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The History of America by MK12

History of America

Kansas City-based motion graphics/design collective MK12 recently completed their long-awaited epic short The History of America. I, among many others, have been curious about this film ever since they posted a trailer of it online a couple years back. The film, a combo of CG and rotoscope animation with live-interludes, is a self-described “psychedelic Western space opera,” presenting an alternate American history of warring cowboys and astronauts.

Both streaming and downloadable versions of the short are available at Ventilate.ca. The film is certainly a curious effort. The pacing of the story and overall tone of the film are very “live-action,” due in large part to the reliance on live actors, though for the most part MK12 manages to dress the roto with enough artistry to make it palatable to the senses. The film’s ultimate downfall is its half hour length, which is far too sluggish for the amount of story it offers. I can’t help but think this would have been much more entertaining and effective as a tightly edited fifteen-minute short. Still, one has to give them kudos for their ambitiousness, both graphically and conceptually, and their willingness to tackle such a large project inbetween commercial gigs. The film has been selected to screen next month at Sundance.

MK12 has a website about the film at HistoryofAmerica.tv and there’s also a recent interview with the MK12 crew in New York Magazine in which they talk about their ideas behind the film.

  • tom

    Good God, I’ve been waiting for this to be finished for what seems like years. If it’s still available, check out their hilarious President Steve Elvis America film too!

  • Doug

    Having been a big fan of MK12’s commercial work for a few years now I expected a lot and was underwhelmed at the final project. It’s too bad, they’re very, very talented. And I think that a lot of the motion graphic studios have a similar problem. Stuff looks great but has no soul. Which is probably why there is, in my opinion, so much great commercial work out there these days. Another company, in NYC, Shilo, also recently finished an in house short. Same thing: underwhelming.

  • tom

    What Doug said.

    In addition, I think that most of these animation projects from studios that don’t usually produce entertainment are hobbled by the writing. This is beautifully produced, but at times it felt a little self-indulgent and toward the end I was doing a little clock watching.

    Look around their site if you have the time. They do really beautiful work. They just need to hire some writing staff.