Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where Art Thou, Art?

by Aaron Mystery

Re-reading my last blog is excrutiating and boring, so I'm going to focus on the creative process today.

Saying Goodbye to YouTube

Creating videos without YouTube in mind is nothing new for me, as much of my material is just too "adult" for the viral video site, even in censored form. Moving over to DailyMotion made me feel a lot less encumbered, once I wasn't sweating bullets worrying about a nip slip or a naughty-looking shadow. That false sense of freedom fell apart when DailyMotion pulled a montage of mine. Despite this, I've posted two videos to DM since, and they're still on there last I checked (and one even has a little nudity, which technically is allowed on DM).

Since Suckermouth is my bread-and-butter site, you may ask why I concern myself with YouTube or DailyMotion at all. There are many other viral video sites that could help me get the word out - most with looser standards - and even some specifically adult-oriented video sites. I would answer that YouTube and DailyMotion have a lot more viewers, they're relatively easy for everyone to use, and they have a much wider demographic than an adult video site. Of course, YouTube crushes DM in viewership, but as I'm locked out of my YouTube account, the videos that are already on there will have to suffice (I was clever enough to make a vid pointing my YouTube viewers directly to my DailyMotion channel shortly before my forced departure).

So, the bottom line: I create for Suckermouth and ignore everything else. If a vid is strong enough or clean enough (at least in part), I consider posting it to DailyMotion to drive traffic to Suckermouth. It's a far cry from what I did up until recently, making a nude version of a vid for Suckermouth and a clothed alternative for YouTube (sometimes adding a whole day to a vid's production schedule). It makes me shake my head when I think of how hard I used to try to please YouTube.

Harriett Potter and the Wand of Best Intentions

When I started creating short cartoons for an adult audience, they were all called "Quickies," because they were usually only a few seconds long. While Quickies are still my primary video product today, they are usually longer than a minute by comparison. I stumbled upon some moderate success with "Bastard Piece Theater," a series of short cartoons sometimes told with a narrator, often with limited animation, and knew I wanted to pursue some more storyline-driven content.

"Wand Day After Another" started off as a relatively painless exercise involving dialogue and transformation fantasy. I initially created two episodes, then two more, which I eventually tied together as one featurette with a related Quickie spliced in. Episode 5 (as the dialogue at the end of ep. 4 would indicate) was supposed to feature the main character, Harriett LeBeaux, at a beach doing her thing to a couple volleyball players. I got overly ambitious and tried to create in a program I wasn't very familar with, wasted a couple days on it, and we didn't see Harriett LeBeaux again until the Bastard Piece Theater: Alpha Omega storyline arc (where it was revealed that she had lost her wand on a beach).

I wanted to get back to the Wand Day After Another storyline after a while, but left Harriett in the Alpha Omega arc in favor of an "alternate universe" Harriett - Harriett Potter - as a nod to the art of parody I try to practice whenever I can. I made two episodes in the Hanna Barbera style of heavy dialogue/less movement. These were considered "Season 2" episodes, and I planned on making more. Future random attempts would fail, so I kept having to put the Wand series on the back burner over and over again.

Quickies ruled the last half of 2008, nearly all my output of the last two quarters consisting of short vids without dialogue but usually with Brethren and the Evil Empire music. I know firsthand Quickies are more popular than storyline-based content (with me doing the voices for all the characters, including the female ones) so I usually don't mind a little imbalance between the two types of films in favor of Quickies.

However, I have an obligation to continue to create stories, both to subscribers who are so inclined, and to myself, who enjoys a good story with some real creative effort behind it as opposed to something visually attractive but otherwise little more than a dirty music video.

When YouTube pulled the harmless "Harriett Potter" episode 2, I knew that another episode of the "Wand" could not die on the cutting room floor. I knew that not only was a story overdue, so was a showdown. Not a showdown between YouTube and I (although that is still playing itself out), but a showdown of the various "wand-bearers".

Harriett Potter vs. Harriett LeBeaux vs. Hellen

Harriett LeBeaux and Hellen (who now possesses Harriett L's wand) are arch rivals in the Alpha Omega storyline, so pitting them against each other was only a matter of time, and relatively simple: They exist on the same planet and have both been to Hell and apparently returned.

Harriett Potter, on the other hand, who exists in what is described as "another world" by the narrator of season 2, is trickier to get to the table. How would she come to meet the alternate version of herself (LeBeaux), and that alternate's doppleganger (Hellen)? The answer will be revealed in the next episode, currently under production.

Gone is the 2d toon style reminiscient of Adult Swim, and in its place a 3d rendering that creates a more dynamic and visually-interesting viewing experience. It could be a decent step forward for me, but as long as the new episode of Wand doesn't arrive DOA, I'll be pleased.

Now if only I could post it to YouTube...

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