By Kyle Price-Livingston
I talk a lot about the very direct link between access to technology and the era of online content that we are entering. Yes, the internet provides a free platform on which people can display their art, but there’s more to it than that. Digital cameras, sound recorders and editing tools are now cheaper and easier to find than they’ve ever been before. This has drastically lowered both the cost and the amount of work required for people to make their dream series come true. And it’s not just live action stuff. Animation tools, while still expensive, are also increasingly accessible. These days, it’s even possible to make your own CGI series. Well, possible for some people, anyway.
I used to live with an animator when I was in college. This was back during CGI’s Cretaceous Period, when having dual monitors seemed futuristic and even the simplest rendering took hours. I remember watching Jim clicking about endlessly, tweaking seemingly irrelevant minutiae and swearing under his breath, then hitting a button and staggering away from the computer for a while as it “did computery things.” Jim would walk down the hall, out the door and just kind of vanish. Nobody was ever sure how long he would be gone, but we could always tell when he got back because we would suddenly hear him scream “GODDAMNIT!” and then start swearing about however many hours he had just wasted.
For 6 months he worked almost non-stop, until finally his senior project was deemed “ready for show.” He reserved a lecture hall and a projector and invited all of his friends to attend. We showed up, filed into the hall, Jim turned down the lights and made a brief introduction and started the show. I, clever stoner that I was, had made sure to get nice a high before I arrived, and pulled a bag of swedish fish out of my coat. It was, for some reason, extremely difficult to open. I struggled with it quietly for about 30 seconds before giving up and settling back to watch…the closing credits. 6 months of work and the whole thing was less than a minute long! I was shocked, but the other animators assured me that this was totally normal.
Fast forward 10 years (I know, I know. I’m old) and Lewis Roscoe has produced not just a 1 minute clip, but the first 3 whole episodes of his CGI horror series The Arksville Homicides. I keep telling myself that there must be other animators, that there’s no way one dude could have made something this long, that looked this good, all by himself. Yet I can’t find any mention of any other animators! It’s insane.
The plot so far seems like your basic horror set up: hundreds of years ago a priest sets out to hide/destroy a demonic artifact in the hopes of stopping some great evil. In the modern era, a traumatized cop (Chriss Anglin) and his family move to a small town looking for a fresh start, but arrive right as some spooky dead bodies start turning up without their hearts. Are the deaths connected to the evil artifact? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say “YES!” Frankly, I have no problem with the use of a generic horror set-up so long as you do something interesting with it. So far the plot has had enough intricacy to hold my interest, and that’s all I ask.
The voice acting is decent. Certainly, people manage to convey the right emotions at the right times, though the voices don’t always match up with the expressions on the faces of their character models. The animation is generally quite smooth, the models are unique and well designed and the environments are pretty nicely done as well. The first episode is a bit rough, but I urge you to stick around for Eps 2 and 3, as the look improves drastically over time. I can’t figure out what Roscoe is doing with the episode length, as the first 2 clock in at about 3 minutes each, while the 3rd is up around 10, but that’s not a major concern. The bottom line is, the show looks good and is also scary. What more do you want?
Check out the first 3 episodes of this shockingly well-made horror series on the YouTubes!