Friday, July 22, 2022

Report from an Austere and Adamant Animator - ASIFA Central Retreat Newsletter - 2022

"In a Fog, Not in the Cloud"


    It’s not being a Luddite that prevents my use of the latest and greatest technology - it’s the pernicious policies invading software that no longer permit you to own a copy of a license, but rather, perpetually rent one, thereby never really having free access to your own work.  Instead, you are always relying on an ongoing fee (certainly this is the business model of certain operating system vendors who crave to poke a finger into any intellectual property deed that crosses its cloud).
    As a result, I still use Flash, Photoshop, and Sony Vegas, but only in the forms that rest upon a hard drive that hums in front of me.  Living in a fairly remote region where the internet can be woven a bit loosely, there is an additional advantage to not relying on an amorphous storage space to suddenly become inaccessible.  
    The downside is, of course, that latest and greatest “advances” aren’t always available.  The upside is I get to wonder if they’re even necessary, or if work-arounds can obtain the same results.  I should use the word “hacks” to keep current.
    So I have discovered a hack with 4K creation and rendering.
    Flash, now known as Adobe Animator, does not offer 4K in its final iteration to own, CS5.  It maxes out at a work screen resolution of 2800 x 1575, making it about 75% of a 4K.  Let’s call it a 3K (I have noticed that this version of Flash has an “Animator” menu which is very much like their current software iteration). But it can do 2800 x 1575!
    It can also render out nearly any size gif, jpg, or png sequence of files, including 3840 x 2160.  That means I can draw in “3K” and render out as 4K (3840 x 2160) (Export > export movie > jpg sequence).
    This “3K” series of images can be brought into the Photoshop CS6 (again, the last one available for outright purchase) and then adjusted for any unwanted artifacts, and saved out at 3840 x 2160 again.
    However, I have also found that my Sony Vegas 15 video software (later versions exist, but after #16 they are utterly dreadful) will import my faux 4K from Flash just fine and export at 4K resolution, and all looks well.  I use the Sony video edit product because it offers the functions of After Effects that I actually use without causing the office lights to dim.
    My final observation has been that whenever I use these three software products - Flash, Photoshop, Vegas - my hard drive just starts spinning and the internet bandwidth begins playing.  In some cases, especially with the Flash program, it seems that it is reaching out to Adobe and things quickly jam, and occasionally crash.
    Solution?  I disconnect a WiFi dongle on my “grandpa box” desktop computer when I start or continue a project and, gee whiz, things seem to work out just fine.  
    This is a work-around - sorry, hack - to be sure, and ultimately I’ll have to succumb to some online experience, but it buys me time while I explore some other open source substitutes for Flash (Krita shows some current promise) for 2D.   I’d rather use my time to complete a few ongoing projects rather than stop everything to learn which compromises to my workflow I have to accept for the sake of newness (and don’t even get me going on cars without key locks).

To summarize:
 (mainly for my benefit, on a 3x5 card near the keyboard)
4K “Hack”

1. Disconnect WiFi (it’s a distraction when drawing, anyway)
2. Draw in Flash CS5 with a workspace of 2800 x 1575
3. Export image files in batches of 100 (each one is about 1000kb) - prevents software/hardware overloads
4. Use with File > Export > Export Movie > jpg sequence (or png sequence or gif sequence)
5. Set export size of image files to 3840 x 2160 when prompted
6. Import to Photoshop or video editor (set Preferences > Edit > import 0.08 seconds for 2fps in Sony Vegas)
7. And party on!

And save ALL DRAWINGS in a safe place, multiple hard drives, archive.org, or printed out and put in a basement shoebox!!!

This bit of a tirade is not presented to slam any particular product, but, rather, the business model that obstructs aspiring animators - they need to have better access to resources that won’t present yet another hurdle to their lifelong career.  Painters don’t have to rent their canvases or acrylics, after all.



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