I don’t know if there’s any one else out there who’s ever bought a TV and lost the manual only to find later that you need it to reset the moronic V-Chip in it to watch anything but Sponge Bob but… in case anyone ever does look it up on the web, I have not found this answer anywhere else so I will post it on my blog to stand as a beacon and a thumb in the eye of Bill stupid ass Clinton and his clowny time V-Chip. To reset the Megavision Hyvision 192 TV/monitor’s V-chip setting (and for the most part any other V-Chip enabled TV who’s manual you’ve lost) all you need to do is type in 0000 (numbers not letters) and it will unlock the stupid v-chip lock. I hope this helps!
I don’t know if I’m the only one who wants to do this but from time to time I want a custom icon for either a program or a folder I have on my computer.
For instance, I am part of the beta team for Autodesk’s Sketchbook Pro but the icon for the beta and the most recent version you can buy are exactly the same and it’s hard to tell them apart on my Dock on the Mac and my Quick launch on the PC, so I set out to create a new one for the program. In my case all I did was find a photo of the original icon and tweak with the Hue/Saturation tool in Photoshop but read on and you will see there are other things you can do such as create your own icons with your computer!
Changing an icon on a Mac is pretty easy…
- right click on the icon you want to change and the icon (or picture) you want to use and then select “Get Info” from the pull down menu (Fig-1).
- A window will come up giving you options about that particular icon.
- Click the top icon (Fig-2)
- Select Edit>Copy from the File menu.
- Then navigate to the icon you want to change, and redo steps 2 and 3.
- Select Edit>Paste from the File menu.
- Viola’! Pat yourself on the back because you’ve just changed your icon!
Clever, clever you! :-)
Now for the PC it’s a bit more involved but nothing too complicated.
- Right Click on the folder or program icon you would like to change and select “Properties” from the pull down menu (Fig-3).
- A window will come up and you should select the “Customize” tab (Fig-4).
- From there Select “Change Icon” (Fig-5) and navigate to the new icon you would like to replace the old one with. There are many places on the web to download free replacement icons for the PC. Here’s one site that gives many links to icon sites.
What’s that you say? You want to express yourself and create a brand new icon or turn a picture into an icon? Well if you have Photoshop it’s pretty easy. There is a free plugin you can download from Telegraphics which will allow you to open and save out in Window’s .ico format!If you use it regularly I suggest you give hima a donation through Paypal to thank him.
Falco Icon Studio works well and will let you edit and create icons for your PC.
For the Mac, you can use Iconographer
So there you have it! What will people say when they see all those spiffy custom icons you’ve created for yourself?
They will marvel at your greatness of course! :-)
I read a question on a Flash forum recently asking for help in animating a logo of a person riding a bike. They uploaded the drawing they wanted and since I’m that kind of guy who tries to help I answered him…
Here’s what I wrote in case any of you want to learn this yourself!
Here is what you should do:
Open your image in something like Photoshop and lasso the first wheel and hit CTRL-X to cut it from the image. The wheel will disappear. Then go to File> New and create a new file. Hit CTRL-V to paste the wheel into the new file you just created. Save it as “wheel 1″
do the same for the second wheel and save it as “wheel 2″
save the rest of your image as “bike”.
Hit F8 and a dialog box will come up. Call it “Bike animation”.
Now Hit F11 and your Library will come up. Double click the Bike Animation clip and it will open in the timeline. Nothing will be there yet though.
Now go to File> Import> Import Image
Navigate to the freshly created files on your computer and click OK
You images will appear on the timeline.
Click and drag to select them all or hold down Shift and click each one. then right click on the art on the stage and select “Distribute to layers” the files will now all be on their own layer.
Manipulate the two wheels to where you want them on the stage. If they are beneath the bike then reorder the layers how you want them to bem by dragging them above or below the others. Right Click on each wheel and select Transform. The blue box around your wheel should change to black and have little handles at each corner. There will also be a little white dot roughtly in the center of the image. This is your pivot point. If it is not already, move it to the center of your wheel. Do the same for the 2nd wheel.
Now go to the 8th frame on the timeline.
Hit F6 on your keyboard.
This will make the total length of the scene 8 frames long. You should have two dots one on the first frame one on the last frame. Do the same for each layer so they are all the same amount of frames.
Now select the two wheels and right click on the selected area and select “Motion Tween”.
Now your two wheel layers will be blue with an arror going form the first frame to the last frame.
Go to frame 4 on the first wheel and right click and select create keyframe from the pulldown menu that comes up. When you do you will see a new black dot.
Rotate the wheel by right clicking the wheel and selecting transform. When you move the mouse to one of the corners the mouse will change to a rotate icon. Rotate the wheel sideways.
Do the same for your other wheel.
Under the timeline to the left under the layers area you should see “Scene 1>Bike Animation” Click Scene 1 and the bike will disappear.
Now hit F11 again and the Library will come up again. Drag the bike animation clip from the Library onto the Stage.
Place it where you want it. You can also resize it.
Now hit Ctrl Enter and your little film should play. Tweak until it looks good to you.
If you want the bike to move up and down as it animates, then go to frame 8 on the main stage and hit F5 . This will give you a frame range of 8 frames again like we did earlier BUT it will not put a keyfraem at the end of the sequence. We’ll do that in a second.
Go to frame 8 and right click on it and select Create Motion Tween. Again your frames will change to blue etc.
NOTE: When a Tween is invoked in Flash, you can ONLY select a keyframe and not any fraem. it HAS to have a black dot on it for you to be able to select it.
Right click on the bike on frame 1 and select Transform and move the pivit point (white circle) to the bottom of the black box. Now go to frame 4 and right click and select create keyframe. Now select the top middle controller on the transform box and squish your drawing slightly to make it seem like it’s lowering a bit. Only the top will squish and the bottom of the drawing will stay as is because of the pivot point’s position.
Hit CTRL enter and your little bike guy should animate and slightly go up and down as well!
Here’s what it essentially will look like.
The drawing itself is not the best to animate with mostly because of the odd shaped wheels but you can clearly get the idea. He should also be able to animate his legs up and down but that’s a lesson for another time.
You’re an animatin’ fool!
That’s about it.
I hope this helps
UPDATE: Flash is weird sometimes and tweening images especially a circle can be troublesome because if it rotates around too far between two keyframes Flash takes the shorter way and rotates the opposite direction so in order to get the wheels to turn correctly you have to do it in small increments by rotating a bit on the 2nd frame, then going to the 4th frame and rotating a little more and so on. Also when animating a wheel it’s hard to see the rotation correctly because it all pretty much looks the same so a trick you can do is to double click inside the wheel clip, place a small square at the top of the wheel and then go back tot he stage and animate the wheeel. this way you can see how far it turns each keyframe! When you’re done simply remove the square and you’re good to go!
The letter below is from a student looking for help on their film. I hope you don’t mind my posting this but if you do then please let me know and I will take your idea down although I’m not sure what he’d do with it because it’s not very original.
Anyway, rather than simply telling him “hey that’s awesome, bye now.” I thought I should try to help him if I could. I got rid of the name to ‘protect the innocent’ so to speak. Why did I post this? I dunno, maybe it will help someone else in the long run and I won’t have to type it twice! Just kidding. Anyway, check out his letter and my response below.
Re: Final major project
My name is XXXXXi, I am a multimedia student from XXXXX College, preparing for
my final major project. It includes an animation trailer of 30 seconds.
I would like to ask that you spare a couple of minutes to answer some questions on the
attached sheet that will help me with my project.
Please read through my story idea and tell me what you think.
Thank you, for your time and guidance.
Here’s my answer…
I assume that you want to improve your story and rather than just tell you that I like it and be done with it, I assume you’d like to learn something in the process and so I will tell you what I truly think.You story is so short that it’s hard to really call it a ‘story’… it’s more of a situation. A story is basically a person who wants something has trouble getting it and how they accomplish or don’t accomplish that problem. That said your idea while cute has been done a million times before so it’s not unique, it also has no character whatsoever which is the essence of a story.You create a unique character who’s eyes you see a problem through and who you watch try to work through that problem. It can be funny, it can be sad, it can be frustrating, but in order to tell a good story it has to have one of these. Your idea really doesn’t have any of those elements. A story also needs a theme. Is it fear? Is it anger? Is it Bigotry? Even funny stories have a point of view.
I would suggest that you start over and find a story that you can relate to. Write what you know. write about someone or something that yearns to find an answer to something. For instance a bird trying to fly for the first time who is afraid of heights and how he accomplishes flying for the first time (something he HAS to learn) is instantly more interesting. It creates a character who has a flaw and wants to do something which allows the audience to connect with it. Now you could do the story from a funny perspective or you could do it from a sweet perspective. Either way it has to be a way that audiences can connect to the situation and say to themselves “Boy I kn ow how that guy feels” so they empathize with the character. Empathy is a crucial element to good character. Your story would be better if you got some emotion out of people when they watch it. John Lasseter from Pixar has been quoted as saying: “For every bit of laughter there has to be a tear.” I think your story needs some of that to make it good. What you have right now is not a story.
I hope I have not hurt your feelings but when someone asks for help I figure I should give it to them instead of just saying “that’s nice” and not truly try and help.
Good luck with your project and I hope you find a use for my comments!
For the past 5 months I have been working on a short film for the PHMA on a film called Louie Logo in “Helmet Safety” about the benefits of using a helmet when you skate, ride a bike, horse, play soccer or use a scooter.
It’s been an awesome experience and I am very proud of the way it came out. My contact at PHMA; Dean Fisher has been the best client I have ever worked with and after this has taken 6 months to do, we have gotten to know each other a bit as well which is nice.
But it has also been an arduous process and I have learned a lot by doing it, mostly by doing things the wrong way 12 times and banging my head against the wall repeatedly (which by the way is a bad thing).
I am in the final stages of putting the film on DVD and let me tell you doing that very thing has not been a picnic.
Entirely animated in Flash, Louie Logo is the first project of this magnitude I have taken on. I have seen many other shows on TV work with Flash and I figured I could do the same.
Most of the shows that are done in Flash are exported to a Quicktime movie or a series of stills and then brought into an Avid system or Final Cut Pro for mixing and editing.
I’m not quite sure exactly how they do it because I have had nothing but trouble trying to accomplish it. I did succeed at the end but you’ll have to read the whole story to see how I did it. ;-)
I tried so many different ways I am literally spewing over with file versions and codecs and exports and details.
I have finally realized after all this that Flash sucks for this and yet it is a vaible tool for production.
The basic process is to export a swf from Flash in a v5 Flash Player format and then import that into After Effects. Then export that file out to a Quicktime or an AVI.
All this works without a flaw. It looks beautiful. Crystal clear and smooth motions.
That’s where the honeymoon ends.
After Effects does not export sound as far as I can tell (if it does, I have yet to find out how), so after exporting the video out of AE, I bring the file into Premiere and add sound efx and the sound track by exporting the dialog I animated to out of Flash and importing that back into Premiere.
Still with me? ;-)
So once I import the sound into Premiere it seems fine at first until I want to edit some of the video footage. In my film there is a small clip of live action video which will not export from Flash because Flash Player 5′s format does not support video so the vid drops out on export and I am left witha big white space in the film.
No problem right? Just splice the video footage in and we should be set.
The minute that I use the splice tool to cut a point to edit, the 2nd half of the film suddenly changes. Yes, changes. The image switches to the beginning of the film! Amazing! Sometimes (as I have done this more than once) it just goes black instead of swtiching to the beginning of the film. Amazing!
So I can not edit the film in Premiere and Vegas won’t even see the file at all!
So I go back to Flash and try to make it work there by exporting the sound which has 12 layers now in Premier and importing that into Flash. Trouble is slowly over time it drifts out of sync and by the end of the 7 minutes it is like a full second off!
I would pull my hair out at this point but I don’t have much so I can’t!
Next I decide I will export a still frame sequence from Flash, import it into Premiere and I should be good to go.
Nope. Don’t work. Every time I try that Premiere will only let me import 100 frames at a time and I have over 11,000!
Nevertheless I try importing it bit by bit but after a while Premiere craps out on me and quits!
At this point I scream.
It has been very difficult to get everything working.
I did figure it out though.
I imported the Quicktime file into Premiere, added another layer on top of that for the live action footage without splicing it into the same layer and that seems to work so I solved the edit problem. That still leaves the sync problem.
Digital video is 30 fps (frames per second) but it renders at 29.97. Don’t ask me why.
Well when that happesn the sound that the file pulls from is still at 30 fps and it slowy rifts off over time.
Compress the sound with something like Soug Frge to 99.99 and suddenly it syncs up! Imagine that!
Can you say NIGHTMARE!?!?
So now we’ve got the file in Premiere, with sound that syncs and it looks good.
But wait! We’re not done!
The biggest problem is that when I render the file out compressed, it is pixelated and looks essentially like crap. When I export it out uncompressed it balloons up to around 8 gigabytes!
Shoot me now.
The client had asked me to deliver the film on CD so he can dupe it and give it to his partners whcih I can totally dig but the file at 8 gb is not going onto a 650 mb disk. I can;t burn it to DVD because he can’t duplicate that. Besides 8 gb won’t fit on a DVD either.
Well I can burn it to a dual layer DVD but they aren’t as easy to mass duplicate and I don’t have one anyway…
What do I do?
The Windows version of Flash will export a Quicktime but it’s not “really” a Quicktime file, but actually just a swf that can play in Quicktime’s Player.
That means no editing program will see the file.
Well I found out that apparently the Mac although as far as I am concerned is a bit like a Fisher-Price toy seems to have one great thing going for it. Quicktime with the Mac version of Flash can actually export a beautiful Quicktime movie with soud right out of Flash. And it’s hugely compressed too! Imagine that?!?!?!
So although I figured out a way to get the file out of Flash and make it onto a DVD which the client is kind enough to accept, but it was a very frustrating process.
So I bought a Mac.
I need to author a DVD now to make it mass produceable.
Final Cut Pro and iDVD.
But I have to break down and actually buy a Mac to use those programs. Bought one last night in fact.
I have not had a Mac for about 8 years now and here I am slinking back in again.
Will the madness never end!?!?
Well anyway, if you’re actually still reading this to the end, thank you.
You are braver than I…
Oh and stay away from Flash! It is evil to it’s core!
From time to time I get emails of people asking for help with Flash and being the kinda guy I am, of course I try to help them. This morning I got one from my friend Gabe over at Flophouse Comics and after emailing the answers I thought I’d make it into a true tutorial. After all I had already written all the stuff down anyway. Why not post it to help others? This one deals with problems when you’re trying to turn your Flash film from just something that will only play on the web into a video that will play on a DVD or TV. Anyway, if you’re at all interested Check it out here.
Characters are complex things… or er… people. Studios say they want them to be familiar so that we feel like they are an old friend and yet you are essentially creating a living being or pretending to.
I know when Harry and I first started writing together we spent a lot of time coming up with stories which we would then toss one- sided characters into such as one is optomistic and one is pessimistic. Very wooden, So one’s pessimistic… great. What else is there?
How does he feel about eating?
Does he like to cook his own food or does he eat out?
Does he like driving or would he rather ride shotgun?
Does he raise his voice when he’s upset or is he introverted and gets really quiet?
If he were to come to your house would you trust himwith a bag of money on the couch if you left the room?
Do you think he would pay his taxes or would he cheat on them?
Does he have friends and if so why? If not why as well?
How does he feel about where he lives. does he love it or is it a place he’s parked for now but plans someday to move up?
You might think everyone is ambitious but I could site quite a few people who are just happy with where they are in life with no desire to move up.
All these things can help attribute to good character.
Think about it. Stimpy is a loving soul, you could trust him with your life, he would rather be second fiddle but if given the chance he could be a leader. I imagine he’d like to cook his own food as he’s a bit domestic.
However Ren is someone you couold definately not trust with a bag of money… yet he might feel really bad about stealing it and eventually bring it back. He would most likely like to go out to eat and be waited on like the King he thinks he is. He’s clearly the driver in the relationship and you KNOW he can’t wait to speet on thee leetle people from hees penthouse in thee sky!
I believe when you can actually tell what a character would do in a certain situation you have created someone. Their likes, dislikes and preferences are really important when creating a “living being”.
Imagine how God must feel!
I’m not saying I “know all about it”, quite the contrary, I am learning too… I findthis topic of character development really interesting and hopefully you do as well.
So as some of you may know I have been ptiching ideas in the TV animation business for at least the last ten years or so and until this past year I thought I knew it all and that the only reason that studios passed on my ideas was because they diedn’t know what they were talking about…
pretty pompous huh? But I figured, I’ve ptiched at least 50 concepts around town, I must know what I am doing…
This year I learned an incredibly valubale lesson and I’m not entirely sure how I went about it other than praying to God for a good idea. Anyway, I will share it with you so you can benefit from my 10+ years of stupidity!
Whenever I tried to create a series idea I would think about it for a while and end up with something like this…
Elmo and Boodro are two aliens that work for a garbage company in space. Elmo is a kind soul and Boodro is a cantankerous fellow. The two are always arguing as they traverse the galaxy picking up trash as they find all sorts of wierd things and go on all sorts of wacky adventures.
Sound good to you? I used to think so too. But then I learned.
What works much better is:
Elmo is an over-emotional alien, he hates space and yet he’s stuck there. Day after day he’s forced to pick up others trash and he hates it. As an Interplanetary Sanitation Transport Engineer, he hates the bugs, he hates the filth he hates the grime… But it’s what he does and he tries to make the best of it. He hopes on day to be able to drive the garbage truck, but that will probably never happen because of Boodro his pushy self center partner. Boodro who likes the trash and saves bits of it by shrink wrapping it carefully. Boodro who always seems to find a way to crash the ship even though he’s out in the wasteland of nothingness… Boodro who’s breath smells like tamales.
See the difference? Granted, I am not making an award winning example because if I did, I would sell it and I am just trying to prove a point…
See the problem with the first one is that it is all setup. The second one is all character and happens to throw in that they are garbage men in space. In the first example, we set up the whole show and the situation without ever really delving into the characters at all. Who are these guys? Why prevents me from just taking Garfield or Sponge Bob and plopping him right into this show? What makes it unique and not just some cookie-cutter crap?
The real character in this show is “space” not Boodro and Elmo. They’re single celled organisms as far asI’m concerned. I could care less about them… and so could the studios.
Sponge Bob works so well because he’s unique. He also happens to live under the sea but that’s not who he is… truthfully Bob would be the same if he lived on an island or in a jungle. The same silly laugh, the same loyalty and the same funny take on life and it’s values. Yeah Bob would not change no matter where he went. THAT’S character.
Most studios these days are looking for their “Sponge Bob” and that’s what they actually say ” We’re looking for Sponge Bob, but not Sponge Bob” so people give them what they think that is, they create some characters that live in space instead and all the jokes are “space jokes” and they are really nutty. Or they are all onions and they live at the bottom of a drawer and they’re really wacky… or they are cars that all live in a garage somewhere and they are all rfeally nutty. Funny thing is that’s not at all what makes Sponge Bob successful. It’s his attitude, his character, his personality. That’s what works.
Anyway, that is what I have learned this year. Whether I can actually apply it to my pitches remains to be seen but I can tell you this, it is one of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my career.
The other one is to learn to keep my mouth shut more often and listen isntead of formulating what I am going to say next while the other person speaks.
If you found this usefull and you’re interested in hearing more like this then tell me… if not the silence will be my guide!