Mythomen’s journey in the USA (Adobe Max)

TL;DR

  • Gave a talk about Expressions at AE World
  • Finally played with the Cintiq in the plane & train
  • Got a nice Surface Pro 3 at Max
  • Friend on stage at the Apple keynote (#itsroadtrip)
  • Third Draft & breakdown in progress

After Effects World

Symposium

For its second edition, the After Effects World Conference moved from the small Deca Hotel to the larger convention center in Bellevue. But that’s not the only thing that changed this year. I was, for the very first time in any technical roaster, a speaker. For real. I talked about one of my favorite subject, the After effects expressions. And it felt great.

It was my first time on stage, so a lot of things to improve. But it wouldn’t be fun if things went smoothly. Of course, my flight was delayed by 12 hours thanks to Air France and Delta Airlines. Of course my luggage took 48 more hours to come through. Of course, my luggage arrived after my session with the Cintiq Companion on which I was supposed to do the session (and I won’t talk about the clothes too…). Sure, it was a bit rough, but I really enjoyed doing it. And the audience too as far as they told me.

It’s also a great place to meet incredible people. I’ve met with extremely cool 2D animators from Riot Games, a supervisor at Playstation, and many many more. It’s a cool opportunity to learn from a large spectrum of After Effects users, and I’v learned way more than a bag of tricks during these 3 intense days. Seeing After Effects used in such unexpected ways, or just in fields I’m not familiar with is the best way to think outside the box. Much of what I’ve learned I’m already using today in my daily work, and most of it will find a use in our movie project. Linking a TimeRemap parameter to a rotation parameter just to be able to use the arrow keys to animate faster is something I would have never though of.

The After Effects World Conference is also the only place where you can hang out with the core After Effects team for three days. This is something really special and being able to discuss workflows and grips with the actual people is just awesome. I’ve witnessed the birth of a feature enhancement that will be added in the near future just by casual talking between a dev and a user, during a sushi launch. It’s amazing how open the A(e)-team is.

Cintiq on the Go

Wacom on the Train

22 hours of train anyone ? Well, thanks to an unfortunate biker we had 8 more hours for free (the guy is OK by the way), so it added up to 30 hours of testing the Cintiq out of the comfort of my living room. And let me tell you, as soon as you configure one of the side button as “Undo” (in case of slight bumpiness), the Cintiq is the perfect companion (pun intended) for your journey. Being able to work as efficiently as at home, while being on the go with beautiful landscape is not only awesomely breathtaking, it’s also super time saving.

I’m so mad at me for not continuing the art / drawing after school classe I took when I was a kid. All my friend picked-up Improv’ so I had to follow them (and no regrets, Improv’ is super great). Anyway, I’m so disappointed of not being a good drawer as I wanted to sketch so much scenery, but that was not the purpose. And I’m glad I could sketch (or doodle if I’m really honest with myself) some frames for the movie.

I also had a lot of time in planes to play with the Cintiq. Strangely enough, the ride is way smoother in planes than in US trains. I’m used to our good old french TGV, but even in their smooth ride, you feel way more the tiny little bumps than in a plane, unless there’s rough air. But one major upside in train is that you have space. The Cintiq is quite big for the little room the economy (or economy comfort) offers, and what you gain in smoothness you loose in physical comfort. Bigger planes (the ones that flies overseas) are a bit better, but still, as soon as the person in front of you goes into sleep mode, you won’t be able to work comfortably.

I had the same issue with my Macbook too, so it’s not a Cintiq issue per say, it’s an airplane policy that business guys should travel in the hyper expensive business class to have enough room to work properly.

Adobe Max

Adobe Max

It was my first time at Adobe Max, and wasn’t really sure what to expect. Well, it’s way bigger than I thought, and it was awesome. Adobe hosts 3 mega conferences through the 3 days of the event (5 if you book some preconf sessions), 2 of which where awesome, 1 of which was really awkward.

The first keynote was all about the new products, this year was focused on mobility, with a big drop of new iOS apps (to be released on Android & WindowsPhone later), new slick UIs to take advantage of touch devices, culminating with the presentation of a new product, called Project Animal, a performance capture tool for 2D animation (more on that later).

The second keynote, the awkward one, was supposed to be about creativity, with 4 inspirational artists explaining their ways of working. And for the first 2 artists, that was true. From a brilliant photographer to an impressive old school painter, it was indeed inspirational. Then, the third guest was a comic genius, the famous Weird Al Yankovic, one of my favorite parody singer. I hoped for a cool speech, but instead, we where given a simple interview, with only few interesting tidbits (his lawsuit) and before you know it, it was time for the longest speech of the session (45 minutes). Lee Hirsch and the Bully Project.

Every year, Adobe, as a company, takes part in supporting a cause, and this year is bullying, a real issue in today’s youth, there’s no doubt about this. As a french guy, the issue here is quite different and doesn’t go to the extent of what happens in the US, so I might be biased in my opinions here. But it’s a fact, bullying happens, and is too often overlooked. Lee Hirsch, director of a movie on the subject, and former bullied kid took the subject to his chest and started fighting it.

So far, so good.

But the issue of his speech is not the content, it’s the speaker. He was not promoting anti-bullying, he was promoting himself. How many time he told us how great he was, and how thanks to him only this or that was done. And you know what? I felt bullied by this guy. Sincerely. At one point, he asks the whole theater to raise, close their eyes, and asks that anyone who never had any insults thrown at him, or never been bullied to sit down. I was there with a coworker. We where the only two guys to sit down. When everybody opened their eyes, all our neighbors where focused on us.

We felt like castaways.

Of course, he didn’t take the time to notice that a few people sat down and concluded his experiment by a simple “see, everyone is bullied”. No sorry, not everyone. Thanks for making me feel really uncomfortable about that.

Of course, we where shown some extract of the movie, some poignant moments of silence after a beating scene. Of course, he took time to explain us how he saved the boy, and screened a CNN interview of him (I love people self quoting themselves). Awkward again. Thank you again.

After 45 minutes of self promotion, he had 2 words about creativity (yes, it was supposed to be about creativity), of how Adobe is supporting his cause, and that was it.

The Bully Project Mural

The fun thing is, because it was such a oppressing moment, I took time to investigate, and found out that, yeah, he is using some tricks I hate to make his point. Twisting reality when you are trying to raise awareness for a cause is really something you should not do. The side effect of being a huge South Park fan, is that it reminded me of the “Butterballs” episode where Trey Parker and Matt Stone pokes fun of him. I re-watched the episode, and delighted to see how accurate their are in their depiction of Hirsch.

Hopefully, the third conference was back on track. Called Sneak Peeks, it was all about traveling to the future and witness the new awesome tech the brains at Adobe are working on. Photoshop, Illustrator and Web tools where clearly the winners here, with the most technological projects demoed. The Haze removing tool, along with the Time of the Day shifting one was amongst my favorites. The big missing elephant in the room was After Effects, but it was to be expected, as some of the things of its future where shown at AE World a week before.

The Surface Pro 3

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (pic stollen from Mashable, read their hands-on here)

Adobe Max first conference was not only a showcase of the future of Adobe’s software line, it was also the perfect time for announcements. And they made a big one, partnering with Microsoft to blend Hardware and Software together. Project Animal was demoed on a Surface Pro 3 for example. And speaking of the Surface, in an unexpected move, Adobe and Microsoft offered one to every attendee (i5 – 8gb ram & 256gb sdd). Let’s say that at this point, the 6000 attendees in the theater expressed their joy (and some probably created an ebay account ;) )

The Surface Pro 3 is a nice beast, and if you remember my first hands on with the Wacom Cintiq, I was praising it’s stand, and now that I’ve been playing with it for a few weeks, I can tell you that it’s the best stand ever.

After the Keynote, and before picking up the free Surface, I was wondering why Adobe would choose to team with Microsoft rather than Wacom. Wacom have been a partner for years, and seeing Adobe joins hands with Microsoft was disturbing. But then it made sense. If you’re a pro, and need to work on a tablet professionally, it’s a no brainer to invest in a Cintiq, may it be desktop, Hybrid or Companion. But if your more of a hobbyist, you might not want to invest in such dedicated devices, and the Surface makes more sense. And with all the announcements focused on their new iOS apps, it’s clear that Adobe is investing and aggressively expending on the hobbyist market, where it’s growth is. It’s also a smart move by Microsoft. Creative people are mostly hooked on Apple Devices, and putting in their hands a Surface can help us make the jump back from a Macbook to a Surface.

I really felt bad for Wacom during the few hours it took me to understand the move, but ultimately, it’s a wise choice. Even for Wacom. When more people will be trained on touch & stylus devices, they’ll want to upgrade to something better, Wacom being to only better option.

I’ll write a more in depth article with the strengths and weaknesses of both devices in the near future. But if you need to decide now, the Surface is great if you don’t need great precision on your touch device (still Surface is more precise than an iPad). If you plan on doing professional drawing work on it, go get a Cintiq.

It’s road trip

Replay

Speaking of Apple fans, you might have watched this October Apple event, filled with new iPads announcements, and a gorgeous 5K iMac for less than a good 4k display. You might also have seen the 2 third party developers demo their software on the newly unveiled iPad Air 2: Pixelmator and Replay.

Well, turns out that working on Replay (at Stupeflix) have been my day job for the last 5 years. It was an amazing experience to be selected to demo our product on stage. It has been a roller-coaster ride, and having the app you’re working on being featured during Steve Fordes’s opening keynote at AE World (we use AE in our creative process, and render AE projects on the device in real time, without AE), then during the Apple Keynote and then being referenced by our Président François Holland during a speech makes you feel great.

Writing & Breakdown

breakdown

It’s all great, but what about the movie, you may ask.

Indeed, being on the go for 2 weeks, plus IBC, plus releasing Replay v2.0 on iPad this summer, along with a lot of other work at work, have been an energy blackhole. Yep, I’m late in delivering the 3rd draft of the movie. But the good news is that while I was not writing, I was still taking notes and enhancing parts of the plots and character arcs (plus a huge load of new jokes to include).

I’ve started the rewrite, and I’m still in the first act of the movie. On top of rewriting the screenplay, I’m also breaking it down. I’ve not found a perfect solution for doing both, or just even to add well organized notes aside from the screenplay itself, and finding a solution was one of my procrastinating excuses. But procrastination is no more as now, I rewrite in Adobe Story, while taking the notes in Microsoft Note on the Surface. I’m using the Surface Edition of Note, which is slightly different than the standard Edition you can download, as it’s optimized for the Surface Pen. I can add notes and sketch notes, which is awesome.

It’s not the perfect solution though, I still need to have the Macbook and the Surface next to each other to be able to work “in good condition”, and if you’re a software developer, I can assure you that I have a lot of cool ideas to ease the process and turn the development stage of a movie into a flawless experience. It’s a niche market, but feel free to contact me if you want to discuss it ;)

Now that I’m all setuped and going on, at a slow but steady pace, I should be able to make it for the end of november. I’m really happy with the shape it’s taking, and I should be hitting my 100 pages target at last.

Until next time

Take care and we’ll be back soon with even more news.

Backpack Léo & Violette

Author: Yenaphe

2D animation enthusiast. South Park lover. Dark comedy lord. Slave to the bad joke gods. Writer & Director of Mythomen.

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