The Whimsical Dream of an Uninspired Mangaka (… and Flash Catalyst rant)

WHEW! Finally done!

It was a long journey with many many sleepless nights but I’m glad to say it’s done!

“The Whimsical Dream of an Uninspired Mangaka” is the name of the interactive stop motion animation that I did as part of a team of 4.
(I would love to upload it, but it’s weighing in at 70+mb :/)

Some personal reflections on the process.

Flash Catalyst is good… in theory. Horrible in execution.

It’s a pretty cool idea to have a tool that lets designers create apps without code-diving. But it is terribly flaw in execution. Here’s my take why.

1. Lack of interaction options.
Just because designers don’t like code, it doesn’t mean you do away with ESSENTIAL foundations of interactive design. Like conditions.

In programming there are critical building blocks for all software. They are the “If” and “else” statements. These allow programs to act on specified conditions. Flash Catalyst has no such functionality. If I had a picture that I want to pop out ONLY if the user has previously filled in his email for example, nope Flash Catalyst cannot do that.

2. Lack of Colour Accuracy.
Really Adobe? With all YOUR emphasis on colour accuracy in everything from Photoshop, to Illustrator, to Indesign – why no colour profile support in Flash catalyst. What’s nicely edited in photoshop looks like crap in Flash Catalyst. This forced me to change the colour profile of my entire Creative Suite of Software to fit Flash Catalyst JUST for this project. Well done. For a company that totes integration in a software SUITE, this is a BIG letdown.

3. Audio
I really don’t understand what the FC designers where thinking when they restricted audio to ONLY play during transitions between states. Implication: no Background music. No worries, we rather cleverly, I must mention, hacked it to play audio anyway.

I realise I could go on, but this post isn’t supposed to be about Flash Catalyst…

The solution was to embed audio in a video file that was looping, and hidden behind all other objects. You know there’s something really wrong with your software if your users are resorting to this sort of ‘hacks’.

Stopmotion is about detail

Admittedly this is my first really completely stop motion attempt. I have dabbled in it before but this is the first time I really worked on it as a core design concept.

You have to be really attentive to detail. Little things like positions and even lighting play a HUGE part. Example: while shooting, Jeremy need to make some cuts to one of the paper props. He reaches INTO the scene and takes the scissors from the pencil holder. That little shift in the pens easily caused us about a couple hours of editing work, to photoshop the unmoved pens and scissors back into EVERY FRAME.

Cinemagraphs

I said before I love cinema graphs. When we included a cinema graph into the main scene, it really made the scene come alive. Take a look 🙂

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