The Webcomicker

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Ctrl+Alt+Del: The Animation

A "still" from Ctrl+Alt+Del: The Animation (Hooray for the Print Screen button!)

Ok, so let me start this post with a little bit of the so-called "snarkiness". First of all, I'm amazed at the amount of people who have said "Eh, I'm not a huge Ctrl+Alt+Del fan, so I'm not going to watch this new animation thing he's got going on." Seriously. Get over your little "Ctrl+Alt+Del is just a ripoff of Penny Arcade and PvP, leeching off their success" high horses, people. No matter what your personal opinion of Ctrl+Alt+Del happens to be, this is an auspicious occassion for webcomics on the whole. Here we have Tim Buckley, who has gone through all the trouble of hiring a professional animation studio, gotten professional voice-talent, and really assembled an entire team of people to make a professional quality animation. This ain't no homebrew Blamimation (not to say that I don't like the Blamimations I've seen. They are actually quite funny. But there is definitely a huge difference in terms of overall quality).

This is the first time something like this has ever happened in the world of webcomics. We actually have someone crossing over into professionally made animations. And it's a major step. So it's at least worth checking into, your personal opinions aside. And it's only gonna cost you two bucks. Are you seriously trying to tell me you don't have two bucks to spare? Come on...

Well, I've got two bucks to spare, so I signed up for a month of Ctrl+Alt+Del premium just so I could watch the show. Now, mind you, if you're actually (god forbid) a fan of Ctrl+Alt+Del, then there's literally no reason on Earth why you shouldn't sign up for this. In addition to the animations you get a lot of other cool Ctrl+Alt+Del related stuff like exclusive comics, wallpapers, a special forum, and other behind the scenes stuff. Definitely a good amount of fan service. If you're not a fan that stuff's not so interesting, but still: two bucks.

Now some snarkiness aimed at the Ctrl+Alt+Del folk. I absolutely could not get the video to play in Internet Explorer. Once I switched over to Firefox I had no problems, but quite frankly it annoys me that so many people are coming out with "Firefox only" content these days. Internet Explorer is just as good as Firefox in every way except it's somewhat less secure (but that's really more of a Windows thing than an Internet Explorer thing), and it's better than Firefox in many other ways. Sure, it's not 100% "standards compliant", but that's only because the W3C people make up these so-called "standards" pretty much out of thin air and then demand that everyone else follow them, and quite frankly it makes me sick.

But I digress. In any case, if you want to watch the Ctrl+Alt+Del animations, you're going to need Firefox. Now, let's talk about the actual show itself. First off: The animation actually is very good. The characters' movements look natural, the lip-syncing is pretty good, and there's some very good camera work with pans, zooms, and spins (or whatever the technical term for moving the camera around a character is). Whatever Tim Buckley paid for the animation, he got his money's worth. There are times when it looks kind of blurry, but I'm not sure if that's an animation problem or a result of the compression for the web. In any case, well done.

Now, as for the voice acting, it was kind of a mixed bag for me. Obviously the voice actors were well-trained, and the dialogue seemed natural and not too over-acted or forced. Most of the episode revolved around Ethan and Lucas, so they're the only characters I can really say anything concrete about right now, and in a nutshell I liked Lucas but I wasn't a big fan of Ethan. Something about Ethan's voice just seemed off to me. I don't know if the pitch was off from what I expected, or if it was the kind of energy which was put in the voice or what, but it just didn't strike a chord. It's like when they made the Dilbert animated series and there was just something inherently wrong about Dogbert's voice. You could never quite put your finger on it, but you just knew that wasn't really what Dogbert would sound like. Lucas, on the other hand, I think they hit perfectly. And even if Ethan's voice was off a bit in my head, it wasn't unbearable.

As for the content of the show, this episode was basically about Ethan and Lucas fighting for control of the TV. It began with a pre-credits sequence introducing Ethan's character by having him make fun of someone who doesn't know anything about video games, which fits his character pretty well, and the rest of the episode was him and Lucas pulling stunts on each other to try to get the TV. It's a pretty cliched storyline, especially in the world of cartoons: two characters both want some particular object, so they battle for it in escalation-style warfare. But just because it's cliched doesn't mean it's bad. There have been entire SERIES built around this premise, so what's important is the execution. And the execution was pretty good. It seemed rushed at times, and definitely could have been expanded into a longer cartoon, but those things that were done played pretty well.

So, overall, in terms of the world of cartoons, Ctrl+Alt+Del: The Animation is not terribly ground-breaking at episode one. Decent animation, decent voice acting, decent execution. Kind of short, not a terribly interesting plot, and not too much information to make us remember and love the characters just from the animation so far. If you were to take this to Adult Swim and pitch it, they'd probably tell you "it's got potential, keep working on it." But from the point of view of webcomics, this is absolutely ground-breaking. The whole project just reeks of "professional", which is the sort of image that webcomics do not give you very often. It's a huge step forward, and I'm highly anticipating what the other big names in webcomics are going to do to try to keep pace. It's going to be an exciting year.


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