The Sonic Community fosters great talent across game development, art work and animation. Animated productions are something that holds dear to me, considering my love of the Disney films growing up. Today, I was honored to speak with an animator by the name of Aerobian Angel and he answers many questions I had about prior work he completed in addition to many other questions.
I hope you all enjoy this interview!
RK: Can you introduce yourself?
Aerobian: Hey-hey! My name’s Aerobian-Angel. I’m a digital artist, with my talents most specifically aligning as an animator. Started off my online presence as a Sonic fan artist, and I’ve kinda been there since, sometimes deviating off to making my own original content.
RK: Thank you for doing this interview with me! My first question would be what was your introduction to the Sonic series? Can you share a game in the franchise you enjoy the most?
Aerebian: If I can recall correctly, the original Sonic the Hedgehog for Genesis was what got me into the series, as well as video games as a whole. I’ll never forget how exciting it was to get through my first loop, or the amazement to know that there were more stages after Green Hill Zone. I was pretty bad at the game.
Moving on to my favorite… well, y’see, as the times change and the ages come and go, my tastes have led me to like, love, and loathe various titles in the series, sometimes interchanging games within those categories.
But one title that has consistently been in my favor is Sonic 3 & Knuckles. For reasons that I cannot hope to fully explain in a single interview response, allow me to simply say this game is the perfect Sonic game, and quite possibly the perfect 2D platformer. Bold claims, yes, but trust me when I say that’s more testament to its top-tier quality and polish rather than the fickle nature of my aforementioned tastes.
RK: I completely get where you are coming from. My first experience with Sonic was on the 3D side of the series but to this day, I greatly enjoy and respect Sonic 3 & Knuckles for what it did for the franchise as a whole. Really is one of the Genesis Classics. My next question would be what got you into animation? Any inspirations that helped define your animation style?
Aerebian: A variety of things got me into animation as a kid. Sometimes I point to how I imagine really energetic comic strips like Calvin and Hobbes in motion. Other times I’d think of how my action figures would look without my hands soaking up the view. And, of course, I could just as easily point to my amazement with Spongebob. Looking back, it was kind of a perfect storm of various details.
In terms of getting my style down, I hope you don’t mind if I take a particular liberty here. Being that my skills lie with animation, instead of talking about the way I draw my characters, I’d rather get into how I move my characters. You see, when I animate my characters I use a particular sense of rhythm when the motion is “at speed”, but I keep meticulous attention to detail during the downtime of softer motions. I suppose I owe that to a steady appreciation of the Old Greats, like the comedic timing of Looney Tunes, the subtleties found in Disney’s full-length features, and the dynamic flow between the two from the Hanna-Barbara Tom & Jerry cartoons.
RK: Thank you for your answer! Animation is about how fluid and expressive characters move, so focusing on that aspect of your animation style is completely responsible. I looked over your work prior to this interview and really loved your “Tails of the Forgotten Sidekick” shorts. They are a great example of how expressive you make characters in your animations. Can you explain the process behind both that and the recent ‘DLC’ short?
Aerebian: So, “Tails of the Forgotten Sidekick” kinda… just happened one day. I was in a Skype chat with Ashman792 –the animator I collaborated with, and we were just talking about Sonic characters, and Tails came up. For whatever reason, I wrote up a semi-elaborate joke of how Tails had been replaced by just about every new character under the sun. We both liked it so much that we decided to actually make it an animation, but put on the back-burner behind a bunch of other projects, leading it to take upwards of a year to make.
Getting into the production itself, I wanted to make my shorts really stand apart from Ash’s. While he had more rounded, and arc-like movements, I wanted to make my timing more jab-like, snapping from pose to pose (with respects to smooth motions, of course). You can see the differences watching each short back to back. This led to very different energies from each short, and gave us a better overall pacing for the whole production, as the cadence never let the mood get stale or overwhelming.
As for the DLC short, coming about a year after the original, I had improved upon a lot of my previous animations techniques, as well as learned some new ones. It originally wasn’t going to be the feel-good story that it turned into, as the original pitches with Ashman and communications with HieiFireShadow, our Tails voice actress, were gonna go for a really ambitious punchline. Ash pointed out that it wasn’t that creative of a joke, so we sort of dropped the idea, and what was finished was an otherwise last-minute effort that I made as a backup. I wanted to make an addendum to the short without simply hashing out a repackaging of the same joke for the sequel. So what I did was create an ending to the “series”, because I’m a sucker for happy endings just as much as I respect not killing a joke.
RK: I really appreciate you answering this, as I after watching that and other work you produced, it was really nice seeing this side of the Sonic series get explored. I would image Tails getting annoyed with Sonic getting a new buddy every adventure! I saw that you did work for the Sonic Shorts series. What was it like being one of the many animators of that project and can you share your favorite moment working on the project?
Aerebian: Well, being a collective of online animators from around the world, it definitely wasn’t like any studio experience, but it was still exciting to get in on a project that I looked up to as a kid. But that was just for my time making something for Sonic Shorts Volume 8. As of this interview, I’m working with them on the next Sonic Heroes musical animation for Casino Park. This project has a lot more communication between members, as it’s under the direction of a unified script and creative vision. I really enjoy checking up with the other members as we all show off our shot progress and revisions, as we get really great input from each other in terms of staying on track, changing something that wasn’t working, or even finding something entirely different that just works way too well to leave out.
RK: Man, I personally loved the two Sonic Heroes Musical Shorts so hearing that another one is in production is quite cool. Greatly enjoyed the Sonic Shorts series, so happy to hear you and the team had a nice experience working together. How do you feel about the reaction the Sonic Community had to your shorts?
Aerebian: It always blows my mind. Like, I can’t believe how many people enjoy my content, whether it be comedic or dramatic, short or longer; Sonic or otherwise. I love and appreciate each and every person who bothers to watch my stuff, share it with others, comment on or critique it, and I’m just glad to have a platform and an audience as I just put my art out there. To everyone who follows my work: you guys rock!
RK: When one produces content, it is always nice to see positive reception to the completed product. Happy you are overjoyed with the Sonic Communities enjoyment of your work! Can you talk about any future projects you may be working on?
Aerebian: Yeah, so I’ve been working on a bunch of things. Two of them are Sonic-based, and the other is an original piece for college. The college one is taking precedence over the other two for deadline reasons, and I’m mostly being somewhat hush-hush about them. Sorry~!
RK: Thank you for answering my question! What are some future goals you have for yourself as an artist and animator?
Aerebian: I want to reach a point where I can make an animation that I don’t feel “disappointed” in later. That is to say, something of mine that I don’t nitpick and tear apart for its faults later. It’s not entirely too much of a bad thing, as it pushes me to strive to get better. Of course, if I happen to make this realization within the production of my projects, this can cause me to double-back on my previous work to up the quality, which then takes a lot of time to do, which causes me to look back at my work… again… and get dissatisfied… again. I’m just constantly chasing my own tail, and it gets exhausting to the point where I might not even finish some projects. At the end of the day, I would just like to make a product that fully satisfies me. That’s the elusive feeling I’m chasing. That’s what I’m looking for as an artist.
RK: I completely understand where you are coming from; I look over past stuff I have written and wish I did this or that to improve upon it. It is just a natural reaction to finished work; there is always something we can do to make it better in some ways. But I feel you will reach that day you will produce something you are completely 100% happy with. Regarding the future of Sonic, are you happy with the direction the series is going?
Aerebian: Yes, actually. For starters, I’m one of the few people who’s content with the Boom sub franchise. The revival of the Classic Sonic series (from what I hear around the web) sounds promising, too. And wherever the Modern games are going… haha, well, they’re going. For all my appreciation of the series, I can’t say I’ve got much of a good idea for where it’s going, and I don’t mind being along for the ride one bit. I’ve seen the ups & downs & all-around’s for the series, and coming up where I am now, I don’t mind seeing where it goes now. I’m probably not as absolutely nuts for the series as a whole, but I am still passionate and happy to be here.
RK: Happy to hear that you are excited about Sonic’s future! This year is the happiest I’ve been about the series since I first played Sonic Adventure 2 Battle on my GameCube back in 2002 if I’m being honest. Any final comments you would like to share before ending this interview? It has been an honor speaking with you for this interview.
Aerebian: Not much to say other than expressing my gratitude for your time. I really appreciate you coming forward to interview me! It was fun answering your questions, and I hope you get to land yourself some more interviews with even more great fans within the community!
You can follow Aerebian-Angel on his official Twitter page. If you want to see some of his animated productions, feel free to watch and subscribe to his YouTube Channel!