The Twin Links


The Twin Links was definitely the most hyped video we made, but as I look at it now, the end result was not what I wanted. While the animation is much more detailed than the Stick Fantasy videos, it is overshadowed by very bad voice acting, poor sound quality, and a story with very little humor. It may have been a success in a sense it stays near the front of the pack, but every single time we think about it we think, “why couldn’t {this} be better?!”

WARNING- EXTREMELY LONG READ BELOW!!!!!!!!!
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The Twin Links video is the first video for JMAP Productions NOT using stick figures, but people figures.

I { Dstcoyote22 } almost exclusively made this video on my own with JMAP being on the sidelines as the adviser (at the same time, I advised JMAP on Phantom Mascot while he almost exclusively made his video).

Where do I begin? Hmmm…. Let’s see…..

The end of Episode Five for the Stick Fantasy series implied that the next video wouldn’t involve stick figures. I wanted another challenge, and felt bored of using the same formula as I like to progress through whatever I do. So I wanted the next video to involve people animation.

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What you see at the end of Episode Five is a prototype version of “People Link.” JMAP and I noticed that the position of his hat made it look like he had a large forehead, was possibly bald under his cap, and his hair was more orange-ish red. Before production began, I changed his appearance by making his hair blonder, made the bottom of his hat lime green, colored his belt brown, and gave him bangs that stuck out, making him resemble more or less like his Twilight Princess look.

The earliest idea for this video and the stick video JMAP made involved Four Swords Adventures. But when we decided to work on separate videos, I asked myself, “do I really want to try moving four Links at the same time in different directions when I’m completely new at this type of animation?” So I thought of something different. After watching Episodes Four and Five, I decided that it would be a story revolving around Link and Dark Link. The title, “Twin Links” is a play on Metal Gear Solid, in which the Gamecube version of the first MGS game is called “Twin Snakes.”

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Most of the characters were hand drawn by myself on sheets of paper, then scanned into my computer, then I traced them using photoshop. I tried to make Zelda look like her Twilight Princess self. Just like in the games, Dark Link is an exact palette swap of Link. His skin is much paler, red eyes glow brighter, clothes are darker with no color {duh!} and his sword is all black. The knights are also color palette swaps, with the Shadow Knights being without color, much darker, and having red eyes. I decided to make Agahnim be just as dark and black as Dark Link. The reason is because I was using still pictures of him (I wasn’t sure how to animate a wizard). So I simply made him that way and added the glowing red eyes.

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Oh yeah, that kid in the middle of the video is none other than my nephew, Simon. He wanted to be in the video, so I put him in and gave him a few lines. As you can tell, he’s not a typical character because he’s wearing a hockey jersey and sporting a beard. That’s just due to the request of him wearing his jersey, and due to me basing his face off his Mii character on the Wii (for fun he added a beard and a mole). He calls his Mii, “T” and says it was made by “G.”

The outside scenes involve snow backgrounds. Because I wanted this video to be rather dark and gloomy, I thought having snow would make it a little eerier. Everything in the backgrounds came from various pictures I took in our local mountains and in Colorado while I was there for Thanksgiving in 2007. Many of them were even taken during the day and required me to convert them into a night setting! Why is the snow glowing at night? Well, if you’ve ever been in snow during a full moon on a clear night, you’ll know what I’m talking about. I felt the backgrounds both inside and outside lived up to my expectations, and gave the video an extra bit of eye candy.

Check out the image below for comparisons:

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In this large image above, do you notice the objects from the original pictures to the left that are in the pictures from Twin Links on the right?

Several parts of the video went through various revisions. The beginning part was at first a simple picture with an opening crawl telling the back story. The picture below was actually made by JMAP to be used for the opening crawl.

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When I didn’t consider the opening crawl to be a good idea anymore, it went into something like A Link to the Past featuring a series of pictures telling telling the back story. As you can see in the thumbnails, they actually didn’t have any snow in them either! The idea for snow came a bit later when I was in Colorado for Thanksgiving in 2007.

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Finally, I decided to make it a real scene rather than a back story (and in the process, adding Agahnim as a character with lines).

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Also, the climax fight just kept getting added to throughout production. First, it was just under 90 seconds long. JMAP told me, “no offense, but it’s too short!” So I added an extra minute to it. When I had just about two minutes of space left, I decided to add even more towards the beginning of the climax before Link and Dark Link speak to each other, making the entire climax scene and the ending just under three minutes long!

Throughout this video, there are several references to the past videos:

  • The opening shot with the full moon then the shots of several landscapes is just like the beginning of Episode Three.
  • Dark Link is brought into the video almost exactly the way he is brought to life as shown in Episode Four, and it’s done by the same character.
  • Several moves are from the fight between Link and Dark Link as seen in Episode Five, such as the choke, and them spinning in circles.
  • Link’s line, “Should I stab myself again?” and Dark Link’s response references Episode Five, in which he uses Dark Link’s ability to copy every move to his advantage, by stabbing himself.

And now for some useless trivia:

  • This entire video is dark — literally! The images and .gifs you saw of it are how they were originally made in terms of brightness, but when I put them into Movie Maker, I set just about every part of the video to decrease in brightness. This gave it a much shadowy tone to it, especially with scenes featuring the shadow knights, Agahnim, and Dark Link.
  • None of the villians are referred to by their names. Agahnim is referred to as, “you dumb wizard” and Dark Link is called, “that figure” or “that guy.” I did this to add a little mystery to the villain characters.
  • While I am credited with giving the knights their voices, in the first half you can hear clips using the voice of Boomhauer, that guy on the show “King of the Hill” whose accent you can hardly understand. I thought it would add a bit more humor to it. You can hear two instances towards the beginning inside the castle.
  • We thought it’d be hilarious to have Zelda have a crush on Neji, a character from Naruto. Jordan is into Naruto so much, that he dislikes the english translated version in favor of the Japanese originals, and he has quite possibly seen every episode. The running gag consists of someone mentioning the name of another character before being corrected with Neji.

Well, what do I think about it?

The animation is definitely better than the Stick Fantasy videos, but does it save it? not really. Much of it is fuzzy, distorted, and at times transparent against moving backgrounds (just look at some outlines in a few moving gifs). The big mistake was always using small figures, and when it came time for close ups, the close ups were always very fuzzy and hard on the eyes. Comparing this to the later videos is like trying to compare beginner work with work that’s developed.

When I released it, I thought very highly of this video, but it gets worse every time I hear the poor sound quality and sub-par voice acting. In some ways it was successful, it consistently ranks with our top videos with viewership and response, but in other ways there was still work to be done.

My new score: 7.5


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