Mr. Lux

Michael Jantze, former art director at ILM and former newspaper cartoonist (The Norm), has started animating cute little films in flash with traditional animation and Adobe After Effects that have a nice UPA feel. At Your Service is the first in a series.

UPDATE: Recieved some further information about the Mr. Lux shorts direct from its lead animator:

My name is Kelly McNutt, lead animator for Jantze Studios.

It’s great to see that Mr. Lux found its way to Cartoon Brew! But allow me a quick note on how we produced the Mr. Lux shorts: we used a combination of traditional animation (scanned inks, no less) and Adobe After Effects, but no Flash. The individual hand-drawn animation segments were assembled and selectively augmented with AE animation for the sake of efficiency due to a very small production team and relatively short production schedule. The goal was to retain a traditional feel as much as possible and to capitalize on AE’s strengths and minimize its weaknesses by designing around them. I would point you to this other short we created using the same method, but with more traditional animation (as it was a far shorter production): Tech Tips with Boy Norm.

Also, we’ve just this week received word that Mr. Lux has been accepted for Cannes Short Film Corner, so we’re feeling rather enthusiastic these days.

(Thanks, Adam Perry)


  • Paul N

    Interesting short. I’ve got a Jantze original framed on the wall of my studio. He’s been a fave for a long time, and it’s good to see his new work.

  • DanO

    Brilliant stuff… but god i wish it was traditionally animated. Flash still has a long way to go.

  • http://portapuppets.does.it uncle wayne

    That is great! And by gosh it does look like a 1951 UPA….(or a 1957 “Modern Madcap!”)

  • Bugsmer

    I liked it. It was funny. If he continues making his cartoons, who knows what we’ll see in five years time?

  • http://www.lunchbreakcomics.com Pat Lewis

    Nice. I’ve been a fan of Jantze’s for several years now. Was that Lucy Van Pelt vacuuming the carpets?

  • http://dtoons-pro.com Alex Dudley

    That’s petty cool!
    Just goes to show that in the right hands, Flash is capable of producing great work.

  • http://afrokids.com Floyd Norman

    Really nice work. I like this a lot. Sure hope they’re successful with this series of films.

  • Tom Pope

    I believe that was the ol’ Fussbudget manning the vacuum!

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    Re: I wish it was traditionally animated. Flash still has a long way to go

    Please explain. I don’t understand.

  • DanO

    “Please explain. I don’t understand.”

    This may not be the discussion for this, because the subject is best served when we are simply giving Michael Jantze kudos for producing his independent work. The more independent work the better.

    But if you want me to elaborate on my comment i will. The faults i see with using Flash is that cutting corners with symbols makes the animation look like… manipulated symbols. Sure its easier, but it also doesn’t look as good as traditionally drawn animation. Bodies and body parts(whether stylized or realistic) shrink and swell. They stretch and flatten. Flash time and time again tips its hand at the process of vector graphics and manipulated single images. You can tell. It doesn’t look as good. I’m sorry to say, but its inferior to traditionally drawn animation – for the simple fact that you can TELL its Flash.
    I don’t to immediately have the images scream out to me that its Flash. I want to see a series of individual images scroll past because it fools the eye, Flash doesn’t fool the eye because its elements are always perfectly proportional from one frame to the next- because its the same symbol being moved around like a piece of a puppet. Flash animation looks flat, like a color-forms book.

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com robcat2075

    I’d note that the actual animator is some illegible name inthe credits, not Mr. Jantze. Hopefully he’ll test some other color schemes that compress better for his future installment.

    but god i wish it was traditionally animated. Flash still has a long way to go.

    really… how different would it look if it had been drawn on paper then inked and painted manually? Would it have been funnier? Would the timing have been different somehow?

    I see classic hand-drawn, limited animation with just a few sparing CG assists. I don’t think Flash was a limiting factor here at all and doesn’t have to “a long way to go” to serve the needs of a project like this.

  • mickhyperion

    I liked it a lot. My only issue with Flash is the sometimes obvious use of tweening (an object or appendage clearing swinging from a pivot point, or things that seem to bob and float as if they were underwater). It’s possible to use Flash without using tweening at all. Some would say what’s the point then, but I think being able to create hand drawn work in Flash is enough.

  • DanO

    “I don’t think Flash was a limiting factor here at all “

    yeah, it was. for one, the body of that little guy never moves. it never changes shape and if it does, it predictably stretches in the manner that a flat image would, i.e. a Flash symbol. the design is superb, which makes it all the more infuriating to have the animation scream out at the viewer “Flash!”

    the thing is, UPA shorts never really set the bar very high for their animation. they didn’t have to because they were so clever and the design was so appealing, but there was still convincing animation. streamlined as it were, but without shortcuts. If you don’t think the Flash animation leaves a lot to be desired, then you have been watching too much Flash animation. here is the UPA short “Christopher Crumpet”:
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=CWmoxJhBaXw

    again, the animation is stripped down and its still miles ahead of the Flash work you are defending.

  • Pedro Nakama

    Nice! I remember Mike from a film club at CSUN in the early 80′s. UPA style is perfect for Flash!

  • Michael

    I agree with mickhyperion, plus the lines of Flash are all vector…there’s no vibrancy that “Thinking Animation” mentions to the lines because they don’t have to be repainted every frame like in hand drawn. Sometimes the color looks too vector and not like paint either. The timing is certainly different than what UPA and the other origional creators of this style were using…but It’s still as charming as the “golden classics” are…and I wasn’t even born for another 40 odd years! There’s room to grow for the medium I guess, but I’m gonna cut some slack into this because it is the first of this kind of film I’ve seen coming from a flash toon!

  • David

    I thought it was awesome. If it had to be traditionally animated, it just wouldn’t have been made.
    Too expensive.
    I guess we should all cry and storm out of the room over it.

  • Paul N

    This is clearly not a pure Flash movie, as Flash is incapable of doing the blurs and soft-edged smears that are in evidence here.

    I’m surprised the Flash-hating has overshadowed what is a terrific short film.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    Huh. I just see Flash as another vehicle for delivering animation. Every medium has its own artifacts. Marionettes have visible strings. Cel animation had jitter, fingerprints, paint swim, level pops, and so on. All the artifacts of Flash – the obviously morphed tweens, the flatness of color, the screaming vectors – can be dealt with if that’s the desire of the animator. There are many examples I won’t bother to cite here of Flash’s artifacts being successfully overcome to mimic the look of less-digital media. It appears as if Jantzen and crew have embraced the distinctive characteristics of Flash to tell their story.

    As for Mr. Lux, it’s okay, I guess. Sort of cool, a little tame and self-consciously retro. I wold have loved it when I was four, but as a vile, tasteless adult I needs me some gore and talkin’ idiot meatballs to hold my interest.

  • red pill junkie

    Man, I was beginning to dread/wish the little consierge was going to be also attentive to the guests’ needs INSIDE their bedroom!! ;-)

  • http://www.garydoodles.blogspot.com Gary Doodles

    What a great short!

  • Asymetrical

    Dan O… you’re KIDDING right? That Christopher Crumpett was light years worse than this short. It was crap!
    THIS one was slick and well produced, it had nice animation and great designs. Maybe this was based on UPA but it IMPROVED it in many ways. Are you even familiar with Flash’s capabilities or just a curmudgeon that wishes for the old days? Flash has brought quite a few benefits to our industry and given back a lot of power to the artists in terms of getting their ideas out there. How dare you say that it should go back to the old way of having to wait for the production gods to bestow a greenlight with their golden wand. Screw that! THIS short would never have even been possible back in the 50′s.

    You can’t really compare the two, this one was made lovingly, Crumpett was hacked out cheaply, In fact if you know your history that’s why UPA even got started; to cut corners. THIS one was entertaining, Crumpett was difficult to watch, THIS one and Crumpett are two different animals and you really shouldn’t compare them. It’s like comparing a puppet show to the theater. Different animals made with different tools.

  • Tivoli2

    Just a note, but the short was not made in Flash.

    Happy Friday

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com robcat2075

    but god i wish it was traditionally animated.

    And, by god… so it is. Ha! That’s hysterical. I guess the Flash spotters have “a long way to go”.

  • Paul N

    So now I guess it’s time for a round of “After Effects sucks and is ruining traditional animation,” right? :0)

  • DanO

    “I guess the Flash spotters have “a long way to go”.”

    Robcat, those who thought it was Flash did so because it was stated as being so in the Cartoon Brew entry. You missed that point as well as most of points brought up about Flash animation in previous comments.

  • Paul N

    “Robcat, those who thought it was Flash did so because it was stated as being so in the Cartoon Brew entry.”

    That may be so. Howwever, even if many assumed it was Flash based on the post, the ample visible evidence that there was more than Flash going on here was missed by those who wanted to merely take another swipe at the tool.

    And really – what was said here that hasn’t been said (and read, and discussed, and argued about) regarding Flash 100 times before? We get it – some don’t like Flash. Your opinion is noted; now how about saying something new?

  • mickhyperion

    I wasn’t taking a swipe at Flash. I like Flash a lot, but not all of the techniques that are employed with it. As DanO said, Flash became the topic because it was mentioned in the original article entry. Regardless, whatever program was used to create the tweening effects, that’s the only problem I have with this or any other digitally created animation. No need to take a swipe at After Effects. The problem lies in the decision to use tweening, regardless of the software used. It’s not ruining animation though, it’s just a cop out.

  • http://www.coldhardflash.com Aaron Simpson

    This is hysterical – Flash 1 Haters 0.

    DanO, you’ve been exposed, my man. We Flash folk take so much heat from you band-wagoning haters, that it’s good to get one back. You were all SO SURE this was Flash, and DanO even stated that “the images scream out to me that its Flash” – so don’t go hiding behind the editorial gaff. Own your mistake, dammit!

    I’ll restate what seems obvious – Flash is a tool, and not something that can be boxed in by simple statements like “the software’s got a long way to go.” That’s ludicrous. The software doesn’t make the animation; artists do. This type of stylistic critique should focus on the carpenter, not his tools. I know that’s asking alot, especially here in the hallowed halls of Flash hatery, but you’re only showing your lack of understanding of how animation is produced. Flash is used to create tweeny garbage and it’s also put to use on gorgeous “traditional” style work – take Renegade Animation’s Flash-animated Olive Oyl commercial – http://tinyurl.com/3m6wgy .

    You, along with so many, many others, have made the amateurish mistake of painting with too broad a brush. Flash is neither good, nor bad – it’s what you make of it.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    Re:
    The problem lies in the decision to use tweening

    So you’re not a fan of Chuck Jones’ The Dover Boys?

  • DanO

    “DanO, you’ve been exposed, my man. We Flash folk take so much heat from you band-wagoning haters, that it’s good to get one back”

    Hey, whoa. I’m sorry that you take such offense to the animation community reacting negatively against Flash, but its not because we don’t like Flash or you on a personal level. Its because the VAST Majority of work done in Flash looks subpar. thats not an opinion, that just an empirical fact.

    The Olive Oil comercial you posted is indeed a beautifully animated piece. i have no problem lauding its smooth animation – and yet, posting that commercial demonstrates that you recognize how effective fully drawn animation can look.

    With that said there is nothing but validity brought to many people’s first take on the tweening effects utilized in the “Mr Lux” short. the very same tweening affects that are used in 99.9% of Flash animation. the tweening effects utilized in in the Flash program’s flagship major network shows ‘Foster’s Home’ and ‘El Tigre’.

    I’m glad i said everything i did in this post because the cherry on top was the commercial you just posted which shows what real animation looks like – and not the “cutting corner” features of the Flash program which have proven to be its most popular aspect, for every studio utilizing Flash does so because it will save them time. unfortunately it skimps on quality. if the quality of the animation is not there, then i’m going to speak up because thanks to the proliferation of studios utilizing Flash in that manner, we’ve reached a slippery slope in this industry where people are collectively forgetting what good animation looks like.

    lastly, i was more than happy to heap adulation on a Flash cartoon in previous posts here at the Brew about the new Adult Swim show ‘SuperJail’. i’m in love with that show. i wish there were more exceptions to the rule like it.

  • GF

    I think the key questions for any animated piece produced in any medium is – It is creative and original? Is there evidence of artistic discipline? Has the creator anything new to say? Is their take on the subject matter fresh?

    All these arguments about tweening and drawing count are an utter waste of time. DanO, you’re crowing over bad “Flash cartoons”. Why not just criticize bad cartoons? What’s the point of distinguishing between the two?

    CG and stop-motion films are ALL “puppet animation” and yet we’ve all seen brilliant films in those mediums. Cartoons don’t get much simpler than Terry Gilliam’s brilliant animation in the Monty Python series, but when you apply the questions above to his work, the transparency of the cartoon’s mechanics quickly become irrelevant.

    So knock it off with all the software hate. You’re spewing vomit all over the hardworking men and women who bring you SuperJail, for one, not to mention the thousands of others who have produced thoughtful and innovative work that you didn’t even REALIZE was produced “in Flash”.

  • DanO

    I wouldn’t think that anyone who criticizes the shortcuts used in Flash as “spewing vomit”.

    Its a simple premise: Terry Gilliam’s animation are like that by design. there is a self awareness there. the same with Rocky and Bullwinkle’s limited animation. the same goes fofr the shorts being made over at JibJab. they know that they are putting together limited pivot animation and they present their content as cutouts. they spin the limbs around and push the boundaries. to many shorts today are trying to pass off symbol manipulation as fully animated. its not – and it looks like crap.

    the point is that, years ago, before Flash(and after effects), one cold assemble a collection of current independent cartoons put out recently by animators and it would have a relatively high level of quality.

    now go to Atomfilms, or Aniboom, or Spike tv, or any number of broadcast outlets boasting their animated content and you’ll find a huge inflated collection of BAD animation. why?
    because animators aren’t learning how to animate anymore. they are using the shortcuts in Flash – and the worst part about it is that we’re all becoming apathetic to this drop in quality.

    if my assumption about Flash being responsible for the pivot movement was wrong, i’m sorry – but it was an educated assumption. software today allows cheats and as an animator, a fan, and a simple observer – i’m going to call it if something looks crappy because it was cheated with a program.

  • DanO

    “All these arguments about tweening and drawing count are an utter waste of time.”

    Its not a waste of time. If you want your animation to look good, then you have to DRAW THE FRAMES. That is why the Olive Oyl ad looks so good. that is why it was posted by Aaron Simpson, as a testament to what really good animation looks like. Thats why we applaud SuperJail, because you can’t tell its Flash. Why? – because they tween and draw and actually animate. So clearly the argument is valid.