Shortcakes 12/5/2016 – #sadpocalypse

Shortcakes is our weekly column featuring animated shorts released in the last week. We look at YouTube, Vimeo, and everywhere else video may be found.

If you have a few minutes to kill and would like to see some sweet indie animation, check these out. Sometimes they’re on par with professional level stuff from Disney or DreamWorks. Other times they’re just “Internet-good”, but that’s fine too.

This week, we have some mythology, a trailer for an upcoming short, and a couple of Internet funny guys. One of them is even famous!

We close everything out with the end of the world, in the most depressing and creepy way possible.

This is a new feature. Got a better title? Please tell us!

Heart of Sky

A godlike Mayan alien from Heart of Sky.

Production Company: Mirari & Co. (Mirari.tv)
Where to See It: YouTube

Do you remember a very old computer game called Inca? Probably not, even if you’re old enough. It wasn’t very good, but it did present a great sci-fi interpretation of Incan mythology.

Heart of Sky does that for the Mayan origin myth. The oral traditions of the South American culture are re-imagined in a futuristic context. Gods become aliens seeking to mine our planet, and the humans they created become genetically engineered slaves who rebel.

The art and animation are truly stunning, and it’s hard not to gasp when the mechs first stomp out onto the planet’s surface. It’s like a Warhammer 40k game intro taken to the next level.

Kinda Funny: The Animated Series – Ep. 6 “Portillo’s Origin Story”

kinda-funny-ep-6

Production Company: Kinda Funny
Where to See It: YouTube

Kinda Funny is a “love it or hate it” kind of production. Greg Miller essentially a big budget YouTube streamer, like the countless other people playing games for an online audience. The difference with Greg is that he has actual journalism training, video experience, and is a genuinely funny guy with some great stories to tell.

The Animated Series is one of his latest projects, taking the Kinda Funny characters and putting them in a cartoon format. The intro is a hilarious mashup of 15 or so cartoon references, and the shorts themselves tend to be quick, punchy, and entertaining. Greg and his friends are as good at voice acting as they are at on-camera work, and the production is very professional.

Last week’s episode tells the “origin story” of Greg’s dachshund Portillo. If you’ve ever loved a dog, then you’ll find this completely adorable. It’s also a great movie sendup.

Sonder

Sonder is a dark short animated film, both figuratively and literally.

Production Company: Sonder Short Film
Where to See It: Website

Sonder is unique in that it was created with the Unity 3D engine. Unity is usually used for games, where it’s praised for its ability to easily compile for a variety of platforms.

The engine clearly works just as well for short movies though. After all, game cutscenes are essentially short films themselves.

Sonder’s express goal in making the film is to showcase the power of game engines in filmmaking. Once called machinima and somewhat derided, technology has now advanced to the point where a movie made with a game engine can look every bit the equal of commercial productions.

The trailer for Sonder showcases a wonderful faux-rotoscoped style, reminiscent of classic games like The Last Express. The cinematography and voice acting are spot-on as well.

The trailer doesn’t give much of a hint as to the actual story of the short, but we’ll be watching closely. The website says it will “tell a story that centers on the emotional journey after a breakup.”

Stranger in the Woods

thefearraiser

Creator: TheFearRaiser
Where to See It: YouTube

TheFearRaiser is a YouTuber at the opposite end of the spectrum from Greg Miller. You can tell by the lack of a real name.

He’s talented, though, and he has an endless capacity to produce short cartoons about everything from Minecraft to the presidential election. But mostly Minecraft.

His latest entry in his series of animations is The Stranger in the Woods, in which he tells a scary story from his childhood. He’s an engaging kid, and he has a real mastery of the kind of freewheeling animation style that was pioneered by early YouTubers like Yahtzee.

As he tells the story in a rambling, stream-of-consciousness sort of way, still drawings rapidly change so fast as to basically be animation. The ramshackle nature of it all adds to the charm, and it’s hard not to like the final product.

TheFearRaiser must spend hours on the drawings, but it’s clear that he only does one take of the voiceover. And that’s why it’s funny.

ARK

Production Company: Platige Image
Where to See It: YouTube

Finally, there’s ARK. This CG-animated short film by Polish artist Grzegorz Jonkajtys is a real masterpiece. Although there is barely any voice acting (just a short bit of radio at the beginning), ARK manages to tell a compelling story with a unique art style.

A researcher on a cargo ship is trying to understand a disease that has apparently killed most of humanity. The survivors are fleeing by sea to find a new land free of infected humans, when the researcher makes a startling discovery.

The most striking thing about ARK is the character design. The people don’t look quite human, resembling something more like the goblins in the Harry Potter films. ARK begins to play with this more by the end, further dehumanizing the characters in preparation for a shocker of an ending.

The only flaw in the film is that it really requires the viewer to read the YouTube description before beginning. A short amount of text within the film would have solved this more elegantly.

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