Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Import flash puppet into toon boom animate [Part 1]

A few days ago I posted an image of a robot puppet work in progress. Before I spent more time finessing that one puppet though, I needed to figure out it is going to come into Toon Boom Animate Pro without any hiccups. So, I spent a good part of the weekend and today trying to figure out how to properly import a flash puppet into Animate Pro.
I started off by importing one of the finished puppets from my digicel 1 class final project from August 2010. I had intended for this to be entirely animated in flash and thus went all out. There were movie clips with effects applied to them nested inside graphic symbols. The graphic symbols themselves had different poses on different frames that I could select. So far, I only knew that Animate Pro had a pretty slick drawing substitution implementation. I was hoping the importer would be smart enough to figure out the flash substitutions just fine. However, the importer was far from smart. Saying "It did not go well" would be an understatement. Here is what my puppet looked like:
Yes, he was half naked, missing his glasses, and hands. Few things stood out immediately.

  • Toon Boom Animate Pro will not import symbols that are movie clips and have effects applied to them.
  • Animate Pro will not recognize your flash 'alternate drawings' or drawing substitution. The drawing substitutions panel is outright dumb. Observe exhibit B: A shoe substitution for the backpack.

The others however, I was left guessing at. I first tried shorter symbol names. I removed guide layers in the symbols, and I removed excess frames from inside my hands since I wasn't going to be able to use them anyways. I flattened the artwork (I have a habit of working in layers) and made all the symbols (even with multiple colors/shapes) one layer. But still, this:
  • Remove excess frames from inside the symbol timeline.
  • Remove guide layers
  • One layer artwork.

Here, I had just one layer for the hands; just one fill and one outline. To further simplify it, I took the darker outline out of the hands. Even though it made them look like amorphous blobs, I just had to get something in there. And I succeeded. (I removed the backpack and water bottle because they weren't necessary here)

  • Remove outline
  • No masks/Masking
The glasses and the eyes were the final piece of the puzzle. I did way too many things with the glasses to list here. And the real value is in telling what my big discovery was. It didn't matter how many colors or layers there were in the artwork, the problem was with lines. Once I used "Modify > Shape > Convert lines to fills" in flash, it imported just fine! Who coulda thunk it?

  • Toon Boom Animate Pro cannot import flash artwork that has lines.
  • Animate Pro will only import artwork that is all fill.
So even if you just sort of skimmed through the article, if you only remember the bulleted points, you'll save some of your hair from turning grey when you're trying to import flash puppet into Toon Boom Animate Pro.

Because I think this is already enough information to type(for me) and swallow,(for you) I will post part two of this tomorrow or something.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Going from thumbnail to finished

I quickly sketched out a few thumbnails for a layout. I was pretty happy with few and I got the go ahead to finish them. I started off with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm. However, a few hours into working in illustrator, I was not feeling the same way about it anymore. I couldn't figure out why and feeling frustrated, I put that on the shelf for a week. I decided I really should be getting back to that so I open up the file today, and like magic, I suddenly saw all the problems.
My thumbnail was highly cropped, and left a lot of details to be filled in by the viewer's brain. (I realize detailing and finessing is one of my weak points, that's why I could never be an illustrator. But I knew I did this one finished background before so I should be able to do this too.) But in illustrator, I was working with an expanded canvas. And that's where I screwed up trying to fill in this extra space in illustrator. Here is a screenshot for you all to see what I'm talking about. The ground plane for instance. And the foreground building on the left. Maybe I will start over. Maybe I needed this kick.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Damn this Mukesh Singh is pretty awesome!

I was going through my RSS feeds and on I saw some amazing illustrations that looked inspired by Indian Mythology. The title of the post was Art from Grant Morrison's 18 days. "Huh?" I went.

But as I went on reading further, I found out that this book has a story inspired by the Mahabharat and the illustrations are done by the same Mukesh Singh who did other sequential art stuff like Devi, Gamekeeper, Shadow Hunter. I was immediately tempted to buy this book. And I would recommend this to anyone interested in Indian mythology or art.

Robot character design for 2D production

Here is a work in progress image of my robot puppet being done in flash. I had intended to animate this guy in Animate Pro. However, looking at the puppet now, I think I might have made a mistake with the character design considering my medium.

Because he is such a boxy character, a lot of perspective comes into play. Shapes will look different when his arms and feet are moving about. Doing a very convincing walk with him could be difficult.

I would appreciate any suggestions or cheats to make this work.

Not for people with upper body strength of a 10 year old girl

I cannot swim, have a fear of deep waters and I decided to sign up for an activity that involves me being alone in a narrow canoe in a river for half a day. Why? Because my best friend Soumitra Goswami convinced me to.
"It is not very deep at all" he said, "You can stand in the water and it only comes up to your waist."
"That doesn't sound too bad."
"Yeah, its fun. I can't swim either."
*blank stare*

So once I was assured that I wouldn't have to do a barrel roll underwater or something crazy like this, I went and put down my $25 bucks for a Friday I would be looking forward to more than any other day! (It was a day after my birthday and I am not a fan of my birthdays)

The build up:
All the prep that was required was to make sure I was dressed for the heat and to get wet. Put on my beach shorts and the new sleeveless t shirt I had just bought. No camera, no cellphone, no ipod no headphones. Just some cash, and the keys to my bike and apartment. I skipped breakfast as I thought I was running late. Big mistake! We were going to have lunch provided by the ISSO but that wasn't going to be until later in the day. Thankfully, Justin in the car had some cherries, strawberries and blackberries. The ride wasn't too long. Soon we were outside the car and stretching while Joshua was getting the kayaks ready.

Between conversations(I am really not much of a talker) with all the new people around me, I took some time off to wander around. Looking out to the calm river that I will be traveling down, all the trees, the critters...(I walked up to the little bridge where I saw a tiny grey/almost white frog sitting extremely still on the post... Gah I wished I had my camera! As you can see, it is hard for me to be away from technology. I moved on, fascinated at having seen what I saw and thinking nobody else will ever be able to experience the moment they way I did.

Boats away:
I wasn't sure if I wanted to be the first one in the water or the last one. I was in some mystery land between excited and apprehensive. After Matthew was in the water, (big guy who used to be a life guard) I figured it was safe to go in. I grabbed a paddle, put on the bright orange life jacket and sat down on the cushion. Joshua pushed me into the water, and with minimal rocking back and forth, I was moving forward gently. Time to put my paddle in the water and practice what we'd been instructed.
"Make sure both your hands are equidistant from the center. Make sure the paddle is not slanted or you're not getting the most out of your stroke. When you want to turn left, put your oar in the left side and paddle backwards. Likewise for the other direction. Quickly paddle backwards to stop."

Once everyone was in the water and the newbies had had enough practice, we decided to head out the first bend. Joshua took the front, Matthew was in the middle. I knew that's where I wanted to be! And Jeff was in the long canoe at the very end. An advantage of being in the middle is people up ahead could warn us of trees or shallow spots coming up. You can learn from their mistakes and be prepared. I got really hot under the life jacket so I decided I wanted to take off my t-shirt. I told Matt I wanted to do this and he guided me to a shallow stop, and stayed close while I very carefully removed my t shirt and put the life jacket back on. However, as people had started paddling faster, I fell behind.Which meant no overexcited people speeding towards me from the behind, and the the sound of collective human blabbering will only be coming from one direction.

All I wanted to hear was the sound of my own breathing, the water from my paddle, the rustling of the trees and the birds that flew about the woods. No cars, no machines, no appliances, no computers, no cellphones or headphones. Just the insects the, the heat...wait, I thought this was supposed to be fun.

Second Leg:
I had already admitted to Jeff that I was tired. That didn't mean I'd given up. However, I was relieved when he said, "we'll have a swim break soon enough." I saw that people had started collecting around a sandbar. I relaxed and got there at my own pace, parked my kayak and reached for another Gatorade. I watched the others get into the water while I stood under a shady tree. Weirdly, I was talking to people about Professor DaCosta's stories from Animation History class. Once people who swam were done cooling off, we took a quick group shot and were on our way again.

This time I decided to start early. Big mistake. As I bumped into one tree, then another. As the river sped up around the corner, I got stuck in a beaver dam. Joshua and Matt both had to come to my rescue. They held the tree branch so I had some room to duck and get out and didn't get scraped. While also pushing me since I couldn't paddle fast enough. I was freed, but Matthew was now stuck. And his kayak flipped in the process of trying to get himself out. Think he lost his t-shirt then.

Well, paddling more carefully and slowly, I kept going till it was time to take the lunch break. We approached a sandy shore and parked our canoos. I couldn't wait to get into the cool water and cool off. I also needed food. There was some delicious cold rice, the recipe for which I'd be getting from Jeff for sure. And some sandwiches and chips. I sat in the shallow water with my plate of food, and a cold bottle of coke. It was amazing.

Last Leg
After we were all stuffed up with food, we began the last and longest and for me the most painful part of the trip. It was like an endurance test. But I think after one point my brain completely shut down the pain. I just knew I was going to feel it tomorrow. I did not let it interfere with my enjoyment of the serene location. I was one of the last couple of people to get to our pick up point. There we emptied the kayaks, helped load those up in the carrier and had some watermelon. Then we were on our way to return to good old Savannah and relax after our amazing day kayaking at the Ogeechee river

Friday, February 11, 2011

Search and ye shall find

The solution to those tricky annoying popups and pop unders:

I remember the days when browsers did not have popup blockers built in. Popups were getting so out of control that third party developers decided to cash in on this by offering softwares that promised to block these popups. They would tout their abilities by number of popups blocked. Us early adopters of the internet considered them our saviors. Slowly browsers started coming with pop up blocking built in. Oh Joy! Now browsers were boasting about their pop up blocking capabilities. The third party softwares had their fifteen seconds of fame.
I might be wrong here, but I like to believe there was a time when the problem went away with 'good/nice' web developers agreeing that popups were an annoyance. We could go about our major online activities without being bombarded with popups. Popup blocker wasn't talked about anymore. And the term 'popup blocker' was put on a shelf or in some internet museum. Ask the kids today and they might not know about it at all. Or they might assume it was something that was just there; like cellphones or high speed internet. But those who relied on the home phone line and a dial up modem know how it came to be.
But like those once in a while reception issues(or persistent reception issues for those on At&t), there are some websites that still manage to throw popups at you. They have successfully outsmarted the ignored and outdated popup blockers in these browsers. By the use of javascript, clicking anywhere on the page, even if it is not apparent as a link, can trigger multiple popups.
To see what I am talking about, and to get a (safari)solution to this, go here. (be prepared for google bing and some other website popping up in different windows when you click on the test area)
Basically your problem should be solved. But much thanks if you are still reading along.
On one distracted friday afternoon, I decided I didn't want to 'suffer' through another popup again. I googled "advanced popup blocker chrome safari". The solution was in the top two links.(your mileage may vary.) But go here to download the google chrome extension. I also found the link to the same extension for safari 5 and my next task is to install it on there. Happy popup-ad free browsing!

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Glitch

Here's a story I wrote for my concept development class. The directive was to explain the death(falling from the sky) of the blackbirds in Arkansas.

In a dark room, Jai is illuminated by multiple computer monitors showing long lines of text. He has his foot up on the table and a keyboard in his lap. He types some stuff then picks up the keyboard and puts it on the desk. Grabs his cup of coffee, takes a sip and goes to put it back down.
Just as he is pulling his hand away from the cup, there is a loud banging on the door and he spills the coffee on the keyboard.

“Jai! We have a situation out here!” a hoarse voice yells. Jai is still trying to save the keyboard, turning it upside down on a towel and patting it. As he is doing this, some code is being typed in on the screen inadvertently. A warning dialog box pops up with OK and Cancel buttons.

Banging on the door again. We see Jai walking over to the door opening it up and walking back to the keyboard with the other guy following behind saying “the temperature program is going haywire…”

“I’ve got problems of my own, Phil” Jai says as Phil is transfixed on the computer monitor to which Jai is not paying any attention.

“What did you do!” says Phil still staring at the monitor as Jai finally looks up…

“Raining birds! How the…” Jai expresses in disbelief and despair.

Phil trying to hide how amused he is by this says “Dude, you are so getting fired for this!”