The short answer is I’m a bit intimidated by blogging. It feels like writing a note on receipt paper and once I’m done it’s ripped off and handed to somebody else. I never seem to have enough to update with or there’s too much going on to know where to start. It doesn’t help that I have a habit of making mega-posts that require lots of research and links.
It’s no surprise the guy with ADHD has trouble making and sticking to a schedule. Consider the New Years resolution to get in shape and how many fail to follow through because magically on the 1st they’re supposed to be an entirely different person. We can’t just tell ourselves “I need to get in shape.” We need to block out the time, say no to the rest of the world for a while, and physically start moving. Most of us, if we miss days, we feel like we’re never going to crawl out from under the disappointment. I learned with webcomics not to see updates as pages that have to be accounted for eventually, otherwise the backlog will brew resentment.
Another issue probably linked to my neurodivergence is perfectionism. I keep giving myself unrealistic expectations and then get frustrated when I don’t meet my own arbitrary standards. Didn’t make a post on Monday? Obviously I’ve failed for the week. Got an idea to write about? Must be branched out into a multi-part series. Gotta maximize effectiveness! Can’t let one slip by without burdening it with the Ghost of Blog Posts Yet to Come.
The biggest news I have to report is Solange and I got married! ❤️ :3
She always told everybody she’d elope but we decided to have a small ceremony here with her immediate family. The plan was to keep it quiet online, get my family to join us for a stateside celebration in Vegas months later on April 1st, then announce on April Fools Day and see who couldn’t tell if we were serious or not. (Never let it be said my wife can’t commit to a bit) She kept her maiden name, though she’s still angling for us to both change to the amalgam Thomp’olson. I love that woman :V
I’ve come to recognize the value in a personal website lately as, well, it seems like the rest of the internet is on fire these days. Some time ago I wrote of the various places I was considering to post stuff. These sites and services have regular daily users so sharing content on them should be a no-brainer, right? Except all these aggregators have their own agendas and responsibilities. To some extent we’ve all accepted giving up some level of privacy for the sake of using these sites. We don’t like it but we shrug it off, like clicking Agree to the new Terms of Service when software needs updating. We try not to think about it too much until it directly impacts us. I’m not going to call people lazy or enabling because I do it, too. We all just want to get through our day without having to deal with making sure the stuff around us functions properly. Problem is, the desire for that ease of use results in forgiving and overlooking pretty egregious behavior. For example: Meta artificially limits your reach unless you pay to boost content.
This is compacted by advertising. These monolithic corporations couldn’t care less about what individual users need. Their guiding light is what advertisers want. Never mind that online advertising revenue is perpetually in decline. Running an ad-blocker isn’t simply about being selfish. Ads are not only annoying and intrusive, they can also leave you open to malware. If you’ve never gone to a page and tried to figure out which download button is real you’ve never really experienced internet advertising. (Also, don’t use AdBlock Plus: they sell ads) And before anybody gets a feeling of self-importance, saying we need to band together and solve this through competition, here’s a video from Folding Ideas discussing VidMe:
Alt-tech has existed for a while but it’s usually been for exiles of the mainstream platforms. Then Elon Musk bought Twitter I mean X. Now people are jumping off to alternatives at a rate I haven’t seen since back in the aughts when popular forums imploded. And just as I started actually using Reddit they decided to kill 3rd party apps. Will any of them be the next Twitter? Honestly, I don’t want another one. You have to track down your friends, see where they all landed, then the site either dies because nobody uses it or everybody uses it and suddenly another monolith becomes Too Big to Fail. I simply don’t have the time or the energy to invest in the game of Which Billionaire Comes Out On Top. I’ll make profiles to follow, I guess, but I’m going to refocus my attention. I’d like to rekindle some of what we lost with the death of Flash. Check out this video by Lord Ravenscraft about Homestar Runner:
April and May 2022 have been busy months. I didn’t want to share too much online for various reasons, (primarily because I’m bad at keeping people updated and see time as one continuous strip) but I try to use the calendar to maintain some sort of civilized cycle. As I’ve finally begun unpacking and putting my new office space together it seems like a good time to spill the beans.
My girlfriend and I had been planning on moving in together for some time but
circumstances delayed that. Once we had actual dates to schedule for we looked at renting a van. We expected heavy winds in a few states and neither of us felt comfortable driving a full moving truck. Turns out nobody wants to rent a van in one country and have it returned in another. So Solange rented one in Canada, I flew into a town on my side of the border, and from there we started the first leg of our cross-country road trip.
Some couples don’t travel well. The day after my girlfriend and I first met in person, we drove 8 hours so I could participate in Quickdraw Animation Society’s Annual Animation Lockdown. Like making any excursion, before I left I had appointments to make and logistics to work out. After x-rays my dentist told me I had an abscess and recommended a specialist for the required root canal. He put a rush order in for the new crown and I checked that from the list. I also booked a vet visit for my cat Hope so she could get up to date on her vaccinations along with any documentation needed.
If you’ve never driven across time zones before, going East feels like you’re losing time. I mean you are, considering it’s already an hour later across each one than where you’re starting from, but fold that into traveling and you’re always playing catchup. Everybody hates Daylight Savings Time and it was a factor. The van clock was set to Saskatchewan time, my phone took a bit to update the changes, and my girlfriend had her phone set to Airplane Mode accepting wifi to avoid roaming fees. (In Canada my US provider charges $5 extra every 24 hours it connects. Hers is more than twice that in the states.) The night I flew in there was a blizzard warning the coming weekend so we tried to get out of town early. Weather caught up to us a few days with thunderstorms but we made it back to Ohio before Hope’s appointment.
The following days are a blur of packing and loading. We boxed my computers and such at Idea Works, the co-working office I’d been using. The van gave us more room than other options but space was still at a premium. I grabbed things from the basement home studio and my parents helped us empty out my bedroom. One final group visit with my therapist and we started our return trip in earnest.
Driving to Canada
We’d noticed on the way that most of the places we stayed at were part of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts with reasonable pet fees so I joined their membership program. This was supposed to cover both cats and dogs though one location told us they didn’t allow cats. We called the number to reserve our stay for the next night and the person in the call center said there was a similar alert for the planned stop. They offered to help us find an alternative, put us on hold, and the call dropped. We called back, got a different representative, and asked them to actually contact the hotel to check their policy. We got mistakenly quoted a $250 fee they corrected to $25, and later the front desk of the hotel called to confirm cats were welcome. Phew.
Even though we were heading West this time we still had a crunch to drive far enough each day so we didn’t take in much vacationing. In fact we decided to add a day, figuring the $90 CAN it would cost to extend the van rental completely worth it. Turns out we’d already rented for a day longer than we thought we had. We still managed to visit a few spots along the way. Solange was writing a piece for her work newsletter, reviewing the bathrooms as she peed in as many states as possible. She took us to Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana where her dad went, (though it went by a different name then) and several M*A*S*H-related locations like Jamie Farr Park in Toldeo, Ohio and Radar O’Reilly’s Ottumwa, Iowa.
Crossing the border was a fairly uneventful event, all things considered. The officials were very friendly and helpful. We were stressed out and tired by that point. Once the paperwork was done, however, it was cause for celebration. We had dinner, drove home, introduced Hope to Solange’s cats with the expected hissing, slept until it was time for unloading and returning the van, got the final tally of ~4,000 miles driven, then went back to bed to finally get some rest.
That’s about when the basement flooded.
Apparently a manhole had issues and ground water got into several houses. We woke up to 4 inches in the basement and our neighbors outside talking with a plumber. Fortunately all my computer equipment was upstairs. My instruments and guitar amp were all propped off the ground. Solange and our roommate had put most of their belongings stored down there in plastic bins, which you really begin to appreciate when you see litter boxes floating by.
A drawer with some of my comic originals leaked. My girlfriend very generously ironed and stacked them with paper towels while they dried. I was mostly in shock until I put them away to come back to at a later date. Honestly, it could have been a lot worse than it was. A few suitcases with laundry got wet, which was perfect timing as the dryer quit working. :V
We ran a shop vac, hung things up to dry, relocated fans, put in a dehumidifier, collected and tossed loads of crap in the dumpster. Much like the road trip had been, it was a shared bonding experience we were all thankful to see the other side of together.
Revenge of Taco Tuesday
Right as we were wrapping up our work on the basement I got hit hard by a foodborne illness. I’ll spare you the details, other than I proved to be the canary in the coal mine as it spread to everybody in the house over a few days. I also had the worst case due to dehydration.
Those have been some of the highlights over the last two months. Lots of changes, lots of getting used to new environments, lots of planning for the future. I plan to make smaller posts after this one. This started out simple and morphed into something almost too big to handle, sort of like the trip itself. I’ve been writing and editing this one for a while. I do need to start posting more again. I think the last few years have hit us all pretty hard in different ways we’re only now coming out from under. I need to find my work groove again. This is gonna be where I post about it. I hope you look forward to following along.
This year is the first since 2017 I haven’t been able to participate in the QAS Animation Lockdown myself. But! There’s good reason for that:
I’ve been moving to Canada.
Cat’s outta the bag. I’ll have more on this in a future dedicated post but right now I’d like to encourage everybody to come to the QAS screening if they can make it. Support wonderful artists in the community and get to see some sweet animated films! 😀
Camp Sled Island is a three-day event taking place at Beltline’s High Park (340 10 Ave SW), running August 19 – 21! Throughout the year, we’ve been collecting video content from local and international artists, and now we are very excited to finally share them on the big screen. With three unique nights of programming, you can expect pre-recorded performances, film screenings, special guest video appearances, food from Via Convenience, beer service courtesy of Eighty-Eight Brewing, and even live music (if restrictions allow). See the schedule for each night below.
Still considering the safety of our patrons amongst the recent public health changes in Alberta, seating will be arranged by tables of four and can be purchased for $60 each. One person will be asked to purchase a ticket on behalf of their group, and will need to provide general information for contact tracing purposes. The purchaser will receive four individual tickets that can be dispersed amongst their group. See below for current COVID protocols.
Please note there will no tickets available at the door. All tickets must be purchased in advance.
DOORS: 6:00pm LIVE MUSIC PRE-SHOW: 7:30pm PROJECTION TO FOLLOW
If you experience a technical difficulty while trying to purchase advance tickets, please contact our ticket provider, Showpass, at 1-844-307-SHOW.
Check their page for info on each date and to buy tickets. Each day they’ll be screening highlights from Quickdraw Animation Society’s 2021 Animation Lockdown. My film, áaka’paisiiwa, “Time Will Pass” is one of them 😀
Hope you’re all staying safe and taking care of yourselves. There’s a lot going on in the world right now. I’ve been trying to scale things back, myself. After one too many arguments on Facebook I decided I was done there for the month. Honestly so much of social media is doomscrolling, trying to find something to feel positive about, then seeing somebody else’s bad take on a situation. People seem so confrontational these days. It’s not enough to disagree, they want to destroy the other person and immediately celebrate their superiority. There’s so much toxicity online. It’s like there’s different realities depending on your world view. Misinformation perpetuates long after it has been debunked because the true believers don’t really care about facts, they only want to control the narrative. Or they’re simply contrarian trolls who don’t believe anything, they just want to stir the pot and wear you down. It’s an unhealthy environment and makes me think we need to turn back a few steps in communication. Remember when the web was fun to be on?
I’ve gone back to focusing on my daily routine. Dialing back my goals to one thing at a time, seeing if I can make headway with that. Intentionally drawing back from the world a bit and focusing my energy on projects. It’s been hard to get lost in my work for a while. I’m hoping to change that.
Every year I participate in the Quickdraw Animation Society’sAnimation Lockdown. This annual event is usually held over Victoria Day weekend in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 2020 was the first time it had to be held remotely with video chat replacing the normal shoulder to shoulder work environment. I still managed to end up pulling my regular all-nighter to see things over the finish line. This year we saw about 21 films submitted that didn’t exist before.
Members enter the Lockdown for various reasons. I joined QAS specifically for the opportunity. Once you finish school it can be difficult to complete projects, especially on your own time and on your own dime. Seeing a bunch of other artists all excited about animation, working towards the same goal of completing their films on time, while simultaneously creating very different pieces of art, is such an energizing experience. I really needed it when I first participated in 2016. There was a project I wanted to make but my recently-diagnosed ADHD was getting in the way of putting it together. So I brought it to QAS and, with the encouragement of others and looming threat of a deadline, I made Bottled Spirits, my first complete film. Was it perfect? No. Was it everything I wanted it to be? Again, no. But I got it in on time, realized how my own process works in a compressed timeframe, and came away feeling energized to deliver bigger and better on my next projects.
I made some good friends, relaxed away from home, and enjoyed browsing QAS’s library during my downtime. In the following years I’ve used Lockdown as an opportunity to meet up with my girlfriend, take a fun road trip together, and both of us would get away from our everyday lives for a bit. Every year is a little bit different and the challenges (both external and internal) change, but every year I seem to remind myself I can deliver. It’s very reassuring to realize you do actually know what you’re doing. You may be exhausted at the end and your finished film may look nothing like what you thought it was going to be in the beginning, but that’s ok.
Each year Lockdown focuses around a theme to give contestants an idea to work around and to make sure nobody pulls a finished film out of their pocket. This year that theme was “spectrums”
It’s 2021, the world is no longer defined by opposites. Nuances and the beauty in the subtle variations is what makes living so worthwhile. So put your eye to the pyramid and gaze upon the SPECTRUM!
Working within dichotomies is too simplified. We get it; keyframe 1 and keyframe 2 are great, but in-betweens move us with the grace of (say it with me) ease-in and ease-out. There is so much life and story to be had between A and B, Life and Death, Black and White, Happy and Sad, Up and Down, Left and Right. To follow one direction completely is to arrive blind (said someone, sometime?)! So, bask in the in-between, show the journey, or break down the subtlety in the whip pan!
QAS Animation Lockdown 2021 Theme
During the premier screening awards and prizes are handed out. As production has had to adapt to current situations, so has the theme, which has expanded to include key requirements to insert into the shorts. The key expanded this year to match other film competitions going on in other locations. This all pushed the announcement of the official screening further out than usual.
AUDIENCE CHOICE HONOURABLE MENTION: 3rd top-scoring film
DAVE RATZLAFF BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM AWARD (SPONSORED BY CAOS): $100 cash prize, selected by a jury of experienced animators and curators.
JURY SPECIAL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING FILM
JURY SPECIAL MENTION
JURY BEST USE OF TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS AWARD
To attend this screening, you’ll need to register in advance to get your link to the online event. The link and additional login info will be sent out once you’ve registered for the event through Showpass. Registration is free for Quickdraw members and a suggested donation of $5 for non-members.
As a bonus, here’s another daily challenge image, a screencap of my entry out of context:
Lessons Learned from Lockdown
1. Step back, find some quiet, and re-center
I was in a production funk right before Lockdown started. Honestly I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The global situation for the last year+ has been very stressing, partly from all the unknown and partly from dealing with other people through everything. (Leave it to humans to take an already frustrating situation and make it worse) At the moment I’m not engaging with FB. There’s so much negativity there with people jumping to conclusions, airing grievances, not to mention the bad actors simply looking to stir up trouble.
So many different things had been pulling at me from various directions: Career, finances, living situation, plans for the future, constant changes, second-hand hostility — all ruining my ability to sleep, concentrate, or get anything done. At one point I got frustrated with the concept I was working on and gave myself most of the day to try starting over. Nothing new was coming to me so I stepped away, sealed myself into the podcast studio in the office, and let my mind quiet.
2. Stop thinking about what you can’t do. Figure out what you can
Once I accepted new ideas weren’t coming in time I focused on what options were available. I’d spent a good bit of time on a thumbnail storyboard. So I took that and enlarged it to full screen-sized panels. Once those were done I worked out the rough timing for each sequence. The next day I came in and cleaned up what I’d already drawn. I added details to background and repeating elements. I wrote out placeholder credits and a title card. I started animating.
3. Trust in your abilities and what you know
I’m not the best animator. Fortunately I don’t have to be. I only have to be me. Other people are going to see my short, yes, and I am competing for prizes. But here in my studio I’m responsible for me. You never know how any of the other films you’re going to screen with will do. Maybe they’re all masterpieces. Maybe they’re all train wrecks. It doesn’t really matter because the project you’re working on is the only one you can control. Your job is to complete something that you’re proud of. The more you do competently the more you try to do.
Years past I would animate in rough colored sketches before cleaning up my line art on another layer. This year, in an attempt to speed up, I stuck to animating in black. Tweening was handy for stylized and monotonous motion. There were a few cycles I had to check reference for then adjusted to fit the scenes. I often fix stuff blind, moving frames around, adding drawings, trusting my sense of what’s happening before I press play to see how it looks. Of course I try to keep this to limited areas at a time, making sure a sequence works before moving onto something else that could confuse me.
4. When it works, animating feels like what I was put on this earth to do
This universe has been around a long time. Our planet is considerably older than humanity. Even considering that, generations of artists have lived and died wishing they could see their creations move. When motion pictures were finally developed and animation started getting made it was time/labor intensive. Animators of the Golden Age had to contend with expensive and complicated equipment. Cartoons took small armies of people to make and were only possible if they could turn a profit. Filter down through the decades with digital advancements. I know I’m very fortunate to be living in a time and place where I can make my work happen. When I’m working on a film of my own design, making it how I want to make it, even though it can be an incredible amount of effort to achieve all the steps, it’s so very fulfilling.
I was animating one character whose motion didn’t originally have much to do with the scene. As I added drawings I stumbled on a pose that unlocked their state of mind for me. Suddenly I understood their motivation and their movement reflected that. I had an idea for an action they could do that felt a little over the top but I went for it. Next thing I knew I was nearing the end of their frames. I started to feel sad I wasn’t going to be drawing this little character any more. I’d just started to get to know them and our time together was already up. I’m not sure if viewers will pick up on the personality I put into them for the duration they’re on screen. For me it’s an experience I’m going to think back fondly over.
As I’m writing this I’m taking today to organize my thoughts. This time last year there was a Twitter thread making the rounds about Internal Monologues. Similar to the one on astigmatism, many people were surprised to find where they sit on a subject they didn’t even realize existed. For those unfamiliar, an internal monologue is when your thoughts form clear sentences, as though you’re narrating your life in real time.
“Doesn’t everybody have that?” No, actually. Some folks don’t. This doesn’t mean they don’t think about things, rather they don’t interpret those thoughts as words until they need to communicate them to someone else. Likewise some visualize thoughts more clearly than others. Aphantasia as it’s called is the inability to form mental pictures.
I remember growing up I’d imagine stories out loud as it was easier to funnel those thoughts the way we share them with others. Eventually I got self-conscious about talking to myself, worried others would hear me and what they’d think. Internalizing took practice and felt like more work. There is a mental and emotional energy to it that’s very real. If you’ve ever sat in a class or office waiting down the clock until you don’t have to be alert anymore then you know what I’m saying. Just as we need to build up our abilities to think and process active thoughts, so too we need time to decompress.
Visualization is another mental skill I need to practice. It may come as a surprise to some that, though I decided to be an artist, I don’t tend to think in pictures. I also don’t doodle or draw as much as others or even as much as I’d like to. Like any form of exercise the problem comes down to the path of least resistance. Is it easier to do something you know is good for you but requires effort or is it easier to put off? Doodling is a constructive and experimental process. Usually I stress to know what I need to draw and then find under what conditions I need to draw it. Is it a single illustration? A comic? Show me some reference so I know I’m not making stuff up.
This is a long way of explaining I spend a lot of time in my own head and a lot of time aware with my mind switched “on” which can be problematic. It becomes an issue when I start dwelling on things due to stress. With nothing productive to focus on I whittle away at my assuredness, second and third guessing my decisions, craving validation when I’m the only one in the proper place to give it. We’re all stressed out these days. We all have expectations for ourselves, for others, and from others to deal with. Even people I enjoy being around can become a drain mentally and emotionally given enough time. For a while now life has been extremely out of the ordinary for all of us. There’s always talk of the “new normal,” how as humans we have to adapt to our situations to survive, how we settle into routine to keep going on.
2020 was an exhausting and frustrating year. 2021, though still being complicated, also shows signs of light at the end of the tunnel. We need to be able to empathize with each other as we never really know what all our neighbors put up with. At the same time we need to reinforce boundaries and expectations for our own lives. As the quote from Moïra Fowley-Doyle goes: Do no harm, but take no shit.
I don’t really feel the need to recap much. Most people reading this were there and can share their own harrowing tales. It’s only January. Every new year still has some traces of the last lingering on until it comes into its own. I feel 2021 is going to be full of surprises. Here’s hoping they’re pleasant ones and not, you know, the kind we got last year.
Let’s Talk Goals
I want to draw and animate more, sharing it online for you kind folks to enjoy. What I make and where exactly I share it, however, is still being determined. I’ve spent the last few years dealing with analysis paralysis. When I made webcomics I struggled with building an audience. I’d focus all my energy on making the comics and spend almost nothing on promoting them. Not saying this was intentional, as I fell down the rabbit hole of researching everything I was bad at, feeling like I could come out swinging if only I knew how to properly go about putting my work out there.
Obviously I’ve considered posting on my YouTube channel. The problem is the all-mighty algorithm. Animators used to do well on there until the Reply Girl saga of 2012. Monetization went from favoring views to watch time. This effectively killed short format content on the site as animators moved on to producing Let’s Plays and vlogs. Storytime videos eventually brought animation back with creators like TheOdd1sOut, Jaiden Animations, and sWooZie. Arguably these types of films are more animatic than full animations, though to me that’s akin to complaining about the limited animation in Hanna-Barbera cartoons. It’s a cost-saving choice that facilitates the limitations of the medium while still allowing for new original material.
As far as individual creators go, there are a few like Felix Colgrave or Jae55555, drawing the toons they want, making it work with a blend of Patreon and/or commissions. Basically for anything I post to be successful would require either a large existing audience or big frequent updates with enough time to grow a following.
YouTube Shorts is essentially their answer to TikTok with vertical clips up to 60 seconds. This is problematic to me because it corrals videos into a beta feature nobody’s looking for, it’s a copycat move when they have a legit history with short content to build on, and I expect most content creators are going to repost from other similar platforms until they know how long Shorts will be sticking around.
Not a lot of people talk about Vimeo these days. That’s because in 2017 they changed their business model from being a high-end alternative to YouTube to being a software provider for video makers. It’s a good example of knowing what you want to be and working towards that goal as opposed to people’s expectations. I’ve seen a number of folks recommend hosting demo reels on there saying it looks more professional, you don’t have to worry about ads, and if you need to replace/update a popular video it can keep the same URL. I recommend checking out the Plymptoons account from Bill Plympton. He has a wealth of behind the scenes and production blogs.
I’ve used my Instagram account for work in progress material and Inktober drawings. I’m going to be honest, I find the dimension options confusing and regularly check to see what they currently are. Lots of great artists there, though I’ve heard it can be difficult to stand out these days. Best advice I’ve seen is to find specific tags that are less crowded. (i.e. instead of #art maybe try #socalpainters) I remember back when Twitter decided to start using photos and quit showing previews from links in their feeds. :V
First hyped as an alternative to YouTube, IGTV is for videos from one to sixty minutes long. Originally they needed to be vertical but now they accept horizontal as well. It has a dedicated app though on the web you need to go to the Instagram profile of a specific creator to find their videos. A lot of artists I follow post speed paints. (an easy thing to do with the record feature in Procreate or Clip Studio Paint) Mythical use it to share bonus content with their followers. I considered doing shorts for it, though the vertical requirement at launch was a bit of a creative hurdle. It didn’t seem worth designing content I couldn’t fit anywhere else, in an usual aspect ratio. Also a lip sync test I posted got removed due to copyright a year after I shared it.
Another response to TikTok, Reels is for 15-30 second videos. Like IGTV you have to hunt to find them. Considering regular videos are up to a minute long it makes technical sense to highlight shorter ones, I suppose. Now they have options for 15-30, ≤60, and 60-3600 seconds. It just feels inorganic to me. Instagram is one app that rolled out these features as afterthoughts, much like their website. They’re intended to keep existing users onboard, not bring new ones in.
TikTok is an app for videos up to a minute in length that came to the US after merging with Musical.ly, a similar Chinese app popular for dance and lip sync acts. I’ve posted a few. A big part of the appeal is using popular songs, either clips they provide or ones you’ve made yourself. The audience skews young but older folks go where the young people are. There was fear it’d get banned after a prank during the election of reserving tickets for a Trump rally and not going, though that’s probably not happening.
I mainly have two issues with the platform:
The vertical aspect ratio. It impacts design choices and makes using elsewhere look cheap.
It’s really geared toward vlogging and sharing quick vids from your phone. Animators can make content but laboring over a project gets frustrating when others can bang out 10 clips at a time.
Remember Vine? The 6-second loop service? One of the original developers announced V2 after Twitter shut it down. Following a few years in beta it finally launched as Byte. Originally sticking to the 6-second formula they’ve expanded to 15 and now offer sounds to work with. I’ve posted once so far.
It’s a different community and different vibe from TikTok. They’re smaller, more interested in being experimental and creative, and I respect that. My question is whether my stuff could gain traction on there or not.
One of the original Flash portals, (who, like Homestar Runner, are now looking to Ruffle to keep their archives going) Newgrounds is a dedicated place for artists. If they like or hate your stuff, they’ll let you know. They’ve supported non-Flash videos for some time now. I’ve shared some of my QAS shorts but haven’t made anything specifically for the site yet. I’ve had some more mature ideas that might not fly on YouTube I may host there. My concern is would original content work better there as opposed to elsewhere.
Fiyah TV is a streaming site for online animators. Creators can sign up and publish their own shows in a variety of genres. I first heard of it when the developers posted on Newgrounds. It’s an admirable goal, though I wonder how many new eyes the site actually brings.
Dribbble is a popular site for designers that was invite-only for a long time. I personally know very little about it as I don’t really travel in design circles but it seems a useful place to display and promote projects.
Bēhance is a similar yet different site to Dribbble. I’ve seen a number of articles comparing which one’s better for which purpose. I figure I’ll spend some time checking out both until I get a better feel for how they work.
I’ve actually been working on this last option a bit, off and on. For a while now I’ve felt like the current web has gone stale. The article Why the ‘Weird Internet’ of the GeoCities Era Had to Die explains how things got standardized and uniform. Experimental sites break on different devices. If you’re a big serious corporation you want your site to work every time somebody visits and you expect it to look the same on every screen. It all makes logical sense. Of course, artists aren’t necessarily known for their logic.
Currently I’m playing around with Grav as a CMS and Wick Editor for animating the HTML5 canvas. It has the ease and the energy of making things in early Flash with modern web standards. The problem now is what do I build with it? An homage to Homestar Runner? Something akin to the Space Jam website? I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel as I’ll spend all my time trying to make it perfect and never actually launch.
So I guess I’m relaunching this blog as a chronicle of my steps forward in the animation business. Building up my portfolio, demo reel, and seeing where I land finding work and/or building an audience.
Something I’ve been dealing with behind the scenes for several months is a copyright bully. I debated posting about this but decided it’s important other people know the dangers involved. At the beginning of the year I wrote a blog about my plans for 2019. I found an image online that said it was Creative Commons, pasted the info in the WordPress field for credit, and thought that was the end of it.
Couple months later I get an email from a case management address of a site I’d never heard of alerting me to Unauthorized Use of Image. Apparently there was an error in crediting the image creator and this site was claiming I needed to pay a fee. I checked to see how much they were asking for:
I decided to speak to an attorney before responding. During that time I received a second, third, and fourth notice, saying registration with the US Copyright Office entitled their client to between $750-35,000 should they seek legal escalation. Time was running out for them to negotiate a lower price. After various referrals the lawyer I consulted with told me about what I figured – that I could expect to pay at least $750 for their services and I might still have to pay out in the end.
As an artist I understand the need for creators to get paid for their work. However, this type of intimidation goes against the spirit of Creative Commons. If I found somebody using one of my works without permission I’d contact them myself first. Maybe they aren’t even aware of the mistake. I wouldn’t sick some 3rd party on them. Out of options I responded to the case manager’s email. Was their client aware they were using version 2.0 of the Creative Commons license when the site was recommending 4.0? Perhaps it had something to do with this line,
In the 4.0 licenses, your rights under the license are automatically reinstated if you correct this failure within 30 days of discovering the violation (either on your own or because the licensor or someone else has told you). Under the 3.0 and earlier licenses, there is no automatic reinstatement.
Creative Commons FAQ
I asked what the least their client would accept to resolve the matter was. While I waited for them to get back to me I discovered said client’s account was blacklisted from submitting images to Wikimedia due to sending huge invoices for minor licensing errors. This resulted in a mass deletion of images from a large number of articles. In a discussion log they decided it was best to prevent potential re-users from dealing with charges should they use the images improperly. “It may not be illegal but it’s a scam and we need to protect our users from potentially falling prey to it.”
Case management said I could pay $250. At this point I was going on a trip to Canada for several weeks. My case was forwarded to a new manager who promptly warned me of legal escalation again. Sick of the whole thing I paid their fee and told them any further contact would be considered harassment and forwarded to my representatives.
I hope everybody had a good New Year, or at the least stayed out of trouble.
I’m back in the office organizing everything for the new year, new month, new week, etc. I try to avoid making resolutions. I’m sure most of us have fallen into that trap of thinking January 1st we’re going to be an entirely different person than we were on December 31st, only to beat ourselves over staying the same and concede defeat. Instead I prefer to set goals I want to achieve and figure out the steps I need to accomplish them. As somebody with ADHD it helps to have regular check-ins with myself to see how I’m doing, remind myself what my goals are, and occasionally realize I need to change direction. It’s very easy for me to get hyper focused on a particular task because I’m comfortable carrying it out or excited by what I find. Then I have to switch gears and do something else – something different, potentially new, or just something I’m unsure about doing properly – a thing most people don’t have trouble doing. Consider playing Super Mario Bros.:
Most of us are probably familiar with this game. You move Mario from one side of the screen to the other as the camera follows him, jumping across platforms, avoiding enemies and pitfalls, collecting coins and power-ups to help you along the way. You can see what’s coming and react accordingly. This is how most people perceive time and tasks for the day. They’re aware of their environment and can judge when they need to respond to things. Now consider Mario’s point of view:
He has a vague idea of what’s in store for him after his next jump. Probably some blocks, some pipes, and a few enemies to watch out for. It feels disorienting not being able to see things pulled out, especially if you’re used to playing this level in the traditional view. How do you judge when the goomba is in the same place you’re going to land? Are you at the right distance to jump that pipe? It requires a level of awareness about your abilities. You have to internalize how high you can jump and from how far away. This is closer to how I see time, tasks, and appointments. I can zoom out and write dates down, sort them by their various properties, but when I’m in the thick of my day I have trouble concentrating on jumping the flagpole at the end because I’m preoccupied with the ledge underneath me in the moment.
It’s not necessarily that I’m forgetful. You can know all the steps to a dance but do them in the wrong order and it’s not the Macarena. Often times I’ll be carrying around too much in my head. In school I would use the fact that I couldn’t recall something as a reminder. That works well in the short term, like if you always forget one word on this week’s vocabulary list, for example. The problem comes with maintaining it in long term memory. I can memorize dates long enough to answer them on a test but keeping them straight by the end of a semester is another story.
Rote memorization isn’t always the best indicator of learning something. Boring repetition makes information difficult for me to absorb. I can repeat things back without actually thinking through what they mean. Ever read assembly instructions without illustrations to visualize what they mean? On the other hand, if it feels like I’m engaged in the conversation with an instructor, I can pick up on everything without notes. (I did this in Art History where it felt like we were gossiping about the lives of artists through the ages.)
Plans for 2019
It’s what I love to do. So why don’t I do it more often? Mostly because I’m worried about spending too much time on the wrong projects. I try to make things perfect and spend months on something I should have shipped off and shared already. This year I want to focus on smaller projects and getting better at putting them out there.
I’ve dabbled in freelancing gigs but I get so apprehensive about finding new ones. I spend too much time trying to make new material to customize a demo reel to send out when I should really be building up relationships and getting what work I have ready in front of people. This year I need to be better at how I present myself.
3. Design More Cool Stuff!
I spend a lot of time looking over specs and requirements. What DPI does this file need to be at? What aspect ratios does this site want? There comes a point where you have to get out of the measuring phase and start to cut. This year I want to spend more time drawing, making things, and sharing them online to get feedback.
4. Get Out of My Own Head and Communicate!
This is the biggest hurdle for me. I’m terrified of seeming unprepared so I spend too much time researching and trying to guess what will come up. This year I need to share what I know and what I can do. That includes posting on this site more as well as Twitter, my Facebook Page, and adding content to my Instagram, IGTV channel, and my YouTube channel.