Paul Streitz’s Animation Project

13 10 2017

     Last October 10, 2017, Grace emailed me about Paul Streitz giving a talk about “A Philippine Animation Movie Company?” to be held on October 12 at the New World Hotel from 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm, the talk was for free. I was curious what I can learn from the talk especially the marketing of animation shows, so I registered for the event.

     The talk started about 1:50 pm and ended about an hour later. Paul is a writer and producer from the US, who wrote some books on economics and a string of musical plays for theaters in New York. Paul explained the reason of why he is in the country –  half jokingly he said after his divorce, he had money to do some animation projects for his past musical plays but he didn’t want to invest a lot of money in building a team of animators to do his project. So he figured out that coming to the Philippines where a local animation company can do his play entitled ‘Madison Avenue The Subliminal Movie’ in flash animation for 90 minutes before he dies. The idea is to prolong the life of the property; as live film has a shorter life span.

     After the brief introduction, Paul showed the business side of the film business, where the dollar and cents were broken down to show that there is money to be made for all the parties involved – from the writer, owner, producer, distributor, merchandiser and production company. He showed estimated figures for big hit films such as the Simpsons and a not so well known film only shown in the US but the profit figures are still worth the effort. Mickey Mouse and the financial side of the merchandise part of the character was also highlighted. He said that other stories with expired copyright could be ideal animation projects such as ‘Treasure Island’, Wizard of Oz’,’Oklahoma’ and ‘Annie’.

     Paul then proceeded to pitch his string of plays such as ‘Oh Johnny’, ‘Madison Avenue’and other plays. Being 20 years in market research, he showed some figures that Madison Avenue has great reviews from both critics and audiences alike. He continued to explain the character, about the surprising plot and remastering the the sound to make it up to date and recorded the dialogue for the animation project. Paul also talked about Gary Cherpakov, who was the brilliant music and lyrics writer for his plays. Paul was all praised for Gary whom nothing was hard for him to write,  as it all came naturally for him and the work could be done perfectly in a day or two. Instead of using rhyming words, Gary was more on rhyming the sounds, and in Paul’s opinion ‘Oh Johnny’ is one of the top five best musicals.

 

       After the talk, there was some question and answer portion and some light snacks for the attendees. I don’t know anyone in the group except for Grace, the rest were composed of freelance 2D and 3D animators, animation teachers, students, producers for events and live film. After a few minutes of staying around, I left the venue but Grace and other people stayed for many more minutes to ask Paul for more questions. Grace said Paul was more on the music  – 70% rather than on the animation – 30%.  Anyone who was interested to talk to Paul further was invited for lunch the next day at the same hotel.

      The presentation was really new to me, as I am not exposed to musicals, much less to animation musicals. I don’t recall any popular flash animation that pops out right of my mind to compare with the proposed ‘Madison Avenue’ film. If ever pushed through, I think it will be tough for the local animation production company to present the proposed musical to highlight the music, the choreography and character movements that the target audience would respond to.  But just the same, I wish Paul and the team would do well on the project. As for me I’m just focused on finishing and launching the mobile game in the next few weeks and editing and improving our web series.

     Less than a week after the talk, I got to listen to the CD of the Madison Avenue songs that Paul’s assistant handed out each participant. The songs were really nice, clear and had a happy feel to it. It was only after hearing the various songs that I got to appreciate the proposed movie as the songs, message and topic are one of a kind.

 

 

 

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UCCW Comics Drawing Quality

4 09 2017

Last August 21, Gilbert “Geebo” Vigonte our comic artist for the United Crop Circle Warriors (UCCW) e-comics emailed me asking for five sequential pages (nothing more, nothing less) of our e-comics to be shown as sample pages for this year’s Marvel Artist Hunt happening at the APCC, as it was his dream of being part of Marvel’s great comic artists.

At first I didn’t recall what the APCC was and Geebo did not write when and where was it going to be held. So I searched the Internet and recalled that it was the AsiaPop Comicon that was held at the World Trade Center (WTC) in Manila since 2015 and for this year it will be held on August 25 – 27, 2017 at the same venue.

Later on I emailed him if it was colored pages, he replied its all in black and white; with no colors and dialogues. Mr. C.B. Cebulski, the talent scout for Marvel and Vice President for Brand Management and Development for Asia will do the selection. Mr. Cebulski must be able to tell what is happening on the pages through the artist’s work without the dialogues. And it must be in black and white to determine if the shadings and stages are correct and appropriate for the tone of the scene. I naturally gave him the permission and wished him good luck but I did not ask which of the five sequential pages he will submit. But I did asked Geebo to send me pictures of him and Mr. Cebulski at the event which he promised.

Later on I emailed Geebo several times as there were many details I would like to know before and after the selection event. He wrote that there were more than 150 hopefuls who passed their artwork before the said event. The deadline was on Wednesday (August 23) and the APCC was held on Friday. He was called Saturday in the afternoon and was asked to come on Sunday at 3:45 pm. He surmised that Mr. Cebulski reviewed the artworks on his arrival on Thursday before the final selection of which Geebo was one of the 10 candidates whose portfolios will still be reviewed in New York. The candidates chosen whose style ranges from Disney to animé  where from indie comics for the international market. Geebo said they still have a lot of things to do before they get to pencil at Marvel. They will run test sequential like scripts from an editor of a title (X-men, Avengers, Daredevil, etc.) Doing layouts for the script and cover art for their comics. It really depends on the editors if they like his work.

Unfortunately, Geebo and his friends were not able to take some pictures of Mr. Cebulski as he was very busy at the three day event. The interview was around 15 to 30 minutes, and Geebo was so nervous that he forgot he needed to pee at that moment!   Geebo asked Mr. Cebulski about the pages we’ve done and he said he was really impressed. There were only few revisions that he pointed out – more on the background and panel breaking, but generally he liked our pages very much.  Mr. Cebulski already knows what’s going on just by looking at the pages. He asked to send for other pages, but Geebo said he will ask permission from me again – which he never did  anymore. Geebo was very thankful for letting him use the pages, if it wasn’t for those pages, he would never had been called. He promised to make the remaining pages on the UCCW 3 more striking.

Even without the pictures, as the publisher and co-creator of the UCCW, I am very proud and happy to have received good comments from a Marvel big boss at least about our comic drawing quality. I am also very happy that we’re helping a young man like Geebo to strive to be better to reach his goals in life.  It is rare that we receive good comments for our work; positive comments from international industry authorities serves as an impetus and inspiration to help us do better since it indicates that our work has some future or potential. The other time a good comment given was from a DC/Warner animation producer with a 5 time Emmy under his belt for our animation in 2011 (read the blog: Seminars and Lessons Applied). He gave 3 comments on our animation; 2 of the comments were spot on ( “That’s something new.”, “There’s a formula for that.”) and the 3rd one I have not written it yet – maybe sometime in the future. 

In contrast, years ago some local keyboard bashers would give comments such as WTF (very disrespectful; what did we do to him to deserve such comment?) for our animation introduction at Youtube ; another would write panget (ugly) and another one – just another animé wannabe like Disney’s Totally Spies in our website which we did not post anymore. Well I guess the keyboard bashers don’t really understand what we’re doing, much less how hard it is to produce an original animation series, game, short video or comics. If they would do their own original stuff, they will realize that most probably they can’t do any better work – I mean the whole thing and not just a single drawing for their own idea of a comic, game, short video or animation. I’m 100% sure they are all just talk, with no products to show now and in the future. One can hardly see any original animation content in the Philippines, and if one tries to do one, it will be bashed by local keyboard critics mercilessly. 

 Geebo had his own share of keyboard bashers, that he had to lash out on those anonymous bashers on his Facebook page last year or sometime this year. I’m glad Geebo took a chance on us because we have a smaller budget compared to the more established publishers in the market. Other artists had no time to do the job or the pay was too small for them – I’m just wondering what ever happened to them. What is evident is that Geebo keeps on trying to improve his craft and the same with us, we try to improve our concept, stories, etc. as we go on doing new stuff. 

 




Google Developers Night 2017

28 07 2017

July 26, 2017

     We were invited to the Google Developers Night by GDAP (Game Developers Association of the Philippines) at the Google Headquarters in Bonifacio Global City about a week before the event. We were not sure what the event was about as there was no agenda about it; but we were prepared to showcase our updated mobile game if needed. It was a great opportunity for us to showcase our game and also to check out the office of Google. 

     The event was scheduled from 6 pm to 9 pm; we arrived at around 6 pm but the event started around 6:30 pm and ended almost 10 pm. The Google Headquarters was a cool place especially for creative people. You could see the artistic design influences on the detail as well as the furniture. 


      There were about 50 people invited to the event, but there were other uninvited guests and students who came but Google did not refuse them entry so the guests ballooned up to 90 people; luckily the food was sufficient for all the guests. 

     Before the talk started, I was surprised when Solon Chen, one of the board members of GDAP and the General Operations Manager of Kooapps, approached us and said that he saw our game at GameCon 2017, and said that it had vastly improved from the version he saw at ESGS 2016. He said it was a good game and we did a good job.  That was the best compliment from a GDAP board member yet.

Solon Chen

      There were two talks that night and both of them were helpful as we continue to polish our game even more. The first speaker was Derrick Mapagu, the creator of the Flippy Bottle Extreme game. This game was the first Filipino-made game that was No. 1 in the Google Playstore with over 18 million downloads.  The topic was about Game Monetization.  Most game designers and players are not fans of this topic, but for the game studio to survive, this needs to be addressed. Basically the topic was how your game would make money. There were many ways, the simplest was selling your game at a price. If you offered your game for free, you can place ads in it or sell items within the game called In-App purchasing. We learned that players don’t like ads much; they can be annoyed by it and just drop the game but if you do it right ads can have your game make money. The information presented was really cool and it gave us ideas on how we would apply this to our game.

Derrick Magpagu

     Alvin Juban (GDAP President), Chelle Obligacion-Gray (Google Ph), Lei Bautitsta-Lo (James’ wife), Gwendolyn Foster (GDAP / Most Played Mobile), James Ronald Lo (Indigo Entertainment / Agent Aliens) and Derrick Mapagu (Most Played Mobile / Flippy Bottle)

     The second speaker was James Ronald Lo, President of Indigo Entertainment and the creator of Agent Aliens, a mobile game for Android. Agent Aliens was their first game that was their own Intellectual Property (IP). His talk was fascinating because his experience with the game mirrored ours. He introduced a demo of his game at the ESGS 2016 like us; he also got a number of feedback, and they had to address these in the game. He was very thankful to be invited at the event because it made people notice his game.


    Agent Aliens at GameCon 2017

     James was excited to do a soft launch at Google Play to get more feedback for his game. He promptly had a meeting with a Google representative who gave him pointers on how to get his game featured at Google. Getting featured  by Google gives the game more opportunities to be viewed worldwide. The representative’s first suggestion was not do a soft launch. If your game is not yet finished, doing a soft launch would just give a bad impression for the game. The second one was to do localization by translating the game to different languages; the players from those countries would feel the game was made for them.

     When the game was launched last January until February 2017, he got about 2,000 downloads. He did everything, social media, workers, family friends, but this was the best that the game could do. Then he was surprised when it got featured in Google Play, and it was given a 4.3 star rating. Immediately, he got 190,000 downloads in less than a one month. The game was downloaded in other countries as well; China and Vietnam had the highest percentage of downloads; incidentally these were also the countries that he translated the game to. Of the top 8 countries that downloaded the game, 7 were from Asia.  Overall, he said focus in making a good game first. If your game is good, everyone would take notice.

     After the talk,  dinner was served by our hosts; Jap and I then approached James to ask more about his experience, and we also showed our game. He gave us advice and feedback on how to improve our game, and he encouraged us to enter ESGS once again to market our game. He said this is where gamers, developers, and publishers take notice. One advice he gave us, which he also included in his talk: “If you can show your game without giving excuses, then you know that your game is good.”

     Towards the end, GDAP announced the different events remaining for this year. Aside from ESGS, there was G-star Game Convention, which was offering all-expense-paid tickets and accommodations for 5 companies to Busan, Korea. And some upcoming talks with people from Unreal.

     This event inspired us, and it also showed us that we still have a lot more things to consider for our game. Overall, we were excited; too excited that I already registered entering our game at the Indie Arena in ESGS 2017.

Article and most pictures by Alstaire A. Sarthou; other pictures from Chelle Grey (Speakers with GDAP and Google officer), Internet (Solon Chen) and Edward Tan (Agent Aliens)