Revisiting the Experiment

Almost a year ago, I mentioned that I had discovered the site www.mytoons.com. In that blog post I mentioned that I felt my animation wasn’t really getting the amount of views I hoped they would get. So I put my animation on mytoons and when the results weren’t immediately different, I completely forgot about my experiment. I check back on MyToons.com from time to time because of their great newsletter, Animation Snack. But I hardly ever check on my own videos. Well, I did a check today and the results are astonishing!

My 11 Second Club animation has, as of today, 225 views on Vimeo. On MyToons it has 2004 views! A whole order of magnitude more views! My Trick or Treat animation has 141 views on Vimeo. Pretty sad for something I tried hard to bust out in about a couple months’ time. On MyToons it has 2091 views! (and I use Vimeo on drop the bomb productions!) Schrodinger’s Cat has 345 views on Vimeo, but 2287 views on MyToons. And, finally, Jose’s Dinner has 300 views on Vimeo and 2210 views on MyToons!

Plus they’ve recently been updating the video pages. I think they look MUCH nicer than they did before and do a better job of presenting the metadata about the animations than they did before.

So, if you are into animation, I strongly suggest putting your short films and animation reels on MyToons.com.

A brief respite from computer animation

I’ve spent a pretty good amount of my free time to try and finish Jose’s Dinner. Now that I’m done, I am taking a bit of a break from animation to do some of the other things I like to do, such as play civ4. The new expansion pack is coming out and I’m extremely excited. It has all kinds of great improvements like colonies, popes, and corporations. So I wanted to play one last game, Eric XI of the Chinese is probably going to be my last game before the expansion pack comes out.

I’m also finishing up with my pictures from Coney Island.

I wanted to make sure I didn’t get animation fatigue – I enjoy it, but doing something worth showing to others is time consuming and, since I mostly love the animation, some parts of it are tedious to me. However, I have two great new projects I’m working on. One is the project I was speaking of before I started Jose’s Dinner. I’m already in the storyboarding stage there and will simultaneously begin working on creating the characters and rigging them up. The second story is a bit more grandiose. I have some ideas and some scenes in my head, but that’s way,way in preproduction. I don’t even have a script yet.

So keep on checking up, probably starting next week, you’ll start seeing some of the first parts of my next animation.

Virtually Done

Alright, all of the video portion of “Jose’s Dinner” is now complete! All I’m missing now is the soundtrack. I’m currently emailing some people I think would be interested in providing the musical accompaniment. Once I get that in, it’s just a Cinelerra render command away from becoming my first animated short. Yay!

I now plan to refocus on some more basic Blender skills and give myself a break from the rigors of creating an animated short. I’ll be putting up some of the videos so you can see some of the neat concepts I’m learning. Hopefully some of them can make it into my next film and make it look even better than “Jose’s Dinner”.

It’s nice to be nearly done – it’ll feel amazing once I’m completely done.

The End is Near [for Jose’s Dinner] (Part 5)

The render took about 6 hours this time, thanks to the laptop participating in most of it and the fact that I gave the Windows computer even more frames to render. It still finished about 30 minutes before the *nix boxen, so I really need to get it integrated into drqueue. I worked on that a little yesterday, but it turns out I’m going to have to do some upgrades for that to happen and I’ll just wait until I’m 100% done with “Jose’s Dinner”, since I already know this setup pretty much works. The animation finally looks pretty good so I think I’m done tweaking it. I might do another render next week because for some reason a bit of a twitch was introduced into the animation which wasn’t there last time. Depending upon when I get someone to do the music, this could be done by the end of June or earlier.

The End is Near [for Jose’s Dinner] (Part 3)

suspicious_jose
I reviewed last night’s render today and I found a few little gaffes here and there. I made a list and fixed them up. I’m pretty confident that the next time I will be rendering the definitive version of the film. I’m pretty psyched. All that’s left now is to start up on the credits and add in the soundtrack. I’m hoping to be able to tap into some musical talent to do the soundtrack, but I haven’t found anyone yet. If you want to volunteer your skills, leave a comment.

The above shot is a rendered frame from the film. It shows our main character, Jose. It may be a little big for my main page, but it should look fine on the page for this post (depending on your screen size and resolution).

The End is Near [for Jose’s Dinner] (Part 2)

Well, the rendering is now done for “Jose’s Dinner”! Quite an improvement over 25 hours! Thanks to DrQueue, it only took 9 hours and 36 minutes! That is quite impressive! And, it would have been even better if my Windows computer had actually had DrQueue installed. I did a calculation that had me rendering 283 frames on Windows and letting the *nix boxen take care of the rest via DrQueue, but the Windows computer finished a litter earlier than I had expected (partially due to the laptop acting up). So the system wasn’t as efficient overall as it could have been. Could it have been as short as 8 hours? I’ll tell you one thing, though, it certainly is nice being able to have it finish over 9 hours. Instead of leaving it to render over night and waking up with it still going and then still going through work, it can now be done overnight. (At least for this particular animation with its level of complexity) If I can convince some more people to donate their POS computers to me, perhaps I can have myself a mini-Pixar. q;o)

Well, I’m extremely happy with the rendering results. Join me tomorrow….er…perhaps later today…..when I discuss how I think the animation itself went.

The End is Near [for Jose’s Dinner] (Part 1)

Well, today I finished up all the animation details on “Jose’s Dinner” and set it to render. I’m excited to see how long the render will take. I started it at 1438 today. However, it hasn’t been without hitch. Due, I think, to the wireless card trying to kick in, the laptop rendered for a while then suddenly couldn’t find the network anymore. That cost me about 30 minutes where the laptop wasn’t rendering – so that will skew the stats a bit. q:o(

So, if everything looks ok when I’m done, then I’ll move on to the final stuff – credits and sound.

I think I’m a clone now….

While cleaning up the animation for “Jose’s Dinner”, I was having a bit of trouble with the character’s mouth. I told it to open, but it still appeared closed.

jose_mouth_open1
It turns out that when I duplicated him and didn’t use the duplicate, I forgot to erase it. So there was a duplicate right underneath. What I was seeing was the closed mouth of the duplicate inside. It was as though he had eaten himself! Once I fixed this, it explained some of the problem I had been having and now, he was able to open his mouth!!

jose_mouth_open2

A little more benchmarking

I set “Jose’s Dinner” to render from beginning to end to test the eye and mouth movements I’ve done so far. It’s almost done, but it’ll probably need another hour. So it took around 25 or so hours to render on one computer. Now I have a benchmark against which to see how fast the renderfarm is. Remember that most of my computers are old POS donated computers. So I don’t know how much it will be able to speed things up. Tomorrow I will probably do a test render with the bouncing ball to see how much more quickly that one renders. I’ll be excited to see the results.

Excitement!

Last night around 2300 I finished up the preliminary 3D render of Jose’s Dinner. Now I just need to tweak up the animation with the fine details such as blinking and mouth movements. After that I just need to create the soundtrack and credits and the short film will be completed. I’m excited about debuting it, so this will probably take up all my spare time (instead of playing games or watching tv).

Yay!

Jose’s Dinner

Jose’s Dinner is what I am calling my first true animated short film. Unlike “Penguin Flight“, it actually has a plot! A lot a books I’ve read on animation have influenced the production of this short film. Most importantly, I created a 2D animatic – or animated storyboard. It REALLY helped me to get the timings correct and made the process a LOT less frustrating than it was with “Penguin Flight“, where I was always trying to guess how long/how many frames an action should take. As I have no training in animation, my timings might still be a little bit off, but they are MUCH, MUCH better thanks to the animatics!

I’ve also done another suggestion which is to overlay my 3D renders over the animatic as I finish up different parts. The result is like when you watch the special features section of a Disney movie. They show the film start off animated as in the final film, then it goes to color pencils, and finally to story boards. I’m pretty happy with the results so far.

I started on 4 April 2007 and have worked on it here and there. I haven’t worked on it every day since then. If you look at the dates on the file saves you’ll see that I tend to work in bursts. The most productive was last weekend at my in-law’s house. My goal is to be done by the end of this summer, but I could easily be done by the end of May or June if I worked hard enough on it. Here’s to hoping I don’t eat my words. q;o)

This should be the first animation I create with the Dr Queue renderfarm software if I can get it setup.

I’m looking for someone to provide music for me. Here’s the posting I put up on Vimeo.com:

I’m working on a short computer animated cartoon – it’s about 30-40 seconds long before adding in the titles and credits. I’m looking for someone to provide music in the same genre as the classic Looney Tunes.

It would have to be publishable at least under Creative Commons: ShareAlike-NoCommercial-Attribution. It could be less restrictive, ShareAlike, if you want, but it cannot be more restrictive.