Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lullaby in the Plaza


Helloooooo everypony!

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 :)

-Lionheartcartoon

28 comments:

  1. That's breathtaking! Seriously.
    I haven't seen anything like this for, uh, never?

    Even the draft version was really beautiful, i cannot image it's beauty when it will be complete!

    p.s. I wounder if this can be converted into canvas (html) animated version.

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    1. Thanks for the compliment :) It's making this project so great to work on!

      I'm a bit puzzled by the question though.. as I am not a programmer, I do beleive it COULD get converted, but I can't say for sure. The animated image is a GIF right now.. but the video itself will be something else. Research on the matter would be needed :)

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  2. The entire scene looks gorgeous save for Luna's mane. The beveling on it looks off, the highlights are rather strong for something that I've imagined would be almost ephemeral. The enter of it also seems too opaque compared to how it's been seen in season 2. Finally where they overlap perhaps they should merge instead of subtractively blend? The overlap seems unusual, but that might be a side-effect of it being so opaque.

    I hate to criticise it though, especially when the rest is so outstanding...

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    1. Keep in mind that the mane is lit from behind as well. Unless it goes in front of the moon itself, it will look more opaque, as it is lighter than the rest of the background.

      But I agree.. the rimlight is a bit too violent. I'll make sure to correct that for the final render :) Thanks for pointing it out ^^

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  3. You both have really come very far with this, great work you 2! =)

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  4. Wow, beautiful. Fantastic. Majestic. Magnificent!

    Finally, Luna, the best pony amongst all, and also my favorite one, in both top class music and on art.

    Bravo! Let me say it in my national language:
    PRZECUDOWNE!

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  5. this is all looking/sounding fantastic! Please finish this!

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  6. You know, I cannot express how astonished I am right now at your incredible progress. You're making something so gorgeous, so incredible so fast! And the quality is amazing. Also, you're using After Effects (my favourite software). Now I REALLY want to help you guys in any way I can, but I'm guessing my amateurish skills are not required, given that you guys are pros...
    Anywho, I do have a question: Are you going to only make this video? Looking through your stuff, it seems like it's a bigger project than just this video. Am I right or just daydreaming?

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    1. Animation-wise, it's just this video. The story goes beyond but a strong backstory is what makes this even more solid (and makes fans like you wonder if there,s something before or after ;) )

      The story itself contains so many characters that it's a hard one to manage. In the future maybe, but don'T take my word for it. We're lucky to be able to do this at all right now :)

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  7. I noticed that the dark blue part of her mane is shaded like it's its own separate layer. I always imagined it as being just inside of the purple - it would all just be one separate layer with one set of shading/highlights, if you get what I'm saying. xD

    As Oliver said, I hate to criticize such an amazing project, but that's just my two bits.

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    1. Worry not, it's written down as something to correct and will be so by the time we're done :D

      Thanks for the concern :)

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  8. Seriously Awesome!! The wait is killing me, but all good things come to those who wait :D

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  9. I'm an aspiring animator, and I honestly have to say, to see a project of this scale and quality coming from two people is probably the most inspirational thing I've ever seen. You're forever my role models, and you've got a new fan who will follow you to the ends of the earth.

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    1. You're too kind my friend :) we're no heroes, we're just normal people doing what our talent allows.. a talent we work to perfect every waking hour :)

      Animation is rarely a 1-person job and while we're only two doing all that work, it doesnt change that I would not have been able to do this myself nor would Spirit be either :) It also helps that all you fans are rooting for us.. you guys are our energy :) Thanks infinitely for that :)

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  10. What bothered me before and now - the way you put highlights on inner, darker "splash of the space" in her mane makes it look like it is a separate piece, while in the show we clearly can see it is the whole (just like in NMM's mane). I, actually, wanted to mention it on DA but was sure you will notice it soon and fix by yourself, haha.

    Also, you once mentioned you have 3years of peofessional animation work behimd your shoulders - may I know what projects you worked on before?

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    1. Spirit mentionned 3.. which was a typo.. I worked 10 years in the Video Games industry where the tasks ranged from Pixel animation to text translation.

      I got to animate more and more in the later years which was welcome and as for Luna's mane, other comments pointed that out earlier. It's already corrected as part of the final render but I have not updated the screens here :) (In fact, only the DA shot got corrected)

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  11. Oh my!! This looks even better than original MLP animation (more light effects), is this even possible? Great work, keep it up man, and greetings from Germany :P


    Will you be able to convert this to an animated .png? .gif is always kind of ugly…

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    1. I agree, this looks way better then the original MLP. Also, I think I'll try sending her a $1, the animatic was worth it.

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  12. The progress you've made in this short time is amazing! Thank you both for letting me be any part of this, as small as it is. This has brought me significant joy in my darkest of moments recently. Thank you again! Keep being awesome!

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  13. I can't wait to see some nice teaser of it ^^ You are truly making this animation a masterpiece. And the fact that its with Luna... in a days before turning into Nightmare Moon... Its just even better. Finally someone is making it right.

    I have SOO many questions to you, but I will make it short. When you are making Outlines of your character are you using PS Pen tool to do this? I would love to see how it is done by professionals like you. I know I'm probably asking for too much but.. is it possible for you to make a video OR a practice/training picture for Deviant-art that could explain how it is properly done?

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    1. Hello there. LEt's see...

      If you are talking about the animation stills, we use flash for animation,so we only draw the symbols once. For the lines, we use the pen tool, and very often we have to convert those lines to fills to manipulate the vector properly.

      For Illustration, I use SAI (much better than photoshop for Lines, and amazingly more affordable). The stability of SAI lets me to do the Lines by hand in every case. If some line is specially difficult, I can realy on SAI's semivectorial tool and get a very precise result.

      Hope that hels.

      Best

      Jordana

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  14. You know you animation is hight quality when every still you release makes it onto the EqD drawfriend. Keep up the good work!

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  15. I don't know why I can't stop my tears watch these images. Wow, your amimation is very good with a great quality!
    It's so interesting to know how a wonderful animation works.

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  16. Hi there! Thanks a lot for creating this and especially for sharing your process and insights; can't wait to see the final piece.

    If you don't mind my asking... I'm seasoned in Flash, but have never touched After Effects. Do you have any recommendable resources for learning the sort of things you're doing with it here?

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    1. Youtube is a great place to start however there ARE basic tutorials online to start with after effects.

      I don't have the link right now but I'm quite sure you can find something better :)

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