Yesterday we posted the second episode of Boltron Ultimate and readers were asking how it was made, so we asked Chris Burns from Exit 73 to show us a bit more.
Unlike our typical projects (script, boards, layout, animation, post), we set this up as an authentic game production, I.E. creating assets (tons and tons of assets) and generating the story around the flow of the fight, to tell the story in one shot. We figured it would give it a more genuine feel, rather than just a pixelated animation. The idea was/is that if some interest comes down the pike, to make an actual game out of Boltron, we would simply submit the assets, and have the programmers take it from there, rather than generate new moves at the correct pixel ratio. Figuring out the correct pixel ratio was a challenge as well, since we decided to use flash to create the art, so every frame, of every character is done one tiny square at a time. I’ve always welcomed challenges though when we started the studio, and this was one of those ideas, that needed a lot of trial and error before we could move forward. So the attachments are stills of what the files in flash looked like, before putting it together.
So when you say you drew this in Flash one pixel at a time are you saying you used the rectangle tool to draw rectangles over and over block by block to draw this stuff or did you use the pixel plugin I’ve seen? Did you draw it first in say Photoshop and then import? It seems kinda hard to get a nice design like you did by drawing originally with Flash.
We would sketch it out with the brush tool first, relatively rough usually… Then we found the best way to achieve the sprite look was to blow up the flash canvas to 2200X2200 Click on the show grid and the snap to grid tabs, and then use the rectangle tool accordingly to build the image, we would use the grid ratio of 10 pixels by 10 pixels and then shrink the final image to 25% of its original form. We would still use symbols embedded like head symbols and puppeting elements too. but all the original artwork was made one square at a time. We tied using some plugins to achieve the pixel look, but it was super buggy and never felt quite right. Also Boltron used a lot of robots, and getting symmetry with pixels was a lot easier actually counting out the squares than eyeballing it.
The sprite sheets/model sheets … so those are actually graphic Clips of animation nested inside or are they actually a sprite sheet where every motion is broken out as separate files?
Yes, we made them all loops, for the most part, so we treated the character animation almost like we would use mouth shapes for lipsync, rather than an “o” mouth we would say looks like its time for an “uppercut” or “cyber kick”.
How were those beautiful backgrounds done? Same way in Flash?
Backgrounds went through the same treatment, we would build out elements and build it almost like legos. The beauty of referencing a game universe, is that we could reuse a lot of the elements and it not feel like a shortcut, since we have all seen how old school video games levels comprised. I never felt cheated playing Super Mario Brothers, even though I know that the pipe on left is an exact duplicate of the one on the right. So we applied the same theory here.
So when you built the film did assemble it entirely in Flash pans and all or did you do it with alphas and After Effects scene by scene and then export to Premiere or Final Cut.
We did all the animation strictly in Flash, embedding the scenes in one symbol and moving the camera accordingly. It’s easier to see the playback instantly rather than hope it works out after a full render. we would export the final animation as a PNG sequence and bring it into aftereffects to get it ready for youtube though.
The film really lends itself to the old console games, so much so I’d love to see a game made out of it. If someone chose to make a game out of this, what type do you see this as becoming? iOS/Android or console?
If I had my choice I would like to see it on Steam, That way the audience can judge it and take it from there on which way to push it. I’m a firm believer in how the “free market” should dictate what gets made. Steam has a nice way of getting an honest opinion on what’s seen without the bitter comments as seen on something like Youtube or Twitter.
How many more episodes will we see of Boltron Ultimate?
There will be 4 parts, that tell the whole story, each part though showcases a different type of game, so it doesn’t feel so repetitive.