Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Animated Comedy Short Film Retrospective: The Cupcake Topper

I've been thinking about how to handle my projects, as I'm listing them in the Adventuress database. It wouldn't be right to do a traditional review, so instead, I'm going to do a critical retrospective for each project, listing the things I liked about them and the things that could have been done better.

The Cupcake Topper, the first short cartoon that I finished outside of shorts I made in Klik 'n' Play in high school, was released on July 14, 2009. It was created using Microsoft Paint, Paint Shop Pro, and Windows Movie Maker. The music was a waveform audio conversion of a tune in the Musical Instrument Digital Interface, MIDI format. The MIDI was public domain as was the tune itself, the 1902 ragtime medley by Scott Joplin, "The Entertainer". Although it was released after YouTube's December 2008 addition of 720p videos, it was started prior to that addition. Thus, it was created in the original YouTube video resolution of 320 x 240. With the higher resolution, I would have also added things in the background to give it depth, as there was nothing in the background except whitespace.

Obviously, the first thing that would be different if this animated short were created today would be the resolution. The original resolution for YouTube videos was very small and incredibly restrictive. YouTube has since supported high-definition videos, so this animation would be created in an HD resolution.

It was also created with a restrictive paint program, Microsoft Paint. The rotated images were created with another paint program, Paint Shop Pro. This made each frame look very pixelated, with the exception of the frames with rotated images. The latter were blurred, which created a disconnect between those frames and the rest of the animation. 

On the positive side, I do like the way it turned out. The chef could have more expressions, but what is there works well as she gets upset at the bird. My mother couldn't tell what the original object was, a large pushcart with cherries on it, so I simplified it to cherries on a plate. That solidified the short and moved it toward the finish line. It works quite well, with each cherry being pecked away until there were none left. It is matched up with the music well, and The Entertainer is the perfect song for this short.

One of these days, I want to go back to this and make a high-definition remake of it. However, I'm still proud of the original. It does a lot with the technical limitations that were in place on YouTube when I first started the short.

Addendum: The short is still up on YouTube here. The short (not including any future remakes) is licensed under Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0. Basically, do whatever you want with it, as long as you credit me (and let me know, I'd love to see what people come up with). Have fun with it. :)

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