New Animated Comedy Series - Thoughts/Opinions Wanted

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HangmanSi
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New Animated Comedy Series - Thoughts/Opinions Wanted

Post by HangmanSi » Mon Aug 19, 2013 1:29 am

Show Name: City Boy Blues - Episode 1 (Part 1)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJZSn-Fha0w

Hi

Keeping a long story short, roughly two years ago I began trying to self teach myself how to 'do' animation using the manuals that came with Anime Studio, I think I was using 7 Debut, back then. My goal was to be able to learn enough to create short animations to use as a vehicle for my comedy writing. Fast forward those years and after several demo videos and false starts, I have produced the first video in an episodic web series I call, City Boy Blues. This has also been the flagship of my work, and I bring it to this forum to share with other animators. I would be grateful to anybody who can take the 4 minutes to watch the first part of the show and provide me with any feedback they have and hopefully pass the show on to others if they like it and find it funny.

Before last christmas, I posted two videos that I had produced as demo videos for what I had learned up to that point, and the feedback that I received from this forum helped me a lot in shaping what this series has ultimately become.

Looking around this forum at other people's work, I can see that there are some very talented people using this software, and it kinda reminds me that I'm not really an animator, and that I'm trying to learn enough so that I can string a decent, funny story together and make people laugh. I must warn people that there is bad language used throughout the video, and that any American viewers might not 'get' my 'take the piss' British humour. But hopefully, people that don't quite find it to their tastes can still see some positives in the overall production.

For more information about the series, visit http://www.foreverdelayed.net

Thanks in advance to anyone who views/likes/comments/tweets etc.

Simon (HangmanSi)

PS: One of the playlists on the YouTube channel contains trimmed down versions of the christmas videos that I posted in the forum last December, for anyone thats interested.
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heyvern
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Re: New Animated Comedy Series - Thoughts/Opinions Wanted

Post by heyvern » Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:33 am

To me, you won me other with one line:
"I can't watch England without a drink first. It makes the whole thing less depressing."
I have no idea about european football or all the teams but I love watching arguments discussing it on English programming. It just cracks me up and I have no idea why. Not knowing the details for some odd reason makes it extremely funny. The English get so passionate about football. :)

Okay, on to some constructive comments...

One thing I would suggest is possibly creating some more variation in the lip sync. There is a lot of emotional range in the dialog. Unfortunately none of that is captured in the switches for the lip sync. All of the "rest" positions are default "smiles". You don't need a ton of variation but possibly a small amount would help.

The "real" emotion of the dialog is perfect and really drives the whole thing. You can almost feel the dedicated fan support from the characters driving the whole thing. You want to make sure you don't lose that too much in the animation.

Just the humble opinion of a clueless American. :)
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AmigaMan
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Re: New Animated Comedy Series - Thoughts/Opinions Wanted

Post by AmigaMan » Mon Aug 19, 2013 11:15 am

Well I'm English and I find the same discussion's after a football match as hilarious as you Vern :D

I thought the episode was well produced in a South Park vein. I think story and writing are more important than the quality of animation anyway. It's not my sort of thing. It annoys me that people seem to think something gets funnier the more expletives are used. I also didn't find the Down's Syndrome lines remotely funny. But then I'm old and the comedy on TV I grew up with was far different (Clever and better written?) than the 'comedy' broadcast today. However, I've no doubt there is an audience for your work and I hope you do well with it. I liked the design of the character's and sets and the voices were well recorded and acted. It would be nice to see more animation during the dialogue such as subtle movements in the head etc but maybe it doesn't need it and you set your own style from the start.
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Re: New Animated Comedy Series - Thoughts/Opinions Wanted

Post by jahnocli » Mon Aug 19, 2013 12:06 pm

It stopped being funny about half-f***ing-way through. The animation seemed to be based on an "Odd Job Jack" style, but much less mobile, and the relentless front-face viewpoint was tedious after a while. It's not a series I'd be interested in without colossal improvement in writing and animation.

Sorry to be so forthright, but you did ask.
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Re: New Animated Comedy Series - Thoughts/Opinions Wanted

Post by Danimal » Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:08 am

HangmanSi wrote:self teach myself
Who else would you self teach? :?:
AmigaMan wrote:It annoys me that people seem to think something gets funnier the more expletives are used
Standing up and shouting agreement with this statement.

There were two times I laughed - the "get my hair wet" bit and taking off his belt. The latter was immediately ruined by the other character laughing at it.

To me, these guys were just unlikeable scumbags arguing about nothing. The one they keep picking on was the closest to likeable, though maybe he was just sympathetic. When I look at it I think "if I knew any of these characters in real life would I care if they got hit by a bus?" and the answer is no. Foul-mouthed slobs arguing about nothing are what I see every day. I don't need to see it in a cartoon as well.

Now, to the good: I like the character designs and the animation looked good. The one guy sticking his hands in his pockets had me scratching my head as to how you did it. The front facing characters only bothered me when they were in motion, but otherwise I thought it looked good and the eye movements captured what they were doing well.

Perhaps before jumping straight into them being foul-mouthed slobs you can do a story setting up who they are and why we as the audience should care one bit about what they're saying? Just a thought.
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94253
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Re: New Animated Comedy Series - Thoughts/Opinions Wanted

Post by 94253 » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:40 pm

One minor tip regarding the animation is the noses. You may want to flip the heads, or at least draw a nose pointed the other way. When they were on the couch, even though their eyes pointed toward whom they were speaking to, their noses did not. That little detail would make the scenes look more natural.
AmigaMan wrote:It annoys me that people seem to think something gets funnier the more expletives are used.
I agree with this as well. I think the reason I tolerate it on South Park is because they are all little kids, so it's got an extra level of shock value that isn't present when the characters are 30-something losers. Culturally I can't speak to the realism of that; it really depends on the target audience.

I really liked the bit about their hair getting wet. The way it turned back around on the blonde guy was simply hilarious. That's the legitimate wit you should try to include more of. :)
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Re: New Animated Comedy Series - Thoughts/Opinions Wanted

Post by Danimal » Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:41 pm

From your website:
HangmanSi wrote:The truth is the bad language wasn't increased for the sake of trying to be funny. It was added to put the point across that the characters of Alex & Jay are horrible towards each other and will do or say anything to get a rise out of one another.
The point isn't just the language, it's more what is summed up here: why do we care about these two and why are we interested that they're horrible towards each other? It's OK for two characters to have a rivalry, but we need to know why. I can almost certainly walk into any bar anywhere and watch two vulgar lowlifes insulting one another, what give me a reason to watch this versus that?

And what's more, when a main character is "horrible" to another one, something bad must happen in return. I think of a show like Seinfeld with the awful and scheming character George. We didn't mind that he was horrible because in the end he always failed and was the brunt of the joke. His being horrible led to him being a punchline, not someone cool or funny. There's many more examples, that's just the first that popped into my head.

Here's an example: it seems the one guy is made because the other guy is cheating at a game (sorry, I don't know their names because the episode gave me no reason to learn them) so the one guy throws his controller out the window. No thrust or resolution. How about this:
ONE GUY: If you do that cheat move one more time...
OTHER GUY: (does something with his controller to imply he's cheating)
ONE GUY: THAT DOES IT! (pulls game cartridge or disc out)
OTHER GUY: Hey, I was winning--
ONE GUY: (throws the disc/cartridge out the window) HAHA!
OTHER GUY: Ha ha what? That was your game!
ONE GUY: Ah, crap... (runs offscreen)

Other guy cheats so one guy stops playing. One guy throws a tantrum but his rage is misplaced. They both lose. This ain't the greatest scene in the world, but it gives us a reason to watch: when they try to be horrible, something BAD happens to them. And what do you know? They were both horrible without name calling or cursing! Say it ain't so!

I guess I got on a bit of a soapbox there, sorry about that. There's potential here, it's just not tapped at all.
~Danimal
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HangmanSi
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Re: New Animated Comedy Series - Thoughts/Opinions Wanted

Post by HangmanSi » Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:05 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtGlxtSzgY4]

There is part 2...It's safe to say that anybody that didn't particularly like the first part won't like this part either.

But I am pleased to see that in within all the negative comments (not just on this board, but in general) there are some genuine pieces of advice that I have been paying attention to. My plan is to finish out with the final part of this episode and then return to the drawing board to digest all the positives and negatives and decide how to take the project forward.

One of the pieces of feedback that I have been listening to is how static the characters look, so towards the back end of this new video the characters develop a bit more head bobbing when they are talking. Upon reflection, i've got to agree that it does bring them to life a little bit more. I'm not sure whether anyone else will agree.

I know Ive made some mis-steps along the way, but ultimately its all part of a learning curve. I suppose the danger of being so close to a project for such a long time causes you to lose sight of how your characters are perceived by strangers. When I'm hearing my characters being described as scumbags and lowlifes, I have to acknowledge that something went wrong somewhere along the line.

From an animation point of view, I knew that people were either going to love or hate the art and character design. People were either gonna buy into them constantly facing the front or think it looked kinda stupid, I think I always liked the whole low-budget puppet look of their walking animation. As a result, I'm gonna look at doing either a 3/4 or side view for each character and see how it goes. As far as face designs, i'd never really considered their noses before, and its also something that I will look into.

At the end of the day, I think most shows turn out differently to their pilot episodes and evolve into something thats more polished, so I will continue to listen to any feedback and treat this like the experiment that it is.
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Re: New Animated Comedy Series - Thoughts/Opinions Wanted

Post by Danimal » Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:38 pm

I gave it a watch all the way through. It ends on a pretty solid joke until one of the characters says "sorry, love" and spoils it. The scream is enough, I don't need the joke pointed out to me further.

Other than that it was more of the same: arguing for no reason I can understand. In fact, as this episode shows us that they each have their own apartments and TVs (I had figured they were roommates), I'm even more baffled as to why they sit around pointlessly bickering with each other.

I kind of kept hoping for some humor around the fact that since they're not drinking they'll realize just how boring soccer is. It almost went that direction and then stopped.

That the characters get passionate can really be used to make some good humor, especially given how misguided it is. It would just be nice if it were for something more than swearing at each other. And yes, even the "f**k off" - "I'll take that as a yes" bit could have been funny had it not been one of about 12 times that guy said "f**k off."
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HangmanSi
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Re: New Animated Comedy Series - Thoughts/Opinions Wanted

Post by HangmanSi » Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:51 pm

94253 wrote:One minor tip regarding the animation is the noses. You may want to flip the heads, or at least draw a nose pointed the other way.
Thank you. It looks much better.
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Re: New Animated Comedy Series - Thoughts/Opinions Wanted

Post by 94253 » Thu Aug 22, 2013 12:27 am

Well you can certainly take criticism. It's good to have thick skin. :)

Honestly I didn't even notice your walk animation was just the entire body bobbing up and down, instead of the traditional moving limbs. It looks fine the way you're doing it. Especially since the bodies are smaller. It does remind me of South Park in that sense, and there's nothing wrong with that. The walk style works very well in your project.

I'd probably go for the side view over a 3/4 view of the faces. You may also try a side view of the bodies, then mix and match bodies with heads as needed. It really depends on your scripts. If you don't think the characters will ever be completely sideways, the 3/4 view is always a popular one to use. For example if you check my work I use 3/4 view characters 90% of the time and just flip them.

The additional head bobs in Part 2 makes things look more natural. I can't wait to see how you improve further in Part 3. It's tedious work, but the details make all the difference!
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Re: New Animated Comedy Series - Thoughts/Opinions Wanted

Post by HangmanSi » Thu Aug 22, 2013 12:55 am

I've tried drawing the characters 3/4 before and could never get it to look right, so it looks like it will be side, if anything.

Regarding criticism, its all too easy to think "fuck it, i'm out of here" every time somebody has a dig at my work. I'm here on this forum to get people's opinion on how the animation and art style work. If people don't like or get the humour, thats fine. I don't know what the ratio of US to UK board members is on here, but I'm having some rough things said about it on British forums, and if I can't get them on side then I pretty much give up on trying to attract an American audience at this point.

I've picked up a couple of good things so far, so in my opinion that's been worth it. And to be completely honest, regarding comedy and story telling, the responses on this board have actually been more coherent than those of 'professional' sketch writers in other forums.
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Re: New Animated Comedy Series - Thoughts/Opinions Wanted

Post by drumlug13 » Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:07 am

If you stop calling soccer Football it would be less offensive to us here in the US.
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Re: New Animated Comedy Series - Thoughts/Opinions Wanted

Post by Danimal » Thu Aug 22, 2013 2:14 am

HangmanSi wrote:I'm having some rough things said about it on British forums, and if I can't get them on side then I pretty much give up on trying to attract an American audience at this point.
Nah, don't look at it that way. Don't see it as "this is British vs. American" humor, funny is funny. There's a lot of potential in these characters, it's just that none of it is being used right now.
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Re: New Animated Comedy Series - Thoughts/Opinions Wanted

Post by heyvern » Thu Aug 22, 2013 4:25 am

I liked the second episode.

No arguments about who likes what or why, or what's funny or not. We all have our preferences. I personally think it's hysterical. I would watch it. The world is full of REAL scumbags and lowlifes... if they were as funny as these guys then I would enjoy hanging out with them more. :)

I was actually glad to see that part 2 was up. I still like these swearing, lowlife arses.

Please don't take my enthusiasm as any kind of professional expert opinion on its potential success. I have very odd tastes that often result in failure. Many tv shows I really liked got canceled after the first season. I thought that the US version of "The Office" would fail miserably and was terrible when it first started because I was such a fan of the original. I refused to watch it for years. :)

Constructive Criticism:

These are just my humble opinions based on my gut feeling while watching and don't have to be taken as any kind of expert advice. I am going to get really OCD on this so take it all with a grain of salt. :)

Timing
I like the timing. It's like 97.65219% perfect. There are a few spots where it's a bit off. The lightening hitting the TV antenna was just a bit long. That could have been handled in just one cut. Cut to the antenna, lightening hits it, cut back and the punch line, or simply shorten both cuts to the antenna so the pacing is a bit faster.

Also, I noticed this in the first episode... I can't explain exactly why but it just feels like the title intro segment feels long to me. I know this is silly, but it just felt like it could be a few seconds shorter. I don't know why but I actually felt a little impatient.

As for the the bit at very end with the "Sorry luv"... I would not say ruins the punchline, it could stay or go in my opinion, but... I actually thought it added to the final joke. It demonstrated the mind set of the characters. It's the absurdity of him simply saying "Sorry luv" like he bumped into her on the street or spilled a drink on her at a bar. JUST AN OPINON. I agree they are arguing over stuff I know nothing about... but for some reason it just makes me laugh.

Sorry your UK counterparts don't like it. It's probably because we are so different from them. Plus, they don't get to hear the awesome accents the way I do. :)

I love that show "Top Gear", and WOW those guys just LOVE to make fun of Americans. It cracks me up when they go out of their way to humiliate us. They either are goofing on the exaggerated stereotypes or they actually believe it. It's really hard to tell but so funny.

(The American version of that show is so bad, all copies of it should be burned, staked in the heart, sealed in cement, and then buried deep in a mountain, while performing a ritual to prevent anyone here from ever trying again. However, with my track record on US versions of Brit shows, it will probably run for 10 years and be a huge smash hit. ;) )

Animation
One other little thing. In some spots where the forearms are at some awkward positions they need some "foreshortening" or scaling. Specifically when the guy in the middle on the couch puts his arms back. I could tell he was "suppose" to be sort of lounging back, but my brain was just screaming "That doesn't look right!" and it bugged me.

This doesn't need to be very realistic or fantastically animated or even remotely perfect in any way. I love the simplicity of the animation and wouldn't want something extreme that stands out too much. Just a simple shorter forearm just for those few times when it really stands out. Very basic quick switches. Easily done with bone scaling (step keys only. Just quick switches. No need to smoothly animate it.

I watch South Park, as much for the comedy as for how they animate... yes, it's VERY "stylized bad" animation, but it's done "on purpose" and it's quite interesting to see how they handle things. I often notice a lot of "one off" poses. A specific, completely different angle of a character or a body part, just for a quick single pose or scene. You see it once in a blue moon, and it's not over used. It's like they animators think "this is hard to read, let's just draw it the way it should look." You could even apply that type of "quick one off" pose for side views. Don't overdo it just occasionally for impact.
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