There was a point in time where I was drawing Grey on a daily basis because I felt like of all my characters he was the one I should really have known how to crank out without hesitation (well, aside from Jacquo anyway). I don’t really have a reason for not going back to Grey other than the fact he was a rather lifeless character, but that’s all my fault. Really though, a lot of it was just sort of chance. The only GFGames after la tragedie was How to Hook Up the NES, and that’s all Jacquo’s show. Grey was never supposed to show up in that short. Then Read Only Memory happened, and I moved onto that project instead. The fact is though, that I’ve been kicking around an idea for a GFGames #6 for ages now. Hell, I actually just rewrote a two year old draft of it a few weeks ago. Will I ever get around to making that short? God only knows. If I ever do get to make it though, it’ll be the best short Grey has ever been apart of. It’ll be the short that he probably deserved all along.
For tonight’s Weekly Sketch I decided to just belt out this rather upset version of Grey. He is kind of angry that he’s been kicked to the side, you know? I was going to have him smoking, but Grey wouldn’t smoke, so I gave him a lollipop instead. Decided not to spend much time with this tonight because I need to move onto some Read Only Memory work for once. Yeah, remember those?
An old friend of mine from way back, Tim Erwin, started his own podcast recently called Capes & Scowls which is usually a comic centric podcast (along with other geeky topics). I had the pleasure of being asked to do an interview for the show which actually turned out to be way more than the normal interview I’ve done before. Tim dives into more than just the recent shorts, as we go into my college and art background, conversations about old Jacquo shorts from my high school days, the Zoinks, the name Shamoozal, some of our Nerdlog articles, and loads of other stuff. So if you enjoy listening to me ramble on and on and sometimes not make a good point, then you’ll love the latest episode of Capes & Scowls. It’s an hour and ten minutes of nothing but Shamoozal… and of course a touch of Lost, Nintendo, and Ghostbusters.
Like most of our older stuff, I’m not exactly pleased with how this short has aged. I still think it has some decent enough gags (more so than Candy Corns at least) but it does lack direction. It just kind of happens and then that’s it. I won’t lie, originally it was planned that Grey would make it to work and be completely bombarded with customers, but I saw how much time I had to work on it and knew that wasn’t going to happen. From there I just decided that maybe it would be best if Grey didn’t make it to work. After releasing it, I had the intention of making a “Black Friday Blues: Part 2″ where we would see Grey at work, but well, you know how it goes. Anyway, happy shopping tomorrow you suckers.
Been wanting to get this short up into the new episodes page for quite a while but finally had the chance to do it today. At least I managed to do it right before Halloween officially ended!
Anyway, I feel like I’ve talked about Candy Corns at length by this point. For this release I scaled up the old standard def version to a full 720p HD version. I kind of wish I was smart enough to do that with my renders of Ninja and Crapfest Force. Anyway, the fact is, Candy Corns is not very good, but it’s where we started from so I feel like I need to include it. Five years later has really shown its age, and like any artist (or, any artist not in love with themselves) I basically hate Candy Corns by this point in my life. It also reminds me of how much I’ve come to dislike Grey somewhat recently. He is in dire need of a serious overhaul as a character.
Well I have no idea how I’m possibly going to get ROM#6 (tentatively titled Howard & Nester & Metroid) finished by the 25th. The 25th of the month is always the “due” date I give myself for the ROM shorts. I’m usually a day or two early or late, but it’s generally around the 25th of the month when I wrap one up. That said, yeah, no idea how I’m going to pull this thing together in less than 10 days. I have the whole short written and basically finished boarding, but that’s about it. It isn’t an animation heavy short, so once I can finally get some time in to work on it I think it’ll probably go rather smoothly. That’s the issue though, I simply don’t have time. It’s getting to the point where I think I’m just going to have to figure out a way to work while I’m holding one of the babies. I’m seriously thinking about just throwing one of them into the Baby Bjorn while I try and get the short done.
Since work on the short has essentially come to a hault, I’ve been trying to fill in my downtime with other site related stuff. I’ve tinkered with trying to properly optimize the site for SEO and all that jazz in the past, but this week I really managed to get in there and do a lot of stuff with the back end of the site. You may have noticed some minor changes around here such as link colors changing, the new menu navigation, and such. Considering I don’t know much in the way of CSS and HTML, it’s been lots of trial and error for me. Something that would take a CSS pro only a few minutes usually takes me hours. I’ve also been reading some books about this sort of stuff on my wife’s Kindle (which is awesome BTW). I know this is boring stuff that does nothing to entertain you guys, but I’m just letting you know that even when it seems like I’m not working I actually probably am working.
We haven’t had a Shamoozal Radio in ages huh? We’ll have to arrange something and get the gang back together. It’s been what, like 4 months? That’s way too long for there not to be a new episode of SRP. It might be our longest hiatus ever! I was actually close to just recording a one man SRP the other night just to have something to put up there but I decided against it.
Also, it’s getting to the time of year where I’d normally start trying to figure things out for our NES Holiday Marathon. Well, we’re not having one this year, I’ve already decided that a while ago. I simply can’t do it. That said, I still want to do some sort of charity work for the holidays, and I actually do have a plan I’m kicking around. I probably won’t go through with it though if certain pieces don’t fall into place however, so you’ll only hear about it again if it’s actually happening.
Oh and I’ve completely given up on the idea of having Frankensteiner 4 finished by Halloween. It’s just not going to happen. I thought I’d have time in between ROM shorts to get it finished, but considering I don’t even have time to do ROM, well there is just no way to do the short I want to make. In all likely hood, I won’t be able to start this project until January of February of 2011. I really want to make this short and I still feel good about the idea behind it all this time later. I’ve basically had this short planned since April, so I really want to get started on it. Maybe after that point we can revisit Grey and Jacquo… eh… maybe. We can at least revisit Jacquo anyway.
Considering our core focus of this website are the videos we produce, our video section sure is a hassle to get through. I decided that I’m going to just abandon the idea of hosting our videos in their raw swf format and just upload all of our stuff to Youtube and host it there. YouTube’s compression has come a long way since we started making these shorts and they look pretty nice running through it (though ironically, I’m not too happy with how this Ninja upload looks. I’ll have to continue to play). Once I get all the videos up there, I’m going to begin the task of rebuilding our video section yet again. Not really looking forward to it, but it has to get done.
The first of the old cartoons getting the new render/Youtube upload treatment is ‘Ninja’. I can’t believe it’s been nearly four years since we made this short (three and a half to be exact). I loaded the newly rendered video on my PS3 and gave it the first watch through in a really long time. It’s weird looking back on it. I forget the long hours I put into it, and instead I just focus on everything I don’t like about it. I found myself thinking “I wish I could change this. I should have done that.” and for a moment I thought about pulling a George Lucas and “fixing” everything in it. To cover up the things you consider mistakes though, that isn’t how you really learn anything.
The one thing that stands out to me is the color. Yuck. The reds are over saturated and whenever one of the ninjas are over the red they bleed badly. The colors looked okay on my old monitor, but on my current setup and my TV, they just don’t work right. It’s pretty harsh on the eyes in that sense. Other than that, I’m still pretty happy with the fight. The ending though, that’s something I wish I could trim down. It needs editing, lots of editing.
Onion skin look at one of the scenes with storyboard behind it, roughs in the middle, and final animation on top. Tough to look at huh?
The original idea for Ninja was spawned from the reception I saw over on Newgrounds for fight scenes. I was new to the NG scene and saw that if people made a fight scene, even if it wasn’t a very good one, they loved it. I thought maybe I’ll make a fight scene, people would enjoy watching that, and then I’ll pull the rug out from under them with the ending just to throw them off. The reactions to that were mixed, which is something I honestly expected. People don’t like to be fooled. Even though it’s only a two minute fight, people must have gotten invested in it, they wanted to see a clear winner. When the big reveal is that it was just Jacquo and Grey goofing around, they feel cheated. That was kind of the point of that ending.
The other thing this episode needed to do was introduce the character of Plum. Originally Ninja Grey was going to throw an object which would then turn into a pillow and we’d go into the “real” world. This pillow was going to just so happen to hit Plum, who was apparently in a bath towel causing her towel to fly off and make for a really awkward situation between her and Grey… you know, with them being cousins and all (and Jacquo just loving it). Then I thought that was a pretty crappy way to introduce a character. Nothing like introducing a female character and she’s automatically naked. Instead I just decided to have Plum bitch them out (which, when thinking about it, is kind of an equally shitty way to establish a female character, even if she was rightfully ticked off). Unfortunately, that conversation goes on for too long, and there isn’t enough action. Grey and Jacquo are just laying on top of each other during this whole conversation.
I’ll admit, it’s a lazy ending. I put so much into doing the rest of the short that I thought I could get away with this whole conversation without much animation. It doesn’t work. If I were to edit that entire ending today it would be much shorter. I’d end the fight the exact same way, I’d have Plum say a similar line about what are they doing in her room, and I would have them go right into the whole “Ninja Vanish” thing. Forget all the rest of the bullshit, just end it. I think it would have been a bit funnier had it just ended quickly like that. But I felt the need to give Plum some screen time, and at the same time, wanted to throw some in-jokes in like how people pronounce Jacquo’s name wrong, and mistaken him for a dog. They’re kind of entertaining lines, but I think they hurt the whole experience.
Jacquo’s Ninja was originally going to be the same size as Jacquo, just as Grey’s Ninja is equal in height. I decided I wanted him to be more threatening in the end.
While I’m coming down pretty hard on it, I still like certain aspects. I really like Joe’s music for the fight. I remember watching the fight the first time with that music and feeling like we made something really cool. To have someone write music to a scene you created, and not just throwing a track of music over a fight, or animating to particular music, it gives it a sort of “complete” feel. It suddenly feels “right.” I hadn’t had that same feeling until “How to Hook Up the NES” close to a year ago where Joe wrote music for that short too. I also still like the designs of the two ninja characters. The Grey Ninja doesn’t have feet. My original idea is that he would be so nimble that he’d never touch the ground. Of course, he touches the ground the moment you see him. Still, I sort of still like his look. The Jacquo Ninja I modeled really close to Jacquo. He even has a pony tail in place of his ears. His eyes, if I can recall correctly, are Jacquo’s exact same eyes as his old design. Frank storyboarded the fight, and I like what he came up with there. Coming up with a somewhat involving fight scene with lots of moving action is hard work, I probably wouldn’t have been able to come up with something like that at the time.
Ninja and How to Hook Up the NES are barely related, but I like to think of them as the two high points of our work here. They’re the two shorts we obviously put the most time into and they’re also arguably our two most popular shorts as a result. I’m not sure if that is because of the work that went into them or if they were just decent ideas, I’ll never really know for sure. The internet works in mysterious ways.