November 22, 2010

Happy 60 Years Charlie Brown!

That's right, Peanuts celebrated its 60th birthday last month and we mark the occasion with the 50th episode of Brudders, which we're calling, well, 'Peanuts'. (Good grief!)

Read the artist's notes about this strip here and write your own comments and questions.

- Sgt M.

November 9, 2010

More cowbell!

In my previous post I mentioned that there were a few missing cowbell hits at the beginning of Sister's motion capture data. As it turns out this is easily correctable from within iPi DMC. First I enable IK or FK on the rig which allows me to manually make a pose correction. Then I click on Refit Pose, and press Track Forwards and Track Backwards a few frames from the corrected frame. Very simple and elegant, especially with the multiple video references visible in the backdrop to 'rotoscope' the action to. This last point is especially important in this case because the motion has to timed to musical events I can't hear in the iPi DMC playback.

Also, if you run into a bad 'pop' in a joint, try stepping to a frame after the pop, hit Refit Pose a couple of times (and maybe Analyze Actor again followed by Refit Pose one or two times,) and then track backwards right through the pop. Sometimes tracking backwards can be more precise. (Note: you may need to track forward a few frames from the frame after the pop to help smooth the motion forward from that frame.)

For you techies who just can't get enough of this 'geek speak', tracking Toullie's 1922 frame performance shown above took 1 hour and 30 minutes to process. (iPi DMC's initial rough estimate was about 2 hours.) This was with a Nvidia Geforce GTX 260; with a GTX 480, I believe the speed could be two to four times better.

- Greenlaw

November 8, 2010

Take wait...

Shot the new session this morning. It seemed like all went well until I got back to the studio and started tracking the footage. That's when I realized I forgot to take iPi Recorder out of Calibration mode and all the footage was underexposed. Sigh! Went back to the stage for a another retake.

Now I'm back at the studio again and this time the data really does look good. Will start tracking the new performances after I pick my daughter up from pre-school and have some lunch.

Update: Okay, back from lunch and have already tracked Sister's performance. Looks pretty good. Some slight jitters when she's standing still but within the context of the shots I don't think it will be noticeable. What will be a problem is that we're losing some of the smaller cowbell hits in the early part of the data. Apparently, there is a threshold for what motions iPi DMC will pickup or ignore. No big deal; it should be a minor issue to keyframe the missing hits.

Oh, yeah, and rolling up the pants cuffs fixed the heel problem.

- Greenlaw

November 7, 2010

My pants do vex me!

Ran into a new snag today. It turns out that in my previous mocap session, my pants cuffs were too long, covering the back of my feet and preventing iPi DMC from tracking the heels accurately. The result is that, even though the toes in the rig are pinned to the ground, the heels are swiveling slightly from side to side, and this motion is riding up through nearly every joint in the body. Looks like it's back to the stage tomorrow morning to recapture this session.

Fortunately, I have this performance pretty well rehearsed by now and it should only take a half hour to recapture all of Act I.

Otherwise, the software seems to be tracking the performance with reasonable accuracy. Can't wait to see it applied to the actual character rigs.

- Greenlaw


Today I'm tracking the motion capture performances from earlier this week. So far the motions are looking very good. Some expected jitters in the raw data, but iPi DMC has very good Jitter removal, which I'll run before saving the final data.

I may have to redo a couple of performances; I acted a bit broadly in two segments because I didn't believe the system would pick up on subtleties. Boy was I wrong. iPi DMC faithfully captured my exaggerations with embarassing accuracy. Now I understand why a lot of motion capture performances can look so bad. Less is definitely more here.

- Greenlaw

November 2, 2010

Here we go!

I finally got around to setting up the new motion capture gear this morning and did some preliminary tests. The new computer and software appears to be capable of capturing four streams of synchronized video at 640 x 480 at 60fps! Previously on my older system, the best I could get consistently was four streams of 320 x 240 at 30fps. What I think is making the difference with the new computer is having installed two USB 3.0 cards and an internal 1TB SATA 3 drive dedicated for video capture.

Now I'm wondering how well this system can handle six Playstation 3 Eye cameras. I'm currently plugging two PS3 Eye cameras into one on-board controller, two more into a USB 3.0 card, and I have the internal SATA 3 drive plugged into the second USB 3.0 card (which happens to be a SATA 3 card too.) Since there are two on-board USB 2.0 controllers, in theory I could add two more cameras. The question is, is the SATA 3 drive fast enough to record six streams of video data without dropping frames?

For now, I'm sticking with my four camera setup though; I really do want to get this film done this year.

I just finished writing the motion capture performance script, and actual production shooting (i.e., not another test) will begin in the morning after I drop my daughter off at pre-school.

Stay tuned!

- Greenlaw

November 1, 2010

Hello Gothtober 2010!

A day late, but is it ever really too late to celebrate Gothtober? Yesterday our friends at Gothtober premiered Act I of the animatic (a moving storyboard) for our next Brudders movie 'Don't Fear the Pooper'. In a few days we're going to start posting the production log on the website so you can follow the weekly progress of the fully animated movie, which we intend to release in mid-December. (Like I said, it's never too late to celebrate.)

In the meantime, you can visit and watch the 'teaser' by clicking on the big button for October 31st. And while you're there, please check out the many wonderful Howl-o-ween projects by other Gothtober artists.

Oh, and buy some of their stuff. Fiddle Cat is awesome!

- Sgt M.

October 28, 2010

Get Ready For Gothtober 2010

Last night we delivered the 'teaser' version of our short film to our friends at Gothtober. This version is the first act in animatic (animated storyboard) format, and it has the final music track performed by Team Little Green Dog (Brett '2ch' Santucci, Alisa Loren Klein, A. Isamu Kuromi, Claire K. Kuromi, Sienna Kai Greenlaw, myself, and of course Sergeant Marshmallow and Toullie.) We had hoped to have the fully animated cg version ready, but unforeseen mocap retargeting issues tripped us up. Once I accepted that the cg version wasn't going to happen in time for Gothtober, I realized that our back up plan (the animatic) played better as a 'teaser' anyway.

So, if you're curious about our project and want to become even more curious about it, watch for the teaser at on October 31st.

We still intend to finish the cg version of the full movie by mid-December, and you can keep up with our progress by reading the production log, which we'll open to our friends (that's you) shortly after Halloween.

- Greenlaw

September 6, 2010

What the Hell?

Our new computer arrived this week, specially built for our markerless motion capture system. Just in time for Gothtober 2010!

So what exactly does that mean? Sorry, you'll just have to wait until next month to find out.

In the meantime it's 'bring-a-friend-to-work' day for the Grim Reaper in this week's webcomic Streams - Episode 12 'Snowball'.

- Sgt M.

August 22, 2010

Boring Tech Update

You may have noticed that the website was under construction all this week. Things should be stable now so, if you see anything weird, try refreshing your browser.

So what's new? We updated the Hello Frankenstein page to display the YouTube version of the movie, so you can watch it here bigger and in higher quality now. Other sections (Gallery, Books, Comics,) have been improved or at least made to look more uniform with the rest of the site. We're still working on the Store and the new Studio sections, so you can expect a new look and content there soon.

Two new features are Comic Roulette and Sergeant Says..., which are appearing on almost every page. These panels are still a bit limited in content, but we'll be expanding them over the next week or two.

We hope you like these changes. Let us know what you think!

Two bad things this week:

1. Because we changed the extensions on many pages from .html to .php, we lost our comments on those pages. We're going to try to restore the comments as best we can but the dates will be wrong. Oh, well.

2. No new comic this Monday because the web stuff took up too much time.

Look for a four part Streams starting next Monday though. (Now that's a good thing!)

- Greenlaw

August 16, 2010

"The Mysteryes of Nature and Art"

When people tell us to "go fly a kite," in Brudders - Episode 49 'Kite', we show 'em how it's done.

Remember folks: flying is still the safest way to travel.

- Sgt M.

August 9, 2010

"...isn't that interesting?"

Our delightful dinner with Death continues in this week's comic Streams - Episode 11 'Just Dessert'.

Save room for cookies.

Brudders will be back with a new episode next week.

- Sgt M.

August 2, 2010

History Reruns Itself

So if Henry the VIII and Bill Cosby got into a fight, who do you think would win? These are the things Greenlaw thinks about. Pathetic, isn't it?

Anyway, Brudders - Episode 48 'Ye Olde Saturday Morning Catoone' is up. If you find it too puzzling, try singing it to the tune of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.

If you're a glutton for punishment, or maybe just a glutton, come back later this week for a 'behind the scenes' look look at this strip.

- Sgt M.

July 16, 2010

The Next Studio Session

Sorry for the delays with Brudders and Streams. We've been busy figuring out a workflow for our new mocap system, and we're getting close to nailing things down. If you'd like to see a brief test done in our secret lab, please visit Little Green Dog Test Tube, our new YouTube channel where we will be posting our geeky tests and experiments.

Anyway, creating motion capture on a 'regular Joe' budget will be the topic of our next Studio Sessions.


July 4, 2010

Little Green Screen Dog

I'm so excited! Team Little Green Dog now has its own green screen and motion capture stage. Granted, by Hollywood standards, it's a teeny-tiny 'broom closet' of a space, but it means we can finally get going with some of our movie productions.

For motion capture, we've been beta testing a system called iPi Studio for about a year now. iPi Studio was very affordable (introductory price is $495, and the recommended Playstation 3 Eye cameras cost about $30 each,) and because it's a markerless system, no special suit is needed. The system uses four PS3 cameras and a laptop to capture performances. I had to tap the metal base of the cameras to be able to securely mount them on c-stands but that turned out to be pretty easy. With the recent version 1.0 release, we're getting surprisingly good results for what's supposed to be an 'entry level' mocap system.

I'll post videos of the camera mod and test sessions in a few weeks.

Right now I'm writing a Brudders mini-movie so we can test the system in a real production scenario. It should be fun.


June 14, 2010

It's a Big Summer!

It doesn't matter if you're on summer vacation or not, you can still kick back and enjoy Brudders - Episode 47 'Energy'.

Notice anything different? Yup, our comics are bigger now! Starting this week you can enjoy Brudders and Streams in a wider format. The rest of the site will soon follow, plus new features!

By the way, if things look weird, try refreshing your browser (or press F5). Toullie is updating our CSS code, which may cause funky stuff to happen throughout the week.

- Sgt M.

June 2, 2010

Recital Invitation

For all you music lovers out there, Brudders Episode 46 'Recital' has been posted.

Greenlaw is back to drawing the new Streams. Watch for it in a day or two.

- Sgt M.

May 24, 2010

Tell Me What You See...

Brudders Episode 45 'Rorschach', the cartoon that inspired Psychodiagnostik, is available for your analysis.

Come back for a new Streams later this week.

As you can see, we added a Studio button to the navigation bar, but it's not active yet. Hopefully that will go online this week too.

- Sgt M.

May 10, 2010

It's Science!

Once again, it's time for an educational moment with Toullie, in Brudders, Episode 44 'Deep'.

The new Streams comic is up today. We're calling this one Episode 10 'Gourmet'.

In case you didn't know, the first Studio Sessions video went up a couple of weeks ago. This episode is called Studio Sessions - Session 1: Drawing Brudders, Episode 42 'Conscience', and it features commentary by Greenlaw. You can watch it at our YouTube channel.

Let us know what you think about the video, and please rate it at YouTube.

- Sgt M.

April 25, 2010

New Stuff Today and Tomorrow

Rhythm & Hues Studios (my day job) made the big move to their new six story facility in El Segundo, which completely disrupted my R+H and Little Green Dog projects this week. Things are quickly settling down though, and I have to say, the new place is pretty awesome! I even have a pleasant view from the fourth floor looking over beautiful tall trees. (My old office looked out over a dumpster.)

Anyway, Toullie is finally getting around to posting Little Green Dog material that should have gone up earlier this week. Today we posted the first Studio Sessions video which you can watch now on our YouTube channel. Remember, if you like it, please leave a comment and rate it.

- Greenlaw

April 16, 2010

Status Report

We posted a new Streams (Episode 9 'Rebuttal') the other night. I actually had a different episode drawn for this week, but the idea for this one popped up at the last minute and it obviously had to follow the previous episode. Funny how this stuff happens.

Right now, I'm drawing the next episode of Brudders. We're going to post this and the next episode of Streams on Monday.

As for the promised Studio Session video, it's been mostly edited, but we still need to record the audio commentary track. Hope to get to that tonight.

- Greenlaw

April 12, 2010

Poetry Time

This week we attempt to class up Brudders with Episode 43 - 'Shelley'.

We're running a little behind on finishing the first Studio Session video. Toullie says cutting 3.5 hours of video to less than 10 minutes is trickier than he thought it would be. We're getting close though so stay tuned.

- Sgt M.

April 4, 2010

Something New is Coming

This week's guilt-free episode of Brudders is called 'Conscience'.

For this episode, we tried something new (for us anyway.) The drawing session for 'Conscience' was recorded to video and we'll be posting that in a new section of the website called The Studio. Watch for it a few days from now.

- Sgt M.

March 26, 2010

Let's Talk

After my last post, this is really embarrassing: I'm already late!

Sorry for the delay, but I've been helping Toullie bring the website into the 21st century by converting a huge chunks of it to CSS. It's going slowly and we still have a lot to do, but so far, we got all the Brudders and Streams pages done.

So what's new? Well, the biggest change is the addition of the new Comment Box at the bottom of each comics page. Feel free to revisit your favorite comic strips and ask a question or tell me what you think.

Okay, going back to drawing comics now. Look for a brand new Brudders this weekend...I promise!

- Greenlaw

March 21, 2010

Greenlaw Speaks!

My last post to the Little Green Blog was a long time ago. In fact, it was a couple of years ago, just before Sergeant Marshmallow took over as this blog's editor. Sergeant's been doing a fine job, but we decided that I should be posting entries too, at least on the more 'behind the scenes' type topics.

Good news for Brudders fans: Some of you may have noticed that I've been making a stronger effort to keep the comic strip on a regular weekly schedule. My target was always weekly releases every Friday night, but typically the strip came out on Monday or much later. Thanks to some workflow improvements, I've been able to stick to regular weekend releases again. I'm still shooting for Fridays, but a friend Scott Wright suggested that I publish on Mondays, which will give me a couple of extra days for last minute art and writing tweaks. So here's the official schedule for Brudders: from now on, you can expect to read a new Brudders strip every week on Monday.

By the way, Scott publishes a very funny and personal webcomic called Team Spectacular, so check it out. (Not surprisingly, a new episode every Monday.)

New episodes of Streams will still come out, well, whenever, but I will try to draw these comics more frequently too. As a matter of fact, I'm inking a new episode right now and you can expect it to come out later this week.

This next item is pretty exciting for me as an artist. We've been experimenting with recording my Brudders and Streams drawing sessions, and we're going to post these videos in the website's upcoming Studio section and to our Little Green Dog Movies YouTube channel. If this works out well, we're planning to do more behind-the-scenes and tutorial type videos. I'm not sure when the first one will go online, but I'll let you know more when we work out the details.

- Greenlaw

March 12, 2010

The Brainy Season

This week's food for thought: Brudders, Episode 41 'Brain'.

While you're there, check out the new comment box on the Streams and Brudders comics pages.

- Sgt M.

March 5, 2010

Got Chocolate Milk?

Cheers! Brudders, Episode 40 has been poured for your enjoyment.

Also, the long-awaited return of Streams. Read Episode 8 'Winter' in the Comics section now.

We're adding new features to the website this week to make it more participatory. Stay tuned.

- Sgt M.

February 26, 2010

Oh, Where, Oh, Where Has My Little Green Dog Gone?

Team Little Green Dog traveled out of town for a few weeks and incredibly, we survived without the internet. We did bring a computer with us though, the new HP tm2 tablet PC, so it wasn't exactly life on the Oregon Trail. As a matter of fact, this week's Brudders, Episode 39 'Call of Doodie', was completely drawn on this tablet PC.

If you're curious about what it's like to draw on this tablet, look for a review and tutorial in the upcoming Studio section of the website. With a little luck, it will be online this weekend.

- Sgt M