Several months ago, while trolling the web in search of diversion, I happened to come across a link to Xtranormal, a fun little site offering users the ability to make computer-generated animated videos in a text-based browser. It’s a program with some maddening limitations; voices are computer-generated, so of course there’s no way to inject expressivity or nuance; the actions characters can perform are almost non-existant, as is your ability to create characters or backgrounds. It was fun for a while, and I stuck with it long enough to realize a Monty Python sketch, but after that I lost interest and forgot about the whole thing.
A few days ago, a post in Alex Ross’ blog, The Rest Is Noise, informed his readers of an animated video by the a cappella vocal ensemble Octarium, a satirical piece about the frustrations faced by arts organizations trying to justify their need to raise funds from a public that seems more interested in overpriced coffe drinks. I recognized the Xtranormal style, so I watched it. Now you can, too.
Here another video, dealing with a similar subject from another point of view. (This one is a tiny bit NSFW, so be warned.)
And in case you’re curious, here’s my Monty Python video.
Yes, I know, it’s terrible. You’ll probably find the original a lot funnier (John Cleese and Michal Palin are hard to beat).