Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Undefined Gamer: Flash Cartoons

This Saturday morning, The Undefined Gamer looks at flash cartoons and Cinema Won completely forgets he had to watch cartoons for today.

      Before we start, I'd like to make it known that I'm a regular
cartoon viewer. It's not exactly because I'm immature more so than I
think that animated works, when done properly, will always be able to
surpass a strictly live action film any day. In cartoons, there's less
restrictions (mainly physical), and there's more room for said work to
rise above entertainment and be recognized as art. As cartoons are
oftentimes handrawn frames, be it drawn in a computer touchscreen,
this shouldn't be any huge revelation to whoever is reading this.
      So that's my excuse for having such familiarity with cartoons. Lets
talk about Flash cartoons. What are they? How did they come into
being? Are they ruining cartoons these days?
      To answer these questions, one must first have a basic knowledge
of how cartoons are made, at least in modern times. During the 90s,
major studios began widely using computers as tools for animation. One
might think that this would lead to a great jump in production
qualities as far as animated works are concerned, and indeed many
stunningly animated movies did come out using these new methods, most
notably from Disney and Dreamworks. As the 2000s pressed on,
production qualities for many major animated films remained pretty
high, if at all, they seemed to increase. It made sense. as companies
where finding out more about this technology and how to use it,
allowing them to do more while effectively using their budget.
      The things learned in this time period would actually lead to the
opposite effect: decrease production values.
      Why? Well, it is not at all a difficult concept to grasp. As more
was learned about this new technology, companies figured out what type
of corners they could cut. Soon afterward, companies where getting
rid of as much frames as possible without the audience noticing.
      Animators cost money, and if costs can be avoided with no ill
effects, then its understandable why companies would cut
      However, there where still many corners yet to cut. It would not
be long until Flash, a not so revolutionary animation program, would
come out.
      It's no secret that Flash cartoons can cut far more corners (and
therefore costs) than whatever programs Disney and Dreamworks where
using during the early 2000s.
      Obviously enough, the comparatively low costs of Flash versus
Other Software of course led to Flash's popularization among
animation studios. Products varied.
      I've noticed that some of the best Flash cartoons seem to be
comedies. Shows like the Total Drama series, Foster's Home for
Imaginary Friends, and The Fairy Odd-Parents (while it was apparent
that it originally was not made with Flash, later episodes clearly use
Flash or at least a Flash-like program) manage to fully take advantage
of this new digital age of cartoons, developing completely new styles
very difficult to achieve by previous programs. The fact that they
where (at least occasionally/originally) funny helped, too.
      I admit that there was/is some wild cards. Show like Kim Possible
and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic that can't exactly be crammed
into one specific genre found ways to work, while developing their own
unique style (note: recently, I have not rewatched Kim Possible,
though it is apparent that the show was successful).
     However, Flash has a dark side.
      Soon studios would learn exactly how lazy they could be and still
have a major network pick up their show. A prime example of this is
Johnny Test. The show centers around a little douchebag named Johnny
whose character is as one dimensional as it is unlikable, and his dog,
Dukey. Its basically a parody show. The problem is, that the parodies
are never thought out or clever, everything is censored for the
extreme for the dumbshi--- I mean, kids; there is not one likable
character in the show, and it has the laziest animation that I have
seem in any cartoon to this day. This cartoon's animation is so bad,
it makes Phineas and Ferb look like freakin' Prince of Egypt.
      Why has it been on the air for over 5 seasons?
      Hypnotism. It puts kids into an unnatural vigil that involves
little talking. Cartoon Network who have canceled more popular and
overall fantastic shows, decide to continue to air it.
      Its not just Cartoon Network that I've seen crap Flash cartoons,
they exist on Nickelodeon as well. Disney, try as they might, can
never really leave the "meh" category when it comes to animated
features (I think it is important that I point out that this
discussion has nothing to do with CGI. Disney's CGI TV shows are
      Despite this, Flash, regardless of how its usually used as a tool
for lazy animation studios, has produced some sterling stuff.
Strangely enough, these masterfully animated Flash cartoons inhabit
Cartoon Network and Disney XD. Shows like Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade
Ninja and Grojband, which although I do not think the writing of these
shows are any good; the animation of these shows is stunning for Flash
(or Flash-like) cartoons. What really impressed me with how engaging
these cartoons where. Though this was only because of the high
production qualities and the writing did nothing to help, nevertheless
I was impressed. It proved to me that high production qualities where
possible on Flash and/or Flash-like programs.
      Perhaps there is hope for Flash cartoons after all.

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