Animutation or fanimutation is a form of web-based computer animation, typically created in Adobe Flash and characterized by unpredictable montages of pop-culture images set to music, often in a language foreign to the intended viewers. It is not to be confused with manual collage animation (e.g., the work of Stan Vanderbeek and Terry Gilliam) which predates the Internet.
Animutation was "invented" by Neil Cicierega. Cicierega claims to have been inspired by several sources, notably bizarre Japanese commercials (parodied, for example, by the Simpsons' Mr. Sparkle), and Martin Holmström's "Hatten är din" Soramimi-style video made for the "Habbeetik" song by Azar Habib. The term animutation was popularized in early 2001 with flash animations such as Japanese Pokerap, and more notably, Hyakugojyuuichi!!, which featured the credits music from older episodes of Pokémon. The popularity of Hyakugojyuuichi!! quickly made it an Internet phenomenon. Since that time, others have adopted a similar style and communities of similarly-minded animators have sprung up around the web. These versions made by fans were christened "fanimutations".
Recurring themes in Animutation
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Animutations can be based on songs of foreign, independent, or mainstream origin. Japanese songs were used in many of the original animutations by Neil Cicierega, but newer animutations use songs in a wide variety of languages, including English, Dutch and gibberish. Some bands/singers who have performed a song in at least one animutation include Cibo Matto, Polysics, Rip Slyme, Rammstein and Imakuni? (as part of Suzukisan).
The foreign language songs are often "misheard" into English by the creators and added as subtitles. The words are not translations but soramimis, English words that sound roughly the same as the original lyrics. For example the animutation title "French erotic film" is a soramimi of the original Dutch lyrics "Weet je wat ik wil" in an Ome Henk song. The actual translation of the lyrics is "Do you know what I want?"
Though animutations are close in relation to the random nonsense of dadaism and can be entirely unpredictable, they sometimes exhibit recurring memes among them as a result of being influenced by each other and internet culture. Among the many recurring motifs found in animutations are:
- The inclusion of Colin Mochrie from Whose Line Is It Anyway? Regularly, a picture of Mochrie's head superimposed into a crudely drawn sun is also used. This inclusion is largely due to Neil Cicierega's fixation on the comedian.
- The inclusion of Harry Potter in various forms, often edited in a bizarre fashion. Neil Cicierega, also the creator of the Potter Puppet Pals, is responsible from the outset explosion of Harry Potter's use in animutation, most notably starting in Hyakugojyuuichi.
- Obscure pop-culture references, typically obscure catchphrases or images.
- Random cartoon characters, usually from PBS educational programs or anime, although obscure characters are also used.
For those Animutations which are in a foreign language, English subtitles are often placed which resemble the phonetic pronunciation of the lyrics. Because these translations are based purely on what the foreign words sound like in English, they are often nonsensical. Hyakugojyuuichi!! makes heavy use of this.
While many flash animations have a "replay button" at the end, Animutations often use a silly graphic which animates when interacted with, included with instructions on how to replay the animutation. For instance, at the end of Cold Heart, the title character is holding a package of Mentos, which serves as the replay button. When you hover your cursor over the package, it increases in size slightly. At the bottom of the video, there is text informing the user to "Click the Mentos to play again."
Similarly to the replay button, a graphical and often animated progress animation is used in many Animutations, especially the later creations. For example, in Jesus H. Christ, a papier-mâché duck which was originally in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode was used as a pointer, rotating clockwise to indicate how far into the animutation you were at in a given time.
- the Lemon Demon forum / RIP Artist of "Hatten ar Din" Song
- "All hail Neil Cicierega". Salon.com. Retrieved 2006-08-19.
- "Mutant Genius". The Austin Chronicle. Archived from the original on 19 August 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-19.
- Reppel, Shauna (26 August 2006). "Copy, paste, animate Pop culture crudely skewered in animutation". Toronto Star. p. H3.