30th May 2000, the project was initiated and the bookstore was visited. The cartoon was selected.
1st June, cartoon was scanned and split into frames, splitting the images into layers was started.
23rd June, I get another cartoon in the email from the man himself, Sam Henderson, also start experimenting with Poser a figure animation package.
10th July, conclude that using Poser would not be appropriate for these figures as too much effort would be required in generating the models and their shape is not suitable for this. Making of web page is produced so that I can keep a diary and project plan in place.
18th July, first test animation done. Some issues with lighting producing grey backgrounds/characters but strangely not a grey floor. Tranparency of Dork character working correctly, use the mask feature in PSP a mask is created from the opaque areas then a selection is created which is painted black, this is used in the Ray Dream shader as the transparency.
25th July, 2nd test anim, addition of a large flood light eliminates any greyness.
31st July, Experimentation with walking for Dork and Gang. A Poser 4.0 model rendered in sketch style.
4th August -> 17th August Vacation in California
18th August PSTOIC drinks and recording session, a successful event in the Anchor next to Shakesphere's reconstructed theatre. Listen to the raw footage of the audio on the Script page.
September. The raw audio has been cleaned up, removing most of the background noise, using GoldWave. A problem with a "metallic" sound was kindly explained by the author of Goldwave, Chris Craig, this is due to setting the level of the noice filter too high.
26th September, after experimenting with how the legs of these characters might move, I drew out some stick diagrams with the movement on them. Using PSP to overlay these diagrams as a vector layer on top of the Dork character, the following test was produced.
A slight swing to the arms is needed and there is a issue with the masking of the original drawing which need to be fixed (other wise this needs to be removed on each frame which is tedious). The next step is to combine this anim with the 3D model of the park. The outline of the characters may need thickening although this may not be needed with a colour backdrop. I have also only done half the frames for the animation for simplicity I would like to at least double this up.
5th October, another test animation. The tree and fence have been isolated and some colour added. This also shows the effect of the additional lighting.
8th October, after a motivational nag by the PSTOIC team, I have put together a test animation with two characters, and sound. I have discovered a few things about RayDream in the process. Particularly it is handy to leave the background to be masked a darker colour so that when previewing it is easier to pick up the objects. Also the "cloak" option allows the overall visibility of objects to be animated. This is how the speach bubble appears.
17th October, after some experiments with the NaturalMedia ThinkFish renderer to produce cartoon style objects with matt colours and black outlines, it was decided to continue with the existing plan of using bitmaps for the characters. This was because of the effort required to model the characters and problems over controlling the outlines of the renderer, e.g. two blocks joined seamlessly will still have a join under this renderer. As there is less flexibility with the shaders in RayDream than with the Gif Construction Set so the the bitmaps will all have to be the same size and shape. The timeline to shows the "cells" with their key events of cloaking and decloaking. Because of the effort of creating the masks, it is intended to create a mask generator which will take the GIF file and output a black and white image based on the transparent colour. A graphics control and VB or MFC will be used to create this utility. Or perhaps ImageRobot from Jasc (the makers of paintshop pro) will be tried.
11th December, finally, annoyed by the tooth character having a pale square in the middle of his mouth attempted to eliminate it. This is not as origionally thought a product of the rendering process but in fact a problem with MPEG compression which does not exist in the origional source. This was re-compressed using the Indeo 5 codec. The compression artifact is no longer present. See test animation 4 in comparison to 3
31st December the Cap Boy character says the first line of the cartoon, 2 words down 95 to go! The masking process has been improved slightly by creating a palette which contains only black and white, this is loaded onto the detail GIF and the mask is created, eliminating the need for clever automation of this process. An interesing fact was discovered whilst examining the lip movements. The words have to be considered as a whole and not separate sounds. For example the word "Geek" would be two movements if separated to "Gee-k" but only uses one as a full word.
25th Feb 2001 a "Posable"cloth (from Sphere) is located on the Renderosity web site and loaded into Poser. Some experiments with this have been done to generate a sketch outline which can be used in the flying sequence for Captain Correct.
22nd April 2002. What have I been upto you ask. Unfortunately as far as this project is concerned, not too much. However, I have finally put together a story board made up primarily of Sam's origional artwork.
I have also been researching various modelling packages such as Milkshape and Carrara. Carrara Studio is the successor to Raydream, it does have excellent "Toon" rendering.
Finally a break through has been made on the lipsyncing. A superb little tool called Magpie has saved me from hours standing in front of the mirror with a notebook making stupid faces at myself.
4th June 2002. The project has been going for over two years now, as anticipated, the modelling of the figures has turned out to be the most difficult part. To assist with the computer modelling of the figures, I have built some figures out of plasticine. Some photos will be appearing here soon. It is not intended to do the animation in plasticine however the test models will be kept to assist with visualising the movement and shape of the characters. An interesting issue was discovered whilst creating these models. The "Flat Top" character and the "Dork " are very similar so care will be needed to make sure these stay distinct in the production.
September 2003. Modelling simpler items such as the kids cart and a blackboard. Slowly getting better whilst working through various upgrades to Carrara Studio.
December 2004. Project officially on hold waiting for completion of the Flea Circus