VDE-FIVE Honorable Mention: Jonah Snyder

Howdy Folks! My name is Jonah Snyder!

I am a 17 year old guy from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I’m currently getting ready to begin my Senior year in High School. My main interests are Trains (and Thomas the Tank Engine), Disney, Video Games (specifically Nintendo), LEGO, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and a little flash cartoon called Homestar Runner. "The Railways of Crotoonia" were an inspiration that sparked my interest!I’m also a casual fan of Vocaloids, though my personal favorite genre of music is Classic Country and Bluegrass. I was first introduced to MMD by a YouTuber known as the Milantoon Channel, who created a series known as “The Railways of Crotoonia”, which features fictional trains from various franchises (such as Thomas the Tank Engine, The Little Engine that Could, etc…) and their misadventures on the fictional island of Crotoonia. The series is animated using MMD, and ultimately inspired me to download and mess around with the program a little bit.

Setting the Scene


I had entered the last Video Dojo Expo with a little video entitled “Narrow Gauge Wassup”, which, unfortunately, I didn’t win. When VDE-5 was announced, I ultimately decided to try and give it another go, and see if I would have better luck this time around. With the theme being “Summer”, with Pool-side and beach-side parties and whatnot, I decided to boot up Project Diva: Megamix on my Nintendo Switch to get some ideas. I chose the song “Summer Idol”, and played through it to get some ideas on the “feel” for my video. I originally considered doing “Summer Idol”, as my entry but then, it dawned on me: Why not use Percy’s Seaside Trip? The song is one of the original Sing Along songs from the first 7 seasons of Thomas & Friends, and tells of a Seaside Train Journey with Percy the Small Engine, Sodor’s #6. I thought it could be a unique and interesting entry. “Besides,” I figured, “somebody else is bound to do Summer Idol.” (And lo and behold, someone did.) So, with inspiration and a plan in hand, I got to work with bringing this classic song from Thomas and Friends to life…

From Ballast to Golden Spike

Now, I am very much an Amateur when it comes to using MMD. In fact, I’m not exactly able to animate human/humanoid models just yet (though I’ll get get better at it as time progresses), and I haven’t exactly attempted to work with Raycast or any sort of Toon Shader, so my Video definitely has a bit of a rough quality to it.

I'm not exactly able to animate human/humanoid models just yet...

This video also brought in another challenge: Up until now, all my MMD videos have been short skits using the Thomas crew (again, because I cannot animate humans for the life of me), But this would be my first time trying to put a music video together. For the music, I used a cover of Percy’s Seaside Trip created by YouTuber Headmaster Hastings, who makes some amazing covers of classic Thomas songs! Ultimately, the way I made the video was to use the music as a guide, and animate the various scenes accordingly. Now, the biggest challenge of the video was trying to make Percy pull coaches. I ultimately struggled to get that, as I couldn’t seem to figure out how to make that work. This ultimately required me to result to a bit of a shortcut: for certain shots, we’d see Percy head-on, moving towards the camera. And for others, I’d have “still” shots of Percy pulling his coaches, to help sell the illusion that he was pulling them. For the human and humanoid models, I went with either still shots, or simplistic movement, StrongBad: What am I doing in this video??such as the scene where Strong Bad (from Homestar Runner), lowers his head, wondering why the heck he’s in this video in the first place. However, even with the shortcuts I was forced to make due to my lack of skill, the video still managed to come out very nicely in my opinion. Despite looking less ”professional” than the other entries, I think my little video turned out well.

What’s next?

I look forward to entering the next Video Dojo Expo! Until then, I’ll be working on sharpening my skills in MMD, and hopefully work to make a video as good-looking as what the other entrants made. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta run. I can hear several Vocaloid fans getting ready to knock me to the ground because I put “East Bound and Down” from Smokey and the Bandit In Project Diva: F 2nd, and I need to hide.
Happy Railroading my Friends, and Have fun with MMD!
-Jonah Snyder

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