M.A.P.s (Multi-Animator Projects)

My teenage daughter is an artist. For a while I thought it was a phase, and at this point I am resigned. She’s deep into animation, puts in long hours, and wants to get a day job as a storyboard artist when she grows up.

A couple of years ago we got her a decent tablet and basic (but still expensive) professional software. She has been teaching herself to use them, and learning all kinds of animation tricks (smearing, for example), by hanging out with other animators online, mostly on Youtube and Discord.

The gateway to this world for her was a love of the Warriors book series by “Erin Hunter.”  There is an intense and prolific international YouTube scene creating Multi-Animator Projects based on Warriors characters and story lines. They’re about cats, but cats put through operatic plots, suffering all kinds of pain and loss. There can be a lot of blood. Here’s one of the prettier examples she sent me this week.

 Other M.A.P. themes exists now, but Warriors is where they started, with this video, in 2012, by an artist who is still at it, and draws with a mouse.

MAPs are a little like music videos made by 20 to 40 animators, each taking a part assigned by the project editor. There are a variety of styles (scrolling is one). Some projects have strict requirements, including short deadlines and assigned color palettes. Some are first come first serve, some are very competitive–you apply and hope to be selected. An animator on one project may be the editor of another.

Animators build reputations and relationships and fan bases through these projects, and success is, as in the real world, based on both skills and professionalism. There is a crazy amount of talent involved, and professional animators have launched careers from this scene. So many articles about YouTube, and I’ve never seen one on this community.

My home animator says this is the king of them all: a MAP that was selective but not extremely restrictive, took as much as three years, runs over nine minutes, and has over 2 million views.

The internet can still be a creative and generous place, off the beaten track.

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