Animate with Windows 8

Apologies that this is a little later than usual, I’ve been in Bristol recently (not at Encounters unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to make this year ūüė¶ ). Hopefully housing and things should sort themselves soonish and I’ll be able to move down there, but there’ll be a few weeks before hand.

Which is perhaps a good thing, so I can get on with my Pok√©mon battle tournament report before things get too hectic. Looking back at the whole project I’ve already learnt quite a bit from doing this, even if a lot of that learning process was from my own overestimating aspects. Script writing and voice recording was a section that I assumed at the start wouldn’t take all that long, not considering that the process of re-editing, refining and cutting back would require several drafts to get down to a usable length. In the last week I went back and ‘fine-tuned’ my recordings before I began animating to them and it bought home just how much work had gone into just those two files. Similar could be said for the illustrations; 54 pages in the end and 509 individual drawings once I’d ‘cut out’ and coloured them all. In a sense I’m proud of both as they stand, even in their ‘unfinished’ state, when I consider how much has gone into each to get where they are at the moment.

Of course now is when the final and perhaps most significant part of the process begins, the animating itself. Less actual animating happened this week than perhaps could’ve, but in the long run I don’t think any of what I spent time on this week was wasted. Organising files is really important in keeping track of a project, especially when there are about 600 separate elements to combine (at least 509 drawings plus more art generated in computer like the background for the GIF below) so that’ll pay off later, as will getting to understand the Windows 8 interface.

Thoughts on Windows 8

Prior to my new computer (for those interested in specifics for that I got a Dell Inspiron 17-7000, the 16GB one) I’d heard lots of talk about Windows 8, and the majority of it was pretty negative. My previous laptop ran Vista, an operating system that received an equal quantity of general dislike but which I’ve had next to no problems with, so considering that I went to ‘8 with an open mind. Having used it for a week I’d say that the overall reaction is overblown; there are definitely negatives about the OS but nothing’s broken, in fact it all works pretty well once you’ve gotten your head around it. My initial impression wasn’t that wonderful; during setup you’re required to use the touchscreen to fill out all the forms (yes, laptops now apparently have touchscreens built in), a process I found a bit fiddly and irritating, especially when you’re required to slowly type things out using an on-screen keyboard because the huge built in keyboard isn’t activated yet. It’d be fair to say that process doesn’t do any favours in creating goodwill toward ‘8 in the first few moments, and the start menu changes don’t do much to dissuade that on first glance. Change is always a bit scary, and the Start button now opening a whole panel of icons instead of a little menu is intimidating at first, but there is a desktop and really good search system beneath that which allows you to safely ignore that, which I’d immagine most people probably will do.

The Start menu was probably a good call from the point of view of tablets or mobile, but overall I’m not sure that anything else that focuses around desktop really benefits. I have tried experimenting with using apps but by and large it’s all a bit rubbish; Facebook for example has its own app you can load from the Start screen and it seems to work fine, but the moment you click on any kind of link it closes down and opens an internet browser from the desktop. If that’s the case then why bother with the app in the first place? All the Adobe programmes completely bypass that system; even if you go through the process of adding them to the Start menu (very little of use appears there by default) it just takes you back to the desktop when you click them. So I wouldn’t say it’s a great success but as stated earlier it’s easily ignorable, the search function is much improved from earlier versions of Windows and almost acts as a substitute. The criticisms certainly have grounding but ultimately are making a much larger deal out of everything than it really warrants (you could download a plug-in if you really can’t deal without a traditional Start button), and there are positives to the OS as well. Useful tools like auto-unlocking zipfiles and being able to pin software to one side of the screen to save switching between windows are really useful and time saving.

So far the only problems I’ve had have been entirely my fault (don’t batch process several hundred Photoshop files at once), there’s been no major problems that I couldn’t get around. Whether this is a result of the hardware or the OS I don’t know, but boot and load times are fantastic; from turning on through to using programmes on the desktop is about a minute for me. Admittedly I haven’t really put it through its paces yet (the real test will be rendering the two 11 minute Pok√©mon animations I’m working on) but Aftereffects hasn’t had any problems either.

Speaking of which, I thought I’d end with some actual animation this time. It’s just a quick gif because I wanted to show something visual and interesting (plus I hadn’t made a gif using AFX before, learning things like this is always useful) and as such isn’t finalised; I can already see several things that need tweaking. It’s from a segment describing my thought process on Rotom Wash.

Evil-Rotom-Wash

*Not finalised* It makes perfect sense right? Who needs context?

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