Let me go back to where these updated began: As an independent author, it is up to me to organise any form of marketing or promoting of my books. To this end, I embarked on an adventure – Yes, I’ll go as far as to call it an adventure – to create an animation about The Bullet. Let’s see how this came together.
The Pieces of the Puzzle
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Here is a rough chronological list of my tasks:
- I considered what I was after. I made a plan, sketched out my ideas into scenes, refined these down to what was I considered was doable, selecting five main sections.
- I researched software that was available for sketching, vector drawing and animations and downloaded Inkscape for creating the vector graphics, Synfig for animation and Gimp for image manipulation.
- I sketched out my characters faces and brought these into a digital format, converting them to vector graphics.
- Using Synfig, I created my scenes, one by one, according to my original design.
- I recorded a bunch of sounds on my phone, uploaded these to the machine and edited the soundwaves with Audacity, and hunted down a gunshot for the climax.
- With the aid of Anvil, I wrote the musical track.
- I used VirtualMIDISynth and the “Fluid GM” Midi Soundfont to get a richer sound
- I exported the music from Anvil and blended this as a separate track together with the sound effects in Audacity.
- I rendered the animation from Synfig to a movie file.
- Lastly, using Microsoft’s Movie Maker, I added the audio to the video and exported the whole shebam to a YouTube ready file and uploaded it.
The end result is a one minute and twenty second clip that I’m pretty chuffed with:
Sure, it’s not refined, it’s not going to win any medals. If I get to do it again, if I ever have time, there will be several things I’d concentrate on.
In the programming world, we use retrospectives or post-mortems to see what went wrong, what went right and what can be done better. Forgive me if I cannot resist giving the animation the same treatment.
The first issue that jumps at me is the lack of sophisticated motion. It was suitable for what it needed to be, and that’s fine, but as I think about how I might create other animations, I figure there will be more ‘going on’. Background motion, moving lips with synchronised speech, blinking eyes, torsos turning, limbs flailing. While too much can be distracting, too little can be boring.
The music I enjoyed. A lot. Creating it piece by piece, getting the soundfonts, discovering reverb and chorus (albeit too late to apply it) and adding tracks as layers was just fun. Pure and simple. I reckon I could lose hours just knocking out tunes and mucking about with rhythms.
Then comes the sound. That was a headache. It was the opposite of fun. It doesn’t matter how I look at it, it just didn’t sound ‘right’. I guess I just don’t have the skillset or the proper equipment for sound engineering, so I’d probably ask for help, or try and find someone to hire.
Likewise with voice-overs. I think a voice-over would have been great. Again, lousy recording equipment and an even lousier voice let me down, to the point where I omitted the voice-over altogether. For this I’d definitely hire someone with a voice appropriate for the context.
Lastly, I think the sketching and vectorising the characters worked out just fine, only I’d spend more time getting details and layers so as to add more dimension to them. And I’d really like to try the ‘bones’ feature out in Synfig and get some complex motion happening. Oh, for another lifetime!
In any case, I’ll call it a wrap. I’ve got to get back to writing, so I bid a fond farewell to the Land of Animation – for now. I’ve got my little bag of tricks for next time, and I hope to share with you my next foray when I get a bit of breathing space between titles.