Happy new year!!

Happy new year and the best wishes for 2019!

To celebrate this new year I have created digital fireworks that is viewable in VR.  I wanted to create something like this for a little while, but this year I got the idea, in time, in my head and finished it before december even began.

The graphics and animation are made with the free and open source software blender, version 2.79.
It is rendered at 2048×4096 for each eye with cycles at the default sample setting of 128. The output was frames like the one below, but a little bigger,
4096×4096 pixels. The maximum supported for the oculus go headset I read.

The little piece of background music is created with, the free for desktop software, sunvox. When I was thinking about the music I wanted to have an electronic style sound, the default start setup with a few tweaks was perfect for this. The tiny fragment is composed in E Lydian mode, for a cheerful atmosphere.

For the Blender part I watched and used parts of the following tutorials:

Drivers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJJJpWcxp0o
Follow path: https://blender.stackexchange.com/questions/21041/change-start-time-of-camera-following-a-path  
Panoramic background: https://blender.stackexchange.com/questions/5681/add-a-panoramic-background-to-scene-in-cycles
Fireworks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=df9LGwBg91A , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWFnGovX_tU  , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9vceDdTufo
Stereo 360: https://youtu.be/FqPbYWsVLK0, https://medium.com/@warrenfrancis/how-to-create-vr-video-in-blender-840034f2996c

The stars background was created with a  free plugin, Procedural Nebula, without the Nebula 🙂  

The video editing was solely done in Blender, the fireworks and explosion sounds are all coming from humble bundles (recent game development and unity bundles)

After rendering the stereo 360 video file, the spatial media injector from google was used to insert the spherical spatial info and encode it as stereoscopic 3D.

2018 was a pretty good year for me, following lots of tutorials, playing and thinkering with Blender and the Godot game engine.

Both free software packages are already in a really pleasant state to work with, but 2019 will bring enormous enhancements to both that will improve them even more.

For supporting the development of blender 2.8 I bought the little rocket usb stick of course.

I’m really looking forward to using the new EEVEE renderer in the upcoming blender that will reduce render times vastly, but can still produce really nice 3D images and video. The grease pencil 2D animation is another feature I’m also absolutely looking forward to. Creating 2D animation in a 3D environment I’m comfortable working in, opens a lot of possibilities. After being an Adobe Flash guy for a long time, this will become my new tool for creating 2D animation I think. For the new year in 2017 I’ve already made a small animation with it, testing the grease pencil included in Blender 2.77, with shape tweens, which was already pretty cool and the newer version, included in blender  2.8, promises to be even better. Shape tweens will again be included I heard.

Here’s the small testing thing I made for new year 2017 with the grease pencil that was included in blender back then, I only published it on facebook until now:

https://ictbram.com/ZentangleAni/zentangle-animation-16/ was my first experiment with grease pencil. I started working on a pretty complex zentangle animation after that. I did not yet finish it, due to other priorities, nevertheless, I did really like the grease pencil animation toolset and workflow.

I got myself a blender Cloud subscription. For supporting blender, but as well to have access to the collection of courses and materials on there. The scripting for artists course was the thing that convinced me in the end to do so. Great course, I knew already everything is accessible with python in Blender, but here I learned in practice how to program animation that you can save or alter by hand later on, in the blend files, awesome.

Meanwhile Blender 2.8 has gotten in to beta stage and will be released in 2019.

The release of Godot 3.1 is taking a bit longer then I was thinking in my previous blog post, but it’s getting close as well. They are almost in beta stage. Version 3 is already fun to work with, but the optional typing in gdscript code and OpenGL ES 2.0 rendering to have publishing power to older devices will bring even more joy since I have a few older devices laying around and love good code completion.

I’ve become a patreon with a small contribution to this project because it’s so nice and keeps getting better with this support. Any extra support for this great project would be a good thing, so if you would like to help yourself for creating games with godot or just want to support everyone else creating cool games with this marvelous piece of free software, please consider donating, you can have your name in the credits, a company logo on their website.

The documentation and quantity of good tutorials for Godot is rising. I supported the kickstarter of Ben & Yann for creating a course which turned out wonderful and I recommend if you want to start learning Godot.

So far I did not publish games with version 3 of Godot, but I did create a few prototypes and made some tools with it. Including something to compose images, a tool to connect to https behind a login, writing config files. I’m a fan already. Finally a good, no to hard, cross-platform, development tool for creating all kinds of interactive multimedia apps quickly, where the sources fit well in a version control system, so that it’s no problem switching machines constantly, like I always have to do, to get something done.

A week or 2 ago I’ve made a decision to go back to Adobe products for pushing pixels, especially Photoshop cc. I always tried to use free and open alternatives, like Gimp and krita. They are pretty good, free instances of software for pixel work, great that they exist, but they have so many workflow difficulties, missing features or even bugs,  crappy jpeg export from Krita made a small disaster for me. It’s crystal clear that I need Photoshop to do professional pixel work. The time it saves, the work photoshop does automatically in the background is so huge, it just makes working with pixels way more fun and faster.
I used to work for 2 designers that photoshopped themselves into projects for Microsoft, Coca-Cola, EA Games and more of that kind of clients. I worked together with other good designers as well back then and always had to start from their Photoshop files, designers choice of tools apparently. Doing this work has had already proven to me then that Photoshop is a superior tool.

Seeing the presentation  “The Next Leap: How A.I. will change the 3D industry” of our beloved Blender Guru, Andrew Price on the blender conference where he mentioned Photoshop and A.I. made it even more appealing to me. He shows other software examples, but Photoshop also does have some A.I. or machine learning functionality included.

It’s pretty awesome, “cropping” image to the outside and having Photoshop Machine learning algorithms fill in the gab, upscaling images and still having it crisp instead of a pixelated thing, I can get used to this,
having A.I. help selecting things, yeah.

The pricing of the software packages is so directed that it’s just too crazy to only rent Photoshop, so I got the full Adobe cloud deal for a year. It’s a big cost for me, but has already given me a lot of happiness while pixeling in Photoshop, coding some html, css, js in dreamweaver, using text recognition from bitmaps in Acrobat.

Until 2017 I still have used my Adobe Flash CS4 version in animation experiments workflow and the AIR SDK for a last, small, timer application in flash.
As you may know, Flash is rebranded as Animate cc, but it’s just the former, further developed Flash.

With my Adobe Cloud subscription activated I tried the html5 export features in Animate almost instantly after Photoshop, but this was a disappointment. A small experiment with alpha tweening of 2 images within 2 movieclips overlapping each other did not work like it should. It was good in Animate itself, this ultra simple thing would be no problem in flash, but not in the html5 browser export. 9 times out of 10, one image just doesn’t show when they are on layers above each other, when moving the underlying tween further on the timeline the image does always show up in the export, what a mess this is. It’s simple, Adobe Animate works good when exported to the flash player and that’s it, always only use that for rendering.

Maybe for simple things, png export can be used, but still, you’re only 100% sure it renders like it should, in the flash player, in particular when actionscript is used, which I always equip when appropriate for getting logic in the animations.

I was hoping this small experiment would be fun, but it was the opposite. No actionscript usage for exporting to html5, come on… javascript inside Flash, I mean Animate, really? I was hoping AS3 would compile into javascript by now, like google swiffy did which I used with my Flash bugs experiment. That was fun, my AS3 code compiled to javascript, good workflow, but it only worked for a subset of the instructions.

Don’t hear me wrong, I have tried createjs in some fun experiments a few years ago and loved it, excellent work by Grant Skinner, but it’s for a javascript workflow in combination with assets, maybe made in Animate as png’s, not the export as html5 promise from Animate, it should not be included in the Adobe product if you get these kind of buggy export results I think, that gives me headache, so I won’t be trying that anymore.

Enough bad news for this post, most of it is good, maybe I’ll look further into Animate later on, I do have an extensive knowledge of the flash platform that could be usable for some cases, to animate things like the name suggests maybe, the bones animation feature sounds good and I haven’t tried that yet, but first I will be upgrading my skills in Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Premiere and start with Illustrator, probably After effects, maybe Audition… so much to investigate now.

It looks like good times ahead in 2019 🙂

** Update 31/01/2019

A glitch entered my online version at the very last moment. One ball, that explodes into particles, had still a wrong, white material. That one was an exception to the rest of my exploding ball meshes, the others have a black material, it was the result of trying a few things with the used tutorials. I finished the animation before december started almost completely, but I wanted to do something extra in the end. Due to circumstances this had to be done really quickly towards new year’s eve and I thought of alternating a frame with the stars and a frame with 2019 on it, to have a better ending, very rapidly, quickfix. Sadly I chose a frame with that white ball on it. I only noticed it on new year’s day and tried to fix it with the youtube video editor by cutting some frames. You can do this with normal video in the online editor that’s still in beta, but cutting frames dit not work with a 360 VR video. It got an error: “There was a problem in processing your video. As a result your recent edits were not saved” so I left it for a while, but this is such a glitch, it ruins the whole thing, so I fixed it in the past few days, that the animation shows like it should and changed the video in my blogpost today. Changing the video results of course in losing the enormous 144 views, they are not on the new video. I’m keeping the old one online, as a reminder, always prepare and review 100% of the project at ease before publishing, if the circumstances permit.