An Upcoming Announcement!

So, if you follow me on Twitter you may have seen this post:

ytsmc_ad

On April 27th I am going to post a press release video about an upcoming an upcoming enterprise which I hope will help animators on YouTube be able to compete with the Jake Pauls, and Jimmy Kimmel shows (really, why is that on my feed? I don’t even like Kimmel) on YouTube.

Now, because I doubt people will read this, I am going to be an information slut and give it up. Why? In trying to explain what I was planning I found it inadequate to properly tease the value of this project. So consider this an under-the-curtain peak, or a soft opening, to what I have in store.

My intention with this enterprise is to form a co-op with other animators. Now, for those who don’t know what I mean, according to Wikipedia (the leading source of information) a cooperative, or co-op is:

“…an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooperative)

Meaning in a business sense it’s a business that is owned by a group of people who work together, have equal say, and equally benefit all the members of the group. This initiative would be animators getting together putting their work on one channel, each of us making adverts advertising not only our merch and/or services, but, if we get sponsors those sponsored ads.

You see, the parameters for what will get you noticed by the algorithm, like consistent uploads (either once a week or daily, truthfully I forget offhand), and being 10 minutes or more, these parameters are nearly impossible for an animator to accomplish.

So you ask, why not go somewhere else? YouTube is the 2nd most visited website. Facebook and Twitch don’t have a solid compensation structure. NewGrounds, while good, doesn’t have the traffic needed to be able to make a living making videos.

The next question you may ask is what about de-monetaztion? Well, my theory is to not even bother with monetizing in the first place. My previous blog post “Animation on YouTube Has to Change” explained my issues into why AdSense is not worthwhile, so how do people get paid? Believe it or don’t I actually have a solution to that. However, that is something I want to quiet for now. However, there is a hint in my last blog post.

 

While this may sound good on paper how well would it work in practice? Truthfully, I don’t know, which is why on this project I am going to develop a web series called Brandy & Gin. My goal is by 2020 to have things ironed out so that animators could be able to showcase their work and have a community of like-minded animators to work with.

The blue-print of how I think this could work is like Channel Frederator. Despite being an animation channel they were able to get favored by the algorithm by hosting not only their work, but other animator’s work on the channel. That way there wouldn’t be added pressure to fill those requirements. However, unlike Frederator, this project won’t be a MCN, you’d own your work.

While I’m not sure if I ruined the mystique, be sure to watch the announcement on the Pixelwood Studios YouTube channel. I think I still have enough surprises to whet your appetite.

I’d like to be serious here for a second, I miss seeing animated stuff on the trending page. There has been talented animators like Cyanide and Happiness forced to leave the platform because of the algorithm that YouTube uses, or like Egoraptor, who now makes a bunch of let’s play videos in order to make a living (I don’t have any against let’s play videos per se, it just sucks not seeing new animation from him). Animation is a wonderful art form. The more we can as a community come together to combat this numbers game, and fight off obscurity. The more we can improve our craft. If the trend is true and television is becoming obsolete, then we need now more than ever to be relevant on YouTube. Like I said it’s the second most viewed website. This is where the next generation of animators are going to get their inspiration from.

Stay hustling my friends.

Animation on YouTube Has to Change

It was Monday when the famed YouTuber Philip DeFranco made his video at the frustration with YouTube; how they hide videos from the trending page, how YouTube inconsistently inform subscribers that new content is out, etc.

On Tuesday Mundane Matt (a.k.a. Matt Jarbo) made a video about “Philly D’s” video. At the end of the video Matt Jarbo made a call to action to inquire if they had any solutions that might help. I posted at first a passive “yes I do but I’m weary of sharing it” post, but then my testicles retracted and I posted a brief point-by-point of how I think YouTubers (especially animators) can be able to thrive on YouTube’s changing landscape. I’m going to do it in a list form because I didn’t write a rough draft and I also have a lot of tasks to do (apologies in advance).

1. Forget AdSense

While this may seem like blasphemy, I think this is the first thing to do in order to thrive. YouTube’s community guidelines (Terms of Service, TOS) are vague this is fact. While any YouTuber (even hobbyist) need to study that thick, veiny, piece of word-slop, it doesn’t detract that the TOS can change abruptly and that it’s nebulous. How can you make sure you have compliant content when you don’t know what constitutes a violation? That’s like playing D&D and not know the rules; you’re set up for failure!

With that said, we need to not even bother with it. De-monetize it, let YouTube collect any monies ads from your video can generate. Aforementioned paragraph said that you should study the TOS and I wholeheartedly believe that, you need to know so that at the very least you know what will get you booted off.

If you’re worrying about your subscriber count, or views then you’re being myopic. As the saying goes “content is king” and if you want to get yourself out there then you need to make sure you best out the best work you can do.

2. Use YouTube to Shill Your Goods and/or Services

You maybe asking yourself how will I make money on YouTube (that is if you haven’t read the headline first)? You have to suck it up, and be a shill. Roberto Blake rents out his services as a consultant. Some vloggers bill themselves as a motivational speaker. Draw with Jazza does freelance art from his videos. My point is, you need to look at YouTube 2 ways: as a way to showcase your content and as a way to network.

To steal from business lingo you as a YouTuber are a brand. Just like how Coca-Cola has it’s own font and shade of red, you got to be a brand too. Think about it: when you are able to make being a YouTuber your career, you are (more likely than not) going to be self-employed, meaning you are a company of one, YOU. Therefore, you have to set yourself up as a artist, entertainer, whatever.

There is a stigma at being a salesman I get that. That is criticism you must ignore. Without AdSense how are you going to make money? With websites that find you sponsor deals you have to have 1,000 subs or more. Those are things called revenue streams, or ways you make money. I’ve seen videos by Roberto Blake and Tim Shomeyer from Video Creators talk about the different ways you can make money on YouTube. Study it.

3. Form a Co-Op

So, this is aimed more towards animators and people who make scripted web series than anyone else. While, truth be told, I don’t know how well this would work, I’m going to try and test it out.

A Co-Op is a type of company where a group people, let’s say animators, pool their resources together to form a business; they’re all partners of a sort, kind of like the Justice League.

Animation takes time, and YouTube’s algorithm last I heard was that you have to upload once a week, or on the weekends in order for YouTube to notice you like Senpai. Now, let’s say you ignore my advice and go the AdSense route, to get the most out of your video it has to be at least 10 minutes long. On top of that in order to even earn money you have about 100 (I could be wrong on the number) hours of watch time, which is how many hours worth of content you have. For an animator this is ludicrous, which is why animated content has been on the decline since 2015. While this is a theory, I believe that if you have longer videos you’d be more likely to get promoted. If that is true then it compounds the need to form an Avengers of Animation.

In having a group of people put up their animated content on one channel you have a higher chance of meeting that. Look at Channel Frederator for example, they post almost everyday because they have multiple people post animated content. However they are an MCN (Multi-Channel Network) and they have problems of their own.

By forming a co-op you not only have a steady stream of content, but you have a network of collaborators. Now, what if each member sold their own merchandise and you promoted each other’s stuff on social media, and videos, you could not only have a clear way of allocating money, you also cast a wider net to expand your audience. Now, as I said this is a theory, so the mechanics of how it would work exactly, let alone how you would find this group is uncertain.

4. Study Business!

While this may have been in any of the previous slots it doesn’t negate it’s importance. If you want being a YouTuber to be your job, you got to treat it like a business. Look at it this way, according to the US tax code (if you’re reading this in the US) you would be considered self-employed, meaning you are your own boss. You got to think like a boss, make decisions like a boss (I considered putting in a joke about wearing people’s skin, and it felt a little off to do it.).

There is a metric f*ck ton of tutorials online from marketing to forming your brand. You have to put in the work.

I hope this advice helps. I really hope that this is the way to make it on YouTube and that you dear reader can use it. If you find better advice, feel free to post it in the comments. I love learning and it could only improve the discussion. Being business savvy, or following the rest of my advice will only get you so far, the quality of your content is what will propel you.

Stay hustling, my friends!

Shazzan: Diamond in the Rough, but Still a Flawed Gem

So for reference purposes I bought the box set of the old Hanna Barbera cartoon Shazzan. I enjoyed it, it’s something where if you’re a fan of animation it is worth the watch. For those who don’t know Shazzan is about these 2 white kids finding this ring that was torn in half. When they put it on they are taken to ancient Arabia. They encounter the genie Shazzan (more about this later) and he sends them on a quest to return the ring to it’s owner in order to go home.

I’ll be honest, I love the premise (which I borrowed some things from for Brandy & Gin), however they rarely mention their mission and at the end of the series, they never return the ring. This is not uncommon, Samurai Jack (original run) and Case Closed/ Detective Conan is left open-ended like that. No, throughout the show the two stupid kids (they are pretty dumb no joke) stumbling into the villain of the episode, or they help some friend they made while in this mystical land.

One thing that is really promising about the show is that the villains in the show are interestedly magical. For example, in one episode they encounter a pirate on a flying ship who pillages shahs, or a sorcerer who leads a gang of thieves who wants to steal the magic ring to control Shazzan (this episode is an exception to the usual format in that it ties in with the kids’s general mission). There was even an episode with a rival genie!

However once Shazzan gets summoned he easily defeats his foes. I will admit this is one flaw of the show. Since Shazzan is O.P. there is no drama in the magic pissing contests he gets into. You could make the case of him being a Mary Sue, but it feels rather uncomfortable labeling Shazzan as such. The awkwardness is like bring up the highlights of the orgy you went to the night before bible class.

Now one thing that Shazzan does better than similar shows like Captain Planet, is that the two mere mortals moping moronically while Shazzan does the fighting, actually does stuff. Throughout the series in order to create drama the pair get separated ergo, they can’t summon Shazzan for help. During these times the guy of the group (hey, keep in mind this show came out in the 60’s, give it a little slack) uses magical objects like a cloak of invisibility or a lasso of truth (or was it the strap-on of power, I forget).

One thing that makes the show unique is how it meshes western and arabic iconography together, for example, the kids pet/ride Kaboobie, who is a flying camel, in the vein of the Pegasus. Pirates that look like a hodgepodge of The Arabian Knights and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Another highlight of note is the character designs by Alex Toth. In the past year or two I kept searching for his artwork. It has a level of detail like a comic book drawing, yet is streamlined enough to be able to animate well (for an example of how vital this is look at the 1960’s Captain America cartoon).

It’s not often you find a show that is centered around a genie. Despite it’s age it still feels fresh. The villains have interesting designs. Even though the show is formulaic, the writers make some interesting stories. Like other Hanna Barbera cartoons, like Space Ghost, it is imaginative. While it is easy to dismiss Shazzan, it’s worth a watch, even if it is on YouTube.

State of Pixelwood

Hi,

It has been awhile which is why I’m writing to you today. In regards to the film The Labyrinth, that is on the shelf for now because honestly I’m worried about doing a good job and due to a lack of connections.

Franco Noir, is also on the shelf, but will be coming out soon because I want to gain some more experience using Adobe Character Animator. Franco Noir will require action scenes and to date, fight scenes haven’t been done in Character Animator and well I’d have to experiment.

I am using Character Animator to make another animated show and that will come out soon. It’s a fantasy comedy (well, I hope it’s funny) called Brandy & Gin. With Brandy & Gin I’m going to use as a test for an animation enterprise. More on that on April 27th. I’m going to drop a press release video announcing the endeavor. Thank you dear reader for your time.

Willie Woodward

Distribution Blues

So in trying to make Labyrinth, trying to find distribution for it. At first I was all set to take out a small loan to be able to make the movie. With that reality in mind I was always prepared to be a “no-budget” film (even to the point of not really wanting to work with people who weren’t accepting of that reality).

While trying to get this going, I bought  Lloyd Kaufman’s Make Your Own Damn Movie and Sell Your Own Damn Movie (by the way I just finished Sell Your Own Damn Movie today), a book I found very informative, but hard to distill the information to organize a plan (I might do a more thorough review later). Reading Sell Your Own Damn Movie was so disheartening. Why? Because a lot of the methods that suggested weren’t conducive to probably taking out a loan, and more importantly, not conducive to make your next movie, which to me, is the ultimate goal.

When it comes to independent filmmakers trying to distribute their film it is a harrowing task. While trying to sell your own movie is laborious, boring, and pretty cerebral (the Yin to Creative’s Yang), it is as vital as making your film itself!

A good example of this is back in the day, I used to write comic books for artists. There was one artist I used to work with named Allen, who was a superb artist. We would go to conventions to try and sell comics, and I would go around talking Allen up to other artists to (hopefully) get more work. The problem was, that Allen wasn’t willing to try and sell his work. He has celebrity sketches (that were beautiful) which people offered to buy off him, nothing. Then we when it came to trying to sell (his characters) through merch and other stuff, nothing. He wasn’t out to get his work out, he wasn’t out to make money off of his work (so that you can, I don’t know, have your art be your job instead of your hobby), he wanted to hide his work. To me that seems to be the antithesis of trying to put your work out in conventions, or film festivals, or putting it on YouTube, etc.

I believe that we, should not be afraid to sell our art, or to sell ourselves as artists. Is it tough, yes. Is it discomforting, yes. Is it something that I have to admit I’m terrible at, absolutely!

However after some advice from a good friend of mine gave me some direction for how to distribute Labyrinth, so I’ll let you know how that works out when that happens. Bye.

Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked

Hi everybody, how goes it? I really, really, really don’t like to complain. So for the past few days I was hustling with my full time job and trying to advertise my film, and it was really stressful, I mean I was in full panic mode. I tried to email a trade publication to post a promotional poster for Labyrinth, and found out it was $1,500 a day! $1500 was something I nowhere near have. As nice and helpful as the ad person with whom I was corresponding with was, it seemed (at least at time of writing) like a non-starter.

However while panically doing research, I found a way to try and market my film via press kit packages (they are also called PR packages and media packages) . I might in a future post put up how to do, but I want to try and make one first.

Well, I got to go. This is Willie Woodward wishing all you aspiring filmmakers to stay strong and get to it.

Welcome to Pixelwood!

Hi how goes it? My name is Willie, and I’m a filmmaker. While the previous sentence has been the only line in this blog post I think perfect, I do have something to say. I live in the Bay Area/ Silicon Valley (there is a difference, look it up), born and raised, and I have always loved the “disruptive” or “what if” attitude of lot of the start-ups around here. This is also a big reason why I’ve never relocated to LA. They don’t have that attitude.

This is what Pixelwood Studios is about. Taking that Silicon Valley attitude to filmmaking.  While LucasFilm  strove for that, but never really attained it, Pixar and DreamWorks, descendants of LucasFilm seem sort of stagnant on the whole. Filmgoers need new blood to come in. That is hopefully the goal of Pixelwood Studios.

That’s all I’ll say for now, I do hope this blog post finds you in good spirits. Well to Pixelwood, hope to see you soon.

Sincerely,

Willie Woodward