AuthorTopic: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?  (Read 22522 times)

Offline Conzeit

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Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

on: February 05, 2014, 02:57:44 am
First of all PxPd I was surprised to find subdivisions to the forum with the amount of activity we've had lately, but I was glad to find that you were watching over this =) I hope to learn and discuss with you lots..=O

So, puppet animation. taking several still parts and rotating them in engine. Not very pixelly a topic but it is the bread and butter if you're doing 2D animation now-a-days. Honestly, I think we need to flexibilize and learn to use pixels with other things in ways that look good for pixels to stay alive and learning more tools can only aid in doing that

So, what is your take Pixelation? what is proper use of it and what isnt?

Coming from redrawing obsession in pixelart (seriously I avoid copy pasting parts as much as possible) I must admit to be extremely queasy about it. I feel it should be used for tweening exclusively: make all the keyframes by hand and then break up in pieces and rotate/stretch/warp for tweening. Obviously this is anti-economic and kinda goes against the production reasons to use puppet at all, which is to avoid drawing new frames for every action. But my kneejerk reaction is to hide puppet as much as possible and I've refused to learn it till now.

Also, what is the best tool for this in games? is it just flash/toonboom or is Spriter (or something I havent even heard of) shaping up to be pretty important?

I guess I leave you with an example of good use of puppet, this is not true puppet since it's done with actual paper rotated by hand, but the trembling motions are remarkable and worth watching

Paperplane Music Video

EDIT: made the post a little clearer after Atnas'es reply =)
EDIT2: corrected some wording....=O
« Last Edit: February 05, 2014, 08:27:53 pm by Conceit »

Offline Atnas

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Re: Puppet Animation: how when and why?

Reply #1 on: February 05, 2014, 03:56:22 am
Vanillaware has been at the forefront of this in the gaming field for quite some time. They use their own software developed in-house, but Spriter is very similar if not maybe? more powerful now than what they used for Odin Sphere and Dragons Crown. You've probably seen it in motion but just in case:



I really appreciate how they do it. Maybe more in Odin Sphere than Dragon's Crown (I've found the latter to be too visually busy sometimes) As long as you make several different frames for each limb for depth or rotation, I think it's really smart to automate the tweening in 2d space.

I think there is a good argument for using a tool like Spriter initially for 2d, and redrawing over the generated frames, if you're very invested in it being hand drawn. And for backgrounds and stuff it's invaluable, check out the foliage in the intro to Odin Sphere:



In fact this would have likely impossible on the PS2 to have so many frames for such subtle animation with such big 2d pieces. It's a huge memory saver to manipulate the sprites onscreen like that. I often place the blame on the novelty of 3d contributing to the lack of a good 2DHD era of gaming, but honestly 3D was cheaper than 2D, to produce and to display. Puppet animation makes more ambitious goals more possible. I wonder the last few generations would have done more 2d if tools for this were widely available. I also hope that now that devices have more video ram more HD titles will come out in 2d.

Also no need to worry about being pixel related, this forum covers animation in general.

Edit: Also I just remembered Broken Age:





In Double Fine's case they used puppet animation to squeeze the most emotion out of the least amount of resources. The animation would have cost a lot more manhours if the nuances had another dimension, or were hand drawn, and I don't think the game suffers for this technique at all.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2014, 04:15:37 am by Atnas »

Offline Probo

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Re: Puppet Animation: how when and why?

Reply #2 on: February 05, 2014, 04:42:54 am
interesting post atnas! I have always liked the look of vanillaware's stuff but never had the console to play it. The music on that odin Sphere video is fantastic too.

The Rumble Fish used this technique in a lot of its animation, with quite impressive results:



this may be a better example, Rumble Fish 2, and it involves that character i used, Lud. great music



t was japan-only i think, but i had the good fortune to play it around the time it came out and my younger self almost fell off his seat
« Last Edit: February 05, 2014, 04:59:49 am by Probo »

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Puppet Animation: how when and why?

Reply #3 on: February 05, 2014, 05:45:53 am
Wow thank you Atnas I DID NOT expect to get such a prompt response at all :p so much so that I only adressed PxPiledriver in the original post...fixed that now :p

Your post made me realize something, what I'm really trying to find here is the aesthetical advantages of this technique, I know I like redrawing everything and how it looks, but  I want to know if there's posibly an inherent beauty to rotating stuff that I'm missing.

Yep, I've seen Vanillaware's work and honestly I dont see much there in the puppet animation aspect.
DragonCrown specifically has both a lot of redrawn frames and very high tech for this technique, they make frequent use of warping/distorting and redrawing parts constantly to make for a very 3D feeling look and I think that's what makes it so impressive...so I end up just kinda envying their toys when I look at DragonCrown :p

With Odin Sphere and Broken Age I feel like it's the art that is pretty, not the animation....and I agree about the leaf thing, practically it makes a lot more sense to do it...but that just makes my redrawing obsessed mind feel left out :p

I feel like expanding on what I think of Paperplane the video I posted =)  (misslinked in original post but fixed it now) I feel it has pretty good storyboarding and the movements have a very hand crafted feel, partly because so much moves (man's pant leg) and there are many parts (the hands playing instruments,) but also because of how much trembling and hesitation there is in the movements, that's something I dont often see in digital puppet animation...I guess because hand crafting the position every frame kinda beats the tweening purpose of the whole thing.

I also remembered two games I love

Machinarium

and Botanicula


I feel like these mine the innocent quality in the inherent crappyness of just rotating parts to animate. The fact we're looking at faulty robots in machinarium and inherently flat designs in Botanicula also helps sell that innocent look

Probos: WOW another fast as fuck reply! haha.
YEAH! forgot about rumblefish when making the topic...but I do know it....largely it's surprisingly good (for puppet :P)
I imagine it has a lot of basic poses broken up in parts because it's pretty seamless looking even though it has lots of outlines and other pixelart staples that complicate the puppet animation. I'd love to have a clearer idea of how it works actually.
Still, the purist part of me feels like it's a stiffer version of KOF, there is better tweening but it doesnt have the same characters of the better animated special moves  in the later year numbered KOF entries.....but I would be very very happy to come out of the topic feeling like I know how to do something like Rumblefish....I secretely hope I could make this look like Street Fighter3, Earthworm Jim, MetalSlug or something :p

I notice we're kinda developing a trend of mentioning all outstanding examples so I guess I better say something about Rayman Origins? :p

much like Vanillaware does Ubisoft made another fancy ass inhouse engine we dont get to play with =( so there's THAT when I look at it :p.
Their use of the warp/distort/stetch tools is obviously not attempting depth like Vanillaware, there is more squash and stretch like a cartoon should do, but I think I do find a good takeaway from it....a lot of it is just making  following the logical phisical motions of things, for example the jaws in the title at the end wobble like you imagine a jenga tower would.

So I guess my takeaway is
1
2 recognizing the inherent crappyness of animation can lend an air of innocence, an animation of a character screaming while rotating  an arm can have the same charm as swapping between two crappy frames.
3
 thanks guys! although I fear I might've spread the conversation too much a bit alreayd.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2014, 08:30:10 pm by Conceit »

Offline Ryumaru

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Re: Puppet Animation: how when and why?

Reply #4 on: February 05, 2014, 05:51:31 am
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N59tLIvQeJE

I believe Xion stated that his animations for Catacomb kids were done in spriter, and allows him to have skeleton animations for all his characters. The result isn't my personal favorite, but I can certainly see it being an aesthetic that people are in to. The possibility of adding layers and such on top of skeletal animation that allows for multiple characters with the same movements is enticing, especially for games that have character creation as a main feature- something pixel art rarely ever goes to because of the headache that would ensue for the animators.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2014, 05:55:12 am by Ryumaru »

Offline NaCl

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Re: Puppet Animation: how when and why?

Reply #5 on: February 05, 2014, 11:02:30 am
I personally do not care for this type of animation, at all. The benefits as I see them are purely logistical. Traditional frame-by-frame animation, when done well, captures the illusion of movement and becomes inherently entertaining to look at. With puppet animation, the shapes that compose a thing don't really change. This kills the squashing and stretching and deformation that are so important to the illusion. Also, it really locks the form into two dimensions. Even with a fixed camera in a game, the frame-by-frame animations can play in the 3rd dimension all they want by rotating, foreshortening, and so on.

Offline Probo

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Re: Puppet Animation: how when and why?

Reply #6 on: February 05, 2014, 11:08:14 am
@Conceit

I think it works so well in Rumblefish because its mainly used as little flourishes, follow throughs and tweens and there are still a lot of poses each with their own redrawn puppet limbs. which is what i think youve been getting at as the best application of it. when theres an animation in TRF that is just about entirely puppetry, (like luds bodyslam throw thing) it really stands out and looks like floaty cardboard puppets. I dont think this method cuts down on the dev's overall workload that much either! considering theres still so many poses and the programmers will have to code the animations I assume.

id love to know more about the engine too, all i do know is it was made with this kind of animation in mind so it probably has some pretty cool tech to keep rotating limbs looking good! id like to see some animated sprite rips but i cant really find any, probably because youd have to actually assemble and rotate the puppet limbs yourself. and even then it might not look right without the game engine doing all the rotating etc

also afaik there are clothes sprites following some of the characters around so that they can be torn off and stuff. which reminds me of the headache Ryumaru just mentioned!

Offline Mathias

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Re: Puppet Animation: how when and why?

Reply #7 on: February 05, 2014, 01:27:53 pm
Awesome thread.

Yeah, Conceit, I think "puppet" animation is becoming very valid for 2D games.
Often called modular animation - one animated object consisting of multiple parts intelligently moving together.
Hand-drawn frame-by-frame animation is rigid and inflexible. Modular uses on the fly positioning and allows for fast, easy revisions to spacing and timing.
Not to mention bone systems. With bones, a single animation can be used for multiple characters - the pieces attached to each bone is simply swapped. Re-skinned by simply referencing different spritesheets.


As an alternative to Spriter, there is also:
SPINE   |   creator youtubes
"Spine replaces traditional raster animation in games, providing smoother animations that are easier to produce.
Animations can be created without needing more art and are so tiny that games can make extensive use of them."
bonus vid - Spine + SpriteLamp


That Rayman Origins vid above doesn't work for me ("An error occurred. Please try again later."), but why study Origins when you can take a look at Rayman Legends, the latest Rayman game.
Legends uses an incredibly advanced engine.
Including modular animation tools all developed in-house at Ubisoft.
I found this just yesterday:   (first part has a character animation demo, showing spritesheets, too)


Notice the use of mesh deformations, or
Morph Target Animation
which is something Spine is just about to officially add.
This adds a ton of more organic, lifelike movement, etc. The benefits (when used well) are obvious.


I personally do not care for this type of animation, at all. The benefits as I see them are purely logistical. Traditional frame-by-frame animation, when done well, captures the illusion of movement and becomes inherently entertaining to look at. With puppet animation, the shapes that compose a thing don't really change. This kills the squashing and stretching and deformation that are so important to the illusion. Also, it really locks the form into two dimensions. Even with a fixed camera in a game, the frame-by-frame animations can play in the 3rd dimension all they want by rotating, foreshortening, and so on.
Good counterargument. And I largely agree with you, but like you say - logistics. Not everyone is a Disney animator and the pipeline for modular animation is so much friendlier for developers than traditional frame-by-frame.
The Skullgirls creator claims each Skullgirls character required 2000 man hours:

Ouch. All drawn from scratch, frame-by-frame.


I prefer a hybrid - modular animation enhanced with some frame-by-frame tactics mixed in.
Like Rayman Legends - objects/character pieces can be switched out during the animation for change of shape/perspective, while using bones to keep everything connected.
There's still plenty of room for squash/stretch because the scale of pieces can be skewed/stretched. In addition, with mesh deformation, non-rigid parts are infused with extra life-like movement.


If all game animation was pro frame-by-frame, that'd be great, but what happens when the animation needs to change? All those frames need to be redrawn. Sketched, cleaned up, re-colored, etc.
With modular, you just edit your timeline. Modular animation is also subject to code. Code can't alter a set-in-stone frame-by-frame animation in the same way.


It's all balance. I think, if done well, modular can be nice.
Raw modular animation without deformation and intelligent scaling of pieces can look awful.
But frame-by-frame can look awful as well, if done poorly.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2014, 02:25:31 pm by Crow »

Offline Probo

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Re: Puppet Animation: how when and why?

Reply #8 on: February 05, 2014, 02:07:32 pm
your videos dont work either, mathias.  i think you just need the code at the end of the youtube link, not the whole address.

this bit -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= N59tLIvQeJE

edit: also remembered this blog post from the dude who made the indie game Bleed

http://www.bootdiskrevolution.com/blog/2012/06/30/animating-wryn/

he talks about his modular animation there. the arts not amazing but the animation works well i think





« Last Edit: February 05, 2014, 02:19:52 pm by Probo »

Offline Crow

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Re: Puppet Animation: how when and why?

Reply #9 on: February 05, 2014, 02:26:05 pm
your videos dont work either, mathias.  i think you just need the code at the end of the youtube link, not the whole address.

Correct. The YouTube button also has a tooltip with an example.

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Puppet Animation: how when and why?

Reply #10 on: February 05, 2014, 08:22:36 pm
Crow: oops...I guess you fixed all the videos cause they all work for me now, thanks!.

Guys(NaCL)! This topic is me saying "hey anyone who has experience with puppet animation help me see how I can use it and still do stuff that -I- would like to look at!"...I'm not saying modular/puppet animation is the shit or anything like that! my bones tell me it sucks shit, but I have to be realistic as an animator freelancer and accept it's a good tool! I dont want to become obsolete for being too purist.

@Probo: DUDE that is exactly how I feel about Rumblefish, down to liking just the flourish/followtrough/tweening and hating that stupid grapple move. =O

The clothes thing is interesting, puppet can also do secondary motions! it also reminds me of how they showed damage in Gundam Battle assault by tearing parts off the robots. All these things highlight how puppet is basically applying 3D tech to 2D animation

@Ryu I never expected to see this done well with pixels drawn in the same resolution as they're rotating ( I HATED it whenever they used it in Metroidvanias ). But in Catacomb Kids it works in it's own creepy way, like you said it makes for an unique look.

So far I had only liked the mix of pixel and puppet when the pixels are lo-res and the rotation is in hi res. Gives a vectory quality to pixels kinda like Ridiculous Fishing

DEAATH ROAAAD =O

@Mathias thanks for the heads up on SPINE! I'll check it out.

What you're saying about the Rayman engine is exactly what makes me feel left out and wishing to use their toys, Vanillaware and Ubisof OBVIOUSLY have awesome inhouse software, but you cant just expect anybody you work for to make you a custom tool that lets you do all that fancy stretch, squash and deformations.
Also, Morph Target/Mesh deformations is what I meant when I said distortion/wraping(if that wasnt clear). I hope Spriter isnt far behind Spine in oficcially adding that feature!

Gosh, the idea of the open modular/puppet animation tools adding deformation and to see it pulled off in pixels (bleed and catacomb kid) makes me think of using it regularly =O what are you guys DOING to me?  :lol:  :P

I love the discussion we're having...talking this kind of stuff out is always fun for me, but I wish someone who's worked with it and got over their purism would chip in which is why I was so glad PxPd was watching over this board (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)...I'm gonna go see if I can fetch someone on twitter  O_O
« Last Edit: February 05, 2014, 08:44:57 pm by Conceit »

Offline PixelPiledriver

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #11 on: February 06, 2014, 06:00:25 am
Great posts.  :y:

Other examples of games that use a mixed process:
Guacamelee -----> loads animations from .flas
CWars ------> pixel art composited with animation tool and exported as data.
Rakuga Kids ------> Mostly drawn frames mixed with deformations.
Paper Mario -----> Vector engine.
King Arthures Gold ------> Minimal rotations but used for some stuff like the archer, trees, etc.
Gunstar Heroes --------> old school example of transformations.

Personally I think this kind of stuff is really cool.
It's a great example of artists and programmers coming together to make something interesting.
Building base tech for games is a lot of fun.
Having an artist add content to an engine and creating new features to accommodate is very rewarding.

Quote
but I wish someone who's worked with it and got over their purism would chip in which is why I was so glad PxPd was watching over this board (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)...I'm gonna go see if I can fetch someone on twitter  O_O
I have some experience with this but not really enough to make strong statements about it.
My animation experience so far is a very weird mixed bag of traditional, pixel, vector, and 3D.
I haven't tried a 2D bone tool like Spine or Spriter.
I'm sure there are other much more experienced people that could be more helpful with this topic.
Also I've seen a few tutorial videos around for those programs and they seem solid enough.

I've taken some interest to using flash again after doing the animation in the scrolling thread, but haven't taken the time to do much with it yet.
It has a nice timeline.
Objs can be replaced by other objects so that they can share animations.
Is it good for games that don't run from a swf?
Guacamelee loads animations from fla files.
But not exactlly sure how it works.
I assume they wrote some code stuff that parses the vector data and redraws it in engine.
You could export as a sprite sheet.
But obviously its better to use bone driven animations that export data to be read by the engine for this style.
Better to re-skin.
Easier to tweak.
Faster to see the results directly in game.
Frames could still work for what you want tho.
There's plenty of examples out there.

As far as getting over purism:
This is rather easy for me.
Is puppet better than traditional?
Or the other way around?
I'm very neutral about most things so I won't be able to help answer that.
Traditional animation processes are very old.
They have a lot of appeal and strength but it doesn't change the fact that there are other things out there to give a shot.
Drop about 100-200 hours, realistically you'll need to do a lot more, into something you've never tried before and then make an assessment of it.
Don't just limit yourself because you think "it's bad!" or "it's cheating!" or "it doesn't look the same!".
Even if you come back to another process of animation you will have gained something from that experience that will help inform you with your work.

If you really have interest in using transformations make sure to have some sort of outlet.
Spine looks cool and works with a variety of engines, including Unity which I like a lot.
Pair up with a programmer, or learn the basic tools/interface/code yourself, and make stuff happen.
If a game project is out of your time scope consider setting a smaller goal like a 1 min animated short or something.

Quote
Coming from redrawing obsession in pixelart (seriously I avoid copy pasting parts as much as possible)
I copy paste all the time.
Use the select tool constantly to rip things apart and rotate/scale/translate.
Duplicate frames to set up timing.
Then change only small parts of focus and leave other areas the same.
Adding more unique drawings helps for certain effects but it's almost always not the only option.
There really is some kind of social anger/pressure to only do things a certain way.
I encourage you to discard all of that and be active and open minded.
Find things that help you do what you want to do and don't have second thoughts about cheating.
How do you keep the volume of a bouncing ball in traditional animation?
Draw a circle on a long book mark shaped sheet of paper.
Then whenever you need a frame to come back to the original volume of the ball, slide it under your top sheet on the light table, move it to the location desired, and trace it.
Oh what that's cheating?
It's not, it's just a very simple tool made out of paper.

Quote
Modular animation is also subject to code. Code can't alter a set-in-stone frame-by-frame animation in the same way.
Quote
All these things highlight how puppet is basically applying 3D tech to 2D animation
Exactly.
And for games this is a big deal.
3D animation is driven by blending animation data and outside variables and 2D with bones is really the same thing.
Back in the day a game engine didn't necessarily use transforms to calculate position and movement and rendered pixels directly into a buffer.
Most games these days even if they are 2D use a 3D engine and draw everything onto quads.
All the graphics data goes thru the shader pipeline which requires using transforms.
This creates an engine that is inherently based on transforms, adding animations that are also based on transforms makes them work together well.

On the other hand, while frame data is obviously not as flexible you can still send information to a shader in the form of color, usually for labeling pixels to be modified in some way.
A simple example is the skull girls palette swap map.
They show it in the video mathias posted for a few seconds but don't go into depth about it.
Much more complex ideas can be done with passing color as data that affect more than just palette.
But let's talk about that some other time.  :blind:

Quote
an animation of a character screaming while rotating  an arm can have the same charm as swapping between two crappy frames.
It's funny you mention this.
I've been working on a 2 frame animation thread concept but haven't quite completed the thought.
I'm a big fan of limited animation and I think that it can be really strong. -----> Facets Castle of the Winds thread being a current example

Quote
and hating that stupid grapple move. =O
But it still counts as a piledriver!  :y:
Rumble Fish looks cool but definitely has some awkward moments.
Consistency in animation is fairly important.
Whatever style or tools you go with try hard to make frames, actions, speeds, holds, etc fit together.
Games tend to repeat animations over and over so strange looking ones will always float to the top.



Also that Rayman editor looks super boss.
In game tweaking is the way to go.

Looked at spine a little.
Will probly try the demo.
The differences between Essential and Professional don't really please me.
But still gonna try it out.



Quote
With puppet animation, the shapes that compose a thing don't really change. This kills the squashing and stretching and deformation that are so important to the illusion. Also, it really locks the form into two dimensions. Even with a fixed camera in a game, the frame-by-frame animations can play in the 3rd dimension all they want by rotating, foreshortening, and so on.
Wanted to comment on your post as well NaCl.
I know exactly what you are getting at.
Frame by frame animation is really awesome.
When I look at a game that leans more towards traditional process, like Skull Girls or Vanguard Princess, Rumble fish seems a little ridiculous.

Check out a combo video if you are into that sort of thing.

It also has other things going for it.
The timing is much tighter.
The impacts are better represented.
But there's still something interesting about Rumble Fish's engine, even if some of it is executed oddly -----> I seriously need a gif of that piledriver as my avatar.  :blind:
And the other possibilities that the puppet concept offers games are really cool.

Also this comment was not directed at you.
Quote
There really is some kind of social anger/pressure to only do things a certain way.
Just commenting on how artists, including myself, second guess tool choices based on things they randomly hear.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2014, 12:46:37 pm by PixelPiledriver »
And knowing that it is, we seek what it is... ~ Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Chapter 1

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #12 on: February 07, 2014, 09:20:23 pm
 :o holy shit PxPd. thank YOU for posting on my topic

loving the guacamelee stuff. How do I miss that? also loved your programmer artist hybrid perspective on things. thanks for crapping on my purist side to help me get over myself :P had a good laugh.

I'll edit this into a better reply later O_O just wanted to say SOMETHING. (unless -someone- replies to this before I get to it =O)

Offline Mathias

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #13 on: February 08, 2014, 03:47:48 am
P-Driva, I'd love to see what you might do with Spine.
I'm almost positive I'll be tearing into it, myself. Just not yet.

I need to check on Spriter again. (good god what an awful website)
Spriter is only $25, but Spine seems like a better product. Much more expensive, yes. But I don't care. I'll pay OUT THE NOSE for anything that helps me with development.

So . . .
Brashmonkey's Spriter  -VS-  Esoteric Software's Spine
Which is better? Am I the only one wondering this?
Both have the same goals. They seem to fill the same niche. Are they redundant?
*Mathias then does some internet snooping, using his powers of analysis and reason.*
Both were kickstarter projects, but get this:
Spriter was fully funded on April 28, 2012. The people of earth coughed up $71,179 for Brashmoney.
AND YET
"Spriter is still in development and does not yet have all of its Pro features. This Early Adopter Sale price is a discount for those who purchase Spriter Pro before version 1.0. Estimated delivery date of the full version of Spriter Pro is Q4 of 2013." [source] (Ha! Way to keep your site up to date!)
The Kickstarter campaign was 21 months ago.
Spriter is pretty much still in beta.
What's the hold-up, fellas? Bite off more than you can chew, perchance? (I'm not sympathetic towards Kickstarter abuse.)
--
Now let's look at Spine's history:
Kickstarter campaign funded on Feb 23, 2013
They got $67,569. $3,610 less than Brashmonkey.
It's been 11 months.
And it's lookin' good. Earlier in this thread I mentioned Spine getting "mesh deformation" soon. Well guess what?
The Spine dev's call it FFD - FreeForm Deformation. --- COMPANY BLOG ENTRY --- FORUM POST --- and it's in!
I discovered the origin of Spine; what prompted its development. Check this out. Found on their Kickstarter campaign page:
"BrashMonkey's Spriter began development 15 months ago. We were initially thrilled when Spriter was funded on Kickstarter 9 months ago. We posted our feedback on the Spriter forums when we found it lacked official runtimes, a multiple-timeline dopesheet, tweening curves, and separate keying of scale, rotation, and translation. After a couple months we decided that Spriter may never have the features and workflow we envisioned, and that is when we decided to build Spine."
In my opinion, this paints the Spine dev's as smart, opportunistic, self-driven entrepreneurs.
They saw an opportunity and they seized it. Basically, Spine is intended as a BETTER Spriter.
Check out their pricing structure. Indy guys like us will drop $60-$250USD for Spine. Appears to be well worth it.

Draw your own conclusion. I've certainly drawn mine.


BUT WAIT . . .
A Challenger Approaches!
DragonBones
"The Open Source 2D skeleton animation solution for Flash"
I was once proficient with Flash. Once. Now very rusty. But bones in Flash would rock. That's obvious.
And it outputs game code, like Spriter and Spine.
Aaaaaand it's totally free.
So, that's something.


--


OH hold on, we got one more here. (wrote this post progressively as I discovered all this junk so bear with me . . .)

Objecty
"Objecty has been invented to make 2d game development easier! It offers an incredibly easy to use interface for editing & packing textures, animation of 2d sprites, creation of skeletal & tweened animations, building levels and much more!"
The Kickstarter, back in December 2012 failed rather miserably.
Latest news update, on the company site, is from Oct 2011. The project appears inactive.
So forget about this one.


--


CONCLUSION
I know this thread isn't about software necessarily, but this post certainly is.
A few years ago, the notion of game dev modular animation tools became a phenomenon.
There were a few earnest attempts.
I'd say, right now, Spine is the clear winner.

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #14 on: February 08, 2014, 07:42:52 am
I've had quite a large experience with modular animation tools throughout my career, and have a bit of a business connection to Spriter, so I figured I'd chime in here.

First off, some history:
These techniques of using modular pieces to animate a larger whole are nothing new to gaming and are about as old as sprites themselves; exemplified in arcade cabinet boss fights among many other use cases.  Mostly this technique derived from necessity of the system's limitations (sprite size restrictions, memory limitations, etc) but became a valuable tool to those who could harness it most creatively.

My personal experience with the tools related to this technique was fairly recent in terms of video game history when I joined Gameloft in 2008 in the pre-iphone era of mobile gaming.  We used it fer EVERYTHING.  Although I have no evidence or examples of it, I'm certain that these tools have existed for quite a long time in some form or another.  All that I know for sure is that the technique was used extensively for some time, and inferring based on the complexity of these animations in old school games I would deduce that they probably developed their own internal tools much like Gameloft did.  The impression I got was that these tools were passed on in the form of secret knowledge from company to company as developers shifted around, and at each place they emerged they were guarded as a proprietary advantage over their competition.  This proved to be true when I began work for Glu Mobile in 2009 to discover they had recently developed their own version of the tool.  And it certainly was an advantage!  I was told estimates that cost of development decreased by roughly half when utilizing the new technology.  This meant faster development with more complexity.

More important than the cost and memory savings, in my opinion, is it's benefit on creativity.  Without these tools an artist and engineer would have to work closely together to pull off any artistic flourish that didn't fit in a nice little package such as a flip-book style spritesheet.  If you wanted a fluid motion tween for the menu screen buttons or perhaps wanted to the explosion particles to behave in a specific way, you'd have to convey your vision to an engineer and hope nothing gets lost in translation... and usually it does.  But with a proper tool it decouples the creative aspects from the technical - enabling the artist to be creative within the limitations of the system and without being blocked by engineering.  Just author it the way you want it.  This is the real beauty of it all.  I've seen some amazing things done with these tools that simple never could have been done if you left it to the artists to interface directly with the engineers.

Lastly, there are inherent benefits to using a modular based system in games; Things like hitbox authoring per-frame or per-module, sprite mapping different graphics to the same animations (different heads, clothes, guns, etc), per-frame scripting events, and much much more.  The benefits here are sort of endless and is the major place of innovation with modern versions of this tool; Everything from using bones (early tools didn't have bones or rotations, just simply x-y translation), to mesh deformation.

It was at Glu Mobile in 2009 that I met Michael Parent of Spriter.  We had talked about these tools at length and began planning to make our own commercially available option.  You see, unlike in 3D gaming which saw a standardization of it's format and toolsets, 2D gaming was stuck behind proprietary red tape.  Nobody had access to these fantastic toys - and at the time it was clear the Indie scene would probably embrace such a thing with open arms.  The closest thing to it was flash which was in a sort of walled garden that was great for web-games, but nothing else - not to mention clunky to use and not intended for gaming in the first place.  Unfortunately Michael moved to France and I got busy with work, so he continued the project without me.  I still check in on the project and was later involved in the form of an investor unrelated to the kickstarter.

I'm still cheering them on, but it is indeed a bit discouraging that they've let competition emerge from slow development.  With that said, I still think they've got the advantage here because they're the only ones approaching the problem purely from a 2D perspective.  All other tools I've seen try to map existing paradigms from 3D onto 2D, and not only does that not work too great, but it also limits the potential of the tool by locking you into that way of thinking.  One example, and probably my biggest pet peeve that some of these tools do is locking you into the concept of a rigid skeleton which gives you fluidly tweened puppet animation, but restricts frame redraw and skeleton restructuring.


Why/when you should use it:
Well simply put, frame by frame redraw will *always* be more visually appealing.  There's just no way around it.  If you want something to appear more puppet-like, just draw it that way.  If you want lots of tween frames for smooth animation, just draw them.  Or if you want to go all out and do complex disney-style animation, just go for it.  Want different color palettes on them? Duplicate them and tweak.  It's the option that is the most flexible but also, quite obviously, impractical.  It takes more time of authorship, more memory resources, more ram, etc etc.  The benefits of using modular animation tools are mostly those of practicality.  Depending on the complexity of your project it becomes a no-brainer to utilize a tool such as Spriter.

But I'd argue you should use it for everything, simple and complex alike. Here's why: Using spriter doesn't limit you.  You can still do frame-by-frame redraw in spriter if you wanted to, but now you have access to the other benefits it gives you which may be useful such as hitbox authoring, sound scripting, etc.  By adopting the system for all things, you now have the choice of how you author within the system.  For some elements you may use it a lot, perhaps for UI transitions and animations, and some elements very little - it's up to you, and they'll all play nice with each other in the end.


TL;DR:

Pros:
Efficient - easy on disk and ram
Cheap - for development
Creative - enabling for artists to be creative
flexible - inherent benefits of using modules including sprite mapping, hit boxes, scripting, dynamic effects etc.

Cons:
Can feel rigid if you're not careful with how you use it
some tools lock you into rigid skeletons much like 3D character models
Draw calls tend to be a lot higher due to drawing so many small pieces - a problem for mobile if you're not batching your draws properly


Sorry for the long-winded response

-Dan
« Last Edit: February 09, 2014, 08:16:23 am by Indigo »

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #15 on: February 09, 2014, 09:45:16 am
some really interesting stuff here. thanks mathias for that research you did, sounds like spine is the way to go to me. I wonder whether using spine to say animate a run, with only flat colours used, then editing the animation in graphics gale to add shading and little details per frame would be an efficient way to get good results. when ive got the cash, i think ill try that!

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #16 on: February 13, 2014, 03:40:29 am
I've been doing client work in spriter for the past couple days. It's a nice package and I'm surprised by how capable it is for beta. It is very easy to add small flourishes to movements to make up for the fact you are not redrawing every frame. I spent almost all of 2012 working on realistic gun animations in Maya on a 2d plane so I am very familiar and happy with what I'm experiencing so far in spriter, all the technique I learned can carry over.

However I desperately wish it was as polished as Spine looks to be. Spine is too expensive for me atm but I believe when I get into more serious work with puppet animation I will make the purchase and move up.

I will post a thread on spriter next week to show some of the stuff I've done and some things I've learned. There are a lot of AHA and WTF moments coming from traditional animation to puppet, and I think a short introduction to some new concepts could encourage people to make the jump and try something new.

I'm excited about the fact I can spend a few hours making the character art and then pump out a set of animations in minutes. Really gets rid of the aversion I sometimes have to sinking so much time into new movements or fixing bad movements. In frame by frame you need to rework so much when you notice something is off, puppet makes edits and taking crits a lot more worthwhile.

With the proper style adjustments and mindset imo you sacrifice less than you gain by doing puppet. From a utilitarian standpoint. If i was an immortal robot i would do frame by frame of course. for now i will focus on this newer more efficient method so i can buy a shiba inu quicker.

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #17 on: February 14, 2014, 12:55:53 am

(starts at 30 seconds)

Huh. The new Smash Bros character was introduced with puppet animation. Looks like they did prerenders with special shaders and then moved that around. Why...? Time constraints?

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #18 on: February 14, 2014, 02:42:26 pm
w00t =O the topic keeps on getting new replies.
that is great to know atnas, indigo. Looking forward to that topic Atnas! as soon as I have a better hardware setup (soon) I'll give it a stab myself.

I'd been hesitant to post this, but this is very much in the spirit of the topic, this is an interview with a the Rauch Brothers, about how they started their StoryCorps shorts with just pure handdrawn animation and moved into puppet

http://www.cartoonbrew.com/events/interview-how-the-rauch-brothers-make-shorts-for-pbs-40923.html

Here's their latest short for StoryCorps
Evidently, this is still mostly frame by frame animation, but the integration of puppet is completely seamless. Just goes to show that if you dont tween the hell out of everything and make smart use of it, you can make puppet be another tool for someone who's mostly doing hand drawn frames.

Here's one last thing which I think is nuts, it's using some kind of morphing effect to make 2D seem 3D

http://sykosan.deviantart.com/art/Gatling-Stance-394909882
Never tried it, but it seems like it'd take as much work if not more than hand drawing everything (and making 2D seem 3D isnt to my tastes, but you must admit it's impressive).
I I put it here for the sake of completition.

With that and Atna's post of the SmashBros intro for the new char, which has use of perspective and other advanced puppet techniques (Metal Gear Solid Graphic Novel is another example I can think of, there's plenty of examples of this sort of thing) I think we've covered almost the full spectrum of how you can apply puppet, from just aiding hand drawn, to fully animating in puppet, to using perspective tricks and morphing to take 2d beyond what would seem possible

 
« Last Edit: February 14, 2014, 03:15:11 pm by Conceit »

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #19 on: February 17, 2014, 11:16:40 pm
@ Indigo   You just doubled the value of this thread's content.
Thank you so much for posting your experiences. Not "long-winded" at all.
If you have anything to add, please don't hesitate to do so.


@ Probo   Very welcome, sir.


@ Atnas   Yeah, I don't like that Nintendo animated short. Using a sketchy/brushy line style along with modular conflicts visually, IMO. The modular movement gives away the sketchy lines. Looks unnatural.
. . .
I will post a thread on spriter next week to show some of the stuff I've done and some things I've learned.
. . .
*taps foot*!


@ Conceit   I don't really see any modular in "The Road Home". And I didn't find mention of their actual animation tech in that article. I didn't read every word of it either, though.
They're brother animators. That's pretty cool. Wish my bro did graphics stuff . . . but no.

Some simple, but effective Spine anims:
http://esotericsoftware.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2118

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #20 on: February 19, 2014, 11:21:43 pm
@Mathias well, to be embarassingly honest that's partly why I posted it here.
the Rauch brothers mention "flash animation" and I thought that was their way to imply puppet stuff going on, instead of fully hand drawn animation. Since -I- cannot see any "flash animation" in their short I thought maybe they were really really good at integrating it and we just needed better eyes to look at it.

I would say atleast the little girl darting her eyes between the hobo and her father could qualify as puppet, right? dunno maybe I just read too much into it, if so sorry for taking the topic off the rails :p

blargh I meant to make a longer reply to px-pdriva about his comments but  new great responses get added and I keep feeling the urge to make fast replies to everything =/

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #21 on: February 19, 2014, 11:59:35 pm
Since there's been interest in this topic from people even outside pixelation, I decided to convert my previous post into a blog that you can view here: http://danfessler.com/blog.php?id=20

I've added some, refined some - though much of it is the same content.  Feel free to share it.

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #22 on: February 20, 2014, 02:27:38 am
*taps foot*!

let me revise that, i'll get it done in early march. I want to make a proper introduction out of it with more than just 2 case examples, and use it for stuff like vehicles and flora rather than just people.

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #23 on: February 20, 2014, 03:54:29 am
I think puppet animation would make already segmented things look on par with hand drawn animation.


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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #24 on: February 20, 2014, 09:15:57 am
I think puppet animation would make already segmented things look on par with hand drawn animation.




Hah, nice! Reminds me of Rayman (the original). I think the teeth are out of perspective though.

On a related subject, is it possible to get nearest-neighbour interpolation out of Spine or Spriter? On these animations there is really noticable blurring whenever a piece's scale changes from 100%
AA tutorial about handling irregular lines.

If you're not at least a little uncomfortable, chances are you're not learning that much.

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #25 on: February 22, 2014, 12:46:13 am

http://sykosan.deviantart.com/art/Gatling-Stance-394909882
Never tried it, but it seems like it'd take as much work if not more than hand drawing everything (and making 2D seem 3D isnt to my tastes, but you must admit it's impressive).
I I put it here for the sake of completition.

Wow, that looks very cool! I looked up the people that created this, and found this showreel
In the first 20 seconds there are a lot of interesting animations, I assume that they are all 2D.... What kind of tweening methods do these guys use that I don't know about???

Sorry, this maybe goes a little off-topic from puppets...
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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #26 on: February 22, 2014, 02:22:19 am
This you gotta see.

League of Legends. Lots of nice modular movement going on. Skip around to all the different startup screens.





And check out the little battle that occurs at the start of this one:




All totally modular animation happening.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2014, 07:24:24 am by Mathias »

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #27 on: February 22, 2014, 02:24:02 am
This too
« Last Edit: February 22, 2014, 02:26:26 am by yaomon17 »

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #28 on: February 22, 2014, 09:06:38 am
What kind of tweening methods do these guys use that I don't know about???
I'm pretty sure it's just mesh deformation plus image blending between frames.

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #29 on: February 25, 2014, 09:02:13 pm


Idk how I hadn't seen this before, this looks AMAZING. the puppet really lends itself to the style. Totally playing this soon.

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #30 on: February 25, 2014, 09:43:26 pm
Its on the humble bundle right now if you want to get it!

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #31 on: February 26, 2014, 06:34:00 pm
What kind of tweening methods do these guys use that I don't know about???
I'm pretty sure it's just mesh deformation plus image blending between frames.
from just looking at it a lot I'd say yes, mesh deformation but he also makes some elements simply fade in and out of visibility.( in the gif I posted Look at the lit fold on his crotch that disappears).
Frameblending is right, but I suspect he uses popular AE plugins for faking slowmotion, on a quick google search I got "twixtor" but I bet just going to AE helpsites or asking someone who actually does motion graphics like Tim (wink wink nudge ) can give much more precise tips on what would be most effective.
When asked Syosan is pretty vague, he just says he uses photoshop and it's better for animation than people think if you buy the full thing. I think he also mentions other adobe products
« Last Edit: February 26, 2014, 06:38:15 pm by Conceit »

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #32 on: February 27, 2014, 10:43:25 pm
I'd like to know how he uses After Effects to create animations like that (and preview them). I'm pretty sure the image-blending techniques he uses are common, but I've not found a tool on the market that lets you do that without a whole lot of tedium. He does mention he uses other tools alongside photoshop -- part of me wonders if this is some kind of in-house software or plugin for After Effects similar to Spriter...

And yeah, I also wonder if Tim has any ideas on this type of animation. I'm pretty sure this guy makes some use of the "puppet" feature in After Effects at least.
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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #33 on: February 28, 2014, 01:23:52 am
And yeah, I also wonder if Tim has any ideas on this type of animation. I'm pretty sure this guy makes some use of the "puppet" feature in After Effects at least.

AFTER EFFECTS

Game example : Night in the wood (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1307515311/night-in-the-woods)

I know After Effects really well - if not perfectly.
Frankly, the rendering doesn't smell After Effects at all.
I'm still not sure how they made the subtle, beautiful specular lighting on the torso.
Definitely not a frameblending effect given how clean & crisp it looks.

With puppets tools you can use any bitmap & texture and rotate & distort them.
The result can be REALLY awesome.

• The most simple look
https://vimeo.com/82803560

• Complex rigging :
https://vimeo.com/20889371
https://vimeo.com/29643579

• Hardcore rigging  :

(don't even imagine doing that without several years of experience)

• The result :








FLASH

Game example : The Banner Saga (https://vimeo.com/84151111)

So I would say Flash might be the culprit, because of how clean it looks.
Tweening is fairly easy in Flash considering it's all vector.

One of the king is David Besnier to me :

His header is really funny
http://davidbesnier.blogspot.fr/

Here is an awesome interactive piece too :
http://davedonut.deviantart.com/art/Outside-414990460

You can see a more complex piece livestreamed with his incredible workflow here :
http://www.livestream.com/donutshow/video?clipId=pla_5e8029bf-8734-4171-bb87-ee2d9083fbd1&utm_source=lslibrary&utm_medium=ui-thumb

I definitely think this is the best way to make this kind of clean animation.
You can then import your animations into After Effects to composite them in a real environnement with some lighting :


His showreel is definitely worthwile : https://vimeo.com/86098147






PHOTOSHOP


You can also animate frame by frame in Photoshop by duplicating frames / redrawing only needed parts.
Example video in a small company I work for here in Paris :

As usual, the drawings are imported in After Effects for improvements (motion blur, lighting, tinting, etc…)
« Last Edit: February 28, 2014, 02:43:35 am by tim »
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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #34 on: February 28, 2014, 11:44:57 pm
I find those links that explain the rigging very useful, thanks Tim

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #35 on: July 29, 2014, 03:35:31 pm
Animated using Spine:    (not by me! unfortunately . . .)

 
SOURCE

And they're amazing.

Better than the League of Legend anims done in After Effects because they take place in real-time, during gameplay.
Meshes, bones, etc are exposed to code and can be manipulated at run-time.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2014, 02:57:33 pm by Mathias »

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #36 on: July 29, 2014, 04:58:41 pm
wow they look great! so spine does some kind of deformation too?

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #37 on: July 29, 2014, 05:04:28 pm

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #38 on: July 30, 2014, 08:31:59 am
Truly inspiring examples - especially for essentially 1-keyframe animation.  I hope this sort of quality catches on.  Spriter also has mesh deformation by the way, so this should be possible with both tools.

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #39 on: July 30, 2014, 12:45:52 pm
Shit Mathias, I just drooled in my soda can.
This looks exactly like Vanilla Software's games.

Offline BrashMonkey

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #40 on: August 08, 2014, 02:43:31 pm
Hi everyone,

Thanks Indigo for bringing this thread to my attention (as it might have taken me a long time to spot it myself) and for clarifying some things about Spriter.

There's a few matter's I'd like to further clarify which I hope will be useful to anyone interested. (DISCLAIMER: I'm the founding member of BrashMonkey and co-creator of Spriter, so HUGE pro-Spriter bias is a definite possibility. ;)  )

Image deforming/warping: While image deforming was introduced as an experimental/proof of concept feature several builds back, it's not yet finished.  The UI and even data format are going to change drastically, so in it's current state, its only useful to play with and provide us with feedback and feature additions/requests.  It's a feature we're very excited about, but must take our time to arrive at the most intuitive and flexible UI and data format possible. Luckily The initial release of Spriter 1.0 is almost ready, and finishing this deform feature will be a very high priority after that point.

Are Spriter and Spine redundant products?:  Even if the two tools completely overlapped in features (which they do not), the drastically different work-flow and UI alone can make each tool more or less appealing to any particular user depending on their own preferences.  On top of this, the large differences in price-point also separate Spriter and Spine into two different sub-markets.  Spriter Pro is substantially less expensive, and the free version of Spriter is not crippleware, in that all core features are fully functional and there is no legal/licensing limitations on any original work you create using the free version.  Luckily, on top of all this, there are several distinct feature differences which definitely can make one tool more appropriate than the other depending on the specific technical and artistic requirements for a specific project.

This video explains the overall feature-set of Spriter, and how it offers great flexibility to work-flow animation technique and animation style:



One of the most important differences (in my opinion) is that Spriter offers a pixel-art friendly mode, which not only uses nearest neighbor scaling (no filtering), but also forces sprite coordinates to integer (whole pixel) coordinates as opposed to "floats"(partial pixel coordinates).

Even for those precreating all animations as full frame sequential images in their 3d or 2d tool of choice, Spriter can offer many benefits, All individual frames can be instantly loaded in as animations, where per-frame durations can be set, along with triggering sound effects at any point in the time-line (even between frames), as well as placing and setting limitless collision boxes, variables and spawning/anchoring points at any point in the time line...all tweened or not, according to your needs.

Modular animation VS pixel art?: I use Spriter frequently as fast and efficient intermediate part of my process to create low-res, indexed color per frame sprite animations.  The benefits to this method are numerous, especially in the profession, where deadlines and compensation vs time spent ratio are critical factors.

Here's a video showing my general process and examples.  Please note this video was recorded before pixel art mode and export to sprite-sheet or .gif was added to Spriter Pro:



Another important note, Spriter can be used to create high-res, tweened modular animation, or actual per frame pixel art animation sprite sheets or gifs, or to actually create a hybrid of the two, where pixel art is animated on the fly (tweened or not) in a manner that perfectly preserves every last pixel of the original art. This last option is perfect for creating retro style games, especially modular pixel art bosses  such as those seen in classic games by Treasure, but also to recreate methods similar to those used to animate countless classic video game characters (Rayman, Vectorman, Alien Soldier etc).

Spriter's late. (very late): It's hard to discuss or explain such situations without coming across as defensive or making excuses, and most importantly, words mean very little compared to actions and the results of those actions...so ultimately our goal is to not excuse our lateness with words, but to actually make the wait worthwhile, and provide the most useful, fun to use, and best supported tool we possibly can, as soon as possible, and with focus on the long term.

For those interested in the actual facts behind the massive delay in releasing version 1.0, the best way is to surf through the official Kickstarter updates on our Kickstarter page, but long story short, The very long hours and very infrequent breaks Edgar (Spriter's programmer) endured while developing Spriter prior to and during the Kickstarter campaign exacerbated shoulder and back injuries from a past automobile accident...suddenly forcing lots of visits to medical specialists, unpleasant and risky injections, and basically a distressingly prolonged amount of time away from any keyboard...causing a massive initial delay, followed by many months of drastically reduced production speed until physical therapy and carefully controlled work environment and work habits finally allowed Edgar to get back to full speed development.

But again, we don't care about the reasons or excuses, our goal was and is to firstly make modular animation  methods available to (and common knowledge to) all game developers, no matter how new to the art form or how small their budget, and then secondly, to make Spriter a highly useful and affordable tool towards those ends.  Despite technically still not having released Spriter version 1.0, It is important to keep in mind that the expectations and standards for what Spriter 1.0 would need to be drastically expanded during the entire process of it's development (which obviously also further delayed the release of 1.0), and even the beta version of Spriter for the last several months actually surpasses the originally promised feature set and accessibility (cross platform, for PC, mac and Linux) by a very large degree.

I do cringe to discuss this topic, because firstly of course we do feel terrible about the delay but also because, as I mentioned, I find excuse-making and being defensive to be very distasteful and hope I am not coming across that way.

I just wanted to make it clear that we are very committed to Spriter, and always have (except when medically forbidden) worked very hard and long hours to make Spriter a better tool, and to support its users in as timely and courteously a manner possible.  Any day not directly contributing to Spriter's development is spent helping users (of Pro or free), fixing bugs, responding to forum posts and emails, and discussing (often with our users), how we can make Spriter a more useful tool for everyone...not just to paying customers.

Sorry this ended up so long, but before I stop typing, in a final effort to counter-balance the obvious bias I might have in the favor of Spriter, let me just add the following:  It was during that really tough time of the injury induced delay that Spine was introduced...and despite the obvious and detrimental financial ramifications of suddenly having a very polished and much more complete competitor, Edgar and I were relieved that anyone who needed to create modular animations at that moment wold not have to endure the delay in Spriter without having a very viable alternative.  For those who need to do something now, and not "some day down the line", a polished and immediately useable (and supported) tool is drastically more useful and attractive than an unfinished and not yet supported tool.  Luckily this is finally beginning to change.  There's very few features left to be added to this first release of Spriter Pro, and the list of known bugs is very short and Edgar is going through them at a fantastic speed.  Once Spriter 1.0 is released, we'll be switching gears to perfecting the image deforming features, fully documenting the data format, and working with the developers and communities of all popular game authoring systems in order to get complete Spriter support implemented as quickly as possible. Things are already shaping up nicely for Unity and Construct2 in that regard, with several other authoring systems Spriter support making excellent progress as well.

That's all for now, but I'll be sure to check back in on this thread from time to time to respond to any questions or requests, and to keep you all updated on Spriter's development and impending 1.0 release.

cheers,
Mike
« Last Edit: August 09, 2014, 10:56:01 am by BrashMonkey »

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #41 on: August 16, 2014, 03:36:02 am
Hello Mike thanks for that post.

it so happens I just bought spriter today =) TBH the more complete featureset and the fact that we're already seeing people replicate Vanillaware-grade graphics had me leaning much more towards Spine, but when I checked how much Spine's price has climbed and that indeed their demo is crippleware while you guys still offer a functional program for free and the full version for $25 I felt like giving it a try regardless, you seem more open and considerate towards the user and I value that very much. I wish every program could be Open Source AND support it's makers :p

After buying I was sad to see that indeed the mesh deformation feature is experimental, maybe it was lack of documenting myself but it WAS mostly the reason I gave the money. Regardless, now that I came here and found out much of the setback was because one of you had such a major accident I feel a lot better about this, it fits with the way I've experienced you treat the user and I hope he's ok now and Spriter really does shape up to have nothing to envy to Spine. ( I might still need spine depending on how much we need their features =/ ). Godspeed to you guys!

Offline noriah

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #42 on: August 16, 2014, 01:43:25 pm
I've done this kind of animation before. You block in your action with the puppet, and when you want to change shapes, you can swap out the drawing for one of the pieces. Like for a walk you'd swap the foot section to a foot with the toe bent.

I got into this kind of animation when I was working for a summer animation workshop for kids that want to get into game development. We had a stop motion exercise where the students would cut out paper characters and connect the pieces with pins to create a paper puppet to animate. The higher ups wanted a digital counterpart to this project, so I set up an equivalent in flash. I can't find the file right now, but I'll edit it in when I track it down.

Overall, I'd say its useful as a first pass, and then you can add new drawings for any parts that need it after that. It can speed up animation, and with a deft hand can look as good. It's cheaper overall, and can be cheaper performance or memory wise in engine.  And to simplify animation concepts in the classroom, it's also useful.

Akin to the first video you posted Conceit, this film does some interesting things with a silhouette style puppet animation.

Hope I wasn't too redundant, but I wanted to put in my two cents. Overall a skilled hand can make even the cheapest animation look cool, especially if the art design (choice of style, medium, etc.) supports the method. One has only look at sakuga to realise limited animation can also be beautiful.

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #43 on: August 17, 2014, 02:06:30 pm
@ Conceit,

Thanks so much for the kind words and for supporting Spriter with your purchase.  We are finally very close to releasing 1.0 and after that Skin mode is the top priority as far as features to finish.  This is a feature we really love and understand the importance of, so want to make sure we do it right before making it an official feature, with finalized data-format etc (and we want to avoid the potential limitations that could come from rushing the feature out.)

We hate that we are late, and are "hauling butt" to wrap up Spriter 1.0's initial release, and then "skin mode" (deforming).  We really appreciate the patience and will not be satisfied until both are released and proves to be very much worth the wait.

We are extremely appreciative of everyone's support and patience.  We are completely dedicated to making Spriter as flexible, powerful, and joyful to use as possible...catering to as many work-flows, animation styles, and visual requirements as possible...it's something we are very passionate about.

cheers,
Mike at BrashMonkey

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #44 on: October 30, 2014, 12:48:35 am
hay guys.

They just posted some screenshots and explanations about how to make the Vanillaware quality mesh deformation in spine
http://esotericsoftware.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=16333#p16333
Thought you'd want to know

(this is also in my "taking the plunge" topic, but I thought this topic needed to have this information, since this one is more focused on the HOW :p)
« Last Edit: October 30, 2014, 01:38:38 pm by Conceit »

Offline hapiel

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #45 on: February 21, 2017, 08:24:05 pm
Sorry for bumping up this thread, but it is a really nice one so I hope you guys don't mind ;)

I want to try out more with spine/spriter, but I don't really want to draw my own characters. For 3D it is super easy and common to get a model/rig from the internet and make your own animations with them.

Do you know any sources for 2D sprite sheets which can be turned into animations for this kind of puppetry? I've searched a lot but can't find anything, except for ripping sprite sheets out of games which use this... :/

Come check out the OpenPixelProject!

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Re: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?

Reply #46 on: February 21, 2017, 11:49:57 pm
There are packs of characters and stuff in Steam for Spriter. They are animated, but I guess you can delete the skeleton and animate them from scratch.