Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Simple Head Turn Animation Using Anime Studio Pro 6

In keeping with the whole tutorial theme of late, I thought I'd put together this truly simple little head turn animation.

Now, I'm not the best artist in the world, so a 2d character turning its head is a little tricky for me. There are several ways to animate the movement. The one I'm using is a switch layer technique.

All one need do is make a few different drawings of a character's pose. The layers the drawings are in are then dragged into a switch layer. That's where the magic happens. The switch layer. (*.-)

By advancing the timeline, and selecting different images in the switch layer along the way, the character comes alive.

It's good to have this stuff documented. I have a tendency to forget how to use some of my favorite software. Maybe these tutorials will keep me focused! Ha!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Test Drive: Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 10.0

Yep, I've got some new software to test.

This one is Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 10.0 . That was a mouthful!

Okay, I'm just learning how to use this software. It isn't quite as simple as my old movie editing stuff, Cyberlink PowerDirector. I still like the PowerDirector, by the way. It's fast. Really, fast! But, for certain, Vegas Movie Studio gives one a wee bit more control over some things. Or maybe, I should say, lots more control.

I scrapped together some pieces of video, then put some music I'd made on the LMMS software with it. It was a quick hack job, to be sure. Though, it was enough to get my feet wet with the program.

Problems I ran into, other than not knowing what in the world I was doing, were fairly minimal. A couple times, during rendering, some memory warnings popped up. These were false warnings, as my system is brand new and has more than enough RAM memory. I'd read about a fix for this issue, as it appears to be a somewhat common software issue. I attempted the fix, but ended up with a non-functioning program. After undoing the mess, and restarting the computer, I managed to render the vid and upload it straight to YouTube.

Here's the result of my efforts:

When I have more time, I'm sure my next vid will be stellar. Ha! I laugh, because I know a bit of spare time is elusive. Even so, I'll do my best to make a more entertaining creation!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Binding Points to Bones Part1: Placing Bones

Here it is, as promised. After two BSoD events and numerous other interruptions, I've managed to patch together this tutorial. Well, part 1, at least.

Basically, I've just drawn a shape, created a bone layer, put the shape in it, then placed some bones over the shape. Because the shape has points in it, I'll later be able to assign those points to any particular bone. The bones can then be moved to create movement in the shape.

The main thing to know about placing the bones, is that they are in the proper sequence. If you get one wonky and out of place, the whole animation will foul up. Still, with a little experimentation, you may choose to create a little oddness in your animation by "misplacing" the bone order. Or, even add bones outside of the image and manipulate it in other ways.

That's about it for this one. I'll get part 2 finished as soon as possible, lest the dreaded Blue Screen gets me!

The music for this vid is "Wallpaper" by Kevin MacLeod of incompetech.com.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Almost There

So, today, I'd meant to put together that quick tutorial I'd mentioned in the last post.

It's almost there. When I say "almost there", I'm using my best impression of the pilot in that Star Wars scene. You know the one, when the Death Star is soon to meet its demise. And, yes, I'm staying on target.

I've got the vid together, but it needs a voice. Methinks it will be pretty dull with no sound, and what with all the reading that would have to be done. I'll get to it. And soon.

Creating a voice-over is no small thing around here. The noise is a bit difficult to get around. Still, it can be done with a touch of ingenuity, if the noise isn't too terribly loud. The free software application, Audacity, can actually handle it pretty well. There's a Remove Noise feature that does a fairly decent job. I've used it on nearly all the vids I've recently posted, though with the slightest bit of distortion. Still, you'd never know the little guy was playing Star Wars Lego on the PS3 in the background!

But, today was a little different. There's been goings on that could not be edited out. It's Chinese New Year!

Maybe tomorrow I'll get some work done. Soon, there's to be an equipment change I'm very much looking forward to, though not likely tomorrow. There may be some talk of it later.

In the meantime...
Gong Xi Fa Cai! \(^.^)/

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bones Layer Test- Anime Studio Pro 6

Recently, I revisited some old software that had been languishing on my laptop, Anime Studio Pro 6.

Now, I love this software, it's by far one of my favorite software purchases. But, I just haven't had much time to experiment with it. Still, every now and again, I revisit it and sort of re-learn it. Haha! I have to, since I can't retain the knowledge, for some reason. (O.o)

My latest lesson to myself has been using the bone layer function. With the bone layer, you can place a "skeleton" of sorts over an image you've drawn. Then by binding certain points in the drawing to the bones, you can animate the thing.

Pretty cool, huh?

I couldn't wait to give it a go, so I hurriedly scratched together a pic or two, admittedly they are out-of-proportion humanoids, but still. Then, I created a bone layer and drag a pic into it. I put some bones in there, and bound them up to parts of the picture using the "bind points" feature.

Here's the result of my quick work:

I particularly liked the light dancer in this one. I think I'll do a little more with that idea a bit later. The music was fun, too. The music, by Kevin MacLeod of incompetech.com, is called, "Cut and Run". He's got loads of nice stuff.

This little lesson seems ripe for a tutorial, so I'd better get busy making one.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Switch Layer Tutorial Part 3!

At last!

After much crashing of my ancient, fossil of a laptop (I'm petting it lovingly as I write this), and much gnashing o' what's left of my teeth, I've finished the final installment of the Switch Layer Tutorial Series. Yes, that should be bold font, as though it were being said in a grand way, though not loud and obnoxious, I hope.

Honestly, it was fun to do, though I'd rather have a bit more time for it. That, and maybe a touch more disk space. (O.o) A new laptop is in order. Though I've no idea what I really need. This will be in my thoughts for a while.

Now, on to other projects I suppose. I'm certain I've some sort of attention disorder. Of course, that topic is nothing new. Too bad I'm not focused on one subject long enough to make a living out of it! Ha!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Switch Layer Tutorial Part 2

As suspected, it took me all night, and, yep, there will be a part 3.

Should these vids prove un-useful to others, I know I'll get good use of them. Too many times have I learned how to do something with a piece of software, only to forget it all later!

It's just that I don't have loads of time to use the computer consistently. There's that, and the fact that my computer is completely full! Believe it or not, I've managed to use up nearly every byte. This despite putting lots of stuff on an external hard drive.

I'm really pushing for a new laptop. We'll see where that goes! Ha!

Now, onward to Part 3. But first, laundry~~~

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Switch Layer Tutorial Part 1

Well, it took me all night, but it's done. Just part one, though. It'll likely take me another night to complete Part 2. I'm not sure, but there may even be a third one!

This video is probably best viewed full screen, since there are wee details that are hard to see on that tiny box.

Disclaimer: Nope. I'm not a pro animator, so don't go expecting any great shakes.

Just enjoy the vid and maybe get a touch interested in animating for kicks, like I do. :o) I also enjoy doing the voice overs. Puts my Blue Yeti to good use.

Now, what's going to be in Part 2? I think I'll try to keep it short, for one thing. I will create several layers of the mouth image, naming each layer for the sound the mouth shape will look like. Then, alter the images to fit the sound. After all that, the layers will be put into a switch layer. Yep, looks like a trilogy in the making. At least. (O.o)


Friday, January 13, 2012

Animation Dreams

The other day, I decided to dust off some old software I haven't used in quite some time. The software, Anime Studio Pro 6.

I don't know what made me do it. There's not much time to be had, what with living and all that. But, learning to create animation has been sort of a dream of mine.

It started years ago, when I first learned to do an animated GIF on an old piece of software. The name of it escapes me, though it was part of an earlier version Photoshop. ImageReady, or some such item. Nevertheless, Out there on the web somewhere, there are likely several of my early GIFs floating around. They aren't very good. Still, the experience was enjoyable.

Shortly after the episode of GIF love, came the earlier versions of DrawPlus. Now you're talkin'! Finally, real animation could be created and saved as movies. I still use DrawPlus from time to time. I can create some nifty SWF movies. The other day, just for fun, I created a small machine of some sort. If you like, you can look at it HERE. It's a wee little thing, complete with sound effects and a couple of buttons. On the webpage, you'll notice my scrawlings alongside the "machine". Yeah, I have way too much time on my hands.

So, the project was a bit time-consuming. I had to re-learn how to start and stop the sound effects, as well as, the animation of the different elements. Still working on that. I'm a tinkerer, to be sure, thus the whole process took far longer than it should have. Hopefully, I'll retain what I've learned and won't need to learn it all over again the next time! Pretty much the whole project grew from my curiosity about layering SWF files within and under an image.

My latest project took much less time than "Machine". However, I'm certain it could be improved. I'm not very good at this animation stuff. Though I guess it's okay since anything I know about it is self-taught and, well, it's not my day job. Haha!

The slightly technical part of it:
I used Anime Studio Pro 6 to create the animation. The mouth, eyes and eyebrows were animated using switch layers. A switch layer is a layer containing different interpretations of say, a mouth. The software can synchronize those images to music or other audio, such as speech, automatically. Basically, what needs to be done is, the mouth needs to be drawn in its various positions; opened, closed, wide open, etc. Those images are placed into a switch layer. The software sorts it out to a degree, matching it to the audio. Although, a bit of tweaking must be done. I really want to do a tutorial on this. I've seen other tutorials about it, which are pretty good, but seem show it a bit more complicated than it really is.

Anyway, the following video is the result of my latest "animation dream". The audio is me, reading a blog post. The music is "How It Begins" by Kevin MacLeod from incompetech.com. This short vid is a bit wild with the particle animated background, I realize. I had no idea it would turn out that way, since the particles were created using a script. The final four hour rendering of the movie differed slightly from what I saw whilst editing. Yep, four hours! That's why it is left as is. ;o)

I just found the "reduce particles" option for better rendering of the above video. Yippee! Here's the improved version.

Just for reference, the video below is an earlier attempt at animation using audio sync and switch layers.

There'll be more of this in the future.