Over the past few weeks, you may have seen a video or two of dancing Pokemon. Though despite these videos being shared a ridiculous amount of times – no doubt due to the popularity of Pokemon Go – many people don’t actually know where these videos are coming from. Or HOW they’re made!
The quality of these videos is absolutely incredible. In fact, the character designs are so spot on that some look like Game Freak and Nintendo officially released these videos themselves. How were these made? And further more, who is making them? Because despite them all being amazingly well done, they’re not actually all by the same digital artists.
So first thing’s first, let’s look at HOW these are made because the casual user might not realize that 3D renderings to this scale actually are quite accessible now. The most likely program for these videos – and confirmed for the aforementioned Charizard/ Dragonite one – is MikuMikuDance (MMD). This is an animation software that allows users to import a 3D character and animate it. It was originally developed for the voice synthesizer program Vocaloid so that users could create videos to boost song promotion. Though through upgrades it has evolved so that users can import any 3D models into their virtual space and change everything from their models movement to facial expression.
Now as for who is making these videos, that depends on which video you are referring to. The main video style you’ve probably seen is a Charizard and Dragonite (or Psyduck) dancing with a white background and tiled reflective floor. There’s been plenty of people changing up the audio track but the original actually features Garnidelia’s “Gokuraku Jodo”, which is honestly how this video should be viewed as the Poke-choreography PERFECTLY matches that of Garnidelia’s. This video – and the Psyduck version of it – were created by Youtuber SouthernLights in MMD. Though as I mentioned earlier, MMD is only part of the process as it requires you to upload an existing 3D render that you can then play with. The movements and timing might be SouthernLight’s but the fabulous renders come from a highly skilled animator known as MMD Satoshi. He’s worked on countless renders from various shows and this it’s the work of both MMDSatoshi and SouthernLights that make this such a hit.
There is another video that has been circulating on Facebook in some Pokemon Go groups which has Charmander, Charmeleon and Charizard all dancing to Ke$ha’s “TiK ToK”; but when initially writing this article the original creator still remained a mystery. Sadly this can happen when people reupload the works of others without tags/credit lines – SERIOUSLY PEOPLE, credit your source! Although, due to the clarity of the video and background it’s most likely that this was done by a different user. Then again, as you can see, Charizard is mainly cut out so this could have actually been a poor quality rip of an already existing hi-res piece.
After some extensive digging I found out that the one circulating on Facebook using the chorus of “TiK ToK” is indeed a poor quality rip version of the same person who originally designed the models for SouthernLights, MMD Satoshi. Upon locating the original version, it’s clear to see that these models were indeed from MMD Satoshi and the recently shared file is truly just a poorly ripped video. The full video, which was originally released over a year prior, not only has Charizard in full view – as originally predicted – but also deals with more than just the chorus. This is not to say that it handles the entire song like Southern Lights did in theirs, but it’s still an exceptionally well-done video.
So why do we love these videos as much as we do? Well on a stylistic level, we love these because of the quality and work put into this is absolutely amazing – or maybe that’s just this overanalyzing panda. But humor me for a second and really watch this video. Charizard’s and Dragonite’s body parts aren’t the only things that are moving. Their eyes and mouths all work in perfect sync with the song allowing for these mighty dragons to express a wide range of emotions. Similarly, look at how much sass Charmander is displaying in the other video.
On an emotional level, we love these because they’re the perfect marriage between nostalgia and novelty. Charizard and Dragonite were two of the most badass Gen 1 Pokemon around when we were growing up. So seeing them again – in such authentic form – takes us back to simpler times. Though on the flip side, we never in a million years expected to see these mighty dragons – yes Charizard is a Dragon, screw you Alola Form Exeggutor – dancing together. Videos such as these get stuck in our hearts, minds and ears because the music in these videos is pretty great too. Hell, I already downloaded GARNiDELiA’s “Gokuraku Jodo” because it is now forever tied to dancing Charizard and Dragonite!
Videos like these represent us (literally) taking control of character from our childhoods. What’s next? Gundams dancing Psy’s “Gangnam Style”? Avengers dancing to N*SYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye”? Sailor Scouts dancing to Spice Girl’s “Wannabe”? Whichever it is, I hope this is just the beginning and there’s plenty of works by incredible artists to come, because videos like these accomplish the most important thing: making people smile!
There’s plenty more of these out there as well as ones from other genres too. I personally have a weakness for Totodile/Feraligatr, and thankfully MMD Satoshi has one of those. So if Satoshi and SouthernLights have any others coming up soon, I wouldn’t mind another one of those. But whatever they do I’m sure it’ll be epic!
*Special Thanks to Julia Alexander at Polygon for first revealing the creators of the Charizard and Dragonite video, which led me to discovering the original video for the Ke$ha song.