Victorian Cut-out Theatre: Trolls

It’s hard for me to believe that there was nearly a two year gap in seasons of Victorian Cut-out Theatre. In late 2014, my son was born and after having just ended season two, I wasn’t really sure what the future of my own life, let alone VCoT, would look like. In all honesty, there was a piece of me that wondered if it was going to end at 22 crudely animated episodes. There were two things that did give me hope of continuing, however. One was the Victorian Humor Project I worked on for Dr. Bob Nicholson at Edge Hill University. Using Victorian jokes sent to me by Dr. Nicholson, I animated an “unofficial” episode of VCoT with my infant son in a carrier hanging from my chest, proving that I could work on things even with this new life change. The second was a script written by Matt Conant.

Matt was the first person excited enough about the world and humor of VCoT to draft an actual script for the series other than myself. I have gotten a lot of “pitches” for the series, some that work and some that don’t, but Matt’s script was the first time I ever got to read someone’s idea of what a VCoT episode sounds like, which was a real treat. He gave me permission to tinker with it, and for the most part I changed very little. I mostly shifted or trimmed lines and gave the episode the F-bomb at the end. Because “Trolls” was given to me to read in late 2014, it served as the guinea pig for how I would approach season three.

I began creating the character models for this episode in 2015 and continued to tinker with animation software before finally settling on After Effects at the suggestion of Chris Potako. You can’t tell from the episode or the simple animation, but it took a long time for me to get right. As a matter of fact, local middle school students got to see me working on this episode as a part of a career fair in 2015. Once I figured out how the program would help build and animate the episode, every subsequent episode got a little bit better and quicker to produce. “Trolls” took forever for me to put together but it was also instrumental in teaching me how to animate season three of Victorian Cut-out Theatre, which I am immensely grateful for.

This episode also let me to seek advice on future VCoT scripts, which is why you’ll see the names of Stephanie Yuhas and Matt Conant on most of the episodes this season and I think the show is better for it. Their employment of a digital writer’s room for Cinevore's projects is incredible. Bouncing ideas back and forth has really made me a better writer and I finally feel like I have collaborators again, something I have been craving since the end of CBP.

As far as the content of the episode itself goes, anyone who has been exposed to the internet for any length of time should be able to instantly recognize the parallels. Matt and Stephanie, both of whom have large and varied bodies of internet related work, have had more experiences than myself with the dregs of comments sections. Although, I am not without my own troll encounters. If they were only as easy to spot or as well spoken as the troll in our video…well, they would still be awful, I guess.

Take care,

-Rob