October 17, 2020 : Making Some (Sweet?) Music

With animation and editing for the short nearly complete, I’ve moved on to the music. The music won’t take as prominent of a role compared to prior projects.

I only have three musical pieces for the short, each one about ten seconds. Still, the recording and mixing (both within the song itself and into the short) takes time.

The music component is the last major hurdle, and it’s easy to rush through this part just to get to the finish line; but that’s never a wise decision. Particularly with audio since it can easily ruin an otherwise solid project.

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:54 pm

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October 2, 2020 : First Pass Animation Complete

All of the sequences for the short have now been animated. I have also completed the associated After Effects work and even added sound effects (although these haven’t been properly mixed). As such, I have a solid first draft.

I have viewed this version a lot… A LOT. I want to watch it some more, but the goal is to create a comprehensive list of needed revisions. I have reviewed previous iterations and made a fair amount of tweaks already this draft is already further along than normal.

That said, I still anticipate a lengthy list – at last count, the tally is up to 27. While I don’t expect any huge overhauls, I know some changes will take time. While doing this, I also hope to get started on the music tracks, which is the last major hurdle in production.

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:37 pm

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September 20, 2020 : Production Homestretch

The last two weeks were spent working on a very After Effects heavy set of sequences. It was a fun twenty seconds of footage that had challenging pieces, and I really like how it is coming together. Once that is out of the way, there are only three sequences left to animate – totaling about ten seconds.

Even when the Lightwave and After Effects work is complete, there will still be several things on the ‘To Do’ list. Notably, writing two musical elements, creating a Title Card, and audio mixing. I also still need to go through revisions. Although since I’ve been regularly reviewing and revising pieces as they were completed, the revision process will be truncated.

That said, things are coming together, and we are in the homestretch. Here’s hoping there aren’t any last minute issues or surprises that spring up.

posted by Pi Visuals at 12:46 am

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September 8, 2020 : Venture Bros. Is Cancelled? Huh.

Last night, Jackson Publick posted on Twitter that Adult Swim has cancelled Venture Bros. after seven seasons (and 17 years). I found the news surprising – particularly since he also mentioned they were in the middle of writing season 8.

While a lot of people expressed confusion and dismay, proving the show still has a solid fanbase, I gotta say my response was more subdued. I used to be a huge fan; but between the increased complexity with the show’s mythology and the crazy long time between seasons, my love of the show has long since twindled. Couple that with the fact that I just don’t have that much time to watch TV these days, and it’s no wonder my response was mostly indifference.

I suppose a streamer can swoop in and continue the show, but I won’t lose any sleep if that doesn’t come to fruition (how did the last season end again?). Ultimately, I’ll reflect on the show’s early years, which captured my interest… and even inspired a pretty sweet, albeit esoteric, Hank costume. If anything, perhaps I will be on the look out for a rerun here and there late at night on a weekend when I can’t make up my mind on what to watch… but still want another few drinks.

With that said, Go Team Venture! You are still the source of many random references of mine that few people actually get.

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:27 pm

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August 21, 2020 : Hologram Goodness

I just completed a set of sequences, and they required Holograms. I previously discussed the Holographic Timer, which borrowed techniques from Ultra – an older short of mine neither critically nor commercially successful – with some tweaks.

A new graphical element needed for this part was a Holographic projection of a character. I wanted to have some fun with this since had never done the effect before, but I also needed it to stay consistent with the Timer. Below is a screenshot:

I’m very happy with the end result. However to really sell the visuals, I realize the need to have solid accompanying audio effects. I’ve already placed in a lot of SFX for earlier sequences, and as always the case, it makes things so much better. I expect the same to happen with the Hologram sequences.

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:55 pm

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August 15, 2020 : After Effects Expressions

This week I finished animating a series of sequences totaling about 20 seconds, and I am pretty stoked about it. The animation itself was standard fare, but it requires some fun accompanying elements in After Effects.

One of these is a timer that is precise down to hundredths of a second. To easily keep consistency between sequences, I used a Slider Control to set the start and end times. Parts of the graphic even changes color based on the time.

To get all this to work (and look good visually), I only used Expressions. I have a base knowledge of them so this required some research. It was a fun challenge, and I’m happy with how robust it turned out. Here’s a screenshot pf the Comp in After Effects:

I still need to add a little more to the design of the timer, but it’s coming together. I also need to create another graphical element for the sequences, and that should be equally fun. That I haven’t started yet, but is next up on the docket

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:38 pm

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July 25, 2020 : Short Update – After Effects Work

I haven’t mentioned it much the last few weeks, but things are moving along with the short. More days than not, I am able to squeeze in an hour or so of work on it; and while that doesn’t sound like much, it adds up. In a given week, I have been able to animate anywhere from 5-10 seconds.

This week I wasn’t able to animate anything. Instead, I spent all my time in After Effects, working on three consecutive sequences that was animated last week. This 12.5 second stretch had a lot of effects; and it not only took time to get those done, but I also had to ensure consistency between the shots – adding extra time on top.

With it done, I’m not quite ready to get back into animating new sequences. Instead, I will review the completed footage to see what needs adjusting and tightening. I also want to add in more sound effects as the first part of the short already has them, but a good part does not. Ultimately, I am happy with my progress the last month or two. While I anticipate revisions for the existing footage, I only have about 50 seconds left of new animation to do… not too shabby.

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:32 pm

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July 22, 2020 : Happy Pi Approximation Day!

This year has been a tough one, that’s for sure. Well it’s “Pi” time to raise those spirits because today is Pi Approximation Day!

It’s a real shame about the Pandemic. I had the party to end all parties lined up, but it had to get cancelled. Oh well, such is life.

By the way, if you got the reference to the pun at the beginning of the post… kudos to you!

posted by Pi Visuals at 4:47 pm

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July 18, 2020 : BaM Animation – Industry Tips From Pros

I recently stumbled on a cool YouTube Channel, BaM Animation, which feature two animation artists (Brent and Maximus) discussing their craft. It stays pretty technical, which I enjoy, but is still presented in a fun way.

The video below talks about how to make clean lines with digital drawing tablets and Cintiq’s.

The part on tablet exercises was very nostalgic. Back when I was still using my Wacom, I always found looking at the monitor but drawing on the tablet very jarring. I did similar exercises daily to get more used to the process. It’s good to know I wasn’t off base with my use of time.

As for the channel, there are several other videos I highly recommend – including character design and coloring. They also give shout outs to other channels about animation they appreciate, which has lead me to more material to watch… because, you know, I have all this time.

posted by Pi Visuals at 12:21 am

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June 20, 2020 : L & J-Cuts And Animation

L and J-Cuts are commonly used editing transitions to make two shots more seamless. Fun fact – I first studied them while watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. They are prevalent in that show because there is so much dialogue; and those cuts help the flow of a scene, preventing it from being too rigid.

However, I’ve realized L and J-cuts are not commonly used in animation, and I am still not sure why. Perhaps it’s because animation tends to be a more visual medium that needs to be more rigid and that expectation contradicts the cuts’ effect?

I’ve been thinking about this recently since I’ve been able to get a few more sequences done for my short. I’ve used these cuts in previous projects, but very sparingly. There have been times when I thought they would work, but during editing they seem off. As such, I don’t use them.

With the current project, I have identified a few potential spots; but I’ll need to see how things look in editing. It’s very possible they get nixed. Bottom line: we’ll see.

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:50 pm

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