I needed to take a break and do something for a little fun. :-)
Blinking helps with lip sync. It helps draw your eyes away from the mouth for a moment and makes the character more lively.
When I added blinking into the my last animation, I went by feel. Playing the animation and inserting key frames about every time I blinked while watching it. This time I needed something more scientific and less time consuming. So I went over to Wikipedia.
I found out eyes blink about once every six seconds. My frame rate is 24 frames per second. Just to make it easier, I rounded this off to blinking once every eighty frames. I set a key frame for half open and fully closed to simulate the blink. Then copied and pasted the two frames every eighty frames along the way.
Making this one of the easiest things I've had to do in flash lately. Gotta love it...
The major difference between fine art and illustration is clients, customers, and audiences don't really care how you get it done.
Tracing paper can be a good friend to get things accomplished. Today, while using tracing paper as a cheap onion skin on the drawing table, I remembered a trick from the graphic design days.
Tracing paper can be used like carbon paper. If you want to move a limb on a drawing, flip something, or trace something without a light table, do your tracing on the paper using a soft lead pencil. Deepen the lines with the soft lead. Then, flip the tracing paper on a surface you don't mind getting dirty. On the clean side, go over your lines with the soft lead.
From here, you can burnish either side onto your drawing, and create mirror images. To burnish, use a ball point pen, hard pencil, or something with a smooth rounded tip like a pen cap.
This technique came in very handy when I did a lot of drawing out in the field, away from computers or copy machines.
I'm now starting to understand why flash animation is so different than cell animation, and am even beginning to question the purpose of outlining to begin with.
The point of this piece is the "work from home" aspect of working in adult. In Porn Valley (and even mainstream Hollywood) many directors work from home, and even shoot at their homes on occasion.
(the mainstream film, Bubba Ho-Tep has a shot of a license plate at the bottom of a creek, which was shot using a kiddie pool in the director's driveway).
Building the house was a major learning experience. When I went to place Guy in front of the house, I ran into a problem with making him stand out. There's a lot of shadows and dark spots on the house, Guy doesn't have much saturated color. A drop shadow on him would be way outta place, so I increased the shadow on the house behind Guy, and made his fingers a little larger.
I'm now seeing (or feeling out) what the differences are here. If I was doing this by hand, I'd just outline everthing and color it in, using detail and line quality to pop out Guy from the background.
One of the ongoing challenges is setting up a schedule where I can animate, work the night gig, and have a life where I eat and clean up.
This morning, I woke up and had about two hours to lip sync. This dash to get the latest chapter synced brought up an interesting question. How many frames can I knock out in per hour?
I noted which frame I was on, the time, and began going to it. While I can feel issues coming on like eye strain and morning lag, it was more interesting to note the computer was starting to give out first. I was on a roll, and the fans on the laptop started kicking in hard. Towards the end of the hour, I could feel the keyboard heating up to a disturbing level.
Now, I've knocked out one laptop before on a Photoshop project. So, I called it quits just under an hour, which produced 600 frames of lip sync.
So now I can put together a different tact that fits in with the schedule. Sync for an hour, take a break to do things like clean up or have lunch, sync a little more, then go to work. With this I can also plan how long it may take to get a chapter done, which in this case, I've got about 1000 frames left, or just under two hours of work.
Nice to know...
Today's been the day for experimenting. I've been dying to finish this part. Goldie says "We're not lawyers, and we don't even play them on TV." So she goes from the dress to a sport coat, and from there on television. Keep in mind she's talking all the way through this.
The coat I drew about two weeks ago, and I started the TV on the same day. I went the full distance, tied back her hair, and gave her glasses for the lawyer look. Today I finished the TV, simply clicking adding a fill to the box with rounded corners and deleting the fill, then I saved the TV as a symbol and dropped it on stage with its own layer.
Today I opened up Goldie in her lawyer suit, selected everything but the mouth and converted them to a symbol. Using onionskin, I placed the symbol where her body and head were. So the only thing that moves is her mouth. The two spots go by so fast, it's hard to notice only here lips move.
The lawyers in the back ground are from another shot. I keep a layer for the backgrounds and dropped them on there. Goldie's head, body and suit are on the body layer, and the TV just sits on top.
So nice when something works.
One experiment did not go so well. I use 24 frames per second. Believe it or not, it helps with the lip sync. I use a keyframe every other layer on the mouth. While this doesn't make sense at first, I can always add another keyframe, giving an odd number of frames for a long sound, or just one for a really quick sound.
Today I tried a segment (the lawyer on TV gag), with every frame for the mouth as a keyframe. Wow, what a pain in the ass. It's hard to gauge which sound is exactly where, and much more work doing the swaps on the nesting symbol. I think I'll stick with my original technique.
Self conscious about my stuff. I had a look at Johnny Utah's lip sync work. As I suspected, there's a lot the eye misses if you're just not looking for it. Must be why dubbed anime is so popular ;-)
I've run into a paradox working on the project. I'm a photoshop guy at heart, and can crank out cartoons quickly in photoshop.
Sketch, ink, scan, color done. This causes two problems with animations. One is obvious. Unless I cut and layer Jib Jab style, I can't animate the cartoons. Problem two is more serious in this arena. Showing cartoons with black outlines, sketched and scanned into the computer creates an almost jarring effect when inserted as stills into the animation.
So, I'm trying to sketch, scan, import into Flash, outline, and fill. That way I can animate the stills if I need to, and they look more consistent.
Problem is, it's a huge time hog. This piece, for Start My Porn Company, took a major chunk of yesterday, and I just got it to this stage today. I really feel like I should add in some shading, but the computer needs to cool down and I need a break.
Presenting "Sometimes Words Are Not Enough." A big problem for starting porn producers and people beginning adult businesses is that some banks and bankers will refuse to accommodate. Walking in and saying "I'd like a checking account, credit card, and merchant account for my company 'I Shoot Porn'." is likely to generate a negative response.
While outright lying about your company isn't right either, tactful moves like naming your company ISP instead of I Shoot Porn will help when your bank manager is the head of the local Christian women's business league.
I think I'm psyching myself out over the TOS. Just submitted my first animation to my profile and have really been sweating the adult angle.
Then it hit me not only how much adult stuff is in the mature section, but how much harder adult stuff has made it to the front page.
I'm calming down, but not until after I already sent a mail to Tom Fulp.
It's that first submission jitters. Gotta relax, gotta calm down...gotta do more animation :-)
Flash math is quite an education. Take the time you think something in flash will be, then multiply it by at least two, maybe add a zero. Then you have the real time it takes.
Yesterday, it was that I couldn't edit the sound in Flash (I shouldn't have been that surprised). I faded out the beginning of the sound, and put opening credits in the spot I wanted to cut. Last night, it was that the animation clip ends to abruptly. This morning I added in ending credits and a special thanks to Newgrounds.
I did a preview of the clip today and got a bone jarring tinny sound. Turns out the MP3 is out of sync with the publishing settings and I have to fix a couple of things with the pre-loader.
Not that I haven't been busy otherwise. The submission for Newgrounds is a small sample of the bigger project I'm working on. The chapter it's from is complete. Sherry and I finished the lip sync for another chapter, and I've started a new file on a third chapter. Last night I drew a suit for Goldie, and worked on some sketches to go in other chapters.
I really want to get this submission done though. I've been on Newgrounds for years and it would be nice to finally submit something I can call my own.
Taking a break for the moment. The game plan this weekend is to finish off the chapter for Sherry. Once that's done I'll break off a clip for Newgrounds. I decided to go all the way through to the end and lip sync everything left.
There's a lot of little stuff I'm learning. Much doesn't seem to get talked about in the tutorials and discussions.
24 Frames per second seems to be working really well for me. I wouldn't say it's absolutely necessary, but it is very handy to divide up detailed lip sync, as opposed to having a lot of syllables that just don't fit. Most syllables are two frames long, but sometimes you need an extra frame, or it's handy to use just one frame. I could actually do it frame by frame, but that would take longer, and things look like a rolling jumble as opposed to an actual mouth movement.
The good news about lip sync is you don't have to be completely accurate. Sometimes, you just need to keep the mouth moving. I've noticed I can swap out T for K for C for S for N depending on what I'm hearing.
Part of this I've picked up from Anime, even though notorious for poor lip sync, does point out that as long as the mouth is simple and moving, you get it. I've been watching Cowboy Bebop, which seems to have been re-edited or re-mastered just to get a better lip sync flow, but the mouth symbols are almost puppet like. Big, small, open, close, insert occasion expression like tongue sticking out, grimace, or shock.
The creators of Family Guy/Cleveland Brown/American Dad have a great cheat you have to look closely to notice. Almost every character is in 3/4 profile. You almost never see a character head on or from the side. This drastic simplification means 2/3rds of the lip sync graphics are cut out.
I'm trying that out in this chapter. So, I've got a mirror side of Goldie created. It's not as easy as it sounds. After flipping horizontal, the head, hair and expressions were a little off. So I had to re-adjust everything. The good news is with nested graphics, the alterations to the eyes and mouth are applied to the rest of the symbols.