Some Questions

Wondering how to accomplish a certain animation task? Ask here.

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heyvern
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Post by heyvern » Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:27 am

I do all layer ordering at the end of the animation process and after everything is ready to go. There needs to be some point when the file is "done" and ready for the "next stage" of the work flow. Of course there may be small tweaks needed later... but... in my opinion a new layer is not really a small tweak.

I did a 3-4 minute animation recently that relied heavily on layer ordering for the arms and head. It was very tricky and confusing because each arm was two layers with many combinations of ordering; forearm behind the head, in front of the head, behind the body, bicep behind the body forearm in front etc etc.

I found out quickly it was much easier to simply ignore layer ordering completely until it was all done. After I was happy with all the motion and animation only then did I go through, highlight each frame that required layer ordering and set those keys. It went very quickly. I also found I could copy and paste the "same" layer ordering from other frames to save time.

For those with ASPro layer ordering can be stored in actions. A big time saver. I would have used that for my project if I had thought of it.

If we ever get script access to layer ordering... I have a big list of new tools to create. ;)

-vern
Debo
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Post by Debo » Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:22 pm

I appreciate all your help, but man -- this sure seems needlessly complicated. And it doesn't help that the app often behaves erratically: it's not me, well, not all the time.

Tell me what I'm doing wrong. I have an animated sequence that lasts from frame 1 to frame 180. Ten drawings or so. The first drawing, drawing A, from frame 1 to 132, is in place. Must stay there. But I want the next batch, B-J, to move from 132-180 to 175-223. Yet whatever values I choose in Rescale Keyframes, it doesn't seem to do the trick.

Drawing B is 132-134. I insert new values: 175-177. Then: "Rescale entire document" -- oh wait, it sets it all back to default now. Again. 132-134 becomes 175-177. I click OK. What has happened? Drawing B is now from 175-177, the rest of the batch hasn't moved.

Alright. Maybe I should try and move the entire range then. "Rescale entire document". 132-180 becomes 175-223. I click OK. Now, drawing B starts at 218. This isn't right.

Forget about "Rescale entire document" then. I'll just select the channels. 132-180 becomes 175-223. I click OK. Nothing has happened. Just nothing.

Tell me I'm misunderstanding this feature. What is the secret? The annoying this is you can't simply undo any changes, so have to close and restart each time until you feel the tears welling up.

I'm overlooking something, right? Something obvious.

Also, importing a soundtrack: the Lord He Knoweth why, but the soundtrack sounds awfully slow during playback. I turn off this, I turn off that, I give it all the room it needs, but it remains slow. I'm on a PowerBook G4: not the most modern piece of technology, but surely AS doesn't require powerhouse muscles for a simple thing like using a soundtrack with an animation. My sequence isn't even that big: just a couple of drawings, no points, no vectors, no jiggery-pokery, just plain .jpg images. Sure, I can do my stuff without perfect playback -- but it'd be so wonderful if it just worked.
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slowtiger
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Post by slowtiger » Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:43 pm

It seems to me that you're using a completely overcomplicated approach for your task. Let's get things sorted out.

You say you have 10 drawings, and from what you write I understand you want them to be shown one after another over time - right? Only one image at a time?

For such a task it is best to use a switch layer. Create a switch layer and put all the image layers inside it. Now go to frame # 1 with the switch layer selected. Have the cursor over the switch layer tab and right-click. You'll see a pull-down-list of all the layers inside the switch layer, choose one. This will create a key in the switch layer timeline.

Go to the frame where you want the next image to be visible. Repeat the procedure to create another key, and so on.

Now you've got a switch layer timeline with a key for each image appearing. You can shift those keys in time easily to adjust your timing.
Debo
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Post by Debo » Fri Jan 16, 2009 9:06 am

Thank you. I hadn't thought of that. It doesn't explain why AS behaves the way it does for me, but at least I can try this to see if it works.

I ran into another problem, however: I'm trying to add a switch data file to a Switch Layer now, but the layer doesn't allow me to; it doesn't seem to recognize the file. I click "Source Data..." in the Switch panel, then look for the .txt file I've created -- which contains the required "MohoSwitch1, 1 Layer1 3 Layer2" and so forth -- but the file is grayed out, I can't choose it. In fact, I can't seem to choose any text files whatsoever.
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slowtiger
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Post by slowtiger » Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:14 pm

Oh, that's easily explained: the only file which will be accepted is the one of the ".dat" file type which is created by papagayo (or typed by hand by yourself, then named appropriately).
Debo
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Post by Debo » Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:24 am

Thank you, that did the trick. Why that bit of information is not in Kelly L. Murdock's book is beyond me. I've noticed that sometimes, the book seems to focus on Martians who sit behind a computer for the first time, while other times he carelessly skips a few steps like you've heard it all before. It's not a well-balanced book in that regard.

I've stumbled upon yet another thing: I've added text, the Create One Fill option was on, and it should be all white. Yet when I export it (not when I "Render" or "Preview" it), the text has a gradient fill. I briefly had one to see how it'd look, then deleted it, I believed, by choosing the Select Shape tool and clicking on a letter. And later on all letters. There's nothing that says it should have a gradient, yet whenever I export it's there again. I've tried to just fill it with white again -- still a gradient. What tells it to do this?
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slowtiger
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Post by slowtiger » Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:44 am

That means that you applied a gradient to it - without noticing. Check the styles.
Debo
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Post by Debo » Sat Jan 17, 2009 3:38 am

I know, that's what I did. Yet nothing indicates there should be a gradient fill. Everything points to "Fill color: white". And I refill, select and fill, select shape and fill, do all sorts of intuitive and counter-intuitive things, whatever I can think of, still: GRADIENT. I'm one of the most patient people you're likely to meet but --

A gun, I need a gun.
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heyvern
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Post by heyvern » Sat Jan 17, 2009 7:11 am

Are you using the correct tool? Many people confuse the select shape tool with the create shape tool. You may think you are changing the fill when really you aren't doing anything because you're using the wrong tool.

If you remove a shape completely and start over... it's gone. It won't just keep putting back in the same gradient shape. What you describe sounds... impossible. Be certain there aren't two shapes on top of each other... this use to be a problem with Moho but it's very difficult to do is with AS but it might be worth checking.

Would LOVE to see that file. If you can post it somewhere please do.

-vern
Debo
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Post by Debo » Sat Jan 17, 2009 7:55 am

I used the right tool -- I followed each step that is described in Murdock's book. Eventually, I just started over completely. I do that a lot, really. Don't have much of a choice.

In an older thread, I read this:
JCook wrote:Onion skinning basically shows the outline of the elements on your layers. Your vector layers show as lines because that's what they are, but with image layers the outline of the image is a rectangle, so that's what you see. Images are bitmaps, and don't have lines that can be shown they way vectors are shown. I don't think there is any way to onion skin imported images to show the image, because they are not composed of vectors.

Jack
Is that true? Instead of in a group layer, I've put my images in a switch layer now, as slowtiger advised me to do, and it seemed a good solution, but the problem is: my sequence depicts a man walking, and I can't line the images up properly. I need to see the previous step to determine where the next step is going to be. I was hoping for the onionskinning feature to help here, but if it's just for vectors...
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slowtiger
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Post by slowtiger » Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:44 pm

OK, that's a job which is hard if not impossible to do inside AS.

When I scan in drawn animation (yes, I do that occasionally), I make sure to register them properly: punched paper, and a peg bar taped to the scanner's plate. My scanner driver allows me to scan different drawings without changing the scan area, so all files will maintain the same size and position.

If I don't have punched paper for any reason, or if my scan program/driver forces me to open a new scan area for each scan, I draw two crosshairs on each drawing so they carry their registration with them. In a program like TVPaint, I can easily align drawings that all crosshairs are on top of each other and the animation is done.

If you don't have that, use Photoshop or Gimp to create a sequence of images which are lined up. Put all scans into one file, set each layer to 50% opacity, then adjust the positions as needed. Set all layers to 100% again, and export each of it into its own image file.

What kind of registration did you use while drawing?

I recommend you should get some book about basic animation techniques like registration etc. Check your next local library for it.
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heyvern
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Post by heyvern » Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:50 pm

Debo wrote:I used the right tool -- I followed each step that is described in Murdock's book. Eventually, I just started over completely. I do that a lot, really. Don't have much of a choice.

In an older thread, I read this:
JCook wrote:Onion skinning basically shows the outline of the elements on your layers. Your vector layers show as lines because that's what they are, but with image layers the outline of the image is a rectangle, so that's what you see. Images are bitmaps, and don't have lines that can be shown they way vectors are shown. I don't think there is any way to onion skin imported images to show the image, because they are not composed of vectors.

Jack
Is that true? Instead of in a group layer, I've put my images in a switch layer now, as slowtiger advised me to do, and it seemed a good solution, but the problem is: my sequence depicts a man walking, and I can't line the images up properly. I need to see the previous step to determine where the next step is going to be. I was hoping for the onionskinning feature to help here, but if it's just for vectors...
Okay, now I'm confused. Are we still talking about the gradients? Or is that issue resolved? Topic shift whiplash! ;)

Anyway, yes, the above quote regarding onion skin is true. Image layers are not onion skinned. If you need to line up images in a switch layer they should be more easily lined up in the image creation software before importing. If all the images are the same size and proportions they will load into AS perfectly aligned. Then if you need to move the character in the switch layer forward, move the SWITCH layer not the individual layers inside the switch. If you still need some kind of marker to indicate the foot placement just use another vector layer and draw a line or shape to mark where the foot is and then use that to line up the next step and so on.

-vern
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synthsin75
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Post by synthsin75 » Sat Jan 17, 2009 7:45 pm

To me, it sounds like you need to put that Murdock book away for a while. Sounds like you're just plugging away at it, and running into more problem without solving any of the your older ones. I still don't think there is any substitute to the user manual.

If you keep piling up these problems, you'll never be able to sort out what caused each one. You really should stick with one until solved. Post example files, screen shots, etc.
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heyvern
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Post by heyvern » Sat Jan 17, 2009 8:25 pm

I want to go back to that gradient issue and "mistakes" in the book or problems with AS doing "random things".

AS doesn't randomly add gradients. If you click on a shape and remove the gradient fill correctly... it's gone. There is no "glitch" that causes it to come back.

Never ASSUME that an issue might not be YOUR responsibility. Don't blame the tools or the teacher (the book) until you've ruled everything else out. Don't blame the tools unless you can show us evidence of it, step by step to recreate the problem or a file that has the problem. 99% of problems I've seen here are due to "user error". That DOES NOT mean you are a "bad person" or "stupid". I made really bone headed mistakes learning every program I use and I consider myself to have a few brain cells to rub together. ;)

-----

Funny absolutely true story:

Many years ago when computer illustration was just starting, I was working for an ad agency that decided to upgrade to computer technology for desktop publishing. We had all kinds of funny things happen along the way, learning all this new stuff.

One of my favorites was a story about an Adobe Illustrator document embedded in a Quark document that wouldn't print.

One of our production artists sent a file to our printer or service bureau. The AI eps file in the Quark document was very simple. Nothing complex. A simple drawing on a white background. The printer said this file would rip for hours and nothing would ever print. Getting suspicious he looked at the EPS file and noticed it was HUGE. Finally the printer had to open up the EPS file in Adobe Illustrator and take a very close look at it...

The person who created it didn't know how to use AI that well (we were ALL learning new tools back then). Instead of deleting mistakes in the Adobe Illustrator file, this person was drawing a big white box over top of the viewable area. There were bunches and bunches and bunches... layer after layer after layer after layer of white boxes over shapes that were mistakes.

During all of these problems the artist who created the file was adamant that the problem was either the printer's fault, or the software that created the file. To be fair this could be considered an honest mistake. Someone not familiar with something could make a simple mistake that can cause weird problems.

At the end of the day I calmly explained that you selected items and clicked the delete button in Adobe Illustrator. Not like Photoshop where you filled the document with white.

-vern
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slowtiger
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Post by slowtiger » Sat Jan 17, 2009 9:02 pm

ROFL - great! And a totally new one to me.

Once I had to go to a print shop and calm down the printer because a workmate of mine (young and graduated - you may know the kind) insisted on having made no mistake - and finally accusing the printer of not knowing his profession. Uh oh. So my boss sent me because I had a tad bit more "social skills" ... Upon arrival we checked the file, there was nothing obviously wrong. Then I switched to outline view and activated everything ... and found little dots here and there. Turned out they were very small shapes left over from some incomplete delete operation, and these little buggers kept the RIP from working.

So my workmate not only didn't proof-check his file, he also accused others to be incompetent ...
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