Making the fairy fly – SketchUp advanced class

August 28, 2008

An angel, a demon, a wizard and a fairy share the folder in the newest character pack released from Antics. There are some screenshots further down this blog for you to check them out. I love getting hold of these new assets, they start me thinking about new little stories that I can tell with Antics. I thought it might be fun to go through the steps needed to make the wings of the fairy move. It’s possible to use the tab key to allow selection each wing, set a pose or two and then get the fairy to blend from one pose to another, but, I thought you might want to have a little more control, plus this way you can have your fairy free to do other stuff. (Like walking.)

For this you’ll need some eggs, a little flour and an inclinometer. (just kidding you won’t need the eggs!) Actually this process works best with photoshop and sketchup and of course Antics. We’ll be plucking the wings off our fairy and then sticking a couple of new ones on. So place the fairy on a new room. To remove the original wings, right click the fairy, choose textures then right click on the wings.ksh texture in the list, to select edit. Under the colour tab you can set the transparency to 100%. So now you have a wingless fairy. Not bad looking as a female character, bar the ears and the ridges in her back!.

The next step is to set up for creating or own wings. We do this by importing a new fairy and positioning her so that all we see is the wing sticking up through the floor like a wing shaped floor mat. (Turn off the snap to position,rotation option.) Line your camera up to this wing and when it’s large in frame save out a single frame. This’ll be what we use the create and texture our new wing. Your wing should look like this…….

Using sketchup, import the wing still frame (as an image) so that we can trace the shape. I found a Bezier Curves plugin for Sketchup which made the job much easier. Once you have a completed the outline of your wing, you can import the stillframe again (as a texture) and apply it to the surface. A little scale/rotate/position fiddle and we are all set. Remember to do the other side as well. Ok now save the .skp file as wing.skp then back into Antics and jump into the file/import and select your wing.skp

All good. So now you should have a wing and a wingless fairy. At this point I saved the Antics project. When you do this you can access the texture map being applied to the new wing so that you can set the look of it to match the original wing texture map. These maps are found in a “maps” folder within the saved project. The original wing was mapped with a fairy_hair_wings.tga file. If you want the new wing to be identical to the original you’ll need to use photoshop to match the RGBA channels. Otherwise you could set the transparency value so the new wing has the look you want.

The next part of the process is to get the new wings flapping. As usual, I’ve gone for the old, “use a camera to create a motion curve” trick. If you haven’t heard of it before, it goes something like this. Put a freecam in the spot where you want an animatable axis of some sort. Link the asset/prop to this freecam. Now use the pan, tilt and dolly values to drive your prop. In this way the values are recorded via the camera’s motion curve, and therefore editable. For the wings, make sure the pivot point is in the right spot, then link each wing to it’s own freecam, which you put, right on the ridge on the back of our wingless fairy. It’s useful to have two viewports open. One is the Mastercam, framed so you can see the whole wing, (say from the top). The other viewport (which you make active) is to see what the freecam is looking at. When you pan left, the asset will swivel to the left. Make sure the freecamera animation is recorded in the timeline.

Once you’ve got your cameras doing their thing, link them to your fairy. Now she is free to be directed, and the wings will perform on cue.

Have fun.


This article was posted by Antics user Tony Bannan of Ammo Previz


Antics V4 – How do you use yours?

August 12, 2008

Antics users are already getting creative with the new shadows and lighting features. Even though V4 has only been available for a week or so, we have seen some interesting techniques which really bring a scene to life.

How about this police car?

To find our how that effect was achieved, there’s a step-by-step guide you can follow over in the Tips & Tricks section of our forum.

We would love to see how you’re using the new V4 features in your movies. Post a link to them in the Showcase section of our forum.

Don’t forget that the new shadows and lighting tools are backwards compatible – that is you can drop a new light into any scene you have created in previous versions of Antics and easily add V4 levels of depth and realism. So why not dust off that old favorite project, you’ll be amazed at the difference a couple of V4 lights will make!


YouTube Screening Room – New short films

July 5, 2008

YouTube released their Screening Room two weeks ago, and have just released a new batch of short films.

The Screening Room is an excellent platform to get your Antics generated short a massive audience. The standard of featured videos so far has been very high, so if you manage to get featured then that is a high accolade in itself!

Even if you don’t have anything to submit just yet, the quality of films on there is astounding. It’s a great place to find inspiration and ideas.

This is what YouTube have to say about their launch of the Screening Room:

The YouTube Screening Room is a platform for top films from around the world to find the audiences they deserve.

Every other Friday, you’ll find four new films featured in the YouTube Screening Room.

These films always appear with the permission and involvement of the filmmakers, so be sure to rate, share and leave comments. This is your chance to not only watch great films from all corners of the globe, but also to converse with the filmmakers behind them.

While the majority of these films have played at international film festivals, occasionally you’ll find films that have never before screened for wide audiences.

All films playing in the YouTube Screening Room are displayed within our High Quality player to give you the best viewing experience possible.

Be a part of a new generation of filmmaking and distribution and help us connect films and audiences in the world’s largest theater!


Storytelling Webinar – Wednesday, July 2nd – Budding Director Exclusive

June 27, 2008

As we mentioned recently, we’re beginning to offer exclusive webinars for Budding Directors and Power Users and our first exclusive Budding Director’s webinar will be on the topic of ‘storytelling.’

All Budding Directors and Power Users will receive an email with the instructions on how to join the exclusive live event shortly.

The 30 minute presentation on the topic of storytelling will feature Antics user/writer/director, Stefan Avalos. Stefan will be walking us through some of the storytelling methods he employs in using Antics to develop his film projects, namely, the Diamond Chasers, which you can see featured on the Antics Cinema.

Date: Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008
Time: 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM PDT

As for all of you Antics ‘Newbies’ out there, you can be upgraded to Budding Director simply by meeting one of the following requirements:

* Submit an original video made in Antics. Read this post to find out how to submit and publicise your work. The video does not have to be long, sophisticated or complex (it could be all of 10 seconds). It just has to show that you can manage the different stages of using Antics : creating or modifying a set, directing action, choosing the appropriate camera shots, producing a timeline and outputting it as a final video

* Make 25 posts on the forum

* Provide helpful advice on the forum to others which indicates your knowledge of Antics and/or animation

So, what are you waiting for?

Output an Antics movie, upload it to YouTube and share the link with us on the “Showcase your Work” Antics forum. You’ll quickly be upgraded to Budding Director and included in the invite for the exclusive webinar. You’ll even get special offers on Antics Premium Content packs and sneak peaks at upcoming Antics releases!

I look forward to “meeting” you on the webinar on Wednesday! UK Music Video Competition

June 26, 2008 are running a competition with some great prizes to celebrate the launch of their UK site

They want you to create a music video for a track by Jonathan Coulton. You can choose from two of his tracks, ‘Bacteria’ or ‘Todd the T1000’, both of which are available for free download from the competition page.

Prizes include an Alienware laptop and a Sanyo Xacti DMX-HD2 Camera.

The submission rules are fairly relaxed, although you must be a UK resident to enter. Under ‘What is Machinima’ they define the term as “the art of real-time filmmaking in a virtual environment (oftentimes within a video game engine)”. So videos created in Antics will be accepted.

Entries are invited up to August 1st, voting begins August 2nd.

Good luck!

Free content for Budding Directors

June 18, 2008

Antics will be launching its next Premium Content pack next week; and Budding Directors (those who have “Budding Director” status on our forum) are getting a preview of the pack and the chance to download it for free before it goes on sale next week.

If you are a Budding Director, look out for an email with details of the pack and how to access it.

For those of you who are not yet Budding Directors, there is an easy way to become one – just submit us a video you have made with Antics, something that shows you understand the basics of how to use Antics to produce your own animated output. Read this post to find out how to submit a video.

The Budding Director program will be continually evolving, with early access to content and details of new products, special offers on Premium Content and webinars designed to help you make your videos more compelling. We will be announcing further details soon.

Meantime, happy directing.

Ready-made Antics sets now available

June 16, 2008

I hope you will head straight over to our store and take a look at the 6 Antics sets that we have just released for free download.

The six ready-built sets include:

  • Green screen stage
  • Pirate ship
  • Newsroom
  • Aircraft carrier (imported from SketchUp)
  • Military scene based in the desert
  • Domestic scene in a kitchen

Use them as the backdrop to your own action, or as examples to learn how Antics works.

This is the first time we have made pre-built projects available to download from our store, and we will be adding to these regularly over the coming weeks.

If you have built any sets in Antics that you think others might enjoy then let us know. If they pass muster, we’ll upload those too for the Antics community to share!

We hope that these will give you a head start. You can just download a pre-built scene and start directing your action. They will be especially good for new users as they familiarise themselves with Antics. You can get some action directed in a few minutes rather than spending time developing a set.

In fact, you could use one of these sets as a quick and very easy way to create your first Antics video and become a Budding Director. As we mentioned last week, if you create a video and share it with us on YouTube we will upgrade you to a Budding Director on the Antics forum! Just post up your work on YouTube, then share the link with us in the forum Showcase.

There’s a thread in the Tips & Tricks section of our forum which is dedicated to these projects.

If you haven’t downloaded your copy of Antics yet, don’t forget that the Antics BasePack is free to download from our store, is fully functional and not time limited in any way!