in Animation, Blog

Player 2

A week ago, I suggested to Eric that we animate one of his daily MONOVLOG monologues. He agreed with enthusiasm, I wrote out a short piece, we settled on a look, and off I went. One week later, here we are: the premiere of Player 2!

Overall, I am pleased with how Player 2 turned out – the chiptune music underneath it is charming and emotional, the pixel artist who transformed Eric into a character did a great job, and the backgrounds give it a nice vibe.

Any faults in the piece are my own; the most glaring is that I did not execute the walk cycles for either character as well as I should have. I’m still learning the ins and outs of Adobe Animate, so I justified not obsessing over the walk cycles by telling myself the other components – the visuals, the story, the backgrounds – would be more impactful to the overall piece. Which is true, given the retro video game theme, but it’s also an excuse. For the next animation, I need to push myself.

For Eric’s MONOVLOG project, collaboration was the key. The idea for this monolog in particular came from a recent visit to a local arcade (why are old video games so fun for a few minutes, and then so disappointing right after? The nostalgia just isn’t what it used to be…), and I set out to see what I could do visually to recreate that feeling.

As an Adobe Creative Cloud user, I get access to 10 Adobe Stock images each month. The other small projects I worked on in June didn’t necessitate much additional art, so with a week left, I still had eight images to burn. I looked for buildings and cities that were illustrated with a flat design motif, and found more than enough to establish a tiny world.

Then it came time to think about the models. I am no artist, so I looked to Fiverr to find someone who might be able to turn Eric into a cartoon of some sort. I stumbled across Ash who makes pixel art, and he put together a front and side view of Eric, as well as Eric’s Player 2, for a great price, plus he included several expressions, and the models broken apart. Without going into the details of animation software, just know it’s much easier to animate the models when they’re broken apart ahead of time.

Finally, the music. I’m very appreciative of Free Music Archives’ Chiptune selection which is a blast to scroll through and sample. For whatever reason, whether nostalgia or something else, I find the chirpy glitchy genre hits me just right, and it fit the video game aesthetic of Player 2 perfectly.

With the characters, backgrounds, and music set, I knew I could create a world that resembled an old arcade game.

Or rather, I knew I could create the world given the art that others had created. Without them, this piece wouldn’t have been possible, but interestingly, only half of ‘them’ know they’re involved in the piece. With that, it’s worthwhile to note the difference between active and passive collaborators.

Eric, Ash and I were all actively collaborating – requesting, editing, revising, giving and taking feedback. From that communication came improvements and enhancements. Still, I view the background illustrators and chiptune musicians as collaborators, too, even if we weren’t in contact, because even though ours was a more passive collaboration, their impact on the final piece is just as substantial.

As I continue to make projects of different sorts, my own abilities and weaknesses come into sharper focus. Some, like animation, are ones I want to improve, as they help guide the project and put the pieces in place. Others, like illustration and music, are fascinating and fun and I’m happy to mess around with, but I’m such a novice that I feel lucky to have access to more accomplished creators. Working with them, both actively and passively, is always the right move.

More and more I realize that collaborators are the compound interest of creativity. Over the length of a project, and the length of one’s career, collaboration and creativity build on top of each other in increasingly impactful ways.

Ideas are cheap, so when we trade and exchange and collaborate and innovate and create together, we’re all the better for it.