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Hi, there. This is a topic with questions about Flash.

Postby Tyler C. Hendrix on Sat Jul 08, 2006 8:24 am

Okay, so I'm starting a webseries. I'm wondering if anybody here knows of an easier way to lip sync than to set the sound to stream and use head comps. I was thinking about using mouth loops, but I'm afraid people will accuse me of being a Bonus Stage ripoff. See, the series I'm starting has a similar style of humor, and I also use a 16:9 ratio inside of a fullscreen ratio for a cinematic. Any help would be appreciated.
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Postby Nar on Sat Jul 08, 2006 10:57 am

I think people are going to always accuse you of ripping off of something even when you're really not. Matt's not the only person to ever use a mouth loop or a widescreen view. I mean it's one thing if your characters and plots are exactly like someone else's, but that's free game.

As for the lip synch, there's tons of ways to do it. The easiest non-mouth loop thing I can think of is what is used in Space Tree, which is just the mouth opening when necessary and also going "oooo" on sounds that require that. Wish I could explain it better. Or you could do fully accurate lip synch, but that obviously takes forever. When I started, I was going to have an accurate lip synch, but for an internet cartoon, it's not really necesary; I wanted to concentrate more on other animation.
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Postby Nez on Sat Jul 08, 2006 2:03 pm

Mouth loops are lame. I would rather it be a black mouth opening and closing being on sync then an annoying loop that repeats over and over and over. You can always just draw a mouth and tween it up and down, but everyone hates those.
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Postby Tyler C. Hendrix on Sat Jul 08, 2006 2:20 pm

Ah. Thanks to both of you. Also, Nar, I think I've seen your name somewhere before. Do you go to the Cold Hard Flash forums?
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Postby Nar on Sat Jul 08, 2006 3:31 pm

Tyler C. Hendrix wrote:Ah. Thanks to both of you. Also, Nar, I think I've seen your name somewhere before. Do you go to the Cold Hard Flash forums?

I don't belong to those forums, no. This is the only forum I'm on with this username. It's too confusing, seeing as it's the name of one of my characters.
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Postby Tyler C. Hendrix on Sat Jul 08, 2006 6:20 pm

Oh, THAT'S what it was. One of my friends linked me to your toon once. I only watched the first episode, even though they said they got much better later on. GeoWeasel, right?
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Postby Nukiad on Sat Jul 08, 2006 7:22 pm

Tyler C. Hendrix wrote:Oh, THAT'S what it was. One of my friends linked me to your toon once. I only watched the first episode, even though they said they got much better later on. GeoWeasel, right?


Yeah. It's a great series.

http://www.geoweasel.net
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Postby Meebs on Sun Jul 09, 2006 12:54 pm

Nukiad wrote:Yeah. It's a great series.
http://www.geoweasel.net


Agreed, BTW Nar, congratulations on daily 4th for the 4th of july thing.
OMG 4th on the 4th of july, that's the most important one!
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Postby Kisai on Thu Jul 13, 2006 11:07 pm

Just so people know, there are many ways to do mouths (as seen on many flash cartoons, along with traditional disney, limited animation hanna-barbera, and anime)

The "cheapest" effect in my opinion is the "lips flapping" effect. Which happens when you try to to use too many frames for mouth animation. Pretty much, trying to move the lips to every letter, makes the lips just "flap" so quickly that people don't see the lips actually moving. Avoid this.

It looks like the easiest effect IMO, is to do mouth-loops for most of the dialog and fbf any rarely used kind of sound effects.

The hardest effect, is to actually sync the mouth with about 4 or 5 frames and to switch the mouth frames for each, with the most-effort being to actually redraw the head to follow the jaw movement.

But not everyone is as skilled in doing the same effects. Someone who can draw with a tablet might find it easier to fbf a lot more than going through the effort of setting up mouth loops.

Widescreen... don't be silly. Computer screens are 4:3 or 16:10 (yes 10), you will only be able to target one of these for fullscreen, and the other is going to look messed up a bit. The solution here, really is to just "blackbar" off the other resolution that you won't support. In theory you can support both by changing the export resolution, but to do this you have to use the upper-left corner as the frame of reference, and keep the usable space to where the rectangles overlap.

Still, "Widescreen" is done wrong in flash right now. It would be better to make ALL the usable area for one target resolution, and if the person happens to have a larger screen in the other resolution, that "bonus area" would be there. You just can't put any screen-critical elements in the bonus area, because it won't be there.

BTW, apparently the installed base of wide-screens is like 3%, the screens are very expensive for non-TV models. It's mostly Laptops that have 1920x1200 resolution and HDTV (1920x1080 is HDTV) that support it, but most of the LCD computer monitors are still 4:3 ratio (1280x1024). However don't target either of these resolutions, since flash at full screen is harder to process than flash at a 1/3rd or 1/4th resolution.
Target either 320x240 (4:3) or 320x 180 (16:9 at 1/6th) If you use fine lines, this way if blown up to full screen size, they still resemble lines. However scaling down from something larger (eg 1920x1080) to 384x216 (1/5th ratio) means that all the fine details won't be visible (Unless you made everything 5 times the size originally.) Also ipods resolution is 320x240, so if you plan on targeting the ipod, keep that in mind.

Now just when you thought you knew everything about widescreen, if for some strange reason you wanted to target ... oh say widescreen theatre... that is 2.35:1, you may want to target that to begin with and to hell with if the computer, tv or ipod can play it. Since if you full screen it on a PC, about a quarter of the visible screen area will be black no matter if it's 16:9 or 4:3

And yeah, widescreen is not unique to bonus stage.
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Postby Tyler C. Hendrix on Fri Jul 14, 2006 4:02 pm

Aye, thanks. I've been gone for a week, mainly because I don't have internet at my normal home. I go to my dad's every other weekend, which is when I hog the net for a few days. Other than that, I have to use a downtown cafe's wifi when I need it. Anyways, episodes 1 and 2 are done. A small warning...

They suck and the first episode has a logo loop problem, along with somehow getting a HUGE file size. I'll link to them here.

[url]
http://www.deviantart.com/view/36322796/[/url]

http://www.deviantart.com/view/36323184/

Be gentle.

EDIT: Those problems were fixed, as far as I can tell.
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Postby Tyler C. Hendrix on Sun Jul 16, 2006 7:37 pm

Sorry aboot the double post, but somebody can delete it if they find it unneccessary, I assume.

Now that I've let the people at NG rate my flashes (roughly 2.5 for each, if you care (you know you don't)), I realize that I need a few things to make it better.

1: I need to make the opening shorter.

2: I need to learn to voice act better.

3:I need to make better graphics (this can easily be fixed as long as I don't rush it like I did these two.)

4. I need to learn to make my own music (this is mostly something I want to do. I mean, it seems everyone else does. It also ties into the opening problem.)

Any help is appreciated. Especially links to in depth tutorials or something of the like.

EDIT: Also, does anybody have any .fla's that they think would help me with learning animation or something? (I'm sure you don't, but if someone IS willing, I have MX 2004, if that helps.)
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Postby Kisai on Wed Jul 19, 2006 12:56 am

This wasn't too bad, didn't grab me at all though.

backgrounds... uninteresting
music... non-existant from main sequence
character designs ... um, "WHO" are these people and are they twins? They have very ridgid designs which probably makes them easier to animate with tweens, but makes them seem robotish or like they have a stick up their bums or something.

Opening went by too fast to read any of the words, but was too long for the lenght of episode (Typical OP to EP to ED ratio should be around 2:30:1, or roughly 2 seconds of opening for every 30 seconds of video and 1 second of ending, you know plus or minus making it fit. If you have a 30 second opening, don't disappoint with less than 4-7 minutes of video.) The logical reason you don't want to bore people to death with an opening only to go BOO! and the end. I hate that.

You could probably improve the voice acting by knowing what you want to say instead of improvising, the nature of the voices used sounds like it's just making up stuff as it goes. The two voices don't sound different enough (nor do the characters look different enough) that at this point in time, an off-screen voice wouldn't work.

As for improvements for animation. Body-parts-tweening style, look at Legendary Frog on Newgrounds, the way he does stuff is pretty good. If you are going for illusion of movement, try WonChop. (He uses some good tricks to get more action out of limited images), Matt Wilson uses a few tricks as well, from what I've been able to determine, he uses static body shapes/parts for most of the stuff, with drawing new arms for arm movement and drawing the entire body in a fbf style, even when still using the head.(Compare the animatic of "The Lost Episode" to the completed version and you can see how this works.)

Everyone has their own style, and unless you are taking lessons or are actually using flash in a commercial environment where you use flash on a daily basis, don't expect to be able to churn out something professional overnight. Homestar runner came about largely from the guys wanting to learn flash, not the intent to do cartoons. So YES you can learn flash, there are tutorials, there are classes, there are freaking college/university courses that will teach you stuff, just it's a lot easier (and cheaper) to just observe what others do, pick up the parts you like, ignore the parts you hate.

Though IMO, one of the more common mistakes people do with flash, when trying to do something "new", is over-reuse of existing images. When you start with flash, you have nothing, so you have to make everything from scratch, but with doing so you have the tendancy to want to be lazy and reuse as much as possible. Sometimes you just have to ask if it's worth drawing a new part/background/character/clothing, or does the existing stuff you already drew fit the scene? For the most part (especially with american cartoons on TV!) there is less need for character models to change clothes and more need for the locations to change. You can tell when a shows budget has been axed because they will reuse a lot of "filler" bits, like screen transitions, transformation sequences(anime), attack sequences (anime and american cartoons), setup lead sequences (the common part of any sequence that you only replace the last bit with) and so on. When a cartoon's budget has been downgraded or "cheapened" you suddenly start seeing the same backgrounds over and over, even if they are supposedly somewhere else.
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Postby Tyler C. Hendrix on Wed Jul 19, 2006 12:35 pm

Ah. You don't know how REFRESHING it is to hear good critique. I've been bombed with either "it sucks BLAM!" without any advice or "lol I love it" and not tell me how it could've been better. You've given me the drive to keep going, and now I think I'm gonna wait at least another month or so, and come up with better everything, hopefully.

Also, do you think you could point me in the direction of music composition tutorials and/or voice acting tutorials?
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Postby Kisai on Fri Jul 21, 2006 12:08 am

Tyler C. Hendrix wrote:Ah. You don't know how REFRESHING it is to hear good critique. I've been bombed with either "it sucks BLAM!" without any advice or "lol I love it" and not tell me how it could've been better. You've given me the drive to keep going, and now I think I'm gonna wait at least another month or so, and come up with better everything, hopefully.

Also, do you think you could point me in the direction of music composition tutorials and/or voice acting tutorials?


"it sucks, blam" is typical of newgrounds, I do not, and would never take anything outside the bell curve as gospel from there. (The people who give you 3-7 average are more likely to have watched it, where as the people who give 1-3 probably didn't watch it in it's entirety, and the people who 8-10 everything also probably didn't watch it entirely. Given take your average, people who do a lot of good stuff probably wind up with the bell curve closer to the 8-9 than 3-4.) All you have to do to confirm how useless the voting system is in newgrounds is look at how much crap get's spammed onto making it onto the daily lists. There are dedicated spam groups that post nothing but "BLARAGG" flash or ones that are nothing but microsoft sam reading off something for minutes. That's not a cartoon, that's spam.

Anyway all I can really recommend for music composition is that if you don't have a MIDI keyboard of some sort and aren't musicly inclined to just have someone else do it, or borrow public domain/free music. Sites like modarchive.com have a lot of stuff that I can gaurantee less than a hundred people have heard. The only trouble is in navigating the site, it sucks. I downloaded 3GB worth of it and listened to ALL of it and picked out about an hours worth of stuff I think I could use, and checked any copyright notices in them to see if they were in turn ripped/based on some other song. I believe Newgrounds also has a free music system, but the trouble with that is that a lot of people just remix existing stuff, which makes it not free to use. If it was based on mario, sonic, zelda or megaman, I'd skip it.


As for Voice acting, it's really just about talent, some people improve with experience, and some people are really tone deaf and don't realize they are painful to listen to for long periods of time. I guess an example would be to compare the "village idiot" of a social group to a "(something) geek" of the group, the village idiot, everyone will listen to and laugh at, because they don't sound dead serious. However the geek tends to sound too passionate about a topic and is outright boring to listen to ramble. Pick people for roles based on what they sound like. I had people on the CG forums do some "voice samples" a few people could do a large variety of voices, and some had different interpretations of the same character. Outlandish british sounding voice versus Nasal Russian accent voice.

That, and better microphones can mean the difference between being painful to listen to and pleasent. A unidirectional microphone with a wind screen works better than an omni directional microphone in the same room with the computer. The omni will pick up the computers noise.

Also, not recommending using any "noise removal" filters. Record in as high quality as the sound hardware supports (will most likely be 44100hz 16 bit, some 5.1 sound cards support 96000hz 24bit), mix everything outside of flash, and then downgrade the quality to the target rate for flash. Something that people don't pay attention to is with sound, it is literately garbage-in, garbage-out. If you record at low quality and mix at low quality you are going to get low quality. If you record at low quality and mix at high quality, you are still going to get low quality. You can however record at high quality and output to progressively lower quality till it's the right compromise of size and quality for the lenght of the flash.

It IS overkill to release onto the internet a version of the finished flash movie with the high quality audio track. The high quality track might be 6MB/minute where as a low quality track might be 0.5MB/minute. Audio winds up being the largest chunk of the data in a flash project for the most part, and it really ticks me off when people don't edit their audio files to fit the lenght of their project. Some people haven't caught onto the fact that 5 3 minute songs equals 15 minutes of audio going into the flash, even if they only use 10 seconds of each. Hence why I keep telling people to do all the audio mixing outside of flash and import only one final audio track. You can let flash compress it or you can pre-compress it yourself, but the bottom line is that the audio is only as good as the poorest voice.
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Postby petergodly on Fri Jul 21, 2006 10:32 am

1) The Intro and Exit credits shouldn't be nearly as long as the actual cartoon, unless you have story-related or extra material going on. If you're doing a short cartoon (e.g. 1-3 minutes) then you should just have a 5 second title screen, and a short credit sequence at the end.

2) The voice acting has a "I'm too cool to care about acting" delivery, and while it's common place right now, I don't think it works. Delivery for animated material should be performed in an animated way. You don't have to shout (which is a mistake some people make), and you don't have to be melodramatic. But you do need to project your voice to make it sound engaging. I know that when I'm recording the lines for my main character, people in the next room can hear me.

3) It seems as though you really want to make cartoons, but you don't want to do the work. If you hate the concept of drawing, perhaps you could get together with someone who likes doing it. I know what that's like - the animation part is my biggest challenge - but I still try to make things look as good as possible, and I view drawing as a challenge, rather than some problem I have to get around in order to make animation.

Doing an animation all by yourself is very difficult, due to the multitude of skills involved. Writing, storyboarding, acting, recording, composing, drawing, animating, editing, etc. Each of these skills take a long time to develop, and it's best to find someone who lives in your area and who can collaborate with you. At least until you get yourself decently competent in those fundamental skills.

Take a drama course. Take a drawing class. Those things can help enormously. I'm no god at voice acting, but I think I can hold my own and I know that my one single drama course significantly helped.

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PS - Fourth wall jokes, especially jokes about how you're breaking the fourth wall, are really overdone and don't work well. Give your audience a glimpse into actual characters' lives, rather than looking over your shoulder while you tween Flash symbols around.
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Postby Kisai on Wed Jul 26, 2006 10:59 pm

petergodly wrote:PS - Fourth wall jokes, especially jokes about how you're breaking the fourth wall, are really overdone and don't work well. Give your audience a glimpse into actual characters' lives, rather than looking over your shoulder while you tween Flash symbols around.


Fourth wall jokes have their place, but only where acknoledgement of the audience makes sense (Like though a video camera.) Most of the time though it's just the author running out of ideas and deciding to score some emo points by pointing out the author is a lazy ass or something. If it's the beginning of a series, it jumps the shark right away. If it's some kind of omake (bonus) episode where you choose to do a backstory, you can break the fourth wall of the backstory by having the characters interrupt it.
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Stupid Sounds...

Postby Tyler C. Hendrix on Fri Sep 01, 2006 8:00 pm

Okay. I was SUPPOSED to put episode 3 up today, but school and whatnot kept me from getting very far at all. I've also come across some audio-related technical difficulties. Flash seems to want to cut the first half-second or so of each sound file, an example being "WHO ARE YOU!?" becoming "OOH ARE YOU!?". Any idea how much silence I need to put before the voice-over to make it get cut JUST right?
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Postby Scythemantis on Sat Sep 02, 2006 3:07 pm

For my first series I'm using a mouth loop that only opens up and down with about 3 frames a loop (closed mouth, open mouth, open mouth showing teeth, repeat) and synching only "O" sounds, as someone already mentioned. It looks much better than a "gibbering" early bonus-stage style mouth and most people won't really notice or care that every individual syllable isn't synched, especially if your characters have small mouths.
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Postby Biosin on Sun Sep 03, 2006 5:53 am

WHY WAS THIS TOPIC REVIVED GRRRRR DIE.
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The Hat Man wrote:hey, which episode was it where Joel was all "a black person in bonus stage?"

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Postby Scythemantis on Mon Sep 04, 2006 6:15 am

Biosin wrote:WHY WAS THIS TOPIC REVIVED GRRRRR DIE.


Uh, it was revived by the person who STARTED it, with new and relevant information. That's perfectly acceptable.
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Postby Biosin on Sat Sep 09, 2006 10:39 am

Not if you're an utter retard. Then simply leaving your jail cell is an offence of the HIGHEST ORDER.

Get the fuck of my interwebz grr.
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Postby Tyler C. Hendrix on Sat Sep 16, 2006 12:56 am

Are you accusing me of being a retard? Okay. Well, I've got more problems. I found a good amount of silence to tack on to the beginning of each audio file to fix the cut-off problem, but I've discovered something odd. When I preview the file as just an SWF, everything is synched up fine, but when I view it through a webpage, it's horribly off. Anybody had this problem before?
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Postby Wonchop on Sat Sep 16, 2006 7:51 am

Tyler C. Hendrix wrote:Are you accusing me of being a retard? Okay. Well, I've got more problems. I found a good amount of silence to tack on to the beginning of each audio file to fix the cut-off problem, but I've discovered something odd. When I preview the file as just an SWF, everything is synched up fine, but when I view it through a webpage, it's horribly off. Anybody had this problem before?


Have you set it to Event or Stream?
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Postby Tyler C. Hendrix on Sun Sep 17, 2006 6:32 am

Thanks, but I've already fixed it. A friend of mine told me to put a silent stream running through the whole movie. It's fine now. And now, after an extreme rush, my cartoon's out. And the one review tells me that there's apparantly only room for one random cartoon out there, and I must be ripping it off. Just as I feared.

http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/339105
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Postby Scythemantis on Sun Sep 17, 2006 8:06 pm

No, biosin was calling you/me retarded because a topic was revived under perfectly fair conditions in a forum that's slow as hell anyway, where it really shouldn't matter. Biosins just a grouch. Lives in a garbage can with a worm named slim and everything.
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