Hello, I'm TheSilleGuy. I won NATA this year.
To be honest I don't really know how to start this. This still feels very strange to me. I want to try to sound as down-to-earth and humble as I possibly can, since it can be very easy to sound douchey when you have won something. I just want to say that @Dylan, my opponent for the final round, did a fantastic job with his animation, and I don't think it is weird at all that we came so close. I wouldn't have been surprised if he won.
This has truly been a contest filled with surprises, at least for me. To really understand how strange this whole experience has been for me, I want to tell this whole journey from beginning to end. (Beware of the huge wall of text ahead of you.)
I knew since the year began that I was going to participate in NATA. I really wanted to try it out. I was joined by my good friend @MCakeri who joined separately. We both gave each other advice and we supported each other. If it werent for him I would have not felt as motivated as I have. So, May rolls around, and the contest begins.
=Open round: "10 Amazing Facts"=
Telling the Truth
My first entry was "Telling the Truth." if you've watched all of my entries you might notice this one sticks out like a sore thumb. This is because I was originally going to go in a completely different direction in the beginning. I wanted very dialouge filled videos with semi-deep messages and with plenty of metaphors and the like. This was territory I was very unfamiliar with and not surprisingly, it didn't turn out that well.
The animation was also limited. In the open round I didn't know what kind of direction I could go with my animation and what was acceptable. There were plenty of times when I was like: "I could have a walk cycle buuuuut.... naaahhh". Out of the 32 people that came in from the open round, I was at 26th place. This made me change my whole attitude towards the contest. It also made me think that I wasn't going to come very far.
=Novice round: "How I survived _____"=
Surviving the Future
During the novice round I made sure of two things: 1. Always try to animate things I haven't animated yet. 2. No dialouge. The latter was due to the fact that I hate lipsyncing and I also wanted to do a completely dialouge-less video, something I had not tried yet.
I maxed out on things I hadn't animated before. Walk cycles, run cycles, paper flying in the air, slime, more run cycles. It might not look so good now in comparison to my latest videos but this was the first time I really really tried my hardest to animate as good as possible. It was also nice to not do any lipsyncing.
I did however not think I was going to come very far. My last video did not turn out so well and I was paired with three great animators (@LazyModeComics, @DocJoshimitsu and @jlorp), all of whom I considered far better than me. Then I, completely surprised, got into the pro round.
=Pro round: "A tragic misunderstanding"=
Up in the Sky
This time I was paired with @Perrobang. Again, I thought I was going to lose. Perrobang's novice entry was incredible (far better than mine), and this was also at the point when Rasmus got out of the contest. He was in Perrobangs spot. Now I was on my own.
I really liked the theme of the pro round. For whatever reason when I was brainstorming ideas I thought about S. A. Andrée's arctic balloon expedition of 1897. I had read about it a couple months before, and I found it interesting. In as short of a time as I can explain, S. A. Andrée was a Swedish man who wanted to, with the help of a hydrogen balloon, travel to the arctic, to establish Sweden as a great power in the arctic. He got a lot of support from the Swedish people. The balloon was made, and Andrée and his crew traveled to the arctic, but they all tragically died in the cold. (So no, @mindchamber, it was not inspired by 'Up'.)
If you want more detailed information, read this article.
There was something very interesting in that story that I wanted to use. I changed the motives, as Andrées motives were nationalistic, to something more simple and likable. Just going on an adventure. I wanted this to be my first ever completely-serious-no-jokes kind of video. There were however plenty of obstacles. The major one being that it was long. Almost twice as long as my previous video. I had to really work hardcore on this one to get it finished. During the previous rounds I didn't have to work that hard every day. I could almost go an entire day without doing any work at all. Not this time.
I had to sit at my computer only taking minimal breaks to get this finished. I was stressed almost every day. I also slept very little. I did the animatic in one week and animated everything else during the last two weeks. What didn't help was that my summer vacation also started to end. I was still animating when the first day of school started. I slept for about 1,5 hours that previous night.
I was very VERY surprised when I found out that Perrobang did not have time to make an entry. I knew at this point that I had a chance of getting to the finals at least. When I was finishing the video I did not have much time left and I posted it one minute after the deadline. I thought I was going to get a penalty but thankfully the judges were kind and didn't give me one, since it was just one minute late.
=Final round: "Against impossible odds"=
School had just began. I didn't know how I was going to balance the animating and school work at the same time, but I was sure that I could somehow make it work. For my last entry I wanted to do something in a fantasy style. My previous entry was about humans, so I wanted to try making up my own creatures. I also wanted to test out my character designing skills.
Since I was extremely stressed out from my last video I wanted to do something much shorter for my final entry... yeah that kind of backfired. This was my only entry that for a while had a completely different story originally. I scrapped it however because I thought it was too unoriginal. When I came up with this final story I was worried it wasn't very original either. I could have made it shorter but two days had already passed and I did not want to waste more time developing the story so I just went with it.
I slept for an average of 3 hours every night trying to get the animation done. Mostly thanks to nice teachers and just pure luck (my town was flooded so my school had to close for a day) I managed to actually get work done. My immune system, however, was not doing too good. During the second week, I got a pretty bad cold. This could not hold back my motivation however. The sickness did give me an excuse to stay home.
During the last day of animating I sat on my computer for 18 hours straight. I colored three fourths of the video, did effects and editing in that sitting. However, a problem occured. I only had 1 hour to edit the video until the deadline. I was very worried. This was mostly because I did not have a lot of sound effects. I had to get as many sound effects as possible during that short hour. I made sure to include the most important ones, but sadly I had to leave some out, just because I simply didn't have the time to edit them in.
Then: I was going to upload it. I had two minutes to do it. When I was uploading it I noticed that there was no processing being done at all. If i was worried before, I was in complete panic now. I tried in vain to upload it. I really thought that I was going to get a bad penalty now. I wrote about it on the NATA final topic and I found out that this was because of an error on newgrounds part, and because of that I couldn't upload anything. I was relieved when I found out that I didn't get a penalty, since I couldn't do anything about the situation. But for those couple minutes I was really afraid that I was going to lose the contest just because of an error.
Now, if I thought I did not have much of a chance against Perrobang, I was VERY sure I was going to lose to Dylan. Ever since the beginning I knew he posed the biggest threat. I considered him pretty much unbeatable. During last week, I mentally prepared myself to lose. I was 99% sure I was going to. It didn't help that Ricepirate was the first person to review my video, and his review was far more critical of mine than of Dylan's. (Which I of course can understand.) Then, at around six in the afternoon today, I looked at the tournament page and saw my video had 1,5 more points than Dylans video. Needless to say, I was ecstatic.
This is the maybe lame part of the post where I give out my thank you's.
First, a HUGE thank you to @MCakeri and @MartinLarsson who supported me throughout the contest. You guys are awesome!
Then I would like to thank my family, especially my mom and step-dad, who both allowed me to sleep for three hours every night and greatly supported my efforts.
I would like to thank all of my YouTube fans, who also gave me encuragement to continue. All of you are awesome.
And finally of course thank you to all of the judges (@StejkRobot, @mindchamber, @redminus, @RicePirate and @TomFulp) who made me find out what I could improve in my animations, Adam (@NATA) who helped with my uploading problems, and once again, @Dylan, who was a great opponent and made some great videos. You're awesome, dude!
This has been a gigantic brick wall of text that has taken me several hours to write, but I hope you all got a different perspective on how this contest was for me. It was a fun ride but I'm also kind of glad it's over (I need to mainly focus on school now.)
Don't have much else to say, so have a very nice day, all of you. I really mean it.
-Victor Karlsson (TheSilleGuy)