venerdì 31 ottobre 2014

Die Young - a fan animated video by Vivienne Medrano (aka Vivzmind or vivzie-pop)

Howdy everyone! This is my first time writing in English for this blog and I hope not to make too many mistakes. I usually write in Italian because I aim to be known nationwide and also because I like talking about not-widely popular cartoons (at least, here in Italy) like Gumball or Alvin. 
*This post is going to be more a letter of love and appreciation rather than a real review*

Vivienne Medrano (better known as Vivzmind –on deviantArt or vivzie-pop on tumblr) is an American cartoonist born in October 1992.
She was born in Maryland and, after graduating, she decided to pursue her life-long dream: becoming an animator. That’s why she studied at the SVA (School of Visual Arts) in New York City, when she graduated last May with her thesis film “Timber”. Vivz is a huge fan of western animation and Jeff Smith (of Bone’s fame) and Jorge R. Gutierrez (creator of a nicktoon called “El Tigre”) are some of her favorite cartoonists of all time, and they do appreciate her work too.  She is currently interested in animating music videos using her characters from her webcomic Zoophobia, which, as I am writing, is still down and it should be come back soon. As you can probably see, if you know modern singers, I mentioned “Die young” and “Timber”: Vivienne is a huge fan of Kesha, and while someone criticized her for liking that kind of music, she did the right thing: she went ahead and kept animating her videos. Honestly, I am not a huge fan of Kesha, but that doesn’t mean I am a “hater” (what an awful word). I think her songs are pretty catchy and the two I mentioned before are probably the best of her discography.
Anyways, how did I discover Vivienne? It all started at the end of January 2010, when I was first getting into the world of deviantArt. I was bored and for certain reasons I was thinking about one children’s book-series called “Captain Underpants”.  This has nothing to do with Vivienne, you’d probably say and that's right. If you read Captain Underpants as children, you’d probably know that the adventures of George and Harold were set in Piqua, a pleasant city in Ohio, home of the first museum of underpants. So I was browsing dA, searching for some photos of Piqua and then I stumbled across a page full of doodles, or, shall I say, “Ohio doodles”. Those doodles had nothing to do with Captain Underpants, but, somehow I got really curios and I started watching Vivienne’s gallery. I fell in love with her artwork and I got addicted to it.
Then I just couldn’t get enough of her stuff, and my love for her drawings grew more and more every day. Sometimes I still wish I were her, seriously, she is one of the coolest women ever.
Throughout the years, Vivienne created a rooster of characters: she started with Kayla (a kangaroo), Spam (a male fox, originally he was a vixen, yeah…Vivz changed the sex of her character) and a purple cat named Vanex, then she started developing more and more characters, and she had 151 of them as of 2011. Their number is still growing fast and strong and we all probably lost count. She even bought four characters from another artist and then she legally became their owner. Jiji is one of these four characters and she is a party werewolf and the main character of the short movie “Die Young”.
“Die young” is Vivienne’s all-time favorite song and she wanted to express her love for it the way she knows best…animation. Vivz’s “Die young” started off as animatic posted on Youtube in September 2013. However, Vivz was starting her last year of college and she put the project on hold because she had to focus on her thesis. If I had to describe that animatic, I’d say it was really animated to begin with. While most of the poses were stand-alone (by that I mean “not really tied one to another” like in a real animated short), the whole thing already looked fluid and smooth. The animatic and the final product have some differences which I’ll let you discover by yourself. Before watching the final product, why don’t you watch the animatic first?

Vivienne graduated from college in May 2014 and she won a Dusty award for her short movie “Timber” (which I may cover on a following post). Eventually she got back home and started to make a full version of her animatic. It took her five months and 20 days to complete.
It is no secret I prefer western animation over Japanese animation. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way Japanese authors tell their story, but I find anime not as esthetically pleasing and fluid as Western productions. I am also anything but a patient human being and I get angry really easily. I was watching an anime on Youtube and I wrote a comment like this: “While I prefer the way western cartoons are drawn, I also admit that anime is good to watch, especially for its stories”. Then a baby replied to my comment: “Western style sucks!” I didn’t bother answering them and I just deleted their lame comment.  I think it is just really really idiotic to say that Westerners have all one style and they all draw in the same way (that’s dumb even if referred to anime) and while I tend to be pretty quiet on the internet, I found their comment to be a punch in the face or in the stomach. That is a really disrespectful comment for anyone who loves to draw in their own style and doesn’t want to copy anyone else, so obviously, that person who wrote it deserved to have their comment deleted. (Sorry for the rant but I really hate when people are so shallow, I just said that I prefer western animation over anime, I did not say “anime sucks”-which is disrespectful and also untrue, by the way).

So what can I say about the “Die young” cartoon? First off, it’s a really fast-paced story, an excellent excuse to animate a bunch of funny animals at their fullest. Vivienne takes full use of the “squash-and-stretch” technique and the characters exhibit many funny expressions. Jiji, the party werewolf, is the start of the short and during a wild night in the colorful world of Zoophobia, she unleashes her beastly side and invites everyone to party hard with her. She wants everyone to make the most of their lives, like they are going to die young. She is quickly joined by her friend, a pink squirrel (does anybody happen to know her name?) and the party becomes more and more energetic than it already was.
Animation wise, Die Young is probably one of the best traditional cartoons to ever come out in years. The animation is definitely top-notch, Disney-quality like. As we all know, traditional animation is slowly (and unfortunately) fading here in the West and two-dimensional cartoons are almost exclusively made for TV and animated in South Korea. So it is really encouraging to see an all-2d cartoon animated directly in the States, and by a young animator too.  Jiji and the pink squirrel are really a joy to look at, they bounce endlessly, they move really fast and they look like they are real people having their time of their lives.  Their poses are unique and I think I’ll redraw them later because I find them to be a lot of fun and I want to have fun the way Vivienne did. However, she did not animate the short all by herself, her friends Kyra and Circe guest animated some background characters. These characters are noticeably easy to find, as they’re drawn in a different style.  

As I am typing this, I’ve seen this short more than five times, and I’m planning to see it again…and again…and again…and, okay, you got the idea. I don’t want to sound cheesy, but I do really love what Vivienne is doing: her work is really inspirational to all of us and every time I see it, I just want to keep on improving as an artist. She is 21-years-old and she achieved a world-wide fame thanks to the internet and especially to her colorful, dreamy and unique style.

Then I would like to add something for every artist out of here: do not let anyone bring you down and keep on following your dreams. Drawing is not a waste of time and people who tell you the contrary are just sad and envious and need to shut up, because they do not clearly know you and your true colors.
However, while it was still a work-in-progress,Vivienne’s cartoon was criticized by some youtubers because it featured furry characters: if you ask me, that’s one of the most stupid critiques I’ve ever heard in my whole life! Funny animals (also known as furries or anthros) have always been a part of human imagination and just because someone likes drawing them, that does not mean they are creepers who want to have sex with animals. I prefer cartoons with animals and I think it is pointless to call someone “a furry” (in a negative way) just because they enjoy watching or drawing talking animals. If someone wants to be identified as a furry, that’s fine. However, not everyone who likes talking animals is a furry. These are my two cents on that topic.

So, if you haven’t seen this short, colorful movie yet, do yourself a favor and watch it immediately. You certainly won’t be disappointed. Just click the following link!

(Feel free to leave a comment, whether in Italian, French or English and I’ll reply)

Useful links:

Last but not least, I really would like Jiji to have a boyfriend and I am also looking forward to her appearance in the official Zoophobia comic (hopefully, the site hosting the web-comic will be back soon). 

7 commenti:

  1. How did you make that?!!! I really want to make one of those things, what app did you use?

    1. I did not create this short movie, it was made by another artist called Vivienne Medrano. I have just zero knowledge of animation techniques. Anyway, the movie was made with TV Paint pro, a really expensive tool.

  2. I also have seen this animation over 14 times in the past 3 days and I agree that it is great.

  3. I love this! The characters are awesome, the "animation" is FLOWING AND FLAWLESS, the background is vibrant and this is one of my favourite songs! I listen to this 24/7 and Vivziepop just made it better.