Tuesday, July 21, 2020

I made an anime music video with Blender

Dusts the cobwebs out of the corners and turns the lights back on.

Hello again!

It's been a busy three years. A lot happened in my personal life, but going into that stuff isn't what this blog is for.

Instead, projects! So over the past few months, I used Blender and an extensive collection of clips of the wonderful anime Planetes to put together an anime music video. I've had a fondness for Planetes for years; I think it creates a unique view of what life will be like for a near-future spacefaring humanity (differing from much science fiction I've consumed in that humanity stays, fundamentally, very similar to modern humans in nature and behavior). So for a bit of fun, I juxtaposed scenes from that series with Into The Wild, a Legend of Zelda-inspired song by the inimitable Gavin Dunne, better known by his performing name, "Miracle of Sound". Unlimited thanks to Gavin for giving me permission to use his work on this project!

I failed to take notes as I went, so the details of using Blender for this are a bit lost to time. Some highlights:

  • The good news is, it works! Blender is a fine tool for compositing video and audio. As with everything Blender does, it has a space-alien user interface and way to many options, but get them all aligned correctly and you're good to go.
  • Every time I want to make a video with Blender, I have to re-teach myself how to set up the output configuration correctly. This YouTube tutorial by Waylight Creations proved extremely valuable.
  • Transitions in Blender are a little weird. In essence, when Blender composites a video, the "topmost" film strip is what ends up in the final output. Transitions, blends, and so forth generate their own film strips, so to make them show up as desired, you just put them above the source clips on the Blender timeline. Transition sequencing (i.e. what clip we fade from, what clip we fade to) is determined by the order of multi-selection when creating a cross-fade, which was a weird thing to learn.
  • By far, the most time-consuming process was getting clips onto the timeline. Each one had to be imported (as a full episode), then sliced and moved into position on the timeline. I took to stashing most of the episodes in the file as high-number strips shoved past the end of the video for convenience, but a lot of clicking and dragging was still involved to move individual clips from that no-man's-land to the video itself. It feels like there should be a cleaner way to do that.
  • The output results weren't perfect. There's some judder in the earliest clips that I believe is a side-effect of me failing to choose a round number for the speed scaling (coupled with Blender having less-than-stellar defaults for interpolating frames when the timestamp is slowed down; I bet there are options to tune that, but I didn't find them). But they were better than I'd hoped!
Enjoy the video! And if you do, feel free to like and subscribe. It'll be the easiest subscription ever, because I never post anything.