Sven Stoffels heard former Vice President Joe Biden’s bizarre ode to his hair legs and knew two things instantly.
The veteran animator wanted to bring the clip to life, and he had to act quickly. The news cycle is so swift, and so unforgiving, that any delay would hurt his clip’s impact.
The mind behind Sven Stoffels Animation worked fast, very fast, to bring that moment into our digital lives.
The hairy legs clip went viral, generating half a million views on Twitter and north of 75,000 YouTube views in roughly 24 hours.
Stoffels is a self-taught freelance artist who previously contributed to Comedy Central, College Humor and FX. He also created the promotional art for New York’s SkankFest comedy festival and is currently creating animated shorts for comedian Jim Norton’s recurring character, Chip Chipperson.
HiT reached out to Stoffels via email to find out more about the rapid-fire project and the curious reactions to it.
HiT: The Biden audio in question went viral a few days ago. Your video seemed to drop very soon after that happened. How long did it take you to create the short?
Stoffels: When I first heard the audio from the Biden video, I laughed out loud at how bizarre and surreal it was. I knew I wanted to put visuals to it immediately and got to animating. Quickly, though, I realized I couldn’t take too long on it. Every day that passed would mean a decline in funny (and relevancy).
So I decided to buckle down and finish it in one sitting. In total it took me 17 hours to finish everything from caricature design, to animation, to painting the backgrounds and lip-sync.
HiT: How did you initially share the video, and did you find that major influencers helped spread it far and wide?
Stoffels: Once I had finished the final render, I immediately dropped it on Twitter. This was also the first time I uploaded a video directly onto Twitter. Usually I’d share a YouTube link.
Once @alx, a TPUSA guy retweeted it, it started to get the ball rolling.
Then a whole bunch of other conservative media started retweeting it. As a side note, I didn’t even anticipate the political angle this video would take. I honestly animated it because I thought it was so ridiculous and weird.
It was kinda hard to keep track off who exactly caused the avalanche. That’s how quickly it exploded. It was also posted by Dave Rubin, Louder with Crowder and InfoWars. Yet they ripped the video and didn’t retweet the original. That makes the current view count tough to gauge.
Dave Rubin’s version currently sits at 1.4 million views on Twitter, and mine is at a little over 500K views.
The biggest contributor to sharing was, of course, Donald J. Trump Jr. himself, who retweeted the Dave Rubin rip.
NOTE: Stoffels noted Joe Rogan shared the clip on Instagram but removed his name and logo.
HiT: The YouTube clip says ‘age restricted requested by uploader,’ but the video appears to be G-rated. What made you pick that option?
Stoffels: YouTube is changing their policy constantly, Most recently with the new COPPA act. Every YouTuber had to make the choice to either be a child-friendly channel or an adult channel and change their settings accordingly.
That choice was easy for me, since I mainly make sort-of edgy cartoons. So I set my channel to adult. So I assume it did the same for the Biden video.
In short, I’d rather be safe than sorry and have YouTube delete my stuff for some arbitrary reason -- they’ve done it before.
Also if this divide between kid-content and adult-content means I will be more free to say and do what I want on my channel, I’m fine with that. But knowing YouTube, that’s probably wishful thinking.
HiT: What’s been some of the reactions to the video so far … can you share anything in particular?
Stoffels: The reaction has been completely positive. Everyone from conservatives to “Bernie Bros” can rejoice at Biden’s weird, blabbermouth ramblings. I’ve gained around 5,000 Twitter followers in a day, so it’s all good.
HiT: Given the 2020 US presidential campaign is heating up, are you looking to create similar videos in the coming months? Are you open to tweaking both sides of the ideological aisle?
Stoffels: If something funny comes up that calls for a cartoon visual I will certainly consider animating it. But again it’s about the funny for me and not the political ideology, necessarily.
It just happens right now that the left wing lends itself more for satire and ridicule, since they take themselves so seriously and have lost the plot in terms of comedy.
But I’m not interested in making political propaganda, even if something I make is turned into that by the audience, that’s out of my control.
HIT: Can one viral video help your career, either via gained exposure or other methods?
Stoffels: Whether or not it can help my career has yet to be seen, though gaining followers and expanding your audience is always a good thing. I’ve been answering e-mails all day, and haven’t gotten through all of them, so who knows, something worthwhile might pop up.