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WEB REVIEW

Arts on the Web

Flashy Entertainment

By Fred Choi
ASSOCIATE ARTS EDITOR

All Your Base Are Belong To Us <http://www.polanettribes.com/allyourbase>

Ninjai

<http://ninjai.com>

Weeeeee!

<http://www.threebrain.com/weeeeee.html>

Most people know about Flash animation. Flash has, for many reasons, quickly grown in popularity with animators and audiences alike to become one of the most visually effective and widely used methods of animation on the web. Unlike bitmap-based graphics, which require each pixel to be painstakingly specified, Flash animation relies on vector-based graphics (think Monty Python’s animated cutouts, but not quite as cheesy). Vector-based graphics scale easily and require significantly less storage than bitmap-based graphics, which allows even users with mediocre connections to download or stream animations in reasonable amounts of time. (For a clear and concise introduction to Flash animation, check out the tutorial at <http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/98/32/index3a.html>).

Like many of the new Internet artforms, Flash animations have popped up all around the web. Some mini-masterpieces are passed around through word of mouth, while other high-quality works still remain in relative obscurity. Below are a few Flash animations that have crept into the minds of hapless web surfers worldwide.

All Your Base Are Belong To Us <http://www.planettribes.com/allyourbase>

Despite the fact that almost everyone has seen it by now, it would be impossible to review Flash animations without acknowledging the now infamous All Your Base Are Belong To Us. AYB is an isolated Internet phenomenon (it is not associated with any company or band and has not spawned sequels or spin-offs) that began as a small project and quickly spread through word of mouth. It has received extensive coverage, including nods in Time Magazine, USA Today, Fox News, The Los Angeles Times, and Wired. The animation takes an innocuous, poorly translated phrase from an obscure video game, adds a surprisingly catchy electronic track featuring samples from the game, and uses a slew of visuals documenting “sightings” of the phrase (which, of course, must be a part of some international, no, galaxy-wide, conspiracy). These are as varied as McDonald’s signs, mug shots, and Windows error pop-up messages. The phrase has become integrated into popular culture, to the extent that T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase are now sold in gift stores, and it is heard in casual conversations, even outside of the MIT campus. AYB will Undoubtedly be featured in the annals of the Internet phenomenon.

Ninjai

<http://ninjai.com>

Ninjai is easily one of the best online animation series around, although it is only in its sixth episode. Ninjai focuses on more artistic renderings of fight scenes and backgrounds. Furthermore, the cinematography and soundtrack, which features impressive original music, are also excellent. The most successful aspect of the series, however, is the story and characterization. Ninjai is a refreshingly original character; his eerily adult yet childlike voice and demeanor, his calm yet badass ninja skills, and his mysterious background and quest are intriguing. The violence, while at times graphic, is appropriately understated and woven carefully into the scenes for visceral effect. The only drawback to the series is having to wait for the next episode.

Weeeeee!

<http://www.threebrain.com/weeeeee.html> Like other bands, Three Brain used Flash animation in making animations to accompany their songs online. Although their video to “Weeeeee!” is rather elementary, the spastic vocals, the song’s lyrics, and the choice in visuals provide enough amusement to spend a few minutes of your time checking it out. Be forewarned that a significant lyric to the song is, “Gonads and strife, gonads and strife.”

If you would like me to check out a site that you think deserves attention, e-mail me at <webstuff@the-tech.mit.edu>.