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Interview With ... Mike Parker, Creative Director @ LowBrow Studios

I love Sonic. I mean, he's a hedgehog, AND HE'S BLUE!!!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW AMAZING THAT IS TO A CHILD!! A BLUE, SUPERFAST,HEDGEHOG!! Unfortunately, as I've grown older, my love of Sonic has waned, as other idols have replaced him. But one little animation series has made Sonic cool and current again, even though in the series he's a massive dick.

Yes people, I'm talking about Sonic For Hire.

In case you have no idea what the fuck I'm on about, then follow this link and spend the next half hour scrolling through almost three series (each episode is only about 2 mins so don't worry) of awesomeness.


Seriously, I love asshole Sonic, in fact, I think asshole Sonic is better than any other Sonic, and we can thank LowBrowStudios for that. So here's an interview with their Creative Director, Mike Parker

1) Hey, who are you and what do you/your company/studio do?
I'm Mike Parker, I run LowBrow Studios. We do a ton of animation on the web and some stuff for TV. We have a handful of original series that we produce for Machinima, Mondo and CollegeHumor but we're also a studio for hire, animating scripts for CollegeHumor, Dorkly, FunnyOrDie, Break and more. We like sushi and tracking squirrels.

2) How long have you been doing it and when did you decide to start?
I've been animating for almost 12 years now. Taught myself Flash in college and took it from there. I grew up loving comic strips and cartoons and finally had a chance to make something of my own and went with it. Now 12 years and 10's of 20's of viewers later...I've got myself an animation studio with Michael William, Chase Suddarth, Alex Bernstein along side me in the studio, and other talented animators and artist like Chris Spry, Dennis Levesque, Stacey Silva, Jesse Eisemann, Pat Keegan and Mike Soucy helping out remotely.

3) Why do you do what you do?
It was either this or be a prostitute...and I'm not about to stand around all night in high heels. So I picked animation. Nah, I love everything about the process of animation. Creating characters, writing a series, getting a script and directing it, recording audio, all of it. That and I get to joke around with a great group of guys all day long. Not too shabby.

*Questions regarding Sonic For Hire*

4) When did you come up with the idea for SFH?
We had worked with Machinima on an earlier project called The Game Show, and it was so much fun to do - so we had the opportunity to do something else with them, so we pitched the idea of Sonic For Hire. I grew up playing Sonic, and wanted to do something with him being down on his luck. Basically coming from the fact that he was once a huge star, and nowadays his games just don't get top billing. It was a good chance to get a lot of videogame humor in there, incorporate a ton of our favorite games into the series. Plus we get to say naughty swear words like poop, butt and butt-poop.

5) How did you go from the process of an idea to designing and producing an animation series?
You just take it in steps. First: Beer. Second: Pass out. Third: Wake up in forrest. Fourth: Teach forrest animals how to animate.
That might not be totally accurate. Once you've got the characters set, meaning their personalities, etc and a general storyline established, you just start writing and see what is working, whats funny and what is falling flat, etc. Once your show has found it's voice, then it just becomes part of the animation production. You write a script, record the voices, edit the voices, gather up and create any artwork you need, put everything together in Flash (what we use), time everything out and start animating. Then do it all again next week. All of the heavy lifting is done before you even start animating.

6) You first received mention of the show on Machinima's other show "Storymode", where you were an upcoming, brand new series that was following under the shadow of the widely anticipated second series of "Sanity Not Included". Were you worried about it?
Not really, I would be worried if our show was similar in style to SNI. Those guys do what they do very well, and if we were to try and emulate that style, we'd probably be in over our heads. SFH is run like a regular animation series, recurring characters, longer storylines, etc. So it's just a different show. With that, I actually helps following SNI because a lot of viewers are checking out Machinima an while they are there...maybe they stick around to check out Sonic For Hire.

7) You are now rolling out your third series of the show? How have things changed since the beginning?
Yeah we're just about to wrap up Season Three. A lot of stuff has changed since we started out. Sonic is no longer down on his luck, and he's actually running a successful crime syndicate. We wanted to switch things up this season so the basic format wouldn't get stale. Sonic goes to a game, fucks things up, gets fucked over. We still go by that format, but the surrounding circumstances are different and it opens it up to a lot more possibilities. The other big change is that Sonic is now a woman.

8) Giver me a brief run-down of how an episode is made (BRIEF!! Bullet points if you prefer)
It's pretty quick.
Day 01 - Write an episode
Day 02 - Record the audio and edit the audio
Day 03, 04 & 05 - Animation and done.

We usually have a general idea of how the story is gonna play out, so there's times when we'll write a couple scripts ahead of time, but the rest plays out the same.

9) Is it all fun and jokes when recording the show or is it all buisness on the set?
It's a good mix. We take it seriously because the voice acting is definitely important - so you do multiple takes to make sure it's coming across the right way. But you also want to have fun while doing it. It's always good when a line makes the room laugh. If it's not working, we'll tweak it on the spot and get it right. If it's still not working, we have a knife fight.

10) How many people does it take to record an episode?
Depends on the episode, but we've probably got 4-5 people doing all the voices for the show. Michael William co-writes the episodes with me, and he's the voice of Sonic. I'm the voice of Tails, Eggman, Kirby and a bunch of other characters, Alex Bernstein is Earthworm Jim and Motherbrain and our buddy Clint Gage comes in and knocks out stuff like Mario, Darth Vader, Link and a bunch more.

11) Is your team a group of perfectionists, constantly refining and improving the work?
Yes and no. You want to tweak and change shit if it's just not working, but we're also constantly racing the clock to meet deadlines (We usually do 3-4 videos per week). So with enough practice, we kinda know what is gonna work and what won't on the first try. The best time to get it right is during the audio timing. All the audio is recorded and we set it up to see how the timing is gonna work. You get a good sense of what jokes work, if we need to re-record a line and so on. It saves a bunch of time and then if there's extra time, we'll go in and tweak. Then if there's even more time left over....Knife fight.

12) Who writes the script? (i.e you or "x" or a collabarative effort?)
Michael William and I write the show. Normally we'll talk about how the episode should play out, Mike W will write the first draft, then we'll go back and forth cleaning up the story, punching up jokes and giving each other backhanded compliments like "Oh, you decided to make this funny. Good job." or "I hate you and everything you stand for". We're really good friends.

*Questions regarding Sonic For Hire end here*

13) Do you have any big or "secret new" projects coming up?
Well, we've got a brand new series coming out for Machinima in a couple weeks called Mega Man Dies At The End. It was created by LowBrow's very own Chase Suddarth and David Sapp. They used to have the series Tomorrow's Nobodies, so it's gonna be great to have that in the mix alongside SFH. Other than that, Michael W and I are developing a pilot with another writer for a network. There's a long way to go on that, so I don't wanna jinx it just yet.

14) Finally, do you enjoy your work?

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About PK493one of us since 2:53 PM on 04.12.2011

Alright, let's try this again.

My name is Alex. I'm 15 and I hide in my dark corner of the internet writing a so-called "blog" here on Destructoid. I think far too critically of myself which has reflected on my personality, as I'm cyncical and highly critical of...well a lot of stuff.

Anyway, games. It was all about the GameBoy Advance when I was young, and have grown up on an unhealthly diet of portable gaming (GBA,DS,PSP), a recent introduction of console gaming , lots of fictional media, and yummy food.

I'm lazy and very day-dreamy, non-committal and kind of temperamental. Plus I get distracted easily...I'm really painting a rosy picture here aren't I? Still, if you stick around, (I'm hoping) you may find something of quality here, and who knows, I don't think I'm THAT bad, right...right?

So yeah, vidjo games.

Deus Ex Human Revolution
Batman Arkham City
Portal+Portal 2
Mafia II
Total War:Shogun 2
Rayman Advance
Pokemon Crystal
Jurassic Park:Operation Genesis
Super Mario 64
House Of Dead III

Also, I have twitter now, even though I now feel like a complete sell out. Follow me and see how uninteresting I can be.


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