Reusing Content - Questions of organisation

Dear Forum,

being about half the way through unbelievable loads of preparatory work for my 3-minute photo cutout animation music video clip, I would like to ask a few questions on how to organize my animated material from the very beginning (since there is a lot about templates and libraries in the manual I don’t fully understand…)

What I’ve done so far: Rigged and tested my 4 cutout characters and stored them as templates. Made a storyboard using screenshots from several Youtube clips - featuring The Beatles, since my clip is very much inspired by them. Carefully studied their movements (lots of acting in front of a mirror as well)

Right now I am: turning my Storyboard into an animated Storyboard, closely timed to the music. Drawing perspective grids which I superimpose over my photos of the Beatles’ stage - one for each of my 3 main camera angles -, so I can layout my background images against them. And finally, I am doing my first little animations: having my characters bounce or nod to some bars of music (which is quite some fun).

I’ve also spent some time thinking about how to organize my material and the overall workflow, but the more questions I ask the more questions arise. I guess there are many different ways of approaching such a project. But I wonder if there are at least some steps I should be aware of before starting out.

Let me describe you what I know (or think), in order to make clear what I don’t know or am rather insecure about: The first thing I found out is, that since this is pop music, there are many repeating items per se (a verse, a chorus, a hookline, a guitar riff). Therefore, although I plan to use only very few cycles, there will be repating parts in my animation as well. E.g. my guitar player will bounce to the music, he will play the same 8 bar riff over and over again, he will sing the same lines - sometimes within the whole band, sometimes in a closeup. So, my idea was to animate him bouncing and store that as a template (George - bouncing), then use that template, making him play the chords and save that as a template (George - Chords) etc. etc. (Where lip syncing would be the last step, I guess).

The question(s) is(are) - Do I get this right? What do I have to take care of? If I reuse a partly animated character, can I scale him to different sizes everytime I use him without destroying his moves? Can I add movement to not yet animated elements of his body? Can I alter/finetune his movements?

I really hope to get some input of you, who are so much more experienced than I am - right before I take steps that I could not take back later.

Yours thankful,

I’ve come up with a workflow which really suits my style of making animations in TBS. It actually centers around creating multiple scenes and using the local templates and sometimes global templates.

1. Create a project and save it under whatever name i want.

2. Add a scene besides the default one and name it ‘Stagging’. Most importantly uncheck the little checkbox against it, because it never gets rendered in the final output. This scene serves as a scratch pad for importing things from outside, create some drawings if you like, or generally experiment with anything.

3. Once i am satisfied with the what i see in the stagging, i drag it into the local templates under a meaningful name.

4. Create additional scenes as required and drag things from my local templates. If necessary i go back to ‘Stagging’ and do all the drawing, importing and do things like that.

5. Overall, i create things in ‘Stagging’ and assembling in other ‘Scenes’. I drag the templates into scenes either as drawings or media as the situation demands it. For example, a complex background may be created from tiny little pieces and brought in as a media. This will appear as a single line in the scene planning view and greatly reduce the clutter.

6. Simply, ‘Stagging’ -----> local template -----> ‘Other Scenes’.

Hope that helps.

Here are some conceptual approaches for you to consider.

Templates can be used for different purposes. They can be a repository for a character and its rigging. They can also be used as performance sequences. What’s the difference? A character rig is a general usage puppet. A performance sequence is a specific usage of that character rig to do a specific bit of performance. So you can have a George, the character rig, (actually you may have several of these depending on the viewpoint of the character, front, side , back , perspective etc) which is your George puppet that you will pull into a scene and then animate his performance. You can then take that performance and convert it into a performance template and that template can be reused as needed in your actual staging of the music video. So your George puppet may actually be included inside many performance templates as well as have his own generic puppet templates.

Next concepts to ponder: Templates are not linked to their usage in a scene. This means that even if you create a performance template, you can use a copy of that template in a scene and modify it for scene specific or even cycle specific parts and not effect the source template in the library. So you can scale a version of the template one time in a scene and scale it differently the next time and there is no effect on the original template.

How many times can your George puppet exist in the timeline of a scene? The answer is as many times as you choose to use him. You can have multiple performance templates of George in the same scene. A performance is specific to a frame range and you control when the performance happens in time. Just because you originally built the template using frames 1 to 100 for example doesn’t mean that the performance can’t occupy any other sequence of 100 frames in your timeline. You just drag the performance to the frame sequence where you want it.

Don’t worry about the number of elements in the track list, that may make your timeline look complex but that is also why you collapse top level pegs except when you need to get to their children. It is the frame ranges that control what is seen when.

So let’s recap:
A George perspective rig is used to create a George bouncing and playing a riff on his instrument performance that occupies 50 frames. That sequence will be used 5 times in one scene. The action will not be seen in contiguous frames. So you pull the template of the performance into the scene and you select the fifty frames and copy them. You drag the 50 frames to the first time where the performance will occur in the scene. Then you move to the next time the performance will occur and paste special the 50 frames there and so on for each of the 5 instances where the performance will occur in this scene. Now you also want each of the 5 instances to be slightly different. So now you go back to each 50 frame sequence and make your customizations. You have now created from your original rig a performance template which you applied to your scene and you have allowed the performance to occur multiple times in the scene and each time the performance is slightly different and you have not changed your original source performance template in the process. The next logical step in the thought process is you can have several difference performance templates for George and use them all in the same scene, they occupy different timeline tracks and they are set to perform at different frame sequences and the audience has no concept of how it all came together behind the camera they just see George performing.

I hope this gets the wheels turning. -JK

Thank you Kannan, thank you JK,

It makes me happy to see, that the little I understand at least was not completely wrong. Until now, I used to have many different TBS files in my project: rig files, perspective and color tests etc. The stagging idea seems to come in very handy in cases when I play around or just want to try some piece of straight forward animation. Cool.

Thank you especially, JK, for taking so much time to clear things up. Basically, this is how I already thought things worked in TBS. But by explaining everything in detail, you showed me once more, that there is much more freedom in animating with TBS than I thought there was.

This is exactly what I am after. So, easy-to-use-templates are nice (especially when you have no team to do all the work); but easy-to-change-templates are even better.

Thank you for giving a much broader view than a manual ever could.