Welcome to the VTAS History Page. The following is a brief history of VTAS, the majority of which was compiled by longtime club member Steve Kranowski. An additional section on the origin of the club was written by one of the co-founders of VTAS, Timon Marmex Trzepacz. These articles are presented in their entirety, unchanged from the documents given to the webmaster. We gratefully thank Steve and Tim for the time and effort they put into these articles. Without further ado, we here at VTAS present the history of the club. Enjoy!
ON THE ORIGINS OF THE VIRGINIA TECH ANIMATION SOCIETY
By Timon Marmex Trzepacz
Before there was VTAS, V. Scott Gosik had private showings of anime at his apartment at L-3 Draper's Meadow. Scott Elson handled some early showings at VTSFFC's Invisifest mini-convention at the student center, which is where I first became aware of anime beyond what was on American TV. When I found out about Scott's showings, I became active in that group, and eventually became Scott's housemate.
In 1988, with MTV giving a lot of hype to the newly released feature anime "Akira" we decided to hold the first "AnimeFest" and programmed a full day of programming, with Akira in the prime-time. Having packed an auditorium with that initial showing, I did some leg work and managed to procure space for us on-campus for bi-weekly showings. While many of the previous members declined to attend, my constant and thorough promotion soon brought us a new and much larger audience.
During this time, I started the tape library, and invented the concept of the "Nielsen Ratings Night" where I showed the voting tape and asked people to pick the next season's shows (I was big on pretending that VTAS was a TV network for some reason.) We ran two events a semester, an AnimeFest, and an event with VTSFFC (Invisifest or Technicon). In the middle of one of the AnimeFest programs, I collapsed of exhaustion, and learned the hard way that I couldn't do it all myself. At that point, I formed the "VTAS Commandos" who took on many of the responsibilities for me so that the club could continue. I retired from the club presidency just before my last semester and was succeeded by J.J. Kelley.
Under J.J. we got funding from the university for the subtitling equipment (for Commodore Amiga!) and thus began the subtitling effort, although I was around just long enough for the unboxing, and never got to see any of the results. I'm very proud to see that VTAS continues to this day, 23 years later... I always knew that anime would be a big thing, and I feel that VTAS had some small part in that.
Myself, I have worked on some famous games as a programmer: Ratchet and Clank Series, James Bond: From Russia With Love, Silent Hill: 0rigins, and most of the Working Designs RPG localizations. I've also recorded and performed live music, formed a maker group, been a drag performer (not gay, just pretty), and released my own products as an indie developer. I currently have my own company, SoftEgg Enterprises, quite possibly the most underfunded indie game company ever... my product is called Rhythm Core Alpha, and it is a music creation system for the Nintendo DSi portable game system. I'm only vaguely involved in the anime scene these days, mainly limited to occasionally speaking about my product or the game industry at Anime conventions (recently spoke at Anime-Conji in San Diego). I generally counsel everyone to never go into the game industry...
A HISTORY OF THE VIRGINIA TECH ANIMATION SOCIETY
By Steven Kranowski
I. In the Beginning
VTAS - the Virginia Tech Animation Society - was founded in February 1989 by Timon Marmex Trzepacz, currently a video game designer. Its first event was what is now known every semester as the all-weekend long Animefest, held in the auditorium of the building now known as Litton-Reeves Hall. Nearly all anime was shown on VHS tapes, plus some on the occasional full-size laserdisc. Most material was raw, untranslated Japanese with the odd fansub thrown in (usually there would be one or two fansubs per meeting). Sometimes there would be some Western animation as well, including The Tick, Dilbert, and Claymation series such as Trap Door and Wallace & Gromit. VTAS also had a small library of anime all on VHS tape, and an even smaller library of translated anime scripts.
II. August 1992 - When I Joined
Yours truly first started attending VTAS' meetings at the start of the fall semester in 1992. I'd watched such early anime series as Battle of the Planets, Star Blazers and Speed Racer back in my younger days, and I was intrigued by the posters on the bulletin boards throughout the Tech campus advertising this group called VTAS. Back then, the club officers were Dave Martin (President), Clifton Wood (Treasurer), and John Franklin (Secretary). So on the first Tuesday of the semester, I went to the main auditorium of Hancock Hall for the meeting scheduled to begin at 9pm. That night I saw an OAV each of Record of the Lodoss Wars, Mobile Suit Gundam 0080, and Bubblegum Crisis, plus an episode of the original Dirty Pair. I was hooked, and made it a point to arrive every Tuesday night possible for VTAS' meetings.
Other officers of VTAS whom I met during my first few years of attendance included current webcomic artist Chris Impink (of Fragile Gravity fame) and illustrator Jennifer J. Kelley. Depending on room availability, meetings would be held at various locations, including Hancock Hall, Norris Hall, Smyth Hall, and various rooms in Squires Center, G. Burke Johnston Center, McBryde Hall, and Pamplin Hall. VTAS did the occasional fansub project, most of them supervised by Kelley. Fansub projects included Mobile Suit Gundam 0083, Assemble Insert, Video Girl Ai, and Dirty Pair: Project Eden.
VTAS had its greatest growth during the club presidency of Rich Parrish, who took over during the mid 1990s. VTAS's library grew by leaps and bounds, with plenty more titles available translated in some form. The club's once-per-semester Animefests would attract many attendees, some people would even travel from out of state to attend. The distributor AnimEigo even saw fit to test-market its first ever English dub (Riding Bean) at one of these Animefests.
III. Newtype and Peas & Karrots - The Splinter Groups
During the 1995 fall semester, some members of VTAS decided to form their own anime club devoted exclusively to subtitled anime. They started off by scheduling three meetings that semester on consecutive Mondays. Those three meetings were a huge success, so it was decided that this new club - named VTAS Newtype - would hold regular meetings every Monday. Some time later, meetings were moved to Thursday. Newtype did plenty of fansubbing, translating all 92 episodes of Maison Ikokku, plus all of Sorcerer Hunters and several Gundam feature films. Newtype even held its own once-per-semester equivalent of Animefest called MasaKan. Not only that, during the spring of 1997 Newtype had some anime broadcast on Virginia Tech's public access channel. Newtype would cease operations after the fall 2000 semester due to declining attendance.
In the spring semester of 1997 yet another splinter anime club formed at Virginia Tech named Peas & Karrots. This club showed mostly subbed anime, with the occasional English-language showing. Peas & Karrots only managed one fansub of its own, the Macross Plus movie. This club would abruptly go under at the end of the fall 1999 semester once its unofficial president had to take on additional academic responsibilities.
IV. 2000-2003: The Lean Years
The end of the 1990s would see tough times come for VTAS. As of the start of the 2000 fall semester, the main video projector in the Hancock Hall auditorium - long the venue of choice for VTAS - was declared off-limits to anyone who didn't have official permission to use it by the campus administration. A friend (name unknown) of one of the VTAS members loaned his own video projector to the club from that point on.
Another blow was dealt upon the resignation of long-time VTAS president Rich Parrish in the spring of 2002, as he moved to Hong Kong in mid-semester. Rebecca Cheng took over as VTAS' leader, but simply didn't have the leadership abilities or the organizational skills that Parrish had. The following summer semester would be the first summer since yours truly started attending during which no regular meetings were held.
In the fall of 2002, things went from bad to worse: In mid-October, the owner of the projector which VTAS had been borrowing began having personal problems that prevented him from loaning us his projector, and as a result, VTAS would only have one more regular meeting that semester (Animefest, though, was held as scheduled). The following spring, VTAS simply didn't have any regular meetings at all, although an Animefest was held that semester.
V. 2003-Present: A New Lease on Life
After going the better part of a year pretty much in a coma, VTAS was revived in the fall 2003 semester thanks in no small part to Greg Slota, who provided his own video projector. Regular meetings once again became a Tuesday night tradition on the Tech campus, and thanks to a fund drive, VTAS was able to purchase its own projector to ensure that the meetings could go on. VTAS's entire anime library gave way from being all on VHS tape to being stored on Slota's hard drive. In recent years, attendance at VTAS' regular meetings has declined a bit, due largely to the increased availability of anime on home video and on the Internet.
And there you have it my friends. Over 20 years of VTAS history. Once again, many thanks to Steve Kranowski and Timon Marmex Trzepacz for putting this together. We hope you've learned something.