Snowdrift Video - finally

Hello fellow Snowdrifters,

Here is the new and for the time being from my side also last version of the Snowdrift intro video. It now has super smooth 60 fps, much less banding artifacts and a nicer snow animation when the buy sign pops out. The rest is unchanged.

Newest Video:

I ran into quite some problems that makes changes very cumbersome. My new notebook can’t render the blender scene anymore, as it completely messes up the alpha transparencies. And on my old notebook Blender often just closes while rendering this scene. So I always have to start the render again and again and again…

For future improvements and big changes I guess it would make sense to update the scene to the Eevee render engine. Unfortunately Blender2.8 and Eevee is in alpha stage right now, so it is to early to switch. Besides that it only make sense if the used plugins are finally ported to Blender 2.8…

Anyway, if someone of you want’s to play with the scene or change things, feel free to do so. Here is the blender file of the last version:

For editing the scene you first need to install 3 blender addons that have been used for this video: “Sniper” (used for Camera animation), “CutoutAnimationTool”
(used for characters) and “CubeSurfer” (Used for snow animation when sign pops out)
While working on the animations I always use 24 fps because I started it this way and I didn’t want to change all the frames and timing afterwards. For final rendering I just go to the render tab and under “Dimensions -> Time Remapping” I set “new” to 60. (Tipp: Make sure the interpolation mode for keyframes that animate the “frame_index” value of COA (CutoutAnimationTool) Characters are set to “constant”. Otherwise this frame remapping will result in several sprite changes instead of one like in 24 fps.)

In case someone of you wants to just change the audio I have uploaded the image sequence of the last version. So it’s super easy to build the video in best quality from scratch. Just import the image sequence into a video editor like open shot, make the beginning a bit longer, add your audio and render it. I made a quick and easy tutorial on how I did it:

Tutorial:

PNG Image Sequence:

Maybe in the future I can help out convert it to Eevee and make some changes. But for now I think it’s time to use and release it.

Cheers,
Johannes

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Excellent! The smoothness is really noticeable compared to the previous renderings.

Fixed audio alignment

I do notice that the alignment of audio and video as rendered is not quite right from my perspective.

You taught me a new concept in the idea of using a PNG Image Sequence. But I actually got better results from simply loading your rendered video into Kdenlive (though I too sometimes suggest OpenShot as the simplest tool for novices, Kdenlive is more advanced overall and loads FLAC just fine). To extend the end frame (I didn’t need to extend the beginning since your render already had more than needed there), I used the simple frame-extraction feature.

tried PNG rendering anyway, but colors were off

For the heck of it, I tried the other approach with PNG, and the rendered colors didn’t match right. I don’t know why that failed, but using your rendered video maintained colors better.

Formats for publishing?

For now, here’s a medium-quality mp4 rendering. I think it’s fine overall. I tried several renderings otherwise with high audio or higher overall and with VP8, VP9, h265 options… they all seem about the same, and size ranges from about 5MB to about 20MB…

I also am not sure about choosing the options for hosting. Since I can barely tell the difference between high quality and highest quality, I think we can go with smaller files to save bandwidth…

Related to Where / how should we host videos?

I know that some video hosting services (including Archive.org) will render multiple versions automatically. And anyway, if we aren’t paying for bandwidth, it’s less of a worry…

We need to settle on the final hosting location, file-name etc. and then we can promote, use, embed, etc.

Oh, here’s the subtitles file too!

For the future

It will be great in the long-run to have EEVEE working and make everything easier for various people to contribute and tweak, but you’ve done a marvelous job for this first edition. We will get it published and gather feedback from there. This works enough to get people’s interest and gather the core concept of crowdmatching for FLO public goods!

I have a list of concerns and ideals that I hope we can get to after the whole platform launches and succeeds. I won’t say more here, but I’ll mention some in a blog post about the whole video process after we publish this version we have now.

Cool, the medium-quality mp4 you rendered looks really good when it’s not fullscreen. For fullscreen playback I think a bit less compression would be preferable.

Actually all previous versions were rendered in Kdenlive. But for some reason with the newest Kdenlive version importing a png sequence seems to be broken on my system. That’s why I used OpenShot in the tutorial. But it could be any video editor that supports image sequences.

In theory using the image sequence should result in the best possible quality as there is no lossy compression like h264 applied beforehand.
If you use my rendered video which has a h264 codec applied, it will be encoded on export again. So paractically you will lose a bit of quality. But as I exported it with a high bitrate, I think it not a problem at all.

Maybe the color shift is a bug of Kdenlive. I don’t know.

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Huh, I would have assumed Blender itself would be used… I haven’t used its NLE myself, but that’s not preferable for a Blender animation?

I agree if I’m picky, but doubling the file-size isn’t worth the subtle improvement if we host ourselves. To decide what (combination of) rendering to use in the end will depend on where we host the published video.

Hey Johannes,

sorry for my late reply (was bandwidth and reachability restricted for some time) and thanks a lot for the awesome work you did for the entire video, but also the effort you put into handing off all resources and creating detailed documentation. This is much appreciated – Thank you so much!!!

I’m looking forward to finally see it online!

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I second this. Good documentation of work done is awesome!

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@j.wuensch and everyone else: I improved the narration in ways that fit the video so much better. We still need better clarity about Where / how (formats…) should we host videos? but here’s the update hosted at Archive.org for now (see the format/host topic for issues about that though) https://archive.org/details/snowdrift-dot-coop-intro

Cool! Yes, the narration fit the video much better now. But there is one point, that confuses me. I always understand " if enough of us work together, we can FEAR the path to a free and open future" or maybe FEEL but that doesn’t really make sense either…

Hahaha! Although maybe there’s room for making the audio extra clear, I listened again and doubt this will be a common mishearing. At https://archive.org/details/snowdrift-dot-coop-intro you can turn on the captions to verify the exact words!

I absolutely hear FEAR every time I hear it, too.

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I listened to it a bunch more times and I heard both equally. Depending on how much work it would be, it may be worth re-recording that sentence. I’ll leave that evaluation to you, @wolftune.

I adjusted the mix and tweaked the particular audio to address the problem. It’s not a 100% fix, but it’s improved enough to significantly reduce the mishearing. It was driven in part by some percussion sounds that were distracting from the narration.

The update is live now.

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