Tuesday, September 29, 2009

At the SVA Open Screening

I just got back from the Open Screening at the School of Visual Arts, in New York. There was just one entry rule: simply show up with a DVD and it plays. No red tape to cut through, just bring you work.

I was pleased to see some of the works that I've already seen on AnimationHut.TV and I was also pleased to meet some of the (few) people that have already signed up, actually, one person in particular, Andrew Kaiko. He showed a short that was different form the film he had posted on AnimationHUT.TV. His new short film is entitled Foxy Scrambler. I thought it was really cute and I hope we'll get to see it soon on our site. Andrew is a talented young animator and I hope there's a good career ahead of him, in our industry.

One thing that kind of sucks about me, sometimes, is that I have a memory of a goldfish. I think they've discovered that goldfish have a memory of a few seconds, so when they swim in circles, inside their fish bowl, they constantly discover "new" things they've never seen before. That may be good if you're a goldfish, but it's not good if you seek a career as a film critic. Well, I don;t care about being a film critic, so I am not too bothered by the fact that I've already forgotten what I was watching earlier tonight. Actually, I am not really trying to post a critique of the screening.

However, as short as my memory may be, I still remember seeing a few things that stuck to it. I am not even going to mention (at least not by title) the film (still in pencil test) that screened tonight, that I have been working on for the past two years. I am also not going to go into details about films of some of my friends, since I don't want to be biased. But I do want to mention a few works that stuck to mind (and hopefully we'll see them soon on AnimationHUT.TV).

There was short by a student from China, that portrayed herself through an animated character of a panda bear, that came to America and is now surrounded by North American species of bears (grizzlies, black bears, polar bears... etc). The film was really cute and I really look forward to seeing more stuff form her. I think her name was Vera Lui, but forgive me if I made a mistake (my memory, remember?).

The other film that I liked was a short about a lady whose cat dies, and then... well, you'll just have to see the film. The author was a student from Seoul, Korea. She said to call her, simply Q, because her name is complicated to remember. I actually do remember her name, but I respect her wish to call her Q. So, Q she is.

There was also a work in progress that I really liked. It was a film about people on vacation. The film was a good critique of the society we live in and the characters were well designed. I always like it when a film has a meaning beyond the obvious storyline. Well, this one is definitely one of them. I can't remember if I mentioned that I have a very short-term memory, but I just can't remember the name of the guy that is working on this film. It was nice of him to share his work in progress, though.

So, I printed out 90 mini fliers for AnimationHut.TV and handed out a whole bunch of them. I have exactly 52 left (come to think of it, I could make up a deck of paying cards...) so I must have handed out exactly 38 of them. I sure hope at least 38 people sign up in the next few days.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

AnimationHUT.TV - One Week in Review

Today is exactly one week since the launch of the new site AnimationHut.TV. Now is time to look at where it's at.

First thing I did this morning I looked at my traffic stats.

One the day the site was launched, we had 5 hits. Those were just friends that had been told about the site. Every day the site had more visitors and we wrapped up the first week with 63 hits on the 7th day.

In the 7 days of its existence the site had 11 sign-ups and 43 uploads. The big majority of the uploaded videos are actually (not surprisingly) by me. But others have also shows support and enthusiasm by taking the time to upload their own videos.

It should be noted that one does not have to be an animator, to upload a video.

If you are just a fan of animation or if you worked on a spot in some capacity other then graphic artist, you can still upload whatever you wish - as long as it is related to animation. In fact, it doesn't even have to be animation. You can do a short "behind the scenes" video, or a studio tour. That's why we have the "behind the scenes" category. You could also interview a friend that works in the animation industry and post the video. Or you could do a video tutorial on how to animate, or how to use a computer program; i.e. share tips and tricks. The more the better, but the point is that everything that ends up on the site is somehow related to animation.

Ultimately, the animation community will end up with a nice resource that will not be cluttered by unrelated stuff, such as on YuTube. When you log on to AnimationHUT.TV you'll know right away that you will not be distracted by anything else. So, it will be easier to skim through all the related videos and it will be easier to find what you are looking for. You can also create your own channel, which you can use as a portfolio; instead of sending out an animation reel (or a large attachment in an email) you can simply send a link to your channel, or to a specific spot.

So, if you haven't signed up, yet, please do so... and please upload some videos.

Also, please spread the word. Our site is free and ultimately it will serve the animation community around the world.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A surprise visit form a mime, in the final days ot the first week

Well, our new site AnimationHut.TV has only been up for about a week and we already had a few good sign-ups and submissions.

Last night I was pleasantly surprised by short clip entitled Mime For A Day, submitted by Andrew Kaiko.

According to Andrews own description, the clip he uploaded is the first 2 minutes of his 2006 senior thesis from RISD. I really liked the style and the story. In fact, the story has the element of what every good story should have: i.e. the first few opening scenes engage you, as a viewer, to the point that makes you want to see the rest of the film.

Speaking of the rest of the film, you can see the entire 6-minute film on YouTube. Andrew provides a URL to this YouTube page, in his comments.

So, AnimationHut.TV is still open for new sign-ups and new submissions. I hope to see more people visiting and signing up, soon.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Award wining artists are signing up

Last two days we had a couple of award winning artists join our (still) small (but slowly growing) community at AnimationHut.TV. Last night it was Alex Woo and today it was Scott Strong.

I'm sure most of you know who Alex Woo is, but just in case, he won the Academy Award for best student film, in 2004, for Rex Steele: Nazi Smasher. Rex Steele was first created by Bill Presing and Matt Peters and was first developed into a comic book. Later Matt and Bill teamed up with Alex and Dan Blank, and together developed the script for the short film, which Alex directed. The film won the Academy award for best student film and that pretty much secured a future in animation for Alex. Alex hasn't uploaded any animation on the site, yet, but I guess we'll be hearing from him in the near future.

Today, Scott Strong joined our community. Scott is a two-time Emmy award winner. I guess, when one has two Emmys under his belt you can't really say he was just lucky. I know Scott very well from projects we used to work on and I can tell you he's a really talented artist.

Scott already uploaded a couple of videos, today. The one that I would like to draw your attention to is the animated intro for Chasin' Gus' Ghost.

Chasin’ Gus’ Ghost is a documentary film about the history of Jug Band Music. Scott worked mostly on the main character animation. All design work was created by Diana Brian and the music is by John Sebastian And The J Band.

Although Scott uploaded only these two videos, his work has already been featured on our site form the beginning, because him and I worked together on so many projects, usually when I show my work I am also showing his.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

We've got some interesting uploads, already...

The new site AnimationHUT.TV is only a couple of days old, but we already have a small community there. This morning we even got a registration from Turkey. How did people there already hear about it? That's the age of the internet, I guess.

Last night I went to the 2art4TV show, to see what kind of artwork our local animators are producing when they are not working on films, and when I got back to my "studio" (well, you all probably know that my "studio" is also my bedroom) I was pleased to see that our member adamcloud was kind enough to upload a couple of new videos. I was even more pleased when I watched them.

I particularly liked his Disnet film.

I don't want to tell you what it's about, in fact, I don't have to tell you, since you can simply watch it on our new site and see for yourself. It's a simple film, but I really liked it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Improved video quality on AnimationHUT.TV

Well, the new site AnimationHUT.TV has only been up for a couple of days but I've already done an important improvement. The video quality is now better.

I am well aware of the fact that animators really hate videos that look compressed and deteriorated. After all, we spend hours, days, weeks, months, and sometimes years working on animation and I really don't think we are too picky if we expect it to look decent on the internet.

At this point the site only has a few members, as I haven't even started promoting it, yet. But one member pointed out that I should fix the video quality as soon as possible. I can't say that I disagreed with him, so I got to work right away.

At this time I was able to improve the video quality by changing a setting in the admin panel. The video quality has improved, but I know it can still be better. If I had the ind of budget that YouTube has, this would not be an issue, but with the limited resources that I have, it takes time to get everything just right. But it's getting there...

But of course, the source file is just as important as the work that I do, to improve video quality. If you submit a movie that is too small in size, the video converter on the site will expand the video and the results will be less then satisfactory. This was actually the problem with some of the videos I was uploading. But I am in the process of replacing them.

So, make sure your videos are at least 300x240.

The good news is that I set up the site to archive the original video files into a separate folder, as it is re-formating the videos, during the upload process. This means that if at some later time there will be a better converter available, I will be able to re-render all the videos, using the original files that were captures during your uploads. So, in simple terms, this means that one day you may log onto the site and notice that the quality of your videos seems to have spontaneously improved, overnight.

Another thing you can do at your end is to make sure your videos are not over-saturated. Animation can use a lot of primary colors and if you over-saturate the image it will look less then perfect when it's compressed. So, make sure the colors are not too saturated.

So, I'm working at my end, to improve the quality of videos, but you can also follow these simple guidelines to make sure your source files are as god as they can be.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just launched the first "Animation HUT" site

Hi all,

This is (obviously) the first post on this blog. Just an announcement, really...

Last night, I launched AnimationHUT.TV, the first video sharing site specifically for the animation community. This new site is basically like YouTube, except that it's just about animation. Now, how cool is that?

The idea is basically to have one place on the internet where all the animation, from all over the world, can be shared. YouTube is great, of course, and we should all continue to post there, but since that is a general interest mega-site all the relevant content (when it comes to those specifically looking for animation) tendst to get lost amongst millions of videos that have nothing to do with animation. So, my idea is to start a niche video-sharing and upload site that is only for animation.

Furthermore, AnimationHUT.TV is fully monitored by administrators. This means that all videos require the approval of administrators before they go live. In other words, you upload your video, but it doesn't show up right away. During the course of the day any one of our administrators will log onto the backend and see if there are any newly uploaded videos to approve. If the videos are about animation they get approved, during this activation process.

All videos have to be about animation, but they don't necessarily have to be animated films. This means that you can publish an interview with anyone that works in the animation industry and the video will be approved. Or you can post a tutorial, or show behind the scenes, or do a studio tour... well, you get the idea.

So, the most desirable user names will go fast. Don't wait. Log onto AnimationHUT.TV, register your user name and start uploading some videos.