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  Ep. 2 WIP: Leap of AnimationMarch 31, 2009 6:50 PM | url
 
This isolated character foreground sequence is the longest continuous hand-drawn figure animation I've ever done:
 

 
Could have been worse I guess. =p
 

Bonus abstract frame combination:
 
 
 
 
 
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  Ep. 2 WIP: Sucking Time vs Sucking LettersMarch 30, 2009 3:07 PM | url
 
Had a minor inspiration over the weekend and whipped up a slightly more dynamic title sequence:
 

 
Since A* doesn't have a pre-loader and instead starts playing instantly while it is downloading, part of the title sequence's job is to suck up time while your computer pulls down enough of the episode's remaining animation that it won't have to pause mid-episode in order to keep up with downloading the data. This modified title sequence is over twice the bandwidth of the old one, and just a tad longer, so it isn't as effective as a download buffer, but at least it's a little more interesting to watch. (I think?)
 
One thing I don't want is to have animation in A* do the typical cartoon "bouncy" thing. I had to resist the urge to make the asterisk bounce outwards a bit after it sucks in the black cover to reveal the logo. :o
 
 
 
 
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  Ep. 2 WIP: Funny FaceMarch 27, 2009 6:21 PM | url
 
What a silly face you're making, Vero!
 

 
Whatever could be the matter?
 
 
 
 
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  More Ep. 2 WIPMarch 26, 2009 9:08 PM | url
 
One frame from a *very* rapid animation:
 
 
 
 
 
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  More Ep. 2 WIP: simple scene 1 animationsMarch 25, 2009 9:16 PM | url
 
I wonder what this person is shouting:
 

 
"THIS IS FINAL ART!"?
 
I think at just halfway through the final art for scene 1 of episode 2 I've already got more frame-by-frame hand-drawn animation than in the entire episode 1. That isn't actually saying much, but it's something I hope to be able to do more and more as I go, as opposed to just tweening things around the frame with automatic tools, because it's the carefully managed irregularities between drawings that give animation its unique sense of life.
 
Hand-drawing animation frame-by-frame is pretty labor-intensive if it's a complex shape, though, so I have my little cheating single-in-between technique where I use just a single frame with a hand-drawn "motion-blur" shape in between the start and end shapes:
 

 
It can be surprisingly effective if done right. Huzzah for cheating!
 
 
 
 
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  More fun with Ep. 2 storyboardsMarch 25, 2009 3:42 PM | url
 
Don't you hate it when your boss keeps sticking his big nose into your work?
 

 
I've found that it can be productive for me to work out character design during the storyboarding phase: doodling around and trying a bunch of different looks in these little cartoons.
 
But the boards for episode 2 are all done, so today it's time to get serious and start on the actual final art for scene 1!
 
 
 
 
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  Thanks to the first A*s!March 25, 2009 1:48 AM | url
 
A* hasn't even been out a week yet, and only has one episode so far, but already dozens of adventurous people have jumped onto the forum, and a few people have already contributed to production of the second episode!
 
So first of all, thanks to those who have dropped by the forum; I've found that talking to other people about what I'm working on, or even stuff distantly related to it, helps my thought process, and I didn't really have people to talk A* with in the weeks during which I was making the first episode, so it was a great relief to get the forum opened up and start spamming people. We've already had some interesting things come of it, including:
  1. an animated A* button
  2. several fan-generated promotional campaigns which I'm really grateful for, although I guess I should leave it up to the lovely people doing them to talk about them if they choose to
  3. a draft of the first fan-produced voiceover for episode one (for the voiceover contest)
  4. a long-winded description by me of the origin of the idea for A*
  5. the identification of Solvan Mar's nose as having come from the big-headed lady in Spirited Away (good eye, Sputnik!)
See how productive a forum can be even in its first week? So a big thanks to you brave pioneers who've been the first to start talking about A*.
 
Second, I really appreciate the generous souls who've helped put A* on what I hope will one day be the road to breaking even by contributing to A*'s production by way of the gold button located on the support A* page, which you'll find linked from the site's top menu. Two of these first three opted to have their names listed in the credits of the next episode, so at the end of episode 2, you'll see a series of screens that will look something like this:
 

 

 
Thank you very much Anna LaCroix, Shushin, and Anonymous (you know who you are :)! I appreciate it very much, and I'm pretty sure my landlord and grocer do, too. =P
 
Thanks to all of you who've been here to make A*'s first week a memorable one, and here's to many more!
 
 
 
 
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  Episode 2 work-in-progressMarch 23, 2009 10:57 PM PST | url
 
The working script for episode 2 is done, so now it's on to storyboarding the episode's scenes. These are the only thumbnail/layout work I do before final art, but I can get away with leaving them really sketchy because I'm the only person working on A*. It'll probably take around 70 or 80 of these quick little cartoons to cover the action in the episode. I make adjustments to the script as I go along with these and find what's working best in terms of actual staging.
 
I'll try not to show anything really spoilerish, of course, but I just can't resist showing *something* of what I'm working away on, so...
 

 
 
 
 
 
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  Episode 1 Voiceover ContestMarch 19, 2009 2:25 AM PST | url
 
The voiceover contest for A*'s first episode is now underway! Add the sound effects, music, or voice acting you want to hear in the first episode, or just vote for your favorite. Winning entries will get permanent links and credits on the episode's home page. Check the forum thread (click the "discuss" link in the corner of this post) for entry guidelines and other details.
 
 
 
 
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  An A* animated link imageMarch 18, 2009 6:22 PM PST | url
 
SEPET asked if I had an animated image people could use to link to A*, and I *didn't*, so I went ahead and made one, at 120x60:
 

 
This and any others I end up making will be on the "about" page.
 
 
 
 
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  A* on NewgroundsMarch 18, 2009 3:39 PM PST | url
 
Episode 1 of A* is currently undergoing scrutiny on Newgrounds.com. I'm new to putting stuff up on Newgrounds, and A* doesn't have the usual Flash look, or sound (ie it is silent), so we'll see how this goes.
 
If you're not familiar with Newgrounds, it's a site with a massive amount of Flash-based movies and games, and audio tracks, many of them quite nice, submitted by a very large and active community.
 
The handy URL for A* on Newgrounds is smbhax.newgrounds.com.
 
 
 
 
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  A* Episode 1March 18, 2009 1:38 PM PST | url
 
Hello there and welcome to A*'s first episode. There are a few more things I'll be working on adding today, including the very first A* contest, and I hope you'll take the time to distract me by saying hello on the forum.
 
 
 
 
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