Last July, Jeremey Chinshue, better known by his online alias “TerminalMontage,” defied the odds of independent animation on YouTube by making it onto the number one spot on YouTube’s Trending Tab.
Today he celebrated crossing one million subscribers with a new animated video where he pits Super Mario and Fox of Star Fox against each other in pitched combat.
Chinshue told Heavy that he has seen his animated parodies of video games go viral since he began releasing animated videos on YouTube in 2012, but it wasn’t until he posted a video in January 2018 about Monster Hunter World, the first in what would be known as his “Something Series,” when his channel really started taking off. He said that his subscriber base has grown over 10 times since starting the Something Series. Now his videos can see view counts of as high as 13 million.
Heavy contacted Chinshue over email to learn more about his career and success as an independent animator on YouTube. Here’s everything you need to know about him, the Something Series and his channel.
Update: A previous version of this article included an embed of the initial upload of the 1 million subscriber special which had technical issues. The video has been replaced with the reuploaded version on this article.
1. His Super Mario World Parody Took the #1 Spot on YouTube’s Trending Tab
On July 13, 2019, Chinshue uploaded a parody of Super Mario World. Not only does the video currently sit at 7.5 million views, but it reached the number one spot on YouTube’s list of trending videos. Note that YouTube has several tabs for trending videos including gaming and news. Chinshue’s video made it at the top of the main trending list.
Chinshue’s success comes after the animation community on YouTube has struggled for years. As Game Grumps Member and Animator Ross O’Donovan explained in 2014, YouTube changed the way its algorithm works in deciding which videos to promote and increase visibility of on the platform. While in the past YouTube rewarded video views, starting in 2012 they rewarded minutes of video watched and frequency of uploads. Videos that encourage viewers to watch other videos of a channel are especially rewarded. The higher visibility on the platform can also attract premium advertisers who pay higher rates of money to put ads on the video. As a result of this shift, YouTube channels that focused on longer yet quickly produced videos that people can binge watch such as Let’s Play channels flourished on the platform while channels that focused on shorter, slowly produced one off videos like animation channels struggled. Some legendary creators like Egoraptor and OneyNG have all but abandoned their animation channels to focus on their own Let’s Play channels.
A number of animators on YouTube in recent years have used the algorithm to their advantage to get millions of views and subscribers, such as people like TheOdd1sOut, Jaiden Animations, Domics and Let Me Explain Studios who release roughly 10 minute long videos recounting silly, relatable anecdotes with minimalist animation every month. Chinshue’s Something Series videos, however, clock in at an average of about four minutes per video from our calculations.
Chinshue told Heavy that the secret to his success on YouTube in spite of the algorithm is consistency. He said that even though he only releases one or two videos a month, if you keep creating content eventually someone will find it and come across a large backlog of videos to enjoy.
“When I worked for other channels as a contractor, I made over 80 videos and eventually thought ‘What if I had over 80 videos on my own channel?'” Chinshue said. “Success takes time.”
Chinshue said that to better support the animation community, YouTube should take a smaller portion of the revenue as channels grow like Multi-Channel Networks (MCNs) do.
“This would encourage growth by allowing creators to have more resources to build their channel,” he said.
When he joined an MCN, he got a 70/30 split for the ad revenue – and that’s after YouTube takes their 45 percent cut – but they gave him a larger portion of the revenue as his channel grew.
Chinshue’s channel is currently partnered with Frederator, according to the channel’s about page.
2. He Has Over a Million Subscribers
At the time of writing, Chinshue has over 1.2 million subscribers and over 182 million views, according to his YouTube Channel page. He has over 900 patrons on his Patreon page.
The YouTube metrics website Social Blade estimates that Chinshue makes between $4,300 to $69,300 a month through his YouTube channel alone. However, he told Heavy that Social Blade’s estimated earnings are wildly inaccurate. Back when he was doing contract work and uploading videos to his channel as a hobby, Social Blade estimated that he was making between $30,000 and $40,000 a month. His channel actually made $2,000 for that entire year.
“Social Blade is nifty for looking at views, subscribers and channel growth but whenever I get the chance, I like to remind people that the estimated earnings are wildly inaccurate,” said Chinshue. “If I made anywhere near that amount of money, I’d start a studio of my own and fund my original projects.”
3. He Started Animating in 2012
Chinshue posted his first animated video, a parody of Dark Souls, to his channel on February 29, 2012.
After the warm reception of his first three animations, YouTube Channel Machinima reached out to Chinshue to work on producing videos for them, he told Heavy. For a while he was partnered with Maker Studios which connected him with another YouTube channel, LORE, where he posted a number of animated videos. He said that while he was working with LORE, he developed a script format that helped him do animation consistently and he still uses a variation of that script format today.
In 2015, he worked with Butch Hartman, the creator of The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom and other animated shows, for The Noog Network, a mobile app that includes animated games, cartoons, live shows and more for kids.
Chinshue said that some of his biggest influences are Butch Hartman, John Dilworth, Egoraptor, Zeurel, Sr Pelo and CarbotAnimations.
4. He Prioritizes Fun While Working on Projects
Chinshue said that he tries to prioritize fun when working on most projects because they come out better that way.
“I want to create content I would personally enjoy,” he said. “Before I started the ‘Something Series,’ I did other parodies and they were well-received, but they didn’t make me laugh. Now, I try to do at least one thing that makes me laugh out loud in each animation. The hope is, if I find it funny, at least one other person out there will find it funny too.”
For each Something Series video, he recalls his experience playing a game and then exaggerates the experience in his video while maintaining a simple art style. He said that he usually likes to go all out in at least one scene per episode so that he can improve as an animator.
He said that “Something About Star Fox 64” and “Something About Smash Bros. World of Light” were the most fun videos in the series he’s ever worked on.
“For those two animations, the ideas flowed easily so I was able to enjoy the storyboarding and animation process more,” he said.
Going forward he’d like to continue with his YouTube channel for now, but he has original ideas that he wants to eventually introduce to his channel to see how his audience receives them.
When asked what his backup plan was if for some reason YouTube is shut down, he said that if there was no alternative platform he’d just release the animations on his website so long as he has enough support from Patreon. If that doesn’t pan out, he’d update his portfolio and look for a job at an animation studio.
5. He’s Self-Taught
Chinshue said on the FAQ page on his Patreon page that he is self-taught in animation. He didn’t go to school for it and in fact he got bad grades in his art classes.
He said that he always wanted to make movies and tell stories and that animation seemed like the most streamlined way to do it since he didn’t need to rely on other people, get expensive equipment or build a set.
“When I first tried animating, it was time consuming and I hated it, but years later, I developed more patience and realized it takes time to learn,” he said. “Right now, I am making parodies, but it is through old projects and the Something Series that I learned more about animation, so one day I can bring my original stories to life.”
He advises aspiring animators to practice so you get more comfortable, faster and more efficient.
With animation it takes a while, and you don’t really notice improvements until a good amount of time has passed, it’s kinda like working out I guess. You don’t really realize how much weight you’ve lost or muscle you’ve gained as you’re going through the weeks/months, but if you look at a before and after pic you can see things clearly.
Another thing that has helped him is sticking to very simple designs.
“It made it fun and didn’t make projects seem too daunting,” he said. “That’ll help you animate and get familiar with whatever style you’re using.”
He also suggests making storyboards and animatics for your animations but don’t make them too detailed. He said to get the movements down with a stick figure and then draw your characters over them. Using a stick man lets you find the right movements since animating a stick man over and over is easy albeit time consuming.
His animation program of choice is Animate CC. He also uses a Wacom Cintiq 21UX and a Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16.
He said that the best way to support him and his channel is to turn off AdBlock, let him know if people are reuploading his content so he can report it (short 30 second clips and gifs are okay) and become a member of his Patreon or Youtube channel.
He also has an online merchandise shop.