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What will eventually kill sales that currently frustrate existing users

Posted By clmessina 6 Years Ago
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What will eventually kill sales that currently frustrate existing...

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clmessina
clmessina
Posted 6 Years Ago
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I just finished the CrazyTalk portion of an animation project. I am using CT 7.2 Pro on a Windows 7 operating system. Specifically:

Dell Precision 690
16Gb RAM
Intel Xenon E5345 2.33Ghz (2 processors)
Widows 7, 64 bit.
Free memory: 2TB

I created 5 characters in Serif DrawPlus X6 and imported, creating new actors for each. I was able to create custom eyes (I know this is a common complaint), but mind you, each character had 2 eyes. I don’t believe CT will allow any other quantity. I recorded custom audio for each character and worked each character separately through completion. The audio tracks will later be combined into a single track. Or, I should say, the audio already is but can be split to work each character separately. The characters will be composited into a video editing software (Sony Vegas Pro) on the final project. The project is just under 10 minutes in length and the CT portion took almost three weeks. In that time I’ve learned nearly every quirk of the program and would like to not only suggest a wish list, but also some very bothersome aspects. It is my hope you consider these suggestions as an intention of a professional user to help improve your product for your and my benefit, as well as for other animators who try to work from what you have.

ISSUE 1: NON-STANDARD INTERFACE OPTIONS.
I can’t recall using a program without a specific ‘save’ button. This is the strangest exclusion which I cannot understand. My guess is this is related to the unusual filing system, but we’ll get to that later. I strongly recommend your developers include a feature that is about as old as Windows or even MS Word. One MUST be able to save their work in a standard save manner. I would also recommend adding an ‘autosave’ feature. I was VERY paranoid about losing my work throughout the project.


The existing ‘save’ features need to be rethought. I understand one may want to save an actor, actor features, motion or whatever else in a slightly different place than a hidden file and your interface tries to address this, but it does so badly because it’s actually a confusing system when it comes to saving the project. Saving the project felt like I was creating a new project. The other save ‘save as project’ in the menu, is an overwrite as well. It’s really not the same as ‘save’ but can be used as ‘save’. I used it a lot. Of course, when you do ‘save as project’ you lose the tool (lip sync viseme box, puppet box) you were working with and have to pull it back up. This is an incredible time killer if you’re constantly saving your work. Also, when you open the viseme box it pops center screen in front of your character forcing you to move it so you can see your character’s lips. Another time-killer that became quite annoying.

In address to the unusual filing system I strongly recommend looking into Sony Vegas. They are able to do the same thing as you’re doing (giving a visual preview of the items) while not creating what appears to be two entirely separate filing systems for projects.

Another nice feature would be ‘recent projects’ in the dropdown box menu. Again, this is MS Word 1992 stuff we’re talking here.

A ‘Close’ project button/menu button rather than just ‘Quit’ would be nice.

Another thing to consider changing is not having the project immediately play when you load it. Even cassette tape players would have you press the ‘play’ button first. It’s disturbing to load something and then have to immediately stop it, wondering if you’ll accidentally alter any data.


Also, Ctl+Z has been ‘undo’ as long as I’ve been using computers. In your program, it kind of is but not really. When you ‘undo’ in your program, data is erased or restored as you might expect but the timeline marker has shifted. So if I load a motion to preview it, decide I don’t want it and Ctl+Z, the motion is erased but the timeline bar is now at the end of where the unwanted motion was. That’s really not Ctl+Z and really annoying if you need to insert data at a given frame, having to move your timeline marker over and over again. If you don’t know about this issue as a user you may even have a tougher time because you didn’t know what particular frame you were making the change from. I got into the habit of writing edit frame points down on notepad. I and other users really shouldn’t have to do that.

ISSUE 2: NON-STANDARD EDITING TOOLS MISSING EDITING FEATURES.
This is the biggest flaw with your software. The interface developers had some kind of workflow in mind when they created this (wouldn’t be bad to share it with users), but they have apparently never opened any standard media editing environment within the last 15 years. The lack of a proper ‘save’ button would certainly support that theory.

Let us start with the two sets of horizontal timeline bars. The default horizontal timeline bar has no indicator marks whatsoever to let you know exactly where you are in any given project. To make things more interesting, it doesn’t move in tandem with the formal editing timeline. I don’t understand what purpose it serves. A round ball and two loop end points really says nothing to the user. I never used mine. NEVER. One horizontal timeline is enough.

Loop tabs are nice but there’s no way to know exactly where they are. I often asked myself ‘where’s the end loop tab’ or ‘where exactly is the beginning loop tab’ and had no idea if it was out of the zoomed frame. Perhaps you might placing a frame indicator for them somewhere (bottom of interface/ slightly darkened) so we know where they are.

Another odd thing is the timeline has a nice play/stop button but no pause, fast forward or rewind. My old cassette tape decks had these features. Cassette tape decks! When we scrub the timeline we like to sometimes go slowly (especially when syncing dialogue to visemes) forward and sometimes slowly backward. Sometimes we want to go a little faster than slowly, but not at full speed. It would be very helpful to have these common editing/timeline scrubbing play speed/direction features.


It would be VERY helpful to be able to add markers other than the current time marker. When I want to sync visemes with audio I can obviously see the beginning and end points of audio data but I have no idea what the data is in between. This isn’t a problem with single words that have large gaps of silence between each word but that’s not how humans speak. Being able to manually add a marker for each new word point would be immensely helpful. Others have mentioned having some area parallel to the timeline with the ability to type in script would be helpful as well (I agree), but markers would make editing much less frustrating and much more efficient. Again, see Sony Vegas for some ideas here.

And now, the biggest pain in the neck: Timeline zoom. Come on. Really. I can’t complain about this enough because there just isn’t enough cyberspace to contain it all. Zoom is all over, the size of everything (including the horizontal scrollbar) changes dramatically. At one point, the frames bar completely turns grey, but it’s not at the beginning or end of the zoom scale- just somewhere between for no explicable reason. And this is bad, but really, the worst is that lost horizontal scroll bar. You can’t move horizontally when you’re zoomed in but you have to be zoomed all the way in to work on visemes. This is the poorest interface design feature I’ve seen since the early 90’s, hands down. It’s shameful. It’s arrogant and ignorant at the same time. It says, ‘we really have no idea how you use this software’ because anyone who used the software for a few hours could see how much this greatly interferes with the workflow. Whoever missed this, well, I’m not sure why they’re still getting paid. Are they the bosses son or mistress?

It would also be helpful to simply make the viseme workspace bigger. Right now they are squeezed so tightly together it’s often hard to select one. BUT, to make matters crazier, sometimes the odd viseme can’t be selected. Seriously! I have no idea why. It stays grey and refused to be moved or altered. The only way to change, move or delete that one who suddenly refuses to be changed is to hover over it, place a new one in its’ place and then work with that one. That seems like a bug to me.


ISSUE 3: VISEMES
The lip synch expressiveness feature is powerful, but not really 'neutral'. Different settings give different shapes, some even looking like other letters. It might be helpful to show a pic of various lip/teeth settings at different rates of expressiveness. I know one would think, ‘well, you select the given expressiveness rate and you don’t need a preview of it because it’s right there on the project character’s face’. Yes, yes, yes. Of course that takes… four… three… two… one seconds to happen. Everytime you reset the ‘expressiveness’ bar your resetting your characters’ viseme expressiveness. Would be nice to mention that.

As you may have guessed, I manually sync’d lips. If I’d known I was going to do that from the start I don’t know that I would have bought CT Pro. I mean, the ad didn’t quite suggest this was the case, but hey, we all get taken in sometimes. Now, I didn’t always want to manually lip-sync and it seems sometimes the auto lip sync would have worked fine but there was a very common problem- Autosync’s expressiveness is tied to volume, thus if a given project is recorded at a low volume, everyone has very low expressiveness. It would be nice to adjust lip expressiveness over whole sections at a time rather than just one viseme at a time. THAT would have enabled the use of a lot of the autolipsync.

ISSUE 4: MOTION/AUTOMOTION
I didn’t use automotion. It’s way too broad for all the changes one might realistically expect in anything greater than thirty seconds. That said, I began using the motion clips and eventually began dong custom puppeteering.

One problem with the motion clips directly relates to filing. Think about it- three different ‘sad’ motion expressions in three different places. How does that make sense or offer any workflow efficiency?

Another problem: who can remember what they all look like? Seems the answer would be to preview them, which you sort of can… on the timeline! In your project? No external preview? And then, when you’ve previewed your timeline marker has been moved? And how many can you preview before your eyes turn glazey? I just stopped using them and using custom.

Also, adding a motion clip always plays the clip. I know this might sound crazy, but what if you want to compare two motion clips side by side? You add one, it starts playing, you stop, add another, it starts playing, you stop. You rewind before the two, then compare. I believe Autoplay for motion clip add should be an option, not standard, or simply disabled. Who says you want to play it when you load it?


ISSUE 5: CUSTOM PUPPETEERING.

If you don't blend you overwrite. It would be nice to blend after you’ve recorded custom puppet.

One problem I ran into a lot was that when you make a custom puppet recording there's no time to get puppet into position. You start from blank puppet expression and must manipulate the puppet into the expression you want as you’re recording. It would be nice to hae another button for 'get ready to record/get into position' and one for 'record now'.

Might I add that, among other very, very slow performance issues, puppet previews were INSANELY slow. Everything, every little change of any sort to the timeline always seemed to take about 4 seconds. This was especially painful and time-consuming for lip synching, when syncing and seeing a single viseme load, or removal or move to different time second take 4 seconds to complete. Perhaps the custom puppet window could show your character in it and previews could take place there immediately, rather than on the main screen. I don’t know, but all I could say is that changes were ALWAYS painfully slow. Some were inexplicable- for example, it’s quicker to delete a motion clip from the timeline manually than to ctl+z remove it.

However, I will say the ability to custom puppeteer may be the greatest strength of this software.



ISSUE 6: SHORTCUTS

Spacebar = start/stop but sometimes when you press space bar to start then stop, it WONT STOP! When you’re zoomed in, there’s no markers, and you can’t horizontally scroll back to where you were this becomes a real problem- hence the capital letters when I typed ‘won’t stop’. It doesn’t happen a lot and there doesn’t seem to be any conditions that set it off- it’s always a completely bad random surprise.

Right click (rather than spacebar) for 'preview' and 'stop' might be a nice option as we're using the mouse already.

Issue 7: XYZ axis
There’s just no way to know the size or distance relationship of anything. There are no measurement markers (pixels, inches, cm’s) in the character space at any point. It’d be a nice addition. This really limits the transform tool to a guessing game. It also makes character sizing a guessing game as well.

Issue 8: Actor creation
Please provide better guidelines for setting face fitting points. I always had to guess what part of the actor would move, what wouldn’t and what would be cut off. The ideal placement needs to be much more specific than ‘the corner of the eye’. Some thoughts I had while fitting were: “Is that the part of the corner inside the whites, the black line, just outside the black line or somewhere between? What about hair and this secondary line? How long do I have to play with these settings it before I figure it out?” New users, and really, even old users, will/must hate this lack of information.
Peter (RL)
Peter (RL)
Posted 6 Years Ago
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Thank you for the feedback and suggestions. As we always do with all wishful features submitted by users, we will pass this to the CrazyTalk Development team to review and consider for a future upgrade or version.

Thank for taking the time to share your views.

                                                                

Peter
Forum Administrator

www.reallusion.com


JC Weatherby
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This is a great digest of "things that can be improved."

I've been working with iClone 5 FULL TIME for a couple of months now. And I have focused mainly on creating original content and getting that content into iClone. As a matter of practice I have eschewed the expensive 3D design packages, opting instead for Blender, Sculptris, and alternately Photoshop for quickly generating UVs and painting.

Many of these workflows could be eliminated with better tools from Reallusion. For instance, why is the face/texture editor in iclone so small? I can't go full screen with it. Don't have full control of brushes (Photoshop level of control)... It's maddening... And why allow me to paint on just the head and not the whole body? Secondly, having to work with the different image / uv maps for different parts of the body makes color matching the different maps burdensome.

Why not allow / enable editing of primitives? This is something Second Life has done really well. I can take a cube, hollow it out, put different textures on different sides of the cube, inside and out, without having to paint or edit UV maps.

PLEASE give us a timeline that looks more like an Adobe Timeline (Premiere, After Effects). Make it scalable. (it's too small!) (I'm looking forward to the dockable panels you advertised in iClone 6!)

Overall, I want there to be a greater focus on content creation for the platform, with emphasis placed on the open source tools that are available. If I wanted to spend $4,000 for Maya or $800 for Zbrush why would I go to Reallusion anyway? Users like me are becoming Reallusion customers because we want 3d that is affordable and fast (fast workflows, fast performance, fast custom content creation tools).
Peter (RL)
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JC Weatherby (4/15/2014)
This is a great digest of "things that can be improved."

I've been working with iClone 5 FULL TIME for a couple of months now. And I have focused mainly on creating original content and getting that content into iClone. As a matter of practice I have eschewed the expensive 3D design packages, opting instead for Blender, Sculptris, and alternately Photoshop for quickly generating UVs and painting.

Many of these workflows could be eliminated with better tools from Reallusion. For instance, why is the face/texture editor in iclone so small? I can't go full screen with it. Don't have full control of brushes (Photoshop level of control)... It's maddening... And why allow me to paint on just the head and not the whole body? Secondly, having to work with the different image / uv maps for different parts of the body makes color matching the different maps burdensome.

Why not allow / enable editing of primitives? This is something Second Life has done really well. I can take a cube, hollow it out, put different textures on different sides of the cube, inside and out, without having to paint or edit UV maps.

PLEASE give us a timeline that looks more like an Adobe Timeline (Premiere, After Effects). Make it scalable. (it's too small!) (I'm looking forward to the dockable panels you advertised in iClone 6!)

Overall, I want there to be a greater focus on content creation for the platform, with emphasis placed on the open source tools that are available. If I wanted to spend $4,000 for Maya or $800 for Zbrush why would I go to Reallusion anyway? Users like me are becoming Reallusion customers because we want 3d that is affordable and fast (fast workflows, fast performance, fast custom content creation tools).

Thanks for the feedback. This is the CrazyTalk 7 Wishful features forum so it would be wise to post in the correct iClone forum so your suggestions don't get overlooked. I will pass these on this time so don't worry for now.

                                                                

Peter
Forum Administrator

www.reallusion.com





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