3D Triangulation of a Grease Pencil drawing

We, at Les Fées Spéciales, love the Blender Grease Pencil. Not only it allows you to draw and animate in 2D, but it also allows you to do it in 3D directly in the Blender scene.
Why not use it to sketch 3D surfaces, then ? With a few strokes, we would be able to populate a 3D animation with FX elements, for example. In this scope, we implemented an algorithm to triangulate grease pencil strokes.

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This article exists in French / Cet article existe en français.

The Siren: making of an international feature film

During 2020 and 2021 (during covid lockdowns), we created a maintained the whole pipeline for the feature film The Siren (by Sepideh Farsi). 8 studios where involved, and Blender was a the core of the pipeline. In this talk, made during the last Blender Conference 2022, you can discover the pipeline and workflow, the huge pile of free and open source technologies used to make this 1800+ shots movie.

Grease Pencil at the Blender Conference

This year, Grease Pencil, the blender module to make 2D animations, was part of many talks at the 2022 Blender Conference. From shorts to feature films, the Grease Pencil is trending. In this article we’ll share some notes on this topic and on the promising future of Grease Pencil.

Before going through the conference, here is the Grease Pencil demo reel 2022, as edited by Daniel Martinez Lara and now part of the Blender official youtube Channel

The Bender Grease Pencil official demo 2022
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Checking a sundial’s accuracy in Blender

Lately I’ve been involved in updating and maintaining some official add-ons in Blender. One of them is Sun Position, by Michael Martin. This add-on is extremely useful for architects, and more generally anyone interested in getting fairly accurate Sun lighting for a specific time and place on Earth. In this article I’ll show how I could use it to simulate a sundial in Blender and check that it gave the correct time.

Truths

This year we produced a 2-minute pilot episode using Blender 2.8 and the Grease Pencil. It’s our company Les Fées Spéciales’ first production in its own name, and we presented it last september in the biggest European pitching platform, the Cartoon Forum. In this article we cover where this project comes from and why we are doing it; how we switched to the Grease Pencil to handle the production process and what the future of the project is. We are thrilled to be able to talk about it.

Note that for a change, it’s not really a technical article, but more of a production making-of of that pilot.

Welcome

Welcome to the blog of the technical department of Les Fées Spéciales, a French animation studio.
We decided to create this blog to share technical thoughts and tools. Feel free to ask us if you want to know something specific about how we work, or if you are interested in writing and sharing how you work within your company contact us at la-cuisine [at] les-fees-speciales [dot] coop. Guest articles are welcome here!

We also invite you to visit the RESOURCES page, list of meaningful content covering our area of topics.

Our stack

The stack of solutions used within a studio is an important part of the technological ecosystem of a company. That stack is a living thing, changing quite a lot. Some solutions were only used within a project and are now discarded. Others are still used despite being old versions. And it might be hard to make an accurate and full description.
Yet, we can describe broadly what’s currently used at Les Fées Spéciales. As you will see, it’s mostly free and open source software, but not exclusively. And nothing too fancy! Operating systems, communication, DCCs, web stuff and programming solutions: here goes the list as of 2019!

From OSM to Blender

In our article on the making of Antarctica, we used Open Street Map (OSM) to obtain the coordinates of points with which we can create a closed line, representing the coast boundaries of the Antarctic continent. In this article, we will explain how we send a request to the Overpass turbo server to get filtered data, then we show how we have manipulated the data in Blender to get a Antarctic Polar Stereographic projection (in the WGS84 coordinate system).

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.

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.

Trace and Inverse Trace Stratigraphic Book

This article is part of a series on the making of the museum of Lodève.
For Lodève’s museum, we worked on many different aspects, short animation movies, cartographic video projections and 3D scans of fossils such as spoors or bones. For the latter, one topic of particular interest was the recreation of a 3D book of stratigraphic layers, such that you can turn and see the trace on the front, and the inverse trace on the back of each page.

In this article, we will explain how we have reproduced the double page for the fossil rain. The book is only meant to be educational, so we were allowed to recreate a surface with rain drop craters which were too small to be scanned with our equipment.

Recent dried traces of rain drops. Photo: S. Fouché ©Musée de Lodeve

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.

Cartoon fire effect

This article is part of a series on the making of the museum of Lodève. In the movies, there were scenes taking place in caves or at dusk. So we had to create a fire effect, with a cartoon render to suit the art direction, and that could have a torch-like movement.

We have tested many techniques in Blender or Fusion:
– mesh displacement,
– 2D texture with UV distorsions,
– particules with metaballs
– mask particules
– alpha additive particules

This exploration allowed us to find the most efficient ways of making fire according to the case, knowing that Blender was our main tool from layout to lighting, except for the compositing where Fusion was used.