Surface Pro 4

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Re: Surface Pro 4

Post by jahnocli » Wed Dec 28, 2016 11:32 am

I still have an old copy of Expression (used to be able to download it for free, don't know if you still can. Microsoft bought the company and then shut the product up in the highest room of the tallest tower...). I love it for vector work -- I still don't think there's anything better on the market. Maybe that's just my ignorance! The control you have over your work is just remarkable.
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Re: Surface Pro 4

Post by chucky » Wed Dec 28, 2016 12:52 pm

o0Ampy0o wrote:I said "overall" which is different than "all" and leaves room for exceptions. Some people can turn water to gold, so to speak. That example is unconventional and interesting how everything is sketched like animated tree branches. I would like to see good examples of standard cartoon art animated well utilizing the principles of animation.

I am not discouraging development of tools. I am advocating going at it full force. Trickling out small improvements inch by inch also generates a lot of video and forum chatter discussing work-arounds instead of how to utilize a well thought out system of tools. At the least it gives the impression that things are inadequate for the task. If the software is capable it would behoove SM to hire animators to produce an abundance of examples showing off the software's potential.
Ok no probs, it 'would' be nice for freehand not to generate any negative feedback, I would love to see all the wrinkles ironed out, for sure.
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Re: Surface Pro 4

Post by mkelley » Wed Dec 28, 2016 2:45 pm

o0Ampy0o wrote:
mkelley wrote:Oh, and I have ProCreate as well -- I'm just an app junkie, and I bought these in an experiment quite a few years back thinking I was going to be creating a lot of stuff and importing it into Anime Studio. It's taken this long before that's a viable option, but I AM excited about it.
Without going back and rereading the whole thread, I believe you will be new to the Apple Pencil but have had iPads and tablets? I prefer the feel of the Apple Pencil and iPad over a Wacom tablet for several reasons. I always produce a flippy flourish at the end of lines using a Wacom tablet and pen. The springy tip probably has something to do with it. The light stylus is another factor. The Apple Pencil is somewhat less sensitive yet sensitive enough. The stylus is heavier. It does not have a springy tip. All things considered I have more control and can produce much better results.

I bought Anime Studio Pro several versions back, upgraded without using it and it has taken me this long to commit to using it. I just upgraded to Moho 12. I am probably attempting the same workflow you will be using.......vector art from outside software animated with Moho. I hope you like to talk about what you are doing. I'd like to hear what you think of everything as you do it.
Yes, I've had iPads since there WERE any <g>. But not an iPad Pro and thus not the Apple Pencil so I have high hopes.

I've also had Moho nee Anime Studio since back when it was... Moho (that's kind of an inside joke, as it's been Anime Studio for many years, but initially it was Moho and now it's back). It is my favorite piece of software by a long shot -- I would give up almost anything else on a computer (other than a browser) as long as I could run some version of Moho. But I'm coming from a very different place than you (guessing from your posts).

First of all, I have zero talent when it comes to creating art. I mean that -- zero. My grandkids produce better stuff than I do and they have done so since they were old enough to walk. I muddle through and do what I can but to that end I try and get tools that make it as easy as possible. I've always been able to sketch out "cartoony" things, nothing to write home about, but adequate. Trying to get those same things in the computer has been frustrating, and has usually resulted in me scanning my sketches and then tracing over them.

I have been through almost every iteration of possibilities including a ton of graphic tablets (but no Cintiq, which always seemed WAY too expensive for my skill level) and always come back to using the mouse. But I see some real possibilities this time around and I should know fairly soon if I'm going down the right path (otherwise more hardware returns to Best Buy :>).

The drawing tools in Moho have truly gotten MUCH better than they were -- getting true bezier handles and seamless SVG import are incredibly significant given that Moho was always a weird kind of step-child in the way the vector graphics were constructed. That's mostly due to the fact it was designed as an animation product first and foremost, but it was also because Moho started off as a one-man shop and got locked in to a certain format that was larger incompatible with everything else on the market. I got to where I actually liked creating vector art in Moho better than even Illustrator (and I was pretty good in Illustrator) but it's nice now to have more options. And I wrote custom tools and/or modified the existing ones in Moho so they would work to my own needs. That's one of the great things about Moho, how customizable it has always been, and I would encourage you to also explore that possibility.

If you have talent as an artist it seems to me that Moho 12 will allow you to leverage your existing tools, both hardware and software, and animate your art well. Good luck and keep us posted!
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Re: Surface Pro 4

Post by o0Ampy0o » Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:06 am

In the process of testing Autodesk Graphic under varying conditions I just discovered something very cool. On a Macbook the trackpad generates pressure sensitive linework. I expected it to respond uniformly like a mouse. Not that I could draw cartoon characters with my fingertip using one but you certainly could create loose and less precise artwork.
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Re: Surface Pro 4

Post by chucky » Fri Dec 30, 2016 10:33 am

Trackpads? They still make those? Hehe.
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Re: Surface Pro 4

Post by Greenlaw » Fri Dec 30, 2016 7:39 pm

o0Ampy0o wrote:I would like to see good examples of standard cartoon art animated well utilizing the principles of animation.
I use Moho fairly regularly at Dreamworks Animation. The team I'm on actually does a ton of animation using many programs, but some recent segments I animated in Moho are called out this post: Some Moho Work In King Julien. Most of our work is a hybrid of Photoshop and vector art drawn in Moho, and I think the 'mutliverse' segment mentioned in the post might resemble the 'standard cartoon art' you asked about. It's a short segment but it was a fun challenge to animate something that looked FBF-ish without actually creating it in the traditional manner. Sorry, I'm not allowed to go into detail about our workflow but, in this case, my techniques were pretty much 'standard' Moho.
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Re: Surface Pro 4

Post by o0Ampy0o » Mon Jan 02, 2017 9:10 pm

Greenlaw, Do you need to live in the LA area to work for Dreamworks? I plan on checking out your cartoons. At a glance it looks like I need Netflix. I have a free trial offer so I will set that up when I have more time.

Chucky, Late last night I realized you are Charles Kenway. I had purchased your Character Pack when I upgraded to Moho 12 because I liked the characters so much. I was hoping I would be able to derive some insight as to how you made them appear volumous. But looking at the project file nothing was obvious to me. Have you or anyone produced a tutorial describing how to simulate volume as seen in these characters? They are almost 3D with the soft edges on their highlights and shadows. Is that pretty much what the special ingredient is with the 3D effect?

Does Moho have intelligent lighting something like how 3D software treats light? Is it coded to behave like real-world light or is light handled manually by color adjustment (IOW do we have to fake it with gradients)?

On the topic of light, does Moho have volumetric light, (i.e. light and shadow beams cast through atmospheric particles)?
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Re: Surface Pro 4

Post by Greenlaw » Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:21 pm

o0Ampy0o wrote:Greenlaw, Do you need to live in the LA area to work for Dreamworks?
Generally speaking, I think most animation and vfx studios, big and small, want you to work onsite. It's just too inconvenient to work remotely when they need artists and other production people to collaborate closely with one another...especially if the deadline is tight (which it always is,) and there's a lot at stake. I think this is also because there are so many artists living and working locally, and studios don't usually need to look very far for talent.

I have seen some exceptions but in my experience I think it's pretty rare. Here are a few examples:

When I was a staff artist with Rhythm & Hues, my department occasionally worked remotely with a freelance matte painter who lived in San Francisco, but we eventually wound up flying him to L.A. to work directly with the rest of the crew in the studio. It was easier that way because we needed him to work very closely with the 3D and compositing artists, and sometimes we needed revisions made at the drop of a hat.

Another person I can think of is a talented vfx artist who often worked remotely for us because he had health issues that prevented him from driving long distance every day--but he lived here in L.A. and we could send someone to bring him in when necessary. It also helped that I had worked with him at another studio in the past so we already had an established history.

I've also worked at a few smaller and mid-size movie studios that sometimes hired remote artists in other states and other countries even, but this was pretty rare, and the arrangement tended to be with artists who worked in the past with managers or other artists who worked there.

Working remotely with artists may be more common in publishing and pre-production work, like design and storyboarding. Back when I freelanced as an illustrator and designer, I almost always worked remotely with book publishers and advertising agencies, but I still had to come in for occasional meetings. So, yeah, even then, I guess had to live in L.A.

Here's a funny story: I left Florida back in the late '90s because I wanted to do more creative work and few companies in Florida seemed very interested in hiring me. A few months after I moved to Los Angeles, I got a call from Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovich, a major book publisher at the time based in Orlando, FL, to do some illustration work for them. It might have been a coincidence but I got the impression that being an 'L.A. artist' was part of the appeal for them, and that gig wound up being my first big remote assignment. I guess the grass is always greener when it's far, far away for some people. :)

With animation and visual fx, I think working remotely will always be rare for large scale productions but this could be different for smaller productions and studios, especially with online communication and file exchange being so much more efficient nowadays. Also, smaller productions might be more willing to work remotely with artists for economic reasons, but only if they feel they can count on the reliability of the remote artist because there's a lot to lose when you miss a delivery date.

Of course, if you're savvy enough to become a 'rock star' artist, some companies may seek you out wherever you are and work with whatever terms you set. But 'rock star' status can be fleeting and I wouldn't count on it long term.

Anyway, I'm hardly an expert on the topic so I wouldn't take any of the above as hard and fast rules of the industry. I would ask other people at art, animation and vfx forums to get a bigger picture of how it works.
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Re: Surface Pro 4

Post by Greenlaw » Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:41 pm

o0Ampy0o wrote:Does Moho have intelligent lighting something like how 3D software treats light?...On the topic of light, does Moho have volumetric light, (i.e. light and shadow beams cast through atmospheric particles)?
Moho doesn't support any kind of lighting that I'm aware of. You can do a pretty neat directional cheat using the shading effects though.

For more realistic lighting, you need to bring your renders into a 3D compositing program like AE or Fusion, or a 3D animation program, and light them as 3D 'cards'.

TBH, it's rare that I need to do this level of 'real' lighting for a 2D cartoon but it does come up from time to time. (Recently I did a bunch of scenes like that at work.) In these situations, I'll usually set up my Moho renders as 'fixed' animations and apply the animations as textures to polygonal objects (like cards and curved planes) in the 3D program.

Actually, any time I have a complex camera move in a scene, it's more likely that I'll set that up in a 3D animation or compositing program because it's usually easier that way. I'll still use Moho for the 2D animation, but mainly for creating 'fixed' animations that get applied to simple geometry in the 3D program. (A couple of scenes in Scareplane were set up like that.)

Moho's FBX export might open some interesting possibilities for lighting in 3D programs but I haven't had a chance to look into this yet. It depends on what comes through with Moho's FBX options (i.e., camera, polygons, UV maps, textures, etc.) TBD, I guess.
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Shadow techniques

Post by chucky » Tue Jan 03, 2017 6:34 am

o0Ampy0o wrote: Chucky, Late last night I realized you are Charles Kenway. I had purchased your Character Pack when I upgraded to Moho 12 because I liked the characters so much. I was hoping I would be able to derive some insight as to how you made them appear volumous. But looking at the project file nothing was obvious to me. Have you or anyone produced a tutorial describing how to simulate volume as seen in these characters? They are almost 3D with the soft edges on their highlights and shadows. Is that pretty much what the special ingredient is with the 3D effect?

Does Moho have intelligent lighting something like how 3D software treats light? Is it coded to behave like real-world light or is light handled manually by color adjustment (IOW do we have to fake it with gradients)?

On the topic of light, does Moho have volumetric light, (i.e. light and shadow beams cast through atmospheric particles)?
Hey Ampy, :D
I guess you are talking about the 'dirty rats' characters which are 'lit' if you can call it that.
The latest V12 ' Retro Nexters' characters are not shaded.

Ok So I use a few different methods to fake lighting.
Either using layers shadows or masked light layers.
There are advantages and disadvantages in each.

Layer shading is very quick ( just apply it to the parent group) and can look really cool but...
There are a few things that hold them back...for now so you have to be careful when using them.
:arrow: One is that they (by nature) follow the exact contour of the layer which is great for slim shadows or a silhouette effect.
Otherwise softening right up can help to disguise the flatness which can look amazing especially combined with a really bright 'zinger' on the opposite edge ( which requires another group.
:arrow: Another is that it only uses the 'normal' blending mode.
This means that you have to go very dark and very transparent for shading and for lighting you just have to muck around for the look you want, it will never be quite perfect for either of these until we get blending modes for shading.
So by that I mean multiply for shading and add or screen for light , hard light is also good for these effects.
:arrow: What would be really cool, but I have never requested is that if shading what 'area sensitive' and could get thicker and thinner depending on the group's surface area, that could help ease the flattening and we could use harder edges to them in more situations and retain that cartoon look more often rather than getting all realistic with the soft look.
:arrow: One more improvement that I would really value and I can't find a satisfactory workaround for (other than a bunch or reference layers), is the ability to exclude a layer from the shading.
That would be for things that reflect a bright source like eye highlights in particular or have their own luminescence like supernatural eyes or fiery or light props ( torches, lights, dork sabres etc.). Oh also shadows, we don't need shading on shadows- I mean layers which have vector shadows look ridiculous with a highlight on them, truly.
:arrow: They are ALWAYS invisible in display and require rendering to see the results which can become a pain ( until they are done and then it's set and forget).
:D You can animate them though so the source can change dramatically without much effort ( see the example with lightening below)

I encourage anyone to request improvements to the pretty great shading effects

Image

The other method is masked lighting which can work potentially much better but requires more maintenance and setting up and are less flexible as they are part of the rig ( if the character moves around a light or spins head over heels or some such, the lighting is glued to the rig and looks fake and painted on).
:arrow: They CAN use blending modes
:arrow: They CAN make your shadows have accurate shape and appear properly volumetric.
:arrow: They CAN ignore layers.
:| You DO have to bind and smart bone them
:x Unfortunately masking previews are not what they should be and that's where everything gets messy..... but
:arrow: You CAN hide them from the display which fixes that.

I think Layer shading has the best potential but needs at least a few of those improvements to make them work as they could and should IMO
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Re: Surface Pro 4

Post by o0Ampy0o » Sat Jan 07, 2017 10:09 am

Thank you so much for all of this detail!
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Re: Surface Pro 4

Post by Greenlaw » Sat Jan 07, 2017 6:37 pm

That's a great example above! :)

That reminds me, in the episode 'The Neverending Clover' of All Hail King Julien (on Netflix,) when Thighsander and Norge exit the cave, I added some interactive lighting to the characters from the dragon fire. I animated the characters in Moho but the fire lighting was done in After Effects by off-setting and multiplying the characters' alpha channels to create an 'edge lighting' mask. By blurring the second alpha, I got a nice soft 'falloff' effect on the interior side of the 'lighting'. I then used this mask to brighten and colorize the 'fire side' of the characters. It's a dumb but effective lighting cheat I often use even for live action vfx shots.

If I was going to do this in Moho, I guess I could add a second Shaded FX for the fire side, and keyframe its intensity.

But for me, this sort of cheat is easier to do in compositing because I can interactively adjust the look and timing of the effect without rendering.
Last edited by Greenlaw on Sat Jan 07, 2017 8:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Surface Pro 4

Post by dueyftw » Sat Jan 07, 2017 7:08 pm

I'm currently working remotely on an animation and find it extremely difficult to do. But:

The first thing I did is to add a text file to each of the working files. In it has a description of what the file needs next. We have a date and the word 'taken' to let everyone know that I have taken the file to work on it. And when I'm done the text file will get 'returned' with a date. Letting the other person that I'm done with it and my thoughts on what the file could use next. This cuts down on misunderstanding of what file needs what work and doing the same or similar work at the same time. Currently I have about 10 files of animation in my Dropbox and my skill set is way different than the person I'm working with.

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Re: Surface Pro 4

Post by hayasidist » Sat Jan 07, 2017 8:32 pm

chucky wrote:I encourage anyone to request improvements to the pretty great shading effects
I've had a couple of requests open for a while now on extra blend modes... 36054: hard / soft light (Hard light is the "inverse" of overlay: rather than colour over "light" it's "light" over colour) and 33602: "subtract"

as well as 31502: Blend modes to be option for shapes as well as layers and a kinda related request 33158: options to colourise brush from stroke colour where the brush greyscale controls colour not opacity ...

IMO any of these alone would help - but put them all together and IMO we're moving a long way forwards on better "lighting"...
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Re: Surface Pro 4

Post by chucky » Sun Jan 08, 2017 1:38 am

I know we've drifted slightly off topic here- how does the surface handle effects rendering I wonder- that should do it.
Anyway on the subject of shading in AE.
Sure... but in some workflows I am loathed to run to another program for something as necessary as a bit of shading on characters.

Sure that scene above was a bit of a shading extravaganza for AS but timing was more controllable inside AS as there's no program' loop' that can slow everything down so.
IT made for a simple workflow that skipped unnecessary compositing in other less complex scenes.
I guess a DreamWorks things are a little different , I know I keep dropping this one but my twin brother was the film editor on the Penguins of Madagascar movie ... yep, that was uncalled for , sorry.

I wonder how quickly that WOULD render on a surface pro or how AE goes on it ;)
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