Like many Shot Designer users, I'm looking forward to the 3D Animation capability in what I hope will be the next major update. Since you're now using the word previsualization to describe the app, I imagine the new version will allow users to see the camera's field of view in real time. For someone like me who's been using Shot Designer in concert with FrameForge Storyboard Studio for years, to see my shots and framing, this is very exciting. I'm hoping this new capability will allow me to further streamline my prep and shot planning.
That said, however, I write to you today to respectfully ask—to implore you—to keep all of the existing functionality in the next major Shot Designer update.
Yes, I imagine you'll finally get rid of the Scene Freeze function; since you've stated your dissatisfaction with it many times on the old forum. That's fine. Since I can simply do a Save As whenever I wish to save a shot design in progress, or create multiple versions of the same shot.
But with that one exception, I respectfully request that you keep all of the existing Shot Designer functionality in the next major update.
I make this request because when it comes to creating camera plots or overhead blocking diagrams, Shot Designer is, well, perfect. It really is. It's simple. It's fast. I can use it on my phone, my tablet, and my desktop. And I can effortlessly, seamlessly move between them. And I can even animate my designs. What's not to love.
For me, creating overhead blocking designs in Shot Designer is an essential part of my prep and previsualization—that is separate and distinct from framing and composition. Yes, I'm sure you're going to be adding all kinds of cool and very helpful new functionality. But to be frank, if any of the new features come at the expense of existing features, I for one will not be upgrading.
Too many times I have seen software developers "fix" things that didn't need to be fixed. And then they always added insult to injury by saying they did it for my benefit. So frustrating.
Please don't take away or significantly alter what we already have and how it works in the next major update.
Thank you in advance for considering my request.
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Thank you for your very detailed reply to my initial post in this topic. You painted a very appealing picture of what Shot Designer with its new 3D Animation capability will look like. And I for one am eagerly looking forward to working with it.
That said, I have two requests:
1) It would be nice to be able to turn off the 3D view up in the corner when I'm in 2D mode. And vice versa. Yes, I see the utility of being able to see both views simultaneously. However, I would like to suggest there is also a benefit in being able to focus on one task at a time. Yes, I know many people rave about the benefits of multitasking. I am not one of them. Quite simply, for me, I do my best work when I can mentally focus on one thing at a time. Thus I would love to be able to create my camera plots or overhead blocking diagrams without having to in any way see, or even think about, the framing or composition of my shots. Of course I will at times turn on the little 3D view up in the corner. But only when I wish to see it. Not when I’m actually creating my diagrams.
2) You mentioned that you think the timeline “is simply too crude in the current version.” I respectfully disagree. I actually think it works quite well. Whenever I show any of my collaborators an animation they always Oooh and Aaah and say, "That's so cool." I'm sure the new version will be more impressive in terms of features. But for me the current timeline has worked extremely well. I consider it a valuable tool. That said, a feature I've wanted for a long time is to be able to play the animation of several shots in the timeline, or the entire timeline, in succession--without having to manually start each one. This would allow me to quickly get a sense of both the character and camera movement for an entire scene, or part of a scene. That would be both helpful and useful.
Thank you in advance for considering my requests.
Also, the new app has real-time collaboration, everybody in the same 3D or 2D space.
You can rest assured that we understand our audience. While the new app will have game-quality 3D output, Shot Designer will never become an animation program as such.
Basically, the new program is a 3D/2D hybrid. Working in 2D is just as fundamental as it was before. You'll basically flip back and forth between a 2D view with a 3D view in the corner, and a 3D view with a 2D view in the corner.
The 3D itself is based around extremely heavy automation, basically a mix of procedural animation, motion matching, and an AI that assembles acting performances based on what mood the characters are in. This stuff allows you to communicate in very simple terms, "like walk from here to here and sit in the chair, and you're kind of angry". Then you're still only walking from point A to B and sitting down, and the computer does all the work in figuring out how to actually do that. If there's a log to step over, the algorithm works that out.
Basically, even if you can animate in Maya or Unreal Engine, this misses the point, because it's not creative. You'll be spending 4 hours doing a single walk and getting the footsteps to line up. This means that you're carefully building a final product, where in Shot Designer, you're free to make the character walk to somewhere else on a whim, and this is fundamental to the work.
So this is the point in procedural animation, that your handle on it is really simple. You're still just telling the actor to walk from A to B in this time-frame. You can move the endpoints around as you want. And then you can scatter mood-changes around the timeline if the digital actors don't already give you exactly what you want.
Camera-wise, you're making moves much the same way, but you'll have an additional concept of a Framing where you inform the digital DP how you want it framed, and it tries to maintain that framing, until you drift into another framing at a time of your choosing. And then, you can make it oh-by-the-way handheld. You're never animating per-se, you're bootstrapping the animation with what matters to you, and the computer does the rest.
And this then happens in a game-quality environment with hundreds of locations from back alleys to space stations, that you can put the scene into, remodel the location, and change the weather, time of day, season, light etc by pulling a few sliders.
Again, the goal is creativity and productivity. The intention is that you should be able to previz a movie in a couple of days, complete with acting, editing and blocking, so you can watch the movie, realize it stinks, rewrite it, and watch it again.
So the app sticks to every winning insight from the existing app, and even though it's much bigger, your control of it is more or less the same, perhaps except the timeline, which is simply too crude in the current version.
You need a timeline where you can control for example that the camera arrives into a mark later than the actors. You need to be able to drop in acting changes, handling objects (picking up a gun or shooting it), dialogue, camera framing changes etc, and have more control of timing.
The new app still following the numbering system, like having major 1, 2, 3 steps that you go through. But it happens on a more traditional timeline, and your marks don't have to line up neatly with these steps. But having the steps allow you to quickly slow down or speed up a part of a scene, and I still think it's a terrific way to get a broad handle on the scene. And it also allows you to do blocking strictly in 2D, without it being on a timeline at all. Very often, you block before you're even ready to think timing, and I want to preserve this ability.
I think you'll be happy. I'm pretty sure I know my audience, and I couldn't let many of them loose in something like Unreal Engine. Even if they had the skills, it's uncreative. If we find ourselves dicking around with keyframes, I think the app is a failure.