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Hey… sorry I’ve been away for a while. I’ve got some great excuses ready to go, but if it’s all the same to you, I’d really prefer to just move on, and talk about this cartoon thing I’m doing…
So I said the next step was “animatic and beginning animation.” That’s a bit disingenuous, actually, because - much like voicework - the way I approach it is not an entirely straightforward process. I don’t go through and bang out an animatic for the entire cartoon, and there are a couple reasons for that. The first is that it would bore the shit out of me. I’ll get back to that in a minute…
As you may or may not be aware, an animatic is the stepping stone between a storyboard and the animation. It is, in a sense, a storyboard with limited movement, and usually includes audio. As you can see in the top image, there is an audio track on the timeline. That is the first line of dialogue recorded by the voice actor. Once that’s inserted into the timeline and I can hit “play,” I can really get a sense of how long that shot is actually going to be on screen. In the storyboard, I envisioned the entire first line being spoken while the camera slowly zooms in on that building. Putting that into an animatic and having some image to go along with the audio allowed me to see that that would be too boring to look at for as long as the line is being spoken. Additionally, it made me realize, “Crap, that’s, like, identical to how Episode 2 started…” So I’m going to switch it up. That’s no longer going to be the first shot. I’ll still use it, but I’m going with a different approach.
I lay out shots and do rough animation in bright, vibrant colors (usually red or blue), so that I can easily distinguish between the “rough stuff” and what I want to keep when I’m polishing it up and doing the final version. Somethings I’ll draw free-hand, but most background elements I just end up laying out with simple shapes and lines. Then I just continually build upon them, adding more and more detail until it resembles what I originally envisioned.
I could have gone on and done rough versions for the next few shots in the animatic, but I didn’t feel like it. I wanted to finalize this opening shot first. So I did.
I HATE DRAWING BUILDINGS. This took fucking forever. I have completed exactly 1 background for the entire cartoon, and that is all I have done. Go on, hate me for it. I know I do.
Time Elapsed: 27 hours. <——-(For one fucking background! Seriously!)
Next: More stuff
Yeah, check it out, yo. That’s Villainy Episode 3, start to finish. Allow me to elaborate!… (A lot of what I’m about to say may seem pretty obvious, but hey, not everyone is as smart as you, alright??)
So after you’ve got a script, you’ve got to take those words and put them in a more visual form. In the case of turning my own scripts into storyboards, I basically just have to draw what I pictured in my head while I was writing the script. So how does one go about doing that? Well basically, (at least the way I do it), each frame up there is either a cut or an action. Frame 1 (an establishing shot), is very different from Frame 2 (an interior shot), because the setting is changing, and the camera is being put in a new position. Meanwhile, Frames 3 and 4 look pretty damn similar. The difference between them is just the position the character is in. Things like that aren’t imperative, because they’ll emerge on their own when the rough animation starts coming together, but I like to have them there so I know how much movement is going to be in each shot, and can thus estimate how long it’s going to take to animate. The differences from one frame to the next are subtle, but they illustrate a different expression or movement associated with a particular sentence or part of the line.
You probably (hopefully) see the rough scribblings I’ve made up there and have no idea what you’re looking at. That’s fine, it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but me. Once the cartoon is done, you can come back and look at it and it should suddenly be crystal clear. Like one of those Magic-Eye things. I’m counting on no one having a clue what they’re seeing, because I don’t want the story being spoiled. (I’d love to hear your best guesses, though!)
So what did I learn from this? Well, unfortunately, I learned that this Episode isn’t as short as I was hoping it would be. The script for Episode 3 is a page shorter than the script for Episode 2, but the storyboard for Episode 2 was only 101 frames long… this one’s 116.. that’s pretty significant. I could make the animation simpler, include fewer poses, have less motion and layout less complicated shots, but I’m not into that. This way’s going to be harder, but it will look better and improve the telling of the story, which is my ultimate goal. The extra work will be worth the effort (in theory), and the practice will make me a better artist/animator. It makes the February release date seem less-attainable, certainly, but that’s the way it goes.
Okay, so upfront, let me just note that saying “voice actors” is the next step in the process is a tad disingenuous. It’s not like I can’t move on until this step is completed. What I mean is, after the script is done, I start looking for voice actors. Usually I’ll have a voice for a given character in mind when I’m writing their dialogue, and I try to find an actor that matches that. The urgency of finding the voice actors depends on the importance of the character in the script, or how close I am to actually animating the scene(s) in which they appear, For example, the main characters in this script are The Lube and Pherodoxy. Getting their voicework done is much more important than any of the extras or bit characters, because I really can’t get too far animating their scenes if I don’t have their voices to sync the animation to.
A lot of the time (and generally what I prefer), I’ll be able to voice the character(s) myself. I have fairly decent range, and I’m pretty confident in my acting ability, so if there’s a way I can do it myself, I will. However, although I can do a lot of different character types, if I start doing too many voices in the cartoons, hearing them side by side, it does start to become noticeable that it’s the same guy voicing multiple characters. Other voice actors are talented enough that this isn’t an issue for them. I am not good enough. I voice two of the main characters in the series (Chronomonator and Seymour Evil), and I don’t want people thinking they hear those characters in the scene if they don’t belong there. It’s distracting and unprofessional (unless you’re South Park).
The hunt for voice actors can be painful. Outsourcing anything is painful, because I like to be in control and have things exactly how they are in my head. When I send a script to a voice actor, it inevitably comes back with a very different interpretation. I usually send the actor a version of the script that is tweaked specifically for their character that includes added notes and direction. I try to provide as much instruction as possible so they can hear it the way I hear it. If I’m lucky, they’ll get it right and I can move on. If I’m unlucky, all I can do is provide further direction until I’ve conveyed what I’m looking for. Often I will be able to cobble together bits and pieces from multiple takes to construct what I’m looking for.
The actor will send me a sound file which I will cut up and edit in Adobe Soundbooth** (Exhibit A), so that each line is it’s own individual sound file. A lot of people use Audacity for their sound editing. That totally works. It’s great software, and it’s free. I just prefer Soundbooth because it makes what I need to do simpler. I find Audacity a little clunky. I may bring the sound file into FL Studio (Exhibit B) if effects need to be applied such as reverb and echo, and then I will save a separate version of the effected file. It’s important to always save backups. You never want to overwrite source files. Just in case. I try to organize the files by character and scene (Exhibit C), and there they sit until I bring them into Adobe Flash to start animating.
Again, this is an ongoing process that can go right up until I’m done animating, though if I know I’m going to be outsourcing voice work, getting the dialogue from the actors is something I’ll want to do early on.
Wanna voice act in one of my cartoons? Well I’m sorry. I really am. I am inundated with such requests AAALLL the time, and it’s just gotten to the point where I have to turn them down. There aren’t enough roles to go around. I don’t do this because I’m a dick, in fact, it’s just the opposite. I’m too nice of a guy to tell someone that they suck, and I’ll end up settling with something I’m not happy with. So when I need a voice actor, I’ll find them myself.
Want to be a voice actor for someone else? Awesome. You should.
1) Have a quality microphone. It doesn’t matter how good you are, if you’re microphone is shitty, you’re useless as a voice actor.
2) You may just naturally suck. Some people just don’t have good voices and/or cannot act. The acting part might be able to be improved, but if you weren’t blessed with vocal range, or some kind of unique quality or resonance… you may have to give up that dream.
Right, so, after several very productive meetings and many many very unproductive meetings where we discussed what we want to do with the season arc, and figured out what needed to happen in each episode, a draft of the script is written out. The first draft is either written by Jeff (the co-creator), or myself, and then the other one gets a pass at it to say what they like and/or don’t like. “This line isn’t funny.” “This could be better.” “You should hate yourself for thinking this was a good idea.” Sometimes the changes are major; sometimes just a few lines need to be changed.
What you’re looking at is the third and final draft of the script for Episode 3. Since this is the first time the characters The Lube and Pherodoxy are appearing in this universe, we hadn’t quite nailed down their voices and what we wanted them to sound like yet. The first draft had the Lube (Johnny Voxx), talking like a pompous British man. We decided that didn’t fit the character the way we wanted and instead rewrote him to sound…. less so.
The scripts for all 7 episodes of this season have all already been through at least one draft. We don’t usually start making revisions until it comes time to actually produce an episode. Now that we’ve settled on a script we’re happy with, it’s my job to then do everything else.
Hey yooz guyz. So I've had this Tumblr for a while now, and I haven't really known what to do with it. Well today I figured it out.
I'm about to take the plunge and begin Episode 3 of Villainy. I released a Halloween short a while back, and it did way better here on Newgrounds than it did on Youtube. It makes me happy to see that Newgrounds is still the best place to get exposure for your work, if you're an up-and-comer. There's so much chaos on YouTube, finding an audience can be damn near impossible. (On the other hand, god damn it, my YouTube channel's never gonna grow!)
I wrote a script for a New Years short with the intention of "holding people over until Episode 3 came out," but there's a major flaw in that logic. It would have taken a month to make that cartoon, and that would, then be another month that I put off actually working on Episode 3. So instead, I'm diving straight in. And that's where Tumblr comes in. I'm going to use it to document the process of creating Episode 3 from scratch. It will be a way for people to stay up-to-date on its progress, as well as learn how I go about doing this thing I do.
I've always wanted to do some kind of YouTube tutorial, but wasn't sure how to frame it. Anything I could teach about how to use Flash, or how to draw has already been done by someone else in a much better way. (For example, Harry Partridge's tutorials, or Jazza's channel.) So here it is. Wanna know how I make a cartoon? Wanna know why it takes me so friggin' long? Now you can.
So I made a Halloween cartoon! A new Villainy short! Just in time to completely miss Halloween by 2 days.
I have had tons of problems trying to export this cartoon. I composed a lot of it in After Effects, this time, and the particular way I did it was apparently too much for either my Mac or my PC to handle. If it didn't crash, it would export with objects and parts randomly missing from the final export. I was at a total loss. I finally did it by just exporting about 30 snippets, and then putting all THOSE into after effects and exporting a video, instead of exporting it straight from the photoshop/flash elements and holy shit, you definitely stopped reading this boring shit a long time ago.
So there's that. Also, my brother and I put out a new cartoon last week. It's a Pokemon Dragonball Z mash-up thing. Go suck its dick.
I think next I'm finally going to get to work on Villainy Episode 3. It's shorter than Episode 2, but I'm considering doing it in ToonBoom instead of Flash, so there's a good chance that will make it a lot more work, since I don't know ToonBoom that well. I also have a few good ideas for Villainy shorts, but I think people are going to want to see a full episode more. I dunno. What do you think?
Should I make another short soon, which will be out in a matter of weeks, or should I put all my effort into getting out the next full episode, which will take months?
Oh, I've missed you all so much!... Not really, though, because I never really went anywhere. I've still logged onto Newgrounds every day for the past year.... I just haven't submitted anything... which I truly am sorry about.
Villainy had just gotten going at a good pace at the end of 2011 when I hit the skids. One thing after another prevented me from ever finishing Episode 2, though it'd been in development the whole time. Finally I put everything aside, buckled down for 2 solid months and finished it. It is now my proudest achievement. Soooooo much better than Episode 1. You can watch it here on Newgrounds now. VILLAINY EPISODE 2
I've also finally got a plan for a YouTube channel. Before I uploaded all of the Villainy cartoons to their own "Official Villainy Channel" but that never quite took off the way I was hoping, so I'm disbanding it. Taking it down. Seems a shame to dump all of those views, but meh, it really wasn't that many to begin with. Not a major loss, in my book.
Instead, I've started a new channel with my brother called WingDog which you should absolutely go subscribe to. Since I'm not going to be the only one making content for it, from now on things are going to be uploaded to it MUCH more regularly. It'll be nice to just have all of my videos (Villainy or otherwise) right in one place. Go subscribe. You'll be doing yourself a favor. But more importantly, you'll be doing ME a favor. I'm much more important than you. (Villainy Ep2 will be public on YouTube in a few days. It's just exclusive to Newgrounds for the time being. Don't bother trying to upload it yourself, assholes, it'll just get taken down. You'll be wasting your time.)
ONE LAST THING! Do me another favor. Jeff and I (we co-created Villainy), want to try something new. We had an idea for a series we're calling "Tweet A Title." Here's how it works. You follow @TweetATitle on Twitter, and you just throw out a title at us.
"@TweetATitle Mr. Dick's Dick Lube Disaster lol"
And then we turn around, write a short cartoon about it, and I crank it out as fast as I can. (Seriously, like within a matter of hours). No restrictions on what the title is; it can be anything your imagination comes up with (five words, one word, all verbs, all swear words, whatever). We're thinking about making it a weekly thing, but first we need to see that it's an idea that has legs. We need a place to start, though. So as an experiment, we'd be charmed if just a few of you could do exactly that. If it turns out well, "Tweet A Title" could become a weekly, or bi-weekly thing on WingDog. (More incentive to subscribe).
Also, I can't end this without recommending you follow my handsome face on Twitter. I tweet good. You won't be disappointed.
Talk to you soon.... I really mean it this time.... also, here's a goat:
Hi everybody! It's me, James. Sure you remember. I was the guy with the big nose and the deep voice that doesn't match my build? Remember? I said that thing and you weren't sure if I was being sarcastic or not? It got awkward and now things are weird between us? No? Huh. I must have imagined all that then.
ANYHOO! Now that the redesign has finally launched (FINALLY) I thought I'd go ahead and give my incredibly biased opinion of it. Because if there's one thing strange people I've never met want from me, it's my opinion. Now, let's get right down to it.
VISUALS: X X X X X _ _ _ _ _ 5/10
I was surprised to see that when the redesign launched the guys at the office decided to go with such a familiar visual style. The color scheme is largely the same as it was last year at this time, and I can't help but feel like they really just tried to play it safe. The fact is, it's not all that different from the previous design. I had to take some points off for that. Perhaps most vexing is that Tom made such a big deal about resizing all the icons for the thousands and thousands of flash movies on the site, and yet they haven't even been implemented. I kind of took that as a big middle finger to the doodoo hole. I expect we'll see a front page post about that from him soon with a big "LOL" as the headline. Then there'd be like... I dunno, a troll face, or whatever the shit you kids are into these days. Troll faces, right? Yeah. Anyway, well played, Tom. Ya got us. That was one mother of a practical joke.
NAVIGATION: X X _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 2/10
I hate to say it, but I think it's actually worse than it was before. Ya really dropped the ball here, guys. I swear, it took me a good 15 minutes just to find the home page. When I finally gave up, I went to try and watch some of my own cartoons (since they're the only things worth watching on this damn site) and I couldn't even navigate to my own userpage! What the hell?! I'll grant that part of it was my fault, since the batteries in my wireless mouse died, and I was really just staring at the Firefox startup screen until I changed the batteries, but I'm not taking all the heat for this. At some point, you guys need to start taking some responsibility for my actions. When I finally figured out how to get to your damn site, I tried searching for something in the search bar, and I didn't find what I was looking for. But oh, I'm sure it's MY fault that I never clicked the "search" button or tapped Enter. Real mature, guys. Grow up.
PORN: X X X X X X X _ _ _ 7/10
Not bad, team. Not bad at all. There's some quality stuff here, and PLENTY of jizz dried up on my carpet. I haven't yet located the scene of MindChamber and Stamper going at it, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and point my finger at your broken search feature. Like any red-blooded, American man I can't get off unless I've watching a sprite movie about a battle between Sonic and Shadow. (We all try to climax RIGHT when he transforms into Super Sonic, but has anyone ever timed that successfully?) The Madness Combat knock-offs are okay too, if you're into that kind of thing (I sooo am). Really, the only reason you lost points here is because of the Audio Portal. I searched the entire Audio Portal. Not one set of boobs.
NEW FEATURES: X X X X X X X X X X 10/10
I can't express it enough. They're all great. You've made good on every promise in this department. From the first new one, to the last new one, I love it. Could I pick a favorite? Probably not without pulling a muscle. I would have an easier time picking which of my children I love more (the hot one, obviously). I'll admit I was worried that when I came to the site post-redesign it was going to be exactly the same, with nothing new added at all. Thank GOODNESS that didn't happen. The changes are gonna bring in TONS of new, untalented hacks to the site, and they're gonna just be clickin' those ads of the scantily clad RPG babes like crazy. If it's not too early to ask, can I get a ride in the private Newgrounds Jet when you buy it? Thanks, T.
OVERALL: X X X X X X X X X X 10/10
Surprised by the score? Don't be. Here's where you went right: This redesign is identical to the old layout, and we here on Newgrounds are TERRIFIED OF CHANGE!!! Why, the slightest tweek is enough to throw us into an uproar. Remember when you added the super-awesome widescreen layout to the flash movie screen so they could be viewed at larger sizes and adapt to changing monitor technology? HATED IT. And when you chose to make all the movies auto-play so more people would view our videos? LOATHED IT. And when you added the Featured-Game at the top of the homepage above the flash movies to showcase some great new game that newcomers to the site might get hooked by? HOW FUCKING DARE YOU. Every one of these changes popped the ass-pimples of almost everyone on the site, and yet you went through with it anyway. And we were supposed to do what? ADAPT? Well we did, but we were NOT happy about it for at least a day or two. What are you taking notes from Facebook or something? Obviously not, since unlike Facebook, all your changes actually do make the site better, BUT THAT DOES NOT GIVE YOU AN EXCUSE. I am so mad just thinking about the word change, that I'm going to finish typing this and go to bed because it's 4 AM and I have work in the morning, and there is no reason I should even be typing it, since it will likely be viewed by around 40 people.
THANKS FOR THE REDESIGN YOU SAID WOULD BE DONE BY LAST PICO-DAY! It looks great. JUST DON'T CHANGE A THING.
At long last, Villainy has come to fruition. December 2007. That's when my friend Jeff and I came up with it. It's been in development for almost 4 years already. Though I just started the first episode this past July, it sure feels like I've been working on it a lot longer.
Really proud of the series as a whole, even though I only have one episode animated. We've written the entirety of what we're calling the first season of the show. There's a 7 episode story arc planned, and I can't wait to get to the later episodes. (Especially episode 4. I'm so hard for episode 4.)
There's a whole website devoted to Villainy up and running here. Learn all about the characters (almost all of whom don't appear in the first episode), and the history of the show.
I really feel like there's more I wanted to say here.... huh... guess I'll let you know if I think of it.