AuthorTopic: Puppet/Modular Animation: how when and why?  (Read 22566 times)

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 »

Offline Conzeit

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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.

Offline BrashMonkey

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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

Offline Conzeit

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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!

Offline Curly

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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.