Past Work #2: The StickKnights

What started out as a small-scale class assignment in high-school, to do a “30 second animation with a story” became one of my most ambitious and longest-running animated projects ever.

SKclassic SKclassic_2

The original StickKnights movie was never finished, due to a number of factors – procrastination on my part, inadequacies of the animation program leading to frustration, multiple instances of data and backup loss, and other classwork taking priority. It was something I always wanted to get back to working on, but by that time I had moved on to Adobe Flash CS6 – and not regretted the decision in the least.

stickknightspart1_firstscene

Following a strong desire to make something of myself one January afternoon, I started on the massive task of completely remaking StickKnights for Flash – re-animating, rewriting, everything.

stickknightspart1_cave

My experience in Flash was very limited. I didn’t quite understand how the program worked, which led to sloppy animation and much frustration, trying to make the program do what I wanted it to do. Nonetheless, progress was made, and my understanding of the program grew more and more streamlined, after watching helpful guides and tutorials online.

stickknightspart1_monstar

I am eternally grateful to my brother for providing voice acting for some of the characters and the amazing soundtrack, made after the animation to match up with what was on the screen. I did not offer a lot of input in this stage, but whatever he sent me I instantly fell in love with.

StickKnightspreview

StickKnights Part I was finally released onto Youtube on 18th April, 2014. I deemed it a great success and it was a step closer to finishing StickKnights, a goal that I wanted to achieve since first starting it back in 2008. After 7 years, StickKnights had finally seen the light of day, with a built in voice cast and soundtrack – more than DrawPlus could ever hope to include.

stickknightspart2_prefight

After a few months, perhaps a longer break than was really necessary, I decided to continue StickKnights and work on the next part. This installment was much greater as it focused on the conflict going on in the world, both politically (inside the King’s court) and literally (the fight between the StickKnights and the monster).

stickknightspart2_advior

Animating my first ever fight scene was a long and hard process. I actually made all the different scenes separately, giving more of a break between each one, giving the second part less of the frantic pace of the first, and I think this was better to tell the second part’s story, and was a better way to direct my animations in general.

stickknightspart2_fight

To make it easier, I decided to draw a rough animatic version of the animation first. I was reluctant to do this, as it first seemed like doubling my workload needlessly. However this turned out to work to my great advantage. I could document all the little parts or takes that made up the scenes and put them in a list that I would then complete one by one, breaking up the workload which proved immensely helpful.

stickknights part 2 preview

It is because of this more organized and patient approach that I believe that StickKnights Part Two is so much greater than One. Part Two released on 25th August 2014.

Part Three was made at the request of my brother for a University project, working to a three week time-frame. This added time limit presented a new challenge for me. I was never good at working to deadlines. This would help me greater focus my efforts to produce results much earlier than before.

At this point, I had acquired a Graphics Tablet which greatly sped up the drawing process. I did the same roughing technique I did for Part Two, along with listing all of the different takes. The workload would prove to be even greater for Part Three than for Part Two, despite it not running for as long and not even being the full scene.

stickknightspart3_vermin

I completely remade the background for the forest by painting a massive forest backdrop and resizing and repositioning it for each new take. Under the time constraints, I think it was a good move, saving me a lot of time on backdrops by having only one, as the scene only took place within the forest.

stickknightspart3_itgetsreal

Many times I thought I was done with it, when I found that some of the footage had not been finished, or a noticeable glitch was still in the cut. This was maddening to me as I was so close to completion, but I was so paranoid of glitches that I had no idea when I could call the project done. Finally I finished it. It was an exhausting job, but I believe my effort was well worth it.

stickknightspart3_revival

The scene was completed on 29th May, 2014, and uploaded to YouTube later after much deliberation, because it was not the official, finished StickKnights Part Three, and the project has remained untouched since that day. Now that I have revisited it, I wonder if I will take the time to finish the movie. And if I will, when? Is it time to move on? Or is it time to do this movie justice and finish it once and for all? Will StickKnights ever see a sequel? Time will tell.

Till then, you can watch StickKnights along with my other animated projects here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABH4FiZWDLQ&list=PLPkP-wMt7nrD8gWECFp60RY0rtZml1L2l

(Videos contain mild violence and vulgar language. Viewer discretion is advised.)

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