In this exclusive 1up-island.com interview we talk with Matthew Morandi, also known as Yoshi-1up, about his early days in flash, the struggles of sprite animation, his and many other’s departure from the sprite animation scene and his upcoming return.
What were some influences that got you into sprite flash animation?
The first sprite flash animation I stumbled upon was one of Paul ter Voorde’s early work, which he has actually deleted. You can’t find it anywhere. (laughs) The only sprite animation of his that you can find now is Super Mario Reloaded, that Matrix parody with Mario and a buttload of Luigis.
When did you finally decide to start sprite animation?
What year was that? 2004? I don’t really know. I just watched a bunch of animations, took a flash animation class in highschool and it happened. I already knew what I wanted to do, I just needed to learn how to do some tricks. Once I did, I wanted to leave the class. (laughs)
When did you see people noticing your work?
Mario’s 5th Element was my second flash and got on the front page of Newgrounds which really surprised me.
Why did it surprise you?
Well I was in high school one day in the computer lab and a friend was like “Hey have you seen this animation?” I saw the picture and was like “whoa I made that” He didn’t believe I made it. Had to even show him my name in the credits.
Where did you get the idea for Mario’s 5th Element?
I wanted to try lip syncing. I didn’t see a lot of it on other sprite animations so I decided to give it a shot. Took me three hours to make it. Then I watched it and I was just going to submit it as is with Luigi singing the opera from The Fifth Element but it looked like scrap work. I thought it was funny, but not good enough for Newgrounds. So I decided to add something cool to the background. Mario fighting a koopa!
Did you have any problems with it?
I realized I didn’t have enough sprites to have Mario fight the koopa so I ripped sprites pixel by pixel from Mario Reloaded, Paul’s Flash. It wasn’t just copy and paste, I redrew it.
Did you ask him?
No, but I did credit him. He added me on AIM. The first thing he said to me was “you stole my sprites”
After that I said “I’m your biggest fan!”
He said, “Good.”
Since then we’ve talked a lot and have become awesome friends.
Are there other artist that you have “stolen” work from?
Haha no but I did want to work with a few people. I remember back then wanting to work with Blordow of Revival Eyes all the time. His toons were funny and of high quality. They’re still really good today.
I did whatever he asked me to. Searching for sprites, customize sprites, music, rip sound effects from games and even voice act for him.Every time I worked with that dude, things always got done and it was fun. I wanted to keep working on stuff because I was motivated when I was working with him.
He lights my fire (laughs)
Have there been other people you have worked with?
A group of us started a series called Sprite Time Trials let’s see it had Tootbook, Kaosboy85, PiGPen and SquareHard. It’s where we all started and I learned a lot from it. Though at that point it made things worse because I didn’t have time for my stuff since we were on a tight schedule.
How does the collaboration work?
It’s where you work with other artists. The way the Sprite Time Trials worked is you had a certain amount of time to complete it with a set of rules.
What were those rules?
They’re all different. The Earthbound one for example, you could use anything else from Earthbound but not Ness.
Are there any other collabs that you worked on?
Yeah, FlameZero created the Mega Man collab that I was a part of. The other one is the Daft Punk music collab put together by ZeroMega. They’re pretty famous flashes and had a lot of huge sprites artist apart of it at the time.
Have you started any of your own collabs?
I started a collab that consisted of all my favorite Mario sprite animators. It had Daniel-sun, DariusR, Blordow, Paul ter Voorde and myself. They were my favorite artist and my friends. But we never finished. I actually still have pieces of it. A lot of this stuff is good but we just never finished it.
I also started one with D-Mac.
Unfinished collabs ; ;
What was it about Mario collab about?
It started off with these rules. You had to use sprites from Super Mario 1-3, Super Mario World or the All-Stars+ World collection. We all chose two games we would use sprites from to create a music video. It was basically the evolution of Mario. It was going to start with Super Mario 1 -3 and World then move on to All Stars 1-3 and world. Or something like that.Blordow, DariusR and I were to have two scenes each. Paul ter Voorde and Daniel-sun were going to have one.
But, at that point it, had to be around 2008, seemed like everyone didn’t want to work on sprites. DariusR just disappeared. He finished one scene and just vanished from the internet. Haven’t heard from him since, which sucks. Blordow finished one of the scenes but I didn’t feel like having him do another one since everyone just disappeared. Paul ter Voorde had shifted focus to hand drawings and Daniel-sun moved onto create games. Blordow is still around making sprites and hand drawings.
You also mentioned you worked on a collab with D-Mac..
Oh yeah! Well basically what he did was voice act characters over some tunes. He gave me the complete audio file and I animated to it. He gave me one called Island Life, that one is really good and hilarious. I just haven’t touched it. I feel bad that I haven’t animated the amazin and magical audio he has given me. I should do them. Someday…
Would you say this was the year things changed for you?
Newgrounds had changed. Youtube became bigger. I even found my own flashes on Youtube that I myself never uploaded. People just recorded them and slapped their name on it, calling it their own. Some of them even got more views than they had on Newgrounds.
That was kind of disappointing.
I had lost he motivation to create my own flashes so I did other things like voice act for other people, play guitar and you know, video games.
Have you stopped working on animations completely?
I’ve always been working on animations there are just a lot of unfinished ones I haven’t released.
Why haven’t you finished and released them?
Well now that I think about it a lot of them I have been released over time. Like Super Mario Game Over I started it in 2005 and didn’t’ finish it until 2007. I was like well I’ll finish it. Super Mario Little Secrets I started in 2007 and didn’t finish until this year. And as you can probably tell I was lazy about.
There are more I started back in 2005 I could finish. We’ll see.
Any hints of what those might be?
Uh I have a Super Spike V’Ball parody, a Sonic the Hedgehog parody, A Pokemon one. Let’s see two more Mario ones and even a Mystical Ninja one. There are more I just don’t remember them all.I do have one that’s complete.
I’ve got a lot of the animation done and have a lot of the scripts worked out.
And what’s that.
Earthbound. It’s all sprites like my previous ones. I started working on it about 6 years ago but couldn’t seem to finish it. I’ve worked on a few small flashes here and there and decided it was time to work on a big one.
Why did you choose Earthbound?
I f***ing love that game. There are only a few decent animations out there for that game, that I’ve seen.. Resident Earthbound was a more tradition sprite animation that I enjoyed back in the day while some of the other ones are handdrawn and I just feel like there should be a big epic Earthbound sprite toon with comedy, action, adventure, suspense and even romance.
Are there any budget or time restrains?
I’ve been working on it while working full time, that’s why it’s taken this long. In terms of budget, this will be the most expensive sprite flash to date. (laughs)
When will we see it?
20XX hahaha no I’m releasing a trailer on New Year’s Day.
Where can we see this trailer?