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Author Topic: May 25th, 2009: "Three Dimensions"  (Read 3525 times)
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« on: May 25, 2009, 12:48:10 AM »

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I've been keeping quiet about what I've been working on behind the scenes here because I don't know if it's going to work out. And although I'm still not positive it will, I'm having too much fun not to share it with you.

When I attended NY Comic Con a few months ago I was sidetracked by some hucksters making outrageous claims about a software program called "Animation: Master". I was intrigued. They were creating animations and making thier characters talk right in front of me. As a storyteller (because what is a writer really but someone telling a story) the possibilities of creating my own animations were too much to resist and I broke down and ponied up the cash.

Then I went on my trip.

When I got back I got serious about animation and since then I've made it through eleven of the 20-25 "lessons" that teach you how to use the program. We're they telling the truth? Is it really that easy to animate.

As Reverend Lovejoy would say "Short answer 'Yes' with a 'but', long answer 'no' with a 'because'..."

The truth is, if all you want to do is make a short little cartoon with characters owned by someone else to make your kids laugh then yes. You can animate with little effort. If you want to make your own characters, add hair and make them talk, create backdrops and adjust camera angles with specific lighting; well then my friend, you had better roll your sleeves up. Because like me, you have a lot to learn.

I think the only thing I was told by the Hash employees (Hash is for Martin Hash... creator of Animation: Master and owner of Hash, Inc.) that has really turned out to be "mostly" untrue is when I asked him how I would make models of my own he told me I would basically just import an image and "trace them."

From a certain perspective one could argue even that is true. Just.. not mine.

When I was working with simple geometric shapes I was very comfortable. But now that I'm working on giraffes and human faces; I don't feel like I'm modeling anymore. I feel like I'm in uncharted territory, like I'm sculpting. And as someone who is a self confessed lousy artist, that can be a little scary, frustrating, choose your own words for extremely difficult with a touch of "this may be beyond my grasp."

That said, the program as a whole has FAR exceeded my expectations. Is it complicated? Sure. Lot's to learn? You bet. But it's also a lot of fun and really charges the imagination. And the price? I think if you guessed how much such a powerful piece of software costs you would be surprised how inexpensive it actually is. And I got a huge discount for buying it at the NY Con.

I also cannot say enough about the community. In case you were wondering where all the kind, friendly and helpful people on the internet went... they went to the Animation: Master forums. Simply some of the nicest and most helpful people I've run into on the internet. Whenever I get stuck with a lesson or have a question because I exceeded the parameters of the lesson (my curiousity often leads me astray) these kind folks always RUSH to my assistance with answers, suggestions, links and in some cases (I'm not kidding) video tutorials on what I'm doing wrong and how to fix it. For free!

I've made several models of my own that involve someone else's art or pictures. This is the only one completely and truly mine.



And actually it's two models as I made the vase too. But that used a "material" that came with the program so it isn't as "mine" as the flower is. And the flower has a rudimentary skeleton for posing and everything. If I wanted to I could make a movie with it dancing around. But that would be silly. And a waste of precious time. I have bigger fish to fry.

I ran into Mark Largent of the great webcomic The Wannabe Pirates in the Hash forums.  I already knew him kinda from the now defunct Half Pixel forums that used to be up (a great place for new webcomic artists to meet and exchange ideas, I was very sorry to lose it). The comic is great, he and his partner Mark McCrary often have animated stuff on the site (there is a wonderful Christmas video there) I assume (because he's such an authority on the program; and I hope I'm not wrong) made in Animation: Master.

Check it out. If you like pirates and tomfoolery (Think "One Piece" without the adult themes and extreme violence) you will enjoy your visit.

If you want to see any of the other projects I've worked on and keep up with my progress... including a couple short but entertaining video lessons I've completed, you can check out my entire animation album at my Photobucket Account.

Apparently there is a Green Lantern movie in the works. GL was one of my favorites growing up. I hope it turns out to be one of the "good" superhero movies and not an "Ang Lee Hulk" or "X-Men 3" (blech). Check out this totally freaking awesome fan made, fake trailer for the movie starring Nathan Fillion (yes, I linked to his IMDB page because I'd rather read what his fans have to say about him than his publicist). I think that might be the best casting choice this side of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. And a really well done video to boot. Bravo!

This weeks comic is a pretty good one. I remember when I was in the service; it didn't matter what kind of country I was in; first world or third if the kids saw us they wanted candy. Usually it just amounted to the chocolate bars that came with our MRE's but there were a few times we were provided with chocolate bars to hand out. The look on a kids face when he gets American chocolate from a soldier; I can't describe it but Jason, I think, captured it nicely.

That's it for this week. I'll see you next week for another dose.
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