Lionheart doing this post and I thought I'd show a progression as well as a little proof the project's going forward ;)
Today's shot was the Plaza… and here it is in it's infancy. The first image ideas I drafted at the time and added to the timeline to make sure the progression of the action was consistent and flowed well with what was before. At that point we have listened to the song a lot of times.. A-LOT-OF-TIMES. Had we gotten tired of it we probably would have known at this point that we didn’t have something good either visually or in terms of audio for what we were doing.
Luckily for us, everything was honky dory and the imagery that kept coming to mind spoke for itself, so I went ahead and linearted the sequence in animation, directly in flash, again to make sure it flowed AND to use as a template later for animating full-resolution. Had I done this just before the actual animation I would have had troubles detecting possible problems. Animation is about testing and testing and testing again to see every little flaws. And even then, you may not see them all. So the sooner the first test draft is done, the more time you have to foresee problems ;)
Of course, before any real layout work is done, the animatic has to be completed so once it was, I set forward to use the designs of the town and render a full-size layout line-art and ready-to-paint background image. This is where knowledge of perspective and balance are needed. Even with a working draft BG, there are major corrections to do in terms of perspective. And it has to be: otherwise the character won't be evolving in a solid background and will look wonky. This meant a lot of back and forth.. communication between me and Spirit was crucial to make sure we both liked what was being done, that the composition was working and that we always had a fresh eye on the production.
So when that's done, it's a good step forward!
Animating is what takes the longest time. Some hate and rue Flash's tweening process.. and I would agree most of the time. See, the Tweening is an estimation of how something moves..as well as a straight line between the two keyframes. So sometime's it's right but for my purposes it's usually wrong and makes a lot of stuff look robotic. I got myself a little plugin to make the ease-in and ease-out automatically which helps a lot and upon which I can add extra keyframes to reduce the 'blockiness' of the animation.
Luna being a quadruped… which I happen to have quite an easy time animating.. doesn’t make matters easy thanks to Flash's un-intuitive nature. Drawing a character in perspective is one thing… constructing it out of symbols with a hierarchy is another. BUT it pays off in the end as the character is always on model AND can be re-used later more easily than a drawing.
Once I spent the better part of a 24h period animating a few seconds of animation, it's off to after effects where it all comes together. This is where I get to see the fruits of my labor look more and more part of the scene we intended for it. Color adjustment, lighting, extra shadows and shades, background anims and special effetcs are all done in there. Not one shot of the project will escape from this place ;) All that's left after that is to render the composite images and import in Adobe Premiere where I see if the timing from flash to final was lost or has to be tweaked. Many times I saw mistakes in Premiere as some effects bring up defects or the previous and following shots highlight a problem in that new shot.
Whew.. so there you have it! How things are being done, how it is and will be for what's left of the project, one shot at a time :)
I hope you like it as much as I do :)