TikTok Is Evolving As The Groundbreaker
Maddi Winter had been looking for a hit for three years. She had been uploading videos to TikTok and its predecessor, Musical.ly, trying to create an audience, but it seemed like nothing she tried worked: not her dancing, or the special effects she had learned to produce, or even her bunny’s cute videos. Then, last year, she came across a YouTube tutorial explaining rotoscoping, the method of drawing animations through live video, and thought she would give it a try.
Her first rotoscoped video showed bright circles floating over her body and a rainbow blooming above her head as she danced to a “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” remix of the disco-esque. She had never animated anything before, but it only took her a few hours to complete it. “It just wasn’t an idea,” said Winter. It was a nice misfortune that happened to be one of my life’s best mistakes.
Winter is one of a growing number of animators, thanks to TikTok, who have been able to reach a huge audience. The app’s short format rewards catchy and experimental clips, and it is video-centric, two things animators are prepared to capitalize on. In the millions, several animators have created follow-ups, and they say TikTok has offered them resources that cannot be found on other platforms. That also makes them one of several groups in danger of being broken apart if the TikTok ban by President Trump ever goes through.
TikTok Becomes Successful Playground For Animators
TikTok has been a uniquely welcoming animation space, so much so that before they began posting, many of the top creators of the group had no experience. Lulu, who goes on TikTok by TootyMcNooty, began by filming the screen of her iPad as she changed the appearance of various characters. She has largely used only a single red color for months.
Today, Lulu has nearly 5 million fans, making her one of the app’s biggest animators. Other big TikTok animators have similar stories of learning animation as they go, including Alex Rabbit and Abnormal Chaos, who both appear to post entirely animated videos rather than live-action hybrids. Alex said, “I have learned more on YouTube than the school has ever taught me.” Scroll back to the start of the TikTok stories of most animators, and you can see their progression, mostly from animations to basic line animations to a confident style and recurring characters.
Animators have a few ideas as to why their work on TikTok is doing so well. Their videos, for one, are just different. A vibrant and quirky animation will quickly grab the attention of viewers as it shows up on-screen in an app packed with images of people dancing. Plus, there’s the demographic of the app. According to Recokh, who specializes in animated music videos, children tend to be attracted to cartoons, and TikTok has a younger audience.
Perhaps most importantly, TikTok videos are short, no more than a minute, which is perfect because every second of it has to be animated. In a matter of days, animators can create TikToks, helping them maintain steady production. The app’s algorithm also seems to like it when watching videos, and since animations are fast and catchy, it’s easy for those videos to get a boost, said Morgan Thompson, who on TikTok goes through MorganToast and also works on YouTube animations.
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Animators enable each other to evolve as well. You’ll usually find comments left by other creators at the top of every video, most major ones, and this burst of interaction helps the video gets picked up by the algorithm of TikTok. Just about every animator I spoke to spent time on a Discord server filled with others in the group, where they can ask for help and share their gripes with the platform.
For the time being, animators have found ways to make money at TikTok. Alex Rabbit sells his character Minty the Rabbit’s plushies. King Science created clothing and a sneaker, detailed with the colors of his character. And for sponsorships or giveaways, just about everybody has seen brands reach them out.
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