Cross River Productions have done a great job with this Transformice spin-off. Check out some episodes and take a look behind the scenes!
I'm currently working at Cross River Productions in Paris on a 52x1mn30s webseries based on the Transformice online videogame.
Basically it's all about mice fighting for cheese.
Here are a few episodes :
We are using Blender intensively for this project : for 3D of course but also for editing, color grading and compositing. Rendering is done with internal renderer and Freestyle. GCRU/Afanasy is used for the renderfarm, Photoshop, After effect and Natron for some tiny 2D work.
We have set up a custom pipeline that allows us to automate a lot of tasks like linking assets in scenes and scenes in a edit .blend next to renders.
Using this process we are much more efficient, because we don't need to jump between softwares to see the result of what we are doing.
If you're curious here is a screenshot of an edit file :
A typical shot/layout file :
You can also find some rigging breakdowns that help us to explain the rig to animators that work outside the studio. And also test video on my vimeo channel.
The beginning of the project was a bit tricky for various reasons, and for the core team it was a first experience with blender. With the help of a few blenderheads we managed to get the project back on track and everyone here is now very pleased to use blender, and it perfectly fits our needs for that project.
If you're interested in seeing more of how we've done things we'll try to make a more in-depth making of when we get time. And also don't hesitate to ask here if you've got questions.
Finally we'd like to thank everyone involved in blender development for that wonderful piece of software and also all the people who have worked on the Transformice project !
I am interested and knowing where to get the Proxy Manager add-on they are using. Blender really need better proxy and link library tools. Any insight they have on how they manage importing multiples of the same rig would be awesome.
For the proxy manager , it's a small script that I've done few years ago, basically in your asset file you have two groups one called "asset" and "asset_lo" and the script do the switch between the two in the scene.
You can look at this addon that is more well written :
And for the multiple characters linking, sadly there are no perfect way of doing this yet.
We've made another script that duplicate the scene where the character is and make N copies.
If we change the character we launch the script again and it erase all the copies and create new ones.
so in bob.blend there are bob_01 bob_02 scene ect...
Importing multiples of the same rig can be done with symbolic links on Linux/Mac:
Not sure about Windows. You need one linked file for each instance of the rig that you want to import. For each additional rig that you're linking, simply link to the symbolic link file instead of the main file. This is probably the best way to work because you can update the original rig blend file and the symbolic link files will automatically be up to date as they point to the file.
It's an awkward way to work I know... Hopefully this will be handled better with the new asset manager...
That is a pretty cool solution. I do have to move between windows and linux machines. But I will give it a try
About the proxy manager it's an old script that I wrote a few years ago,
you can look at this one which could be better and use the same principle :
For the import of the same rig, sadly there isn't a perfect way to do it. Symbolic links as Stephen explains is a solution. As we work on different OS we've done it differently, we just use a script that duplicates scenes inside the .blend and renames groups accordingly. If we change the original , we relaunch the script and it updates...
Just thinking you would like to know: There is a river in west africa called cross.
@PHENBACH for the proxy manager it's an old script of mine, I still use it because it's easier to integrate it in our pipeline ( like switching to highpoly version at rendertime)
you can look at this one :
that is more well written and use the same principle.
For multiple rigs on the same scene, there are indeed no perfect solutions, the symlink trick do work, but you have to remain on the same OS.
What we've done is a little script that duplicates scenes and groups inside the asset .blend . When we change something we re-run the script and it clears all the previous scene and re-do the duplication.
I think the company get it's name from that river, I'll ask the producers about that :)
sorry for the multiple post, there were an issue with my comments so I've made them several time before they all get posted :)
Marvelous breakdown. I know I´m asking impossibles, but could you make a short 12 minute documental on how this production is pipelined? It would be interesting to explore new options.
Afanasy! hahha, wow, did you take this when it was 2014? I came to know Afanasy in that year. I think someone asked to be ported to Blender on that year, that's why I ask.
Thanks a lot ! Indeed at some point I'd like to share a bit more about how this is working with blender. The scripts we made at that time have been improved a lot since then.
VSE with some python automation can be a very powerful tool for producing small team / low budget projects (at least) . I don't know if there are similar solutions in other softwares, maybe C4D + premiere but from what I've heard it's quite buggy.
We made another project with the same pipeline but improved : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVp9sXWy8uQ
I don't know when I'll found time to make a complete breakdown but it's on the todo :D. In the meantime fell free to ask any questions here : https://blenderartists.org/t/transformice-cartoon-series/667386/8 I'll make my best to answer them !
About Afanasy it was indeed in 2014 ! It was introduced to me by a great technical director when we worked on that project : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVp9sXWy8uQ .
Thanks again for your encouraging words !
Thank you for inspiring other blender artists with your production, as well! Sure thing, I´ll go to that post you mention. Yes, I got tons of questions. I even see you did what I was planning to do with the camera sequencer on the VSE. Yes, VSE is very powerful but lacks performance optimization.
I like the mice's styles and animation. Great job on you and your team!
Yes, most of the performances issues can be workaround-ed : with proxy it's possible to have realtime playback of image sequences , and there are some scripts available to export using multiple cores .
I had to run some tests , but I think in 2.8 playing color graded strips seems a lot smoother too.
That's less the case if you use some masks for grading or effects.
All that said it's true that if you start adding many effects and use it more as a compositing utility, it's lacking performance optimizations quite quickly. But for simple edit and play result I had no issues.
Of course the more optimize it is the better :)