Saturday, June 28, 2008

Murfy's fLaW AMV Competition

Murfy's fLaW in association with Kenyanimation (that's us) and Anime Anonymous ( is running an Anime Music Video Competition based on the song, Your Friend, from their upcoming album. An anime music video (AMV) is a music video consisting of clips from one or more anime series or movies set to songs. It may be an existing anime, or you could create your own original anime artwork.

How to Enter:

If you're in Kenya competition packs will be available on Friday 27th June at the Murfy's fLaW show at Dass, and on Saturday 28th June at the Anime Anonymous group meeting at Junction. The competition pack is made up of a cd containing a copy of the song Your Friend, and a PDF version of the entry form.If you're not availale for the meeting, a soft copy of the competition pack can be requested by sending an email or downloaded from

How to Submit Entries:

Method One:

Digitally submit your entry by uploading your files to MegaUpload/RapidShare or another/your own web hosting. Please upload the file in a zip/rar archive together with the entry form, then send us a download link at so we can retrieve your entry.

Method Two:

We also accept snail mail entries which can be forwarded to the following address: Murfy's fLaWP.O. Box 44368Nairobi 00100Kenya


Monday 21st July (Midnight GMT).All entries received by this point will receive feedback on receipt of the videos.


Short-listed videos will be shown during the Anime Edition of the Murfy's fLaw gig at Dass Ethiopian restaurant, which will be on Friday the 25th of July. The winners will be picked based on the Judges opinions and a factor from the audience reaction.The videos will remain the property of the creators. The winning video may be used as a bonus feature in the upcoming album, at which point royalites will be discussed.

1st Prize: KSh 7,500

2nd Prize: Ksh 5,000

3rd Prize: Ksh 2,500

4th Prize: Bag of Peanuts.

Competition Rules:

Accepted formats/codecs: avi, mkv (XviD, DivX, DV AVI), mp4 (h.264), mpeg-1, mpeg-2, swf. Anything else, contact us first please.

Prizes will be awarded to what the judges deem to be the best three (3) videos. The judges decision will be based on technical merit (30%), artistic merit (30%), crowd reaction (20%) and judge's impression (20%).

No video headers/credits. Title cards will be made specifically for the competition.

Videos are to have no visible subtitles/fansubs other than those which you have added yourself and have noted on your submission forms for the judges (this includes text from opening/closing credit sequences). This is to ensure fair judging.

The majority of source sound (as in 95%+) must be the song “Your Friend” by Murfy's fLaW. Additional sounds effects can be added to aid one's concept (for example explosions, kittens mewing, puppies barking) but the song itself should not be otherwise modified.

The majority of source video footage (as in 90%+) must be anime. This could be your own artwork, or from an anime (or anime-style game, in-game footage not to exceed 10% of total time). Any other content will not be accepted. If you're unsure, don't hesitate to contact us.

As Murfy's fLaw loves children, any overtly mature themes, excessive violence, nudity, etc, will result in disqualification. Artistic merit will be taken into consideration, though we reserve the right to disqualify any video we deem unsuitable.

International entries accepted.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lean on me…NOT!

Today I got left, yes left somewhere where I had no way of getting out. I could have taken the bus halfway home and then the train a quarter of they way home but after that…well that would be the end of public transportation and I would be stuck at a train station closer to home.

Why would this have happened to me? Well, because people can’t be trusted and people don’t always follow through. This made me think, all the times I have tried to work on a project, someone somewhere has flaked on me. What does this teach me every time it happens to me? (Oh, and it keeps happening) It teaches me that your lead actor should always have an understudy, that you should always have the numbers for three other camera guys in your phone, always have a back up location for your shoot and always remember that someone is going to flake on you.

Once you’ve established your cast and set them up and all establish a second cast…potential actors and actresses, do it all over again as back up and make sure you have a solid plan B…a back up.

I’ll tell you this, come on, lean in a little closer and open your eyes just a little bit wider: if life doesn’t teach you that you should always back up then the power blackouts will when you’re working on your precious, precious animation. And in that giza, when nothing but the stars and the moon are shining, you’ll see a little glow in the dark sticker that every computer has in a secret location saying, “Do NOT lean on me!”

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Limited Animation?

It’s been long since my last post and I now find myself writing this in a foreign land. This is supposed to be a ‘working’ holiday for me, so naturally the first thing I did when I came here was to start looking for opportunities in the local market. One of the first people I met was a man who owns an advertising agency - let’s call him H. for convenience. He asked me the usual questions about what software I knew and what kind of work I was looking for and from his conversation, I could tell he was a man who knew what he was talking about.

However, as our conversation went on, it became clear that he was definitely one of the ‘realistic’ elements of the industry. He listened to my stories and hopeful enthusing about the potential for a creative revolution locally and then with a quiet smile said, “That’s all well and good, but that kind of work won’t earn you your bread-and-butter.” Then he told me that most marketing managers locally preferred to either choose print media because it allowed for a greater profit margin or to outsource animation projects so they could thrown in a free trip abroad for themselves… that really hit hard. The Classic Cold Splash.

And I found myself believing him, especially when he went on sensibly about how the creative side of things had to be left for the sidelines, as a hobby perhaps or when you’ve earned enough money, etc., etc.

For a couple of days, I trod dejectedly amongst the shattered shards of my dreams. Was it really unrealistic to believe that I could succeed if I picked an idea and gave it my all? I already know it’s hard, and that there’s the financial element to think about - to support both the project and myself. But shouldn’t it be the other way around? Focus on the idea and do commercial work to support it? If you’re already giving your all to earning the money, then what’s left to give to the sidelined project?

It's difficult having to make that choice, but I think it’s a choice every artist makes.
At some point in time or another. The question we need to ask ourselves is: “Am I doing this for myself or to fulfill the expectations society has of me in this capacity?” When I began to study animation, the most common reaction I’d get was “So, you’ll be going to work for Disney some day!” That would be nice.

What would be better is if I could stand up with something I created from the very core of my being. Something that said bint Ali is every nuance, in every line, in every aspect. It wouldn’t matter if I’d had to live on bread and water all the days I’d spent creating it; I’d have fulfilled my true purpose as an animator.

But even in doing that, there are so many other choices that could change the future in unimaginable ways. Choices that depend on deeper issues than just commercial vs. creative. Whichever path you decide to take, you then need to ask yourself how far you’re willing to go to achieve that goal.

Just last week, I was asked to take on a project that would put all my skills to use. It had the potential of becoming so
mething huge on a national level. It was challenging, creative, risky and the perfect way to jump right into the deep end of the industry. Except for one thing. The project was based on an idea that conflicted with my religious beliefs.

When I first started the animation course a year and a half ago, we discussed career opportunities in class and I realised even way back then that I would never be able to work within an agency simply because you can’t choose your projects and I would have to constantly compromise my faith if I did. Freelancing was the only option for me and that meant having to fight every step of the way for work. (Which gave rise to an interesting story idea, but I’ll leave that for another post.)

Turning down the offered project was a hard, not so much because I was tempted to take on the challenge, but because it also meant that if I haven’t explained myself properly or if the person at the other end doesn’t understand my reasons, I might have lost future opportunities too. And yet, if I had taken it on, I would have lived with a guilty conscience every day.

I wonder if every animator/artist goes through that when they choose their work. It could be in accepting or rejecting a project, or even within a working project. How many boundaries will you cross to pass on your message? You have to jolt the senses of your audience sometimes to make them realise a certain point, but just how much of what you show/create serves that purpose and how much of it is simply a ploy to take advantage of the shock-factor syndrome?

When people speak of religion with animation, they think of faith-based features: historical, educational and moral stories made to suit a specific audience. But I believe every animator needs to have a set of personal or religious principles that define their limits; things that they won’t sacrifice for any reason. That is what gives a backbone to an idea. It allows an audience to know you through your work, to become familiar with your set of standards. It doesn’t mean you have to hold back on creativity or inspiration. Just that you refine both to something that uniquely identifiable as you, regardless of what it is. It is the essence of your work.

I’m hoping the choices I make will help me create that kind of identity so that some day, just like people look at work and say “That’s so Moebius” or “I can see Miyazaki in that”, they’ll be able to say “That’s classic Bint Ali”! :)