Experimenting with new animation

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Experimenting with new animation

Postby paul » Wed Aug 27, 2014 3:53 pm

Hey, folks. I thought I'd share some experiments I've been doing using video as the source for RWFF sites. I've come up with a technique that produces a much smoother flow than the simple series of photos. How it compares to techniques that add motion to a still photo I'll leave to others to judge.

What I'm doing is this:

Shoot 10 seconds or so of HD video from a tripod.
Select a portion of the video without anything odd going on - no splashes, change in lighting, etc.
Take a 48 frame clip and split it into 2 clips of 24 frames, clip A and clip B.
Split clip A in the middle into clip A1 and A2, with 12 frames each.
Overlap A1 and A2, making A1 fade from transparent to opaque over those 12 frames. Call the result clip C.
If you view clip C, you'll find it's a seamless loop, since A1 ends where A2 starts, and the point where there would be a jump is in the middle of the fade.
You could just extract every other frame from clip C to get a 6 frame loop, but you'll notice that's is clear at the start and the end, but fuzzier in the middle where A1 and A2 are blended equally, so the loop cycles from clear to not-so-clear.
Now repeat those steps with clip B, making B1 and B2, and fading from one to the other to produce clip D, another seamless loop that's less clear in the middle.
Now clip clip C in half and swap the other of the two halves, and blend that 50/50 with clip D.
Now you have a 12 frame loop that doesn't change from clear to fuzzy. Every frame is a blend of two seamless loops, with clearer frames coming from one and less clear frames coming from the other.
Now extra every other frame to get a 6 frame version, and you've got your frames for RWFF.
Set the animation speed to 309 and you're close to original speed, assuming the video was shot at 30 fps.
I'll refer to this technique as "48-6"

I'm using Camtasia Studio for the video work, but you could use any video editor that gives you single-frame precision and allows fade-in or fade-out between clips.

Earlier I started with 24 frames to end up with 6 without taking every other frame ("24-6" technique), but starting with 48 seems slightly better. That allows more passage of time between the frames in the sampled part of the video, so waves on the water can move far enough to be replaced by their successors more convincingly.

I've just uploaded an experimental outing showing the result. Note that I haven't mapped the depth or the current. This outing isn't intended for fishing, but just for comparing the effect of different animation methods.

Site 1 shows waves on slow flowing water, to try the effect on motion caused by wind more than by current. This version used 24 original frames, not the 48 frame version using every-other.

Site 2 shows a stream animated the original way - 3 still photos shot within a few seconds. This is comparable to the "stock" content in the game, though I would probably copy the land from one frame and paste it onto the others to stabilize the vegetation, etc.

Site 3 shows the same site animated with the 48-6 method.

Site 4 shows the same site with each frame darkened slightly and the contrast increased a touch.

Site 5 shows another site, using the 48-6 method.

Site 6 shows the same site with the 48-6 method, then taking every other frame to see how a 3 frame version would look.

Here's the outing: http://www.pishtech.com/animation_experiments.zip

What do you think?

Paul
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Re: Experimenting with new animation

Postby badger040 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 5:24 pm

hi Paul
fantatsic news
im not a techy but the natural movement of the water is a massive improvement
i am sure the outing creators will be excited with this improvement
WELL DONE and thanks for everything you are doing to make this sim stand alone against the others
regards
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Re: Experimenting with new animation

Postby wyldechylde77 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 8:04 pm

Hi Paul,

Just checked out your experiments and all I gotta is OH. My. GOOODDD. AWESOME!! LOVED the look of the video -type scenes, especially the creek sites!! Man, this has gotta happen like soon!! May need a little tutorial as to how to do it, but if it can be done using the current software (I am patched to v.140) I think after a couple of test runs it will be complete! Putting off an outing that I was gonna do until this is ready. Amazing job, I'm sure when Stanley and Martin see this they will be just as excited as I am!
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Re: Experimenting with new animation

Postby Yellowstone7 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 8:58 pm

Hi Paul and Everyone:

Thanks for the fantastic technical update. WOW! That is great news and work! I just loved the improved water animation in your experimental outing. I was amazed that this kind of smoothness can be achieved with only using six frames. Really amazing stuff!

Like Chuck said, we will probably need a detailed tutorial on how this is done. Looking forward to working with this new technique. :lol:

Regards,

Stanley
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Re: Experimenting with new animation

Postby paul » Wed Aug 27, 2014 9:33 pm

Glad you like the animation! I'm pretty pleased with it myself. It still not as nice as a 5 second HD video loop with a half second fade to smooth the looping, but for 6 frames I'm really pleased with it.

I can certainly make a tutorial. Again this method only works if you've got HD video shot via tripod as your source material. Camtasia Studio is a great video editing tool, but it runs $300. I resisted buying it for a while but it does such a smooth job of capturing a video from the screen, and the editing functions are pretty solid, so I finally went ahead and bought it. I'll make a tutorial using that and leave it to people to adapt the steps to other editors.

Paul
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Re: Experimenting with new animation

Postby Cutch » Thu Aug 28, 2014 5:02 am

SPEECHLESS, Paul, the water movement is so smooth and realistic. Outings using this
are going to be spectacular. Thanks for all your hard work, RWFF was the best fishing
game, now with this water improvement,.....it's waaaaaaaaay the best fishing game
out there.

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Re: Experimenting with new animation

Postby Anguis » Sun Sep 14, 2014 4:43 pm

Just saw this - incredibly awesome! I showed the outings to my sons and they were immediately impressed with the improvement. If you haven't already done it, I know these will be a nice IAP for the mobile version - take my money!

Nice going!
Someday, we'll get back to Yellowstone. . .
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Re: Experimenting with new animation

Postby paul » Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:09 pm

Stanley noted that a tutorial on this technique might be helpful, so here you go:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQG9b8vp-sU

If you've got a couple seconds of stable video of a fishing location it's really not too much work to produce site frames this way.

Tight lines,

Paul
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Re: Experimenting with new animation

Postby Yellowstone7 » Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:30 pm

Hi Paul and Everyone:

Thanks for a great tutorial. A picture is worth a thousand words. :lol: Will certainly give this a try when I get some free time.

Regards,

Stanley
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Re: Experimenting with new animation

Postby paul » Fri Oct 17, 2014 3:49 pm

In case anyone is planning to shoot any waters in HD video for the new animation technique, here's an extra tip: Shoot your few seconds of video, but then shoot some high resolution stills without moving the camera. The still will be much higher resolution than the video, possibly better focused and with a faster shutter speed. That allows you to copy the land from a still and paste it over the animation frames to really sharpen them up. I'm doing that with the sites from my recent Eastern US shoot, at least with those where the video frames were less than crisp. I've also noticed I get more lens flare in the video than in the stills, so this method has helped clean up some of those too. I'm building all the animation frames at the full resolution of the video (1920 x 1080 pixels, basically 2 megapixels) and will scale them down later for the Windows and mobile versions, but I'll keep the higher resolution versions around too in case I ever have a version supporting higher resolutions than the current code. One could even combine the 2 MB video frames of the water with the full 10 MP resolution from the stills, preserving the higher resolution, and get smooth animation at 5184 x 3456 pixels, or whatever resolution ones camera can shoot. The water portions would be at lower resolution, but that probably wouldn't even be noticeable due to the motion and the relatively low detail and contrast in that portion of the image.

Anyway, if you shoot video for RWFF content, shoot high resolution stills too. They'll come in very handy.

Paul
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