Reallusion TV

Featured Studio - Tarampa Studios

Anita Bell

Bleetie is my main company name, and my nickname since I was a little kid, due to the flock of sheep my parents had.

Nowadays I have my own flock of sheep, which also helps to explain one of the reasons that my logo for Tarampa Studios is a golden fleeced ram .

Fledgling Feature Films & Toon Wrangling

Q: Hello Anita, thank you for being a part of the Reallusion Feature Stories. Please introduce yourself, your background, and Tarampa Studios.

Hey, gang. Thanks for inviting me. Animation has been a life-long dream, ever since I looked up from my baby bottle and saw Bugs Bunny on TV. But the nearest animation school was more than a 2 hour flight away - until Reallusion and the Uni of YouTube made everything possible at home, and at a price tag less than fueling my car for a month.

Writing is something else I could do while living out on a farm, so I started over a decade ago as an author. I've won a couple of Hemming Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy novels, and a few other awards for Mystery/Thrillers, so I do love animations in those genres, but Tarampa Studios came about when I had an opportunity to have one of my most popular comedies adapted to the big screen (and lose all control), or pull together over 80 cast & crew from our local talent and do it myself...

Meanwhile, Reallusion made it possible to edit all the animated characters with live actors on a budget that makes it cheaper than feeding a cast and crew on set. So the choice was a no-brainer.

Q: Tarampa Studios uses several Reallusion applications. What is your opinion about Reallusion tools, and why do you choose to use them?

Ha, yes! I've got everything from Popvideo2, CrazyTalk Animator 2, to iClone 6 and Character Creator 2.0, including CrazyTalk 8 and CrazyTalk Animator Pro.

Bizarre but amazing; I still use the old iClone 5 Pro to teach animation to local kids - because I can get 10 to 12 year olds up and animating within a day. And within 3 days they can have their first 5 mini animations ready for upload to YouTube. I don't know any other software suite that can take complete novices (some of whom can't even stay inside the lines with crayons in a colouring book) and propel them that far that fast - and all while having raving fun in the process!

Q: Your studio has created a lot of interesting projects like the "Lost Cow in Space", "The New Didgeridoo", and "Barn Yarns" at Scotty's Garage. How long does it take you to make a project like this? Do you have any external help, and any advice for other animators?

Average production times are a week per minute of animation, and that includes everything from character and prop modeling, to sound recording and editing.

For Barn Yarns & New Didgeridoo, it also included travelling time, filming and photographing background images on location - although if anything is beyond a 6 hour drive, I'll use Google-earth street-imaging or find a Facebook friend who lives in the area. (which is helpful for scenes overseas.) One of my favorite styles is blending real background images with toon assets - blurring the lines between reality and surreality. Normally, that creates a lot of ugly foot-sliding on the technical side, but I've finally nailed all the tricks for solving it in iClone.

Weird but true; It was actually quite comical recording the sound for my Toonshader Tutorial, because I've never needed a desk microphone in the office, (and for the feature film we borrowed professional equipment from the nearest radio station for 3 months). So I had to do it on my phone during the worst weather in living memory, flood-bound during a major record-breaking cyclone (like a hurricane, but cyclones swirl in the opposite direction). So it was a good thing that there was no lightning, or else I would have been fried alive too. Haha!

Even weirder but true; That's also a good example of why my studio logo is a ram - even though rams are legendary for their belligerent stupidity in the face of overwhelming odds against them. Nothing can be more determined than a ram with his eye on a goal - like I am when I'm animating a project. In particular, my logo ram is based on "Bertie the Bleater", who used to stand in the road to our farm and block any of the big cattle trucks from coming in, until the drivers gave in and let him climb up into the passenger seat so he could hang his head out the window, like a dog. Watching him back up, threatening to attack the bullbar of a 22-wheeler was always hilarious. But he was also highly critical of anything new on the farm, which is how our review of your software came to earn 4.5 "bleats" at the end of the Toonshader Tutorial - which is about as high as it gets on the scale of excellence around here.

Q: You have also worked on a very interesting " Elegant Engineering" video where you give away a free iClone character. How did you construct the machinery in this video? And how did you make that iClone character?

Also weird but true; That started out as an exercise in modeling tools for Cinema4D. It took me nearly a fortnight of full-time torturous practice and patience, but for anyone who has already made and survived that particular model, they'll bust a gut laughing at all my mistakes and missing thing-a-ma-jigs (mostly curly hoses, because I didn't get the hang of that deformer until much later.)

Spoiler Alert: I was having so much fun at failure, at the time (some people call it frustration), that I decided to blow it up, which I did in iClone, where I also rebuilt the debris into something much more fun and easy like the little clone-bone dude. His whole scene came together in less than an hour, and was made by simply linking some of the exploded debris to his limbs, and shifting them around the scene (to his body) by key framing on the timeline as he came to life. But for extra efficiency, I animated that one backwards, from where I needed all his parts to be, to where they each began. And the explosions themselves came from Sen's brilliant set of SFX packs in the marketplace. I also used Sen's explosions in the Toonshader Tutorial, because they look truly terrific when toonified.

Motion Tip: If you download my freebie "Mr. Ideas" and find any remnant motions in his limbs when you load him into your own projects, just scroll him to the end of your timeline, highlight all of his components in your content list, right-click and select "remove all motions". Then add him to your custom library, and delete him from your templates

Download Freebie HERE.

Note: if anybody wishes to replicate that specific engineering dude from the video, the instructions are:

Step 1: Load Mr & Mrs into a scene.

Step 2. Select Mrs GR8 Idea

Step 3. Use the material eyedropper to select the colour from her upper arms or legs.

Step 4. Use the Paint Bucket to drop the colour onto all of Mr Big Idea's components.

Step 5. Switch Opacity for his Feet, Hands (and any other solid bits you want) up to 100%.

Q:Recently Tarampa Studios has been working with the new Character Creator 2.0, where you created a tutorial on making an Archer-style animation. Could you talk about the advantages of using Character Creator and iClone?

Crikey, where do I start? As tools for newbies to start making money sooner, there's nothing better.

The whole Toonshader Tutorial is packed full of tips and insights. I know and appreciate that most iCloners are striving towards game-style realism, and Reallusion is certainly taking great strides in catering to their directions. But when you consider how much easier it can be for amateur motions to look convincing with a toonshader thrown over them and how many indie studios have made it big with a 2.5D style series with everything from Archer to Anime, I think it's terrific that Reallusion is still developing their workflows between CTA3, CT8 and iClone...

If you think about it, Southpark is a stroke of brilliance, because they don't even bother with a proper walk cycle in their (mostly) 2D series. They just bounce everywhere, and viewers lap it up without a blink. At the same time, Archer and Anime episodes get away with a lot of standing around and nodding. They don't bother with accurate visemes, which are virtually automatic in iClone. So I think there's a huge lesson there for anyone who spends hours laboring over realistic motions for any non-realistic characters. For realistic characters, sure, your motions need to be seamless. But it's also easy to forget that "Story" rules everything. If your story is great, the market can be extremely forgiving on technicalities, so long as you're not blatantly lazy (e.g. omitting the really easy stuff, like 1-click G5 facial expressions, monotonous camera angles, or the sin of leaving feet in view when you've got un-solvable foot-sliding). Keep the camera moving,

Have you noticed?: It also seems that for anything realistic, viewers have an automatically critical mindset. For computer game-style, every kid, geek, and critic is an expert. But as soon as a toon walks on screen, they seem to click straight to "entertainment mode" and become receptive to almost any idea you can throw at them. So for any indie iCloners with a good story to tell, I believe that the Toonshader features can make it much easier and faster to sell our work. Especially to the biggest market of all (childrens' & teen), where any sci-fi or fantasy with blood, explosions, and cutting edge humor are often devoured with ravenous hunger.

Oh, and have you ever heard of "book trailers"? Wow, there's so many publishers and authors seeking animators to promote scenes from their latest releases that a competent iCloner can make a living in no time. There's an even bigger market for book cover artists, greeting card artists, magazine spreads, advertising... wow, the tangential potential for income from still-shots is endless. So even if you haven't got the hang of motions yet, iClone can still help you build a resume swiftly by selling still-shots of scenes with or without characters. For more about that side of things, see my old forum post, where I'll share more commercial opportunities, if anyone is interested;

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