Interview No. 109
Interview By: @The-Great-One
Today's guest was recently named the winner of the 2012 Newgrounds Annual Tournament of Animation. Although he did participate in the 2010 and 2011 Tournament of Flash Artists as well. His works in those tournaments has truly shown his abilities, from titles such as, Cookies, deceit, and such, Flipped., and Animals of the Metropolis. He is a gifted animator, and we are privileged to welcome, @Emrox.
Q: How did you find Newgrounds and why did you join?
A: I can't remember where I found newgrounds, but I remember it being 'just another flash site' back around 05. The first time I ever submitted anything to NG was a little under six years ago under the pseudonym martinswerld (sic). The submission was a music video for the novelty song "Fish heads" from 1980-something as I was incapable of producing original humor at the time (and still am today!) The blammed submission can be found here.
Devastated, I spent the next few years frequenting one site after another. One of the more notable sites was TheGameHomepage.com, where I got my first game sponsored, which eventually led me back to newgrounds. Along my journey across the various flash portals I met a lot of different people, including Ganon95.newgrounds.com, who I still talk to today. In the two years I spent hopping from one community to another I continued to practice and make little flash projects, none of which were ever released.
Q: I remember seeing you here on Newgrounds under the name Elfman-Rox. Why the change in your username?
A: It seemed like the hyphen and childish spelling of 'rocks' was a bit too hard to remember, so I got a name change within the last year as I recall. The signature elf-hat stuck, though, hence the christmas colors. Maybe I'll change that someday; red and cyan has always looked nicer.
Q: At what age did you become interested in animation?
A: When I was nine my Dad took a course in flash animation for work, and he got home he taught me and my two brothers the basics of Macromedia Flash 8. I was instantly fascinated with what you could create with such a simple medium, and I began studying animation as an independent project in fourth grade. That was sometime in October 2005, which means I've been animating for over seven years now (whoa.) When I was in middle school I read a lot about famous guys like Mozart who was writing symphonies since he was, like, two, and I figured that if I was going to be super-famous at anything it'd have to be something I was doing since I was a kid. From then on, my passion in animation from a young age has always been inspirational to me.
Q: I'm A Pc: Deleted Clips Collab would be the first collaboration you would participate in Newgrounds. How did you come to find it and what was it like to work with and see these other animators works?
A: As someone with little experience on NG, I was eager to get my name out there and collaborate. I didn't really care what I was signing up for, I just liked the idea of a bunch of people contributing to one large project. I was still sorta afraid of other people's thoughts of me, so you'll notice that all of the audio clips in my parts are pitched down to hide my little-kid-on-the-internet voice. For a while I was trying really hard to make myself seem super professional, but over the years I've learned to address people online with a less serious attitude. When it came out I thought my entries were some of the worst of the bunch, but in retrospect, I think my bit was a little bit better than most of those guys'.
Q: One of my favorite earliest works by you is entitled 60 Seconds of Awesome. The title truly does not lie. You state that you made 10 Seconds of Awesome, but started to make more and more. How long did it take you to make each one and why did you stop at 60 seconds?
A: How long did it take? God, I can't remember. Probably a night or two for every ten seconds. Those were all part of a series that was uploaded to my deviantArt account, but I never really got into the site after my first account got banned. God, that place is cold and unforgiving. No talented artist should start on deviantArt, because the chances of getting the recognition you deserve on there is about a million to one. There was a seventh and eighth installment to the series, but after number seven I was completely out of ideas. One thing worth mentioning, though, is that "10 seconds of pure awesome" was my first attempt at drawing/animating with outline-free shapes, which eventually became my favorite way to differentiate the backgrounds from the characters.
Q: When HappyHarry was here, we talked about the shock value of setting up one event, but doing something completely different. Harry states he loves anticlimaxes and antijokes. You make this apparent in The Playground Song. Harry states that...
"it's not that I'm setting out to gross out people, or even make them laugh necessarily (though that is a welcomed side effect), I really just want to surprise them with something crazy and I love playing on people's abilities to second guess an ending."
Would you agree with this or do you have a different way of looking at this style of humor in terms of set-up and execution?
A: I agree pretty entirely. I devised a whole theory on comedy as being "something unexpected." Even dry humor, which is actually so expected that it isn't expected at all (which is why young children don't seem to "get" the dry stuff). This is why there is no mathematical equation or scientific formula for producing something funny. As soon as the viewer comes to recognize and expect your formula, your jokes stop being funny, so you have to keep it varied. You have to anticipate what the audience will think and flip it around on them. I could write a whole essay on this stuff (and I might!)
Q: Po is an interesting look at video games. How some people don't have the patience or time to play them. One reviewer though says that you should make it into a flash game. When will we be seeing the game Po?
A: I made po already. It's in the preloader of the movie, although it probably would have made more sense to put it at the end. Po was created just as a short jab at how Pong is a simulation of a simulation, but is still one of the most recognized games of all time. Then I chose to make a simulation of a simulation of a simulation. Take that, RC Pro-Am.
Q: Malcolm. How did you come across this song? What made you want to animate it? You also state that you feel it is overrated, could you tell us why you think that in more detail?
A: I made Malcolm a little bit after The Playground Song, which was my first front-paged submission as well as the first to win any daily awards. Once I had a taste of the fame, I made a few generic movies I'm not too proud of. "Malcolm" was a funny song that I decided to animate simply because it was a funny song, and those score well. Also Malcolm has a nose in some scenes and doesn't in other scenes, another reason I cringe every time I watch it.
Q: You would participate in the 2010 Tournament of Flash Artists on AlbinoBlackSheep, the 2011 Tournament of Flash Artists here on Newgrounds, and the 2012 Newgrounds Annual Tournament of Animation here on Newgrounds in which you would be the winner of. When last year's winner Dave Bruno was here we talked about the tournament. We also spoke with the founder of the tournament Adam Witt. How did you come across this tournament and what encouraged you to participate in them?
A: I can't remember when or where I found the tournament, but I've always been a pretty competitive person, so when I discovered I could compete at one of the few things I'm good at I was pretty psyched to put my animation abilities to the test. The round 1 theme in 2010 was "create a sequel to a previous tofa entry," so I ended up searching through just about every entry from every year trying to find room for originality. Although I never came up with a good idea for that round, I learned a lot about the history of the tournament, which encouraged me to come back year after year.
Q: A trip to the hospital would be a part of the 2011 TOFA. The subject was game show. Could you tell us how you came about this interpretation and how you were able to get it done in this amount of time?
A: For my entry I did a parody of the gameshow "cash cab," which for those of you who don't know is a very gimmicky sort of show that you should never watch with friends. I can't remember how I came up with it, but I do remember pretending I was sick to get an extra day to work on it. It was pretty rushed, and I think the overall quality suffered as a result. So yeah, no one watch that video. It's bad.
Q: Cookies, deceit, and such is my favorite by you. Another entry for TOFA 2011 under the subject "Wrongfully Accused". I remember seeing this one during the tournament and was amazed at how you turned this simple children's game into a crime drama of sorts. Where did the idea for this come from and what was the process you took into getting it out?
A: Ah, now here's one I'm pretty proud of. When coming up with an idea for the theme, I noticed that the game 'Who Stole the Cookie' was entirely based on incorrect accusations, so I immediately had a million different ideas on how I could twist the game into something funnier. This was the most doable of those ideas, 'cause I didn't have to lip-sync any of it (heeheeheeheeheeheehee.)
Q: Your first entry in the 2012 Newgrounds Annual Tournament of Animation would be under the subject of Time Travel. With that we come to Flipped.. This is pretty interesting if I do say so, with the sands of time being flipped and thus the entire move plays backwards. You said you weren't going to do a time machine bit because that would have gotten old. So how did you come about an hourglass and the reversing of time through it?
A: This was actually an idea that I threw away during the open round of TOFA 2010- "Backwards Day." The idea matched the theme well, and I'd improved significantly since then, so why not, right? I didn't really have a plan when I started this as I think you might be able to tell by the lack of a decent ending, so that should be a lesson to all of you storytellers. Don't write a story based on the presentation, and don't be afraid to hold onto a good idea until you have a better idea of how to support it.
Q: Your next entry in the 2012 NATA would be based off the subject The Elephant in the Room. Animals of the Metropolis talks of an assassin who is an elephant. One line from it that I like is "once he's entered the room, your fate is sealed." This literal interpretation of this phrase is pure writing bliss. How did you come up with this beautiful interpretation and do you ever plan on possibly expanding on this idea?
A: I'd hate to give you another "I can't remember" (I think this makes five), but I completely forgot where this idea came from. I don't think I'll ever be expanding on this story specifically, but I really liked the style and tone of the piece. Maybe I'll revisit it someday, but as of now I don't have any plans to.
Q: Your next entry in the 2012 NATA would be -partners in crime-. The theme being that of A True Companion. Where did you get the idea of a man and a mouse robbing people from?
A: I think this one was inspired by that movie "Tower Heist." The movie itself wasn't that great, but it inspire me to make something of a similar genre. A lot of these ideas just come straight from the theme, though, which may explain why I can't seem to recall where my interpretation of the subjects came from.
Q: The Final Fork in the Road. Transit. There seems to be a bit more to this. Something that can be heavily interpreted. You could have done a hilarious movie of a road trip and two friends, but you give us a serious subject... with what seems to be an assassin. What can you tell us about this movie? Also how did it feel to win the 2012 NATA?
A: This movie is a little pretentious, I'll admit. In fact, this is one of my least favorite entries. While it appears that there may be some sort of deeper meaning or message, the parallel images are really only there to tell the story. I'd like to think it's visually appealing though, and the palette was fun to make. It felt great to win NATA, but I kinda feel like there were other entrants that deserved to win more than I did. In fact, there were some really good animators that just couldn't make the deadlines and lost, such as CatFat, VieRickend, coughing-dog, and Fungasm.
Q: ast*risk is still a game I don't quite understand or even understand how to get its other endings. Perhaps you can help fill in the blanks. This is an art game, so perhaps you could explain it to myself and others who don't seem to grasp the message.
A: I've always disliked art games on NG with their cryptic messages and slow, tedious gameplay. So my brother and I made this parody game to show how easy it is to confuse people into thinking their having fun instead of making a fun game. I'm sure a couple of 'em really do have some super-inspiring messages behind the boring repetitive gameplay, but a lot of the time it seems like the authors behind art games were just being vague and pretentious just because they wanted people to pay attention to their game. Some people saw right through it, while some people wasted hours trying to find endings 1 and 3. But in my defense I wasted four days making it, so it probably evens out.
Q: What can we expect from Emrox in the future?
A: One of my NATA entries has been finished for two months now, but I still have to figure out how to convert it to mp4 properly. So yeah, that's coming pretty soon I hope. After that, I'm gonna be going back to funny toons for a while. NATA was a fun experience where I got to try out a bunch of different genres of writing, but I think I still prefer humor.
Emrox is certainly quite the interesting individual. His comedic works are quite hilarious, but I think he doubts himself with his more serious works such as Animals of the Metropolis. His writing is brilliant in these aspects, it is no wonder that he did win this tournament. Truly one of Newgrounds finest.