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Count The Beats With Kevin Fagaragan

Posted September 25, 2020
Count The Beats With Kevin Fagaragan

A Rhythm Heaven Reanimated Interview

By Jacob Chase

Last month saw the premier of Rhythm Heaven Reanimated, a lovingly crafted fan made tribute to one of Nintendo's most beloved franchises. Two years in the making and packed full of incredible talent, the project has been on the radar for many fans around the scene and was an instant hit when it went live on August 21st, 2020.

Paying tribute is kind of an understatement to say the least, honestly. This almost 20 minute audiovisual experience is quite possibly one of the most impressive things I've seen as a Rhythm Heaven fan myself. The amount of love and care that was poured into each and every scene of this project is absolutely palpable and left me grinning from ear to beat counting ear. Subsequently, and unsurprisingly I left it on repeat for the better part of a week taking time to soak it in again and again.

From painstakingly hand drawn animations to laborious claymation, and everything that's in between Rhythm Heaven Reanimated is a fan's dream made true all at the hands of fellow fans. Honestly, getting to relive some of the most iconic scenes and levels from this cherished game franchise in a totally different way was truly something to behold, and one that I highly recommend everyone check out!

Awesomely enough, one of the project's curators Kevin Fagaragan is an artist here at The Yetee! I felt compelled to sit him down and uncover some of the rhythmic design beats behind this project and what it took to bring something like this to fruition.

Here's my conversation with Kevin:

Jacob Chase: Wubadubaduba that true?

Kevin Fagaragan: Eh

JC: How did you get involved with this project?

KF: I was inspired by some of the other reanimate collaborations you see on the internet. I was a part of the Kirby Anime and Super Mario World cartoon reanimated collabs (Please check those out!). Even though those were based on cartoon episodes, I thought the structure of the Rhythm Heaven games would flow well with a project like this.

JC: What sort of guidelines did you have for the animation process? Were there general rules on beats per minute and other technicals to make sure that all the animations could be showcased together?

KF: The 'Remix' levels in the Rhythm Heaven games are usually a mashup of the last few minigames you've just played. Every entry in the series has a "Final" Remix which is essentially the final boss. A medley of the entire game. Thought this would be the perfect layout for the animators. After a review process, we would assign an animator scene from those medleys, about 3-6 seconds long, and have them reanimate the scene in their own style.

JC: What programs or mediums did you use to create your artwork and animations?

KF: For all my scenes, I animated in photoshop (don't animate in photoshop...). Did a couple collaborative scenes with one of the fellow animators, and we tried doing one that was 3D but with flat characters, kinda like Parappa The Rapper.

JC: How was it working with so many talented animators on a project of this scale? 

KF: It was a real challenge. I’ve never curated anything this huge before. It was nice watching the progress of each animator from rough to finish.

JC: How did you all decide which scenes you would animate?

KF: In the video, we decided to combine all 6 medley remixes from the series. Each has an average of 20 minigames in them? So we gave each of those minigames out to the participants to recreate. Some scenes seemed too long, so we split them up and assigned multiple animators to the same mini-game. Animators were chosen and assigned scenes depending on their animation portfolio, and a brief list of mini-games they were interested in working on. It ranged from people who were beginning animation to those who were actually in the animation industry too.

JC: How long have you and the entire team been working on this project?

KF: Development for the project lasted for nearly two years.

JC: What's your favorite Rhythm Heaven game? 

KF: Rhythm Heaven Fever for the Wii hands down. It has the best variety of games, and It’s Co-op! My favorite Mini-game in the series is Air Rally.

JC: What are some of your favorite challenges and songs from the series? 

KF: I’m a huge fan of the vocal songs throughout the series. Night Walk with the song Dreams of our Generation is probably my favorite.

JC: Who are your favorite characters from the series? 

KF: There’s a character that’’s literally a floor that plays basketball. He’s great, put him in Smash.

JC: How many turnips have you fed the goat in Megamix?

KF: I lost count. I think he’s a level 800 goat now?

JC: Is Rhythm Heaven one of your favorite games? 

KF: One of my top favorites. But it’s probably my favorite Nintendo series overall.

JC: What other music/rhythm-based games do you enjoy?

KF: I’m a huge fan of Rhythm games with quirky visuals. I’ve always been a fan of games like  Parappa, Um Jammer Lammy, and Gitaroo Man.  More recently I’ve been exploring rhythm games like Taiko no Tatsujin and the Pop’n Music series too. 

JC: What's your favorite memory from working on this project? 

KF: Just seeing the final results of everyone’s individual scenes, and slowly piecing the whole video like a massive puzzle. I’m just really proud of everyone’s hard work in making this love letter to Rhythm Heaven a reality. Even some of the devs and composers of the original games really liked the video, and i think that’s something all the animators should be really proud of.

I want to give a huge thanks to Kevin for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk to me about this project, it really means a lot! Also, I want to give a shout out to the entire team that made this project a reality. It's truly an incredible piece of art and something that I know will bring happiness to many people around the world for years to come! I definitely can't wait to see what you'll do next! 

If you'd like to stay up to date with this project and the people involved head on over to Twitter and give their official account a follow! Also, while you're at it, count the beats and make your way to their YouTube channel and subscribe as well as click that bell to be notified of any future content they put out! 

If you want to check out everyone involved in making this project a reality scope the official List of Participants.