AS11's new FBF layer versus already existing Switchlayers

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sargumphigaus
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AS11's new FBF layer versus already existing Switchlayers

Post by sargumphigaus » Thu May 28, 2015 5:57 am

I bought the update of ASP11 based solely on the appeal of the FBF feature. It really seemed like it could simplify what I was already doing...only...well...now that I'm using it, I can't see the difference between fbf and switchlayers. Fbf's appeal is that you can animate linearly right? With onion skins and what have you. But the thing is, as I'm using it, I'm discovering that the FBF layer limits you to only a single layer, where as switch layers gave you unlimited. This already feels like a restriction to me. When I animate with Switchlayers, I do it in a very similar fashion to the FBF appeal. Before I do though, I jump into the preferences of the software and uncheck "enable drawing tools only on 0" and just duplicate the layer within the switchlayer and place it two frames ahead of it in the timeline and redraw in relationship to the onion skins that cover the other layers. But when I use switch layers, I use them with multiple layers that come together to make it one image. FBF does not allow this.

There are a lot of reasons why I do this. I do it so as not to make manipulating the points seem so delicate. I use masking layers and apply soft effected vectors in darker shades to provide a strong lighting effect. That at least needs 4 layers, a group, a master, a mask, and the shading layer itself. Occasionally, I like to use the sketch effect on characters eyes to make them seem twitchy, I can use a sketch effect on their eyes, which would require its own layer while the rest of the character is more stationary which would be forcing it into a separate layer. If the character is interacting with another, I can hide one character and overlap the other without fear of obscuring him. When I animate interactions, it's very important that they take place in the same layer....and so on and so forth...the list goes on, the possibilities are endless. But my point is, it works exactly the same way as FBF layers, only with FBF layers, you lose all of those creative perks and conveniences.

Now I know that some will argue that FBF creates new layer frames without relativity to the prior layer. So what though, all I have to do is set the tween option from smooth to Step. Problem solved. You won't even see the effects in the final product, or even during production for that matter. You could also argue that you could just put group layers into an FBF layer and do it from there. But in order to do this, you have to uncheck in the preferences: "enable drawing tools only on frame 0" and from there, it becomes 100% identical to the switchlayer approach.

That being said, here's a demonstration.


The top shapes were used with FBF layer, the bottoms with switch layer. The method is completely identical.

I guess it comes down to this, CAN YOU or CAN YOU NOT use group layers within the FBF layers, because if you can't, than this whole feature is in my opinion (and i stress, my opinion), debunked and will in the long run, just distract animators from realizing that FBFing in ASP can be so much more than what this feature is letting on.

I don't know...I'm just really disappointed I guess. But of course, I could be wrong. I would love to know. I hear there's a webinar on the 2nd. I'll be sure to watch it with the hopes that this whole thing just makes me look like a dork. Initially, I feel like I made an expensive mistake here, but all and all, it doesn't really hurt me that much. The rest of the improvements on the program from what I've seen are excellent and really do make it easier to use in more ways than one. In the end, I'm using the program in a very specific way and it would be selfish to maintain the audacity to assume they would cater specifically to my needs and not the broad consumer base that has been using it a lot longer than I have.

TL;DR FBFlayers and Switchlayers are exactly the same thing, but at face value, FBFlayers offer so much less at cost of the programs true potential
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Re: AS11's new FBF layer versus already existing Switchlayer

Post by hayasidist » Thu May 28, 2015 10:34 am

totally agree...

AS11 FBF seems to have been built to support a way of working where, in effect, you have everything on just one vector layer.

In the real world this doesn't happen often.

There is a way to have "multi-layer" .. it just needs the "group" idea implemented "the other way round" - IOW instead of having Groups in FBF you have FBFs in a Group; and you can create copies of FBF groups by reference. But those approaches are not terribly effective for all sorts of reasons - e.g. you can't use masking exclude strokes at the group level... and there isn't an easy way to "switch off all strokes in all vector layers in a group"..

so yeah - you are not alone in wanting FBF improvements. And, IMO, some of the ways to make FBF work better might be in enhancing other features so that the "lots of coordinated FBF layers in a Group" concept works better / more ergonomically.
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Re: AS11's new FBF layer versus already existing Switchlayer

Post by shift » Thu May 28, 2015 5:32 pm

But switch layers still exists so you can continue to do FBF the way you are used to. I do however see your point. I though this new feature would allow me to duplicate a group of layers and draw specifically over a section, inserting a new frame at that point with my drawn over image.
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Re: AS11's new FBF layer versus already existing Switchlayer

Post by dkwroot » Thu May 28, 2015 6:19 pm

Okay, let me explain...

The FBF layer is like a switch layer, but you can DRAW directly on the FBF layer and have your drawing placed on the currently active vector layer. Your confusion is that you're trying to treat the FBF layer *AS a switch. Try collapsing the FBF layer and just treating it like a layer that you would see in "Flash" or "ToonBoom". Basically, stop trying to nest layers inside of the FBF layer and instead, treat each FBF layer like a VECTOR LAYER and not a switch group. So just collapse the FBF layer and don't expand it, leave the nested vectors alone.

I really think the developers should have locked the FBF layers so that they can't be expanded to show all of the vector layers that make up the frames. Flash does this with their layers to avoid these kinds of confusions. Also, don't forget that you can do layer referencing, so you can make clones of an FBF layer and place them where ever they are needed.
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Re: AS11's new FBF layer versus already existing Switchlayer

Post by sargumphigaus » Thu May 28, 2015 6:28 pm

shift wrote:But switch layers still exists so you can continue to do FBF the way you are used to.
Yeah, like I said, it doesn't really hurt me over all, just in the wallet. But now I can do it with an easier interface. Specifically one that can open up multiple files, that way i don't have to import characters from the last files to get colors and references...but we're getting off topic.

*Edit: I was using ASP9 before this*
shift wrote:I though this new feature would allow me to duplicate a group of layers and draw specifically over a section, inserting a new frame at that point with my drawn over image.
yeah, pretty much what I was thinking too. FBF with more vector layers available. If they can incorporate that, than perhaps they've got something, I mean, it's a simple change, but so effective that I can't animate without it...even though it's identical to what I was saying about switchlayers with the unchecked drawing only on zero option.
hayasidist wrote:There is a way to have "multi-layer" .. it just needs the "group" idea implemented "the other way round" - IOW instead of having Groups in FBF you have FBFs in a Group; and you can create copies of FBF groups by reference. But those approaches are not terribly effective for all sorts of reasons - e.g. you can't use masking exclude strokes at the group level... and there isn't an easy way to "switch off all strokes in all vector layers in a group"..
I can see how that could work for people. It wouldn't work specifically for me, because I'm animating characters throwing eachother around and doing really ridiculous things, they need to be in the same changing switchlayer, otherwise they'll fall out of sync and create a hassle for me. At the same time, I won't fully knock it or reject it until I actually try it. I'll play with it and see if it works when I get home.
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Re: AS11's new FBF layer versus already existing Switchlayer

Post by sargumphigaus » Thu May 28, 2015 6:53 pm

dkwroot wrote:The FBF layer is like a switch layer, but you can DRAW directly on the FBF layer and have your drawing placed on the currently active vector layer. Your confusion is that you're trying to treat the FBF layer *AS a switch. Try collapsing the FBF layer and just treating it like a layer that you would see in "Flash" or "ToonBoom". Basically, stop trying to nest layers inside of the FBF layer and instead, treat each FBF layer like a VECTOR LAYER and not a switch group. So just collapse the FBF layer and don't expand it, leave the nested vectors alone.
I get all that, which was what I was talking about when it comes to the single vector, which of course you could make complex images out of it, but it is still just one vector and can do far less that before. But I am hearing you on the reference layering concept. I'll have to look into that. If it is what I think it is, I'll have no problem taking this egg on the face and shoving my own foot down my throat.
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Re: AS11's new FBF layer versus already existing Switchlayer

Post by Lost Marble » Thu May 28, 2015 7:12 pm

Here are some of the benefits of FBF (frame-by-frame) layers. First, FBF layers really are just switch layers with a special FBF property turned on. This property makes it a bit nicer for working in a frame-by-frame style.

With switch layers, it's true that you can do all the same kinds of things FBF layers do, but they're a lot more cumbersome. To add a new frame, you need to add a new vector layer, and you need to change the selected layer depending on which frame you want to draw. This may not sound like the end of the world, but it really takes you out of the drawing mindset, forcing you to manage layers.

When you're working with an FBF layer, there are a few additional controls that appear at the bottom left of the canvas: buttons to add, remove, and duplicate frames, plus a control that lets you set the frame interval. To draw a new frame, you just click the Add Frame button and start drawing. Anime Studio takes care of advancing the current time. (The F5 key also works as a shortcut for the Add Frame button.)

Also, with an FBF layer, you can keep the FBF layer selected in the layers panel, and the drawing tools will operate on the currently active sub layer. So you don't need to go back and forth between working on the canvas and managing layer creation and selection.

So far, this may all sound like simply conveniences, and that's true. But the idea was to smooth out the process. Even if you could do this with switch layers, it's much easier in AS11. Making the process more fluid will hopefully allow artists to work more naturally. When I demonstrate FBF, I often have a drawing pen in my right hand, and my left index finger on the F5 key. For creating a basic "animated sketch", my hand and eyes stay on the canvas the whole time: it's a sequence of draw frame, press F5 key, draw frame, press F5 key, repeat. It's much more like regular drawing than working with the details of a switch layer.

OK, that's all conveniences and ergonomics. I'd argue that that's worth a lot, but what else do you get from FBF layers?

Normally, in Anime Studio, if you draw on a frame other than zero, the shapes you draw appear only on that frame. So let's say you're working with a switch layer and you create a new layer at frame 20 and draw some shapes on it. That layer and those shapes will only be visible at frame 20 and onwards. If your timing never changes, you're fine. But if you need to re-time the animation later, and (for example) make that layer appear at frame 10, the shapes will remain invisible until frame 20. You can edit that visibility, but that's more layer and keyframe management you have to get into, rather than just drawing.

With FBF layers, these keyframes are not added. As you add vector layers for new frames and draw on them, they are kept "clean" with no additional keyframes. An FBF layer understands that you're drawing a sequence of frames and may need to re-time them. So it doesn't try to "out-think" you and interfere with timing. A similar problem arises not with simply drawing shapes, but with re-shaping them as well. With a vector layer inside a basic switch layer, if you draw a shape and then reshape it with the transform points tool or curvature tool, and you're not on frame 0, you'll end up adding extra keyframes, meaning animation to that frame. With an FBF layer, on the other hand, editing the current frame does not add extra keyframes, so no inadvertent animation.

Your other concern was having multiple layers to draw onto. (You mentioned lighting effects - check out the webinar next week for a new way to approach lighting.) You can't put groups inside an FBF layer (well, you can, but then it becomes no different from a switch layer). One way to do this is with another new AS11 feature - layer references. What you do is create one FBF layer (maybe this will be the stroke or line layer). Then, before you get to work, create some references from this layer: one for color, one for lighting, etc. Go back to the original FBF layer and now start drawing/adding frames/etc. The reference layers will follow along with the timing of the original FBF layer - they'll get new frames as you add them to the original, and if you delete frames or change timing, this will get reflected in the reference layers as well.

Once you've drawn the line animation, you can go back to the color or lighting FBF layers and start drawing on them. (Or, you can go back and forth between the layers any time you want - you don't need to finish the line work first if you don't want to.) The thing to keep in mind is that the original FBF layer is the one where you should add new frames and adjust timing. The others are just for drawing on.

I hope this makes sense. I'll try to show a bit of this workflow in the webinar next week as well.
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Re: AS11's new FBF layer versus already existing Switchlayer

Post by Víctor Paredes » Thu May 28, 2015 7:29 pm

Thank you for the explanation, Mike. I wanted to write something here too, but didn't get enough time (my "post a reply" tab have been open since the early morning) and, anyway, I couldn't t explain it better than you.
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Re: AS11's new FBF layer versus already existing Switchlayer

Post by Lost Marble » Thu May 28, 2015 7:50 pm

selgin wrote:I couldn't t explain it better than you.
Actually, maybe you could. I can certainly answer technical questions, but the experience from working animators is invaluable. Hopefully, although technically you could do what FBF layers do by using switch layers, the whole experience is greater than the sum of its parts. The main idea was to take what was "possible", and make it more usable and enjoyable so that the user could concentrate on their drawings, not on the process of managing them.
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Re: AS11's new FBF layer versus already existing Switchlayer

Post by Greenlaw » Thu May 28, 2015 8:57 pm

I haven't had a chance to use the new FBF layer enough to fully comment yet but to address the OP's comments, would having a right-click command to convert from FBF to Switch layer solve this? That way, after the frames have been drawn, the user has the option to use the Switch features if he wants to. I'm thinking something like the right-click commands for Convert to Bone or Convert to Switch, to keep within the current UI paradigm.

I know that doesn't really address everything but just thought it might serve as a quick fix until a better solution can be introduced?

G.
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Re: AS11's new FBF layer versus already existing Switchlayer

Post by sargumphigaus » Thu May 28, 2015 9:05 pm

Thank you for the reply.

I looked into the concept of layer referencing when before I bought this, and all I had to go on was the brief description and your tutorial video. They made it sound more like it was designed for bonerigging and group oriented projects. I had no conception that it would have some form of benefit for fbfing. Now I do. When I get home I'll mess around with the tutorials and instructions for it and see if I can toss somethings together until I have a feel for it.
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Re: AS11's new FBF layer versus already existing Switchlayer

Post by Víctor Paredes » Thu May 28, 2015 9:11 pm

Greenlaw wrote:I haven't had a chance to use the new FBF layer enough to fully comment yet but to address the OP's comments, would having a right-click command to convert from FBF to Switch layer solve this? That way, at least after the frames have been drawn, the user has the option to apply the Switch features. I'm thinking something like the right-click commands for Convert to Bone or Convert to Switch, to keep within the current UI paradigm.

I know that doesn't really address everything but just thought it might be a quick fix until a better solution can be introduced?

G.
That's not even necessary :)
In the FBF layer proprieties there's a checkbox to enable/disable the "Frame-by-frame drawing".
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Re: AS11's new FBF layer versus already existing Switchlayer

Post by strider2000 » Fri May 29, 2015 12:02 am

In the tutorial I see that with FBF you now have the ellipse type of keyframes. In my mind I'm thinking this is very similar to exposure times for Toon Boom Studio. Is that correct? In other words, can a drawing have a length or exposure longer than one frame, or do you literally have to duplicate frame X in order to have it display for multiple frames. That then leads me to the next question. How do you change the exposure length for a frame (right or alt click maybe)? I'm guessing this is possible based on the statements about re-timing the layer. Thanks.
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Re: AS11's new FBF layer versus already existing Switchlayer

Post by braj » Fri May 29, 2015 12:24 am

FWIW I really appreciate the new feature, a lot of the FBF stuff that most users will do in AS will be for effects that are not conducive to cutout animation. That said, it would be great to have an option when creating a new layer in the FBF folder to use a specified folder as a template, then you could have the folder set with all the masks and stuff you personally need, and every new frame would just place an instance of that folder in line. Would that work for you guys?

This feature is brand new, I can see it being expanded nicely in the future. Making it more complex in it's first revision may not have been a great idea. I can say for myself FBF already has made my little life easier, though admittedly I am not a power user.
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Re: AS11's new FBF layer versus already existing Switchlayer

Post by Víctor Paredes » Fri May 29, 2015 12:29 am

strider2000 wrote:In the tutorial I see that with FBF you now have the ellipse type of keyframes. In my mind I'm thinking this is very similar to exposure times for Toon Boom Studio. Is that correct? In other words, can a drawing have a length or exposure longer than one frame, or do you literally have to duplicate frame X in order to have it display for multiple frames. That then leads me to the next question. How do you change the exposure length for a frame (right or alt click maybe)? I'm guessing this is possible based on the statements about re-timing the layer. Thanks.
A frame (or key) on a frame-by-frame layer have no "duration" value. It simply will be visible until the time you add another frame.
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