I haven’t posted in awhile because I’ve been going a little bonkers trying to get the film version of the book done. I’ve mostly been animating … and there’s a whole lot to animate in this film, with the talking characters and all.
For those of you who’ve never done it, animating is all about setting keyframes. Chareva had to draw all the characters in pieces-parts: head, limbs, eyes (open and closed), various hand shapes, seven mouth shapes for dialog, etc. To animate them, I have to link all the pieces-parts in Adobe After Effects, set rotation points, and create parent-child relationships. Then I have to make things move with keyframes. Each keyframe tells one of the pieces-parts to do something … change position, rotate, get bigger or smaller, appear or disappear, and so forth. Here’s a shot of the keyframes for one character in one short scene.
I’m getting the hang of it (this is my first attempt at animating characters), but WOW, it’s a lot of work just to finish, say, a 20-second scene. Matching the mouth shapes to the dialog would have been a ginormous task all by itself, but fortunately I found an add-in piece of software for After Effects called lipsyncr. Feed in a sound file of the dialog and the text, and lipsyncr sets the keyframes for the mouth shapes. It’s not 100% accurate every time, but I usually just have to fix a keyframe here and there. I wouldn’t have stood a chance of getting this done by late May without it.
As it is, I’ll merely have to work like a madman for the next several weeks. Commuting to Nashville five days per week for a full-time programming gig isn’t exactly helping, but that’s the situation. If all goes well, perhaps the book and film will relieve me of that necessity in the near future.
The book is officially released on Tuesday. I’m thinking to recognize the launch, I may post the introduction online, and perhaps the first chapter or two in later posts. The blog won’t accommodate Chareva’s lovely two-page spreads, but you’ll still get the idea.
Back to work.