Skip to main content

Mia and the Tourist: Droid Seat - Animated Short Work in Progress... So Far

Still from Mia and the Tourist: Droid Seat. Mia with the Rental Car Manager.

Over the past few months I've been working on a new animated short, Mia and the Tourist: Droid Seat, showing the behind the scenes of the project and reviewing the applications I've been using as I go. Since the animation has taken a bit of a back seat to the reviews I thought it was time to do a quick recap of the project so you can see all the work done so far.

The Idea

In this blog I covered my process of creating G3 character rigs for Cartoon Animator using Avatars created with the mobile app, Oppa Doll. Two characters I created were based on my own original characters, Mia and the Tourist, who are interdimensional space/time travellers (basically Doctor Who types).

Very loosely based on myself (or at least my The Extraordinary Tourist persona) and my partner, Enigma, they first appeared as Anime style characters, with their replica, sentient, R2-D2 droid in a GoAnimate Short, The Star Wars Fan (definitely one of my better GoAnimate efforts with all the voice work done by me).

I'd never used my Oppa Doll versions of the characters in an actual animation so I decided now was the time. In subsequent shorts, and ComiPo! comics, I tended to depict them doing very ordinary things that travellers might do, which lead me fairly quickly to renting a vehicle with space for a droid.

Writing the Script

To write the script I used KIT Scenarist, a completely free, opensource, screenwriting application that's all you need for writing screenplays - though I also use the research section for planning my courses too. It's here that I came up with my brief synopsis.

Dimensional time travelers, Mia and the Tourist, along with their replica R2-D2 droid, visit a car rental company with the intent to lease a car with provisions for a 'droid seat'.

Comedy ensues as the rental car manager isn't sure if they're being serious about their very specific requirement.

There is an exchange of dialogue until they finally resolve the situation by choosing a car with a sun roof.

I like KIT Scenarist, particularly for screenplay writing, because its work flow makes it easy to get over staring at a blank page. There's lots of things you can be doing to start bringing ideas together before you even start writing a script. Click the link above for my full review.

Creating the Storyboard

With Storyboarder being the only free storyboarding software available I decided to put it through its paces despite admitting I'm not a fan of the application.

Unfortunately I wrote my script in a non-standard structure, which I had no idea would be a problem for Storyboarder which rigidly sticks to what it expects when you import your script and won't let you move panels between scenes (at least I couldn't work out how if you can).

Admittedly it was my error in how I formatted the script but one essential feature of a storyboarding application, I would've thought, is the flexibility to move frames around. Despite that Storyboarder is a great app with some very unique features. It's just not for me.

Follow the link to my review where you'll see some panels from my first draft storyboard of Mia and the Tourist: Droid Seat.

Creating Backgrounds

The exterior Rental Car Yard Scene.
Taking a break from reviewing applications I gave you my best tips on creating background scenes for your characters using Reallusion Content Store and Marketplace assets. Click through to the article to  see my two complete background scenes (not just the sections you'll see in the final animation) for Mia and the Tourist: Droid Seat. See how they compare to my initial storyboard sketches.

Character Rigging

My script had an additional Rental Car Yard Manager Character for which I created a full, twenty minute, video demonstrating how I created the character in Oppa Doll, and then used my one sprite technique to rig a front facing view of the character in Cartoon Animator.

Watch this video in my review for TimeBolt, a rapid video editing software that instantly removes long, awkward pauses from recorded video footage (or can automatically speed up footage when you want to leave it in but just not show it in real time). It's an application so good I became an affiliate because my biggest reason for not wanting to create tutorials is having to manually edit out hundreds of pauses in hours of my screen recorded video.

Voice Recording with Replica Studios

A year has passed since I first brought Replica Studios realistic, Human, A.I. voices to your attention. It was time to give it a proper review, testing out some newer features, and seeing if the voices have yet gotten to a level to fully pass for actual human voices.

While I had mixed feelings about my results the 30 minutes of free credit is more than enough to put the voices through their paces to see if they work for you. Additional credit is very affordable and you can get extra free credit when someone signs up with your special link.

As part of my Replica review I posted a full, first draft animatic, with voices (one of which was my own recorded voice) of my animation to give you a feel for how they work in an actual project. Some voices are definitely more natural than others.

Second Draft, Final Assets Animatic, with Revised Replica Voices

I wasn't happy with my Rental Car Manager's Replica Voice, which sounded very computer generated, so I went through and chose another character voice that I hope sounds more natural.

Mia's voice also had some issues where I'd tried to adjust the pitch slightly in the hopes of toning down her youthful high pitched delivery. Unfortunately it gave her voice a slight echoing sound that seemed to highlight more that her voice is computer generated. So I removed all the pitch adjustments.

After doing that I fired up my copy of Cartoon Animator and recreated all my storyboard stills using the actual assets I created for the animation. Next I added my updated voices and put together a final assets animatic which you can view below.

Hopefully you'll agree the voices sound better. Though I still think they don't really measure up to actual human voices. However for small, animated, shorts with no budget, they're passable.

Animating the Scenes

I had hoped to have this animation finished by now but animating each scene is taking a little longer than I anticipated. Not least because I'm a stickler for detail and keep seeing little improvements I want to make. Of course any 'little' improvement in animation generally ends up on the 'big' side of what you think 'little' ought to be.

Animating Mia and the Tourist: Droid Seat in Cartoon Animator 4. Here you can see a cross section from my timeline of the various characters.
Animating Mia and the Tourist: Droid Seat in Cartoon Animator 4.
Here you can see a cross section from my timeline of the various characters.

Having said that, I don't consider myself to be any kind of expert at animation. I've read more theory than I've actually put into practice by doing the work. I rely heavily on Cartoon Animator's premade motions much more than I'd like, and I'm not above overlooking imperfections rather than fixing them.

I won't be going through my process for animating this project in Cartoon Animator because beyond setting up my various camera shots for my final animatic I don't really have a process. I'll take the animatic, remove all the character poses I did for each character so I start with no actual key frames for anything other than the camera. Then I just start animating, scene by scene, adding the voices to the characters first, animating the body motions, then animating the faces. That's it.

While using pre-animated motions and face templates does speed things up it still takes me a couple of hours per scene - so it's not really practical to do a narrated screen record for you to watch. I don't have the hard drive space to record that either.

However I do hope to have this animation finished by the next entry in this series, where I'll review a new, free, video editor, VideoProc Vlogger, and use it to add some sound design and other effects to my final animated short.


Popular posts from this blog

Inochi2D - Free Open Source 2D VTuber Avatar Rigging and Puppeteering Software (Part 1)

Inochi2D Creator - Free Open Source VTuber Software. If you've been looking for a way to live perform as a 2D cartoon avatar on camera, whether it be for a live stream or for pre-recorded content like educational videos, then VTuber software is a low cost (or even no cost) option worth looking into. In my previous post, How to Become a VTuber - 2D and 3D Software for Creating and Controlling Your Avatar , I took a brief look at the relatively new but completely free and open source Inochi2D  which I thought showed great potential for my own needs of creating a live performance character rig for my own TET Avatar that I use for all my promotional materials. While it is possible to live perform my character using Cartoon Animator itself, Reallusion's MotionLive2D capture system isn't great - with lip sync in particular. More importantly though, I can't exactly teach people how to use Cartoon Animator if I'm using Cartoon Animator to control my Avatar. What is Inochi2D

Wonder Unit Storyboarder - Free Storyboarding Software for People Who Can (or Can't) Draw

Wonder Unit Storyboarder.  As an independent and solo animator I'm always tempted to try and skip storyboarding my animated shorts because they're usually only single scene sketch comedy type jokes. As a result I have many unfinished projects that kind of petered out due to having no clear finishing line. Storyboarding your productions, no matter how small, gives you a step by step guide of every shot that needs to be completed (no planning shots as you animate). It also allows you to create an animatic that gives you a rough preview of the finished production. In short, you shouldn't skip storyboards as they, generally, increase the chance of the project being completed. Disclaimer - I'm Not a Fan of Storyboarder Upfront, Wonder Unit's Storyboarder  is not my preferred storyboarding software. However it's completely free, has a number of very compelling featu

Daz 3D Launches Daz AI Studio - AI Art Generation Made Easy?

Daz AI Studio uses 3D content to influence 2D text to image generations. B etter known for their completely free, 3D animation studio, Daz 3D have launched their own browser based, AI text to image generator, Daz AI Studio . All you need is a Daz 3D account to get started for free. Upgrade to a Premium plan for a small monthly fee for additional features.  At the time of writing Daz AI Studio is still in Beta so there are some features, yet to be released, that are standard on other dedicated AI image generator sites. While Daz AI Studio only produces 2D images, what makes it unique is that it has been trained on 3D content that helps guide the output. In particular you can select actual 3D character models as part of your settings and get fairly consistent images of that character every time. The About page suggests you'll also be able to select 3D environments and lighting settings to further influence your generations but these options were currently not available, as shown in t

Dollars Mocap: Full Body Webcam Motion Capture (Including Hands and Fingers) For iClone and Cartoon Animator

Even though I should be further away from the camera Dollars Mocap MONO still does a good job of  tracking my arms, hands and fingers. Ever since I wrote my series on becoming a VTuber , discovering it was possible to do full body motion capture, including hands and fingers, with just software and a webcam, I've been on the look out for any motion capture software that can bring that functionality to Cartoon Animator. Dollars Mocap is a low cost motion capture application with a free trial that I learned about through the YouTube Channel Digital Puppets  and their test video . It can record full body, upper body, arms and hands, and facial mocap from a live video source or pre-recorded video. Investigating further, I discovered not only does Dollars Mocap have a free iClone7, iClone8 character profile file download (look for it at the bottom of the main program download page), so you can use the saved motions with iClone8, they've also got a demo video for how to convert your

Prome AI Sketch Render Tool - Your Tradigital Clean Up and Colorist Artist for Character and Background Design

Random character head, Biro sketches drawn by TET (left). Render by PromeAI (right) using Prome's Sketch Render tool set to 'Comon:Cartoon, Render Mode: Outline'. W hile I don't do New Year Resolutions, one of my plans for the year ahead is to do more of my own art. Specifically character design drawn in an actual, physical sketchbook.  To that end, I have been spending the last half hour of most days drawing a page or two of random biro sketches in my sketchbook and posting the pages to my Instagram account  (this link will take you to one of my posts). These sketches are mostly practicing my skills because I don't really draw regularly anymore. Here is a tip, if you do this kind of sketching, and push yourself to keep doing it, you will see many drawings that could be taken further, even if you don't have anything they're suited for just at the moment. Which is where my second favorite AI Image Tool (after )  PromeAI comes into play. PromeAI

Moho 14 Released - Still the Best 2D Animation Software for Indy Animators on a Budget

Moho 14 Released. Regular readers know I am a Reallusion, Cartoon Animator advocate through and through. Hands down I would recommend Cartoon Animator 5 first over Lost Marble's Moho 14 to anyone who is just starting in 2D animation, is a team of one, or just needs to animate as quickly as possible. However, feature for feature, Moho is, arguably, the best 2D animation software for the rest of us who can't justify a Toon Boom Harmony , or Adobe Creative Cloud subscription (and even with their applications Moho is very competitive on features). You can get started with Moho Debut for just USD$59.99 which is a cut down version of Moho Pro but it still has the most essential features needed for 2D animation. While Moho Pro is a whopping USD$399.99 (Cartoon Animator, which only has one version, is just USD$149.00) upgrades to new version numbers come down to a quarter of the price at USD$99.00. Even though Reallusion just released features like Motion Pilot Puppet Animation and

Featured Artist: Zack Buchman, Furry Puppet Studio - Bringing Awesome Back to Puppetry

Straight Outta Oregon: Old Man Puppet Design. P uppetry is, perhaps, one of the original forms of character animation. In many ways we've come full circle with both 2D and 3D computer based animation making use of digital 'puppet rigs' in order to animate characters more efficiently and allowing computers to do more of the grunt work of 'tweening'. In this feature interview I take a look over the fence into modern, real world, puppet design and creation with Zack Buchman, the Creative Director and founder of Furry Puppet Studio , based in SoHo, New York. The studio, specializes in designing and fabricating custom puppets for the entertainment industry. TET: Hi Zack, tell me a little bit about Furry Puppet Studio? What does the studio do?  Zack Buchman. Creative Director and Founder Furry Puppet Studio. We design and produce custom puppets primarily for clients across various industries like television, advertising, and the music industry.  Alongside conceptualizing