Space Pirates: Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
by Kory Schaubhut

Episode Summary:
Captain Pepper’s sense of entitlement comes into direct conflict with an entire planet of talking primates and he deals with them in the usual Space Pirate manner.

There are a lot of things in this episode you’ve never seen before, such as the Space Pirates facing enemies who have a fighting chance. With this installment of the series, I feel like we’re finally getting a grasp on how to make the limitations of limited animation work for us. You may not realize it as you view the video, but what you’re watching is a cartoon – with the exception of Mr. Duck, who is a puppet, and one scene where Mr. Roboto wields alight saber. Everything else is animation.

Like our other videos, there are many noticeable flaws in the final product. I mentioned in a previous column that that was deliberate. Let me take a moment here to explain why. By the way, it may seem that the character Hep Cat is my vehicle to say things like this, but he really isn’t. His pseudo-intellectual comments don’t actually mirror my own views so much as they’re efforts to appeal to an audience.

Anyway, with the technical means available these days, anyone at all could invest time and money into producing a great cartoon. After some outrageous length of time – let’s say a year – produce a grand and flawless five-minute video. A lack of animation talent wouldn’t even matter, because the creator could simply trace over live action footage and swipe animation cycles from public domain material and reference books.

But my vision of where internet entertainment is heading strongly leads me to believe that a rapid production cycle is critical to having any shot at success. Homestar Runner and the Ask a Ninja ninja stand as two recent examples of successful precursors to the revolution I believe is entering its early stages. Their success hinged primarily on two things – frequent release of new content and concepts so outrageous and over the top that the viewers are drawn in and overlook primitive (read “easy to make”) visuals. Content came first, obviously, but to sustain it both creators followed up with successful models for commercializing without alienating their viewers.

There are many people who refer to YouTube (the site that hosts our videos) as a “community,” these days. I have nothing against those people, but I don’t tend to agree with them. I see it more as a night club you play at until someone notices you.

Where I think this is all leading is to a point where “video production studios” (three or four people with a mix of talents and a working relationship with a few musicians) create content along the same lines as garage bands create music. The very best of those studios will develop followings, get offers from sponsors, and sell merchandised products to their audience. The concept of “getting discovered” is shifting toward more of a direct democratic process than a matter of being noticed by a major corporation.

Something else I’d ask any skeptics out there to consider is what computer users will be capable of five years from now, given likely advancements in video making software, computational power, bandwidth limits stretched by the introduction of IPV6, and other similar types of progress. I’m arguing less about where we are than where we will be in the not too distant future.

That’s just my take on it, albeit with the possibly of clouding my mind with delusions of grandeur. Of course, I wouldn’t categorize us as “the very best” yet, but we’re working on it. Even if it doesn’t work out as I envision, it’s fun to play with toys and make videos about it and I still have a day job.

Kory is not a robot without emotions



I'm very impressed with how the animation is coming along and it's very cool how much can be done with the format you're using.

My one point of concern is the audio. With the over-distored voices and already low-quality sound inherent in You Tube, it's next to impossible to understand what some of the characters are saying (particularly the apes) without headphones. If there's any ambient noise around you, forget it.

I'd suggest considering subtitles.


Thanks, loyal commenter. I've been seriously procrastinating on the issue of sound quality. One of the big problems with this episode in that respect is the particular distortion (a preset called "Monster") I used. Heightening the pitch actually makes the audio easier to understand, up to a point. But for humanoid apes I had to lower it. I think my next step will be to explore better recording quality. What I'm doing now is crappy recordings and then repairing them in an audio editor. I hesitate on subtitles, especially with my efforts to increase the visual pace so much. I'm afraid time spent reading dialogue would result in completely missing essential visual elements. I'll keep thinking about how to improve the problem.


I'm really enjoying this series, Kory.


I love the Space Pirates Kory, but I'm really missing Hep C and the pseudo-intellectual theories.

By the way, some of your ideas in the "Commentary" section on new media walk right into my ideas for the next dialogue. Keep up the good work!


Hep Cat will return. I'm kind of stuck brainstorming the script for his "What is the Meaning of Life" episode. When I say that his arguments are pseudo intellectual, I don't mean that they're necessarily wrong. It's the means by which the arguments are presented that make them pseudo-intellectual. In scripting I'm far more concerned with chances to make plausibly deniable penis jokes than with any legitimate form of debate. I've borrowed the character Frankenstein for some future vids concerned with serious discussions of issues, because that aspect of Hep Cat was starting to frustrate me a little. Frankenstein's blogs aren't be as funny, but they answer my urge to have serious discussions and they're as easy to make as anyone else's vlogs are. Sometimes I need a break. :P


I don't mean to imply that I mind "plausibly deniable penis jokes." I just like the whole kooky talk show format of the Hep Cat cartoons. Hep C's theories are interesting icings on the innuendoes.


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