Posted on March 19 2015 by Jeffrey Edelstein
Last week, we featured an amazing stop motion video featuring none other than our hero in green, Link, using nearly everything in his arsenal to take down monsters. At the time of this writing, that video has reached over 73,000 views on YouTube, unsurprisingly. We were so captivated with this animation that we contacted the man behind it to learn a bit more about how it came to be. Not only did he answer our questions, but he gave us exclusive behind-the-scenes photos of the process, and provided hints about what stop motion animation adventures could be next for Link.
The full interview is below:
Jeff Edelstein (JE): Could you introduce yourself and your work?
Johnny McHone (JH): My name is Johnny McHone, and I am an independent animator and storyteller.
JE: Why do you use stop motion? Do you have experience in other fields of animation?
JH: I love toys and I love seeing them come to life. Being able to play with action figures for a living has always been my dream. Before stop motion, I started drawing comic strips as a kid and quickly moved to traditional hand drawn animation. My first experience with stop motion was when I received LEGO Studios, which was like imovie but for stop motion. Once the program became outdated I went back to hand drawn work. I wasn’t doing much publicly until Vine came around. That was the first place someone told me my animations were good.
JE: What got you into creating videos with Vine? How does this affect the stop motion animation process?
JH: When Vine first came out, it was all about creating within its limitations. You couldn’t edit, upload, or use the ghost feature (to see the previous frame). You had to create something right then and there and hoped that it came out right. Tap, move your object, tap, repeat 144 times, then post. I would then get immediate feedback and people wanting more. Most of the creators on Vine are more real than any other social network icon. I am friends with many artists and this app has made it possible for us to create things together, across the globe. Within two years Vine has become an enormous force, but we still remain true to the craft.
JE: What’s your connection to The Legend of Zelda? Has it played much of a role in your animating before this video?
JH: I love The Legend of Zelda because I was always a little Link on the inside. My favorite system to play on was the Game Boy, because I could transport myself to another world instantly. Then Ocarina of Time came out and blew my mind. I have never been so captivated by another world and I was permanently drawn to its story. I had to play it again, recently, in order to get the right feel for Link in the animation. It still holds up and nothing will ever compare! My animations have always been adventurous so that part of Zelda has always been hidden in my work.
JE: Many of the sound effects for “Link and the Vine” seem to come from Ocarina of Time, and the creature kind of is reminiscent of Gohma. Did any other games influence this animation?
JH: This animation was mostly based on Ocarina of Time in terms of the weapons, sounds, style of creature, and setting. It started out as a single vine with Link playing a clay ocarina I made, and I didn’t plan to take it any further. Once people started wanting more I knew I couldn’t hold back. The creature was a monster I previously used for a claymation music video called “Inevitable.” It was a crab that was doused in toxic waste which turned it into a monster, thousands of years later in the distant future. I figured it was the perfect monster to duke it out with Link and it looked like something out of the game. But yeah, there was a lot of Gohma influence, haha.
JE: Many fans have been very impressed by this project – and with good reason! How much time and work went into creating this?
JH: I started working on this as a side project in January and it’s been an off and on project until now. I would make a vine and post it, wait a day or two and post another. Each vine is six seconds, and it takes 24 pictures to make one second. So, it takes 144 pictures just to make one vine, and that takes a while. So for a lot of people watching it unfold on vine, it was a whole different feel. I’d say it took a month and a half since I can never just work on one thing. I usually have multiple projects going on at the same time to keep myself busy.
JE: Our readers had a couple of questions about this animation: Which Link figure did you use? Did you recreate his arsenal of weapons yourself?
JH: I used the Skyward Sword version of Link made by Figma. He is a super articulated figure that came with a shield, sword, sheath, multiple hands, and two different faces. I had to make the ocarina, bomb, bow, arrow, and hookshot out of clay and wires. I also have a bottle, fishing rod, and a key for future episodes.
JE: Rumors have gone around lately regarding a Zelda TV series, and we’ve covered a couple of fan projects that try to bring The Legend of Zelda to life. How would you like to see a Zelda TV series (or movie, for that matter), be created?
JH: I personally am not too excited for a live action Zelda series. Most spin off shows like that only focus on the graphics instead of the heart. I also think its going to be hard to find the right actor for Link, who’s totally fine not talking the entire time. (That is if the show stays true to his character.) If they did it animated, I would only watch it if it was made by Studio Ghibli, haha! I will keep an open mind though.
JE: What future projects do you have coming up? Can we expect more stop motion adventures for Link?
JH: I’ll just say that the mutant crab was a mini boss and the next series lined up will definitely include him and many other action heroes. It’s going to be a big multi-universe mashup. (You can check out the teaser for it on my vine of instagram.)
JE: Any final words?
JH: Make cool stuff and never give up.