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Interview with TmsT

Posted by TheInterviewer - November 11th, 2010


Interview No. 36

Interview By: @The-Great-One

Today's guest is one who has made us laugh with his works. From TmsT's "Frosty vs Rudolf" which has won him the Daily Feature and Weekly 1st Place. He has also hit the Triple Crown twice by winning the Daily Feature, Weekly 1st Place, and the Review Crew Pick awards with his flashes AMIG0 and TmsT's "Spy & Pyro". He is none other than Andrew Kepple also known as @TmsT.

Q: How did you find Newgrounds and why did you join?

A: I found Newgrounds in 2003 after someone recommended to me that I put my animations on it. I had been animating in Flash for a few months, but I'd only ever put my animations on my own website and Albinoblacksheep.com. So I joined for more exposure, and I certainly got more than I expected. I didn't realise just how big Newgrounds' audience was at the time.

Q: Your first flash submission is entitled French Erotic Film. This is a fanimutation that you have created for us. The question is why? Also where on Earth did the story for this come from?

A: Setting pictures to songs that deliberately misinterpret the lyrics is something I'd done many years ago once for a laugh. To see (f)animutations like those of Neil Cicerega, Mark Hughes and Veloso, where they did the same thing but animated it and threw in a lot of pop culture and bizarre continuity, it inspired me to make my own such movie using some of the characters and running gags they'd introduced to the medium. The title "French Erotic Film" comes from hearing the song's Dutch lyrics "Weet je wat ik wil" as if they were English.

The story came from many sources, but mainly from a Monty Python sketch where aliens turn people into Scotsmen, and a video game called Commander Keen, which featured Scottish aliens, and also a giant foot - although I'm not sure if that one was an intentional Monty Python reference.

Q: Plan 9 From Underpants would be the second part of the trilogy you started with "French Erotic Film" flash. Why did you want to make this a trilogy? Also what is ST3R3-O-Vision and for those that can't see it can you tell us why?

A: I wasn't done with animutation just yet, so I decided to extend the story and turn this second episode into a kung fu movie, because that genre is often so serious and hard core, unlike animutation. Making it all a trilogy seemed like the logical thing at the time, following movie formulae and cliches.

ST3R3-O-Vision(TM) is just two images, one for the left eye, one for the right eye. If you go cross-eyed the images overlap and it simulates a 3D image. (3D movies do the same thing without having to make you go cross eyed because the glasses take care of which eye sees which image.) It's the opposite of a Magic Eye picture, though, because with ST3R3-O-Vision(TM) you have to focus closer to yourself rather than relax your eyes. Some people find that this causes eyestrain. Not me though!

Q: Colin vs Jesus: FINALE! would end this trilogy. I don't really want to spoil anything for anyone who watches these flash movies. However I must ask are you happy with your ending and what was the experience like in telling this story?

A: I'm happy that there was an ending! And yes, after much consideration I decided who the secret bad guy behind it all should be, which tied in to Neil Cicierega's first animutation - although you have to be REALLY into animutation to even get this reference, so it'd be lost on most people. Which sums up animutation in general. Heh.

Most of my animations before this one were very zany and ham-fisted, but with Conquest of Animutopia (AKA Colin vs Jesus: Finale!) I put in more effort with scene direction and even drew some of my own backgrounds, giving it a more traditional cinematic look rather than the "animutational" look of the first two. I had to develop some more realistic animation styles to mimic the look of similar movies as well. The main idea behind this movie is that it's ridiculous, silly animutation characters contrasting with a storyline and dystopian setting that's far too serious for what they are. I like it when obscure things are taken to undeserving extremes.

Q: One of my favorite flash movies by you is one that is a wonderfully written satire and that is Uncle Junkie!. Tell me where did the inspiration come from for this flash and what was the process you took into writing it?

A: I can't remember exactly, but it probably had something to do with people joking about me being on drugs while animating, because of the trippy style of my first few animations. Almost all my Flash movies so far had used pre-existing soundtracks, so I decided to make an original. Writing this one was rather educational, since I didn't really know that much about illegal drugs or the lingo surrounding them. Fortunately I was able to research this fascinating topic without having to go undercover and infiltrate an actual drug cartel or become a junkie myself like Walt Disney had to do when he made Fantasia. (Kidding!)

Q: TmsT's "Frosty vs Rudolf" is a hilarious Christmas flash made by you. I don't won't to say much as to not spoil the wonderful ending. I must ask where the inspiration came from for this? Also what is the process in writing and animating a flash with fight scenes?

A: I actually drew this as a one-page comic and published it in a local indie comic 'zine a few years earlier. Not sure how I had the idea originally - I just like the concept of similar characters from separate fictional settings beating the snot out of each other for supremacy (think King Kong vs Godzilla). Who doesn't?

I decided to animate it in 2 weeks during the university Christmas break. I made it right after Colin vs Jesus, so I was slightly more experienced with cartoony combat scenes at that stage. It was going to be a lot longer than the comic, so I developed some quick sketches of each scene, making sure to include a bunch of my favourite cartoon cliches and references. With this kind of "A vs B" movie where the opponents are equal and opposite but neither one is good or evil, I think one of the main things is to keep the viewers guessing about who's going to win, right up until the end. Whoever wins isn't necessarily important to the story, but people naturally pick a side to root for - though it could be either side. So you have to keep the fight balanced, overall. Let character A get a punch in, then let B get an even bigger punch, then let A get revenge, and so on, back and forth, but increasing the violence (or the hilarity) to raise the stakes each time. Ending with one character winning seems almost anticlimactic, so I prefer to either end with a third challenger appearing, or having the characters become friends, or having them burst into song. Or all of the above.

Q: Sporkfest is a bizarre music video that involves dancing sporks to the song Banana Phone. Where did the inspiration for this flash come from and why did you choose the song Banana Phone for this flash?

A: Intentional non sequitur, actually. Sporks are weird utensils with a funny name, so animating multitudes of them dancing around the world seemed like a fun thing to make. I chose the song Banana Phone because it was a nice song, even though it had nothing to do with sporks. The whole video isn't supposed to make any more sense than it does at first glance.

Q: TmsT's Duke Nukem Forever is an interesting music video tribute for all those fans out there. Now that the game "Duke Nukem Forever" is said to finally on it's way what is your opinion on it? Also where did the inspiration come from to make this flash?

A: I don't have an opinion of the game itself yet but I'll be interested to give it a play. I never played much of Duke Nukem 3D because my computer was too slow, back in the late 90s, but I played the earlier Duke Nukem platform games a lot. In 2004, I was reading a web comic called This Strife which often made fun of DNF being delayed indefinitely, and the community there would mercilessly troll each other about Duke Nukem Forever "taking forever". That's when I had the idea of making a simple of Duke Nukem singing a song that had the word "Forever" prominently in the lyrics, and I remembered hearing such a song in an episode of Full House when I was a kid. So my DNF video was mainly in the spirit of trolling the die hard Duke fans. The creators of DNF themselves saw the video, and to their credit, saw the funny side of it. Joe Siegler, 3D Realms' webmaster, posted it on the front of the 3D Realms website with the heading, "Duke Nukem Forever Released", which nearly gave a few gamers heart attacks. That was much more epic trolling than I could have hoped for.

Now that DNF is actually on schedule again, maybe I can believe that my tribute to DNF, along with all the others, had some influence on the legendary game's release... even if only that it delayed DNF by another 3 minutes or so.

Q: TmsT's Zero Wing Rhapsody is an interesting way to incorporate the bad dialogue into a song. The question is where did the inspiration come from this? Who are the other people singing? Also was it fun to do and did you have any problems along the way?

A: All Your Base Are Belong To Us is a really old meme, so there were already countless variations on it out there (even Futurama did an All Your Base reference before I did!), but my favourite was the famous photoshop slideshow video with the AYB techno remix music in the background. I thought it would be fun to make a parody of Zero Wing that had all the characters singing their inane lines in a dramatic, operatic style. Earlier, a friend of mine in the university's Comedy Club had written and performed in a re-enactment of Star Wars set to the music of Bohemian Rhapsody, and I recycled (read: stole) his idea and applied it to Zero Wing. The other people singing were myself and friends of mine from the Comedy Club as well. The toughest part was learning to draw with the line tool in Flash to get the images looking as like the original graphics from the game. I actually started work on it in mid 2004, but it was on hold for a long time and not released until early 2005.

Q: The Fingertips Project would be the first collaboration you would be a part of involving more animutation artists. How did you become a part of this collaboration and what is it like to work within a collaboration?

A: There was a mailing list for animutation artists and fans at the time, and we decided to make a collaboration. Someone chose the "Fingertips" tracks by They Might Be Giants, because they were short, quirky, and easy to divide up among people. Working within a collab is a lot more fun than organising one. The Fingertips Project changed organisers once, but still turned out okay. I tried starting something similar shortly after it, but it ran out of interest and stalled.

Q: When Robots Attack, Geeks In Love, Fiberglass Monkey, and Lemon Demon's "Bad Idea" would all be collaborations of you and Neil Cicierega a.k.a. Trapezoid. How does it feel working with Neil?

A: I'm not really working WITH him any more than I was working with Ome Henk when I made Henk's song "Opblaaskrokodil" into French Erotic Film. Neil's music was already there, I just picked it up and made videos for the ones that inspired me. I haven't yet commissioned him to write a song for any animation purpose, but who knows what the future holds.

Q: AMIG0 is quite possibly one of your best works. Tell me where did the inspiration come from for this and how long did it take you to write and animate it? In other words what was the complete process in the creation of this flash? Also how did it feel hitting the triple crown with a "Daily Feature", "Weekly 1st Place", and "Review Crew Pick" awards?

A: I RIPPED OFF WALL-E!!!!!!!! No, just kidding. Now that I've got that connection out of the way...

This animation was made for the Tournament Of Flash Artists (TOFA) 2008, with the theme of a story that ends where it starts. I settled on the "robot in a junkyard" genre after forming a vague idea about a neverending cycle of destruction and creation that only robots could do. I think I had about 3 weeks to animate it. Because of the mechanical construction of the robot characters I departed from my usual animation style and went with something different, a bit more arty, and relying more on Flash motion tweens than traditional animation methods, but still keeping the movements true to physics. I wasn't expecting a Daily First, so getting the "triple crown" was a big surprise to me - especially after all the criticism it got from WALL-E fans, haha. It also helped that it was frontpaged quickly.

Q: HOSUE [sic] is a messed up little flash movie. What the fuck was going through your mind when you made this one and will you make more based off of the "House M.D." TV show?

A: "All the kids love House as a character, but I bet if they met him in real life he'd DESTROY them." So I made him turn into some kind of H. P. Lovecraft monster, just to make it more disturbing. The dance routines were thrown in to say "But hey, I don't hate House" to his fans.

(There's an Easter Egg too - click House's head when it appears in the ending screen.)

Q: TmsT's "Spy & Pyro" is quite possibly the funniest video game parody I've ever seen and is even funny to those who don't play "Team Fortress 2." Where the fuck for the inspiration come from for this one? What was the writing process you took into writing it? What information did you collect on the game beforehand? Also how did you feel when this flash also hit the triple crown?

A: I was chatting in MSN one day with someone who said that if Spy and Pyro had a baby it would be Spyro the dragon. I forgot about this conversation, but it embedded itself in my subconscious and one day I came up with a story of Spy and Pyro falling in love and doing all the things that old-fashioned couples did when they made babies. Taking something old-fashioned and making it edgy is usually an epic fail move in animation today, but taking something edgy (like TF2) and making it old fashioned is just downright disturbing. Especially if it challenges people's ideas about certain stereotypes not being "allowed" to fall in love.

Q: Still Life Eternal is no doubt in my mind your absolute best flash movie. It was envisioned by you and we would all like to know your vision in this beautiful creation. What all can you tell us about this flash movie?

A: This was another TOFA creation, where the theme was "Bob wanted an apple, so..." Instantly I knew I wanted to make "Bob" embark on a mighty quest to the ends of the earth to find this apple. The tree-climbing sequence was based on an idea for a point-n-click Flash game I'd started making but given up on the previous year, where you just climb up an impossibly tall tree through surreal environments, somewhat inspired by the likes of the game "Samorost ". There are also themes of cyclic changes (seasons, the caterpillar/chrysalis/butterfly, and of course the apple) to give it a feeling of never ending. Because of the big focus on detailed, arty backgrounds, this was the first time I tried out the fancy Flash 8 effects (blur, glow, etc) to any significant degree in one of my animations. I haven't really utilised those effects since, however.

Trivia: During the last week before the deadline for this TOFA entry, the lease of the flat I was living in expired and I had a few days before the lease on my new place began. So I finished the animation while I was a homeless bum! (Not living in a cardboard box, but at a friend's place out of town.)

Luckily this interruption didn't really affect the movie.

Q: As an artist, animator, and writer. What advice can you give to those who wish to take up the mediums of art and literature?

A: Don't worry too much about details and planning - just get things made. Quality is subjective, but you can't argue about quantity, and the more you do, the better you get - whereas the more you plan, the less you actually do, and so you improve more slowly, which works out badly as a long-term plan for anyone. Pursue quantity, and quality will follow.

Q: What can we expect from TmsT in the near future?

A: A new music video for the band Nuclear Bubble Wrap! It's coming out this November, and although I'm directing it, it's a collaborative video animated not just by myself but also by several other Flash animators. It'll be a lot of fun to watch.

Andrew is an interesting animator. His satire is hilarious, but at the same time he can give us a creative story. I see him as an inspiration for those within that of comedy, but other than that he seems to be nothing more than a man with a pencil and pad to release the ideas trapped in his head.



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