just flap, rather than matching the sounds. Which makes sense, but it’s distracting and makes you feel like you’re watching Godzilla. That’s why I chose to not have the teacher’s mouth move, even though most of the video is devoted to her talking. This, in turn, is why I made her movement so animated. Nothing like watching three people sit completely still for fifteen seconds while a computer voice recites Shakespeare in the background, amiright? I know that lip-synching is difficult, and they actually pay animators full-time to do nothing but match character’s lips to the sounds. That is probably why they decided to just have a lip-flapping movement, rather than full-on lip-synching.
3) The interface made me scared to screw up or take risks, because I had no idea how I’d fix it. There were originally three desks, and I would have had three students, but I accidentally scooted the third desk and couldn’t get it back in its original place. I just deleted the desk rather than deal with it. Towards the end of animating, I found the “undo” button. Also, both students were supposed to start out sitting, but as it turns out, I placed the boy’s movement as “entering”, and there was no way to get him to not enter. That’s why he walks to his desk and sits down. He had to “enter” the scene. Also, because I was scared of making a mistake, I couldn’t have an “open scene” frame and a “close scene” frame.
4) I wish I could have had the students scream. Alas.
5) No sound effects — just music. It would have been nice to start out with a bell.

Overall, though, goanimate was extremely simple and fairly intuitive. This animation was fun to do, and I did like the variety of art styles available. It’s written to be more of a comic book come to life than a piece of artistic brilliance, so keep it in mind if you ever use this software.

Posted April 9, 2012 by agentksilver in animation

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