This animation is interactive that you’ll be given choices in the end which will lead to the different endings.
(The video is in the quality of 4K which really took me a very long time to render and upload to YouTube.)
Creating a whole piece of animation in 7 weeks classes, I have to say, it’s kind of tough one for me finish. And fortunately, I finished it at last and I’m actually 90 percent satisfactory as it’s almost what I expected would be at last.
Quick recall of the story: there is a hare living a forest and one day she was scared by a strange sound “Goo-doong”. Then she ran to others to spread the news, however, at last, people found it was just a fake alarm — the sound was made from a papaya falling into water; several days later, the hare heard the same sound and she found this time came the real monster. Running to spread the news, ①she realized nobody believed her this time. At last, they were all eaten by the monster. ②(to have more possibilities, this story has a second ending) she found people still would love to believe her and they just came to fight the monster together and they won in the end.
My workflow in the project: story -> adaptation -> re-edit -> 8-panels book -> storyboard -> create characters(3D) in Fuse -> edit characters’ actions in Photoshop -> create scenes(effects, lights, etc..) in After Effects -> compose all the compositions and add subtitles and dub in Premiere Pro. I generally have 12 GigaBytes material for this 3-minutes animation project.
Adobe Fuse + Mixamo: Ｉmade 4 different 3D models in Adobe Fuse which are Judy(hare), Nick(fox), Luna(deer) and Ben(frog). As what you might notice, all my characters are animals, however, due to the limits of Fuse, I can only do human models. Then I just make all my characters humanoid. To make they look more like animals, I made researches to look how these animals’ skeletons look like then I started to make their arms, legs, hands and toes extremely long or short according to their actual skeletons. Besides, I also add some details to their faces, for example, Judy the hare has a pair of cross-eyes and Nick had a pair of long-cum-thin eyes. I also found it was really cool that Mixamo can auto-rig all my models and have a huge amount of actions in the library which helped me saved much time.
Then I imported the 3D characters into photoshop. Thanks to Marianne, this was the first time I knew photoshop could even edit layers in a dimension world. The main idea was to assign actions to the characters and set the background as blue/green so we can have the pure characters in AE later for better editing. Because of the complexity of my story, I had 83 actions of my characters and 64 psd flies about them. Then it really took me a very long time to render all the psd files to videos.
Having 64 videos of characters’ actions, I imported them into After Effects. I have to admit that this process was the most time-consuming one, but I really enjoyed this procedure because there’s a lot of possibilities that I can explore. Under those main 7 scenes, I had 32 compositions. In each composition, there were one to four characters doing different things or giving different reactions. When I was doing the scenes happened by the lake, I had to give everyone’s a reflection in the lake, and of course, some masks were important for the frogs to “swim up and down“ in the water like real. And I also used some other resources to create effects like water splash when frog jumped into water. I did all these things on my laptop, so during the process of editing compositions, it was really a big challenge to my patience to preview which was in time render.
Thanks for Adobe’s Dynamic Links, I could import all the compositions from AE to Pr without rendering them before. This kind of saved me some time, but the bad news was, I still had to render the sequence inside of the Pr otherwise I wouldn’t know what was going on in my scene. In Pr, my main job was to arrange and edit all the separate compositions(scenes) to make the animation smoother. I also made a question bubble and two choices-making boxes at the decision-making scene. Then I just added subtitles and also invited my friends to dub my characters. After all these things done, what I did was to send them to Media Encoder to render which was totally out of my control. It took me about 3 hours to render all the 3 videos(main + 2 endings) out.
About The Two Endings: I thought it was really interesting to have my story with 2 endings that people can decide how the story goes. From the perspective of techniques, the most challenging one for me to think of was how to achieve an interactive way for people to choose different endings like a game. At first, I thought I could make a web page and add some interactive buttons in my page to guide the audience to different choices, however, considering the time cost, I had to give up this idea. Then I just was inspired by Marianne that I could upload my videos to Youtube and add some clickable notes at the bottom so people can be redirected to different videos of endings. For this, I made a scene in the my animation that has two buttons. However, when I tried to add the hyperlink annotations to my video, I found the annotation function was expired half year ago and now I could only add the thumbnail video to the bottom instead of boxes with transparency.
①For those of you who might use Fuse+Photoshop+AE for 3D animation, when you are telling a long story with many different characters and scenes, please make sure that you have a clear plan ahead of time and categorize all the materials accordingly and name files smartly, otherwise, it’ll be a total disaster.
②please get used to saving your work after every step you did or you might cry out when you saw your big progress was lost.
③make the best use of Adobe’s dynamic file system and Creative Cloud that can really save you much time.
④shortcuts! shortcuts! shortcuts! Mastering in shortcuts will help you out of trouble.
This was actually my second time doing animation and the first time with 3D animation. I found it really interesting and challenging. Not just simply doing an animation, I thought what the class title told us was the most important thing: Fairy Tale for the 21st Century. No matter in what era, stories can always evoke people’s feelings for things. Then how to tell a story in a good way has been a hard and worthy discussing question. We should always remember that no matter podcast, animation, cartoon, comic, game in 2D or 3D, they are just the tools to tell a story, what really matters is the story itself. To tell a story, we have to practice again and again and even edit it for hundred times just for keeping it smooth and complete. Based on the skills of telling a story clearly, we can then develop the ways of making it fancier. This reminded me of one of the most anticipated animation in China last year, 大鱼海棠(Big Fish & Begonia). The audience had been waiting for 12 years for this movie, and after seeing it, no matter people’s voices or the professional critiques were not that good. It was obviously not because of the techniques or the picture performance, on the contrary, they were fantastic, and in fact, almost all the negative comments targeted at the story. People said that the director spent 12 years on each frame but losing the whole story which really made me feel bad that since when did we step into a world that technique goes beyond the story. Therefore, in the future, if I still get a chance to tell a story, I’ll definitely put more efforts into the story itself as well as the techniques that achieve the story then I hope there will come a really touching and impressive one.
Many thanks to Professor Marianne Petit and my classmates for their critique and suggestions to make this looks better.