If I made tutorials . . .

The biggest problem with learning TBS, or any complex program, is that the people who write the tutorials are so familiar with the program that they have trouble figuring out how newbies get things wrong. “Easy” is relative term. The basic concepts are straightforward enough and most people can eventually get their heads around cells, keyframes, and pegs. The problems arise when you start dealing with the interface.

Myself, I bought this program to animate things not draw things. I use photo cut-outs and scanned artwork I’d like to see an expanded section on Pegs, which can be extremely tricky to use. Many would benefit enormously from a video solely about the little red and green circles you see when you add a peg. Questions about their relation to each other, where they should be in relation to an object, what the symbols inside the red circle signify and what part of the red circle to click on? How about the train track thingys? ;-)A quicktime video of someone manipulating the various tools, on a real interface, to demonstrate the uses/advantages of the various transformations, on a real project, would be be an enormous plus. If I ever figure it out well enough I’ll do it myself. (I really do wish the icons were bigger though, it’s often hard for me to see what’s going on, especially in the red circles - and of course when you zoom in – they shrink!)

If I were to teach this program as a course, I would absolutely not describe it as Easy or Quick, I would describe it as a fun challenge that rewards the diligent.

Well, creating tutorials in any form requires at least some familiarity and knowledge of the software one is working with…

Designing intuitive and easy to learn interfaces requires more than just programming skills… it’s rather an artform… (personally, I think Studio has one of the most intuitive and well designed interfaces)

On the other hand, learning any new software can be a daunting task… at least in the beginning… acquiring knowledge is a lifelong progress - that is so enjoyable…

Using the “Toon Boom Studio User Guide”… or
reading “JK’s” excellent articles and blogs… might be a good start…
(his never-ending generosity, experience and knowledge should be an inspiration to all)

Regarding your peg-question:
Peg: red / Rotation: green / Scale: grey / Transformation: blue
The red-peg-circle with the dark-red square and the two little triangles are simplified camera symbols (keyframes), pointing left (first keyframe) and right (last keyframe)
(visible with the Motion-Tool).
They don’t shrink when zooming, they don’t change at all (keeping the size).

Anyway, if you like here are some very simple Video-demonstrations:

http://web.mac.com/nolan.scott/Gallery/Panda_walking.html

http://web.mac.com/nolan.scott/Gallery/Creating_Cameras.html

http://web.mac.com/nolan.scott/Gallery/Bouncing_Ball.html

http://web.mac.com/nolan.scott/Gallery/Bouncing_Ball_2.html

Cheers
Nolan

Thanks for posting the tutorial help Nolan. I was able to glean a couple of things I didn’t know. Alas, a lot of the smaller stuff going on I missed as the screen is so small. This is, unfortunately, common with tutorials. I have to watch with a magnifying glass as my eyesight isn’t the best.

Regarding the interface, I have no problems with the way it looks, after figuring out how animation works I see that it’s logical and the stuff you need is right there. It’s working with it, it’s sometimes difficult to select something, and it’s too easy to accidentally click something and get into trouble.

I really really wish the red-peg-circle was bigger :-[

Nick,

Here are some tips and thoughts that might help you.

The red circle represents a peg element and it is centered on the drawing grid by default. If your art object is also centered on the drawing grid in drawing view then the red peg circle will relate to the art object center for center. If your art object is not centered on the drawing grid in drawing view then there will be an offset relationship between the red peg circle which is centered and your art which isn’t. Believe it or not this is pretty much irrelevant. When you are working in camera view you want to visually manipulate your art object and just ignore the red peg circle. Don’t try to grab amd move the red circle, instead select your art object and move it using the transform tool. Avoid using the scene operations select tool entirely as it doesn’t set keyframes but rather static scene parameters. If you are having problems selecting an art object because other objects are in the way, then select the art object’s timeline track label and that will get you the desired art object selection and then you can manipulate it in the “camera” view window or in the top or side view windows.

Positioning a “keyed” pivot point for rotation or scaling (green circle) is done using the appropriate scene operations tool. The rotation tool for the rotation pivot and the scale tool for the scale pivot. But you don’t use those tools to perform rotations or scaling but rather you want to use the scene operations transform tool. The rotation tool or the scale tool are only used to set their associated pivot point position or as a selector switch to allow you to delete just a rotation key or just a scale key without deleting other types of keys on the same frame-cell. Use the transform tool to actually make the rotational movement or to scale your art object.

One you set an objects rotation pivot or scale pivot during a scene you never want to change its setting during that scene because all previously set key frames for rotation or scaling reference the current setting of the pivot point so changing the pivot point after having set keys will create undesirable changes. If you need to change a pivot point for just a single manipulation after you start key framing , then use the transform tools temporary blue pivot point because it is not going to effect previously set rotation or scale keys.

As to the “train track things” those represent timing diagrams. Each tick mark represents a frame and the distance between the tick marks represents the degree of change between the frames. A larger space represents a larger change and a smaller space represents a smaller change. So it you want the tweening to be very slight between frames then you make the distance between tick marks closer and if you want the tweening between frames to be more significant then you make the distance between tick marks to be farther apart. Closer is for slower action and farther apart is for faster action. This is called adjusting the velocity of the function curve.

On the subject of authoring tutorials, if you ever get to that stage you will find that any author is having to make numerous choices as they create the tutorial. They are trying to reach the largest possible audience of readers/viewers and yet they are also trying not to bog down the tutorial material with repetition and redundant information. Unfortunately everyone learns differently and comes to the learning process with different skill and knowledge bases and so it is impossible to satisfy everyone’s individual needs and trade offs of completeness and effectiveness are a matter of course. If you write for the absolute lowest common denominator you will make each tutorial too large and frustrate most of your audience. So what I try to do is to produce a series of tutorials which build on the knowledge being shared and allow the more experienced readers an easier job getting past the redundant or elementary material. If you talk to any educator they will tell you it is an imperfect art. -JK

Hi y’all,
Thanks for the info JK. As far as I know, you are the only person who warns of the hazards involved in dealing with the scene planning tools! There are other pitfalls too. For instance, in dealing with the scene planning window’s top and side views it is easy to accidentally obscure things behind other things, to someone used to a timeline based program where the relationships between things are locked, this is very alarming.

Regarding the creation of tutorials; I think they should be created with these questions in mind “Why would I want to do that?” “What is the most straight forward way of doing that?” and “Why isn’t it working?” I suspect that many people, artists mainly, will be drawn to Toonbooms friendly graphics and “quick and easy” vibe. Some may even be unaware that “quick and easy” are relative terms. Having tutored a number of non technical people in video editing, I heard variations of those questions constantly. I would confuse the hell out of people by offering them a multitude of ways to do things, I would skimp on explanations of why they were doing them, I’d be exasperated when they couldn’t do them. I sucked.

In order to redeem myself I sat down with the most articulate of the bunch and asked them to tell me their impressions of the program and what they needed to understand, in order to use it. To my surprise they understood the program quite well, they were just intimidated by it and lacked the confidence in their own abilities to wield it effectively. The biggest problem? They had trouble selecting things. As a former health and safety rep I had noticed that this person was very tense and ergonomically incorrect at the computer - carpal strain in waiting. It turns out they had the mouse in a death-grip! An old track-ball solved that problem. They also had problems with key combinations. Fine, I let them scroll through menus to their hearts content. This would drive me nuts, but to them it just made more sense. Eventually they would start using short cuts.

The previous example is just one instance where newbies are overwhelmed not by the task, but by the process. People are also distracted by too many non-task things on the screen, this is especially true with busy interfaces. They need to know why they’re doing things, they don’t need to know ten ways of doing them … yet. They need to know remedial actions, it shouldn’t have to be the JK’s of the world’s job to warn about pitfalls that could cause people to give up in frustration. I hope toonboom sends him a gift basket at Christmas!
regards
Nick

PS I am making a series of 30 sec videos called “Don’t Panic” to show what can go wrong while using toonboom, and how to (hopefully) fix it.



Nick,
We will all anxiously be waiting for the release of your tutorials. There is always plenty of need for more tutorials from different authors and different points of view. I’m sure they will be well received and appreciated. -JK