I haven't wanted to be an animator all my life, not even an artist. I don't know what I wanted to do when I was really young, I mostly just played with toys and didn't care about much else, but the art thing just kinda happened naturally. I started drawing, because it was another thing to do, and I guess I liked it enough to pursue it further, to the point where in school I was the "artist" in the class, despite my drawings not actually being very good (they still aren't now tbh), but I was drawing, so I was an artist.
During these years, I don't remember exactly what I drew, I know there were a few characters I ended up making between the age of 5-9, characters that I've held onto all these years and will eventually do more with them (one being FrogMan, who I have done a lot with but we'll get to that later). The other thing I remember drawing a lot as a kid, was the only cartoon I would make fan art of, Spongebob. I don't remember how long I was drawing Spongebob as a kid, but I was also drawing some original stuff around then too, including the first "Adventures of FrogMan" book. It's interesting, that Spongebob is the only cartoon I would draw as a kid, 'cause it really doesn't show up in my current art style, unlike a lot of other artists who were heavily inspired by cartoon art styles; they can still draw original content well though, unlike me. I can actually draw the Spongebob characters pretty decently now though, so something did come of it.
That's all pretty unrelated to the topic at hand though, at least, mostly unrelated. I did briefly mention FrogMan in that, and that's the topic, and we'll get to it, but I feel the need to give as much context as possible to help make the situation easier to understand. Maybe it’s not needed, but eh, I don’t get to write a lot anyways, so… yeah.
At some point between 2004-2006 (I don't remember when exactly) I was introduced to Newgrounds. I had been browsing the internet for a bit before, because we finally had dial up (wow), and I was mostly just going on LEGO.com, but once I found Newgrounds, I couldn't stay off of it. A few years later, I realized that the stuff on Newgrounds was actually made by individual people, and not some corporate entity, and that was cool man, and super motivating. I had been trying to find more ways of furthering my "art" beyond crappy pencil drawings, or even worse MS Paint drawings, and I had discovered the art of Brick Films recently, so it seemed like animation was a good way to progress.
But I didn't start animating until a few years later. I don't remember why it took so long. I guess I didn't understand that flash animations were made in flash, and I didn't know how to make cartoons, so it probably just took me awhile to figure things out. So I made crappy "cartoons" in MS Paint. Fantastic.
I've already talked about that period of my life many times though, and that's not what this is about. This is about FrogMan.
In 2004, I made the first FrogMan book, at the age of 9. It ended on a cliffhanger, because I somehow planned out a 5 book series, but I completely forgot the original plan for that, or what the thought process even was, but 2 years later, in 2006 I made the 2nd book, and in 2008, 2 years after that I started the 3rd book, but it was never finished, and what I had done accidentally got thrown out, so it was lost to the ages, but I did remember most of what the story was supposed to be. After that point though, I have no idea what the story was supposed to be, other than a few major plot points, but I don't know how I would've gotten 2 more books out of it.
By 2009 though, I had fully gotten into animation. I was making pretty decent garbage with paint, and here I had an unfinished series of books, that I kinda cared about. This character had been with me since 2003 at the earliest after all. And so I started writing scripts for a possible animated adaptation of the Adventures of FrogMan series. When I got to book 3 again though, I couldn't finish it. Because I didn't know what the story was. The first two were easy, because it was just improving on what was already written, but with the third one, there was nothing there, other than a vague idea.
So I again sat on it for a while. And then a year later, I completely gave up on the original story, and decided to make a FrogMan continuation in the form of an adult animated sitcom (that I erroneously branded as a reality show, though tbf it is supposed to be following the life of the family, so it kinda is a reality show, but really it's just another animated family sitcom). And thus, FrogMan the Series was born.
It was like early to mid 2010 when I started writing episodes. The first episode was already written at this point, 'cause when the school talent show rolled around, I had the bright idea to enter it with the talent of "animation" and I made the FrogMan the Series pilot for the talent show... except it was animated in paint, and had to be completely family friendly, so I basically re-wrote it and cut out the villain's subplot entirely. And it was horribly edited because Alex didn't know what he was doing (sorry @RECONmasterFILMS). Animation-wise though, it was pretty decent. Looked about the same as Attack of the Squirrel King. I would show it to y'all, but it's kinda lost. I know it's still around somewhere though, so hopefully I'll one day be able to re-edit it and share it with everyone, 'cause it would suck to lose such a historical part of my development as an artist.
Anyways, after that, I started working on the series proper over the summer. I thought it was gonna be animated in flash, but my trial ran out, and I couldn't afford it and I didn't want to resort to pirating. I don't remember what I was thinking after that, but eventually my dad ended up buying me and my sister an animation program called Anime Studio for $50. Unfortunately, this ended up being a severely limited version of Anime Studio. That we paid for. Yeah, okay.
I've gone into how bad this was many times, but because of its limitations, I ended up animating the first 2.5 episodes of FrogMan the Series in Anime Studio, so it was all tweened and stuff, and it didn't look very good. Then during the making of episode 3 I got fed up with it and finally went and got flash, except I apparently forgot everything I had learned about animation from doing stuff with paint, so the first few episodes I did in flash ended up looking bad still. That's my fault for trying to make long cartoons before I knew what I was doing. I eventually did get better at animating and ended up remembering how to actually do it after making a few shorts in between the episodes. Speaking of which:
FrogMan the Series was plagued with problems from the start. The first two episodes were finished before school started, so it should've gone off on the right foot, getting episodes up every week should've been a piece of cake. Episode one went up on September 1st, 2010, as planned, but then something went wrong during the editing of episode 2, so it had to be delayed by a week or two. That's fine, episode two was already finished, and I was well into episode 3, so it should be easy to get it out sooner. But then there was an even bigger delay. Episode 3 didn't come out until November 14th, nearly 2 months after episode 2. I somehow still thought I could get the rest of the season out by the end of the year. Yeah, that didn't happen.
What did happen by the end of the year though, was my dad dying, and that sucked. I've talked about that enough though, but that did mean that a lot of life stuff was getting in the way of making cartoons, so because of that, episode 4 didn't come out until May 22nd, 2011. Because that gap was so long, I vowed that the wait for episode 5 wouldn't be nearly as long, and it ended up being way longer than I could've ever anticipated.
Episode 5 finally came out June 21, 2012, after many headaches that I've already gone into in other posts. Once again though, after the way-too-long break, I promised it wouldn't be anywhere near as long between episode 5 and 6, in fact, I was pretty confident I could get the rest of the season out by the end of the year. I'll never learn.
Episode 6 was making pretty good progress though, and by the time the end of the year came, I had about 3 minutes of it animated, which is pretty good since it was fully frame by frame now, instead of the bad tweening from previous episodes (at least episode 4 and 5 served as improvements for art style). The original version of episode 6 still wasn't great though, the script had a lot of issues. Also, at some point, my computer died again, so I lost access to the file for a bit. In fact, I couldn't even access the file until over a year later, but still, I didn't touch it. It was just so long since, how could I just get back to it now?
It wasn't until 2014 that I finally decided. Episode 6 was just too old at this point. I had improved so much with both art and animation, what I had would just be too jarring next to anything new, so I made the tough decision to scrap what I had, and start over completely from scratch, even re-writing a lot of the script and re-recording dialog because the original just wasn't very good. And you know what? I had a lot of fun getting to record episode 6 and 7 back to back with Alex, and then directing my sister to record Chick Frog's lines. I immediately started working on the episode's animation, but then for whatever reason, I just stopped. I don't remember why, but considering the timing, it was probably depression. I still managed to make some shorts, but my output really wasn't that great. And on top of that, I wasn't working on episode 6.
Since 2014 was the 10th anniversary of The Adventures of FrogMan, I deemed 2014 "The Year of FrogMan" so I was gonna make it special. At this point, I had already made a few FMTS shorts, so I made a couple more in 2014, and I had planned to finish episode 6 and 7 by the end of the year. At least I was getting a bit less ambitious with my plans.
One other big FrogMan related thing that happened in 2014, was I finally figured out what to do with the original story I started writing for The Adventures of FrogMan. I tried writing an animated adaptation before, but it just wasn't working out. But in 2014, I finally figured it out: I would do a feature-length animated origin film, based on the story I "wrote" when I was 9, except, a lot better. I started writing a plot outline, and I even made a cool poster for the film, and I even thought I could start animating it that year. Yeah, okay, I was still too ambitious.
I couldn't even finish episode 6 in 2014 though. I don't remember why, I had already finished 2 scenes, but I sat on it for over a year. I think maybe I couldn't work on it because I was working on FrogMan and Pico? I don't remember, but that seems likely, since I started that in 2013, and I was working on scene 2 and 3 in 2014. Now that I think about it, I did work on a lot of cartoons in 2014, but still nowhere as many as I should have.
Point is, I didn't get back to work on episode 6 again until the summer of 2015, because I had no internet, was going crazy, and I had nothing else I could work on. So I opened up flash, and started animating a new scene of episode 6. And it felt great. So I animated another scene, and then I storyboarded the rest of it, and I felt so good. For the first time in a long time, I felt so good and I was happy because I finally figured out what I really wanted to work on. I wanted to work on episode 6 and finish it after all these years, and I didn't realize it earlier for some reason. So I kept working on it, and from then until April 2016, I worked on nothing but episode 6, and finally, it was finished. I couldn't believe it. It had been nearly 4 years, and it was finally done. And after episode 6, I was satisfied. I felt no need to immediately jump into making episode 7. Episode 6 was done, and that's all that mattered. It was a huge weight off of me.
It's been 2 years now, and I still haven't started episode 7. I rewrote the script and re-recorded the audio at the same time as episode 6, but I haven't started animating it. I haven't even started storyboarding it, and it's just because I haven't felt the need to. I've been working on all different kinds of creative projects since then, and I'm so overwhelmed with everything I want to do that I can't choose something to stick to, so I end up working on nothing a lot of the time.
I've made a few FMTS shorts since episode 6, but other than that, I don't know what to do with the series. At the end of 2017, I finally finished writing the script for the FrogMan origin film, and I really want to animate it entirely by myself, because that'll just be the cheapest option, plus it’d be cool to say I animated a feature film all by myself. But that's gonna take forever, and I'm perfectly fine with putting the time in, but after it's done, what do I do with it? I can't just spend years animating a MOVIE and then slap it up online for free and get a few hundred views. That's a problem I'll have to think about later though, when I actually decide to start working on it.
I was seriously thinking of starting the animation for the film this year, but I've got so many big projects I want to work on, and it'd make more sense to work on them first. Most of this year though, I've felt unfulfilled, and I don't know what I want to work on, like when I figured out I wanted to work on episode 6. At first, I thought that would be my mini-series "Gripp". So I started working on it earlier this year, but I just wasn't feeling it. I thought more than anything, that would be what I wanted to work on. Turns out the only thing I can really bring myself to work on now is the Breath of the Wild parody i started last year. Yes, a stupid, dumb zelda parody based on a joke that's probably been done to death now. But it's more than that, and I did get a good bit of progress done on it last year, and I just sat on it, because I wasn't feeling it anymore at the time. But I guess I am now, because I can't bring myself to work on anything except for it, so I've gotta get it done, and that's what I've been working on, and that's why there hasn't been anything from me for the past few months, because I can't bring myself to work on anything else.
I was working on the Zelda cartoon for a good few weeks straight, I was even streaming most of the process, but then I got a chance to do an animation test for a potential freelance gig, so I had to stop to do that. Coincidentally, I also had to do a bunch of yard work starting the same day, because it's hurricane season I guess, so we gotta get some things sorted. So I had to spend like 6 hours a day doing yard work, cutting down trees, replacing the roof, whatever, and then I had to work on the animation test, but I was so tired and sore from doing the yard work, I just couldn't most days, so the animation test took way longer than it should have, and this whole time I couldn't touch the zelda cartoon, the one thing I actually wanted to work on because it was holding me up from working on anything else.
That was the past two weeks. I finished the animation test on the 18th, but I haven't done much since then. I've been kinda relaxing since, because the past two weeks were just so awful, but I've gotta get back to work on the zelda cartoon, because I can't bring myself to work on anything else.
But that's not entirely related, because it doesn't have anything to do with FMTS.
The actual point of this whole post, is, I wanna work on FMTS. I have so many ideas, I've got over 100 episode ideas, and a few movies, and the thought of never being able to finish all of it kinda scares me, and it's getting more and more real the older I get and I hate it. And, I'm at the point now where I could finally make the series look exactly how I've always wanted, and that idea is so cool to me, yet I'm still not working on it. Why? A big part, is 'cause a lot of the time I feel like it doesn't have enough fans to justify it, but I don't think that really matters, since a lot of the time, it also feels like it's the only thing I want to make. If all of FrogMan the Series is all I got to make in my life time, I'd be happy. Even if it's just a stupid profane show about a bunch of frogs with super powers they don't even use, I really wanna make it, because it means a lot to me, and there's even some really good, meaningful stories in the later seasons, and I really wanna tell them. But I'm not working on it.
And the main reason, is animation takes a long time. I wanna animate the episodes entirely frame by frame, but that would take way too long to do by myself, so the only options really, are hiring a team to help make the episodes quicker, which would cost a lot of money I don't have, or go back to tweens, so the episodes can get done drastically quicker. There also comes the issue of the episode lengths. Some of them can get close to 30 minutes long. While a 30 minute video every day works on youtube, a 30 minute video every other month isn't gonna work, and most of the episodes aren't even 30 minutes, most aren't even 11. If I could make an episode in a decent amount of time though and UPLOAD them weekly, maybe it could be worthwhile if the time investment isn't so bad, but again, the only way of doing that is by outsourcing, or cutting back on the animation quality. Alternatively, I could also upload the episodes in shorter chunks, and then later upload the full episodes, to milk them for all they're worth. This seems to be a route that a lot of people are going, but these episodes were written as full episodes, so they don't really have a natural splitting point, but looking at the scripts, it could work MOSTLY. I just would hate to do that, because then some episodes would have like 6 parts, and that's really annoying, but at least it would mean they could come out faster.
So that's my dilemma. I want to work on FMTS, but I don't know what I should do. I wanna make more shorts, I wanna make all 10 seasons, and I wanna make the couple of movies and spinoffs that I have locked in my head, but I don't know what I should do.
So what should I do? Should I give in, and go back to tweens? They wouldn't be as bad as they were originally, in fact, I could probably do some pretty good tweens now, because I have a bit more experience with better rigs now. I wouldn't entirely enjoy doing it, but it would get the stories out. Another option is mostly using tweens but still supplementing with some frame by frame when it's not too much of a time-sink, but this could get jarring if I'm not careful, but I know it's doable, I've seen plenty of internet animators do it.
I really wanna keep doing FMTS fully frame by frame, but it'll take too long. I don't wanna have to do tweens, but it makes the most sense. Give me your thoughts, 'cause it would really help.
I've made a poll to make this official: https://twitter.com/xArtistunknown/status/1009850973177696258
Thanks for reading this stupidly long, probably pretentious, ramble. I do a lot of thinking, and I want to do a lot of writing, but I really feel like I shouldn't just dump all my awful thoughts on Newgrounds. No one wants to read that. This isn't Deviantart or Tumblr... that does give me an idea though...
But that's for another day. Thanks for reading. I'm gonna go back to not working now, because I'm once again in a transitional period where I don't feel like doing anything and I don't know what to do. I'll get over it in a few days though. And then it'll happen again.