Fundamentals of backup

When starting to work as a group, it’s essential to share files. There are many ways to do it, like using a shared space, or using a cloud solution and grabbing what you need to work. Whichever you choose, you will need to have backups of everything, and this article focuses on the importance of backup. This applies to individuals too, of course.

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Fundamentals of backup

Execute Python Script from Photoshop

In this post we explore two ways to run a python script from Photoshop providing arguments (like the Photoshop file name). Those simple scripts helped us create complex behaviours to process results of Photoshop scripts for the Set department of the feature film Dilili in Paris or in our recent project for the Lodève Museum. The background artists could work in Photoshop and start those procedures without exciting software. Using such scripts to push previews to the production manager software, moving files, starting a blender playblast to get a preview of the updated scene, etc. Saving a lot of time.

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Execute Python Script from Photoshop

Play: the Journey of a Simple Command Line

When dealing with shots, it’s important to get a continuity check. It means the ability to see those shots together to preview them as a sequence.
It can happen at any time during the whole process, from the layout (to check if a shot’s framing and timing are working well within the sequence) or during the animation (to check if the motion continuity and rhythm work), to the compositing (to check if the colours or effects match between shots).

We could use our favourite video editing software (from Blender VSE to Premiere, Avid, etc.), or dedicated software like DaVinci Resolve or the expensive Nuke Studio. But you might not have a license or you might want something lighter than opening such a big app, looking for the project and loading it. For that, big studios often have their own sequence player or rely on an extensive use of Tweak’s RV, an expensive but powerful video player. Let’s see what we can do with free software.

This article is not technical, it’s about the process to find a solution.

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Play: the Journey of a Simple Command Line

Opening the Museum of Lodève

In january 2017 we started working on the ambitious reopening of the Musée de Lodève, Lodève’s museum, a small town in the south of France. The project was already years in the making, and we jumped onboard to create more than an hour of movies for the three main themes: Geology (540 millions years of life and tectonics), Archaeology and Beaux-Arts (fine arts). In the near future we will be releasing some tools and making of made for that production. In the meantime, allow us to introduce the project and the grand opening which took place early July. Nothing technical for now, but the production background of that project which took us so much energy.

This article is available in French on the studio’s website / Cet article est disponible en français sur le site web du studio.

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Opening the Museum of Lodève

2018, An Exciting Year for Free Software

Dear Visitor, the Technical Department wish you a happy new year!

And this incoming year is a very exciting for a lot of reasons!
Let’s start in terms of projects for us. Next October will be released the feature film Dilili in Paris for which we worked hard for the past two years. Hopefully you will see it in festivals before then. And you’ll have more articles about that production soon.
This summer will be seen the opening of a very nice archeology and geology museum. The museum is located in Lodève, next to Montpellier in France. We are currently creating more than 45 minutes of animation, interactive programs, and multiple 3D reconstructions for the museum. It’s improving a lot our tools, methods and pipeline and we will share more on that too, later this year.
And we have other nice projects. So we are very busy, but we have a lot of things to share along those works, so stay tuned.

But it’s not only about us, it’s about huge releases in free software too!

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2018, An Exciting Year for Free Software

lucidity: a naming convention template tool

In a previous article we shared our way of organizing the files. In this one, we’ll introduce you to the use of a simple python library called Lucidity, very useful to start handling your project naming conventions. The aim is to quickly check if your file paths are correct, or build paths from a set of variables, without coding your own parser.

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lucidity: a naming convention template tool

Cut It out: our talk at the #bcon17

We attended the 15th Blender Conference and it was a blast! Every year we gather so much energy and ideas during those 4 days. Kudos to the organizers for this hard work. And this year we were invited to present part of our work on the feature film Dilili in Paris.

Damien took 20 minutes to present the solutions we had to develop to handle this 90 minutes feature film. And more particularly, the creation of the 500 characters needed to populate the early 19th century Paris. Those characters were built using an old cut-out technique, like flat paper puppets but in a digital process. For more explanations, we’ll let you watch the talk, for which we were kindly authorized to show the very first shots of the movie, which is yet to be released in October 2018.

We will go back more in detail on the processes and other solutions we deployed in upcoming posts. Stay tuned!

Cut It out: our talk at the #bcon17

An introduction to organizing project files

We thought me might share thoughts around our file organization. Of course there are plenty of ways of organizing your work, and this is one of them. But it’s simple and complete enough to fit many animation projects. Before describing it we will start with generic tips and thoughts.

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An introduction to organizing project files

Cameraplane: a tool for 2D sets


For one of our projects we had to handle 1300 shots, using 600+ different 2D backgrounds. Those sets were composed from one to more than 100 layers (underlays —e.g. buildings—, overlays—trees in front of the characters—, skies,…), annoying to handle and set properly in Blender. So we created a small add-on called cameraplane.

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Cameraplane: a tool for 2D sets

Making Blender tools outside of Blender (part 1)

Two years ago, when I started working with Blender coming from Maya, I was very frustrated by Blender’s GUI limitations for TDs. The options for creating tools looked too limiting, and still are as far as I’m concerned.

Don’t get me wrong, there are great designed features for TDs. Creating an operator is easy and then you can use it everywhere you need, the API is strong and I like it. My complaint is more about windows and widgets. And I had to find solutions.

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Making Blender tools outside of Blender (part 1)

Opening the kitchen

La Cuisine is the blog of the technical department of the French studio Les Fées Spéciales. Established in 2015, based in Montpellier (in the south of France), the studio creates animated images, CG and digital 2D animation for feature films, shorts, museums or other companies. The studio relies on two main aspects: social innovation, through the use of a cooperative structure, and technical innovation, using and participating on free software solutions as much as we can. You can find more on the french website and blog of the company : www.les-fees-speciales.coop.

Willing not only to be free-software enjoyers, we have decided to talk about it, share our tools (as imperfect but as useful as they may be), and explain experiences and methods. This is why we have created this blog, La Cuisine. It stands for “The Kitchen” in French, a place where the process of creation is mixed with a lot of technical skills, looking for new recipes.

This blog reflects some of the works of the company but also our opinions and struggles. We share a certain way of doing things: our way. It might not be perfect, it might even be wrong sometimes. But we share it because we haven’t found a better solution, so it might be helpful for others, and because we learn by sharing.
Of course articles are open to discussion: react to our posts, be free to say what you feel or think. Is there a better way to do something? Tell us, we’d love to hear from you and learn best practices.

Today the technical department is composed of:

  • Flavio Perez, co-founder and co-owner of the company, technical supervisor.
  • Damien Picard, co-owner of the studio, he is doing a PhD thesis on free software pipelines, within the company.
  • Duy Kevin Nguyen, also co-owner of the studio, has a PhD in physics. A long time Blender and real-time enthusiast, he joined the team at the end of 2016.

We will introduce ourselves later, but we do not consider ourselves developers or computer engineers. We are graphic designers who love coding and we are curious about almost everything. We love experimenting stuff; playing with whatever material we have. And it is not limited to the company projects or field of expertise, either. We’ll try to share that too.

Expect to find in this blog technical making-ofs and postmortems of some projects, code and tool explanations, thoughts and research about how we work, conferences notes, and hopefully many more things. If you have any questions, feedbacks or comments you can also contact us by email : la-cuisine [at] les-fees-speciales [dot] coop

Opening the kitchen