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Topics - thecolclough

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Not a game-changer or anything, but I've noticed a little interface glitch: those orange bounding boxes which appear when you hover over an element in recent versions are very helpful, but when you move the cursor outside the viewport the last bounding box remains visible even though you're no longer pointing at any elements.

apologies if i'm duplicating this one, although i don't remember anyone flagging this one up before.

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Finished Works and Works in Progress / 4K logo overhaul
« on: September 27, 2016, 10:31:53 pm »
I know I haven't been posting many WIPs around here for the last few years... sorry about the silence.  I'm still busy making films, but I've mostly been working in stopmotion or live action, so posting the results here would have been somewhat off-topic.  :P

However, I've now found a little project where I can use Anim8or again: my 'film studio' logos need an overhaul.

Between the 24mpix DSLR I bought two years ago, and the Win10 monster rig I built (well, had built for me) last year running Vegas Pro, I can now - in theory - produce animation in any format I like up to cinematic 4K, 4096 x 2160.  I might not be able to push CGI work that far, depending on render times, but it should at least be feasible for stopmotion.  Only problem is, my first 4K Vegas export tests confirmed what I'd already suspected, namely that my current logos, which only exist in 720p, are going to let the side down if I try using them on a 4K production, so they need re-doing.

The current versions have been doing good service since early 2010, appearing on several dozen videos, and one of the two is going to stay basically the same except re-rendered at higher resolution.  The other, however, would be prohibitively slow to render at 4K as the design uses ART refractions (the 720p render was already a killer, and cinematic 4K would have nearly 10 times the pixel count!), and I'm getting a bit bored with the current design anyway and I fancy replacing it with something a bit more colourful and dynamic, so there's a ground-up redesign in the works.

I made the mistake of trying to re-render most of the first logo as a single uncompressed AVI file earlier this evening... despite a mere 6-second runtime (144 frames) it turned out to be a 3.7-gigabyte monster and Vegas point-blank refused to open it, so I'm now re-doing it as a sequence of PNGs.  I've attached a sample frame at full resolution, and I'll try to remember to post the odd update as the other one gets underway too.  Got to say, having seen how this logo is turning out, I kinda wish I had a new CGI short film in the works... well, watch this space, I guess!  8)

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Anim8or v0.98 Discussion Forum / Streamlining the Anim8or Menus
« on: April 09, 2015, 11:24:20 am »
Hi all
Firstly: apologies in advance for the rather long (although I hope worthwhile) post :P

We had some new users posting on the forum a couple of months back because they were confused about the Anim8or menu setup, and to be honest, although I've usually been able to find what I'm after eventually, I've always thought it could do with some tidying up as things aren't always in the most intuitive location.

I think Steve mentioned that he had been planning to look at this and try to overhaul the menus (sorry, can't find the relevant post to quote), but since he's currently busy making improvements in other areas (those new bone tools are SO shiny...) I thought I'd sit down and take a systematic look at the menus myself.  No point complaining about something if you aren't willing to help fix it, eh? 8)

Obviously, what follows is ultimately just my personal recommendation; some parts are more likely to find widespread agreement than others, and some parts are more important than others; however, I've tried to think things through as logically as possible, and to always aim for clarity and consistency, so hopefully you can at least see where I'm coming from even if you don't entirely agree...

Problems and recommendations are listed in order of their appearance along the menu bar.

GENERAL POINTS AFFECTING ALL MODES:
  • Please can we have a keyboard shortcut for ‘File > Save’?  Virtually every other program in the world uses Ctrl+S for this command, and that key combination has become almost a reflex for a lot of us.
  • ‘File > Exit’ should be at the bottom of the menu, because that’s where everybody else puts it.  Or at least nearly everybody else.  Also because it’s the last command you click at the end of your session using the program, so it follows that it should be placed last on the list.
  • Most programs place ‘Undo’ and ‘Redo’ at the top of the Edit menu, probably because they are the most commonly used (or at least among the most commonly used) editing commands.  Would recommend Anim8or follows suit for the sake of making it easier for new users to find their way around the program.
  • ‘Select None’ should be included as a menu item under ‘Edit’ in all modes.
  • The ‘Check for Missing…’ command (currently located under ‘Edit’) operates on the current Object/Figure/Sequence/Scene, so it would make more sense if this was moved to the ‘O/F/S/S’ menu (probably underneath ‘Attributes’).  This is in keeping with the general principle that commands affecting the current O/F/S/S generally should be in the ‘O/F/S/S’ menu to make it clear what they do.
  • The ‘Options’ menu has always struck me as a bit haphazard; some of its contents (especially ‘Backside’ and ‘Tooltips’) seem to control parts of the interface and so would be better located in the ‘View’ menu.
  • Some points relating to the ‘Preferences’ menu item and dialogue:
    • The ‘Preferences’ item isn’t always easy to spot in its current position in the middle of the ‘View’ menu; ideally it should be placed as the first or the last thing on the menu in order to make it easier to find.  Again, this would be helpful for new users, as most other programs place their ‘Options’ / ‘Preferences’ item at the bottom of a menu and newcomers will therefore tend to look there first.
    • Within the ‘View > Preferences’ dialogue, the ‘File Output’ section actually has nothing to do with the view (i.e. program interface) but is in fact part of the rendering setup, which makes it rather counter-intuitive to have it accessed through the ‘View’ menu.  Therefore recommend that the dialogue be split in two: the ‘OpenGL Workspace’ section should remain in its original location (‘View > Preferences’), and be renamed ‘View Preferences’ or ‘Interface Preferences’; the items in the ‘File Output’ section should be removed from the ‘View > Preferences’ dialogue, and instead accessed through the ‘Render’ menu.  Might be an idea to combine with the ‘Render > AA Setup…’, ‘Render > Renderer…’ and ‘Render > MultiThreaded’ items to create a new ‘Render Preferences’ dialogue.
  • The ‘Build’ menus could be made much more consistent between Modes.  In general, any command which adds new elements to the O/F/S/S or performs modifications on existing ones should be located in the ‘Build’ menu (most already are, but there are exceptions at present).  Recommend always starting the ‘Build’ menu with an ‘Add’ sub-menu.  More details in the following sections.

OBJECT MODE:
  • The ‘Edit > Select’ sub-menu should be placed immediately after ‘Select All’ and ‘Select None’, so as to group all of the selection controls together for consistency.
  • There’s a lot of stuff in the Object-mode ‘Edit’ menu (i.e. everything below ‘Check for Missing’) which would make as much if not more sense being placed under the ‘Build’ menu.  Will come on to the ‘Build’ menu in more detail later.
  • Like ‘Check for Missing’, ‘Options > Info…’ operates on the current Object, and so would make more sense if it was placed under the ‘Object’ menu.  Two ways of implementing this:
    • Keep the dialogue the same but move its menu command to ‘Object > Statistics’.
    • Or, scrap the separate statistics dialogue, and incorporate its contents into the bottom of the ‘Object > Properties’ dialogue.
  • The aforementioned stuff about the Object-mode ‘Build’ menu:
    • As mentioned previously, the first item under ‘Build’ should be an ‘Add’ sub-menu.  As the name implies, this would contain any command which involves adding a new element into the Object, i.e. the items currently located in the ‘Primitives’ sub-menu, plus ‘Add Text’ and ‘Add Warp Modifier’ (which are both currently missing from the menu altogether, and can only be accessed through the left-hand toolbar!), and also the ‘Reference Image…’ item.
    • Recommend the ‘Add’ sub-menu be followed by an ‘Element Properties’ item, which is enabled when one only one element is selected, and brings up its Element Editor dialogue (the same as if you had double-clicked the element in the viewport).
    • Recommend placing the ‘Group’ and ‘Ungroup’ items next, as there’s nothing to be gained by moving them too far from their previous location.
    • The ‘Locate’, ‘Rotate’ and ‘Scale’ sub-menus should be moved from ‘Edit’ to ‘Build’.  At the same time, ‘Locate’ should be placed above ‘Rotate’ and ‘Scale’ instead of below them, in order to be consistent with the way the Location, Orientation and Size parameters are laid out within the various Element Editor dialogues.
    • It would be useful if, as well as ‘Rotate X 90’, we could have menu commands for ‘Rotate X 180’ and ‘Rotate X -90’, and the same for the other two axes.
    • These sub-menus should be followed by a new one, called ‘Convert’ or similar, including any items which perform other large-scale changes on the current element(s), e.g. the group of five items from ‘Convert to Mesh’ to ‘Join Splines’, plus things like ‘Smooth Object…’ and the various Mirroring commands.
    • Menu items such as ‘Fill’, ‘Extrude’ and ‘Lathe’, which only work on Paths and/or Texts, should be placed in a sub-menu called ‘Path and Text Operations’ or similar, to make it clearer what they do.
    • There should be a ‘Mesh Operations’ sub-menu, containing the various Point-Edit Mode commands which are currently located at the bottom of the ‘Edit’ menu, ideally re-ordered so as to group the Point ones first, the Edge ones in the middle and the Face ones last.
    • The ‘Build’ menu still needs to include the ‘Warp Modifiers’ and ‘Morph Targets’ sub-menus - no change there.

FIGURE MODE:
  • Figure-mode ‘Build’ menu:
    • This menu should start with an ‘Add’ sub-menu, with the commands ‘Add Bone’ (equivalent to the current ‘Insert Bone’ item), ‘Add Object…’, ‘Add Cylinder’ and ‘Add Sphere’.
    • As with Object mode, would recommend following this with an ‘Element Properties’ item that has the same effect as double-clicking something in the viewport.  The ‘Joint Limits…’ item seems to do the same job as an ‘Element Properties’ item at the moment, but only for bones, not cylinders, spheres or objects.
  • The Scene-mode ‘View’ menu should probably contain some toggle items to control the visibility of axes, bones, and objects – another case where certain interface commands are currently accessible only through the left-hand toolbar.  The current toggle buttons are great if you know where they are and what they do, but if a newcomer is trawling the menus looking for those commands then they’ll probably get frustrated at not finding them.

SEQUENCE MODE:
  • As with Scene mode, the Sequence-mode ‘View’ menu should probably contain some toggle items to control the visibility of axes, bones, objects, and ghosts.
  • Sequence mode introduces a fundamentally new element which is not present in the previous two Modes, namely the Timeline.  Rather than burying timeline-related operations under the ‘Edit > Frames’ and ‘Edit > Bones’ sub-menus, it would make things much clearer if Sequence mode introduced a whole new menu, ‘Timeline’, to gather together all of the commands relating to frames in general and to keyframes in particular.  Recommend it also includes a toggle item to replicate the function of the ‘Animate’ button.  Should probably be located between ‘View’ and ‘Render’.

SCENE MODE:
  • The ‘Scene > Element’ item doesn’t operate on the entire scene, just on the currently-selected element, and as such, the ‘Scene’ menu probably isn’t the best place for it.  Would recommend moving it to ‘Build > Element Properties’, in line with the other 3 modes.
  • Again, Scene mode should feature a ‘Timeline’ menu, this time located between ‘Build’ and ‘Render’, including all frame and key operations.

So... any thoughts?  Agree?  Disagree?  Bit of both?  :)

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Finished Works and Works in Progress / Random robot head experiment
« on: April 19, 2014, 02:38:19 pm »
made this just as a random doodle, while experimenting with the latest drop (Build 1086)... i don't even know what it is, apart from the general notion that it's some kind of robot head  ::)

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Ongoing Anim8or Development / build 1066: auto-loading cube textures
« on: February 11, 2014, 02:54:57 pm »
New to 1066 Texture file search Anim8or now searches sub-directories of the base Texture directory for texture files when loading projects. It also loads all 6 cube faces when the names end in {xpos, xneg, ... zneg}, {posx, ...} or {right, left, top, bottom, front, back}.

i tried this feature, creating a set of .jpg images named "Cube Faces Test xpos.jpg" etc, tried creating a new material in build 1066 using one of the six jpegs, and got... nothing.  Well, the same old cube texture behaviour we've known and loved for years; nothing new, and certainly no sign of auto-loaded alternatives for the different faces, although the files did exist in the same directory.

renamed the jpegs to "Cube Faces Test {xpos}.jpg", in case you'd meant those squiggly brackets to be part of the file names... still nothing.

checked i'd set the default texture library properly, and finally reset the jpegs to their original file names, and... still nothing.

am i missing something, or is this a bug?

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Finished Works and Works in Progress / Just because I went all quiet...
« on: November 29, 2013, 09:37:00 pm »
I know I haven't been very active around here lately... but I'm not dead.  Yet.   8)  I've even done a bit of work in Anim8or during my silence.  Probably my best piece of an8 work from the last couple of years is a run of episodes I did for a collaborative cross-continuity webcomic, circa mid-late 2012; the project uses a huge variety of art styles from the traditional to the high-tech, and I've done the odd episode with Anim8or renders, including an entire chapter which revolved around some not-exactly-humanoid robots having a 'political' meeting.

The design for the 'Doorwarden' robots (which make up most of the crowd) goes back several years, but I extensively overhauled my model and created a few new variants in preparation for this scene, and I built the utility-tunnel set from scratch using a modular design.

I've attached a selection of my favourite panels, in the previously-unpublished raw-render versions without the speech bubbles (darn dialogue getting in the way of a nice picture!), and if you'd like to see the entire 8-page run in its finished state, then you can read it at http://fortparadox.blogspot.com/search/label/Utility Tunnel (note that the first episode is at the bottom of the page, and the last is at the top).

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Finished Works and Works in Progress / Intergalactic Hamsters
« on: November 10, 2009, 08:19:51 am »
*creeps back into the forum, tail between legs*

hello again, long time no post.  my bad.  :P  i haven't been ignoring you all on purpose, i've just been tied up a lot with other work lately.

anyways, i'm now starting work on my dissertation project for by BSc Media course, which is a mockumentary about a couple of students trying to make a sci-fi action-adventure feature film, with psychotic alien hamsters trying to take over the Earth.  although it's primarily a live-action project, there will be a few CGI elements, including big scary hamster battle spaceships, and the interior of the Hamster Parliament, all done in guess which program ;D

i'll try and post WIPs of the project's progress on here over the next few months.  for starters, here's the title graphic (i might do a new version with stars in the background later), and the very much unfinished battleship - please forgive the ghastly psychedelic colour scheme, it's only a temporary thing i'm using while i build the models, to help me keep track of which bits are which.  details such as gun turrets are still to come (plus proper textures, of course).

- colclough

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Finished Works and Works in Progress / space exploration ship
« on: January 14, 2009, 09:39:58 pm »
put this together on sunday afternoon - it's based off a drawing my brother did.  i built the model, with some improvements to the engineering, and with him back-seat-driving over my shoulder.  concrete and sky textures are from cgtextures.com.

ben decided to name the ship the 'Sir Walter Raleigh Exploration Ship'.  he's threatening to design a sequel :P

- c

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Anim8or v0.98 Discussion Forum / from the sublime to the ridiculous...
« on: September 17, 2008, 11:47:46 pm »
not content with Scanline, OpenGL and the awesome ART, i'd like to suggest the addition of a fourth renderer.  :o

seriously.

i guess i'd better explain, hadn't i, before you all think i've run stark raving mad...  :-\  i'm thinking, how about a wireframe renderer?  we have 3 renderers to output faces, with all the associated paraphernalia of materials, textures, attributes, lighting, shadows... you get the idea.  but what if we wanted to output the edges instead?  okay, so it would be less used than the face renderers, but it'd be a cool feature to have, and i know i'd definitely use it if i had it available.

i imagine it would be quite simple to write compared to the existing renderers, as you'd be able to just ignore all face, material and light data.  all you'd need would be the edges data, a background colour (presumably the same as the scene's default), a foreground colour (you could have this default to the opposite of the background, i guess), and the antialiasing-or-not option.  and away you go!

the attached still gives some idea of the sort of output i'm thinking of - i made it by changing GUI settings (including turning off 'Transparent Faces'), using PrintScreen, and manipulating it in Paint to get the colours right.  so, i guess it's sort of doable without a built-in renderer.  however, if one wants to make a wireframe video, it's a slow, laborious process, and antialiasing is pretty much impossible, so it's far from ideal.  so i think a wire renderer would be very cool.  8)

what does everyone else think?

- colclough

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Finished Works and Works in Progress / Multi-reflective experiments in 0.97c
« on: September 17, 2008, 01:13:32 pm »
inspired by the works of kiwiNM8OR, the master of the 'specular: reflection' attribute, i decided to have a go at a multi-reflection setup of my own.  i went for a pretty simple model, made entirely of cubiod solids, and used the default global light in scene mode.  wireframe and final render attached.

- colclough

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earlier today, after noticing how messy the welcome screen is on the Anim8or 0.97c preview, i started wondering, "what would the welcome screen look like if i was responsible for the anim8or GUI?".

when i tried to answer the question, the first thing i thought of was, "that robin should be in there somewhere...", followed quickly by "robin is red... yeah, red would be cool."

anyway, i started doodling in anim8or and GIMP.

and an hour or two later, here's what i came up with... what d'you think?

i've also attached a preview of what the piccy would look like in situ within the program, and you'll notice the text at the bottom of the window has been removed, as most of it has been incorporated into the image.  makes it all look a bit tidier, i think.

- colclough

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General Anim8or Forum / MakeHuman --> .obj --> Anim8or: no textures?
« on: September 02, 2008, 07:10:26 pm »
just downloaded MakeHuman 0.9.1, and made a figure.  used the 'export .obj' option, then in anim8or, used Object > Import > .obj.

the model comes into anim8or alright, but it's all default grey, even though in makehuman it had a skin texture.  am i missing something, or is it meant to do that?  ???

don't know if it makes any difference, but i'm running anim8or 0.95c, and Windows XP Pro x64.

thanks

- colclough

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Finished Works and Works in Progress / The Machine And I (WIP CGI short)
« on: August 18, 2008, 04:13:28 pm »
hi all
i've just started work on a new CGI short film called The Machine And I - it's going to be a bit more arty and metaphorical, and maybe more soul-baring, than any of my previous Anim8or output, and i'm expecting it to take at least a year to produce.  i plan to do at least 90% of the modelling and animation in anim8or, but i might end up using a different modelling program for the small bits of organic stuff which will appear towards the end of the film, and i might end up picking a different program to render the scenes.  i'll see how things go before finalising any non-anim8or software choices.

anyway, it begins with a sequence called 'The Factory', where we see the final stages of construction and activation of the utilitarian vehicles, one of which is the focus of the movie.  unlike some previous projects, i've decided to start at the beginning on this one, and so far, i've nearly finished modelling and animating the first two shots, except for the vehicles themselves, which are still represented by simple green stand-ins in the attached renders.

the second still took about 16 minutes to render with scanline, using a single local light casting non-soft raytraced shadows, so i'm not sure if i'll be able to get away with using shadows, as the movie should be several minutes long, and the shadows would just make the render times an absolute killer.  if anybody knows a good rendering program which can handle animations from anim8or (not just stills), and is significantly faster than the anim8or scanline renderer, then i'd love to hear about it!

well, that's all for now, i think.  i'll be posting more WIP renders on this thread, maybe also wireframes, and perhaps the odd question, as the project progresses.

also hoping to release my previous CGI short on youtube sometime later this week.

- colclough

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Finished Works and Works in Progress / New trailer for CGI film
« on: August 01, 2008, 03:03:31 pm »
made this the other day - the third and last preview for a CGI short film, which is finally finished after 18 months in production (18 months to make the film, that is, not to make the trailer ;D ).

you can youtube.com/watch?v=9uV6s4ts69s[/youtube]]see the trailer on its own by clicking here, or if you want to see the whole series so far (including the first two films, and all of the trailers), you can youtube.com/view_play_li[/youtube]st?p=EBEE2325C05BC305]watch this playlist instead.  the finished movie should be online sometime this month, once i've had a chance to show it to my friend, who directed it.

hope you enjoy :)

- colclough

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Anim8or v0.98 Discussion Forum / default fps and render settings?
« on: July 07, 2008, 02:45:29 pm »
i was wondering if it would be possible for the next update to include options for the default frame rate, and the default aspect ratio and resolution of renders, in new projects?

for example, i usually work at 25 fps (PAL tv standard, i'm a brit), and i render most stuff in 16:9 widescreen, so it would be useful for me if i could set anim8or to default to 25fps with limited playback, and a 16:9 camera frame and render resolution, when i open a new project, rather than 24fps, 4:3 / 400x300px.  at the moment, if i want to make the camera frame in scene mode go to a widescreen shape, i have to render something.  it'd make life a lot simpler if either there was a switch for the aspect ratio, or it could be made to default to widescreen whenever i open the program.

;D

- colclough


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