Friday, June 6, 2003

Someone 'splain this to me.

Okay, so I went to A-Kon, which was nice, and people watched Cutethulhu during the judging of the cosplay, and there was good response. I also showed it at my table, where I received some direct comments, and this is what confuses me: Many people asked me if I used Flash to animate it. The answer was, of course, "yes," but I wanted to know why they thought so. Only once did I get an actual reason, and that was "It moves like Flash." Now how can that be, since I animate frame by frame, not using Flash's motion tweening feature that typifies most Flash movies? Those who know me, know that there are a couple of things that seem innocuous to most people, but that get under my skin. One of them is when people ask me questions while holding false presumptions. My conclusion is that there are two possibilities why people keep asking "Was that done in Flash?":
  1. Because the background was cel-style (rather than painted-style, or my usual 3D style), which is typical for Flash movies. However, this doesn't explain why the same people presumably don't wonder whether the cartoons they see on Cartoon Network are animated in Flash. Indeed, some of them are, but when I discuss Home Movies with people, or Samurai Jack, Clone High, Sealab, or Aqua Teen Hunger Force, it rarely comes up what production methods they use. (For the record, I don't know what methods any of those shows use, except for Home Movies, which does use Flash. I mention them because any of them could be.)
  2. Because it was animated outside of a big studio, and Flash is the only animation software these people have heard of.
I'm leaning toward this one as the more likely reason. Especially since people asked the same thing of my previous works, which were not done in Flash. Indeed, when I'm creating animation solely for DVD, and don't need to worry about an online version, I use my normal backgrounds, and there is no visual difference between my work done this way in Flash, and my work done in Photoshop. Anyway, the other thing that annoyed me was the frequent compliment (said in some degree of amazement): "It looks good for Flash!" I'd be perfectly happy if they didn't qualify the statement with "for Flash". Flash is not a genre, it's a tool. And it's a very good one. There is nothing at all preventing good animators from creating good animation using Flash -- in fact, it facilitates it! The trouble is, it also facilitates bad animators to create bad animation. There are countless animators creating great, professional-quality work in Flash, that look no different from their work using other tools. The fact that there are by statistical necessity a far greater number of bad artists creating crap is not our fault. Taking Cutethulhu as an example again, the viewer (armed with an understanding of the principles of animation) may notice that my work includes the fundamentals of motion, such as squash & stretch, anticipation, ease in/ease out, and recoil. The fact that most TV animation (such as all the ones I mentioned above) does not include those things (i.e. they are very cheap), means that my work is better than professional TV animation. I wish there were a tactful way to communicate this to those who say "It looks good for Flash." Comments about this? Post them on the Yahoo group. You don't need to be a member to post a message.