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Noisy outlines

Posted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 12:59 pm
by Nimphaea

At the moment I have to animate a character with noisy outlines. The final product has to be vector and they want me to deliver the final files in Flash format.
I have to make more than 200 (!!!) animated loops for this character. So I'll have a lot of work to do. Fortunately the character is built out of only one black line. The client wants me to animate the character in a noisy way.

I immediately thought of Anime Studio's wonderful noise layer setting. This effect gives me the perfect look.

Unfortunately I found out it is not possible to export this to swf...

This is where I need your help:

- Is there any possible way to export noisy lines to swf from anime studio?
- Is it possible to "bake" the noise into the animation, so it could be exported to swf?
- Is there another possible solution?

I was thinking about another option: Exporting as an image sequence, and then tracing the images with software to lines for Flash. I know Illustrator can do this. But since every loop will be a couple of seconds long, this would still be a time consuming way. I don't know Illustrator very well, maybe somebody on this forum knows if it is possible to "batch trace" images and export to swf format via Illustrator or other software...?

Maybe somebody here knows other software that could help me out?

I also own a copy of Toon Boom Animate Pro 2, but I still work mostly in Flash so I am not really familiar with ToonBoom Animate Pro yet. Maybe some users here know of any feature in ToonBoom that can produce noisy swf output...?

Your help is very much appreciated. Since I'll have to produce more than 200 short animations of this character, even the smallest time saver could help me a lot...!

Hoping to hearing from you soon!

Posted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 3:12 pm
by jahnocli
Try exporting a .PNG sequence, then converting the noisy line bitmap exports to vector format with a really good vectoriser, like, for instance: Vector Magic.

Posted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:31 pm
by slowtiger
How about drawing the character in a noisy fashion? Could you post an example image of it?

I did some films with noisy outlines recently, but in TVPaint. Fast work (for me), simple designs.

Try different settings for the freehand tool, use not too small project dimensions, draw on a cintiq. In any case, you'll end up with a lot of vector points, so the files will be huge in Flash. Is there a technical reason for their demand of vector artwork?

Posted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 10:33 pm
by funksmaname
slowtiger is right - this would produce unusably large file sizes - the client is asking for something without knowing what can't/shouldn't be done and I suggest that it's your job to suggest a more efficient way. If you don't know what that is, please describe the actual project and what these loops will be used for so we can try and come up with solutions. PNG sequences will probably work better than insanely pointy vector files and will probably strain a client system less (regardless of the file size, the insane amount of points might actually slow down playback of the animation)
Or maybe you could export video loops which are injected as required by flash?

Posted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 11:21 pm
by Nimphaea
Thank you so much for your help!

The animations will be used for both internet and television.

A couple of months ago I have animated a small amount (about 15) of animated loops of the character, this was meant for the website. They liked the animation so much, that they decided to make a pilot for a tv series. They did that without me: Because all animation I had to make consisted of loops, they could use ActionScript to make a 2 minute "show". So they can use the loops, and with only scripting they can make all kinds of stories using the different loops over and over again.

The pilot show has now been sold to a television station. So they called me with the great news. The show will be airing this year!

When I made the original animations, I used Flash on a Cintiq (they're GREAT indeed, Slowtiger!!). I drew every single frame by hand.
But… It was far more time consuming than I had anticipated... And the amount of animations I will be going to make is huge…! So now I really need a way to speed up the animation process.

I can't show you the pilot as you will understand…
But I can show you some test animations I made in Flash. It also contains some animations I made in Anime Studio, but the lines of those animations don't have a noisy feel.
Since the character mainly consists of one black line, AS is PERFECT for the job... If only it could export the noisy lines to swf...

The character is not designed by me. The characters are designed by another agency.

I hope this makes my story a bit more clear :-) .

Posted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:19 am
by slowtiger
Hm, from your description I understand that they don't use Flash to produce small vector SWF files for web, but rather use it as a scripting interface to edit the loops. The output seems to be video in all cases.

You can as well import PNGs into Flash, put them into movie clips, and script them. This will just blow up the Flash files - or, alternatively, they can be linked and still used via scripting. The importing can be cumbersome, but it is possible to set up a streamlined workflow. You just have to be very disciplined in terms of naming files and storign them at the right place.

On a powerful machine with lots of hard disk space this shouldn'd be a problem at all - lots of studios use Flash to produce TV animation. I suggest you sit down with the actual Flash operators/coders and the director and work out a workflow, then make some tests.

Posted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 1:40 pm
by Nimphaea
Thanks a lot Slowtiger!

The problem is that the character is being scaled a lot in the final animations.So they really need the files in vector format, so they can use them out of the box.

My boyfriend is now testing a script that makes use of switch layers and bones. I don't know if it will work out the way we hope, but the first tests look very promising! I'll keep you updated.

Help is very much appreciated!

Posted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 3:48 pm
by reneuend
build your work in Anime studio and then export as avi. Use the avi in an video editor and then export as SWF. I use Magix, but there many that export SWF.

Posted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 9:08 pm
by funksmaname
how about this:
Switch layers are actually bone layers (in case you didnt know) - so
create the character in a vector layer inside a switch layer, then duplicate it 3 or 4 times and make a few wobbly line variations (Fazeks 'replace line' tool and magnet tool will help you here so you dont have to redraw - you can freehand trace over the original line to make a variation with cintiq).
Add bones to the switch layer itself so that the bones control each duplicate beneath. Animate just looking at one layer - and once done, use Rylanders scripts ( or to put down switch keys across your entire animation at say an interval of 3 frames...


here's a quick test...
1) my frames are too different to eachother - but this would be improved by taking care :P
2) the smoothness of the bone movement makes the flipping on 3s look odd, however you could either work at 1/3 frame rate to make it all more jiggly (and put the swaps on every frame instead of every 3) or use a script Synthsin created based on my own invention called 'Bacon X' which allows you to bake 'step' frames at regular intervals along a chosen range to make it less smooth and get rid of that AS 'perfect tween' look... unfortuantely it doesn't work on bone layers right now so you might have to get your boyf to do the donkey work and put down keyframes at regular intervals and turn them to 'step' manually on your bone layer - although i think working at a reduced frame rate could work as long as you don't do any fast actions...

I did this with it


3) You might not just want to do bone animation, which cases a problem since you have to animate 3 variations instead of 1 - one possible solution is to animate using the magnet tool. If you define each layers content as a group, and put them in a single layer, you should be able to use the magnet tool to 'push' them all around at once while maintaining some randomness then seperate them onto the switches again... not ideal or easy as drawing but might get the job done?

Hope this helps :P Good luck :)

Posted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 10:36 pm
by funksmaname
There was a typo in the script - so it's fixed and works on bones!

Put the contents in your 'Anime Studio Pro 7\scripts\tool' folder and add the line 'button syn_bake_on ...' to your _tool_list.txt

Now you should see a little icon that looks like an X made of Bacon :P
If you click that a window will come up where you can specify a range, and a step - this lets you bake on 2s for some parts, 3 on others if you like, and leave other ranges on 1s :)

Posted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 12:46 am
by Nimphaea

Our first little tests look great, now we're going to make a "real" animation, to see how that works out. I'll keep you posted.

Thank you!!

Posted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 3:24 am
by funksmaname
look forward to seeing it :)
Good luck.

Posted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 8:25 pm
by funksmaname
I've had an idea for a script - although I don't script myself so might have to ask someone else to do it (let me know if you think it's a good idea)

in it's basic form what it could do is once you've created an animation using a smooth line on a single layer (like you would normally if you weren't trying to achieve this wobbly line effect) and are happy running the script will do a 'split curve' operation, put down a keyframe at every frame and randomly move every point in a random direction a small amount (maybe number of pixels can be varied?)

This would give you an exportable wobbly line and an easier animation process.

advanced functionality could include;
1) selecting the frequency shape for the wobbliness (undulating tightly or loosley)
2) allow you to select specific shapes to apply it to so that things like eyes or whatever can remain un-wobbled
3) scale the wobbliness based on the shape size so that small details aren't wobbled.

dunno if this is possible, but it doesnt' sound infeasable to me!