Interview No. 183
Interview By: @The-Great-One
Patreon Post Date: Apr 6, 2022
Today's guest has delighted Newgrounds members throughout the year of 2020, during the pandemic, with his Stickmen Series. Not only that, but he's also told us stories with characters such as Teddy in im eating goldfish and takeout. He has addressed the pandemic with coronavirus video. And he would complete the series in 2020 with bankrupt. His style has not been seen on Newgrounds. The writing and animation are some of the funniest movies on Newgrounds. Without further ado, I am privileged to welcome, @wavetro.
Q: How did you find Newgrounds and why did you join?
A: I always heard about Newgrounds here and there while I was a kid since the site has games, and this was during the golden era of free Flash games. I would really only play on Miniclip though, as well as Nitrome and Club Penguin. I was really just a Super Mario kid that didn't like anything that was even slightly-aggressive on my senses. I didn't even like playing games like Halo or Zelda lmao, so I may have tried playing on Newgrounds as a kid once but got off-put by its edgy appearance. I would only start to see the creative value of Newgrounds once I entered my teen years and got into 3D animation. This was when I was known as @RobotUnderscore. I created my account and tried uploading some animations, but I didn't recognize that the site doesn't have any pressure to upload like YouTube did. Instead, I thought I was under pressure to make super-polished things only, so I didn't stick around much until I finally came back with @wavetro and have since truly learned what the Newgrounds community is and how integral it is to the site. I know it's pretty boring but that's basically how that went down lol
Q: When you were younger your first was "computer". Could you tell us the full story behind this?
A: Yeah I was 2 or 3 and my parents always saw me get fixated whenever they would use the dusty beige desktop the family had. I kept trying to say "computer" but instead said "pooper" or "puter" as my first words. Quite the foreshadowing
Q: How and when did you become interested in animation?
A: In 2008 I had a friend come over and introduce me to "movie making" in general, which were basically plush videos but instead of putting them on YouTube I would burn them on blank DVDs for my family. Prior to that I was making "comic books" with Microsoft PowerPoint and its shape tools, although I have to give my older sibling credit for coming up with that. Jumping forward to 2010, I had recently bought toy figures from a series called Gogo's Crazy Bones, and their website had a special section for making your own Gogo's videos that you upload to the site (which reuploaded them to YouTube so that they didn't have to pay for video hosting. Clever!) As I tried to figure out what movies to make for this new website (instead of DVDs) with my new Gogos (instead of plushes,) my siblings were watching an episode of iCarly in which Spencer suffers while making a stop-motion animation. I saw that and went "oh yeah I could do that." And coolernow123 was born.
Q: You and I have something in common. We both made comics in MS Paint and PowerPoint. Have you drawn comics by hand? How would you describe the transition?
A: Oh I used to draw comics on paper! I completely forgot that there was a point in time when I did that. However, every time I would try to draw with a mouse on the computer in MS Paint, it would look like dogshit. My time with that program was short-lived after I found out about shape tools in PowerPoint instead. It was way easier to control and make comics, and it also allowed me to use the cool magical box (the computer) more. The characters were a lot more abstract since they were just made of basic shapes, but I saw this actual "drawing" process as a mere barrier that I just needed to jump over so I could get to the cool part where I make the characters do stuff. My hand-drawing habits only then really existed as me doodling in notebooks during school, and then faded away completely. I guess that's why I never really had an interest in drawing anatomy or making 2D animation
Q: You and I have also filmed movies and edited with Windows Movie Maker. What stories can you recount for us?
A: I loved the shit out of Windows Live Movie Maker. The new one Windows 10 has is nowhere near as stellar as that thing. I learned how to use it to edit my plush movies and burn them onto DVDs. When I started making stopmotions in 2010, I learned to set the image durations to 0.03 seconds to make the characters move, and my peak with the program was when I made that coolernow123 movie called 4:15 To Nowhere. At some point in my teen years I eventually graduated to Sony Vegas, and then on to other video editors in general. I have this huge issue with Blender 3D where I cannot figure out how to do the same 3D things I do in that program in its competitors (Cinema 4D, Maya, etc) but when it comes to video editors I can jump into any of them and quickly figure out how to use them to get what I need. Sorry I don't really have "stories" about them other than that, I don't remember much outside of me just making the videos
Q: You were inspired to make stop motion animation from an episode of iCarly. What episode was it? What about it gave you the inspiration?
A: It was in Season 1 Episode 15, the iHate Sam's Boyfriend episode. I can't find a clip of it on YouTube, but there's this pivotal scene where Spencer is adjusting the characters, taking a picture, and then doing it over and over while complaining his hands hurt. It was the most efficient stopmotion tutorial I had ever seen. That scene alone + my Windows Live Movie Maker knowledge was literally everything I needed to go "oh I can do that" and then start making coolernow123 videos.
A: Oh man, that was such a good time while it lasted. I have really poor long-term memory because thinking about making my next video has consumed my daily life for the past decade, but rewatching my coolernow123 videos makes me remember the childhood memories or story behind most of them, like my dad taking me to his workplace in Drawing Wars or the Lego houses I was gifted in Angiru Gets Rich. I love those videos dearly. The biggest events on coolernow123 by far (other than my stopmotion movie 4:15 To Nowhere) were the live-action vacation movies I did, where my family would save up to take the family on international trips, and I would take my Gogos with me. Most of them are currently privated because they contain doxxing information, but I want to remaster/reupload all my coolernow123 videos into definitive collections on that old channel at some point (and also remove the doxxing vacation scenes since they're not integral to the story so that people can enjoy them again.) It's a little tragic how I wasn't more firm on ending coolernow123 and my YouTube run after I got tired of making these videos in 2013 (since I let myself get guilted to continue making videos,) but I hear horror stories about other people who also found fame at a very young age like me, only that they were way more successful and ended up way worse as a result. I guess I'm lucky I didn't end up worse too. Plus, I wouldn't be here right now if I actually quit that year, nor would I have the same online friends I do today. Life is weird. As for the Gogo's Crazy Bones era, I had no idea how huge the toy series truly was at the time. I see people today notice the coolernow123 characters in my 3D videos and mention how they loved Gogos as a kid, which is really cool! Not to discredit coolernow123's legacy though- I mentioned before how there are STILL people today who make coolernow123 videos in the same footsteps of what I did eleven years ago. Though a lot of the time, I most frequently think about where the other members of the Gogos YouTube community went. F139HEY, supereggy5, TheElipticTensaitchi, and more- some of them I can go digging to see where they are now, while others simply vanished without a trace. I did want to shout-out one of the OG YouTuber friends I had from this era though, WackyBrothersHQ. He's still here creating the same videos on Newgrounds as @ShaeGuy! We did a video together recently actually.
Q: What was the transition of Gogo's Crazy Bones to idiots.exe?
A: So we already established that around 2013, I was getting tired of making Gogos stopmotions. But I didn't want to disappoint my fanbase, so I began to learn Blender 3D to continue the videos in a more adventurous format. It was really surprising how I was able to go from complete beginner to a finished pilot episode of idiots.exe in under 2 years. There's a lot of other things I did during this training period, from running the This Is It webcomic to filming my (only) live-action movie. It's way too much to talk about, but you can find all of it neatly-organized and documented at https://robot.wavetro.net/
Q: When did you start attending college? What degree have you pursued?
A: I started attending college in the fall of 2017 for a computer science Bachelor's degree at the "stern recommendation" of my parents. It was horrible- I may not remember much of most things, but the lowest point of my life was September 2017, hands-down. I tried for three semesters but ultimately fell behind, and transferred to a much easier major to graduate on time in spring 2021. I don't really want to say the degree anymore for my own privacy, but just know that it's kinda useless. No offense to the professors or the fellow students- they were really nice! Looking back I can see why my parents or most other families try to give kids who finish high school something to occupy yourself with until you turn 21, because you're still emotionally-turbulent at 18 even though you're technically an adult. (Sorry but it's true!) That being said, I feel like my time at college was really just a way to delay entering the real world for another 4 years rather than an important academic cornerstone in my life or something. If you are an American high school student, do NOT go to a university just to "figure out your life," especially if you need student loans for it- you need to actually make a plan for how you'll make money in the real world and properly decide if college is right for you, and almost no US high school prepares you for that. This was my senior year experience with the public education system in New York City anyway- the high schools were too busy showing off their college acceptance ratings to parents who had kids that just finished middle school
A: I already mentioned earlier how I felt pressured to be my absolute best creative self on Newgrounds while I was still RobotUnderscore, hence the lack of any videos on there. (I was even worried that my Stickmen 2020 videos didn't have enough effort to be on this site back when that was still around!) I fondly remember rich dinos because it was the first proper feature of my voice actor friend @KindaDrake. He was originally going to voice Angiru on idiots.exe before that show collapsed, but I managed to debut him with this animation instead. It's short, sweet, and doesn't waste that much time. A good video I think!
Q: You would make a new name for yourself that is still in use today. That being wavetro. With it your first movie on the site, cavefolder (Andy and Bulb). I absolutely love the story in this and was truly wondering where it was going to go. Why the name cavefolder? Where did the idea come from?
A: Yep, wavetro is my third (and FINAL) username for the internet. Anyways, the funny thing about cavefolder was that it was created with almost no thought in mind. There was a semester-long college assignment where we all had to learn project management, and cavefolder was basically my homework. Everything about the animation was pretty much thrown together randomly- the name, the characters, the story, etc. It seriously doesn't get deeper than that. I had no idea it was going to be as popular as it became when I decided to try YouTube again with it, and I really really REALLY wish I never promised it as a series. Cavefolder was really just meant to be a flash in the pan, but it turned out to be one that people still really love it seems. The show is now in the public domain so anyone can make something with it if they'd like
Q: im eating goldfish is one of the funniest damn things I've ever seen. The set-up is brilliant, but as it keeps going it just goes off the wall completely. How did you come up with this? Why this animation style?
A: I'm glad you're picking out all the landmark videos! im eating goldfish was a test animation to try out the "mouse-puppeting" technique that I saw 2D artist YouTubers like CircleToonsHD use to quickly make videos. I started with the dumb premise of "a fish eating Goldfish" and just built it all out from there. Teddy suddenly became my most important character because of how he unintentionally set up the foundation for Stickmen 2020 to happen. While I don't have much to say about the actual writing of the dialogue/plot since it's just something that comes naturally to me from my years in YouTube and such, this video is super-important for being the key animation discovery that made my 2020 so successful. I chose this animation style because it was the only thing I've ever used that can keep up with how fast I wanted to bring my ideas to life: I could think of anything and put it online as soon as possible, instead of spending too long on an idea and getting tired of it halfway through
Q: food cart is the start of the Stickmen series that would go throughout 2020. What made you decide on stick figures?
A: Here's the thing- I really try to keep my character designs as neutral as possible. Not just because of my love of iconography/symbols/minimalism that probably developed from my years of vector PowerPoint comics, but because I want people to approach my videos with no expectations. If I use specific kinds of characters (like certain animals,) it will attract specific fanbases that will associate me with them, which takes away the control I have that allows people to discover my work without any preconceived notions. Of course, I can't entirely avoid using animal-based characters since I made some that were fish or birds, but I try to keep all of their appearances simple. It allows people to not get distracted by the character designs and just focus on the story. (This is in direct contrast to art communities like Twitter that value character designs themselves and the simple joy of bringing them to life, rather than what those characters actually do. This opposite thinking I had made creation exponentially harder for me of course, and I'd say it's even borderline disrespectful that I treated the actual art/animation step as "an obstacle" to what was actually the completion and sharing of my story ideas via video.) The stickman design I tried out in food cart was the perfect abstraction of literal humans. It let people watch my videos with visual interest but without feeling alienated by the character designs. I finally recognized what I had on my hands with this video and RAN with it that year, which was the start of Stickmen 2020...
Q: I first became introduced to you through your movie pigeon. I don't think I ever laughed this hard at a Newgrounds movie in quite a while. How did you come up with the idea of bread evolving pigeons throughout civilization?
A: It's actually called "pigeons," but I had to take out the "s" because the Newgrounds upload page said I couldn't call it that when "there's an existing popular video of the same name." As it turns out there is a famed Newgrounds animation from 2000 called "Pigeons," and now it's literally impossible to upload a video of the same title- try it sometime! Anyways, I can't say much about how I came up with this idea, it was just "another video" to me. I tend to view Stickmen 2020 as a whole rather than individual videos with their own backstories, save for the coronavirus video which I actually couldn't rewatch for a while when the pandemic got worse! Sometimes I wonder how many more videos we would've gotten if I never made a Patreon and just kept my mometum going past "math prohlems guy," since early 2020 in general was my golden era for my work and "pigeons" became the most popular video of the series (which I think is deserved)
Q: Through multiple episodes of the Stickmen Series you have touched on issues in the world. With gamestore, coronavirus video, and airbnb just to name a few. What is it about these events that inspire you to create comedy around them through animation?
A: Comedy is making fun of real life- that's all it is. I grew up loving it and it's my way of expressing my thoughts on the world in an entertaining format, because all good writing has a point of view or something to actually say. Comedy is in a unique spot this generation, as it seems other Gen Z people like me really resonate with it in an otherwise horrifying world of dystopian technology and manmade horrors beyond comprehension. But memeing everything helps all of us get by one day at a time
Q: A string of events occurred that lead us to where we are now. It seems to have started with bankrupt, lead to moving in (Teddy and Ben), and the culminating to I quit. I know the video has explained your journey. Why it has brought you to where you are now. I was wondering though if you could elaborate a bit more into starting a series and dropping it. You started cavefolder, dropped it. And now Teddy and Ben is dropped. With the Stickmen series being a completed series. What was it about the Stickmen series that made you keep going?
A: For those of you who don't know what this question is referring to, it's talking about my video "I quit being a YouTuber" that announced the end of my one-man animation career. You can find it on YouTube or Odysee and go to the timestamp 8:50 for the full explanation why I disappeared for half of 2020 and returned with the show's end via the "bankrupt" video. If you don't want to watch that, the quick summary was that I discovered that there was no possible way to make these online videos my career, since I heavily disagreed with taking ad revenue for a living, and also that direct donations (Patreon) were just not a feasible income source. Not much more to say here that the video didn't already explain. As for making a series and then dropping it, it was really painful that I had to constantly relearn that I'm simply not meant to promise such elaborate projects as a single person. I haven't learned yet how to delegate the animation work to others (especially because I was VERY particular about how my videos turned out) and I constantly want to do various different projects all the time. You have to make a "series" of some kind if you want to thrive on YouTube though- you almost never get views if you literally "do what you want," since most people only subscribe to you for one type of video format. Stickmen 2020 barely survived even though it should technically have died. A huge motivator to keep that show rolling was not only to make great videos with this amazing format I found, but also to prove to myself that I didn't peak at coolernow123. It was also the only series I came up with that was barely feasible-enough for one person to do, but the moment I tried to make anything slightly more complex like Teddy & Ben or cavefolder, things just got boring and fell apart after the first episode
Q: What is in your opinion, the definition of animation?
A: This is a funny question to answer after refusing to call myself an artist or animator for almost my entire run. There's no way around it- animation is when you simply make anything non-human on a screen move in a deliberate way, and that makes me both an artist and an animator. The online art community (from my old point of view) depicts being an online artist or animator as someone who loves the literal process of making art, draws/designs detailed characters, and is totally okay with spending years of their lives on something creative because the journey is fun for them. I didn't really identify with most of that, so I refused to associate myself with it out of fear of being called a fraud. (It's the reason why I called my work "videos that happen to be 3D" and not just 3D animations.) I thought it was too late for me to stop animating and make a change since I've been at this for so long, but eventually reality finally caught up to me, and now I know that the animations I do are not for me. It's also a weird feeling when you're someone that has a hard time finding a place to belong online. I've been almost completely alone on this entire journey, and that's only changed during recent years when the wavetro videos started to gain traction, and when Newgrounds basically showed me it was okay to not be the ideal internet artist with the love it had for Stickmen 2020. Even though the type of creative I am (whatever the fuck it is) may not be common or prominently represented, I've now since learned to not overthink things- anyone can be creative and accepted in a community, and you don't have to force yourself to learn something you don't like just so you can feel like you actually belong.
Q: What can we expect from wavetro in the future?
A: I want to start this by mentioning how there was an error in the recent Tank Tribune that said I would keep "making movies" for Newgrounds after I quit. This statement isn't really true- all these animations I made alone are basically dead forever. I'll still be creating online things in general, but I have no idea how many of them can even go on Newgrounds. I first have to take some time off and do nothing for a little while, slowly ending the daily stress I had on myself thinking about the next YouTube animation. This should help me figure out what I actually like to do. You'll always be able to see what I'm up to at https://wavetro.net though. If I ever DO return to movies or animation, I refuse to let myself do it again without a team. I know there are people who really don't want me to throw away all the creative abilities I built up from making these videos, and I promise I won't! I'll find ways to keep them alive, albeit more sustainably. I'll also still keep uploading any videos I may want to make for myself on YouTube/Odysee/Instagram too, but those videos obviously won't be polished animations anymore. I also want to make sure whatever I do doesn't come off as "YouTuber behavior," in which I accidentally create expectations for me to post on a regular basis. I don't owe anyone anything anymore, and if I ever teeter close to a "solo online career" again, please make sure I stay the fuck away from that path LMAO. There's a big problem right now where giant tech companies are dominating child & teen upbringings with infinite piles of free content and never-ending social feeds, and it's raising a generation of people to think that everything is either a performance for online fame or a hustle to get online money. Please listen to me when I say this: it's okay to be a nobody. You will do a whole lot better in life without all that stress compared to a person that bases their own self-worth on their work, fanbase, or bank account. Take it from me, a guy that let his life be defined only by his videos for 12 whole years...
As stated in this interview, I first learned about wavetro from pigeon. His series reminds me somewhat of the asdfmovie series. The biggest difference is where asdfmovie goes for the random factor, Stickmen has more concise comedic writing with incredible timing. I love everything he has made here on Newgrounds. I don't know what he has planned next. I can say though, without a shadow of a doubt, that it will be amazing.
The Tank Tribune is a part of Dohn's Desk Productions