Author page: Flavio Perez

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…

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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…