I remember the first time I got to use my Mum's Panasonic camcorder when I was maybe somewhere in between 6 and 9 years old. The first thing me and my sister did with this fascinating device was to film an epic starring our cuddly toys. Not just one epic though, "The Beanie & Boonie Comedy Show" ran for a good 10 episodes over two or more mini DV cassettes constituting over 3 hours of footage. I loved that thing, the way the stories we'd been playing out could now be immortalised and shared kept me filming for years, even in those early days I was already mimicking film conventions before I really new what they were for, there were crazy close ups, slow-motion (faked, naturally), titles that were no more than sheets of paper with my appalling hand writing on. The structures and ideals that media embed into our malleable minds from a very young age would flow from my imagination with fully formed narratives involving heroic ducks, evil monkeys, hysterical elephants and the domestic troubles of a pair of owls. Its amazing how watching these things back; the mind edits out the hands holding the toys and the voices appear to emerge from the characters themselves, but I can only imagine that to a viewer who didn't participate in these film's creation, all that appears on the screen is two kids playing with toys.

Watching the Toy Story 3 bonus features suddenly reminded me of The Beanie & The Boonie comedy show, and perhaps brought me to the root of why these films had such meaning for me, and anyone who remembers a similar childhood. The beauty of Toy Story for me is also in the premise itself. It was the first computer animated feature film and what does it choose as its subject matter? The imagination of a child and the act of bringing inanimate objects to life through imagination. How perfect is that as a comment on the medium and a start to a flawless run of animated films? (nobody mention Cars). When Woody runs, the exaggerated flailing of limbs and excess of energy is such a perfect depiction of a Toy imbued with imagined life that the audience is always reminded of what the Toys live for. I am now 20 years old, and I didn't hand on my toys to a little girl under a Pixar sun, in a suburban American garden, bathed in purple shadow. I'm holding on to every bit of that past, there's a reason I became an animator...

On a different note. I recently purchased Castlevania: Lord of Shadows. What a pile of crap. Its basically Crash Bandicoot but much much shinier. I love me some Crash Bandicoot, it was the first videogame I ever played, in the days of the original Playstation. It's linear level design, fun platforming gameplay, charm, and one the best theme tunes in gaming all helped establish Crash as a mascot for his platform and genre. 14 years later and Castlevania: Lord of Shadows is employing much the same design techniques well over a decade too late. Its almost as if the developer's realised this and decided they needed to cobble together some more gameplay elements to create a bit of variety, so they stole some more stuff from Naughty Dog with a simplified version of Uncharted's platforming, they stole a few boss fights from Shadow of the Colossus-even nicking their grab mechanic and power points that had to be stabbed. This all amounted to something a little like a diluted God of War so they added some quicktime events just to complete the overall sense of deja vu thievery, if you're wondering what Kojima's contribution was to this smorgasbord of plagiarism it would probably be the pointless cut scenes that break up the "gameplay" (again, I love metal gear solid's cut scenes but they don't really add anything to Castlevania when they show you walking into the next area every 2 minutes).  Castlevania: Lord of Shadows, from what I hear, is almost nothing like the franchise its supposed to be based on, so why not draw from that and bring it onto the current generation of consoles instead of just taking a quick look at what some of today's games are doing and pilfering it.

In other news the 11 Second Club results are in and I came a mildly disappointing 70/295. I was hoping for a top 50. Its interesting how some I was sure I'd beat were popular and others that I thought were masterpieces didn't do nearly as well. My animation clocked an impressive 24 comments (well, I was impressed) nearly all remarking on the vomit inducing handicam-seriously fuck you, its awesome, and the shiny rendering- yeah I know it was a cheap shot. But others were genuinely constructive. Here are some highlights:

  • Matt 3 days ago
    Rander and effects are awesome, but animation needs improving, maybe by making some stronger poses to make the character look more agressive i.e have him point the shovel and the dude on the ground when yelling you stole it! But still nice job though!
  • Edgardo C. Padilla Jr. 3 days ago
    I don't see any problems here but I kinda wish there were more close up shots of their faces since its dialogue driven.
  • Olly Skillman-Wilson 3 days ago
    frame that shit tighter next time Olly, cant even see their bloody faces.
  • Alexander Baert 3 days ago
    Very nice piece! The gag with the lightning could have a bigger impact with a cut to a wider shot, more sky (he could be strecthed more also, making a stronger pose, and we would see the top of the spade, attracting the lightning going from top to bottom through him), and him actually getting burned or ellectrocuted, now it seems a bit 'on top' of him. Nice animation, both the guys dropping is very well done! The hands of the angry guy needs attention when he climbs out, they seem flat all the time. Cheers!
  • Tyler Johnston 2 days ago
    This is good. I think it will rate higher based on the great production values. I am 50-50 on the camera; while I think the movement is really well done, I'm not sure what purpose it serves to drive the story. Is it supposed to be another person's POV? Is the camera supposed to be floating on the water? I think you might want revisit it (but that's just one person's opinion). I think the animation itself is good, but given the cinematic treatment you have given it, I think you could have pushed it a bit further. When looking past all the glam, it seems a bit on the timid side. Obviously you've got a solid skill set here, so I think you can handle the harsher critique. I do like the staging, although with the lighting I feel like we loose out on the emotions of the characters somewhat, especially the angry guy. Nice work overall, keep at it =)
  •   Adriano Mariotto 2 days ago
    more appeal, the camera movement distracts, the faces not be able to read. good body mechanics, good poses, good idea.

    keep animating! 
  • David Wardell 1 day ago
    Concentrate less on the high-tech handheld look and the unnecessary action and special effects. You're a good animator, but you need to improve your timing and exaggeration if you're gonna make it. 
    Yeah that's right, I commented on my own video. This is probably the last post before Christmas, I'll keep blogging hopefully as I have a couple of things planned.

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