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Today the French are celebrating Bastille Day, when the rebels stormed Bastille prison and it not only resulted in releasing seven inmates but it was also the turning point in the French Revolution. It is the French equivalent of the Fourth of July and there is a lot of partying and fireworks going on right now as you’re reading this.

For this occasion, I’m going to once again show my animation The March of Liberty since it includes an appearance by Marianne (who’s the symbol of France) as she marches to “La Marseillaise” (a.k.a. the French national anthem). This is the same animation that was shown at Light City in Baltimore earlier this year. Enjoy!

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American Flag

Happy 241st birthday, United States of America!

And, on that note, here are some patriotic-themed products I’ve seen on sale at various stores this summer.

Today is also an appropriate day for me to once again embed my animation, The March of Liberty, which was shown at Light City in Baltimore earlier this year. After all, it ends with the Statue of Liberty marching to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Passover

I went to the Light City event in Baltimore on its second night, which fell on April Fool’s Day, but this event was definitely no joke. I wrote a previous post about that night where I wrote about what it was like to see my own animation, The March of Liberty, being shown on a giant screen at such a popular event like Light City while posting a reaction video I made. I’m finally getting around to sharing the rest of the photos. (I took a bunch of pictures that night so I ended up having to make decisions on which photos to use.)

I arrived before sunset because I wanted to find where the On Demand area was located. As you can see in the pictures, it was a very cloudy day.

I took a few pictures of Camden Yards when I was on my way to transferring from the Camden Yards light rail stop to the Charm City Circulator heading towards the Inner Harbor. Opening day would take place just a few days after I took these pictures.

Camden Yards

Here’s a statue of Cal Ripken’s retired number.

Camden Yards

Here’s a statue of famous baseball player Babe Ruth, who was born in Baltimore.

Camden Yards

These painted baseballs on the sidewalk near the statue leads the way to the nearby Babe Ruth Museum.

Camden Yards

The street banners proclaim that this year is the 25th anniversary of the day that the Baltimore Orioles began playing their home games at Camden Yards.

Camden Yards

I ended up traveling way out to Pier 6 in the Inner Harbor. I took a few pictures while I was blundering around, starting with one of the Harborplace pavilions, which is currently undergoing remodeling and renovation.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Here is what one of the Light City art pieces looked like in broad daylight.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

I walked past the Power Plant, where I noticed the guitar-themed railing that’s currently located outside of the Hard Rock Cafe.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Located opposite the Power Plant is a tropical-themed bar known as Dick’s Last Resort.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Some lights resembling birds roosting in trees outside of the Pier 5 Hotel.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

A whimsical display that looks like something out of the film Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory outside of an office building.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant at its Pier 5 location.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Three umbrella-filled boats floating in Baltimore Harbor.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

I decided that I needed to take a break so I found a bench where I ate my dinner. (It was a fried chicken dinner with thick fries and a roll that I purchased at a Royal Farms store located in Linthicum before I took the light rail into Baltimore.) While I was eating this immigration rights protest march had arrived at the Pier 5 area of the Inner Harbor and the protesters walked right past the bench where I was eating my dinner. I took the opportunity to take some pictures.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

The marchers made their way to the Inner Harbor Lighthouse, which was being used as a display area for a Light City exhibit about immigrants. A post-march rally was held next to that exhibit.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

I finally found the On Demand area. I took a photo of the sign.

Light City, Baltimore, April 1, 2017

I even took a closeup of the area of the sign where my name was printed.

Light City, Baltimore, April 1, 2017

Here’s a shot of the On Demand screen, which was showing another video, along with a glimpse of the backs of the adirondack chairs that were provided for people to sit in before sunset.

On Demand Area at Light City

Here’s another shot of the On Demand screen, showing a different video, at night.

On Demand Area at Light City

Like I wrote in a prior entry, I waited outside in the cold for over two hours until my film was finally shown. When it finally appeared I got very enthusiastic. I shot a short reaction video. I also shot stills of my film being on screen. Maybe I shot too many stills but it was such a rare opportunity to see my video being shown in a public venue like this that I felt like I had to document it from all angles (including some shots of people sitting in the chairs) so I can prove to other people that one of my videos was actually shown in public like this.

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

As for how the people who were there responded to my video, I wasn’t able to get any kind of an accurate gauge as to whether people liked it or not. I didn’t get any boos. But I also didn’t hear any cheers. I saw a few people sitting in chairs watching it when I was there. By the way, you can view that animation, The March of Liberty, right here.

After my film was shown, I left the On Demand area. I had sat in the cold for so long that my body felt stiff. I also had to start making a move towards the nearest light rail station so I can catch one of the last trains out of the city. I managed to take a few more pictures of the other Light City exhibits as I made my way back to the light rail station while wading my way through the massive crowds at the same time. (Yes, the second annual Light City was just as crowded as the first year was.)

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Even a few Baltimore police officers blended in with Light City.

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Here is one of the bar tents that were set up at the event. As you can see in the picture below, it drew a lot of people.

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

The last photo shows one of the Light City exhibits being reflected in the back of a bus stop terminal.

Light City in Baltimore

There were more to Light City that what I shot but between fatigue and trying to make the light rail, I wasn’t able to see it all. I had planned to making one return trip but the first night I had scheduled—which was two nights before the final night—rained very heavily. So I put it off until the following night, which was the night before the final night, only to have a very cold front with heavy winds replace that heavy rainstorm. I wasn’t able to make it the last night because I went to the annual Sakura Matsuri festival in Washington, DC and I really couldn’t physically handle two festivals on the same day.

Last night, which was April Fool’s Day, I headed up to Baltimore where I checked out this year’s Light City event. I was there because I wanted to see my own animation, The March of Liberty, being shown on the big screen. It took a while for me to find the screen that was showing it but I finally found it at Pier 5 in the Inner Harbor, which is located on the outermost edge of Light City.

The area was a big screen that had a few plastic adirondack chairs around so I picked a chair and I sat down in it at 7:30 p.m. I waited and waited as I saw other people’s videos and as the sun set and the temperature dipped to 50 degrees. Even though I had a jacket on, I was still chilly because I wasn’t moving. I waited and waited. At one point the end credits were showing and I saw my name on it and it was also how I found out I had started watching the middle of the videos. The videos automatically rewinded back to the first videos so I kept on waiting and hoping that my video was showing soon.

One hour passed. Then another 30 minutes passed. I began to get concerned because I had taken the light rail into the city and I didn’t have the luxury to wait until Light City’s official Saturday night midnight closing time. (The last Light Rail was scheduled to leave Baltimore at 11:30 p.m.) I also continued to freeze as I waited.

Finally at around 9:35 p.m. my video was shown. I waited a little over two hours in the cold outdoors for my video to finally be shown. I took out my smartphone and shot this short reaction video to actually seeing my animation being shown on the large screen.

It was incredible thrilling thing for me to see my work being shown like that. After I saw my animation, I left the On Demand area and gradually made my way through the crowds (yes, Light City was just as crowded as last year) while seeing the other light exhibits on my way back to the Convention Center light rail stop so I could take one of the last light rails to North Linthicum, where my car was parked.

I woke up the next morning feeling very stiff and sore. I ended up skipping church this morning. But it was worth it because I had the rare privilege of having my work shown to a potential wide audience. I took a bunch of pictures during my time at Light City but they will have to wait for another post because I’m a bit on the tired side right about now.

If you’re curious about my animation, you can see The March of Liberty in its entirety below.

By the way, Light City will continue into next week in Baltimore. I highly recommend it not only for the chance to see my video being shown on a giant screen along with the others but also for seeing so many creative works of art all done in lights. Click here for more information about this event.

A few months ago I submitted this animation I made for the regular Sunday afternoon animation meetup that’s held in Makerspace 125 to the second annual Light City event in Baltimore after I saw a call for entries notice in my Facebook feed. It was accepted! Now that it’s a done deal, I can announce this event in my blog.

My animation, The March of Liberty, will be among the other short videos that will be shown on the side of a building during Light City as part of the On Demand area, which is located on one of the piers.(It’s number 45 on this map.) Light City will be held each night from March 31-April 8 starting at 7 p.m. For more information, see the Light City website.

Not too long ago I mentioned that I did this animation, The March of Liberty, as a result of attending a weekly series of animation meetups that are currently being held at Makerspace 125, a STEM center located in Greenbelt, Maryland.

I previously wrote about all the details about the making of this animation so I’m not going to repeat myself here.

Another person in that group, Kayleigh O’Connell, has been doing animations for a while and she has a website called Huskie Toons where you can view everything she’s done to date along with her descriptions of how she came up with the idea for these animations.

There are other people in that group but they are all still working on their animations. I’ll post about them here if they ever finish what they are currently working on.

I recently completed my latest animation called The March of Liberty. I’m going to post it here first while posting all the details about the making of this animation underneath the video.

Now here’s the story behind this video. Last summer the local STEM center Makerspace 125 decided to offer a series of free weekly workshops on animation, which would be centered around this new animation program that was released as free open source software known as OpenToonz. It created a lot of buzz, especially in the tech press, because this application is based on the high-end software that was used by the Japanese animation company Studio Ghibli when it made its hit anime films like Spirited Away and Ponyo.

So I went to a few meetups where I played around a bit with OpenToonz on my MacBook until I got annoyed that it kept on frequently crashing. I was stuck for ideas on what my first new animation (since doing the web ad for a new non-profit low-powered radio station) would be about until I was working on a page of my Doll Dreams art book in early July. Since the French holiday Bastille Day was coming on July 14, I decided to do a French-themed character. I did some research on the Wikipedia where I learned about Marianne, who is basically the French equivalent of Uncle Sam. So I did some Marianne art in my Doll Dreams book (which I have since misplaced, which is why I haven’t made any further posts about that book since last July).

As I was researching Marianne I learned that not only was she an inspiration for the Statue of Liberty (which isn’t a major stretch since the statue’s creator, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, was French) but Marianne herself was inspired by the ancient Roman goddess Libertas. When I looked up Libertas on the Wikipedia, I learned that she was based on the Greek goddess, Artemis Eleutheria, which was a variant of the Greek goddess Artemis but her worshippers in the Greek city of Myra named her Artemis Eleutheria (with “eleutheria” being the Greek word for “liberty”).

So once I finished my Marianne page for my Doll Dreams book, I decided it would be cool idea to do a short animation tracing the lineage from the Greek Artemis Eleutheria to the Roman Libertas to the French Marianne to, finally, the Statue of Liberty. I drew a storyboard where I had a woman emerge from a privacy screen adorned with the Greek flag with the name “Artemis Eleutheria,” walk past some of the major Athens attractions, then duck behind another privacy screen with the Italian flag and the name “Libertas,” walk past some more attractions, etc. until the Statue of Liberty appears at the end. I even thought about using the national anthems of the countries involved (Greece, Italy, France, and the United States) as the soundtrack.

But then I hit a major snag and it was regarding OpenToonz. First it was the program’s penchant for frequently crashing. New upgrades were being frequently released and I finally found a version that didn’t crash so often. Now for the bad news. Not only was it extremely difficult to quit out of the application once you loaded it (I had to use “Force Quit” if I wanted to exit from the program) but I also found out that the Mac version of OpenToonz did not export the animation as a standalone video file at all. That’s right, an animation program that didn’t export a standalone video file. My only choice was a series of still images and I would need to find a different video program where I would have to manually put those separated files together and export them as a standalone video file.

That was incredibly frustrating, especially since the Windows version of OpenToonz gave users the option of exporting it as an .avi file. Mac users didn’t even have that luxury. I decided to put The March of Liberty on the back burner rather than waste time dealing with the software turkey known as OpenToonz. Instead I made this video called OpenToonz Sucks where I highlighted all the deficiencies of that program.

I also wrote a blog post detailing further my frustration dealing with that program. I basically wanted to warn other people, especially Mac users, to avoid OpenToonz like the plague. Despite the fact that I gave up on OpenToonz I still continued to go to the animation meetup at Makerspace 125 mainly because they also showed classic cartoons during that meetup so I basically watched the cartoons while doing other things with my MacBook besides making cartoons with OpenToonz. Not long after I made my OpenToonz Sucks video, someone in that meetup group encouraged me to download an updated version. I gave it another shot and found that not only did OpenToonz for the Mac was still not capable of exporting any animations as a standalone video file but this upgrade included being able to export the animation as a series of still pictures in this obscure file format that’s only readable by high-end laser machines. (WTF?!?) That prompted me to write this sequel titled OpenToonz Still Sucks Despite Its Recent Upgrade.

So my March of Liberty animation remained on the back burner for a few months. I looked into alternatives to OpenToonz but I was too cash-poor to even consider any paid applications.

But then I came into some money. It wasn’t a lot of money. Basically I had done some work for a startup back in May but I walked off the job after two weeks because I didn’t get paid. (I was paid for the first few days but then the payments stopped.) It was the same startup where the founder convinced me to write a post about it in this blog instead of getting a separate blogging account just for that startup because he couldn’t be bothered with getting one (despite the fact that many major blogging platforms offer free accounts). That startup was such a disaster that I had to make a new policy for this blog where I would no longer write about any work I do for other people in this blog until after the job was done (or there was some other kind of closure).

The startup owner finally paid me for the work I did in November. Even though I’m glad he finally paid up, I still wouldn’t work for him again for a number of reasons. (Basically the way he ran his business—including not even bothering with registering for a vendor booth at the events where he wanted to sell the startup’s products but, instead, just show up at the event without first notifying the event organizers and mingle among the crowd while selling everything out of backpacks in a manner similar to hot dog and beer vendors working the crowd in a sports stadium—screamed “AMATEUR” and “UNPROFESSIONAL”.)

I was able to use the money to buy a low-end animation program. After much research, I decided on Smith Micro’s Anime Studio Debut. It costs only $30 in the App Store. In addition, I also have the option of upgrading to the more robust $99 Anime Studio Pro at a later date. So far I like the debut version but I’ll definitely keep the pro version in mind if I ever feel like I’ve reached my creative limits with the debut and I really want to branch out further.

Compared to OpenToonz, Anime Studio Debut worked like a dream. There are a few glitches in that software but they were nothing compared to the total fuckery of OpenToonz. I did most of the work in Anime Studio Debut, with a few of the images (which were mainly the background images) being initially done in Photoshop (mainly by applying the various filters on some pictures I downloaded from the Internet) before being imported into Anime Studio Debut. Unlike OpenToonz, I was able to export my animations as standalone .mp4 videos in Anime Studio Debut. I assembled the various animated .mp4 videos in iMovie, paired it with some music, exported the animation, and uploaded it online.

As I was working on this animation, my idea as to how to end it evolved. I originally was going to end it with a closeup of the Statue of Liberty until I read in the news about how the U.S. Mint had issued its latest Lady Liberty coin. Unlike the previous Liberty coins, this new coin features an African American woman (or a Lady Liberty with African American features). Of course that coin received racist backlash.

That incident prompted me to create a new ending. After the closeup of the Statue of Liberty, I feature images of three different Liberty coins. The first one is an older coin depicting the Statue of Liberty. (Actually that one is the dollar coin, which usually has the Statue of Liberty on one side and an image of a deceased President of the United States on the other.) The second one is a 2015 Liberty coin featuring a more human looking Lady Liberty with short hair. The third one is the 2017 coin that has all the racists feeling totally butt-hurt over the fact that Lady Liberty now has African American features. Provocative? You bet it is!

Seriously people need to get a grip! Lady Liberty is no different from other mythical figures like Santa Claus, fairies, and elves. While she may have originated in Europe, there’s really no rule that says that she MUST remain white at all times. Look at elves. They originated in Norwegian mythology but they have literally spread all over the world way beyond the Scandinavian peninsula. Don’t believe me? Check out this ball-jointed elf doll that is currently being made by a Chinese company known as Bobobie and you can even order her right here.

As for the music, I used the national anthems of the various nations represented in the animation. Here’s the information about each song.

“Ymnos seis tīn Eleutherían” (Greek national anthem) came from the Public Domain Archive’s YouTube channel. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (reuse allowed).

“Il Canto deli Italiani” (Italian national anthem) was declared to be in the public domain by the Italian Ministry of Defense. This version came from Wikimedia Commons.

“La Marseillaise” (French national anthem) was recorded by the U.S. Marine Band in 1897. This recording came from the Internet Archive.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” (American national anthem) was recorded by the U.S. Marine Band in 1910. This recording is courtesy of the Free Music Archive.

In a way it was a blessing that I had to wait a few months later to finish my animation given the current political climate. The Trump Administration has only been in power for two weeks and there is already a lot of daily drama along with a lot of alienated people. (Yesterday President Trump managed to be totally rude to the Prime Minister of Australia. Australia!!! The same Australia that’s among the U.S.’s closest allies!!!) I uploaded that animation soon after the recent Women’s March on Washington so I think it’s very perfect timing to upload a female-centric animation like The March of Liberty online.

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