This stop-motion recreation of the Jonny Quest opening is amazing.
The original version was great to begin with and Roger D. Evans’s loving tribute captures everything wonderful about it while playing to the strengths of the medium he’s working in. The characters, movements, and backgrounds are all reproduced with meticulous attention to detail, from the menacing walking eye to the slow, shambling gait of the mummy to Race Bannon’s flying kick as he rescues Jonny from a bad guy. But the three dimensional sets allow Evans to move the camera around and break free of the profile shots of characters moving straight across the screen that were necessary in a series that relied on cycles and limited animation.
Evans doesn’t own the rights to Jonny Quest. If Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner – who do own the rights – are smart, they’ll either commission him to do some work for them or make a deal to run the stop-motion intro on their spinoff channel Boomerang, which has been running mostly the same interstitial material since its debut. But unless this happens, Evans has no way of making money off of his labor of love, the making of which he shares on his website. Does that mean that this project, while a great treat for fans of the series and free publicity for the show, was a waste of time for Evans and his crew? Not at all. Animating someone else’s characters as a personal project can have great rewards.
It’s a Learning Experience
Aspiring artists have been copying the works of the great masters for centuries. Working with existing animation, designs, or concepts can be just as informative. Artists working in an animation studio environment will undoubtedly have to work with material they did not create, so it’s a good skill to have. Just as writers of fanfiction can learn valuable writing lessons that can help them in the creation of their own original stories by playing with another writer’s established characters, neophyte animators can test and hone their animation skills on ready made characters and storylines. Having an established goal to aim for can also push animators to find new ways to achieve effects that they might not have attempted were they working from a blank slate. I don’t know whether Roger Evans already knew how to animate a plane in flight in puppet animation or if the creators of the computer animated homage to Dave Stevens’s Rocketeer shown above could have constructed a convincing 1940s airplane hangar before, but the subject matter of the projects they were working on gave them little choice but to learn how.
It Holds Your Interest
Animation is a time consuming process. If you don’t have a deadline and a paycheck to keep you focused on getting it done, you can get distracted or frustrated. When you’re working on something that you love, it’s easier to keep plugging along through the more tedious parts of the work. For some animators, there’s no substitute for working on their own unique ideas. But others find inspiration in existing characters and stories that they love, whether childhood favorites or new passions. If you’re not doing this piece of animation to make a living, getting the chance to work on a character you might never get paid to animate can be a great motivation. Robb Pratt, the lead artist behind this Superman fan film, is clearly a guy who loves Superman. He does animate and storyboard for a living, but this side project allowed him to combine elements from his favorite versions of the Man of Steel into a single personal project.
It Gets Attention
There’s a lot of animation on the internet, to say nothing of all the animation on TV, in movie theaters, and elsewhere. It can be tough to get noticed. Even if you have a great concept, an eye-catching art style, and marketing savvy to spare, you animation can still get lost in the shuffle. Showing people something they already know in a new way can grab an audience’s attention. It can help you to build a fanbase that will check out your original projects. Sometimes, a well-executed fan animation can attract the attention of a studio looking to hire or even the creators of the original. Happy Harry‘s Saturday Morning Watchmen shows what might happen if a children’s cartoon show were developed from source material that isn’t remotely appropriate for children. A more generic superhero parody wouldn’t have worked nearly as well or gained as much of an audience as this has.
It Makes You Happy
If you want to learn the craft of animation, stay inspired, or get your worked noticed, there are other and sometimes better ways to do it. The main reason that anyone creates fan animation is because it makes them happy. Maybe an aspiring animator wants to try his hand at creating his dream episode from his favorite TV show. Maybe a studio animator could use a break from working on projects where she has little creative control and the character’s motivations are limited to getting kids to try a new cereal. Or maybe some artist just wants there to be a computer animated version of classic hero, a stop-motion remake of a terrific old TV show, or a hilariously inappropriate Saturday morning treatment of a comic book for adults. No one else is going to make these things happen, so they create the animation themselves. Maybe it will teach them new skills, renew their enthusiasm for animation, or raise their profile. But the real goal of fan animation is to express how the animator feels about these stories and characters and to allow them to connect with other people who feel the same way.
Got a favorite fan animation? Share it in the comments!