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This is my entry for NATA 14’s Most Important Mission Ever. I didn’t have time to finish it quite how I wanted to because I had to meet the deadline of May 23. Though, I think having a deadline is a good thing…it forces you to get ideas out fast and it makes you work harder to get something finished. I still really love how it turned out even though it’s not quite how I envisioned it. And some may find that the pace of the movie is slow, and I thought of speeding it up...but I wanted to approach this project with a realistic point of view. Honestly, I would like to make it into a full length movie with more elaborate scenes and sound effects and speech. I may work on another version down the road and release it separately.

I have always been fascinated with space and time, and I could talk about it until the end of the universe, if there is an end. The basis for my film is a secret mission to Mars. Since the 1950’s NASA has been developing technology to get humans to Mars faster and faster, and the technology was tested and ready in the 1970’s. With the technology used to get to the moon it would take a shuttle about six months to get to Mars. With NERVA’s nuclear thermal rockets it would only take about three months to reach the red planet. A mission to Mars was actually planned in 1979, but it was scrapped because of the extreme costs it would take to not only get there, but to stay six months and then get back. It’s also still very dangerous because of the heavy amounts of radiation they would be exposed to in space and all the other unknown dangers of interplanetary travel. But, sooner or later mankind will go to Mars with nuclear energy, if we don’t destroy each other with it first.

Created and Animated by Kyle Dobbins

© Tuxedo Cat Cartoons

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So, NASA sent a secret Space Shuttle flight all the way to Mars a full 2 years before the first public Shuttle Flight went just into Earth orbit, with only two astronauts aboard who apparently never said anything to each-other during the entire months long trip, only to fly straight into a small black hole that nobody else on Earth had managed to find until that point, in a mission that most likely utterly destroyed the craft and its two occupants, leaving little in the way of actual scientific data in the process.

I guess this explains why people say NASA is sloppy with their funding. :P

Seriously though, very good animation, and ambitious to boot! I'd definitely lend some advice if you want to make another space-themed animation.

I really liked this one. I didn't mind the length; I just watched Solaris (1973) and this has the same kind of patient, meditative feeling. The visuals were really well drawn, in particular that fisheye perspective shot in the cockpit. Great job, and good luck in the next round.

TuxedoCatCartoons responds:

Thanks a lot man. I enjoyed Solaris as well. I like the slow, patient, meditative kind of space movies. After all, you'd damn well better be a patient person if you're going into space. If you're into those kind of movies, there are two that came out in the past few years that I thought were pretty damn awesome: "Love" and "Europa Report." Check them out if you've never seem them. And that fisheye scene in the cockpit was the very first scene I drew up, and it's definitely my favorite. I spent a lot of time drawing that scene so I wanted to use it as much as I could in the movie, but at the same time I didn't want to over use it. And the scene near the beginning where the shuttle engines actually ignite...I really like how that turned out as well. There are still things I wanted to do with this, but time cut it a bit short. I'd really like to turn it into something bigger, but I'm very excited that I made it into the first round. I want to come back with something stronger next round.

This was way too long, and boring. The entire animation plays like you animated something and then slowed it down 400%. There was no depth, and not much of a point either. I understand you wanted it to feel real, though it just plods.

The graphics were pretty good though.

The launch sequence was nicely done. Pray tell, did you use rotoscoping for the launch flight?

TuxedoCatCartoons responds:

Thanks...I had fun doing the launch sequence. As far as the rotoscoping goes…good guess...but nope…I did not use rotoscoping. I would like to use and definitely will use rotoscoping on some animations in the future…it’s a fascinating technique. But it can also be very time consuming. I remember watching a lot of shuttle launches as kid and tried to recreate from my memory, then I went and watched some shuttle launches and tried to recreate that. I know the video is pretty long but I wanted it to seem real. The program I used to create this was Anime Studio Pro 9.2. There are many different ways that could’ve been done in Anime Studio, but what I did was this: inside Anime Studio you can add bones to your vector layers. And with those bones you can create actions that are assigned to each bone. So for example…for a head turn you could create an action. Let’s say the person is looking straight ahead and I want to be able to make him look left. If I create an action for that bone and move the bone to the left, then I move all the facial features to where I want them to be. Now when I move the bone to that spot it moves the layers. This way you can kind of create things that look like they’re rotating in 3D...like a face or a ball or a space shuttle. It’s also very useful for creating fire.

I'm sorry but this is just way, way too long for what it provides. Don't get me wrong your animation looked good (the whole launch sequence was nicely done), but that was 9 1/2 minutes of what could have been done just as effectively in about 2. I was ready to turn it off before the second stage dropped (5 minutes in). With no speech, character development or plot other than 'we are going to Mars', so we don't care that they get sucked into a worm/black hole, this whole film fells empty to me and lacks depth. And the one development in the plot doesn't lead to any conclusion or wrap up, it is just over (no payoff). On those lines with how nice the first bit looked (indeed up until the encounter with the black hole), the black hole encounter looked cheesy and hastily made sadly doing no justice to the earlier portion of the film. When you consider that the viewer had watched 90% of the film before the encounter and (despite being well made) nothing had yet happened when the encounter happened it really should be something. Something that justified the curiosity and desire that pushed the viewer to hang on through the rest of the film.

Now, I do understand that this was made for a contest with a deadline, but even you said in your comments that you didn't get to finish it the way you would like. Right? You totally should finish it the way that makes you happy. This is mostly beautiful, but empty. I think that giving this 2.5 stars is being generous, because I wouldn't recommend anyone watch a flash toon that is almost 10 minutes long with no real payoff.

Keep on, you definitely have talent.

Credits & Info

4.03 / 5.00

May 24, 2014
1:16 AM EDT