Making Movies, Making Art, and Fightin' Round the World
Hey, did you know that using copyrighted material in promotional videos is generally a bad idea? Someone clued me in on this a while ago, so I had this great idea: let's not use stuff that isn't ours so we don't get sued. Pretty good, huh? Revolutionary things are happening over here in the Harmonia team.
Basically, I've been ready to make a good promotional video for a few days now, but it occurred to me that we still didn't have any character sprites of our own. The one used in most videos is Max from Shining Force 1, which is probably not fair use material. Thus, after a crash-course in amateur pixel art, Harmonia Guy was born:
Nothing ground-breaking by any means, but I'm proud of my first-time-ever human pixel art. The first incarnation had a much taller body - roughly 50% taller than it is now, excluding the head - and shrinking the body down gave him a lot more character and personality. Apparently, bigger heads = bigger fun.
This sprite was drawn pixel-by-pixel at 10x zoom level, but I've recently discovered that you can actually get better results by drawing the same thing more lazily at larger sizes, then scaling it down. He's a larger version of Harmonia Guy (128x128) and two other versions scaled down from that (64x64 and 32x32):
Now, this one was drawn really quickly and, to be honest, it looks pretty awful. However, compare the scaled-down version of this to the original pixel art on the left:
If you ask me, the one on the right looks much better, especially considering how much less time went into making it. The next step is to experiment around with 6-frame walking animations, 45 degree angles, and adding fancy clothes and armor.
Good Times with a Bad Camera
Video production is going well - it's processing as we speak! Throughout this process, I've learned a few things: 1) My camera sucks, 2) my acting sucks, 3) bad lighting sucks, and 4) Linux video editing software sucks. For whatever reason, my camera records at 12.50 fps, but saves the video at 15 fps, meaning there are a lot of redundant duplicate frames. So, I wrote a shell script to get rid of those frames from a set of extracted JPG files:
for i in *.jpg; do if [ $last ]; then if diff $last $i > /dev/null; then mv $last removed/ fi fi last=$i done
Once that was done, the video needed to be rebuilt at the new frame rate and exported to a raw video format:
mplayer mf://*.jpg -nosound -fps 12.125 -vo yuv4mpeg
And finally, insert audio, encode to H264, and bring the video up to 50 fps by interpolating frames. My computer has been grinding away at this for about an hour with an hour left to go:
cat ./stream.yuv | yuvmotionfps -r 50:1 | mencoder - \ -ovc h264 -audiofile ./final_audio.mp3 -oac copy \ -o final_video.mp4
tl;dr - Hire a cheap film maker if you can afford it. None of this process was fun, and I can't wait to get back to making the game again. Maybe tomorrow!