Project progress, project problems…

OK, let me announce the project status in numbers:

Of course this is a kind of approximated statistics, but anyway – it shows. And I guess you have noticed that finally we have the project animatic completed at 100%. Yay!

So, what do we have? After 3 years of development the project just passed the preproduction stage. As a whole Demo it is hardly crossing 50% boundary. I think it’s reasonable to ask question

Why?

 

Let’s take a look back and talk about the project path, the problems – past and current.

When we just started this project there were a lots of questionable points. Some of them got more less cleared out, some of them still remain. Let’s discuss them one-by-one.

Software

Yes, let’s begin with software. To be honest, I have started this project more being like a software engineer mind, rather than artist. Yes, I had a screenplay, but my main idea was “Hey, let’s do the anime with open-source software!”. Well, there’s nothing wrong about that, but I was fully concentrated on the computer-generated images, totally ignoring the possibility to create artwork with pencil and paper. ^__^ Well, its fun to remember, but I digress…

First of all, we weren’t sure if the software we have chose is able to handle the tasks that we need. For Blender (for 3D works) everything was quite clear – that tool is stable enough and already proven with a series of Blender Foundation’s open movie projects… But 3D in Morevna Project handles just a helper function – Morevna is mostly about 2D animation! And the all burden here comes to Synfig Studio, which is completely different case! Without any usage cases of such scale, questional stability, totally undeveloped character animation techniques… There were few examples of characters animation, but we wanted the complex motion. This most powerful open-source animation tool still had a lots of issues.  We just weren’t sure if this tool will be able to handle all the tasks (OK, well… in terms of faith we were sure, but have no idea how).

Time passed by, we have invested much time into software development, but it deserved that. At the end – one of our main goals is to improve open source tools. And many things cleared out. We have created stickman template as temporary bones replacement for characters animation, developed methodic of character animation, made really complex animations of different types, explored the integration of various open-source tools with each other.  The software performance is still a weak point, but  thanks to the flexible architecture it’s always possible to split complex scenes into pieces and work on them independently. At this point we can say with confidence that it is possible to do any kind of 2D animation with the software at its current state.  Of course there are still some issues appear from time to time, but we have support from Carlos López González (aka Genete) covering us on Synfig development. Thanks to his work there’s no significant blockers on the software side.

Artists

When the project just started, the big problem was to find the dedicated artists capable to draw in anime style. The target of making Demo itself was to find the team members who I can rely on. I knew that  to have the project (as a whole movie, not just Demo) successfully completed I will need to search for funding sooner or later. But before doing that I had to be sure that there is a specialists around, capable to do work in the way I’m expecting it to be done. Because even if you have money, it is not makes project complete successfully without talents around.

We were looking for the artists making artwork in anime style, because I knew that I will not be able to handle this by myself. Though, I was drawing scenes by myself just to keep project going.  Also, by the time  the project started,  there was total deficit of specialists working in Synfig and it was a first problem that we considered for animation project. I didn’t knew is there any people around willing to learn Synfig and how much time this learning can take. In addition to that, as I can see now, my expectation from artists were quite fuzzy – I had tools, but didn’t had real technology in my hands yet. I was naive enough to expect every artist go through full production chain. As time passed by my expectation were polished and  slowly project roles were clearing out for me. It took time for me to understand that a person can deliver great artwork for project without digging into any technological nuances.

Time passed by, many outstanding people passed through project and it happen so that I was lucky enough to meet the ones who is sharing the “spirit of the project”.  We have Eleonora Pala as talented character designer and keyframe animator, she have outstanding feel for the characters attitude and I really  hope that she will stick with the project, because her artwork is right what I expect for this project to be. I am happy to work with Nikolay Mamashev – very skilled Synfig animator and also very good at keyframe artwork drawing (he is working in more realistic style, drawing soldiers for the Demo). With him we have polished main methods of making animation of any kind with Synfig. He is proofed: for a person skilled in computer animation learning Synfig is a question of one-two weeks.

Considering me as director and person, who can do animation and some drawing, I can see those artists can form the core team, competent to complete the Morevna Project Demo at desired quality level. We’re only lack the background artist, but I have someone on the horizon.

And while it looks like we have staff gathering, the only question is Time. The fair truth of this world is that the artists work in first place on those things, which they paid for. All contributors working on the project in their free time. Everyone should make their living and most of them have daily full time job. With the the project of such scale it is no wonder that it is going at such rate and at current stage it is the main problem.

From the beginning  the Demo was created with the motto “what could be done on pure enthusiasm”. But now, as we slowly get crew forming, I’m starting to think about possible ways to get the funding for the project to allow artists work on it for several months. In fact, the question for me is stands in that way: find a funding or it takes forever. And here comes another question – how many of contributing artists ready to work on the project for the full time? Who of them is ready to drop their daily work and dedicate 3-4 months of their time to the project?

And now, right at the moment when we started to talk about money, things getting serious and there should be guarantees the project to finish successfully. Here’s one last point that comes up, that remains unclear.

Soundtrack

As many of you remember, right from the start I have chose to use soundtrack which we haven’t permission to use yet. My initial plan was to clear that point when all footage will be finished, that way we would have more chances to be treated seriously. But as things turning out that way, I think it’s no harm to make attempt to settle this question now.

The problem here is that I don’t know how to handle juristic side of this question. First I need to know numbers. I need to know (at least approximately) how much licensing could cost.  Per Gessle apparently is signed with BMI. Unlike ASCAP, BMI has exclusive licensing contracts. But as stated here:

“BMI does not offer synchronization licenses. The producer of the audiovisual production usually requests a synchronization license from the song publisher.”

OK, the publisher among other types of media rights does offer “Internet” (streaming and/or downloadable, in-context use only). Purchasing such license is suitable to have permission to publish song together with all animation sources (what we plan to do at the end), but of course this will not allow to create derivative works, which is not fun. Maybe  I should find a way to contact the author, showing him the project results.  and find out what he is thinking about releasing composition under some libre license. But again, I need to know if he can do that considering conditions of current contracts. %)

OK, well, that’s enough of rants for today.  I guess you got the picture. We’re still moving on.  Stay tuned!

 

P.S. And yes, Happy Birthday, Morevna Project! ^___^

Internet (streaming and/or downloadable, in-context use only )

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12 Responses to “Project progress, project problems…”

  1. genete Says:

    First of all congratulations for Morevna Project birthday!
    Second I would like to express some of my thoughts here:
    Morevna Project is a full success. Yes it is! Someone can argue that three years is too many time to produce a “demo”. This is a 4 minutes of high quality animation!! Do you know how many time do artists spend to produce 20 or 30 seconds of quality animation?? Even with the workflow and software ready, even with talented artists in the team, it takes months! And you have started from just a script in Russian!
    There were not real proof of the capability of Synfig Studio for animation. There were not integration of the software chain to produce the correct workflow. There were not ANY infrastructure to hold the project. There were not a team to work with. There is not financial support to defray the time you have invested in this project…
    Who can complain about the time spent on the project? Have you considered that the demo production would make the film production many easier? ^__^

    I have to thank you too the amount of things you have done for Synfig. You have told me several times that your time spent in Synfig is just an investiment for Morevna. It is true. But it is also true that Synfig Project is now what it is, thanks to your contribution.

  2. Open Source Pixels » Morevna Project progress, project problems… Says:

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  3. Piggy Yarroll Says:

    I’m certainly up for pre-ordering a DVD like I did for the most recent Blender production.

  4. Итоги трех лет работы над свободным анимационным фильмом "Моревна" Says:

    […] отчет, в котором обобщены результаты работы за три года […]

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    […] отчет, в котором обобщены результаты работы за три года […]

  6. Аноним Says:

    Где отчет по съеденому дошираку?

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  8. TimTom59 Says:

    Hi,
    This project needs more people involved, so thats why I am writing this. I tried to work on the morevna project around a year ago, however I was still at school and did not have the time to learn Synfig and Blender.

    I have now finished school and as a result I am working on the logo for the project. I think that I will be able to contribute a lot on the Animation, Background Graphics, and Sound effects of the project.

    I didn’t really know where to post this so thats why this is here, But basically I am willing to work on the project five days a week for a month and a half.

    Thanks

    Tom.

  9. DarkSneaselFP Says:

    Good luck and morning
    I have some questions, probably Stupid questions but, here we go:
    Why don’t you chose creative commons music (eg from jamendo) at first place? Couldn’t find good ones?
    it could be hard, but i guess its easier than try convince a copyright artist to change to copyleft some musics…

    I would recomend Butterfly Tea for action and Phrenia for Op & Ending, and others, but at this moment, probably change the sound track would require re-draw everything to synchronize with the new soundtrack, so it’s a stupid question.

    I was trying to do something like that and “ignoring the possibility to create artwork with pencil and paper.” haha i did the same mistake!

    The second question is: An independent Anime, This who you guys are trying to do is even possible?
    and the answer is YES! the Fandom of Touhou already did at least one episode, and a lot of PV simulating OP & ED, so don’t lost your hopes!
    (ok you guys will not, but i was trying everything alone on my project, since i didn’t want establish commitment to others without even know if this is possible, so i was hopeless)

    The only question here is if its possible with the tools you’re using, So i hope yes, and wish luck, If you did it, Will prove that is possible and be the begining of many others, but those who try the same path my advice is: don’t be selfish like me, open hand of do your own projects, there is no I in a team work, and join others trying similar projects, and join your ideas with other person ideas instead of try a solo anime.
    that can’t be done alone.

    finaly i would recomend the program makehuman, but your target is 2D animation, so maybe it will be useless.

    BTW i would like to help, but i dont have free time, or money right now >.<
    BTW2 i'm not a native english speaker sorry for any mistake.

  10. Shaun Says:

    require re-draw everything to synchronize with the new soundtrack, so it’s a stupid question.
    Not really, the magic of tweening(tm) should allow things to be synchronized at different speeds. n.n I think… XD

  11. roulette-guy Says:

    Wonderful blog. Very interesting information. Keep it up!

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