Thursday, February 28, 2008

"To hell with the critics!"

Just the other day, I was having a conversation with someone while I was working (I won't say who), who said he dislikes a movie, claiming that his reason was that either "...it bombed at the box-office" or "(some critic) said that it was...". I pity the poor kid...

I have to admit, at one point in my life I was just like that. I wouldn't see a movie because of what some critic (or critics) had to say about it. "I was going to see "...", but I heard that Ebert & Roeper gave it a thumbs down, so I changed my mind." Now that I look back, I can't believe how gullible & stupid I was to think that way. I was subconsciously brainwashed into thinking that. I was basically bending over to only one person's opinion. You got to remember, a critic's review is only his/her opinion, not the entire film-going audience's.

I know many people like that nowadays, especially here in the Apple. Somebody is bad-mouthing a movie left & right because of how "they" considered it a failure. I never take somebody's word for it until I see the film myself. For example, this past weekend, I saw Be Kind, Rewind. It was an OK film... not the best, but good. The next day at work, we were having one of those philosophical conversations when I brought up the film. The aforementioned person went on a big rant, saying:

"Oh, what a terrible movie!" ETC, ETC, ETC...

I asked him, "Well, did you see it?"

"No, but I heard that it was awf-"

"Then you have no right to say anything."

"But-"

"No"

In the end, I completely chastised his pride.

It also works in reverse. After everybody was telling me how great Princess Mononoke was & how it's the greatest animated film ever, I rented the DVD with high expectations, watched the film & left somewhat disappointed. Everybody has a different taste in what they like to watch. Hey, I think Fantasia is an awesome film, but I know that there are many people out there who aren't into it as much as I am, so I accept & respect their opinions & move on.

This kind of thing really irks me. You can't judge a movie by it's critical/box-office performance. Hell, even if the mass public DOES hate it, there's still somebody out there who'll sit down & watch. Every movie has it's place & it's audience. Now that I've been in the city for nearly 6 months, I've definitely learned & accepted a lot. I've learned to tolerate the things I don't like (movies included) & by doing so, I've been inspired by things my old self wouldn't dare to acknowledge, like Miyazaki films or the "anime" style or Thai food.

So take a lesson: go out there & try new things, accept something for what it is,don't believe everything you hear & don't judge a book by it's cover (or in this case, 'review').

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I'm Goin' to Comic-Con!

Hey everybody!

I just got my plane tickets & hotel reservations for the San Diego Comic-Con! It's gonna be a blast coming up this July! If anybody else is going too, let me know. I'd like to meet you there, "mono y mono".

By the way, what do you think of my new headline I put up top? Now it's a blog!
"This concludes my brief announcement. We hope you enjoyed our broadcast day!"

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Disney Bastardization #3 - Dinosaur Battle

Here's my third Disney monstrosity. This time, taking a clip from the "Rite of Spring" sequence from Fantasia. Enjoy the carnage! BWAHAHAHAHAAAAA!

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Maybe a little TOO scary?

Hands down, this has got to be THE gayest thing I've ever done in my entire life. Bet you thought so too.

I cheated a bit too, I was supposed to only use 1 sound effect, but I ended up using two entire song sequences. Oh what shame have I brought to the craft!?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Disney Bastardization #2 - "Bambi Meets Flower"

Here's my 2nd Disney Bastardization video. Like the last one, this clip also comes from Bambi. It's the scene where Bambi meets Flower the skunk for the first time.

Everybody knows that first impressions are always the most important. Let's see what Bambi thinks of Flower, shall we?:

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Cute, isn't it?

Hope you liked it! More to come soon!

& the Oscar Goes to...

Well, the Oscars are over & the winners have been announced. Being an animator, plus the fact that I don't really care that much about "Best Makeup" or "Best Supporting So-&-So", my focus was mainly on the "Best Animated Feature" & "Best Animated Short" categories.

I'll start off with the shorts: Peter & the Wolf was the winner & I'm glad it was. I've always loved Peter & the Wolf (especially the music) & out of all the P&tW adaptations I've seen, this one is by far the best out of the bunch. I'm usually not that big a fan of stop-motion, but the animation in Peter & the Wolf blew me away.

As for the feature category, I was a bit mixed. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed Ratatouille, I believe that Persepolis really deserved the award. Sure, I think Ratatouille had some great animation (even for CG) & I think Brad Bird is a genius, but Persepolis has that certain something that I can't quite describe...

Eitherway, I'd like to say congrats to all the winners & nominees.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Disney Bastardization Time!

Before the hilariousness of ElCid's Bambee, there was this:

Years ago, Thad K. over at Animation ID made a few videos called "Disney Bastardizations". The point of these videos was to ruin the point of a classic Disney scene using only sound effects (make sad scenes happy, fun scenes scary, etc.). At the time, these were probably the funniest videos I had ever seen online.

Unfortunately the videos were removed, I think because he posted the videos on Youtube, where the Disney people spotted them & made him take them down. Since then, I wanted to bring back these hilarious videos somehow, but I didn't have the ability to do that. Now, after learning a few tricks, I can finally bring these babies back.

My favorite of the videos he did was of the infamous death scene from Bambi. Since the video has been gone for a long time, I had to recreate the video myself using Windows Movie Maker. This will be the only scene I will recreate, the rest will be completely original works.

Finally, I just want to say that all credit for this video goes to Thad. This was all his idea, not mine. & Thad, if you see this & you're upset that I'm doing this without your permission, I just want to say sorry in advance, & if you want me to take it down, let me know & I'll take it down without any trouble. Thanks & enjoy!

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Just by adding that one sound effect, it completely changes the mood of the scene! Look forward to seeing more of these in the near future! Now if only I knew how to put these on my iPod...

"StreetWise"

Here's something I thought I posted a while ago:

Back in September, I drew out & submitted this for a magazine called 'InkStains'. It got turned down flat, probably because it wouldn't look so good in black & white print.

I later adapted this into a script & storyboard for Storytelling class & got a 'A'. At least it amounted to something in the end.

Oh, & here's a little behind-the-scene trivia: I based the look of the homeless man off of my father. "No offense, Chim!"

"I gots me a new Ipod, 'baybah'!"

Well, my old iPod finally bit the big bazooka. Now that my little music player is in the big recycle bin in the sky, it was finally time to pick up a new one.

I went to my local Apple Store in Roosevelt Field Mall (most crowded store in the mall) & waited on line for a helper. I thought about getting one of those iTouches, but I heard they were glitchy, plus the largest size they got is a 16G deal. PASS!

I finally chose my prize: a whopping 160G iPod Classic (first Coke, now iPods?)! Not only do I have plenty of room for all the Three Dog Night, Creedence Clearwater Revival, & Bob Seger my ears can handle, but now I can put videos on it! But $1.99 for a 7 minute Disney cartoon? Pfft, I'll pass.

Thanks to a handy little program called [top secret, cant tell], I can put any video I want on it! Here's what I got so far:

Fantasia (FAVORITE MOVIE)

Fantasia 2000

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (What... I like SpongeBob!)

"Axe Me Another" Popeye cartoon ("I'll do anything that you'll do")

"In the Bag" Disney cartoon

"Hell's Bells" Disney cartoon (I... LOVE... UB!...)

"Pigs is Pigs" Disney cartoon

"Lifted" Pixar Short

"One Man Band" Pixar Short

"The Moon & the Son: An Animated Conversation" by John Canemaker (GO JOHN!)

10-minute preview of Ratatouille

"Gulliver's Travels" by the Fleischer Studio

& "Smile" (I have no idea how I got it. Where the hell did it come from?!)

That's what I got so far, plus over 1,770 songs and over 1,500 pictures... & I still got 145Gs left!

I have no reason why I posted this, but I did, so that's that. What a waste of a good post, huh?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

More Juggling

I'm back with a little more on cartoon juggling.

These next two clips I'm going to show come from two different studios in two different time periods. These two might not constitute as "real" juggling, but I think they count eitherway.

This first clip comes from Popeye's debut cartoon: "Popeye the Sailor" from 1933 by the Fleischer Studio. Does anybody know who animated it?

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I especially like juggling when it's timed to a beat (musical or not) & as everybody knows, everything in Popeye cartoons is timed to a beat. Even when the characters are just standing around they bounce to the music.

Back to juggling... in most cases, the juggling act is the gag itself, like the Donald Duck clip I posted before. In this case, the juggling is an add-on to make the "Hit the Nerd" gag funnier. They could've had Popeye hit the "nerd" millions of other ways, but what better way is there to help introduce Popeye to animation than to show what his muscles can do. Although his arms may be huge & bulky tumor-like lumps, he can still pull off a little style & grace with them. Such dexterity!

Besides, this is a Fleischer cartoon, everything has got to be funny & rubbery!

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This next clip comes from Disney's Sword in the Stone, exactly 30 years after Popeye's animated debut. In this scene, Merlin (transformed into a squirrel for this particular sequence) fiddles around with an acorn.

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Even though he's only playing around with one acorn, he's still juggling it up in the air, off his feet, etc. This scene is probably influenced by the Harlem Globetrotters.

Unlike the Popeye scene, there's a lot of things going on here:

First off, this is Disney animation, so everything has to be more realistic (even though there's a blue talking squirrel juggling acorns). While the balls in Popeye felt like weightless ping-pong balls, this acorn has weight. There are no cartoon physics here, there's mass, momentum & inertia in action going on.

This was animated by Frank Thomas, who by 1963 had over 30 years of animation experience. He knows a thing or two about realistic motion, after animating lifeless marionettes, dogs, cats, deer, humans & hundreds of other characters. Besides, Thomas was a perfectionist, so everything he animated had to be perfect before he let it go to final color.

Like the Popeye clip, this juggling is timed to music, but unlike Popeye's juggling, there's a lot of nuances in the action. While Popeye's timing just went "boink! bink! boink! bink!...", this juggling is timed to a unique melody with unique lyrics. Certain actions are done in relation to the music & words of the song. For example, when Merlin say's "explanation", he flutters & spins the acorn to the sound of the word. In "discaboomeration", he catches the acorn on the accented "boom" & rolls it down his arm as the "-eration" rolls out of his mouth.

& like the Donald Duck clip, Merlin is interuppted by an outside force, this time by a homely, love-crazed girl squirrel. Merlin is surprised, embarassed & by the end of the song, know's how this is gonna turn out (just look at that expression on his face in those last few frames!)

Just watching this animation as a normal everday viewer would think that was cute or fun. But when an animator like me watches it, I wonder "How in God's name did he pull that off?!" Frank put a lot of thought into this little scene, & boy did he make it soar!

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& I know what you're thinking... you think I have no idea what I'm talking about, do you. Well, half the time I don't. Still, I put a lot of thought into animation like this. Besides, I'm only a novice when it comes to doing animation myself, so I don't the experience like some people do. Plus, I have a hard time putting them into readable, understandable words & sentences. I'm dyslexic in that way. There are definitely people out there who can do this better than I can.

Now I need your help! If any of you know of any animated juggling scenes that I haven't mentioned yet, let me know & post those too! Thanks!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Snoopy VS. Lawn Chair

Here's a little something to tide you over until I post more about juggling:

I respect all animators, no matter how simplistic or crude their tastes may be. But I have even greater respect for animators who can take an assignment where they have to adapt to draw in other people's styles from project to project. John Lounsbery from Disney is one example. Lounsbery was the only animator who could replicate Milt Kahl's designs the closest. He took every assignment that was thrown at him & made it work out right, no matter how abstract or "designy" they were.

Another animator that comes to mind is Bill Melendez.

Melendez worked at Disney & Warner Bros. during the Golden Age, & he later worked on what he is probably most remembered for: the Peanuts films & TV specials. As any cartoonist might know, Peanuts characters are some of the hardest characters to draw. Charles Schulz had a distinct style that was (& still is) nearly impossible for any other person to copy exactly. I have never seen anyone who could draw Charlie Brown, Snoopy or any other Peanuts character like Schulz could. Bill Melendez took the challenge of not only drawing Schulz' characters, but also transmitting them into animation.

Here's my all-time favorite scene from any of the Peanuts specials: Snoopy battling the lawn chair from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973). Animated by Bill Melendez (he also provided the voice of Snoopy, too!).

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The drawings by themselves may look crude & flat when seen one at a time, but when they're in motion it's an amazing sight! Very fluid & funny stuff.

Take a gander at his filmography. Start from the botton & work your way up the list...

Just imagine: Bill went from working at Disney on classic films like Fantasia & Bambi (uncredited), then on to Warner Bros. to work on some of the greatest cartoons ever to come out of the studio (Baby Bottleneck, Falling Hare, & The Great Piggy Bank Robbery just to name a few), then on to UPA, animating on Gerald McBoing-Boing & Madeline, then ending up animating & producing some of the most memorable TV specials of all time. What a history! & HE'S STILL GOING STRONG!

Check out his official site HERE. Thanks for everything, Bill!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Juggling in Animation

Earlier this week, I posted a clip of Donald Duck juggling from the cartoon "Mickey's Circus". To me, juggling scenes in animation always catch my eye. I guess it's because of several things:

-A) The intricacy & complexity of the juggling itself

-B) What the character is juggling (balls, pins, household objects, knives, etc...) & how many objects is he/she juggling at once.

-C) The amount of control that a character has (very skilled? very clumsy? Is it their first time?)

-D) The character's attitude while juggling (cocky? cautious? scared?)


Scroll down to the Donald post & watch the clip again, now having these four elements in mind. What did you notice? What did you learn?

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Let's start off with A: At first, Donald is doing a normal juggling act, juggling only with his hands. As it goes on, he really gets into it & starts bouncing & rolling them off his feet & head without missing a beat. He even balances all the balls on his rear & butts them back up in the air!
A normal person could never do these things. It's impossible. But in a cartoon, anything is possible, so to us it's pure magic. I'd LOVE to do something like that, but I can't because my actions are limited, but Donald's movement is limitless.

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Now on to B: Donald is only juggling with rubber balls, so chances are these probably wouldn't do much harm if he screwed up. Plus, he's juggling SEVEN rubber balls! It's an odd number, but to a superstitious person, luck would probably be on his side.

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Now C: Donald's juggling is effortless. He's probably had plenty of practice & has done it millions of times before. He's so good at it, he doesn't even drop a beat of sweat. He could probably do this all day if he wanted to.

Donald has complete control over what he's juggling. He knows what's coming next because it's probably all routine to him. He only loses that control when an outside force comes in & disrupts him.
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Finally, D: Since Donald has experience with juggling, he's a lot more confidant than someone whose just starting out. He's so confidant in himself that he hardly pays any attention to what he's doing & becomes somewhat cocky. He's having a good time, not only because he's juggling, but because someone is watching him juggling! He smiles & ogles the audiece watching, almost shouting "Look at me! Look at me! Aren't I swell? Aren't I a talented, skillful, suave, handsome, irresistable little duck?"

At the end of his act, he smiles & opens his arms to the audiece, absorbing their applause & cheering, until he's knocked over by larger balls thrown by his seals off-screen, finally losing control & dropping the balls. He's angry, embarrased & has a face full of dirt. "There goes the whole act!"

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I probably didn't have to go through all that evaluation, but it's true! It may look like just some cartoon character juggling, but behind all that there's that "Why? factor" that might explain why a character is doing what he/she is doing.

I'll talk more about juggling in animation later on, probably sometime in the next two weeks. & don't worry, I'll include video for you to watch!

Thanks again to Kevin Langely for helping me out again!

Oh, & by the way, if anyone can identify who animated Donald in that scene, drop by & let me know. That would be great! Thanks!
*Update 2/22/08* Hans Perk has the draft for this cartoon, but it's missing the first three pages! Still, he told me the other animators on the film, so it's either one of these three people: Frank Thomas, Al Eugster & Shamus Culhane. If there are any IDer's out there who can tell which one did it, I'd really appreciate it, thanks!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

My SVA Animation (AAARRRGGGH!)

Here's 3 animation assignments I did in my 1st semester at the School of Visual Arts! I decided to leave out the minimal stuff (for now) & just go right to the meat & potatoes!

These three scenes were all part of our "final" of the semester. Each student was assigned a different character. One person got a polar bear holding a fish, another got Little Bo Peep, somebody got a superhero, etc. I got a pirate.

The first clip is a walkcycle of the pirate. My professor, Doug Crane, designed the pirate. The cycle contains 16 drawings, 14 of which are mine (Doug gave me drawings 1 & 9 for me to work off of). I think I drew him mostly on model. The walk itself was alright, but I messed up by not making the head bob up and down as he walks. His head stays in one place, which is very odd looking and out of place, especially for a pirate with a peg leg.


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This next clip was my first shot at making the pirate morph completely into another character. For this, I was given a totally different character for me to transform into: a businessman with a briefcase. The plan was that we'd all get a character to morph into, then in the end we would shoot all the scenes at once and we'd wind up with one continuous morph cycle (ex: pirate walks then morphs into businessman, businessman walks then morphs into polar bear, etc.). But unfortunately, the day the characters were assigned, some people were absent, so the order of things was completely screwed up, and people got characters being done by someone else.

For my first attempt, I thought I would make the morph look completely insane. Things were flying off one place and forming somewhere else, the eyes & nose blow out like a balloon, and it was just a complete hodgepodge of action. It looks like the aerial battle around the Death Star in Star Wars. I thought it looked awesome at first, but when I showed it to Doug, he critiqued me, saying how that there's so much going on in such a short time that you'd miss the main action. I was slightly heartbroken, but I agreed with him, there was too much going on. Luckily, thanks to Blogger video, you can watch over & over to see all the stuff going on in it. Enjoy!

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After that, I went back to the drawing board (literally) and tried again. This time, Doug was at my side helping me out with the preliminary stuff. He offered some advice, & I took it like a fish takes water. After our little chit-chat, I drew like hell, ideas running through my head. In the end, I showed my new test to Doug & he really liked it. He laughed at the wackiness going on on screen and patted me on the back saying "Great work!". It felt great that I got Doug's approval, & I was satisfied with what I did, too.

Unlike my first test, this morph seemed a lot more organic. It moves like Silly Putty instead of a bunch of wooden blocks or cardboard cutouts. The flying stuff was reduced to a minimum (if you look closely, you can see his tooth fly out & transform into his tie!) & the nose is the icing on the cake. Things seem a lot more fluid & this is probably my favorite thing that I've ever animated (so far)! See it yourself:

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Well, I hope you enjoyed my stuff. My animation still needs work, since I'm only in my freshman year, but hopefully I'll improve over time.

BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!!!!

Here's an extra little scene I did in my spare time for kicks & giggles. After doing one of my small assignments, I had a few sheets of paper left, so I drew a quick little scene involving everybody's favorite duck, Steve-O, pulling a lever with a little effort. This is what is called a "stagger". Staggers are usually used when a character is vibrating (ex: Goofy's head vibrating in Clock Cleaners), or lifting a heavy object (ex: Goofy lifting dumbells in Goofy Gymnastics). For this test, there's only 6 drawings, but when animating a stagger you repeat drawings in a kinda "two-steps-forward, one-step-back" order (ex: 1, 2, 3, 2, 3, 4, 3, 4, 5, 4, 5, etc.). It took me about 3 minutes to draw the 6 drawings, & I was taken completely by surprise when I played it back on the Lunchbox. I can almost sense the weight & force Steve-O is pulling on that lever. Can you?

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If you want to see the little, insignificant tests I did before these, let me know & I'll put them up. Thanks for watching!

Remember to leave comments!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

"Wow! What an act!"

Yesterday, I went to a recording of "A Daily Show with Jon Stewart" with my friends Mike, Chris & Allison. Great show! I'd show you guys pictures, but there was no cameras or camera phones allowed. Besides, I didn't bring one.

We got to the studio around 2-ish and waited there until around 5. I was cold and my legs were tired from standing the whole time.

Once we got into the studio, we sat down & waited another 45 minutes or so. Before the show started, a comic came out to warm the audience up for Jon, giving away tickets to a comedy club.

Finally, Jon came on the set (the rumors are true, he is short). He answered a few questions as he & the crew got ready to record. Finally, the cameras began to roll & the show began. Because of all the political hype recently (by the way, isn't today Super Tuesday?... Oh boy! I'm going to Carvel! It's two sundaes for one day!) we expected there to be some sort of political guest or former senator on the show talking about the candidates or the election. Boy, were we in for a treat...

After the first commercial break, Jon gets a surprise visit from Stephen Colbert (of the Colbert Report), who thanks him for helping him out last week. You see, there's this whole controversy over presidential candidate Mike Huckabee & who gave him a bump, Colbert or Conan O'Brien, Blah Blah Blah. Anyway, as they're talking, non other than Conan O' Brien himself is sneaking up behind him. The audience went completely insane. Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert & Conan O' Brien all there at the same time. Conan can't take this anymore & he challenges Colbert to a fight then & there. Jon interrupts, saying he's got a show to do, agreeing to fight backstage after the show, & the two leave.

My friend Allison, was even more amazed then the rest of us, because Tim Gunn from Project Runway was the guest on the show that night. They talked about fashion for a while (a guy's dream subject), then the show was over. After the last break, Jon "left" to "fight" Conan.

Jon came back & told the audience that this fight was a three-way crossover between Daily Show, Colbert Report & The Late Show with Conan O'Brien & to make sure to watch the fight on Conan's that night. We couldn't wait for that. After the show, we headed back to SVA, picked up some Chinese & watched the shows.

You can catch last night's Daily Show & Colbert Report again tonight at 8 on Comedy Central. As for the big fight with Conan, somebody probably uploaded a clip of that on Youtube by now, so enjoy it before NBC takes it down.

Have you ever heard someone say "...once in a blue moon." when talking about something never happening? Well, we saw the blue moon last night, & boy was it blue!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Donald Juggling from "Mickey's Circus" (1936)

Here is a short clip of Donald juggling some rubber balls from Mickey's Circus (1936). You can check out the full cartoon HERE.

The cartoon itself has some of the best animation I've ever seen in a Disney short, but the animation of Donald here really stands out the most for me, I'm completely hooked on it! The animation is timed right to the beat & Donald's effortless performance blows me away! This is the kind of animation I'd like to do someday. Does anybody know who animated this scene?

*Update 2/22/08* Hans Perk has the draft for this cartoon, but it's missing the first three pages! Still, he told me the other animators on the film, so it's either one of these three people: Frank Thomas, Al Eugster & Shamus Culhane. If there are any IDer's out there who can tell which one did it, I'd really appreciate it, thanks!

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I heard somewhere that this was first cartoon Milt Kahl worked on as a full-fledged animator, but I'm not sure if it's entirely true (I think he animated Mickey announcing Donald at the beginning of the cartoon, though). Can anybody verify this for me?

I captured this clip using a program I have called SnagIt!, which I usually use for framing/capturing pictures of webpages or snippets of a picture for reference. I didn't know that it captured video too, so I'm a pretty happy camper right now. I've been trying to get a decent video capture/converter program all week to no avail. It may not be the best program to use for this sort of thing, but I'll have to manage for now. Maybe I can do more of these animation clip posts in the future (that is, if you want to). Expect to see some of my SVA animation up in the next few days.

Oh, & I'd like to thank Kevin Langley for helping me out this past week. Make sure to check out his blog "Cartoons, Model Sheets & Stuff" to see some really great cartoons with a lot of informative insight behind them. There's a direct link to his blog on the right side of the page too! Thanks again, Kev!