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Project Updates: The Comedian / Random Testing Unit

I haven't posted to this blog for nearly a month because Animation4Business projects have been monopolising my time.

As well, I prefer to write about actual projects I'm working on over writing fill in posts like reviews (of which I have a couple I've been meaning to do).

The last week or two I've had some time to get back to my Random Testing Unit short animation project so I thought I'd give you an update on that as well as my Comedian animated short.



The Comedian


Regular readers will know I released a one minute, cut down version of The Comedian which I entered into Reallusion's CrazyTalk 8 Comedy Contest.

Unfortunately my entry didn't even get an honourable mention and lost any chance to win the entry with the most 'Facebook Likes' after some entrants tried to game the system with fake accounts. That prize was split between the three honourable mentions. Links to all the winners are in the embeded Facebook post below:



I don't want to sound bitter because I think the winning entries were well deserved however, this was a competition to feature Reallusion's CrazyTalk 8 software. Both winning entries make heavy use of iClone to set their scenes - which was not outside of the rules - but does give the impression you can do all that extra stuff with CrazyTalk 8 by its self.

The Comedy Bar Audience.
Anyway, since then I have worked a little bit on the iClone 6, Comedy Bar room set that I want to use for my wide shots as the character delivers his routine. The bar is completely filled with an audience which I now need to animate with enough movement so that the crowd looks reasonably natural and responding to the jokes.

I haven't given up on the animation. I definitely thought I'd be back to it before now. The thing is Random Testing Unit, which I thought would be a week long side project, turned out to be more challenging than expected.

Once I finish RTU I'll be back to The Comedian.

Random Testing Unit.

Random Testing Unit


Honestly, what a headache creating this animation has become. I've come pretty close to abandoning Muvizu altogether as a result.

The concept of directing characters has been very difficult to master well. I swear I spent nearly 3 hours trying to get one character to walk in a straight line from point A to point B and then turn slightly to face another character.

Then I had some issues getting the audio timed right with my actions as, for some reason audio refused to move around in the timeline. I've also struggled with the fact that, although you're supposed to be able to edit when a character action starts and finishes, I've found you cannot edit when a character action ends without simply recording new actions over it.

Another thing worth noting... Muvizu relies heavily on moving things around with a mouse. Originally I bought a wireless mouse for my laptop for this purpose but soon found it problematic. The response time between the mouse and directing my characters was very poor. Once I ditched the wireless mouse for a wired, USB mouse, the response times improved drastically... and I was much happier.

Along with that, I started animating my storyboard in scene order which, as it turns out, is a very slow way to work. I've found a much better system is to record all the scenes that use the exact same camera position as a single shot that I can cut up later and edit into the correct scene order in my video editing software.

Once I had the above revelation it helped me work much quicker in getting the shots I need. However I've been having issues with the final video renders of my scenes sometimes completely ignoring the lip syncing of the characters. What I end up with is a scene with talking but no character's lips are moving. This appears to be a bug as, I can render the scene again and things will be fine.

At this point, I'm now working my way through my shot list. I've recorded two full shots made up of about eight scenes from my storyboard. Twelve more shots to go. I think I've found a good workflow now so, hopefully, you'll see the finished result soon.

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