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

 




Game Seminar at the College of St. Benilde

15 01 2018


      We were invited by Ms. Gwendelyn Abacano Foster last week to a seminar at the College of St. Benilde (CSB), featuring Mr. Ian Garner. Ian Garner works with Another Indie, an independent game publisher from China, that has published multiple critically acclaimed and commercially successful games such as Lost Castle. This was another opportunity for us to learn, especially publishing our game to China, which we don’t have any idea on how to go about it.

Mr. Ian Garner

     We also have a new contributor to the game – Faith Dimaranan. She’s a game development student at the Asia Pacific College. We really need someone, aside from Jap, with game knowledge and game logic to help us in other aspects of our mobile game. She is helping us in fixing the localization, achievements and optimizing the game.

   Ms. Faith Dimaranan

     Jap and Faith joined me at the seminar. We had trouble finding a parking space so we were a bit late when we got to the seminar. There were a few attendees, maybe about 20-30 people. Some were students and some developers. The topic was familiar, like finding a hook (selling point) of your game, and how to email publishers about your game. He also mentioned that developers should always attend events like ESGS and Gamecon because these are the places to get good feedback than having feedback from game testers. It is better to showcase your game to gamers and developers, because they have a better game sense, meaning they know what to look for in a game. He said that Google is not accessible to China, so we really need to have a local publisher in China to have our game published. We can email publishers directly and if our game catches their attention, they will publish it.

     After the seminar, it was a good opportunity for us to show our game to Mr. Garner as well as to the other developers to get feedback. Unfortunately, a lot of people were having photo ops and were pitching their ideas as well. So we showed our games to 2 other people. Ian Christian Sevilla, who is a game developer, programmer and College Instructor at CSB. He also gave feedback last 2016 at ESGS. When he saw it he said it improved a lot, but he commented on the User Experience once again. He gave some feedback on fixing visuals for a better experience for the user. While playing, he commented that we fix the balance of the game. I thought he was referring to the balance of the playability of the characters. He meant the balance of the progression of the game. He said that the game should have a slow progression, we should teach the player what buttons to press first before making him fight monsters at once.

Mr. Ian Christian Sevilla (with backpack)

     He gave us a link to how the Megaman game made players experience each ability at the start of the game.

     Actually, it made sense, because he really had a hard time figuring the controls when he was playing the game. Faith and Jap immediately had ideas on how to fix this.

     Kevin Brian Valmonte, a game developer, programmer and college instructor at CSB also tested our game. He said that the game looked good, and only needed to be polished. Instead of pressing a button to continue from a tutorial, why not just tap the screen to continue. He also said to fix the loading screen, there was a lot of dead space and we should remove the delay between screens. He also commented on the art, but that was just his preference and it wasn’t really that important.

     We had good feedback here and Faith has volunteered on fixing the tutorial integration in the game. She is also optimizing the localization so it will be easier to add more languages later.

     It is good that she has game programming knowledge and she figured out what part of the game needs to be fixed. We are now applying improvements from the feedback we gathered and Faith has committed to helping us optimize and polish the game.

Article and Pictures by Alstaire A. Sarthou