51. Alpha

It’s been a while since I up-dated the blog, the reason is quite simple, I’m back at work.

My real work that is… After (almost) finishing the animation, I needed to go back to work to save money to be able to finish the compositing and music of the film.

The compositing is when you add up all the layers of animation to create the final picture. It’s usually (in my case) the main character on top of the background, but it can be much more complex, with camera moves, sfx (like rain or fire), depth of field, etc.

BG020 + DE_01_00_JIM_0001  =

JimInDesert

To be able to add the character on top of the background, each frame of animation needs an Alpha. An alpha is a black and white pictures that tells pictures where to be transparent, white is not transparent and black is fully transparent.

chekerboard

The checker board is where I want the drawing to be transparent.

Jimmy Alpha

There are various techniques to create a drawing’s alpha, in my case the line of the drawing are not closed so it makes it quite hard to use automatic techniques, so I decided to draw each alpha in photoshop. To do so I created a script that pre makes the alpha (using the magic wand) and I would correct it by hand, then save the picture as a png, which handle the transparency very easily. If you want to know more about the script gimme a shout, I’ll be happy to send it to you.

The whole process is quite short (1 min per drawing), but because you have to do it for each drawings, and I am working with big files (long saving time), it adds up to quite a lot of hours.

It took me around 3/4 week to do all the shot, I did that after work, witch doesn’t speed up the process at all, the good new is that every shot I animated so far have an alpha now, so I can work on compositing the shots.

As a little reward for finishing all the alpha, and as a joke, I edited a fake trailer for the film, it’s put together using the automatic trailer maker that comes with iMove, its stupidly easy to do and takes about 5 minutes and here it is:

As a disclaimer, those are just work in progress.

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48. Brushes! part 1

Allright, so before I decided weather or not it was possible to do any secondary animation on computer, I had to check that I could replicate the drawings fully digitally.

For this I would need a brush (in photoshop, or what ever other software) that replicates the way my pen behave on paper.

This actually means that I need to replicate what the drawn lines look like once scanned.

Step 1: What to replicate

Strokes

I start by drawing various type of strokes: Slow, fast, overlapping, light and heavy strokes.

Step 2: Understanding parameters

Params

The amount of parameters can be overwhelming  but if you take them one by one it’s actually straight forward.

– First you need to choose your brush size to match the pen. You won’t be able to change the size of your brush once its finished, it will look odd. If you need a bigger brush, youll need to scan a bigger pen and create a new brush.

From now on stroke on the right is pen stroke on the left is “cg”

size

I’ve set the hardness to 33% because the pen is not drawing perfectly sharp.

Note: the size of your brush depends on the size of your document (because it’s set in pixels) here i’m working at 300 dpi. If I was at 600 dpi i’d have to scale my brush up twice.

I keep it round because it’s a classic pen.

– Then lets set the shape dynamics:

size jitter

The size jitter “randomise” the size of the brush in the range you set (here the brush can be 50% bigger or smaller). The size is also control by the pen pressure and I’ve put a minimum size so the brush doesn’t disappear when I’m drawing lightly. (Here you need to match the diameter of your lightest pen stroke)

The size jitter represent the flow of ink of your pen and the randomness due to the paper, not the wobbliness of your stroke due to how you draw. I am not using the angle jitter and roundness jitter since my brush is round.

–  Scattering moves the brush in different axis, i am not using it here.

Textures and Dual Brush aren’t useful in this case.

Color Dynamics

color

 

Color dynamics gives your stroke a more natural/scanned look. Scanner never scan black as black, it’s multicolor darkness. Here my foreground color is a very dark blue and my background color is a very dark red. They are being mixed randomly at 57%.

A brush is just a succession of dots really close to each other. What the randomizing option does is give each dot a different value, in hue, brightness and saturation. The purity seams to multiply the effect. At -100 the brush turns black and white…

Note that if you un-tick “apply per tip” the color changes is applied to the whole stroke. It can give some nice effects.

– Transfer

transfer

Here you’ll need to set the opacity and flow of your brush. As you can see on the strokes on the left, the pen doesn’t cover the paper regularly (more or less ink comes up).

The opacity and flow are both transparency but one is applied by stroke, the other one is applied as you draw. With opacity you need to lift your pen and draw again to have a color twice less transparent whereas with flow if you draw twice in the same place in a single stroke, this place will be twice less transparent.

The important thing at this stage is to play with the pressure of your wacom pen. You might end up really easily with a completely transparent brush when your not putting a lot of pressure on your pen. You need to set the minimum opacity to something that suite you.

brush pose is some kind of 3d ness of your pen on the wacom. lets not bother with it.

– The next parameters have no options. I change them on/off as I draw depending on the effect I want to give:

noise:

noise

Adds sharp noise to the stroke.

– Wet edge

wet

Makes the center of the brush lighter and the edges darker

build-up is some kind of airbrush option.

Smoothing smooth you brush stroke, I wouldn’t use it with a tablet if you want a hand drawn feel…

At this point you should have a brush fairly similar to your pen:

red arrows show the cg brush strokes.

demo

The only option i couldn’t find is to have more opacity/flow at the beginning of a stroke, I think it would look much more natural. If anyone knows how to do this, let me know!

Sorry for the bad english, this took more time then i though and I need to go back to work…

Cheerios

 

 


47. Yiynova MSP19U

2013-05-23 12.57.15

After reading Frenden review a couple of month ago I was really keen on trying out the MSP19U, a cintiq alternative at only 30% of the price.

It was out of stock for a long time, so last Sunday, when it was back on Amazon, I ordered one. I just got it yesterday.

Since lots of people seamed interested, I thought I would share what I think of it, here.

2013-05-23 16.07.09

My overall opinion is GOT FOR IT. After drawing several hours on it, it’s just a perfect tool.

I never used a new cintiq so I can’t compare the Yiynova (pronounced yinova apparently) and the new cintiq. I did try an older model of cintiq and was not convinced, to much parallax, lag and muddy color, the cintiq was also too heavy and big.

But here is what you need to know about the MSP19U,and what probably justify the lower price.

Pros:

Price (only 680£ with delivery)

Size (quite small and light, you can draw with it siting on your lap in front of telly)

Pen feels better then wacom IMO (smaller tip holder) even though when you open it to put the battery it feels like a kid toy.

Screen is solid glass and looks better then a cintiq.

Drawing ecperience is perfect, no lag, no jitter, pression is awesome.

The tablet seams like good quality, nothing like fisher price or anything.

Cons:

Set up: It took me a while to figure out how to get the right resolution with the mac. TIP: turn your mac of before connecting it, and then on. Don’t just do a restart.

Viewing angle is rubbish, you can’t use it as a proper monitor, it’s just for drawing. When you sit back you can see a gradient. But when you draw it’s perfect.

–  Cursor jitter when your not drawing and the pen is on the screen, it’s not a problem for drawing, but when you use the slider on a browser or highlight something, it’s quite obvious.

No space for keyboard: the tablet touches the desk so you cant put your keyboard underneath. It means that your body is 20/25cm away from the actual screen. A bit like if someone put your plate a bit too far. I’m thinking of building a little stand to be able to slide the keyboard under the tablet.

– The handle to get the tablet up and down is not accesible enough to change the angle while working. Durring 5hours of drawings, I never felt like I should move the tablet up and down.

I have one dead pixel. And I read of other people having one. While it’s not a deal breaker, it’s worth noting.

Over all, most of the cons are not related to the drawing experience. So as a drawing tool it’s perfect. The difference is the same as getting a sport car and a safe car, they both do the job, but one has leather sits, A/C and buttons to change the mirrors …

If the choice is No Cintinq or MSP19U, I definitely  recommend the MSP19U. Same if you’re wondering between intus and msp19u. The MSP19U is a professional quality tool, not a cheap replacement.

Regarding the film, I will be using the tablet for backgrounds elements like véhicules, for sfx, and probably for the horse. I made photoshop brushes that reacts the same way as my pen. But that’s next week topic ;)

In the mean time here is the first drawing I did on the MSP19U, I let you guess witch one is CG and witch one is pen:
(it’s big, if you click on it you can see the details…)

comparaison


37. Loops

In animation we use a lot of cycles to save time on repetitive action, such as walks or runs.

A cycle is just an animation that loops i.e. the first frame and the last one are from the same motion and we don’t notice a change in rythme when the animation starts again.

Looping a video can get very tricky, but it will save a tremendous time in animation..

For exemple I’m working on a shot where the guy walks toward the camera, it’s a 10 second shot, witch would mean 120 frames to animate. Way to much.

So let’s turn this video (video is speed up):

Original

into this cycle :

Drawing

The first step is to find where the action repeats:

Selection

Now the first and last frames are kind of the same but the guy is moving forward…  Rubbish… So let’s scale and rotate him so it matches as much as possible.

Scale

It’s starting to get there, but because it’s video, nothing loops at the same frames. It needs to be fixed, element by elements:

Torso

Each individual part of the body is looped. If you don’t pay attention to the background.

Legs

Then I put the guy back together:

Loop

Et voila, if you look only at the guy,  the video is looping. You can see that I don’t loop the lower body and upper body at the same frame, same with the arm and the guitar. That’s another tricky part, as it’s important to keep a natural look, but once drawn:

Drawing

This fella can walk, forever!

An I only animated 21 frames!

Don’t forget that first and last frame shouldn’t be the same one, or you would have twice the same frame. You need to match 2 frames, and then remove the last one, if that makes any sense :)

It’s the last day of my kickstarter if you wanna chip in, it’s here: http://www.deadmansreachfilm.com


34. Kickstarter Update

backers

Well the Kickstarter had an amazing start! We reached the initial goal in only 24 hours!

The initial goal was to cover the cost of finishing the film animation and the off costs, like festival inscription.

The new goal now includes the compositing of the film (putting all the animation layers together) and the sound recording!

I hope we can make it! So keep sharing the love!

Also I feel like the T-shirts don’t get as much attention as they deserve, It’s probably because I didn’t talk about them in the video, so here we go:

T_Shirts

I’m planing to print the T-shirt with the AMAZING Dude Factory, this means that the printing quality will be beautiful.

They print on American apparel cuts, Male and Female!  You can also choose a variety of colors. Check it out, HERE, And it’s only £25!

male

 

female


32. Music Rights

Ok, where to start with this… So it’s xmas and out of self absolution I decided to finely deal with the Music Rights.

The film is based on my sketch book witch contains shit loads of lyrics from songs I like. To give the  short film the same spirit, I asked my musical friends to cover some famous songs.

Since I’m planning to get it into festivals and/or on the net, I need to clear the music rights.

I started writing that post and after half an hour it was 3 pages long… Music Rights are somewhat complicated.

I’ll try to sum up:

How does it work?

2 différents rights/licence:

–  synchronization licence: is the licence to use the lyrics / partition / writing. It’s the right to use a song if you re-record it yourself.

– master use licence: is the licence to use a specific version of a song by a specific artist on a specific album.

Those licences are for using on images/film. To use them on a format (i.e. CD, tape, whatever) its yet another story.

So in my case I mainly need Synchronisation licences since I’m going to use covers.

How to get them?

Publishers hold the rights on behalf  of the artist. So licenses for a same song can be hold by different publishers. Lets say 3 artists wrote a song, and one sang it, the right can potentially be hold by 4 publishers.

To know witch publisher holds witch right you need to go on those 3 websites: www.ascap.com, http://www.bmi.com and http://www.sesac.com and find the specific song you want. You need to go on all 3 of them because there repository are not the same… Sweet.

You then need to contact the publishers and ask them for the licence you want. In the case of Warner and Chappell there’s an online form to fill, it’s pretty strait forward but quite specific. You will need to explain how you’re gonna use the music, what is the film about and other stuff.

For some other publishers (for exemple EMI) you need to contact them directly by email or phone.

Why get them? 

When you aim at having your film in festival, it is mandatory . If your aiming at showing it to your mum, at a wedding or to a small youtube audience, you should ask for them, obviously, but it’s probably not worth the time and energy  you and they’ll spend.

The reason why I’m getting them is because my friends are spending time making covers and I want to be sure to be able to use them.

 

Usually producers deal with the music rights and I thing that a bit of négociation is involved. I contacted a few publisher and I haven’t heard from them yet (Xmas brake I think) I hope the price they’ll ask me for will be reasonable, that is between 0 and 50 dollars, but until they contact me, I have no idea what’s gonna happen… STRESSFUL!

we’ll see.

 


28. 3 minutes 12 seconds

I just finished a 92 frames shot, it took me 4 days… But the good news is that it means that I have finished the animation of 4 sequences (out of 15…)

That’s 3minutes12 seconds animated… 6 and half to go. Fun times!

table

the left column is green when I’ve shot the live action. The right column is green when the shot is roto and shaded, and orange if it’s only roto.