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Flipside Studio Update #20 - Flipside goes MULTIPLAYER!!!!!

- by Lux

As we continue to build out Flipside Studio and learn from our users, we decided to make update #20 the first update that's only available to Flipside's Beta users. With so many new features, we want to work with our most active creators to make sure we get it right. If you want to explore the full potential of Flipside Studio, sign up or opt-in to our Beta. 

NOTE: This update is an experimental release. In order to use it, you will need to opt into our Beta channel on Steam (instructions below) or sign up here and we will add you to our Beta channel on Oculus.

Make shows together, the way it should be

When you press the Friends button on the palette, you'll see our new Friends & Notifications panel appear.

This is the new social hub in Flipside, where you can find your friends, invite them to collaborate, and find notifications for things like friend requests, invites, and also the occasional Flipside announcement.


Multiplayer works across platforms, so it doesn't matter if your friends are using an HTC Vive and you're using an Oculus Rift. You can still hop in, connect, and create content together over distance.

Please note that because multiplayer is still an experimental feature, some things may not work as expected. Please report any bugs on our Trello roadmap or Discord #support channel.

Creator Tools updates

We've also made a some big improvements to the Flipside Creator Tools. Note that these also require you to be on our Beta release channel (see above). Follow this link to update to v0.14 and enjoy the following improvements:

  • You can now specify multiple meshes on characters and Flipside will apply blend shape values to all of them. Note that the blend shape names must match the ones on the main mesh.
  • You can now specify a jaw bone to animate along with the open/closed mouth blend shape in Simplified Blend Shape animation mode.
  • Skies now load when you press Play to preview your sets in Unity, so you can get a better sense of how they'll feel in Flipside.
  • ColliderElement can now collide with one or more specific objects, or objects with a custom tag (note: uses a CustomTag component, not Unity's own tagging system).
  • Character elements that are placed on the UI layer are now hidden from cameras but visible in VR.
  • Thumbnails for sets will now always match the bundle file name, so they're easier to find.
  • Thumbnails for characters now have a light grey background and better capture larger characters.
  • Added quick links to the user manual and other improvements to make the steps clearer.

Other bug fixes and improvements

We've moved the second level buttons on the palette menus from the top to underneath the main menu buttons. This was something we've been meaning to do for a while and got it done just in the nick of time!


And that's not all! We also fixed:

  • Timeline-based animations in custom sets now play back in sync with Flipside recordings, just like Animator-based animations.
  • Fixed a case where hand movements could get screwed up on Oculus when leaving Set Builder mode.
  • Fixed the Magic Pencil's colour wheel flickering briefly when new instances are created.
  • The Vive tracker "Connect Trackers" buttons are now hidden for non-Vive users.
  • Google Drive links now work correctly with the slideshow.
  • Added a setting to completely disable the user interface sounds (currently auto-disabled when recording or when OBS is connected) under the General settings tab.

With 2019 just around the corner, stay tuned for more updates and improvements because our plan is to keep on keeping 'em coming your way!

 

Flipside Alpha Update #19 - Teleporter 2.0, set builder snapping, and other fixes

- by John Luxford

Teleporter 2.0

Our new teleporter has been simplified while also providing more information about where you'll end up after teleporting.

You now see a reference for where your head and hands will end up in reference to your VR play space. We kept the one arrow that tells you where the front of your play space will be so users with 180-degree VR configurations can keep themselves oriented to the front of their spaces.

Set Builder mode snapping

We've made major improvements to snapping objects to the tops of surfaces in Set Builder mode, which works on all custom sets with no changes necessary.

The changes improve the way the sides of props are calculated, and how they determine what they should snap to, including surfaces that aren't perfectly flat.

This also paves the way for snapping to walls and ceilings, which is planned for a future update.

Bug fixes and other improvements

  • Made thumbs feel more natural in their default position
  • Fixed issues with eye rotations - Daz3D characters should now be fully compatible!
  • Fixed issues with prop interactions, both in acting and Director Mode
  • Fixed eyes in playback being affected by the handheld camera and other eye targets
  • Improved throwing away objects over your shoulder in Set Builder Mode, preventing occasional accidental deletions
  • Removed logic for detaching held objects if they're too far from the user's hand
  • Added a "Keep this take? Yes/No" dialog after recording so you don't have to wait for bad takes to upload
  • Hiding Next/Previous buttons on palette when there are no next or previous items
  • Added a button to the 2D camera switcher to toggle the visibility of UI elements
  • Improved foot stepping to feel a little more natural for all characters
  • Slideshow components (slideshow, slideshow controller, and screen elements in imported sets) now all work independently
  • More feedback and more streamlined Vive tracker connection process
 

Flipside Alpha Update #18 - Show/hide menu, camera movement settings, Cinemachine support, and more

- by John Luxford

This update focuses on usability improvements and bug fixes, making Flipside feel a little better all around.

Show/hide the palette menu

Pressing the menu button (above the thumbpad on Vive, left controller menu button on Rift) now hides the palette menu, or if it's already hidden recalls it to your hand. If a recording is in progress, it continues to stop the recording as well before recalling the menu.

This should also help a few edge cases where users have experienced the palette menu disappearing. Pressing the menu button ought to recall it if it ever disappears.

Camera movement and easing settings

Camera moves can now be controlled with two new settings: Camera Movement Speed, and Camera Easing. Movement speed determines how fast the camera moves between positions, and easing lets you choose whether the moves are linear or use one of a couple dozen easing options.


In addition, all cameras can now be grabbed and moved around, including using the thumbpad to zoom in and out, not just the handheld camera. To activate a camera position, grab it and press the trigger if it's not active.

Support for Cinemachine virtual cameras

Flipside already imported cameras embedded in your sets into Flipside's camera system, but now we've added the flexibility of Unity's new Cinemachine camera system as well. Any Cinemachine virtual cameras also become camera positions in Flipside, complete with all the capabilities that Cinemachine has introduced in Unity.

Featured characters and sets

We looked through all of our shared characters and sets and realized we've reached over 100 shared characters and over 50 shared sets! And that list is growing daily. There's lots we can do to improve our categorization and browsing, but as a first step we've added a new Featured category as the first category under both characters and sets, so we can highlight specific ones for new users.


We don't see the Featured category as just about showing the "best" but rather about showing what's possible, so we're always looking for characters and sets that add something new or make a great example of a particular feature.

Other bug fixes and improvements

  • You can click the "x" in the corner of the in-VR camera switcher to switch out of full screen mode and back into the 2D camera switcher.
  • The loading animation now shows "Set - 21%" and "Sky - 12%" so you can tell what's loading and how far along you are in the download.
  • The Desktop View prop has been temporarily disabled as we fix edge cases causing crashes for some users.
  • We disabled camera shake on cameras imported in custom sets.
  • We fixed the handheld camera and other objects accidentally being dropped from your hand in Director Mode and Set Builder Mode if you move your hand too fast when the world is scaled down.
  • The handheld camera now uses the correct camera layers so it can capture UI elements if you have them set to visible (via Alt + V).
  • Multiplayer initial state was being sent before remote players were ready to receive packets.
  • Major internal cleanup of our character system.
  • Observer Analytics plugin fixes.

We hope you enjoy this update, and stay tuned because we have more updates already in the works!

 

Watch our CTO's TEDx talk - The Digital Identity Revolution

- by John Luxford

Back in July, our CTO gave a talk at TEDxWinnipeg 2018 about how avatars are changing our sense of identity, and how VR and AR are quickly bringing about this change.

The video of the talk is now up for everyone to watch, so check it out!

 

Say howdy in the Wild West, the Flipside way!

- by John Luxford

Howdy Flipsters!

We've got a fun new Wild West theme for you, including a collection of 6 Wild West characters and a Western town set complete with interactive props like guns and bottles. You know, Western stuff.

Meet the cast


Bennett the Judge

Billy the Kid

James the Floating Head


Travis the Floating Head


Ethan the Cowboy


Harvey the Banker

This is Flipside after all, so naturally there's a bit of a twist.

Travis the Terrible was off robbing a train when James the Gentleman caught wind of his plan and devised his own plan to steal the spoils. Two plans collided with the steel of the train, and they both ended up in a pinch - literally!

Fortunately, the town doctor was close by and was able to save them, from the neck up at least. Now Travis and James get around in fancy glass jars that keep their head's alive, and with a little help from the town blacksmith they even have shiny new mechanical hands to help them go about their days with some degree of independence.

A whole Wild West town

No Western town would be complete without a Saloon, but there's also the Trading Post, the Bank, the Jail, the Barber Shop, the Grand Hotel, and more. So saddle up for a drink, then head out on the town in search of a duel, or some partners to go prospecting for gold. They say there's gold in them hills!


Look for the new set and characters under the Historical category.

Credits

The town is based on the Western Pack by Synty Studios. The characters are based on the Toon Western Characters Pack by Parramon Paidotribo. All modifications and setup, such as the floating heads, facial expressions, lighting, and set interactions were made by Thomas Murphy.

 

Flipside Alpha Update #17 - Animate objects, shadow settings, and more

- by John Luxford

The latest Flipside update is out, and has some cool additions as well as a few core bug fixes.

Animate objects in Director Mode

Grab any object while in Director Mode and its movements will be animated as if the object was moving on its own. This makes Director Mode into an invisible character that can still affect the scene.

Note: To enter our experimental new Director Mode, press Alt + D on your keyboard (same goes for exiting Director Mode too).

360 video support

You can now upload 360 videos under Skies in your Creator Dashboard, and they will play in Flipside. 360 videos are also synchronized with the start of recording and playback in Flipside, so you can use them as part of your show productions.

360 video attribution: DCL Digital Construction Ltd.

Flipside supports monoscopic 360 videos only at this time, with resolutions up to 4K. Performance can be impacted on really high quality videos with high bit rates, so be sure to review the recommended specs in the Skies upload form.

Settings panel

In the 2D camera switcher, there's a new settings icon that opens a settings panel. Here you can enter your slideshow links, teleprompter text, Twitch channel ID, and other settings.


Your slideshow links and teleprompter text are automatically synced with your account, so you don't have to update them through your Creator Dashboard as well.

Shadow settings

Shadows are costly on performance, and performance is a no-compromise situation in VR due to simulator sickness. For that reason, we left shadows disabled in order to support minimum specification VR setups. But some users have higher powered rigs, so we've added settings to let you control your shadow settings.


You can choose between no shadows, hard shadows, and hard + soft shadows, and you can also adjust the shadow resolution from low quality to very high.

See your desktop in Flipside (experimental)

Just like the slideshow and preview monitors, we've added a screen that shows you your computer screen in Flipside so you have a window into the outside world. This makes it easier to do things like stream your games as your character, without needing a complex green screen-based setup.

Known issue: The desktop view may not work on first launch and just show a flat grey. The solution is to relaunch Flipside and it should work after that.

Flipside Creator Tools v0.13

The Flipside Creator Tools have been updated to version 0.13. You can find info to install or upgrade here:

Wolf3D avatar support

We've been working with the folks at Wolf3D to integrate their avatar system into Flipside, and while Wolf3D is still in closed beta, the import process into Flipside is now completely automatic.

Screen elements

We've added a ScreenElement component which replaces the main material on an object with either Flipside's slideshow or main output. This can be used to animate TVs and other objects with screens.

 

Watch T3r Elemento's new music video made in Flipside

- by John Luxford

We spent the last four weeks collaborating with DEL Records on an animated music video for T3r Elemento's new single "En Menos De Un Minuto". The single is out today and you can watch the video here:

This project was made from start to finish in just four weeks, including:

  • Developing the concept
  • Creating custom characters for all five band members
  • Creating and integrating all of the sets and props like their musical instruments
  • Building our new Director Mode and imported cameras, which made certain shots possible
  • Shooting and acting out the whole thing
  • Integrating canned character animations for some shots
  • Motion graphics and compositing Flipside footage into After Effects
  • DEL Records finished the video with a superb edit and added special effects 

This was a great test of what Flipside can do as a real-time animation tool for filmmaking, and we learned a ton of things that we'll be sharing in future posts and also using to make Flipside even better.

 

Flipside Alpha Update #16 - Experimental director mode, import animated cameras, and more

- by John Luxford

Try our experimental new Director Mode

Director Mode is an experimental new feature that makes you an invisible director, hiding you from both video output and motion capture recordings. Director Mode also lets you move and scale the world with your hands like you can in Set Builder mode.

Moving and scaling the world while recording makes it possible to capture shots from any angle, and even move the world with one hand and the handheld camera with the other to simulate jib arms and other complex shots. So many new possibilities!

Press Alt + D to toggle Director Mode on/off.

Set Builder changes

Now when you enter Set Builder mode, you'll see your character disappear and your hands replaced with controllers, so you can see you're in Set Builder mode. This will help make more precise placement and interactions easier too when arranging your sets.

Other fixes and improvements

  • Every time you change sets, you'll now spawn at the initial spawn point, which fixes cases where you can teleport into unwanted positions on some shared sets.
  • The in-VR camera switcher controls now match the behaviour of the computer screen camera switcher, which makes camera changes just one button press.
  • We've made several improvements to our OBS Studio integration to keep the two apps in sync.
  • We fixed the in-VR camera switcher failing to appear when you launch Flipside after switching to in-VR camera editing mode.
  • We fixed account linking for users using both Oculus and Steam accounts.
  • We fixed a case where recordings may not always load on the palette.

Flipside Creator Tools v0.12

The Flipside Creator Tools have been updated to version 0.12, and include some really cool changes too.

Dedicated Creator Tools window

The Flipside Creator Tools are now in their own window in Unity, instead of appearing as an overlay to the Scene window. This avoids problems where the Scene window may be too small, cutting off visibility of some of the Creator Tools buttons.


In the Flipside Creator Tools menu, choose Open Creator Tools to open the new window. You can dock it anywhere in the Unity layout that works best for your workflow.

Animate faces with Unity animations

The new Animation facial expression mode triggers Unity animations to control facial expressions. This not only makes bone-based facial expressions possible, but anything the Unity animation system can do too!


It's also saved us a ton of time importing characters with bones but no blend shapes. Double win!

Learn more in our user manual about connecting facial expressions to Unity animations.

Synchronized animations and audio

Any auto-playing animations and audio sources in custom sets will now be synchronized to restart on Play, Record, and Add Role, and to pause/resume when playback is paused too, so they stay in sync with recorded parts.

Cameras added to custom sets now become Flipside cameras

Any cameras that you add to a custom set are now automatically added to the Flipside camera system. You can even attach animations to cameras to achieve any camera movements imaginable.

Triggers events on colliders, props, and cameras in custom sets

Trigger your own custom Unity events in your sets! Unity events can do things like enable or disable objects, trigger sounds and animations, particle effects, and more. There are three new ways of triggering Unity events in your sets:

  1. On any PropElement, you can trigger events when you grab a prop, press or release the trigger while holding it, and when you let it go.
  2. On any CameraElement, you can trigger events when an imported camera position is activated or deactivated. This makes it possible to create custom sequences like show intros with a custom animation, music, and camera move.
  3. On any ColliderElement, you can trigger events when something enters or exists a collider's volume. Volumes can be any size, so you can do things like trigger scene changes when you move into a new area of a set, or when you hit something with your hand.

Click here to learn more about adding interactivity to your sets.

These changes open up so many new possibilities for interactions on sets, and we can't wait to see what you guys do with them!

 

Live Animated Theatre at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival

- by John Luxford


Pixels was a live animated improv show by the internationally acclaimed improv duo Stephen Sim and Caity Curtis. They used Flipside Studio to create an animated show in real-time in front of a live audience, wearing HTC Vive headsets to perform the characters while the audience watched on screen.

It was also the first public test of our upcoming cross-platform multiplayer that's going to completely change the way we make animated shows forever.

They sold out 9 out of 10 shows at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival 2018, and the response was incredible! The opening night of the festival experienced severe thunderstorms, so a big thank you to those who braved the weather to see the show that first night.

Stephen and Caity had a dozen different characters and a dozen different locations they could choose from, as well as any of the characters and sets created by our community, which resulted in some hilarious moments.

The sets were simple photograph backdrops, and the characters were all ordinary people, but it became immediately apparent when the first live audience members gasped at the opening of the show why this was something truly different.

There are several things that real-time animation makes possible, whether for live theatre audiences, live streaming audiences watching from home or anywhere, or both.

Location, location, location

Virtually unlimited locations you can jump to at a moment's notice enables you to take your show anywhere, including to dynamically react to the audience's suggestions and reactions.

Locations can also be dynamic themselves, like the driving scene shown above. As you can see, we've barely scratched the surface of what storytellers are able to do now as a result this technology.

Instantly be any character

Just like locations, an actor can instantly become any character of their choosing to augment the experience of the show. 

Improvisers have always had to inform the audience through verbal or physical clues as to what their character's role was, but now for the first time they can become that character in an instant.

Creating instant immersion like that frees improvisers to go deeper and explore new directions that were only previously possible through elaborate stage design and costume work.

Real-time directing and editing

The director can also dynamically affect the production as it happens. With the power to control cameras and more, the director can present the audience with something more akin to an edited TV show or movie with dynamic shots that theatre could never do live before.

Picture not just actors as part of the stage performance now, but also virtual camera operators getting close-ups and otherwise impossible shots, and still others animating environmental elements of the scene like lighting changes, sounds, moving props, or animals.

Improv is brought to life by real-time animation

Real-time animation gives superpowers to improvisers and sketch comedy troupes, turning them into real-time immersive storytellers. With the democratization of motion capture brought about by the combination of consumer-ready virtual reality hardware and software like Flipside Studio, real-time animation is going to explode both online and off.

All of this also brings a level of audience participation to animated content that only live theatre could do before. Suggestions can come to life right before the audience's eyes, and audience members can even be invited "on stage" (live or online) to be part of the experience.

And as computer graphics continue to make leaps and bounds over the coming years, real-time animation is also going to grow to encompass every style from the Simpsons to Toy Story, and even photorealistic animation like Planet of the Apes or Avatar.

There will always be new worlds and new stories to bring to life, and for years that's been getting faster and faster to do.

Now, it's instant.

 

Flipside Alpha Update #15 - New characters, vlogger set, and loads of improvements

- by John Luxford

Two new characters!

Meet the new Crocodile and Lion characters. Along with our existing Elephant and Giraffe characters, these two round out our jungle characters collection nicely.

A new vlogger set!

We've added a Vlogger Living Room set you can use to quickly make vlog-style recordings. This set is already setup with cameras and everything so you can jump right in and get creating.


Finger pointing for HTC Vive users

HTC Vive users can now press the index finger trigger to switch between open hand and pointing hand poses, making button pressing easier and adding more expressiveness to hands.

Clock prop to see the time

When you're in VR for long you can easily lose track of time. Our new clock prop will help you keep track of time back in the real world.

Resize your preview monitors

We've added the ability to scale preview monitors just like you can with ordinary props. Just grab a monitor with two hands and make it any size you want.

Bug fixes and other smaller improvements

We've also made loads of small fixes and quality of life improvements throughout the app:

  • Auto-hide mouse cursor when it's not moving, so that pesky mouse cursor never ruins a shot again
  • No more jarring perspective change when entering Set Builder mode
  • Flipside will automatically launch OBS Studio if you try to connect before it's running
  • Custom characters no longer require finger or shoulder bones to import properly
  • Fixed visual glitches in our 2D output when changing sets
  • Silenced user interface sounds when recording video or live streaming
 

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