High-quality realistic Gaze Warping. Seamlessly change where the eyes in a hi-res photo are looking. Currently it’s an academic paper and an WebGL demo. I’m guessing: next stop, Photoshop integration? That might mean there would be no need to do a fiddly pose of your 3D character’s eyes, as you could fix the gaze afterwards in Photoshop.
CrazyTalk Animator 3 has been recently released. It’s a relatively easy and accessible 2D package for animators and also a drawing aid to cartoonists, and is one of Reallusion’s most appealing bits of software. There’s a range of short tutorials on version 3 in the Reallusion YouTube channel. But it’s really difficult to track down a “new features” overview in a ten minute video, and I don’t think there is an official one yet. There are videos for each new feature, though.
In terms of new content enabled by version 3 the cats and dogs are new packs. Breeds are extra purchases, but even the outlines look especially useful for budding animal cartoonists…
Reallusion does have a full online manual which has been updated for V.3 — just type “New for v3” into the search box to see the technical details on what’s new. One of the big changes is that a user can “put bones in anything”, and create “free bone” non-human characters. Animate a book, for instance.
I see that a coming patch for the $299 Pipeline version will allow the creation of 2D rigged characters from Photoshop layered .PSD files. Automated, I’m guessing, from a correctly named template .PSD? That would be interesting, especially as Sketchbook Pro can output .PSD files.
And apparently their real-time animation software iClone 7 is set to ship in December. If it has a Comic Book Mode as good as the one in Poser 11, I’ll be interested.
Got an Ugee drawing tablet, and rather envying the shiny row of buttons that your friend’s Cintiq tablet has on the side? Envy no more! If you have an old USB-wired console game controller, such as a nice ergonomic Microsoft XBox controller for the PC, then just get the free Windows shareware JoytoKey.
JoytoKey lets you map the buttons and joy-stick of the game controller to software things like Save, Undo, switch brush to Eraser, etc. This video from Trevor Daley explains it fairly well, for a simple photo ‘pick & tag’ software… just be aware that the download link URL he uses is now flagged as a hijacked ‘attack site’ (eeek!). The safe and official JoytoKey software is now over at the official site JoyToKey.net.
So far as I can tell JoytoKey is fully functional, despite being shareware. There’s an optional $7 PayPal payment if you want a licence, but I’m not sure what it might unlock. Maybe there’s a timeout or you eventually get a useage nag, but I haven’t encountered it yet.
JoytoKey doesn’t need to be installed. Just unzip and set it to start in Windows XP compatibility mode, or if you’re confident then give it Administrator rights. Then load JoytoKey (works fine for me in Windows 8.1), click the controller button you want to configure, then Edit the button assignment. Once you’re set up you can save a labelled configuration file for each software package you want to use it with, such as Photoshop, Sketchbook Pro, Clipstudio (aka Manga Studio) etc.
So, for a low cost you effectively get the nice buttons of a $2,000 Cintiq, but in a quite literally ‘more handy’ form — in your hand as a controller, and one made with all the ergonomic expertise of Microsoft! You can totally remove the need for a keyboard while you’re drawing on an Ugee tablet, and there’s much less need to be moving your arm around the screen to select menu items and the Undo.
I have yet to test if I can map one of the joysticks to smoothly grow or shrink the size of a brush as the stick is thumbed, but that may also be possible.
I see that there are two new open-source Windows video editors, since I last went looking for a possible replacement for the lumbering heap of annoyances that is Adobe Premiere Elements 12.
Each is relatively simple, compared to the various behemoths that are meant for editing Hollywood movies. They may thus may be useful to you, if the old Windows Movie Maker is too limited or if Adobe Premiere Elements is just too awful an experience to keep on using. I installed both, and as a test I tried slapping together an 28Mb audio .MP3 and a 1Mb still .JPG, and outputing to a video small enough to upload to YouTube (less than 100mb).
* OpenShot 2.0 (beta) has a Windows version and a simple modern interface. Though it’s not 64-bit, which may be why it crashed for me again and again on final rendering, tried with three different export settings. Uninstalled.
* Shotcut. Windows 64-bit, but I never got it to the rendering stage. Because the simple task of fitting a static .JPG onto an .MP3 audio file is made into vastly more work than it should be, and in an interface that only a software developer could really love. Uninstalled.
So, no luck for me with these two. But you may have a different experience. OpenShot 2.0 in particular is worth a try, to see if you get crash-free exports.
* 64-bit version.
* Now has a Mac version.
* Masked PNG output, for use in Powerpoint.
* Support for semi-transparency on import (from Flash only?).
* Variable outline-width (but no Photoshop-style artistic-line Styles, yet).
Studio Ghibli’s former animation software Toonz is being made open source (100% free) from 26th March 2016. It has “the ability to combine the hand-drawn animation with the digitally painted ones seamlessly”. It was also used to make Futurama.
The current owners want to make it “a world standard for 2D animation”, hence it’s becoming a freebie. The new open version will be developed under the name of OpenToonz.
Check out especially the Plastic Tool, and think how one might use that with a Poser comic-book mode render to speed up comic book production. And “apply brushes along the line” on both raster and vector. Yum, this will be very interesting to explore.
More official training and features videos here.
A new Cartoon Brew article “How Long Should It Take To Draw A [animated TV series] Storyboard Panel?”. The math is here.
“A 25-year veteran of the TV animation industry recently sat down to figure out the average amount of time it takes to draw a board panel. […] an average of 20 minutes, based on a script with equal parts action and acting, and importantly, no revisions.”
It seems that, traditionally, 11 minutes of TV animation took six weeks to fully storyboard for production. Arguably, some children’s animation has generally become much more complex in each shot since the 1990s. Compare Wacky Races with Gravity Falls, for instance. But it appears that, rather than the time worked increasing due to the complexity, it’s actually decreased in the industry.
It seems like everyone’s releasing everything! After Micheal 7, Poser 11, Keyshot 6, and SketchUp 2016… now it’s HitFilm 4 that’s just been released!
It’s all happening! A new Poser coming, and now Muvizu wakes up as well. According to their news mailing Muvizu, the very useable and free real-time toon production software from Glasgow, is moving forward again with a new Chief Exec. Also…
“From August we will introduce a market place where we will offer new characters – and content packs as well as expansion packs including multi-layer rendering and key framing.”
The Disney Accelerator opens on 6th July 2015. Ten startup companies from around the world…
“will be selected to gather in the Los Angeles area for three months, to accelerate their ideas and build exciting consumer media and entertainment products.”
A group of artists explores the best ways to produce a photorealistic 3D human face. A face that doesn’t freak people out, by looking not-quite human. Their early work is now available as a free Maya file (non-commercial use only).
Amazing Disney animation from the 1960s, showing his team’s wonderful visions of the sorts of creatures that might have lived on Mars. Great inspiration here for creature design in 3D…
At the risk of temporarily turning this blog into a Tomorrowland fan blog, I must say that I was fascinated to find that the Tomorrowland novelisation was quite different at certain points. It’s an easy read of a few hours, being 160 or so pages in plain English meant for young adults, and is skip-able in places where the action is the same as in the movie.
The novel has additional information about the back-story that’s unavailable in the prequel novels / ARG / comic-book / deleted scenes etc. Those interested in what deleted scenes might be on the Blu-ray, and also any Tomorrowland fan-fiction writers, may be interested in the changes and differences — along with the Plus Ultra timeline that’s been drawn from the above sources. So I’ve spent 30 minutes typing up my rough notes on the novel’s differences.
Warning! Spoilers, if you’ve not yet seen the movie or read the novelisation:
1. Young Frank’s aggressive farmer father tells Frank that his childish optimism won’t mow the cornfield. Frank invents a device to automatically steer his father’s combine harvester. Frank also sets fire to the corn when he uses his jet-pack, a scene that is known to have been filmed and was the original opening of the movie.
2. At the 1964 World’s Fair, Frank sees an exhibit that claims to use a computer to accurately predict the random fall of balls on a pinball-like table. This foreshadows the functioning of The Monitor. (It’s possible this was filmed, since it has been refered to — by ARG fans who saw early footage — as the “IBM pavilion ‘Probability Machine.'” and they were able to quote the dialogue spoken. They also noted a scene of a close call with a costumed The White Rabbit, and Frank looking admiringly at Father Progress on the Carousel of Progress. They also spotted that Michael Giacchino, the film’s composer, plays the Small World ride’s boat-loader).
3. Young Frank’s conversation with Nix at the World’s Fair reveals that he had learned, from reading of failures at Bell Labs, how not to build a jetpack.
4. In the novel, Casey also lives with her TV-slumped Uncle and dull cousins Mikey and Clarissa. They are unseen, but mentioned.
5. The scenes in Casey’s school classes omits her question of: “So, what are can we do to fix it?” (The movie also filmed a scene with Casey in detention at school, which might follow on from her question — the detention is not in the novel).
6. During the car ride home from the police cells, Casey’s dad tells her he’s been fired. The site demolition foreman had assumed that Casey’s father had asked her to do the sabotage to keep him in work.
7. The Blast From the Past shop staff tell Casey details of the augmented reality system connected to the pins, that Disney was “one of Plus Ultra”, that Disneyland was “just a cover” for Plus Ultra training, and that “they” (Plus Ultra) were planning to go public at the 1964 World’s Fair.
8. While driving to Frank’s house, Athena uses her robot eyes to project the video of a 3-year old Casey that is seen in the movie. Athena says that she found it on YouTube and that it had led her to Casey.
9. While driving to Frank’s house, across the empty spaces of the mid-west, the only radio Casey and Athena can pick up is hellfire evangelical preachers ranting about the end-of-days. Athena turns off the radio, with “strange black eyes” that Casey assumes is the equivalent of robot tears.
10. Athena reveals that she was built in 1957.
11. Frank still lives on the old family farm. He has been a total recluse, but has lately struggled with himself enough to at least go out once a week.
12. Nix hasn’t aged much since 1964, but he claims not to be a robot. He says there are “just enough” people in Tomorrowland to keep the city running, and talks of the need to gather massive power to feed The Monitor (named “The Oracle” in the novel).
13. There is a scene of robots returning through a portal “bridgeway” from Earth, carrying away great art, literature and memorabilia to save it from the coming destruction.
14. Casey doesn’t see a ‘Monitor prediction’ of Earth demonstrations and other moments / types of destruction, simply the devastated Earth as it is three months after the “Inevitability” (doomsday). The Monitor cannot see three months either side of the moment of destruction, “because of the radiation”. This implies nuclear destruction, but those in Tomorrowland are uncertain of the precise cause of what they call the “Inevitability”.
15. When The Monitor was first built, the chances of the “Inevitability” (doomsday) were 1 in 10. Gradually, the odds became slimmer and slimmer. Nix decided (secretly?) to change or boost the Monitor so as to subtly inculcate a feeling of pessimism in humanity, hoping it would shock them into action. Instead, his actions had an unexpected effect — Nix found that humanity took a perverse delight in its new-found pessimism. As he says, pessimism demands nothing of one today, and no thought for tomorrow. Presumably he then tried to increase the effect, vainly hoping that ever-higher levels of pessimism might shock humanity awake.
16. Casey’s realisation of the Monitor’s unintended pessimistic effect is developed a little more slowly in the novel, with a montage of flashbacks.
17. Frank talks of his ability to detect and pirate the Monitor’s signal on Earth being because Nix was turning the Monitor “on and off”. Nix later contradicts this by saying that Monitor cannot be turned off, since it now powers the city. The unspoken implication is that Nix is lying and that he has been secretly turning the Monitor off briefly, perhaps in order to siphon the vast power to some sort of machine that keeps him so young. Such an action might also grimly help explain the under-population of the city.
18. Nix accepts Frank’s handshake at the portal because he had been Frank’s old mentor and teacher. He has been the Governor since at least 1964.
19. Athena remembers and states the exact date of Frank’s exile: 24th April 1984, when he was presumably aged about 29. She says the date is forever burned into her memory.
20. The moment before Frank straps on a Tomorrowland jet-pack and takes off with Athena, he cracks a joke, and so finally makes her laugh. While living in Tomorrowland he had never managed to make her laugh like a human.
21. All the robots/androids stop working when the Monitor is destroyed. (In the film, in contrast, it appears that a few dusty androids emerge cautiously from the ruins to peer at their two liberators). In the novel, Frank and Casey survey the ruins of the city for a longer time.
22. There is a very different pre-credits ending. This is much more low-key and less glitzy / ‘Benetton ad’ than the movie’s ending. You’ll have to buy the book for that one 🙂 Or wait for the Blu-ray, as I’m assuming this is the alternate ending that the director says was filmed.
Also… (warning: more big spoilers)
Raffey Cassidy (Athena) said in a press interview with Marybeth Hamilton (“Exclusive: Raffey Cassidy on the Secret of Athena’s Blue Dress in Tomorrowland!”) that there was a scene where the camera was inside a monorail, the monorail car drew up to a stop, the doors opened and beyond the doors the camera looked straight at Athena and Frank (adult, played by Clooney) waiting on the platform, who were looking into the opened monorail doors at Casey. It’s not in the theatrical release. I wonder if that was one of the alternative endings? An interview with Lindelof seems to confirm something that sounds like this, he said there’s a portrayal of Casey in the deleted scenes for Tomorrowland that shows another Casey (growing into adulthood?) and “shows the evolution of where we ended up” after the movie.
For that monorail doors scene to work as an ending, the current pre-credits scenes would presumably have been cut after about the “glowing trees” scene in the movie. Instead we might have had a voiceover monologue from Casey with a montage of scenes showing: the novelization’s alternative ending on Earth (not in the movie); the “come and help us, Dad” scene from the movie; impressionistic scenes of getting the city back into working order again; Casey wistfully watching the new generation of recruiter robots depart through the portals, and being sorry that none of them look like Athena. Then the big recruitment/wheat-field climax. Fade to black. Then fade slowly up into a coda with Casey riding the monorail, maybe older, re-construction and new life all around, Dad off doing his thing at the spaceport, which he’s called her over to visit because he has a ‘surprise’. Her voiceover says that Frank is so busy these days, on some mysterious project, so that she hardly sees him. The future looks bright, of course, but she often feels the need of old friends and like minds to get her bearings in the whirl of the new world. The monorail doors open… the movie ends with a scene of Frank and Athena on the platform, looking at Casey, spaceport in the background. Frank smiles, Athena also smiles, and cocks her head to the side in a slightly robotic manner. Frank wears a spacesuit and carries a helmet. Athena tells Casey: “We’ve saved a seat, just for you…” and holds out a space helmet. Casey is going to stars, just like her 3-year old self had hoped. Fade to black.
The implication that the audience would be left with is that Frank has had Athena re-made… (the prequel novel talks of how robots are only partly ‘in’ their shell and have a sort of collective remote backup mind – so with that and Frank’s genius, it’s possible).