Animation Enhancement in the Crop Circle Warriors Introduction

31 10 2019

It took a lot of time to re-enhance or remaster the old introduction of the animation series. We thought hiring experienced animators working in the industry would get the job done faster and with no errors, although some were fast workers they did not follow the instructions faithfully. This caused some errors in the retracing of the animation. Another time-consuming task was adding or changing the special effects to make the animation better. The experience we got in re-enhancing the introduction will be used to re-enhance, improve, remaster the whole series. Although this will cost a lot of time and money to do this; we are committed to finish the job. The enhanced Crop Circle Warriors introduction is placed in the Crop Circle Warriors Mobile Game Facebook page or Youtube.

Converting to 4K

  • Conversion from Standard Definition which is also used in DVD (720 x 576 resolution) to Quad High Definition or 4K (3840 x 2160 resolution). We have to retrace the old drawings to make the drawings more defined.  See below for size comparison.

 

  • If you watched an SD movie on a large TV, the image will stretch, hence the noticeable pixelation. Details like facial freckles and Zipper teeth are seen in a higher resolution, whereas in the standard definition it does not exist.

  • We had to trace the original drawings digitally in a vector-based (crisp lines at any size) animation software so we can render it at any size. Originally we drew on paper then scanned and colored in a raster-based (pixels) software.
  • Because of the higher resolution, we had to redo ALL 3D Objects (Mechanical Crop Circle, Frogee’s Mother Ship, and Tadpole Ship) and ALL the Special FX.

 

Improved Special Effects

  • Instead of redoing the special effects, we improved it (Jobert’s energy). We also placed effects on scenes that didn’t have any before (Frogee’s Heads Up Display (HUD)).

  • The energy for the Cyber Warriors also needed to be consistent so we applied the same effects to all of them.

  • Tany’s staff/sticks are now more like a lightsaber than before. With energy moving around the object.

  • Krystel’s wings are now more Cybernetic looking, although we are thinking of enhancing this more in the series.

  • Texture has been added to light flashes from weapons and energy.

Enhanced Backgrounds

  • Most of the backgrounds were created larger than HD, so we just had to enhance some of them. We enhanced them by adding blurs, color correction, and some atmospheric effects.

  • The Nebulas and Space Backgrounds were redone from scratch, we had to look for Royalty Free Nebulas in high resolution before we could add animating stars and give them volume.

 

  • 3D Models were also used to improve backgrounds (Zem in Power Plant Door), we plan to use 3D models for other backgrounds in the series to create depth and to minimize redoing everything in 2D.

Improved Character Design, Animation and Poses

  • Most comments we had for Moleth are “Why does he look like a tongue?” and the worst comment was “He looks like a phallic organ.” So we did a minimal redesign so it wouldn’t be too hard to fix. We changed the head to have only one hump and raised hi facial features so that he looks like he has a body, instead of a head with arms and legs.

  • We also improved the poses to be more dynamic and more appealing.

  • Some animations were also improved, both in modeling and in action.

  • We improved the designs for Frogee’s Mother Ship and the Tadpole Ship, making the designs close to those used in the game. The artist here suggested giving the two ships’ names, similar to the Millennium Falcon of Hans Solo (Star Wars) and the Star-Lord’s Milano (Guardians of the Galaxy). Names suggested were O.C.A.C. or Cybercraft Operations Conducive for Alien Contact and B.O.T.E.T.E. or Bio-Oceanic and Terran Exploration Tactical Envoy.

 

Additional Scenes

  • We added new scenes from Episode 7 especially the actions scenes of Jobert with the Tahug Ziga Core. The actions in Episode 7 have greatly improved compared to the old version. We plan to do this in all of the episodes.

  • We also redid the Title, to match the title of the game.

Story Enhancements

  • Some changes were made more for story enhancements also to make plot points clearer.
  • We reduced the Crop Circles in space to those of Jobert, Jess and Tany, so it won’t confuse them on what those images are. When the audience sees these symbols again at the Character introductions, it becomes clear who those symbols belong too.

  • While the camera zooms in to a Crop Circle on Earth we added a Nazca Line of a frog while the crop circle is revealed to be an eye. Interconnecting the plot points of the Nazca Lines and the Crop Circles that we can use in later stories. We also made it an “easter egg”, to make it a surprise to audiences who notices it.

 

Crop Circle Warriors Power Up

 

Text and Images by Alstaire A. Sarthou





Asia-EU Cartoon Connection 2019 Meeting

17 06 2019

Last March 5, 2019. Top Peg Animation & Creative Studio Inc. was invited by the Korea Trade Center Manila (KOTRA) to the ASIA-EU CARTOON CONNECTION 2019, which will be held on May 30-31, 2019 at InterContinetal Hotel, Seoul, South Korea.

The event will be attended by professionals and industry experts and leaders in the animation/cartoon industry. It was a meeting with potential partners in the industry from around the world. There would be one-on-one business meetings, project pitchings, animation conference, and capital consultation. KOTRA Manila also offered 100% accommodation expenses (subsidy) to interested companies.

Top Peg was interested, but the finances of the company were a bit low, and we knew that airfare to Korea is a bit high, so we declined at first.

Then on March 11, 2019, Ms. Ingrid M. Javalera of the Department of Tourism and Industry (DTI) forwarded the invitation to the Animation Council of the Philippines (ACPI) and they mentioned that both airfare and hotel accommodations would be free but limited to one per company.

Top Peg decided to send Luis B. Dimaranan, to the event. Luis decided to invite his son, Baron A. Dimaranan, who has a partner/startup company Fallacious Owl that does Software Development. Luis thought it would be good training for Baron to speak with contemporaries and to see what are the trends in the industry today.

They left Manila on the evening of May 28, 2019. Baron, who had an earlier flight, was supposed to arrive in Incheon airport at 12:00 midnight and Luis at 4:00 AM the next day. Due to a flight delay, Baron arrived at 2 AM and he just needed to wait for 2 hours for Luis. Other delegates took a cab to their airport, but since the bus transfer from the airport to the hotel was free, Luis and Baron waited until 8 AM.

Unfortunately, they missed the courtesy call at the Philippine Embassy, which the other delegates were able to attend. Luis and Baron arrived at their hotel -the InterContinental Seoul COEX, which is located at Gangnam-gu, Seoul.

Philippine Embassy Courtesy Call

An orientation for the delegates was held in the afternoon, which Luis and Baron were able to attend. According to Baron, almost all the companies that attended were basically the same as ours: service providers, except for France which provides funding to eventual partners, and Thailand that was looking to outsource their project.

The program schedule was also announced, in the morning of May 30, would be the pitching of companies, and on the afternoon would be the Business Meetings, that Luis pre-picked before arriving in Korea. On the last day, it will all be business meetings.

Each company was introduced on stage and Luis also introduced Baron. It was the first conference for Baron and he said that it was nerve-wracking and exciting. He was also excited to see the AR/VR (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality)  pitch.

 

Orientation

Philippine Delegates

May 30, 2019

This was the official opening of the event it also coincided with the Korea Service Market 2019, which had an exhibit at the same venue (InterContinental Seoul COEX).

There was a booth for AR/VR (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality) and Unity.

Then the pitching started. There were a number of companies that pitched, but Baron only listed those who he thinks were relevant to our needs.

Luis and Baron in the foreground

Nick Hall presenting

CBeebies Animation & Acquisitions (UK)

The first speaker was Nick Hall, Senior Programme Executive of CBeebies Animation & Acquisitions, BBC, UK. CBeebies is basically the Children’s broadcast media of BBC. He was in charge of BBC Children’s series such as Hey Dugge and Sarah & Duck.

They had their own IPs, and they also commission work. What interested Baron here was that they were looking for content, and since we had content in The Crop Circle Warriors, Baron listened to what were their needs.

They listed criteria on their needs. Since most of their IPs were for small children, they were looking to target content for TEENS. They also said that the IP did not have to be finished already, even 25% completion would be good for them. In fact, they would like to share ideas to further enhance an IP. They were also looking for IP with a female lead, as well as IPs with Loud, Funny Action.

Studio Canal (France)

For Studio Canal, they were looking for Talent based IP, which Baron was confused at. Basically, they were looking for something unique, “Artsy”, high-tier animation with cultural relevance to France. They also touched on cultural relevance, because each region in France had a different thematic.

Danish Animation

There was a speaker for who basically promoted their school.

Big Void and other companies (China)

Baron felt that the speakers from China were really not interested in services or selling, and they were just boasting on the IPs and technology that they had.

They said they had Big Demand in China but had small services.

When making cartoons for China, it needs to appeal to the Government, and it should be based on the Cultural Heritage of the country.

One speaker said that China was a great opportunity but they lack content. They had IP that won the Golden Dragon Awards which is the highest award for cartoon characters in their country.

Another speaker gave a history of comics in China.

Indonesia

The speaker was Faza Meonk, creator and author of the webcomic SI-JUKI.

He is one of the “biggest” guys in the country, because of the popular webcomic. He owns the IP and he started this comic as 4-panel comics until it evolved into a full comic book.  It is a comedy about everyday life. There is merchandising and there are plans for an animated series and movie.

He talked about the history of comics and animation in Indonesia. He said that the market basically wants content FREE. They have a platform (app) for comics called CIAYO Comics where you can download and read their content. The game industry is booming as well, but they are only a few games that do localization for Indonesia. Their goal is to collaborate with other countries.

Studio Animal

They have IP that they want to reboot, basically, their IP was made back in 2003, and they felt that the story and plot are outdated. They are also looking for funding for this reboot.

Popcorn Pictures

They are a service provider for animation, film, tv and internet productions.

2Spot Studio

The makers of Bloody Bunny, a popular character with 50,000 likes on Facebook.  I remember this character, they won the Grand Prize for the Asean Character Awards 2014 during the Tokyo Game Show.

Gold Frame Animation Inc.

They are the creator of Nana Family, a series about a genius child with EI (Emotional Intelligence). It is about mishaps and learning from mistakes. They are looking for funding but they have all the designs for merchandise and animation locked in. Baron was surprised by this, which I was also surprised when I encountered these in Hong Kong Filmart. Basically, they create a project plan for a character for every media they can think of, then sell it to potential producers.

D&C Media

The last speaker was from a famous comic book company from Korea, which Baron was a big fan of. I did not know that the comic industry in Korea was big, in fact, they had their own term like Manga from Japan. They call them MANWHA, which is based on the Chinese word manhua, meaning comics.

They are a Web Toons Company and are publishing only in Korea. They have many platforms (apps) in Korea that distribute their comics. They introduced their comic “Only One Level UP” or more popularly known as “Solo Levelling”, which is about the weakest warriors/swordsman in a society of monster hunters, but suddenly gains the ability to see his abilities numerically. He basically sees a chart of his abilities and their percentages, so he knows what he needs to improve on. This basically helps him improve or “level up” until he becomes a great swordsman.

After this was a Q&A session where the audience can ask questions.

Baron is a big fan of D&C Media and he was excited to see them. He asked a question and he said he was a real fan of the comic.

May 30-31, 2019 – Business Matching

Luis was able to schedule business matching with the following companies. And to Baron’s surprise, D7C Media was one of them, but they then learned that their meeting was canceled because of the number of people who scheduled with them. Luckily their interpreter, seeing Baron was a big fan, convinced them to reconsider. And they did.

D&C Media

Baron again was excited to talk to them. They had a question though since Baron told them that he was able to read their comics in English. They said that their comics weren’t available in English. This is where Baron realized he was reading illegal copies of their work that was translated.  He apologized and said he did not know that they were illegal, and he said that there are apps that translate comics and make them available in other countries. He said that in the Philippines, there is a huge fan base for Manwha but there is no portal on where they could get it. Since Baron had a startup company for Software development, he suggested that their company can set up a portal for them. Which sparked their interest. They were also interested in having their comics made into an animation, which Baron said that Top Peg is interested in.

ToryWorks

Another webcomic company that has 100+ IPS (comparing it to D&C Media that has thousands), so it’s a smaller company. They are looking for content and they basically want to market it in Korea. They also want to launch a portal that Baron also suggested to them. They can be a possible platform for the UCCW comic in Korea.

Art Licensing

A company that buys IP.

Ani-J Productions

They have an IP about animals, which Season 1 is already finished. The title is “The Earth Human and Animals”, 5 mins each which can be lengthened to 11 mins if needed. They are looking co-production since their budget is not that high. They are willing to give the licensing rights for a fair amount. They are looking for 104 episodes. The animation is basically very limited and based on their website, they have their characters planned to different merchandise.

Electural

They are looking for animation service providers for their Pilot. They do IP selling, which I mentioned back, which they pre-sell character designs. They have pilot episode done to help them sell their IP.

Cheeks Media

They do IP Acquisition.

B2B with Audacity Studio from Bacolod City

B2B – BPhilippines Booths

Blissful Fun Animation Inc.

B2B –Top Peg Animation & Creative Studio Inc.

B2B – Rene Misa of the Animation Council of the Philippines

B2B- Toast & Brew Animation

All the Attendees

Philippine Delegates

Philippine Delegates

Article by: Alstaire Sarthou (Interview with Mr. Baron Dimaranan)

Photos by: Courtesy of Mr. Rene B. Misa and DTI – Export Marketing Bureau.

 





Unreal Engine Masterclass 2018

17 12 2018

     Last December 10, 2018, I was one of the attendees who attended the free Masterclass for Unreal Engine (the software we use for our ‘Crop Circle Warriors’ mobile game) at the College of St. Benilde. The said class was from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The master class was held by Chris Murphy, an evangelist for Epic Games and founder of Pub Games with over 10 years of experience with Unreal Engine.

  • Introductory Lessons on Unreal Engine

Project setup

Controller setup

Importing assets

Building materials

Creating character classes

Creating AI

Navigation

Blending animation

Spawning enemies

Maintaining game state and configuring in-game UI

Design principles

Blueprint debugging and performance optimization techniques.

All these techniques were used in our mobile game already.

  • Advanced Technical Art

Landscapes

Procedural foliage

Procedural spline tools

Particle effects

GPU particle effects

Material tesselation

material masking

world position effects

Screen space particle effects

Volumetric fog

     The introductory lessons covered all the basics that are needed to create a simple 3D character that moves and followed by enemies in a small level. He taught us how to import animation assets, blending separate animations to create a new animation, create a basic state machine which dictates what animation will play depending on what button is pressed e.g. move forward, move backward, jump etc. All these techniques were used in our game already.

      After the basics, we moved to the advanced part of the class which is technical art that covers shaders, visual effects, level creation tools like the use of spline to procedurally generate landscape paths and procedurally generate foliage. He also taught us the landscape tools and how to sculpt hills and cliffs.

The discussion on Landscapes, Procedural foilage (creating 3D plants easily), world position offset effects (how to manipulate objects in the overall landscape), volumetric fog (realistic fog that adapts to lights), were new to me and this knowledge can help us make our games much better. I will apply the new techniques I learned to the Crop Circle Warriors mobile game.

Unfortunately, I was not able to ask the questions I needed to ask due to the many participants in the auditorium who also had questions and took pictures with Mr. Murphy. Due to the same reason, I was not able to show the sample of our mobile to discuss the problems that I cannot solve by myself.  They said they will be scheduling another Unreal Master Class soon, so maybe we will have another opportunity to show our game.

Words by: Jap Tolentino

Pictures from IGMA