Villains

Click the arrow to watch “Villains” by Zack Keller.

Zack Keller used to work for Pixar and is currently in LA working as a writer/director. He and Ed Skudder have established RootFilms and just finished a music video (using Flash/After Effects) called William. Their other work is multi-media, utilizing live action, puppets, CG and special effects. Fun stuff. Check it all out at www.rootfilms.com.


  • Peter

    Um, what?

    All I got out of that is that yup, Flash animation is still hideous and ruins even the best designs.

  • http://www.chumwad.com Derek M

    That was great!

  • Sepo

    Don’t blame the Flash, Peter. But the animation certainly could have been better executed. Beautiful design, nonetheless. Quite funny, too, although it seemed more a string of gags than a story.

  • http://jodimationindustries.blogspot.com Jodie Hudson

    This is awesome. Definately reminds me of the animatics from Incredibles. Here is an example of something that takes the limitations of a program and does it’s best to hide it’s method. Can you tell it’s flash(or maybe After Effects, probably the same pipeline), sure, but it doesn’t yeah at you, “Hey I’m Flash, hand drawn’s retarded little brother. Watch this static arm rotate with no sense of give on the rest of the body cause it’s a separate piece.” If most “limited animation” on tv took a page from this, instead of blatantly giving away their cheap production value, we’d live in a better world.

  • http://thelink.concordia.ca Christopher Olson

    Most of the flash cartoons I’ve seen look like slick animatics, but that’s come to be expected, so I wouldn’t criticize this cartoon simply for the medium it chooses, or can afford, which is honestly one of the main reasons for its wide application.

    You can definitely see the Pixar influence, and I thought I even heard a some of Michael Giacomino score from the Incredibles at one point. I won’t even go into the similarities with the evil robot and Wall-E (one’s box-shaped and the other’s shaped like an egg, but aside from that, no difference).

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/RandomFlavor/ Jaimonster

    Peter,
    Why would you rather attack technique than what this is about? could you please see beyond the tween motions and look it at the eye? Are you sure you are an artist and not a critic?

    Anyways, I thought it was great! I loved the short-fast-and-fun pace of it, somehow a bit Venture Brothers-ish, but unique on its own!

    I loved the dialogue and short setting of the story… It has potential, would love to see more!

  • http://glenmoyes.blogspot.com/ Glen Moyes

    Actually, as far as most Flash/After Effects stuff goes this was pretty good. The first third had some Flash trickery that bugged me, but the last two-thirds was fine. I think they found a pretty good balance.

  • Oluseyi

    I wouldn’t blame bad animation on Flash. I’d just blame it on bad animators, animating badly.

    YMMV, of course.

  • Hieronymous

    Yeah, what is with that animation?

  • http://chrisallison.blogspot.com Chris Allison

    I liked it a lot! Great job guys! Great timing and music and stuff. The animation did it’s job and I was entertained. Hope to see another installment announced on the Brew

  • http://zekeyspaceylizard.blogspot.com Zekey

    You should post their Dollface film as well!

  • http://eggheadcheesybird.co.uk Alex

    I think I’ve seen that villains thing before.

    I’ve always loved Ed Skudders flash work, but that script is really lame.

  • http://highlyrecommended.blogspot.com Satorical

    If you say so. I thought it was four minutes of decent entertainment. The style also suited the subject.

  • http://www.mynameispj.com PJ

    Haha, I enjoyed that myself. The incompetent-villain-group thing’s getting a little overdone, but this was still a lot of fun. And I thought they did a good job making Flash animation look good.

  • Artisticulated

    Yeah, what Peter said…

    That, and it’s a calamitous collection of clinking clattering clichés.

  • http://rafatoro.blogspot.com Rafa

    I prefer their “William” video

  • http:www.spitandspite.com Spit And Spite

    I don’t know, i dug it.

    This was a pitch done essentially by two guys correct?

    I don’t know about you but i think that’s pretty awesome, put that in context when you hear about layoffs left and right….

    Kudos to them!

  • David Cuny

    It got a high “Play it again, play it again!” rating from the kids.

    Nice vocal work, although the recording feels a bit uneven. There’s an glitch when the Baron’s pronouncing his name, as if it were spliced at that point.

    With fairly full animation in some parts, it’s got a feel of a partially completed animatic, which is sort of unsettling. It’s like watching an animation which can’t decide if it’s extremely limited Flash or full animation.

    The uncredited music adds a lot. The car scene sounds like “Live and Let Die”, and my son tells me the fight scene music is from “The Incredibles”. I asked if he was sure, and he explained “Dad, I’ve played the game enough to recognize the music.” (He’s seen the film many times, so I thought it was interesting that he referenced the game instead).

    Since Pixar rips could have been avoided pretty easily, I assume these were intentional. For example, the picture of “Ace Amazing” could have been placed on a dartboard (another cliche, I know) and the robot’s design altered.

    Since I’m being picky – did anyone notice that the Baron was petting the cat in the wrong direction?

    Despite any faults, I’d certainly like to see more along these lines. Limited animation is better than no animation.

  • http://electronghosthouse.com/ Paul K.

    Once again, if it’s not traditional animation, there’s a dozen or so regulars (The Haters, Luddites) who feel obliged to comment their disdain for other modes of animation. You wouldn’t give stop-motion animation flak for it’s limitations, so why attack Flash/After Effects. Although it’s quite visible in some areas, I thought the technique didn’t interfere with the story.
    Besides, the subject matter lends to episodic television animation, hence the limited animation implementation. And as far as limited animation goes, it’s pretty good.
    Anyway, I agree with Jaimonster, it did remind me a little of Venture Brothers.

  • http://cartoongeeks.blogspot.com/ Michelle Klein-Hass

    My problem is not with the Flash animation. While not at the level of what Spumco and Nina Paley have done with Flash, it’s above-average. At least, what I can see around the really crappy rendering.

    My problem is that the whole damn thing was so derivative. Take a heaping helping of Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, mix well with a robot that, if not for his talking, might as well have been right next to Wall-E on the assembly line, add Erin Esurance, shake well, and there you go. Villains. Whoop de doo.

    I would like to see what these guys would do with ideas that weren’t as deriv.

  • http://www.davemackey.com Dave Mackey

    Can you fix it so it don’t play automatically? My (no longer) sleeping stepchildren thank you.

  • http://dailygrail.com/blog/8389 red pill junkie

    Do I detect a hint of disdain for Wall-E in this short? ;-)

    Anyway, it was very entertaining.

  • Peter

    I know some productions have used Flash better, but in this one, the weak aspects of the animation are clearly tied to the use of Flash. The unmotivated character warps and bounces, for example. Movement for the sake of movement, rather than justified or–for that matter–carried out fully with a true sense of commitment.

    It’s WAY too obviously Flash for its own good. And I’ve never seen any evidence that stop motion inherently has anything near the kinds of limits that Flash does.

    I did NOT attack technique. Flash is not technique, it is software. And I am neither critic nor artist (why assume one or the other?); I am an animation fan. And ‘tween motions’ are INTEGRAL to great animation.

    I don’t know about all of you, but the only times I’ve seen Flash work really well are when the characters, backgrounds, etc. are designed with Flash in mind. Then the results can really sing. But these designs aren’t like that; they’re far more like traditional drawn animation designs.

    Flash can be a great enabler, but for the most part it’s just really crappy code. It’s frankly bewildering that the animation industry has gone so embarrassingly gaga for it, but hey, money talks.