I’ve been rather behind on making updated blog posts, so here’s a big one to cover everything about 2014 so far.
Episode 3 “Diverging Paths” was released at the end of May
Adam Novus and Mike Aquilis have their decisive match while the wheels of fate start to turn. Stephen Novus is cautious as news of the upcoming Alliance entrance exam has been brought to his attention by his operator, Veronica. The road to the diverging paths has been paved out and with no clue what the future has in store, Adam is left with shaking nerves.
I also partnered up with Channel Frederator this year in April. It was a decision I made after talking with Chris Niosi (Kirbopher/TOME). I shouldn’t have to describe who they are, but for those who aren’t aware, they are the minds behind Cartoon Hangover, and have been in the animation industry for an extremely long time. They’re the producers behind such shows like Bravest Warriors, Adventure Time, and Fairly OddParents. This is a tremendous opportunity to meet and network with other like minded animators and creative individuals. I’ve decided to be a bit more serious about my Youtube account and trying to push Shattered Heaven into a more tangible product. Partnering up with Channel Frederator was the first step in this journey. My subscription has been steadily increasing since joining and a newer audience is finding the series, so I’m extremely happy with the results.
Increasing the production value of the series – New additions to the staff
This series has always been somewhat of a one man show since it’s original creation back in 2007. I’ve been teaching myself animation for years now and I’ve been learning a lot through meeting people who just know more than I do.
Karley Tufo – https://www.facebook.com/Kauritsuo She’s been somewhat of my animation mentor since 2011. A person who has gone to school for animation and has worked in various professional studios on cartoons, she was the one who caused the shift in the style and animation quality from the 2007-2011 series to the reboot. She helped me learn more about the basics of animation and even helped me make better adjustments. From time to time she will help me adjust some of the animation, since she’s currently working full time again at a new studio, it’s not as often. But she still has helped tremendously with improving me.
Natalie Van Sistine – This is where the biggest and most noticeable addition comes into play. Starting with episode 4, Natalie is taking the job as Sound Designer. Sound design has always been a weak point in the series to date. It was always the thing I did last when the animation was completely done. As such, it was often rushed at the last second.
Natalie has extensive background in sound design and has already improved the quality of the series from the one clip from episode 4 that’s been released.
Having Natalie on board to help cover that is a tremendous help.
Brittany Lauda – Another noticeable addition is having Brittany job on board to help directing the voice over talent. My schedule has always made it difficult to find proper time to match up with the VOs to help direct them. Recently we had the opportunity to record with some of the local voice actors/actresses in the NYC area for upcoming episodes in a professional studio. Brittany took over in terms of directing and the result was amazing.
You can see some of what we worked on here
Going forward, all local voice over talent will be recording in studio for upcoming episodes. There will be a noticeable improvement on the acting side in the episodes to come.
Production Schedule for the rest of 2014
It’s a busy year for me, and I’ve made a rather difficult production schedule. Episode 4 is scheduled to release this month, Episode 5 is looking to be out around the end of September/October and Episode 6 is aiming for a December release. These are all extremely tentative. Episode 4’s animation is complete, there’s only 2 scenes left that need to be cleaned up and given lip flaps. Those are expected to be completed by the end of the week. Episode 5 already has some animation done so that’ll go into full production either this week or next. Episode 6 is going to be the difficult one. It’s longer than any of the episodes to date and it’s just a much bigger challenge for me than anything I’ve done before.
You can see a preview from Episode 4 and 5 here:
This is something new to me. Going to conventions to promote the series. Last year I was reluctant on this since I wanted to have a good amount of content before actually attending cons to help network and spread the word. This year has been the complete opposite. I’ve been extremely blessed and lucky to attend cons as a guest. A lot of them are smaller cons, but they’ve been a blast to attend. The year started out with RunningGagg at Suny Geneso where I was a guest with Kira Buckland (Amy) and Chris Niosi(TOME). It was a great way to start off the year as I felt I made new friends. Then recently I was a guest at a small one day con with Brittany Lauda, Mincon in Mineola, NY. It was a nice little conventions and I met a few new people.
But recently, the biggest con event for me is going to be Camp Anime in September.
They’re being gracious enough to have me as a guest and give me a panel for Shattered Heaven. I’ll be attending, once again, with friends.
Clifford Chapin – https://www.facebook.com/CliffordChapinVoiceActor
This is an extremely special con for me because I haven’t seen Clifford in years. He was the original VO for Mike in the series and since he moved to Texas, he’s been extremely successful with Funimation. So while I’m looking forward to the con, I’m really looking forward to seeing my friend again after a long time.
At the con, Kira, Brittany and I will be doing the first ever panel for Shattered Heaven
“Have you ever wanted to turn a story you’ve had into an animation but don’t know how? Then this panel is for you! The creator, Adam Tilford along with voice actress, Kira Buckland of the original animated web series, Shattered Heaven give steps and insight on how to turn that dream into a reality! As well as talk about the series and give a first look at Episode 5 of Shattered Heaven!
Panelists: Adam Tilford, Kira Buckland”
In it, I will also describe how I turned my books into an animation and give tips on how to start your own series, the right way.
The whole “Independent Animation on Youtube Debate”
Recently, a lot of prominent animators have been speaking out about the state of Indie animation on Youtube. Whether it’s worth it or if it’s possible for animators to make a living off of Youtube. I’m not really prominent by any means, or even “known”, but I’m still an animator, so I’ll give my two cents on the whole thing anyway.
I suggest you watch those videos to get a good idea on the whole thing. But I agree. Youtube has transitioned more to helping Let’s Players and their style of work. The more videos you upload, the more “minutes watched” you gained, and the more ideal you become in Youtube’s eyes. I think it’s possible to become successful on Youtube as an animator, it’s just going to be hard. You’re going to have to network outside of the site, this isn’t something where you can just grow within the confines of Youtube. For me, minutes watched works to my advantage due to the fact that I release episodes that are over 10 minutes in length, however, the problem is the consistency in the release dates. It takes me anywhere from 3 to 4 months to release an episode. With this sort of turn around, it’s practically impossible for me to make enough ad revenue off Youtube to live on. It’s an uphill battle, but I think it’s worth it if this is something you’re passionate about. Which brings me to Chris’ video on “Internet fame”.
He brings up a very good point on the entire subject and it’s worth listening to. I’ve seen a lot of people try to start up animations with the intent of getting “internet famous”. Those people tend to fail. Striving for success isn’t a bad thing, but making it the “only” thing is a problem. Animation is something that can create a backlash of negativity. Personal experience time. I’ve fought bouts with depression when it comes to my animation. Being original, it is something I’m very passionate about. So when I release an episode after months of hard work, and there’s only a small amount of views, little comments, but a good amount of troll ones being assholes, it really does beat you up. You start to wonder what’s the point of all of this, if anyone even enjoys what you do, if you’re wasting your time when you could be doing something else. It all builds up and the depression can swallow you whole. The only thing that can snap you back from that, is your resolve. If your resolve is flimsy like “I want to be like “insert famous animator” and be popular”, then it’s not going to save you from the depression and doubt. If your resolve is something along the lines of “You know what, this makes me happy. It makes me feel fulfilled, regardless of what anyone thinks,” well, then it’s going to save your ass all the time. I’ve been animator this series for about 7 years now. This is the 3rd incarnation.
The first episode was released in 2008
I had no idea what the hell I was doing. And looking back at it, I cringe. But it was a learning experience that introduced me to the world of Voice Over and Indie creativity. I’ve made so many good friends from this and I will never look back at those times with regret or disgust.
Then in 2012, after talking and working a little with Karley, I wrote a movie script that would take place between the first and second books.
That was going to be my focus. I was going to make an Indie movie and make a kickstarter! It wasn’t until I met Chris Niosi that my perspective changed on that. It was the first time we met and he shared his experience from everything he had done. I realized it was way too soon to put my focus on a 120 page scripted movie. Way too soon. That was when I decided to just go back to the beginning, to suck it up and start from scratch. I decided to reboot the series, make episodes shorter and convert the first book. It was the best decision I’ve made. It’s been hard, but not even a year after that decision, my life just improved and I’ve noticed a lot more support and growth than I ever did.
I fought with my doubts, my depression, but because animating this story was something I was passionate about, I kept at it. Sure, I want to become a respected creator. I’d love for my series to be respected and enjoyed in the same ways TOME and RWBY are. But at the end of the day, I’m doing this because I just want to animate my damn book and creating makes me smile.
I have a 40 hour a week, full time job, in addition to being a professional/published author. I’m also editing my third SH novel. I’ve managed to find a “balance”. I don’t have to rely on my book sales or ad revenue from Youtube to live. This allows me to animate what I want, how I want. The down side is that my job drains me and it can get hard to have the energy to work on the animation. But I still manage to make it work. Of course I’d love to get to a point where I don’t need this job, and maybe it’ll happen some day. But for now, I’m in a good spot in life and things are going great.
So the bottomline is that, if you want to get into animation, don’t do it for fame. Don’t feel defeated if Youtube’s system fails you. Just do it because it makes you happy. That is when you find success, when you’re not focused on it.
Looking back, 2014 has been a complete turn around for me. It’s been nothing but positive and a fantastic journey overall. The series is constantly improving, I’m constantly improving and as always, I am extremely appreciative and humbled by all of your support. There’s a lot of good things coming and I can’t wait to share them.