Monday, December 31, 2007

The History of Animation 1 - J. Stuart Blackton: Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906)

Animation has been around for a long time, but we're concentrating on animating characters for entertainment. That started with a man named Blackton.


"J. Stuart Blackton was possibly the first American filmmaker to use the techniques of stop-motion and hand-drawn animation. Introduced to filmmaking by Edison, he pioneered these concepts at the turn of the 20th century, with his first copyrighted work dated 1900. Several of his films, among them The Enchanted Drawing (1900) and Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906) were film versions of Blackton's "lightning artist" routine, and utilized modified versions of Méliès' early stop-motion techniques to make a series of blackboard drawings appear to move and reshape themselves. Humorous Phases of Funny Faces' is regularly cited as the first true animated film, and Blackton is considered the first true animator."

J. Stuart Blackton:


"James Stuart Blackton (January 5, 1875 - August 13, 1941), usually known as J. Stuart Blackton, was an American film producer of the Silent Era, the founder of Vitagraph Studios and among the first filmmakers to use the techniques of stop-motion and drawn animation. He is considered the father of American animation."

"Blackton ended up as a reporter/artist for the New York Evening World newspaper. In 1896, Thomas Edison publicly demonstrated the Vitascope, one of the first film projectors, and Blackton was sent to interview Edison and provide drawings of how his films were made. Eager for good publicity, Edison took Blackton out to his "Black Maria", the special cabin he used to do his filming, and created a film on the spot of Blackton doing a lightning portrait of Edison. The inventor did such a good job selling the art of movie-making that he talked Blackton and partner Smith into buying a print of the new film as well as nine other films, plus a Vitascope to show them to paying audiences (Reader was brought back in to run the projector).

"In a series of films, Blackton developed the concepts of animation. The first of these films is The Enchanted Drawing, with a copyright date of 1900 but probably made at least a year earlier. In this film, Blackton the lightning artist sketches a face, cigars, and a bottle of wine. He appears to remove the last drawings as real objects, and the face appears to react. The "animation" here is of the stop-action variety (the camera is stopped, a single change is made..."

The Enchanted Drawing:


"Humorous Phases of Funny Faces is a silent cartoon by J. Stuart Blackton in the year 1906. It features a cartoonist drawing faces on a chalkboard, and the faces coming to life. It is generally regarded as the first animated film. It features movements as where a dog jumps through a hoop. The film moves at 20 frames per second."

Humorous Phases of Funny Faces:


"1906, Blackton directed Humorous Phases of Funny Faces, which uses stop-motion as well as stick puppetry to produce a series of effects. After Blackton's hand draws two faces on a chalkboard, they appear to come to life and engage in antics. Most of the film uses life action effects instead of animation, but nevertheless this film had a huge effect in stimulating the creation of animated films in America."


Our first blog on the history of animation is also our first and last blog on Stuart Blackton. He was the father of animation, but he abandoned it as soon as he discovered it.

Stuart Blackton did a few more animations and then concentrated on live film. Had he caught the vision that other people did who were inspired by his work, then he could have started the animation industry rolling in about 15 years before others did. He could have been as successful as Walt Disney was, 20 years before Walt got famous.



History of Animation 3 - Winsor McCay: How a Mosquito Operates (1912)

History of Animation 2 - Winsor McCay: Little Nemo (1911)

History of Animation 1 - J. Stuart Blackton: Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906)

Lokotv: THOR

Very well made, but I think I would have liked it better without the silly hammer who was trying to be funny. The humor didn't seem to add anything, so I would have made it more serious.

"Odinn, the King of the Gods, rules the world of eternal summer with Loki and Freyja by his side. His youngest son Thor has not yet become a God but eagerly tries to prove his worth to his father."


Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Four Color Problem - Game

Color the map alternately with the other player. The player that covers larger area wins the game.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Grant's 3D Head

"my head in 3d maya 06. just starting blend shape"

Grant did a great job on this head.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

3D Animation Tip 2: The Secret of the eye

The trick is to get it the eye to stretch into your proper shape and size.

There's a trick we do in 3D Studio Max where we make two more spheres on top of the eyeball sphere. And then we also make the pupil another sphere on top of the eyeball. There's a feature in Max where you can choose what percentage of the sphere you want, in order to cut it in half.

By creating four versions of the same sphere, we can scale the pupil sphere down to a smaller size that rests on the eye. We then make upper eyelid and lower eyelids with the other two spheres. These two are basically half spheres. We can then rotate them around the pupil to do blinking and emotion with the eyelids.

We then do a stretch scale on all four spheres together. They keep their center point even though they are being scaled. The result is a pupil that you can rotate perfectly around the eye and eyelids that also rotate around the stretched eye, and they keep the proper deformations as they move around. That's what we do in our 3D films here...

Fruits VS Bugs 1:

Fruits VS Bugs 2:

Now check this Bullet animation:

What they do is they actually painted on the uppereyelid on the eyeball. Then they blink and pull emotion with simple squash, stretch, scale, and rotation of the eyeball on the character. So they get the eyelid to express emotion just by rotating the eye, rather than rotating the eyelid separate from the eyeball.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

School Wars - Game

Real-time strategy game of school gang.

Click left to catch or move. Click right to cancel.

Tips: Get their corners to stop them from spawing more gang members. Kill all their members to stop them completely. You may have to divide up your forces for separate missions.



Coming in January...
- Disney blog every day!
- History of Animation every Monday!


Friday, December 21, 2007

How Seven Should Have Ended

"What was in the box? Do we really know?"

The HISHE dudes are great.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I am Legend - Animated Movie Review

Here's an animated movie review of I am Legend, from the dudes over at Spill:

Monday, December 17, 2007

Carried Away

Here's a very impressive college project that a student did with several of his friends.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pixar's BuyNLarge promotion for Wall-E

To promote their 2008 movie, Wall-E, Disney and Pixar made this fake commercial for BuyNLarge:

You'll also notice that they made this website:

It mostly takes itself very serious, unless you venture into their World News and Entertainment sections of the massive site:

They built the whole thing in Flash, which is proof that they don't plan on adding any content. Because it is in Flash, there is no direct linking to the web page. However, that didn't stop us:

A 4D film?

But how do people feel about the experience? When will it be finished?

Pixar is apparently making fun of how long their films take... or at least their PR company is. =^)

See if you can find where they refer to their news correspondent, Mr. Chuckles. =^)

I wish somebody would make a musical about our annual report. =^(


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Racism in Animation 1 - Disney Bans Fantasia's Sunflower the servant Centaur

A lot of Disney's more racist work wasn't intended to defame black people (or the specific culture). It was intended to reflect the current society. He often didn't intentionally create racist characters; he was just trying to show different cultures and more of the world, and to make it funny. However, in the process he showed a biased perspective and made light of some cultures. As you can see, he (and later other Disney execs) would realize that they've gone too far, and so they remove elements (or entire pictures) in order to save face. However, Disney was not the only one to include racism in cartoons (more on that later).

Fantasia was released in 1940, the third theatrical full-length animation, as shown in Disney's canon of animated films:

The character in question here, is Sunflower, a black centuar who served the white centaurs.



"The 1940 film Fantasia was astounding for it's time and still amazing today. Classical compositions performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski, are the soundtrack for dazzling Disney animation. It's been re-released a few times and was required viewing for every pothead I knew in high school.
The little secret of Fantasia is in the segment set to Beethoven's "Pastoral Symphony". Originally, there was a little female centaur named Sunflower who was pretty much a handmaiden/personal assistant for the tall, beautiful white, blonde, dare I say 'Aryan' centaurs. Sunflower is drawn along racist lines to be a "pickininny Negro" - big lips, nappy hair and all.

"Well, we can't have that. She was removed from the 1960 release of Fantasia, and edited out of the 1990 50th Anniversary edition, and laser disks. The 50th anniversary DVD is so badly edited that after removal of the third appearance of dear Sunflower, the sound track isn't matching up with the film any more. In fact it's really out of sync.

"What's fun though is that Disney says they never had such a character! We're all delusional! Fortunately, people who are more evil than Disney can find a copy of it. Was it was "acceptable" back then to portray characters that had such blatant racist features? I vaguely recall a few Bugs Bunny cartoons being withheld from release on some recent Big Deal Anniversary because it was decided they were racist or unacceptable, going by today's standards. Still, it's strange to deny it existed when..well, there it is. If you pay close attention to Disney's animation now, they're still full of racism and sexism. I guess the acceptable, trendy kind."


The portions with Sunflower removed in the current versions of Fantasia feature out-of-sync edits on the music as well ugly zooms in on the white centaurs.

Video description:
"This is the second of 3 scenes originally produced for the 1940 release of Disney's Fantasia. It wasn't until a 1960's theatrical re-release of the film which such scenes were censored from the film due to the characters being considered ethnically offensive during the civil rights movement."

And, um, here's a cool clip from the movie (this makes me see how it was logical for Disney to do Hercules):

More Racism in Animation...

Racism in Animation 3 - Pluto's Dream House (1940):

Racism in Animation 2 - Santa's Surprise (1940):

Racism in Animation 1 - Fantasia (1940):


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bathroom Tips 1: Secrets of the Stall

Want to know how to know whether or not someone is using a stall before you try (and hopefully fail, if someone is in there) to open the door?

Well, there is the obvious: look to see if the door is open a little.

Then you could always bend down and check, but that could be embarassing, especially if you make eye contact.

Often times you can use the power of reflection to glancing at the sink mirror to see underneath the stall in order to know if someone is there or not. This only works in some bathrooms, but it's a handy trick.

That's it. You can go back to the bathroom now.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Fight for Kisses

This is a good animation that is intended to be a commercial, but it's still very funny.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Black Cat - Game

The black cat must not go out. Click the green circles around the cat to entrap it. You'll want to think a few moves ahead of the cat.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Super Mario Reloaded

Mario fights some Luigis. Lots of them.


Friday, December 07, 2007

TheAnimationEmpire - The Watchmen

We did the special effects in this video of The Watchmen. It is 3D animation compositing. We created a cell-shaded look and feel to the effects.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Question: What font did you use to make your Mystery Guitar Man MGM logo?

Question for the Emperor: What font did you use to make your Mystery Guitar Man MGM logo?

We had to open Photoshop to answer that!

MGMonTheNet - Bottom

Times New Roman (bevel, emboss, and gradient to get it to fade out) - The bevel and emboss give it the 3D look. We had to scale the lettering and then give it a horizontal and vertical scale of 120% to get it the precise size and plumpness. Then the gradient fades the color from the gold down to the black so that it fades into the background.

Trade Joe - Sides

Cambria (85% horizontal scale) - This squished the sides in of the lettering to make it appear taller and more elegant.

You Suck Go Die - In the ribbon

Times New Roman (stroke to outline the edges) - You can't see the outline around the edges of the letter, because we made it a similar color as the lettering, but darker. This helps define the lettering a lot, even though you can't see it.

Mystery Guitar Man - The top MGM Logo

Hahaha!!! We couldn't find one! We even downloaded an MGM font and it wasn't close enough! So... We dissected the existing letters and put them together again. We even created new letters using parts of the actual letters! Then we had to recolor them to make them match! Isn't animation wonderful???

That's all. Ask us questions by commenting on the blogs or videos! You can also find my email if you look hard enough. =^)

- The Emperor


PS: This question comes from Tommy over at filburt50. He posted the question as a comment to our video on YouTube.

Check out Tommy's channel. It's a museum for studio logos (so this question makes a lot of sense that it is coming from him):

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

YouTube Marketing Tips 9: Ask people to subscribe in the descriptions of your videos

Tammpon asks people to subscribe in his descriptions of his videos (as well as in the videos; see Tip #8). He has over 5,000 subscribers.

Check out his description in his hit video, Say No to Porno:

We also do this in all our videos. Fruits VS Bugs 1:

We also link to the subscription page in our descriptions (and on our website). It's not a home run, but it certainly helps.

Just switch out your user name with ours to do this.


Who Would Win 6: Walt Disney or Bill Gates?

Who do you think would win? The man with the animatronic army or the man with cybernetic implants and a giant robot?

TheAnimationEmpire brings you episode 6 of Who Would Win: Walt Disney or Bill Gates.

Just vote in the comments or send a video response to vote!

We also made the 3D logo! More animations are coming!

"He's probably already super powered with like some computers in his body."

Honors for This Video:

#2 - Most Linked (Today) - Comedy
#90 - Most Discussed (Today) - Comedy

References: Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Microsoft, Windows, Transformers, Optimus Prime, Star Trek, Borg, Nerds (the Willy Wonka candy), Mickey Mouse, Disneyland, and Army of Darkness.

Monday, December 03, 2007

3D Animation Tip 1: How to learn Blender

A lot of people ask us what 3D software to use. Well...

There are three good software programs that do everything. Here they are in order of our preference, because this is the order of how easy they are to learn and use: 3DS Max, Maya, and Blender.

Blender is free; the other two are around $3K each.

So go to to check it out. Our recommendation is to not try to do anything or you'll go nuts and get frustrated. Instead, just find the easiest tutorials and do those for a few weeks (redoing the tutorials on your own). Don't try to do anything outside of the tutorials until you're comfortable, having already done that exact thing in a tutorial.

So if the tutorial tells you to model a cup, then you do it once (or even twice). Then make your own cup from scratch that's a slightly different design. Then find one that tells you how to texture a cup. Then texture your own cup with a slightly different design.

Go back and forth from doing a tutorial to doing the same thing on your own. It is slow; but this way you'll learn the software without getting frustrated and giving up. Go into this expecting this process to take several months, maybe even a year.

Let us know if you are able to do it. We can also have you intern for us and learn that way (internships are unpaid and you work from home).



Who Would Win 5: Abraham Lincoln or Ronald Reagan?

The rail-splitter versus the man with lasers!!! Who Would Win in this new video from TheAnimationEmpire?

To vote, leave a comment or response video with your answer of who you think would win! We'll keep tally.

"They'll join forces and take on communism together."

Check out our other Who Would Win battles by clicking our name! We've got more 3D animations coming!

References: Star Wars, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Communism, Civil War, Reaganomics, lasers, gipper, James Bond, and Oddjob.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

YouTube Marketing Tips 8: Ask People to Subscribe, Favorite, and Watch your videos in your videos

Sometimes, asking people will lead to results, especially if they liked the video they just watched.

So ask people to Subscribe, Favorite, and Watch your videos in your videos.

Take a lesson from JamesAtWar, who boasts over 5,000 subscribers. Check out his Rainbow Remix video:

Tammpon asks you to subscribe near the beginning of his hit music video. He has over 5,000 subscribers as well. Check out his Say No to Porno music video:

And again in his Star Wars song:

So some good comes when you just ask people to subscribe.


Who Would Win 4: Ash from Army of Darkness or Ash from Pokemon?

Would a boy with Pokeballs be able to defeat a man with a chainsaw and a shotgun? What if those Pokeballs had any Pokemon in them?

TheAnimationEmpire presents Who Would Win 4: Ash from Army of Darkness or Ash from Pokemon? Directed by MattyO. Written by Ed 'word' Price. Edited by MattyO and Ed.

Vote by leaving a video or text comment. We'll keep tally!

Constructive comments only, please!

The voice "Run home and cry to momma" that we feature at the end of these videos is Ash from Army of Darkness. Our nostalgic silliness comes full circle!!!

Army of Darkness was directed by Sam Raimi, who did Hercules, Xena, Darkman, and he directed the Spider-man movies.

References: Pokemon, Blastoise, Charizard, Pikachu, and Mewtwo.

"He would wow him with science."

Thanks for watching! We did the 3D logo in this video.

Do you like Andy Samberg from Saturday Night Live? We blog about him about every day:

Do you dig Nintendo? Check out NintenDolts, the Nintendo Video Archive:

Visit The Animation Empire for all of our videos and websites:

Saturday, December 01, 2007

YouTube Marketing Tips 7: Title + Image = Gold

You'll never realize how important your title and image can be.

Let's look at a small example.

Cabbage Man ( posted two videos.

The more recent video (2 days ago), Stupid Short 101, has at least 80 views.

Stupid Short 101:

Another video from 1 week ago, Shocky Shocky Man, had at least 30 views.

The second video took a lot more work. It seems like it could be interesting, maybe a story about that character (which is exactly what it is).

However, Stupid Short sounds fun, it is fun, and it shows what looks like a guy puking.

This is an example of how the name/title and the image sell the video.


TheAnimationEmpire - Email Commercial

Just when you thought we were as stupid as you can get, we made a commercial for email.

Email Commercial was written by Ed 'word' Price and MattyO. Directed and edited by MattyO. Starring Ed and MattyO (voice only).

Top honors:

#67 - Most Linked (Today) - Comedy

References include Transformers, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, YouTube, and Strong Bad.

It used to be spelled "e-mail," but now it's spelled "email." No dash required!!!

Computer (n.): A collage of plastic and silicone. A computer is also a robot.

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