seawasp (seawasp) wrote,

Showcasing the good and the bad of self-produced fanvids...

... in a single video.

Here is the Doctor Who Anime ("Space-Time Adventure Doctor Who") created by the "Mighty Otaking" (who can be found by trivial searching on Deviant Art, or just follow the YouTube links).

I've mentioned Otaking's awesome art before, and so this video is of considerable interest to me as it both reaches heights, and demonstrates fatal weaknesses, that show what fan-produced content is capable of and where it almost always falls short.

First, the good:

Art style. Otaking understands both the look of anime and the look of Doctor Who. The video, as implied by the still images seen elsewhere, combines some of the best of both. The Third Doctor is still clearly and recognizably Jon Pertwee, yet a Jon Pertwee as imagined by an anime artist. The other familiar characters -- the Master, Davros, the Brigadier, all are themselves reimagined and in some ways made better than their originals.

Action concepts. Back in the '70s, action was severely limited both by the capabilities of the actors and by the imagination and knowledge current then of what was reasonable and possible. If you'd tried to convince people to do a Jackie Chan or Matrix back then -- even assuming you had the technology for the latter -- they might not even have understood what you were GETTING at. So what we see today as clumsy, obviously telegraphed moves, stiff gestures, and so on were meant to be depictions of an exceedingly skilled combat. Jim Kirk's "Trek-fu", with its simple choreography, haymaker-like punches, chops to the back of the neck and so on, was that era's attempt to depict a dangerous, highly-trained combatant (as it is made clear that Kirk is supposed to be very, very good). Similarly, the rather simplistic "Venusian aikido" of the Third Doctor was meant to show him as a terribly dangerous fighting man. So by adding in full-blown anime-level combat, movement shots, etc., this video is taking the same concepts and characters and bringing them into the modern era as they would have been done today.

And now the bad:
Movement: The action CONCEPTS and some sequences aren't bad, but overall the animation is highly jerky -- it doesn't do the overall artwork justice, and that's a shame.

Voices/dialogue: Here is the greatest weakness of the entire project. It's an understandable weakness, because Otaking is an artist and a good one -- and thus, very likely, NOT a multitalented voice actor. However, this means he has chosen to do the dialogue by cut-and-paste from the original show. This limits him in three serious ways:
---1. He needs to find dialogue to fit any given sequence he wants to animate in a format that he can use -- which means, likely, limited to whatever DVDs or very high quality tapes are out there. Even if he has all episodes ever produced, he's still likely to find only "pretty good" or "okay" dialogue for any given scene, especially since he's limited to words actually spoken by the target character. The combination means that dialogue is of necessity short, stilted, often subtly "off" in phrasing or expression from the way that it should be, given the situation.
---2. He can't create new concepts or plotlines that use anything that wasn't at least discussed in the original show. Limited to the original dialogue, he can only create a story around old elements.
---3. Any attempt to introduce original material is almost certainly doomed to failure. The Anime Girl Cop is the most blatant example. She makes a (silent) entrance at the end of the first street-combat clip, looking dangerous and cool. However, without any available dialogue for this character (who never existed), he's got only two choices: either make her a non-dialogue character in any scene -- which makes her, basically, a comic-relief character and/or just there for fanservice -- or try to use dialogue from another female companion character and hope it's not so recognizable as to ruin the attempt. Either way, the character is severely hamstrung. This is painfully evident in one sequence in which she basically appears to be doing the classic "anime catgirl poking into everything" set of motions in a comedic way; this completely torpedoes all the cool of her entrance scene and makes her annoying bouncy-bouncy ornamentation.

I'd love to actually see this thing completed properly, but while the movement issue could probably be addressed by working a little more on additional frames and flexibility in the character movement steps, the major problem he's run into is one that can really only be solved one way: get people to do the voices. This is, of course, another problem. You need people who can do GOOD voices, you need to get them the dialogue and then, after they've recorded it, blend it all together well (unless you happen to have the people in question physically available to do the recording in a unified session or set of sessions).

Cut-and-paste dialogue is good for very, very short vignettes -- and usually best for comedies, like the infamous "Star Trek: The Lost Episode" audio. For anything longer and especially anything serious, you have to start going beyond the simple approaches... which of course is why such things are rarely done. Some have been -- "Troops" comes to mind -- but they require an entirely different level of effort.
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