FAN FILM FRIDAY: Interview with DR. SMOOV of NGSMOOV Animation

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If you're a fan of Transformers, or viral videos in general, then you've probably seen some of these hilariously reworked videos (NSFW language!)

Join us after the jump for an interview with the creator, DR. SMOOV.


Church H. Tucker: Before you gained Internet fame by re-dubbing Transformers, you had been working in Hollywood for a while already. How did you end up there? Were you one of those kids who got a camera when you were ten and knew what you wanted to do, or did you come to it later?

DR. SMOOV: They're more than just straight re-dubbing, which is why I refer to them as mashups.Each one is made up of footage from approx 10-15 different episodes. I'll write a script firstwhich is usually a parody of an actual episode, so the bulk of the footage willcome from that actual episode. Then I search through footage from other episodes to find the additional shots I need to cover the script and tell the story. Using found-footage is a cool art form because you have to find the right pieces to put together in a way that creates something new!

But yeah, I was totally one of those kids. I did a lot of writing stories and drawing my own comic books and comic strips when I was young- I aspired to be a professional cartoonist or comic book artist. I picked up a video camera around the age of 13 and really fell in love with directing and editing movies. That led to 4 yrs of film school and working at local TV stations in NY, and subsequently making the move out to LA to work in the television industry.

CHT: I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you were a fan of the classic Transformers and GI Joe growing up. What gave you the idea to do your mashup versions of them?

DS: Being a fan of the source material since I was a kid, it was always something that I thought I'd try doing some day. I wasn't quite internet savvy enoughyet to know how to best host a video on a website though. But when YouTube came around I realized I could easily upload videos there, and seeing other people doing re-dubs of cartoons inspired me to finally create some of my own. I'd been doing voices since I was a kid, and having done freelance video editing for years I thought I could take it a step further and not only re-dub the dialogue, but mashup the video footage to make it seem like the real episodes. It was a creative challenge and I was eager to see what kind of stuff I could create.

CHT: You were soon doing some music videos using the same found-footage approach. Was that surprising to you, or did it seem like a natural step?

DS: I think it was a fairly natural step. I'd been cutting found-footage together just for sport since high school--I remember even making my own Beatles music videos by editing together footage from Beatles movies and documentaries and syncing them to the music. So when I started cutting up footage from my generations' favorite cartoons and syncing themto popular songs, people saw it and wanted to commission me to cut their music videos in the same style.

CHT: More recently you joined up, Voltron-style, with Randall Ng, forming NGSMOOV Animation. How did that come about?

DS: Randall first contacted me via email about doing some voices for one of his CG Transformers animations and I was familiar with his videos and really respected his work. Turned out we had both seen each other's videos on youtube, and were fans of each other's works, so I was eager to collaborate with him. After working with him on the first project, it seemed our combined talents were a good match and we worked well together creatively. We saw eye-to-eye on a lot of things right off the bat, being that Randall was in the video game industryand I was coming from the television industry. We shared similar philosophies about the process of producing a video from start to finish, how the work flow should go, and how to work with clients, etc. Not to mention we had similar interests in animation and comic books, so we connected on all those levels right away and continued to work together. We both shared a passion for taking our favorite cartoon series(s) and revamping the characters and updating the stories, while still being respectful of the source material. So we were constantly writing scripts back and forth creating our vision and coming up with new projects that maintain the authenticity of the characters and backstories the fans love, but presenting it in a more modern and grown-up way.

The feedback online was quite positive, and it seemed like a lot of fans were enjoying and appreciating what we were doing. They were very supportive. After doing a couple popular series of web videos, we formed NGSMOOV Animation Studio and landed contracts doing the annual promotion videos for the GI Joe and Transformers conventions (GIJoecon and Botcon), as well as a slew of other freelance animation jobs.

CHT: Your video Transformers: Generation One was the winner at the 2009 Botcon Film Festival. Was that how you got the attention of the organizers?

DS: The organizers saw our videos on the internet and we had already been commissioned to do the convention promos that year. Transformers: Generation One was something Randall and I already had in the works and we held off releasing it and decided to debut it in the film festival.

CHT: So, did winning the film festival prompt Shout! Factory to put the film on the Transformers 25th Anniversary Matrix of Leadership DVD set?

DS: Shout! Factory contacted us about 6 months prior to the release of the DVD set and asked if they could include some of our youtube videos on the bonus disc. We were just finishing up work on Transformers: Generation One at the time, so we sent them a screening copy and they said they wanted it, and asked us to record a DVD commentary track for it. So we had to deliver all the materials to Shout! a few months ahead of time for their mastering process with their release set for July. In the meantime, we went to work on finishing the 2009 Botcon promos and got those finished in May. In June, we entered Transformers: Generation One into the Botcon film festival and actually won! Then in July, Shout! Factory released the Matrix of Leadership DVD set with our TF:Gen One movie and commentary on there. It's actually all unrelated, it was just all going on at the same time and ended up timing out in that order.

CHT: How did you end up working with G4?

DS: A producer from G4 first contacted me in 2007 before the release of the first Transformers movie. Apparently, my video Rude Awakening of Optimus Prime was a big hit in the offices over there, and they were doing an Optimus Prime spoof for Attack of the Show and wanted me for the voice. I went down to their studio and recorded for them and they continued to use me for their topical bits for the next couple years. I did the voices for Optimus Prime and Megatron on some more of their Attack of the Show segments, and I did the voice of Darth Vader on X-Play.

CHT: Finally, what are your plans going forwards? Anything currently in the works?

DS: NGSMOOV Animation has several new projects in the works and DR. SMOOV will be producing some new cartoons!

CHT: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us.

DS: Cool! Well, thanks for the interview, Church!


You can keep up with DR. SMOOV at his website and the NGSMOOV site.

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