Brackenwood

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Brackenwood is a series created by Adam Phillips, webmaster of the Bitey Castle website. It currently includes a continuing series of short Flash animations about the inhabitants of a small fictional forest planet called Brackenwood. There are currently six Brackenwood animations, with one supplemental music video.

Adam Phillips' plans for the Brackenwood series is to create an ongoing television series, a graphic novel, a series of books, a feature film screenplay and a series of merchandise based on Phillips' own innovations.[1] The animations have already developed a growing fanbase, partly with the help of the Flash portal website Newgrounds. In September 2006, Cold Hard Flash named the Brackenwood episode Prowlies at the River to be the fourth most influential flash animation of all time. [2]

Environment[edit]

The series is set on the fictional planet of Brackenwood. It seems to contain creatures based on Irish mythology (faeries), Cryptozoology (yeti/bigfoot creatures called "morrugs"), and others from the creator's own imagination. The planet is so small that one could walk from pole to pole in about a month. Covering the entirety of the planet's surface is a seemingly endless paradise that varies from grasslands to jungles. Beneath the surface, however, is a vast and unexplored aquifer that nourishes the forest above. One of the series various mysteries includes the nature of the aquifer's elusive pale faced denizens.

The Forest[edit]

By far, Brackenwood's most prominent feature is its forest. It has no end, and plant life is its most diverse and varied form of life. Nearly any form of plant life able to evolve and thrive is said to be found somewhere on the surface. There are countless species yet to be discovered. Some of the more notable species in the Brackenwood series include:

  • Whispering Tree: Whispering Trees have smooth bark and grow crookedly. The surface is peppered with small holes which cause these trees to "whisper" in the wind. Whispering trees are also a haven for anyone afraid of Yuyus, as they are repelled by the whispers. During a unique form of Brackenwood weather called a Musical Storm, Whispering Trees literally scream, making them dangerous to be around.
  • Stairway Tree: The way the limbs of this tree are arranged about its trunk is reminiscent of a spiral staircase, making it a simple task to climb to the top. They are also some of the tallest trees in the forest. Stairway Trees make excellent vantage points from which to gain one's bearings.
  • Globe Tree: These trees punctuate the grasslands. They grow in all sizes and are home to many creatures due to their hollow dome shapes and very spacious interior. They grow in full sunlight with slightly translucent wood. Their shape also reflects most sound, making Globe Trees safe, quiet, and well-lit shelters in any weather, particularly Musical Storms.

Musical Wind[edit]

One distinguishing aspect of Brackenwood weather is what is known as the Musical Breeze, a soft, soothing music that carries on some of the planet's winds. It begins like the tinkling of a bell or the trill of a tiny bird, and gradually the strange, sometimes haunting melody builds. The origins of the music are a mystery.

Sometimes the winds are silent, so the music isn't always to be heard. While musical breezes are soothing, Musical Storms are far from this. They are a deafening and frightful cacophony of colliding notes and detuned howls. This gale does nothing to damage the ears, but instead sends one insane.

Musical storms also produce "waterlollies," which are small spheres of highly compressed water with a tough, transparent shell no larger than a fist. When they are struck or exposed to sudden shock, they rapidly expand to nine times their original size. Only waterlollies that land in bodies of water remain unshocked, but their shells dissolve in three days (those that hit landmasses are shocked and their shells, stretched tight, disintegrate after a day), releasing water that is very good for life on Brackenwood. As such, waterlollies are often used to nourish rare or sick plants. They can also be consumed in a similar manner to gobstoppers, with a small hole pierced in the shell to prevent potentially dangerous expansion due to shocking. The water within is said to taste pleasant and cure all pains. According to Lemonee Wee, they are also called "storm eggs."

Inhabitants[edit]

The origin of Brackenwood and its inhabitants is another mystery in the series, but they come together to build an intricate, if not bizarre tapestry. The wealth of Brackenwood's environment supports a great deal. Despite this profusion, civilized, let alone intelligent inhabitants number very few. Those few take so little from nature and give so much that they are likened to greenkeepers. For this reason Brackenwood appears untouched since its dawn of time.

Prominent Characters[edit]

So far the series displays Brackenwood's characters moving around in their environment. It brings them to life with individual personalities, showing how they relate and interact with one another. For this reason each Brackenwood episode so far is more of an introduction for one or more characters than an actual story.

  • Bitey: Bitey is the fastest creature on the planet. He has the appearance of a hairy faced humanoid with horns and has legs that bear resemblance to a Satyr or Faun. Growing up completely alone and without a role-model has made him a cruel, selfish, arrogant opportunist with a dangerous excess of hubris. Nothing makes his day more than ruining someone else's. Bitey's only weaknesses are pride and spiders meaning having unmatched speed doesn't always save him. Once his pride has him captured, he has little way to escape. He is introduced in his own episode Bitey of Brackenwood. He also holds a main role in the episodes Prowlies at the River, LittleFoot, and The Yu-Yu. Bitey has never made any noises besides snickers, dismissive sounds, chomps, snarls, growls, yelling/roaring (as seen in Prowlies at the River, where he startles one of the Prowlies by appearing randomly behind it and screaming), and hisses, but is capable of speech. It is revealed that Bitey is the last of a mysterious race called the Dashkin. Being an emotional and intelligent creature in a world of simple animals, his view of life has been corrupted because of the loneliness he must endure, hence his cruelty and contempt of others. Deep down inside, Bitey yearns to be with others like himself and this wanting can be hinted at in earlier episodes. In the first episode he appears in, Bitey is picking on a fat-sack. However, later on he has a dream about having one as his best friend or pet.
  • Bingbong: With origins as obscure as any of the other mysterious creatures in the series, Bingbong has the physical likeness of a sort of childlike elf or goblin, and is the embodiment of innocent stupidity. Despite Bingbong's slight build and infantile mentality, he is the strongest being on the planet. He means no harm to anyone, and often goes out of his way to help where he can. This often turns to disaster simply because Bingbong has no concept of his own strength. His introductory episode was in the first Brackenwood episode Bingbong of Brackenwood. He is also in the episode Prowlies at the River. Bingbong is also safe from the wrath of both fairies and musical storms by his sheer stupidity.
  • Auld Sage: The Auld Sage is a very old and very hairless Bigfoot. Despite the hallmark stupidity of Bigfeet, he is the wisest being in the world. And while he knows everything there is to know, he is much more interested in a long conversation with others (especially Lemonee Wee), than imparting any knowledge or wisdom on request. The Sage loves his world and all in it, things nasty and polite alike. The Auld Sage sings a Coldplay song in his eponymous short "Auld Sage" and has a short appearances in Bitey of Brackenwood and Waterlollies. In Bitey of Brackenwood, he is staying at Lemonee Wee's house, who is a friend of his. In Waterlollies, he is collecting the titular objects for an unspecified reason and attempts to warn Bitey of the danger he faces after he swallows a large basket of unshocked waterlollies.
  • Lemonee Wee: The Brackenwood witch who spends her life taking care of the forests all over the world. She lives alone, but each day spends time with her fast friend the Auld Sage. Being intolerant of nonsense or damage to her forest, she is quick to summon a spell to clean up a mess, repair broken foliage or to teach a lesson. Like the Sage, Lemonee Wee knows much of Brackenwood's history, but Auld Sage is the only one intelligent enough with whom she can discuss such things and carry on conversations with, although she has never been seen speaking. She has so far only appeared in the Brackenwood episodes Bitey of Brackenwood and in the end of Last of The Dashkin, in the latter featuring a re-design, but a description of what "Waterlollies" are appeared in the Newgrounds version of Waterlollies, "by the hand of Lemonee Wee". One of Wee's most common spells is a water spell that gives water the behavior and appearance of fire, which aids both in watering high trees and capturing pesty creatures (as proved in her encounter with Bitey).

Secondary, Minor or Supporting Characters[edit]

In addition to the more well known characters, there are also a number of secondary creatures still significant to the series and its development.

  • Faeries: They appear as tiny dancing flames and act as guardians to the forest. While in general the Faeries prefer to be left undisturbed, they are well known for mischief. Still, any sort of intrusion upon their affairs will undoubtedly be punished. These punishments range from minor physical ailments to sorts considered too frightful to mention. In all, the Faeries can be regarded as nothing short of dangerously unpredictable. If seen in a yellow color, it is presumed that you are not noticed or safe. If they turn a bright red or dark orange, it is time to leave.
  • The YuYu: Well known for their droning chant of 'yu-yu yu-yu', this dangerous race of diminutive shadow people serves the role of Brackenwood's bogeymen. The YuYu spirit away any hapless creatures on the verge of sleep that they can find. Their victims are taken to a shadow world to serve as slaves in the darkness. They surround their victim and transform into a thick fog-like creature that acts as a gateway to this shadow world. They can be defeated, however, as in the YuYu, where Bitey dashes through their cloud several times to disperse it, then stepping on them. During the episode "Last of the Dashkin," it is revealed that a dark cloud, much like the YuYu, may have been responsible for the disappearance of Bitey's kin, as well as his entire race.
  • Prowlies: Prowlies are a type of territorial, piscivorous pack animals. They tend to live in groups of no more than five. When their numbers exceed this, any extra Prowlies leave the group to start their own family. Prowlies are naturally curious, intelligent, and resourceful. They also possess a sort of innate maternal instinct, sometimes going to extraordinary lengths to protect creatures smaller than themselves. They have a strange body structure in that they have only one pair of arm-like limbs, and walk on their hands. Their broad hands and grasping fingers allow them to run, swim and climb extremely well. They even know how to defend themselves, as demonstrated in "Prowlies at the River" they work together, jumping at their enemies and using their hands to slap and punch.

Wildlife[edit]

Brackenwood's animal life is as diverse as its plant life. Each new episode reveals at least a few new fantastical creatures.

  • Morrugs: These large, hairy, bipedal vegetarians are the forest's gentle giants. They serve as its guardians, watching over and protecting its inhabitants. A young Morrug is featured in the fourth episode LittleFoot. Though usually peaceful, they do not tolerate mischief towards them. When a morrug is angry, its purple-red eyes turn green. Morrugs can go into a 'berserker' mode when stressed as evidenced when Bitey was blocking LittleFoots way back to its mother. Adult morrugs roar and bare their long fangs when angry, to scare others away, and though extremely strong, rarely engage in physical contact. The immense strength of a morrug is demonstrated in LittleFoot when the mother morrug picks up a rock at least twice her size and throws it at Bitey. In "Last of the Dashkin" it is revealed that two morrugs looked after Bitey when he was young, and cruelly but naturally abandoned him when they produced offspring of their own.
  • Fatsacks: Fatsacks are one of the most popular creatures in Brackenwood, but by far the most useless. They resemble a yellow, bloated water balloon with eyes, that moves like one too, that is, if water balloons could run. Fatsacks are also capable of surprisingly fast movement, in spite of this. The fatsack is an insectivore that tears at the grass with its little claws, then inhales the disturbed gnats from the air with its stub-like trunk. Digestion is an ongoing process within the fatsack, so gases are released frequently and noisily from its trunk. The most well known Fatsack is Jiblet, who appeared in Brackenwood's second episode Bitey of Brackenwood.
  • Chisel-Lizards: A Brackenwood equivalent to the Woodpecker, these lizards can be heard endlessly chiseling holes into trees. Chisel-Lizards, though noisy, are difficult to find and observe. Other than the fact that it possibly eats wood, their diet is a mystery. They first appeared when trying to chisel into a tree Bitey was sleeping in.
  • Mood Birds: Literally one of Brackenwood's most colorful inhabitants, Mood Birds are a Brackenwood parallel to Chameleons. They are small birds whose disposition is reflected by the color of their feathers. When content they appear blue, when cautious they are green, possibly for camouflage purposes, and when angered they turn a bright red and attack whoever has disturbed them. The feathers of a Mood Bird, if detached, will forever stay the color of the Bird upon detachment.
  • Blood-Coats: Blood-Coats are small, bipedal, arboreal, and fairly harmless insectivores. The name "Blood-Coat" is taken from their dense and shiny crimson fur. Much like Flying Squirrels, their skin is saggy like an oversized coat. By extending its arms, legs and tail the skin stretches into wings that allow it to fly with quick flapping movements. It also has very dexterous hands, each with five naturally sticky fingertips, like those of a gecko, which help it to climb trees and grasp prey.
  • Unnamed: These "Palefaces" are one of Brackenwood's most mysterious inhabitants. They are occasionally glimpsed staring up with wide black eyes from below pond and lake surfaces. The nature of their existence is completely unknown and the regions they inhabit continue to go unexplored. The "Palefaces" have yet to be seen in any episode of the Brackenwood Series.
  • Umbrellafly: The Umbrellafly resembles an umbrella, and pulses through the air like a jellyfish. When not airborne, it lies on the ground, upturned and open like a flower. Its colorful tentacles resemble pollen-coated flower parts, which attract feather-gnats.
  • Salamogs: This amphibious creature appeared in Waterlollies. As the name and appearance suggest, they are a strange cross between a salamander and a frog, appearing to be like a fish but with two legs and a tail.
  • Other animals: In Brackenwood there are countless more animals yet to be discovered. There are also several of which very little has been made known. These include fireflies, beetles, white birds, the aforementioned feather-gnats and Hairy Ants, as seen in Prowlies at the River.
  • The Hiddens: The most elusive of creatures in Brackenwood. They are seen as secrets in the movies that in most cases cannot be seen without zooming in - by right-clicking - on the Flash movie.

Episodes and awards[edit]

The Brackenwood series currently consists of seven official episodes and one unofficial music video. So far, Adam Phillips' Brackenwood has had a major impact on the Flash animated community. Several episodes in the series have won numerous awards.

  • Bingbong Of Brackenwood: Bingbong is lured by the music of the faeries. In his excitement he runs to join them in their dance, but the faeries begin to weave dangerous magic. This episode was a Cartoon Category Finalist in the Flash Forward Film Festival in San Francisco, March 2004.
  • Bitey Of Brackenwood: Bitey is the fastest creature on the planet, but occasionally his speed advantage does him no good whatsoever. Whenever karma catches up with Bitey, it gets him good, and we see it happen in this episode. It took the Runner-up prize in the first annual 'The Greatest Story Never Told' competition.
  • Prowlies At The River: Bitey's personal water supply becomes contaminated, so he goes to the river for a drink. There he finds the place occupied by five prowlies, strange creatures that are normally passive but when provoked can be unpredictable and dangerous. Prowlies was 2005's Grand Prize Winner of the world's largest digital online storytelling competition, 'The Greatest Story Never Told', as well as the Cartoon Category Winner at Flash Forward in San Francisco, 2005.
  • LittleFoot: Bitey encounters a lost little "morrug". It is helpless and all alone in the dangerous Brackenwood grasslands. LittleFoot was a Netsurfer's Official Selection at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, 2006. It was also the Winner of the Cartoon Category at Flash Forward, Seattle 2006.
  • The Yu-Yu: Is Bitey's speed any match for the Yu-Yu cloud? This episode of the series won the Cartoon Category at Flash Forward, Austin TX, 2006.
  • Waterlollies: Bitey loses his ability to outrun every other creature in the forest, and suddenly finds himself surrounded by enemies. This is the longest episode of the series so far, running exactly 9 minutes. This episode won the Newgrounds Tank Award for Best Flash Animation of 2007.
  • The Last of the Dashkin: We learn many things about Bitey, and why he is the way he is. This is the first Brackenwood short to break away from the "character introduction" style movies that had little or no character motivation and plot. This is a story, not only answering a lot of questions, but asking just as many new ones. This short broke the all-time record for highest scoring flash on Newgrounds, and is the first flash of the series to include a narrated voice telling the story as the animation progresses.

Merchandise[edit]

Plans for Brackenwood merchandising include a graphic novel, an 'Art of Brackenwood' book, a 'Brackenwood Wildlife Field Guide' book, plushies, caps and bags, as well as other Adam Phillips' merchandise innovations.

Of all requested merchandise, the most common is for "anything with the yellow farty thing". Fatsack plushies are unarguably the most desired articles by the Brackenwood fanbase. There is also a great deal of hype among fans for a Brackenwood video game which resulted in Adam Phillips creating an online game called Brackensack, and currently producing a new online game called Dashkin, named after Bitey's own species.

Currently the only available Brackenwood merchandise are Bitey dolls, t-shirts and posters.

Future of Brackenwood[edit]

So far, Adam Phillips has showcased a few Brackenwood episodes in some competitions to get the series noticed. Adam wants to be able to bring Brackenwood to the big screen, hoping that when the series is recognised that he will gain the sponsorship to be able to do this. Several Brackenwood episode titles with storyboards have been constructed but have yet to be animated (Take note that all the previous Brackenwood Episodes were also listed with the exception of littleFoot and The Yu-Yu, and so although the story-boards were made by Adam Phillips, it is not yet finalised whether they will be animated or be officially included in the Brackenwood Franchise). These include:

  • A Brackenwood series Title Sequence
  • Busting
  • Helpful Bingbong
  • Birthday Present
  • Lemonwee, the Brackenwood Witch
  • Bitey versus Bingbong

Adaptations[edit]

  • The plan to adapt Brackenwood into a feature film was announced at Sunday September 9, 2007 on Phillips' internet blog called Woodenblog. Together with his ex-Disney-colleague his friend Ryan O'Loughlin from Los Angeles, he co-wrote an outline for the film.
  • A sequel to The Last of the Dashkin is currently being produced and is set to be released soon.
  • Novels based on Brackenwood are being developed by Phillips.
  • A graphic novel, or perhaps several, is being developed by Phillips.
  • Phillips have also talked about producing different Brackenwood merchandise, such as wooden Bitey figurines and t-shirts.

Games[edit]

Brackensack[edit]

Am online game Flash-based game called Brackensack has been made by Phillips and is available online for free. The gameplay is simple, and to play you simple move Bitey around hitting a Fatsack with Bitey's head to make him fly up again.

Dashkin game[edit]

A new online Brackenwood game, titled Dashkin, is currently being produced. The game was announced in July 2011 on Phillips' personal site blog. The article included a screenshot of the game in its early stages and a screenshot from a new, yet to be released sequel to Last of the Dashkin.

The game is reported to be a side-scroller, in which the play takes control of Dashkin and plays through different levels. It was originally planned that the game would have 8-11 levels, and 4 regions, but in a cinematic "intro" released in July 2011 on Phillips' site blog, it was announced that it would be 20 levels, and a whole 6 regions, each of which represent their own part of Brackkenwood, such as forets, grasslands or plains. At this point, due to the large amount of work and time that the game took, Phillips decided to turn to crowdfunding, so that he, and his partner and programmer McGee, which would ensure that they would be able to spend more time on the game. They set up a fundraiser campaign on the website Kickstarter, which uses a reward system, so that every backer gets something in return. The cinematic was created the sole purpose of promoting the fundraiser, and a special cut was even made for the fundraiser's page, containing sample game footage and gameplay announcements. Four game modes were announced, named Hunt, Flee, Time-Trial and Endless. It also stated that the game would involve special "pickups" and "powers" that the player find along the way. The game will also unravel more of Bitey's secret past and presumable advance the plot of Brackenwood, and it will put the player up against the menacing YuYu horde. The cinematic was animated by Adam Phillips and accompanied by an original score by Lee Darkin-Miller. A special cut of the cinematic was made for the fundraiser and some gameplay footage. In the game you play as Dashkin. It has a system which makes the game change the light to day and night. It has been reported that the game features a time-based day to night transition during gameplay. It will an atmospheric art design and style, as well as an atmospheric sound effects track and a score composed by Lee-Darkin Miller, inspired by Irish folk music. The game's design and animation is all done by Adam Phillips through Toon Boom Animate Pro and Adobe Flash Professional. Sean McGee is programming.

Around the time of the cinematic's release, lucky beta testers had also been chosen to partake in an official testing of the game, and was allowed to make reviews, as long as they did not spoil the anything significant, like plot points in the storyline. They were chosen among the subscribers to the Dashkin game's Facebook fan page, but only the ones that had been there since May. The original, estimated release date were May 1. It was too hard to make, so they decided to aim for the end of May instead. As time went on, the game did not get finished. They swapped sponsor at one point.

Then a year went by without many updates, and in November 2012, Phillips revealed that they had started to rebuild the game, learning from their past mistakes. The game had started to come together, but every time a new feature was implemented or changed, it caused some bug or glitch and did not perform perfectly. He said, though, that it would get a redesign.

In December Phillips published a new update on his blog titled "Bottlenecks," which talked about how he barely made enough off his hard work doing paid freelance animation and visual effects. In the post he had opted to refrain from an official release date for the Dashkin game and opted to use a progress bar instead.

See also[edit]

  • Adam Phillips
  • Sarus - the artificial language developed for use in Brackenwood episodes
  • Nathan McCree - the musician and sound designer for 'Waterlollies' is a well-known games musician, famous for his work on (among others) the Tomb Raider series of games.

External links[edit]