FINALLY! Done and a question

Contributor ,
Aug 26, 2018 Aug 26, 2018

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Ok. This is a very long time coming. In fact, it's been about 7 months. But that's because the characters had to be developed and I had to learn the program.

For those of you who don't know my story-I compose children's music and had been using a program called "Go Animate." (It's now vbond, or something like that"

I found out that if I sold my videos I would have to pay them a $79 few per video per sale which was cost prohibitive since these will probably go for $5 or less. I decided to change programs and came to Adobe. I wrote the music and recorded it several years ago.

This will be uploaded to Teachers Pay Teachers in the next week. It was done completely in Character Animator. I'm posting to help us all learn. Please do not give this away.

Scene - Hands To Yourself.mp4 - Google Drive

I did the animation entirely in CA. The background scenes were done in AI. I'm including a screen shot. I've got everything except the audio imported as a puppet. I also have the puppets duplicated or split. Unfortunately there is no way to rename them. I've got 52 actual scenes and I'm not sure how many puppets. There are 7 characters in this, but each comes in 3-6 times. This had an advantage because I could start on a new "scene" with the characters. It gets really tedious going back to the beginning all the time.

My basic question is "Is there a better way to arrange this overall?" I'm attaching the screen shot as a reply because it's so large.

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Contributor ,
Aug 26, 2018 Aug 26, 2018

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Screen Shot 2018-08-26 at 6.24.53 PM.png

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LEGEND ,
Aug 26, 2018 Aug 26, 2018

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Nice! Glad you got there in the end! Some champagne popping I hope! 😉

If I understand the screenshot, it looks like the whole video is one Character Animator scene? You mentioned "52 scenes" so I was confused. The following assumes that "52 scenes" means "one character animator scene with 52 time points where puppets appear disappear". Sorry if I got that wrong!

The following is what I do in case useful as a comparison.

As I said, it *looks* like your whole video is a single scene in Character Animator, or at least a very complex scene. The screenshot only shows one. My "style" is based on lots of short scenes of like 10 seconds each. I jump the camera angle around a lot. I then start a new scene per camera angle. (Have a look at episodes 1 and 2 video at https://extra-ordinary.tv/ if you want to see the final result.)

When I write a script, I have what I call "parts, scenes, and shots" - a three level hierarchy which I use to number my Character Animator scenes.  I then use "bins" in the character animator project to group the project a bit better. So 6-1-01 is part 6, scene 1, shot 01. I create top level bins for parts to avoid too much on the screen at once. With a smaller number of longer scenes it might not be needed. I also have bins for "backgrounds" and "puppets" etc.

I typically end up with 1 to 3 characters for a scene and a background image.

That is where I talk about "style". I use lots of closeups, not many full body shots.

Here is the most extreme example I could find with 5 characters (Hank, Liana, Elenor, Helen, Sam)

It includes two scene layers (one background, one mask) - see how they are standing behind desk etc? I make a copy of the original artwork and deleted lots of content. (Hank (red shirt) is in front of everything.)

But to your question, is it "better"? Organizationally I like having lots of smaller, less complex scenes.

I then render each scene individually and join the scenes together in Premier Pro. If I need to edit a scene, I just regenerate that video clip. Rendering is much faster as a result for minor edits. You however have the challenge of keeping the music in sync throughout. I do that final tweaking also in prem pro. (See also https://extra-ordinary.tv/2018/08/08/timing-music-with-character-animator-movements/ )

For your video, I would say there are points where everything changes on the screen (background and all characters). I personally would start a new CA scene (menu item "Scene" / "New Scene") at those points to avoid a "mega scene".

E.g. Scenes

#1: 0 to 7 secs (opening credits)

#2: 7 - 11 secs (boy in corridor)

#3: 11- hmmm - 36 is a possible transition, but you remove a character and desks but make the background transition - so I might keep that going as one scene until 44 sec where there is a clear transition

#4: 44 - 52 secs - you change the backgrounds a few times, but the characters are consistent through it. So make it all one scene.

Etc. Basically I look for times where EVERYTHING changes, and start a new scene at that time.

If I was to adjust your project, I would write down clear timepoints for new scenes (7s, 11s, 44s, 52s, etc), duplicate your current scene multiple times, then for each scene delete all the content outside the time span for that scene.  I would extend the scene by a few seconds and the start and end of each scene, and trim it with premier pro to get the timing exactly right. I would put the final music track in prem pro as well so there were not timing errors introduced.

This would reduce the problem of having the same puppet in a scene 20 times. It may be more like 3 or 4 times in a particular scene, which makes it easier (but not easy) to manager. The end video would be the same, but I think it would be easier to edit because each scene would be less complex.

But is it better? I think that is your call!

Oh, for the few cases I have done titling, I did that in prem pro as well to avoid a puppet per piece of text. However, it does make getting the timing more work - so your approach of a puppet per piece of text might be the better solution. Its just unfortunate you end up with so many puppets for subtitles.

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Contributor ,
Aug 27, 2018 Aug 27, 2018

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Yes, I did have one official "scene, "  but all the background images were "puppets" as well as the official puppets. It seemed to me if I officially created a new scene, which logically is each lyric change, by taking a background image and importing it as a scene, rather than a puppet,  then it would start the counter over again, which isn't helpful as it is a continuous piece of music that has to be synchronized precisely.

I life your idea of different camera angles. I'm definitely not there yet. I also had an issue with placing characters behind desks etc. I do not know yet how to work in layers, but it sounds like something I need to learn.

The idea of importing something into another program and having a ton of files and splitting up the audio- not sure that makes sense from a time standpoint. But I sure do miss transitions that I used to use. Thanks for all the input.

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LEGEND ,
Aug 28, 2018 Aug 28, 2018

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I normally create a new official scene only when *everything* in the scene changes at the same time. You have a few points like that in the video - the background and all puppets all appear/disappear in unison. A single puppet appearing or disappearing with other things remaining would not be reason to start a new scene. I would not create a new scene per lyric appearing/disappering - that would be too hard to line things up. You might end up with say 5 scenes for your 4 minute video.

For music and lyrics, that is harder. I normally overlay the final music in Premier Pro to get around the problem. I have to do that anyway because I frequently need to trim the starts of scenes to let bobbing hair settle down if I have gravity etc with dangles. I have no solution for that inside Character Animator. It is a little bit of messing around, but not too bad.

I think of it as Photoshop/Illustrator is for drawing. Character Animator is for animating. After Effects is for doing fancy effects (e.g. putting a video behind an animated character, or more fancy key framing). Premier Pro is the cutting room to trim video clips and splice them all together with transitions between scenes (cross fades etc), plus if music laying the final music track down across multiple scenes. You can composite scenes in Character Animator (join a few together and render together), but I don’t.

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Contributor ,
Aug 28, 2018 Aug 28, 2018

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Alan,

Thanks. I basically have one (I'll call it) "Puppet Scene" per lyric. When I tried putting put a new scene in, by importing a background and selecting it as a scene instead of a puppet, it began the counting over again. This isn't helpful in what is basically a music video.

I'm going to look at Premier Pro, for transitions, but if it has to import in multiple parts, it's going to be too time consuming. I do miss transitions.

Sharon

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Contributor ,
Aug 28, 2018 Aug 28, 2018

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I guess what I want to say is that for me, the animation comes out of the music and lyrics. Everything is timed to that. It's not that I create a scene, then have the words come to me-the scene inspiration and lyrics, along with the music are the source of the animation. I could be wrong, but it sounds like if you create a scene, you have to work in small parts with animation before putting them together in premier pro. This for me would be a very unnatural order.

I"m hoping this program evolves to wear I can create more smooth transitions and effects. I doubt this is the direction, but I can always hope.

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LEGEND ,
Aug 28, 2018 Aug 28, 2018

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Probably a good analogy would be remember the old super 8 movie film strips? As a kid I remember my Dad recording a super 8 movie, then having a sound track on a take recorder. He would do various videos with a bit extra at the start and end, then he would cut them up and glue them back together to align with the sound track. He did not splice the sound track.

It might not be a great analogy, but its close. In your case, you might say ”I have the opening credits, the character in the corridor, inside the class room, closing credits”. Each then becomes a “scene”. What I then do is the high tech approach of getting a pen and paper and writing down the time offsets from the start of the video. E.g. “I want the corridor starting 7.5 seconds into the audio track”. I write down all the key frames as time offsets from the start.

I then start creating scenes. Scene 1 starts at time zero of course, scene 2 resets to zero but I have my sheet of paper that tells me “this is really 7.5 seconds into the audio”. Then what I often do is actually start at say 7 seconds instead, so there is a bit of extra at the start of the scene. That is,  I take the audio clip and trim 7 seconds (not 7.5 seconds) from the start. That way I don’t have to be perfect. I trim the end as well, including a bit extra. I now have the sound track for the scene I planned. I then do the animation for that scene, remembering there is a little extra at the start and end. I can edit, playback etc the scene with the sound track.

When the scene is done, I render it, with sound clip (the trimmed one). I have a MP4/AVI etc file with video and sound. Once I complete all the scenes I start up Premier Pro. I load the complete end to end sound track into it first. I then start loading up each video clip one by one. I use the sound tracks to line the videos up at the right places, trimming the ends of the video files to get it all correct. (Zooming in helps a lot here.) I then mute/delete the sound track from each video clip. The end result is the animations are a series of clips back to back, trimmed slightly, lined up with the single end to end audio track. That stops clicks and pops creeping in, and guarantees the timing of the music is not messed up.

Is this worth the effort? For myself, I was forced to do this at the start. Things like hair bounce at the start of a scene REQUIRED me to trim the video files. Once I learnt how to do it, it’s not that hard. But it is an additional step. In your case the only benefit would be simpler scenes which might be then easier and faster to work on individually. If that is not a problem for you, then there may not Be the benefit. I just noticed a few spots in the video where the characters don’t all swap over at exactly the same time. I can imagine the pain of scrolling up and down trying to get them all to line up! If you don’t find that a problem, then there is nothing wrong with sticking with a mega-scene.

Just trying to give some options. I use smaller scenes now and find it faster - because I can rerender short segments instead of the whole video. If I decided to fix one small part, I can rerender that part and not touch the other parts. I just find that faster because rendering the whole video takes forever on my little laptop.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 28, 2018 Aug 28, 2018

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Wow looks like you put alot of work into everything! 

I have been using Character Animator for awhile now and love it!!!! I am about to do a big big big project and excited to see how it turns out!

Keep up the awesome work!

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Contributor ,
Aug 28, 2018 Aug 28, 2018

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Thank you. Sometimes I really doubted that I could do it. There were some days that everything went wrong. I still have trouble with the characters' arms. I know it's a bug, but I just don't know how to correct it and neither did the company that produced the puppets.

I really want them to be able(in another video) to put up their arms in a "so what" or "ignore it" gesture, but often it is not coming out correctly.

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Participant ,
Aug 29, 2018 Aug 29, 2018

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Yes, the strategy alank99101739 describes is a good way to make this project more manageable.

My method is very similar. 

1. Record and lock down audio.

2. Import into Premiere sequence.

3. Go thru and mark (or write down) where scenes change in Premiere

4. In Ch, I create a scene (an actual scene) for each scene in the script.

5. Each scene in Ch has the same audio clip i used in Premiere.

6. I use that audio and my recorded markers to animate only where the scene happens (btw, in each scene title, I put the start and end point... e.g. "Scene-1 (001-87)" ...frames in my case)

...now this part may seem like a waste but...

7. I export the ENTIRE project as png seq (one scene at a time)

Why do this? ...the reason is that I just drop all of the exported scenes into Premiere. each scene is already in the correct place in the timeline. Next I may either trim the head and tail off each track in Premier, or if it's not a lot of scenes, I will use the multicam switcher to edit all scenes together.

Lots of way to skin this cat...

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LEGEND ,
Aug 29, 2018 Aug 29, 2018

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I like that approach! No need to fiddle around getting things to line up with timing - just export full video with nothing present (100% transparent) and it magically lines up. Much less error prone.

And if I need to trim some off the start due to hair bounce etc, just start the scene in CH a second or two earlier than needed. When you layer all the scenes in Prem Pro it will hide the unwanted bit at the start (no need to trim it). Just layer later scenes on behind existing ones. Kills two birds with one stone!

I am going to try this next music video! Hopefully 100% transparent frames compress well, so it should not waste too much disk etc.

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LEGEND ,
Aug 30, 2018 Aug 30, 2018

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In case useful, I wrote up my understanding of mre8's approach in a blog post: https://extra-ordinary.tv/2018/08/30/music-videos-in-character-animator-part-3/

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Contributor ,
Aug 31, 2018 Aug 31, 2018

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Looks like there is more than one way. When I have more time, I'm going to try something else. Thank you for all your amazing input.

-Sharon

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Adobe Employee ,
Sep 13, 2018 Sep 13, 2018

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Interesting discussion. Thanks for sharing and congrats on getting to the finish line with this video!

DT

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