MAKING OF: Tales of the Dim & “The Growth” Now on YouTube!

TALES OF THE DIM “The Growth” (Animated Horror Series) is the second episode of the series. If there is enough fan support, the series will continue. Subscribe to let me know you would like to see more of this animated horror show. Thanks for watching. -F.Sudol
Tales of the Dim MAKING OF:

scriptTOTDim
1. TEXT PROGRAM: Write the Script
Tales of the Dim, the new animated Horror Series, is created using several digital tools. The first step before drawing anything is to create the script using a simple TEXT based program. I don’t need a fancy word processor, but do like to use Courier as the text, and set it up so it looks like the format of a traditional screenplay. The I brainstorm some ideas and imagine the characters in it and what the payoff to the story is. If the script is fun for me to read and imagine, and delivers the point in as little wasted time as possible, then I’m satisfied after a couple drafts. I do want some character development, so as long as the dialog pushes the story forward, I like to hear what these characters are thinking related to the situation they’re in. After the script is completed, I move onto the next step. Voice recording.

audacityDim
2. AUDACITY: Record the Voices and Sound Effects
Once the script is ready, I use Audacity to record on a single microphone with a Voice Shield Filter to keep the voice from popping in the audio file, and to smooth out the south slightly for the audio wave form for easier editing. It’s not perfect, and it’s best not to speak directly into it, but at an angle to avoid distortion. I read the script once through aloud, then record on the second run until I get it right. Audacity is a great audio editor, which makes this step very enjoyable and easy. I’ll amplify the sound and isolate any cracks as much as possible. I save the files in .WAV format, which is a big file, but flexible in many software programs. MP3 is good for smaller file sizes.

pencilart
3. PENCIL: Drawing the Artwork
After that, the next step is to draw the cartoon pieces, and that is done by using a program called Pencil. It’s a basic animation software tool, but with a Wacom pen tablet (of any price or size), it offers exceptional capturing of my expressive line drawings, where I can flick the line or slow it down at a split second’s notice, and this program captures it as I intended, with zero lag. I love it for drawing on the computer and will use the INK Calligraphy Tool to draw, as it offers some very expressive lines with varying thicknesses depending on the speed of your line. After drawing the head, the legs, the torso, arms, eyes, mouths and so on, I save each file and import it into the next step.

gimpartDIm
4. GIMP: Editing and Coloring the Artwork
The next step involves coloring and detailing the cartoons. I do that in a program called GIMP, which is just like photoshop only free to use thanks to some great and generous developers. Once I got used to Gimp, there’s really no reason for me to invest in Photoshop, as GIMP has all of the major tools I need for my intentions of animation. I’ll isolate the black lines using the Lasso tool, then copy and paste them into a new layer. Once isolated, I can then add color with the Paint Bucket tool, making sure to use a good threshold of usually 110% or so, to make sure it fills in the spaces without leaving sloppy edges near any feathering black lines. After I line up the character to see what they look like, I separate each piece into a separate file. For instance, “Torso.png”, then save it. Then “Front Leg.png”, then save that and so on. PNG files are great to work with in Anime Studio Pro as listed below, as they offer transparent backgrounds with the imagery.

animestudiopro8dimart
5. ANIME STUDIO PRO 8: Animating the Cartoon
After that, the goal is to bring everything into Anime Studio Pro 8. I love this program so far. It’s very user friendly IMO, and renders fast for 1920×1080, which is the ratio I’m working with. Once in this program, I import the images of the characters into it, and with the BONE tool, drop them all into that folder. Once in there, I separate them far enough apart, and from the first torso piece, start with the lead pivot bone on which the character can rotate. Then move on from there to the arms, legs and head. Being careful to place the eyes, eyebrows, mouths and so on where the head is, and giving it enough influence weight to keep them from warping out of range. After that, I save all the files separates, testing out the animations and skeleton flexibility, and once satisfied, begin the animation process.
Even better, I can do all of the Lip Synching (that I originally learned on the set of South Park: The Movie in Marina del Rey and Culver City Los Angeles, California under Matt Stone and Trey Parker as the Directors, Annie Coombs as my talented Animation Lip Synch Supervisor) within Anime Studio Pro 8, compared to some other animation programs that forced it to be done separately (and wasting a lot of time). This allows me to be much more expressive with my characters as I have more time for that compared to laying out the voices several steps over. The main mouths I use for my cartoons are as follows:
Mouth “Ah” This is an open mouth, usually where you can see the tongue. Good for the sounds of ah, eh, oh. Each can be given a separate mouth, but I like to simply things for time. Anime Studio Pro 8 is the most fun I’ve had lip synching since working on Power Animator (Alias Wavefront now Maya) back on South Park, even though it’s my least favorite step. I still enjoy the challenge of it, and I always vote for having the mouth appear earlier rather than later. if the mouth shows up after the sound is already heard, I’d say that is poor lip synching and needs to be retimed. These days, I get it right on the first shot per my standards. Lots of practice is the real key, learning the way vocals sound and timing the mouths to capture it.
Mouth “M” This I use for the letters M, P, and F for simplicity.
Mouth “T” The T mouth looks like the teeth are bared and closed. Sounds of Tt, sss.
Mouth “Oo” This mouth looks like a whistle expression, a little dot. Good for ooo sounds.
I used to use more mouths, 6 total to animate, but find these get the point across nicely. South Park used about 10 or 11 mouths.
After animating each scene, usually guided by the dialog and script, with each sequence animation file lasting 1000 to 2000 frames or so at 24 frames per second in 1920 x 800 scale (for a widescreen look), I save it out and export it as .mov Quicktime format, with the voices in the animation file thanks to this software.

imovieDim
6. IMOVIE: Editing it all together.
IMovie, Sony Vegas or any movie editor program, as long as it has basic tools like text and transitions such as fade in, fade outs and overlapping fades, can get the job done nicely. Editing is always fun, because it puts the whole movie together for the first time. This step usually takes the least amount of time. Animation usually the longest step. Once satisfied, I export again in quicktime format.

garagebandDim
7. GARAGE BAND: Great for Sound Effects and Music Composing.
I used to rely on clunky software like Final Cut Pro for this step, but find Garage Band is a dream program and very intuitive and easy to use once you know how, for editing your movie (drag and drop your movie into the program) and then timing it all using the measure bars for music, and the free time bar for placing sound effects to match the motions in the movie. This is a fun step too, as it really brings the silent animation to life, aside from the voices already intact.  For maximum volume, I export the audio files without the movie, each for Music track only and Sound Effects Track only. The voices already in the Video File. Then in Audacity, I amp up the volume as loud as comfortable without distortion, then reimport into Garageband with no effects on, then export it with the movie file as FULL QUALITY.

Talesofthedimtitlepic
8. FINISHED! This is the most rewarding step, as you get to finally watch your creation as you originally intended it, or at least aimed for it to be. The more you practice, the more satisfied you’ll eventually become with the finished results. And so this concludes the brief making of TALES OF THE DIM. If you like the series, be sure to subscribe now to the youtube channel so I know the show is of value to you. Thank you for your support and for watching! -F.Sudol

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