YouTube Goes After Balena Production’s Sonic Animations, Marking Them “Made For Kids”

It’s no secret that Youtube isn’t exactly the best place for animators these days. From radical shifts in the algorithm to unfriendly policy changes, animation channels have had it rough. Youtube’s latest method of making things difficult for animators stems from its habit of forcing random animated videos to be marked as “Made for Kids,” seemingly only because the video in question features animation and children-friendly characters.

Amongst the channels they’ve seemingly targeted in order to force this designation is the Sonic animation channel Balena Productions. They’ve been going after Balena since last year, marking several of their videos as “made for kids.” Balena’s latest video, their “Sonic in Scared Stupid: The Final Chapter” preview video, was hit by this not long after it was uploaded. You can check it out below, but be forewarned, this “kids” video features a werehog zombie with its flesh falling off:

So, why is this such a big deal? Videos hit by this designation have their ability to do well in Youtube’s algorithm neutered, while also having their comments disabled, and existing comments deleted. And as a side effect, videos that clearly aren’t made with kids in mind end up finding their way into Youtube’s supposedly kid-friendly app, effectively defeating the purpose of the whole thing.

To give you an idea of how targeted towards animation this is, even our own Youtube has been affected by this, with most of our uploads focusing on animation from the games forcibly being marked “Made for Kids.” The latest video of ours to be hit by this was our off-screen recording of Sonic Superstars’ animated opening. Our other off-screen recordings of the game remain untouched.

What Made for Kids does to a video’s metrics.

But what is a minor annoyance for us can be apocalyptic for channels like Balena Productions, which relies on their channel’s ad revenue to fund their animations. Since MFK videos do very poorly in Youtube’s algorithm, that limits a video’s views, and thus its ability to generate revenue, affecting a channel’s ability to survive. Of course, when a video is marked MFK, it can be appealed, both through Youtube’s built-in appeal system and through Twitter, but these appeals are often rejected, sometimes within minutes of the appeal being made. Anyone who follows Balena on Twitter is probably familiar with how this typically goes with Team Youtube at this point. They’ve sometimes managed to get the designation removed from a video, but it’s always a fight.

What’s especially strange about all this is that it even goes against Youtube’s own policies, as Balena has pointed out. Specifically, videos made for “everyone” aren’t required to bear this designation. Balena’s videos are not usually brimming with cursing and gore, but they are very much something made for general audiences, something many of their videos note at their start (though this doesn’t always save them.)

Another video that got hit with MFK earlier this year.

So…what can be done about this? Well, you can check out the marked videos for one, like the ones we embedded above. You can also watch older videos and like, comment, and subscribe on the affected channels. You can see what Steven Page had to say about this at his Sonic Revolution panel here.

In the meantime, Youtube’s policy adds even more uncertainty and stress to animation Youtubers who are typically already dealing with a lot. On Twitter, Page has increasingly indicated that, due to Youtube’s policies, continuing to make these animations is becoming untenable. He may be near the end of his rope, “For the past week since the teaser was flagged, I’ve had a migraine and mild panic attacks. I also haven’t been sleeping much, and I feel numbness traveling through my body. It’s a ton of pressure to even stand up to these creeps, and it’s not worth it anymore.”

Hopefully, YouTube will eventually change this strange policy. The whole point of Youtube Kids is to make Youtube compliant to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (or COPPA). Something tells me that forcing videos featuring zombified hedgehogs and a violent video game death to be made for kids doesn’t exactly make them COPPA compliant. Youtube’s community of animators deserve better than this.

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Yet Another Christmas With Sonic, by BalenaProductions!

We are but a stone’s throw from Christmas now, and boy, what a year it has been for us!

We ended up revisiting a remastered pair of classics of days past, special thanks to Sonic Retro community members Taxman and Stealth for a job well done. With new moves in our arsenal, we went and ventured across worlds unseen on the Lost Hex and took down the dastardly devious Deadly Six. Over the summer, Summer of Sonic and Sonic Boom brought people together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of all things metal and hedgehog like no other. Courtesy of Capcom of America for the pitch, Ian Flynn and the wonderful staff at Archie Comics brought Sonic and Rock together for a 12 part comic crossover of Mega proportions through Worlds Collide. The cherry on top, provided by the good folks at Hardlight Studios, came in the form of an endless runner called Sonic Dash for iOS and FINALLY Android devices, where players rose to the pair of Global Challenges issued and won!

But for now, with the end of the year at our doorstep, it’s time to set all the adrenaline aside, sit back, relax, and roast some chestnuts over an open fire… or prepare some chilli dogs over an open grill… as we partake in a holiday tradition approved by jolly old Saint Nick himself — Christmas stories! And just like last year, we’ve got one of Sonic and the gang (including the likes of Tails, Knuckles, Manic, Sonia, Vector, Shadow… S…Stan…?) right here from our pals Steve and RianaLD via BalenaProductions!

Yet Another Christmas With Sonic

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iD8_Pw3SSGw

 balenaproductions_jurassicteaser

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Another Christmas With Sonic, by Balena Productions!

2013 is mere hours away for many of us! It won’t be long ’til this year comes to a close.

Many events have defined this year of Sonic. The second episode of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 saw release in May, continuing the sequel to the Genesis classics as we truly imagined it; the sneaky Sonic Jump hopped, skipped, and jumped its way into our phones; Sonic Adventure 2 came back to our consoles along with its fellow SEGA Heritage Classics NiGHTS into dreams… and Jet Set Radio; Sumo Digital brought us an amazing sequel to Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing through Transformed; finally, our blue hero found his way to the silver screen in Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph!

In the community, 2012 brought us musical collaborations such as The Sonic Stadium Music Album 2011 and the Sonic Paradox Remix Shorts Volume 1! Our own site has gained new crew members to keep the front page roaring with content! Summer of Sonic and Sonic Boom drew in bigger crowds than ever, with tickets for the former gone during the waves in mere minutes!

So, to wrap up the year, Steven Page (who brought us Sonic in Scared Stupid Part 2 for Halloween) and RianaLD dropped us a belated Christmas present to celebrate! Without further ado, I present to you all the latest piece of work from Balena Productions, for it is time for…

Another Christmas With Sonic!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkWjun6IKRw

Be sure to check out the prequel Christmas with Sonic too, while you’re at it! And maybe be a pal and follow Balena’s stuff too. Good stuff yes.

With that, Happy New Year to you all, and see you in 2013!

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Sonic in Scared Stupid Part 2, by Balena Productions!

Consider this an early Halloween treat from Steven Page, also known as the guy behind Balena Productions! So, if you’re into Freak-Outs, great machinima videos, jokers, quality entertainment, Sonic and Tails bro-ing out, Halloween candy, and spot-on voice work, then you’ve definitely come to the right place.

Then again, being on TSS automatically puts you in the right place, but I digress!

From the entertainment channel that brought you Sonic in JAWS and The OMG most Original fanfic Idea EVER, Balena Productions presents…

Sonic in Scared Stupid – Part 2!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jYzo-CMlDk

Interested in checking out Part 1?

If you’ve enjoyed this short movie, support Balena Productions by subscribing to its YouTube channel today! Follow ’em on the bookFace for exclusive content too if you’ve got one of them newfangled doohickeys.

The Sonic Stadium may link to retailers and earn a small commission on purchases made from users who click those links. These links will only appear in articles related to the product, in an unobtrusive manner, and do not influence our editorial decisions in any way.