Shake Your Bunny Maker, part 1

Most animated programs on TV are produced by relatively large teams. It’s not unusual for a program to have upwards of 75 people working in some capacity on a project. A cursory Google search turned up these facts: ‘Sitting Ducks,’ the 3D-animated show hosted 64 employees, while ‘Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi’ is created with a 40-person production crew.

Now imagine a crew of one.

That crew is Jennifer Shiman, and she is currently working with the cable network STARZ! to produce a series of 30-second spoofs of Hollywood movies, all reenacted by Flash-animated bunnies. ’30-Second Bunnies Theatre’ was already an internet sensation, drawing over 25,000 viewers a day, and then the Starz Entertainment Group came hopping along. Now Jennifer has moved up to the big time, without adding a big time crew.

It’s a testament to Jennifer’s well-rounded skills – she writes, storyboards, voices and animates each short from her home studio. The animation medium has always been inviting to auteurs who want to do it all, but with Flash the possibilities are even greater. With Flash’s low barrier to entry (cost and ease-of-use) and it’s penchant for low-bandwidth delivery, animators can do quick work and then quickly get it in front of a huge audience.

And that’s what Jennifer did. In the halcyon days of the dotcom boom, she was steadily working in Hollywood as a multimedia designer and animator, occasionally pitching a project or two around town and updating her website. Three years later, she pieced together a 30-second reenactment of ‘The Exorcist,’ and in place of Linda Blair and Max von Sydow, Jennifer inserted animated bunnies. And just like that, Jennifer had ushered a hot new show concept into the digital world without scheduling a single pitch meeting.

Since then, she’s been invited to the 2004 Ottawa International Animation Festival, where her ‘The Shining’ short took first place in the ‘Internet Series’ category; she’s been interviewed by G4 TV; the writers of ‘X2: X-Men United,’ Mike Dougherty and Dan Harris, chipped in voices in one of her shorts; her ‘Titanic’ spoof was screened on ‘Good Morning America’ and this same short is reportedly going to be included on the upcoming ‘Titanic’ Special Edition DVD this October; and of course, Jennifer landed her STARZ! TV deal. Not bad for 30-seconds.

Cold, Hard Flash recently passed on a set of questions to Jennifer, which, ironically, she answered with the help of a 60 person crew.

AARON SIMPSON: So you’re really a crew of one?
JENNIFER SHIMAN: I do everything from concept development to implementation, except additional voices (friends and cohorts help me out) and post-production, such as laying off the Flash-exported file to tape or film.

AARON: I’d guess there’s not another TV series on the air with such a small production team. Do you ever see a need to expand?
JENNIFER: I’m asking myself that question now. In various capacities I am going to need help soon, and I’m ruminating on how to go about getting it (and, where extra help will be most helpful).

AARON: Do you create animatics before you begin animating your ‘Bunnies’ shorts?
JENNIFER: No I don’t. I do run through a bunch of versions of thumbnail storyboards though. And by “thumbnail storyboard” I mean an indecipherable scrawl of half-notes, lists and pictures in my notebook.

AARON: As you animate new episodes, do you find any opportunities to re-use assets from previously animated ‘Bunnies’ shorts?
JENNIFER: Absolutely, I try to re-use assets whenever it makes sense. For instance, I have a library of bunny mouths and certain background elements such as clouds, light fixtures, doorknobs. These assets still need adapting, depending on e.g. the line thickness of the scene in which I use them. But they do save time.

AARON: Describe how you got the bunnies from inside the Flash program out onto tape and ready for TV?
JENNIFER: On my end, I work within a reticle/action-safe template that I found on Flickerlab.com’s great tutorial on using Flash for output to broadcast. AndrewProkos.com had great tips too. Then I export the .FLA movie to a hi-res Quicktime Video, which is usually 700-900MB in size (I work on a Macintosh, by the way). I compress the exported QT video using DropStuff and upload it via FTP to a server where the Starz people can download it, unstuff it and plop it into e.g. Final Cut Pro (I work at 15 frames per second, and they covert the frame rate and lay it off to tape over there).

AARON: Did you have to re-build any of your Flash assets in order to make your short films TV-ready?
JENNIFER: I did need to make adjustments, for example, I created a few of my first re-enactments at the Flash default size, 550 x 400 pixels. When Starz licensed those particular ones, they needed them sized at 720 x 486 pixels for their broadcast purposes. So I needed to place the entire re-enactment within a movieclip and resize it accordingly on a 720 x 486 stage (and adjust any animation to fit within action-safe boundaries). Then I had to make sure all movieclip instances of animation had been changed to graphic instances, so they’d appear animated when I exported to Quicktime video. Additionally, I had to be careful of the color palette I use, to avoid having colors appear shockingly bright on TV.

AARON: How did you celebrate when your ‘Bunnies’ shorts first aired on STARZ!?
JENNIFER: I whooped with glee! Then I sat down at the desk and got back to work.

AARON: Any chance we’ll start seeing ‘Bunnies’ merchandise on the shelves?
JENNIFER: I already have bunnies and other angryalien merchandise available via my website Â? I use the proceeds to offset bandwidth costs. Eventually I’d like to expand the merchandise offerings though.

AARON: Is it safe to say you’ve learned the intricacies of parody and fair use legprecedentent?
Indeed!

That’s it for the first part of the Cold, Hard Flash interview with Jennifer Shiman, the creator of ’30-Second Bunnies Theatre.’ Check back soon for part 2.

84 Comments

  1. I think that this website and Jennifer Shiman’s bunnies are so funny. I enjoy so much going back to website and watching the bunnies in action again and again. (It surely helps pass the time goofing off instead of writing my dry-as-a-bone newspaper articles.

  2. this site is sooooo funny! oh my gosh i HAVE to meet Jennifer! cuz this site is cracka-lackin!

  3. This has to be the most original concept I’ve seen in a long time!! Lemme know when you start making ring tones! I want the bunny singing the jaws theme song at the end of that cartoon! I die everytime I hear it!

  4. I ran across this site by accident a few years ago, and I’m so glad I did. I never thought that watching a movie in 30 seconds could be so funny, let alone have it renacted by bunnies. I check back often to see if anything is new. You’re doing a wonderful job, Jennifer. Please keep it up!

  5. Pure brilliance! I was directed to the angry alien website by the mother of the kids I was nannying in Maryland last year…and I haven’t looked back! I check the site often to see if there are any new spoofs. My thanks go to Jennifer for providing us with the indescribable humour of bunnies re-enacting movies :) Who wouldda thought it could be so stinkin’ hilarious!?

  6. Christian October 2, 2005

    Jennifer Shiman is a god! These are the funniest and most entertaining cartoons i’ve ever seen!

  7. i was just looking at the homepage of the bunny re-enactments to see the big chill one but suddenly when i got there…IT WAS GONE!GONE,GONE,GONE!JUST LIKE MY DOG AND MY GRAMMA!EVERYTHING I KNOW AND LOVE IS DIEYING!WHY DID YOU TAKE IT AWAY?!WHY?!I WANTED TO SEE THE END WHERE THE GUY GOES”PEOPLE ARE DOING EVERYTHING TO GET LAID”AND THEN SHOWS PEOPLE OF HUMPING EACH OTHER FOR NO REASON!PUT IT BACK OR ELSE!YOU WOULDNT LIKE ME WHEN IM ANGRY!actually that gave me an idea.I wonder why Jennifer Shiman never did a Hulk re-enactment?that would be funny!anyways,PUT IT BACK ON OR ELSE!SO ARE YOU GOING O DO IT OR NOT?!?!YOU BETTER OR ILL…UMMM…WELL I’LL…WELL,I GOT NOTHING.BUT TILL PUT IT BACK OOONNN!

  8. well
    first of all, my name is joaquin, from mexico, and when i saw first “the shining in 30 sec.” and “the texas chainsaw massacre in 30 sec.” i thought- whoooa!!, this is really cool,
    but they need some other ideas”, so i sent you a mail, but i dont know if any of u have got it
    the mail is dracularikado@hotmail.com

  9. quadrophenic_9 October 23, 2005

    If you guys like this stuff I highly recommend a site called http://www.homestarrunner.com it’s extremely funny and creative. Also uses flash.

  10. I kind-of love you, Jennifer Shiman and Bunnies – who could be nicer than you to know? But here I am, in Little Old England, with not a sniff of a chance…
    By the way, why don’t you recruit help from your troupe? They’d love to get mixed up in the delights of production technology, I’m sure. And I’m sure we’d love to see the results!

  11. Jennifer is a freakin’ genius!!! I found her website by accident and I’m so happy I did. The movies reenacted by the hilarious bunnies are soooo funny and creative. My favorite one is The Rocky Horror Picture Show, I love the dancing at the end. With so much bull on the internet this days, im so glad that Jennifer has used a small space to create something truly inventive and entertaining. Thanks Jenn!

  12. sdgfdshdsaf December 21, 2005

    It’s a wonderful life is great. I love when Clarence goes “Okay…”

  13. Ewan Holberg January 2, 2006

    The bunnies are absolutely brilliant. Creative genius is probably the most accurate description that myself and my friends can come up with. (Especially the dancing bunny at the end of the Jaws parody. I laughed so hard I cried and was almost ill!!! FANTASTIC!!!)

  14. Anonymous January 5, 2006

    I love the bunnies and Jennifer! The bunnies are super funny and everyone that I know now watches the angry alien site for new 30 second re enactments! I just can’t get enough bunny cinema!!! Also , I should add that the little songs are so cute and catchy! I especially love the Jaws and Titanic songs…

  15. I have been watching these bunnies for years and have recommended them to everyone I know. My children are 17 and 20 and they still frequently quote scenes from the shorts…my daughter and I randomly walk past each other and say “sometimes…..” in that great freaky voice from the short. Love them….. keep them coming….. please! Thank-you so much.

  16. I AM A WRITER & ALL I CAN SAY IS; YAY BUNNIES! I KEEP THE SITE FOREVER IN MY ISP’S FAVORITES “CAROUSEL” JUST SO I CAN GET TO THEM AS FAST AS POSSIBLE WHENEVER I WANT! I FIGURE WHEN WATCHING BUNNIES, SPEED IS MOST IMPORTANT AT ALL TIMES! IN FACT MY ONLY ‘COMPLAINT’ IS THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO COMMENT ON HOW WONDERFUL THE BUNNIES THEATRE IS…INSIDE OF 30 SECONDS! NOPE! IT’S JUST NOT POSSIB

    heh heh heh, (sorry, couldn’t resist…thanks Jennifer! ‘Write On!’)

  17. Anonymous January 31, 2006

    You see, I have known this website the day it started. I found because of a friend, and I just…words can’t describe how great it is. Jennife, this is a shout-out: I LOVE YOUR WORK!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Georgina, England February 13, 2006

    I bought the Titanic DVD special Edition and then found the website, I love the bunnies just wish there were more films. Keep it going, it’s just great stuff!!!

  19. Anonymous February 25, 2006

    hello
    i am a big fan.
    not big as in BIG.
    big as in mondo fanatic.
    i am warning you though.
    someone wants to kidnap titanic bunnies and force them to eat green things. when we all know bunnnies like carrots.

    thank you for your time
    sincerly, a concerned citizen

  20. Anonymous February 25, 2006

    u should make a bunnie reenactment of the breakfest club …. that owuld be pretty sweet

  21. Anonymous March 6, 2006

    I loved the brokeback mountain one. I have not yet seen the movie, but I have read the book, and it was hilarious! You do have to have seen the movie or have a good idea of what the story is about before you can understand the bunny shorts though.

  22. -Donnell- March 20, 2006

    Jennifer Shiman‘s Angry Alien Productions are a broad stroke of brilliance, and I, for one, LOVE those exuberantly adorable bunnies.

    Keep up the good work, tiger.

    D.

  23. Anonymous March 25, 2006

    Thank you Jennifer……………..I died laughing through all the spoofs.The singing really had me falling off my chair!Havent had such entertaining and humourous cartoon strips/shows ever!!!Have been recommending ‘the shows’ to every single person I know.
    Please give us more.

  24. I have seen them all and The Bunnies are one of my daily sites that i check out when on my break at work.. I look forward to her Office Space Spoof as thats one of my top favorite movies..

  25. Marilyn April 12, 2006

    I just saw more than half of these 30 second shows and they are hi-la-ri-ous! im putting my god damn foot down for this website!!

  26. Anonymous May 17, 2006

    PULEEEEEZ keep up the good work!
    you are my morning laugh………….

  27. Anonymous May 20, 2006

    I noticed someone’s comment about kidnapping the titanic bunnies. How did you know what I was planning?

  28. Anonymous May 20, 2006

    I’ve seen all the films they’re great! My favourite might be Jaws (Idon’t know – it’s soo hard to choose!!) because of the bunny ears being on everything though The shining is crazy too. I think for some it helps if you have already seen the film they come from though as they make a lot more sense!

  29. The Magical Pixie Elf May 24, 2006

    Oh my god…
    This is so insane…
    It’s like the Demented Cartoon Movie…squished into 30 seconds…with bunnies..hey, that’s a good idea…

    Anyway…
    I hope she does a good Ring parody…otherwise the Ringworms will get all snarly and I’ll ahve to overdose them with Sadamara to silence their screeches of ‘Sweet Koji Suzuki!’…j/k XD. The fellow Ringworms will be pleased…more so than with Scary Movie 3.

    I haven’t even seen half of those movies, and I got the basic gist of Aliens from the 30 second clip: Distress signal, alive thingy, thing gets on guys face, its dead, guy is okay, guy has weird thing jump out of his chest with bunny ears…
    You get my point.

    I love that dancing bunny at the end of Jaws! I shall show it to…uh…some really big serious fan of Jaws out there…yeah…heha…

    Maybe she should do a pardoy of Wolf Creek or Juon: The Grudge. It’ll certianly help me get over my Kayakoaphobia.

  30. Steve K. June 21, 2006

    Jennifer Shiman and Bunnies – one of my favorites!

  31. vanilla_crow July 31, 2006

    i love the titanic clip and the singing at the end.

  32. vanilla_crow July 31, 2006

    i also love the scream clip. very nice

  33. vanilla_crow July 31, 2006

    yep

  34. Rob Sorrin August 4, 2006

    The Bunnies ROCK!!!

  35. Anonymous August 8, 2006

    Hi… i’m from spain, and one day, surfing on internet, I find the bunnies group theatre. I love these re-enactements…
    Best wishes from someone

  36. Anonymous August 20, 2006

    I just stumbled on this site by pure chance and found the shorts absolutely hilarious.
    I particularly liked ‘Brokeback mountain’, and the singing at the end of ‘Jaws’ and ‘Titanic’ had me in stitches. Well done Jennifer, you have added a little sparkle to this world, keep up the good work!

  37. its quite cool to see shiman’s capability to balance the “video technical aspects” stuff with the creative aspects of the whole concept, coz, usually two different dept.’s take care of these with discrete methods. however, shiman wonderfully balances both these aspects with ease, dexterity, and great passion.

    Her expertise in flash animations and the finesse she shows in converting them into TV-adaptable broadcast videos are noteworthy.

    She definitely deserves a big marketing platform to distribute creative stuff like this.

    KUDOS to Jennifer Shiman !!!

  38. Anonymous September 22, 2006

    30 seconds bunnies are great!!!

  39. After seeing a Bunnification I “sometimes” check out the original and find it to be decidedly inferior to the Bunnies’ version. Is that pathological? The singing goldfish at the end of “Rocky” is wonderful. Ah, those high notes! A true coloratura! Her song and Li’l Woodgie’s dance give me renewed faith in the world of art.

  40. Anonymous October 24, 2006

    These bunnies rule the internet – and movie-land! Hilariously funny, I’ve been a fan since the beginning and keep coming back for more. Well done – keep up the fantastic work!

  41. Dear Bunnies, you are doing a great job. About a year ago I came the first time to your “30-Second Bunnies Theatre” – and it was unbelievable.. – and it still is. Unfortunately the deep water (sharks) is between you in the US and me here in Old Germany. May be I will go to meet you and Jennifer some time. But that means crossing the ocean (definitely NOT WITH AN UNSINKABLE SHIP).
    Please, say hello to Jennifer

  42. Hi

    The first time i heard of this website was at my churches youth group and the pastor showed the titanic bunnie movie on the big screen so evrey one could see how much he hated the titanic movie and how the movie was a wast of time any way after sevice I asked him what the website was and fell in love with the bunnies!

  43. Anonymous December 13, 2006

    I LOVVVVVVE ALL OF THE BUNNIES ESPICALY THE ONE WITH THE CHAINSAW BECAUSE MY FAVORITE CLIP WAS”THE TEXAS CHANSW MASACER”.IHAVE LOTS OF FRIENDS WHO LOVE THE WEBSITE TOO.I HOPE YOU MAKE MORE CLIPS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  44. wayne brasler January 28, 2007

    My high school journalism students here in Chicago stumbled across the bunnies about a week ago and have barely gotten anything accomplished because we keep returning to watch the bunny movies. It’s so unusual to see anything truly fresh anymore, but this concept and execution is more than fresh. To me the bunny accents are particularly hysterical–they speak just as anyone with two enormous front teeth would speak. The “Brokeback Mountain” 30-seconder was better than the actual film (which I wish I could quit). Thanks for this wonderful treat.

  45. Jennifer, you are amazing!!! I found this site accidentily last year when doing a web search for ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ and your site popped right up! Just let me say it again, I cannot put ir plainer, YOU ARE AMAZING!!! KEEP MAKING THE BUNNY RE-ENACTMENTS PLEASE!!! That is all…:)

  46. gunslinger February 6, 2007

    This is the best site I have ever seen I love it

  47. gunslinger February 6, 2007

    This is the best site I have ever seen I love it

  48. Anonymous March 1, 2007

    I think you guys should make a bunnies film on the movies Don’t Tell Mom The Babbysitters Dead and on Father Of The Bride.

  49. Anonymous March 2, 2007

    I’ev seen all the films and my favorite ones are: Texas Chainsaw Masscre, Freddy Vs. Jason, Fight Club, Borat, James Bond, and The Big Chill and Brokeback Mountain. It’s so hard to choose!

    I’ve told my friends about them. They loved them!!! You’re GREAT!!!!!!

    P.S. You should put these on uTube!!!!!!!!!!!!

  50. Anonymous March 3, 2007

    From Puppy and Kitty,
    We want you to makefilms on Hitchhiker’s Guid to the Galxy, Little Miss Sunshine,and Revenge of the Nerds.

    P.S. From both of us, we think you ROCK!!!

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