Cold Hard Council, Question #1

Who says creativity can’t happen by committee? Today marks the beginning of a new feature called Cold Hard Council. It’s a roundtable that taps into the minds of some of the more prominent names in the Flash animation community. Each time we convene here for the Council, we’ll tackle a different question, and you’ll see new names pop in and out as this feature unfolds. The envelope, please….

Question #1: Do Flash-animated projects still get a bad rap in the animation world?

I think so. If not for the simple reason that most animators fell in love with the golden age of cartoons, and Flash is known (fairly or not) to be unable to duplicate the quality and life that made those cartoons great. I think the common industry conception is that if it’s a Flash show, it can be
produced quick, cheap, and easy. Which is probably true in part, but this is also the constraint that keeps it looking that way. What made animation great 30 years ago are the same things that make animation look good now. Unfortunately, it seems Flash shows are budgeted to look like Flash shows, so it can be a tricky challenge to balance the quality of the animation you’d like to produce with the deadlines that are expected by a Flash production.
Mike Geiger, Animation Director, ‘Yam Roll’

I don’t think that they do. Animation has taken a turn from traditional cel animation to new mediums. I don’t think that it is good or bad – just different. People need to understand that this software is bringing animation back into the US. So much work used to be sent overseas and now we have a way to get things done quicker and more cost effectively here. When we began to animate ‘Squidbillies,’ we were trying to find a way to make it stand out. We all knew that we wanted to try something new. Scott Fry, Radical Axis CEO, and I began talking about traditional and vector. We looked at several ways to make it new and fresh, including drawing all of the art into Illustrator. At that point we just decided to dive head first into making it a Flash animated show.
Craig Hartin – Animation Supervisor, Radical Axis, ‘Squidbillies’

Here in Canada I believe that it’s all over and done with; Flash isn’t synonymous with lesser quality anymore. Also, in recent travels overseas and all over North America, Flash is becoming more then just another medium, it’s now the medium of choice. Flash is just ‘“the way’” now. Which is great!
Gene Fowler, King of the Litter Box, Fatkat Animation Studios

I think so but it’s only because most people are unaware of all the amazing work being produced with Flash. Or maybe they know the work and simply not know that it’s a Flash-produced program or short. All someone has to do is visit this blog to see the amazing range and quality of work that is being created with the software. Flash, like anything else, is just a TOOL. Give it to a talented artist and they will figure out how to make great work on their own. That’s when it stops looking like it came out of a can.
Evan Spiridellis, Head Art Guy, JibJab Media Inc.

It seems like they do a little. But it also seems like producers are feeling like they should learn a little more about it, like it might be worth it to finally consider Flash as a real animation tool.
Matt Clark, Founder, Manbaby Studios

Hell yeah! But definitely changing. The fact that ‘Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends’ and other Flash shows are constantly getting nominated and winning awards is helping. And some studios (Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon) are starting to spend healthy traditional 2D TV budgets on Flash animated series and the results are speaking for themselves. To me, that’s the key. Don’t spend less and expect more.
Jorge Gutierrez, Creator, ‘El Tigre’ (Nickelodeon 2007)

I think Flash is slowly coming out of the shadows of “dotcom shame.” One reason is that there are a number of recent shows from each of the major animation studios that have tested and proven the viability of Flash, particularly in TV production.
Roque Ballesteros, Founder, Ghostbot

No, I don’t think so anymore. Around 2000, the majority of cartoons on the internet involved poop or stickmen fighting. So for awhile, Flash was definitely looked down upon in Hollywood. The publicity of the dot-bomb era certainly didn’t help. People thought that the idea of using this tool for broadcast was crazy based on their 30 second exposure to the technical and aesthetic limitations of the web. But history does repeat itself. When 3D first came out, it was very crude and looked extremely mechanical. The guys programming the algorithms had very little sense of timing, movement or acting. The software was very clunky. As the software got into the right hands, all those principles began to evolve with technology. Flash has gone through the same development process in the last 5 years. You now have studio talent harnessing Flash and applying all their knowledge into a new technology.
Sandro Corsaro, Creative Director, Crest Digital
–Co-Author, Hollywood 2D Digital Animation

6 Comments

  1. AUGH!!! Joe Paradise!! The inspiration that got me into Flash in the first place. Where the hell can you find those shorts anymore?

  2. Got you into Flash?! Don’t blame me! Oh wait…you mean that’s a good thing?… Well, cool then…

    Thanks for the kind words AWD! I wish I could link you to a secret vault where all the episodes are contained. Instead, maybe you can help me start a petition to release a DVD!

  3. I need a petition for endless thigns I’d like to see on DVD< haha! But yeah definitely! That was your work? awesome! Truly great stuff my friend!

  4. Aaron Simpson March 19, 2006

    Ya, who owns those episodes, Roque?

    -Aaron

  5. Since Wild Brain fit the bill for production on the internet series, they technically own the rights to anything that happens to those episodes. So I guess you can say the ball (or the DVD) is in their court…

  6. I. N. J. Culbard June 25, 2006

    I’ve been directing commericals and making films in UK using flash since about 1998. Back in ’98 I worked on a show called Dynamo (for the BBC) and that was all built in Flash.

    Commercials at that point didn’t really have anything made in Flash and so to begin with it was mostly tv work. Somehow, I feel, in terms of tv commercials, it’s like someone let it in through the back door, it gate crashed the party with no formal introductions and now it’s just everywhere. Which is just great to see. And the quality over the years, in terms of animation, has just got better and better.

    I worked on a tv show called Monkey Dust for BBC3 back in 2001/2002 (or there abouts) and that was mostly made in Flash (or at least a lot of the contributing animators to that show worked in Flash with quite a few finishing their animation in After Effects (for focus pulls and smoke effects… my segments were completely made in Flash).

    The fact that you can work remotely using flash is a bonus also (most of the animation on Monkey Dust was done by animators emailing in their sequences). Last summer I directed a crew in Paris (all using flash) from my base here in Nottingham when we worked on a pilot for the TV show “Frankenstein’s Cat”.

    “If you build it, they will come”. The flash community collectively have put in a lot of hard work pushing this software and now that hard work’s starting to pay off.

    Strange Planet Stories

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