As I work on my movie, I am liking CTA 4 more and more. Why?

One of the advantages of doing 2D animation is that you are no longer concerned with the 3D as much and can concentrate on what needs to be rendered as you compose the scene in CTA 4.

After watching a few YouTube videos on creating 3D scenes efficiently as possible, I realized that part of my problem was trying to create scenes that are probably overly complicated. Although I have a 6Gb Nvidia card, my system chugs at times as I wait for iClone 7 to catch up.

This scene in the picture is 3.2Gb in iClone 7 and only 1.7Mb in CTA 4 and this is where the real power is. No longer do I render the whole animations in iClone, but I render out each piece, i.e., character, as PoPVideos that I import into CTA 4 as a Prop.

I’ve had several issues with the background of the imported popV file not being transparent when imported into CTA 4. So in order to render out the popV, hide everything except for a character, for example. Create the Prop in CTA 4 and it will import the animation without a problem. You might want to add something behind the import to make sure it is transparent. Why? So you don’t waste time if you can’t see through the import.

As you build the 2D animation from 3D rendered animations, you will be layering them so when you render the final animation in CTA 4, it will look great and it will be done relatively quick and you be able to make faster edits than doing it in 3D.

Of course, the only drawback is that you have to re-load a 3D scene to render out a PopVideo that wasn’t transparent, for example.

I have seen significant gains as I concentrate on the movie instead of waiting for the 3D to render a scene I might not like.

3112 . . . ds

The Bell Dimension (c) David J Soto CTA 4 Stage PNG
The Bell Dimension (c) David J Soto CTA 4 Stage PNG


Here’s a much smaller sample from iClone 7 to CTA 4 video. iClone Project size is 153Mb while CTA 4 Project size is 2.85Mb.

CTA 4 MP4 was run through ShotCut generating a tiny 2Mb MP4 with lip sync. That’s astounding!

The voice over track was not edited prior to being used in this demonstration.

. . . ds

As I mentioned in previous post, I was processing images rendered at 720×480 as my PC would crash if I up the size. I’ll have to fiddle with those rendering settings to see if I can reduce the size of the image a bit more.

Here is the human I was waiting on and it took about 5 hours to process before I could even get inside the Sprite Editor.

My efforts to reduce the size of my output to a minimal so I can watch on my cell phone is starting to have fruition although it’s not been easy.

Stupid me did the Nvidia update and boy what a mess that has caused me. For a week I put up with the constant crashing in iClone 7. I figured I had overwhelmed the software and now it was letting me know. After trying several attempts at fixing the issue, I gave up and did a Restore to the point before I did the update.

Low and behold that was the problem. I haven’t crashed at all, so I am relieved and I can now continue animating.

One thing I have not liked about CTA is that the characters look so flat and lifeless. So I started playing with rendering everything “animated” on a BLACK background saved as PNGs. I’ve had to reduce the size of these images to 720 x 480 just so I can get them inside CTA 4. I tried 1920 x 1080 and the software baulk and eventually gave up with an odd error “Video codec is not installed, blah, blah, blah.”

Strange thing is that I had been doing several of these animations without a problem until I started with the humans. For some reason, CTA 4 can inhale 720s without a problem, but as soon as I do 1920, I crash in CTA 4. Of course, my 6Gb Nvidia is probably lacking.

A word of warning is to leave the software alone once you import a few hundred images. It can take several hours for it to go through its processing, so be patient and do something else. I’m still working on importing a human as the number is over 300 frames, so I might still have to reduce it or cut it into several different “Props” in order to be able to use it.

Make sure to “add” the Prop to the Prop folder otherwise your Prop might not work.

1211 . . . ds

I uploaded for the Reallusion CTA 4 “Animation At Work Contest”.

I had problems customizing the Reaper’s mouth in Krita. Once I added a voice over mp3 the bottom jaw would disappear for no reason. So I replace the original without any problems which is in this video. I also tried using Face3D, but the accuracy of the mouth was terrible even after I set the initial pose. Rather than get hung up by the issue, I’m posting my results.

3010 . . . ds

So I’ve been working away in iClone 7 creating 3 rather large scenes, i.e., 3.6 & 1.5 Gb respectively. 

The problem is the IRay render plug-in I bought to render fabulous scenes is taking too many resources on my tiny 6GB Nvidia graphics card. What is sad is that when you look at the resources being used to render, most of the 64Gb (approx. 55Gb free) on the motherboard is being completely ignored. What I find alarming is that the same objects render instantly in DAZ 3D so I’m not sure why Reallusion is “crapping” out by telling you to use a “render farm”. Huh? Isn’t that where they are suppose to help you, not “refer” you to someone else when they should step in an offer some kind of deal since they introduced the stupid plug-in in the first place. Isn’t Reallusion concerned that they are going around in circles as they’ve had issues since iClone 5 with their rendering engines that continues today. Very disappointing to say the least.

So I decided to render those scenes as PhysX FINAL RENDER, ignoring IRay. I also turned off all the options and it powered through with the built-in render engine creating HD images. Like all ideas that take time to develop, I was not happy with several attempts, so I kept trying and seeing what would happen. The final renders were over 100Mb each, so I re-did the render but this time I changed the Image Sequence Frame Rate to “1”. In other words, what I ended up with was an image for every second instead of 30 frames per second. What I find fascinating is instead of 100’s of frames, one scene was chopped down to 88 frames, so quite a savings. The other bonus is that the scene tells you how long it is, in this case, “88” seconds long!

After watching this animation, it was like an “animatic” which allowed me to think that perhaps I could use this as the storyboard instead of wasting time on scenes that might not be included in the story. So I did a search on GNU free software storyboard and “Storyboarder” show up. I d/l, installed and watched a few YouTube videos on how to use it. After several attempts, I was able to load those 88 images and I created a PDF of the scene as well as an animated GIF which reduced the file down to 78Mb.

I also printed the PDF out and at first I thought what a waste of paper. It was only when I looked through the print out did I discover how interesting it was to look at the scene in a different form. So I believe I will be doing this for all of my scenes in the movie so I can post them up on a wall to review. So don’t be too disappointed when you seem to be spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere. But trust me, you are and don’t give up.

Click the Storyboard page to see animatic.

1110 . . . ds

I was just messing about with CTA 4 to create a morph-based character from an image. The pins on the first attempt did not control the movement as much as I want it to and, in fact, made it look stupid, frankly. Three Bones were created for the image: chest, neck and head, but they did not seem to be working correctly when I applied a “blink” animation. Of course I ignored the warning that this motion “might” cause unexpected results, which it did.

So I decided not to “bone” the image and I only processed the image using only the eyes and mouth defaults. I did nothing else other than render the still at 4k with IRay. I checked “Transparency” box rendering through CC3 to save out a 4K PNG image file.

In CTA 4, I added background, a wall with transparent windows, and the 2D morph-based character. I imported a WAV file for the audio. I rendered it out from CTA 4 as an MP4 HD that was around 6.56Mb which I thought was not too bad.

I then used ShotCut to add my “beeflowerpower” logo. To my delight, the talking animation MP4 dropped to 176k! WHAT? That’s right folks! A talking image that was so easy to create, i.e., it’s lacking emotional expressions, but it proves you can use 3D to generate a respectable 2D animation from CT4 in no time at all.

0309 . . . ds Update 1211 . . . ds

I am in the process of learning how to bone a 2D image into a character in Cartoon Animator 4. I’ve call him “BUNION the ONION” character I sketched out in KRITA. I did not spend a lot of time creating him as I just needed something to play with. Version 1 of this character existed only up to the waist. When I went through the process the first time, I forgot to PIN the area that attaches to the NECK. The NECK itself might also not be long enough so it does not detach when you animate.

BONING-BUNION-the-ONION-PNG Copyright © DAVID J SOTO All Rights Rerserved
BONING-BUNION-the-ONION-PNG Copyright © DAVID J SOTO All Rights Rerserved

3108 . . . ds
Update 1211 . . . ds