Thursday, April 02, 2009


Leo and The Pisa-gang | Demo from Fatkat on Vimeo.

Fresh out of the Fatkat hopper. Leo and the Pisa-gang, going into production here at Fatkat in 2009.


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At 4/09/2009 04:04:00 PM , Blogger Michael Tallon said...

Beautiful cartoon, you guys are on some other schnitt

At 4/10/2009 10:59:00 PM , Blogger MikeL said...

Is it too much to ask that animation be interesting? I follow this blog to keep up with the industry but all I see over and over is cheaply produced animation done in either Flash or Toonboom or similar. It's extremely obvious and is worsened by the fact that the characters have about 0 appeal. As an animator I'm embarassed, as a parent of kids who actually watch cartoons (and watch them myself) I refuse to be a consumer of this garbage. I don't fault Fatkat...I've seen the rubbish that gets pitched... but I do think that the current lack of standards is appalling.

At 4/11/2009 11:01:00 PM , Blogger Gene Fowler said...

Hi Mike L,

I really don't know what to say here. I feel your statement lays like a blanket, get specific with your oppinion on things.

One thing I'd like to share here though and it took me 10 years to learn this. Here goes.

It's not the best animated television show that will get picked up by networks. Animation quality is secondary to the core concept, message, story and lastly the visual style that ties it all together.

this is why you see all sorts on TV, networks measure show pitches based on the demographic that watches that specific channel. The networks know their audiences very well. They pick shows that fit their eyeballs but are different and unique in a way that they hope that it may attract more pairs of them.

Sometimes they work and new shows take off, Ren & Stimpy, South Park, Aqua Teen hunger force, Venture Bros, Skunk Fu!, Chaotic, etc.

Sometimes they don't, it's all a risk, a chance.

Can't wait to hear your thoughts on Space Knights. :)


At 4/12/2009 05:53:00 PM , Blogger Michael Tallon said...

Plus, in a dollar conscious environment, networks are comparing shows that take $150,000 to produce with Flash or the like, to $1,000,000 to make a single episode of a show like Family Guy.

And I know studios Mike L is talking about that are a dime a dozen, but I'd have to say FatKat is pretty original to my stringent tastes. Plus, people like Augenblick Studios prove that those type of programs can look just as good as traditional animation with "Superjail!".

At 4/12/2009 10:19:00 PM , Blogger MikeL said...

Hey Gene, thanks for responding to my comments. I see both what you're saying about the generalization about the demo as well as the comments on the industry. I dislike the idea that general ideas (ie. it worked for XXXX so it will work for YYYY) but marketing is a different beast.

Specifically in regards to the demo of Leo and the Gang (this is specific to the animation but also a few other director-type things);
Let me start on a positive note by saying that the backgrounds are beautiful!
The characters are not very appealing..this is a matter of the poses as well as the character design. I don't get a good sense of who they are from their acting, their poses, or really even the dialog (though it offers some clues). The shapes the characters are made of don't follow a visual theme...
There are characters comprised of basic geometric shapes with internal detail mixed with characters that follow classical Preston Blair style construction and very external type detail.

Overlap and follow through are added to some things in huge amounts while are almost non-existent in others. Galileo's hair is apparently possessed while the little girl's hair is made of copper wire or similar.

There are a LOT of dead limbs with not so-much as a moving hold to carry the action...this makes the lantern bearer's arm look like it's a piece of furniture... The heads also look a bit dead while delivering very LONG bits of dialog.
On that..the dialog is far too wordy and intense for the 5-10 year olds who would normally watch this on the likes of PBS, but I'm guessing that since E/I shows are pulling higher ratings, this will be major network... Whatever the case...the characters talk to much and are very monotone. The twins' actions don't really match their voice acting either..they seem like they would be hyper and mischievous but the read as cautious and doubting.

The walk cycles do not match the pacing of the translation in the horizontal plane... the opening sneak sequence looks extremely awkward. The horse scene doesn't match the perspective and hasn't nearly enough vertical bob for actual horse movement.

Watching it again...the bouncing hair in the beginning is extremely itchy... At the very least it should match up to the pacing of the music. I won't go into the fact that the bodies on the characters who are sneaking are perfectly upright despite the effort of the upper torso to create locomotion of that type at that speed. The heads are so dead while talking that the long dialog really is distracting an uninteresting.

The lighting of the environment is beautiful and the best that was put forward on the characters is a cheap filter...which now that I look at it, screams Flash..that's the emboss with satin if I'm right...

The line weight doesn't follow a visual some places it's black and bold, in others it's very light, in more it's a complimentary color and medium weight... There's varying levels of details that make these characters feel like 12 different people made them, then threw them together without a lead artist checking them or any kind of line-up.

Around 1 minute the horse screams cycle. At 1:09 the lantern has follow through, at 2:02 it has the same amount with less movement, at 2:12 it has none.
At 2:40 Galileo's collar is going berserk. At 3:07 the girl lights the dry straw... at 3:10 it's not lit. 3:28 the girl's hair looks pretty natural, 3:32 it goes stiff (it does this switch a few times).
At 3:51+ the lip sync is off pretty bad.
4:11 the character's pose feels flat though he's pointing at something...he also fills most of the screen, but the composition of the shot isn't all that great. Also...the action in that shot for him screams "segmented Flash character".

At 1:21 the fountain is out of perspective.

As for the other shows you mentioned. I actually love Venture Bros and Ren and Stimpy... the others are far more along the lines of cut-out animation and I'm not a big fan of that unless a great deal of care is taken with the visual elements.

As for Space Knights... I'll have to look it up :) I saw some posts but think I missed any clips you may have posted.

At 4/13/2009 12:00:00 AM , Blogger Gene Fowler said...

Thanks for posting your feedback, sincerly.


At 4/13/2009 02:51:00 PM , Blogger Sebastien said...

Hi there - For the amount of details, i think this show looks very nice. I would give the thin bandit the mustache though! Hope it works out.

At 4/14/2009 02:45:00 AM , Blogger Jon Lambe said...

Gene, Mike L

It seams, at least from my perspective on this matter that there are several things left out of this discussion thati think both party's either neglected to mention or take intoconsideration. First off, in a studio the quality of work you can produce is solely based on budget. Budget = time, time= quality and as Mike tallon mentioned ,flash shows are usually on severely smaller budgets than traditional shows.

Well how does this relate you ask? Well first thing you need to really understand is that in comparison we take our points of view and impose them circumstances we might not truly have a handle on.Now im not saying your critique
of the pilot was incorrect, just the opposite in fact. But you fail to comprehend how this pilot was put together, thus jading your opinion. Thats why im rambling aimlessly, to make you aware of a few key factors that led to its creation.

First off, good animation, or even acceptable animation takes time, of that no one can argue. well unless your glen freakin Keen and it flows out of you like arrogance flows out of tom cruse.

We were working and in full production of another show, doing 55 second quotas, while this little beauty was being animated. It was a volunteer project only, so anyone who signed up to work on it had to do so in there own time.
And we gladly helped out. Please dont take this the wrong way, but if you had to do a 55 second quota along with shots from this show, you have 0 time to really get into what makes animation fun,the subtle movement's,nuances, the stuff that took the great animators weeks to instill in a 2 sec scene. Well in the telivision animation industry that's usually the case.

Christ look at the 80's cartoons and tell me there pieces of breath taking animation...well except the intros, always hooked me. Anyways what i was trying to get across is that its kind of unfair to judge
this little test, which was completed on a tiny time scale ( only thanks to tavis did that one really happen) to something that
it really shouldn't aspire to be. Really if my kid points out that the inbetweening was poor on that shot or the perspective was off, i think id have a problem on my hands. Or a prodigy. Either way you shouldn't look to deep into things when your expecting gold from brass. Its a little unfair.

Now saying that, as i had mentioned earlier i still completely agree with your
assessment. But service work caries with it the heavy price of bending to the all-mighty parent company, there time schedules
their budgets, there designs, and if you really want a job, you don't start saying no to the guy who could potentially keep your work force employed for the next year.

Just a little tid bit from someone who's worked with these company's and done the service work thing. Animated satisfaction comes from your personal work, or features where you truly have time to consider all the factors and reality of the illusion your trying to create. If your looking for it on tv, well then it had better be done by the Japanese or Koreans, they're the only masters i know of who can work under those conditions and still produce gold.

Why work at such a place you ask? Well i enjoy pushing myself, but in truth that's the difference from the feature industry to tv animation.

And if anyone told you that the television animation industry was anything like feature, they were either lying or working on avatar. Which if i recall correctly had a pretty substantial budget. And 20 year Korean animation veterans behind it, most of which had spent the first 10 years of there career working on 80's cartoons, just to even get a look in on the good shows.

Give Fatkat a huge budget and total creative freedom and i seriously doubt id be staring at this page 2 in the morning, poorly attempting to actuate my opinion.

Food for thought.


At 4/14/2009 07:55:00 PM , Blogger Beans said...

Hey Mike!

Actually, it's not an emboss and satin, if you look closely there is actually a lot more at work than meets the eye. But good on ya!

At 4/18/2009 04:46:00 AM , Blogger MikeL said...

Seriously... I never meant for this to be an issue where I was trying to jab anyone in the eye...but the responses (which seem to be from Fatkat employees) are simply in defense of this style..
Working within a budget is one thing. Let me tell you what I know though... (a lot of people are telling me what they know...and I do know a thing or two for myself). If you have a budget..then plan to operate within that budget. If you cannot plan according to those constraints...then your business model is at fault.. not your talent. If the planning that was done is faulty...then your senior/lead artists are at fault... if your lead/senior artists did plan but their recommendations weren't heeded...then upper management is at fault. If all of this was circumvented because my kids can't spot bad inbetweens... well...that's just lazy. My children don't know what inbetweens are...but that is NOT an excuse to create inferior animation. You can throw up the "feature vs. tv" defense...that's fine... but the reason major producers went to Flash in the first place (or other paperless) was to save time from having to photo the drawings... not to take crappy shortcuts. That's what you guys are defending. If you think that's okay then fine... whatever... I'm done with trying to romanticize this to myself... do what works for you to keep your paymasters happy... the rest of the animation world is ashamed for you.

At 4/18/2009 12:19:00 PM , Blogger Gene Fowler said...

Hi Mike,

We do the very best within the budget, schedule and artists we have to work with each and everytime for all of our clients.

Sure there are lots of things we'd like to fix, and we could work on each individual scene for weeks on end. It just doesn't work like that. We're artists like you, but highly commercial. (I'm sorry I don't know your background).

Everyone need to make money, we make money by producing finished work on schedule and on budget. Sometimes the schedules are great, sometimes their not. We work with our partners for the progress of the project.

Fatkat is has a solid reputation in the industry for producing great animation. I am in the industry, I go to every major conference, service major networks with the skills of our krew.

I hope to meet you one day at a conference or festival, sincerely.


At 5/01/2009 11:48:00 AM , Blogger Chalky said...

This show looks very interesting. The characters look great!


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