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Flipside Update #22 - Seeing yourself and beta bug fixes

- by Lux

While this is primarily a bug fix update for our multiplayer Beta branch, we did sneak one new feature in:

See your character while acting

When in character, you'll now see a ghost-like outline of your character, so you can see exactly where your hands and body are positioned. Here's what it looks like.

We experimented with a lot of possible solutions to this problem, which was made a lot more complicated by the fact that we don't control how most of our characters are made. Other solutions like just showing your body directly would fall apart with larger characters like our elephant, whose trunk being visible got in the way of seeing what you're actually trying to do.

This solution should work automatically with all custom characters, but if you spot any that don't work well, let us know on Discord. This is also the first step towards more improvements we have in development for characters.

Bug fixes and improvements

We also made the following bug fixes and improvements that should make things feel better across the board:

  • Flipside no longer waits for everything to load before you can begin
  • Improved caching of texture images
  • Improved Vive tracker support
  • More error checking when importing custom props
  • Improved collisions on hands in playback
  • Fixed switching sets in director mode
  • Fixed hand issue when switching in and out of puppet mode
  • Fixed various issues with imported cameras
  • Improved foot orientations for some custom characters
  • Improved behaviour of grabbing objects
  • Improved placement of feet using hip width and leg length

For details on what we're working on next, check out our roadmap!

 

Flipside Update #21 - Faster character loading and multiplayer fixes

- by Lesley Klassen

Happy New Year Flipsters!

We're blasting into the new year with a new update. In the last update, we released our multiplayer beta and users are exploring the new changes to the user interface and playing with the new multiplayer features. The feedback has been great.  We will continue to make updates to the Beta until it's stable, then we'll push those changes live for all our users. If you want to try out these new features, Sign-up for our Beta

Faster character loading

We've heard you loud and clear.  Characters are now represented as photographs rather than miniature models on our palette.  This means character previews load faster on the palette so browsing for your favourite characters is much easier and uses less data (for those who have lower bandwidth caps).  Thank you to Cybermynd for this suggestion! 

Improved Recording for Multiplayer

Thanks to all our beta users, especially Discord user Derky Sprawl, The VR Girl and vrgamedevgirl for helping us track down key multiplayer bugs!

Check out this snippet from one of Derky Sprawl and The VR Girl's #madeinflipside collabs.

New audio tutorial

Learn how to use an external microphone to improve the audio quality of your recordings.  This tutorial explains how to select an external microphone for the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.  

Stream to Facebook through Oculus Home

Oculus recently made changes to Oculus Home to allow apps to stream directly to Facebook. Flipside Studio now supports this feature. You will need to connect your Oculus account to your Facebook account and opt-in to the Public Test Channel on Oculus Home for this to work. Learn more through our online documentation

Other bug fixes and improvements

  • Upgraded Final IK and improved wrist twist bone detection
  • Fixed error initializing audio playback that broke playback for some users
  • Fixed various errors that broke recording for some users
  • Fixed error causing recording notice to stay stuck on "Action"
  • Cartridges and cards no longer appear to be grabbed by remote users
  • Fixed issue with scale and snappable planes in Set Builder mode
  • Fixed issue with running out of preview camera materials
  • Fixed issue where a seam would appear on some skies
  • Fixed skies sending the wrong ID in set builder mode
  • Fixed built-in cameras on sets being duplicated
  • Reduced core multiplayer packet size by 17%

Creator Tools additions (v0.15)

  • ToggleElement component that adds on/off states to ColliderElement, which helps with doors and lights
  • FlipsideActions component to trigger internal Flipside actions (cut camera, advance slide, change sky or set, etc.)

Download the latest version of the creators tools. 

Known multiplayer issues 

We're working hard on ironing out all the bugs with our multiplayer beta.  Here are some issues that we're currently digging into.  

  • When in multiplayer, if two people are in set builder mode, the scaling of objects are erratic. 
  • When recording a second part in multiplayer, the guest actors will not see the first part as a reference while recording the second part.  This is actively being worked on. 

If you're encountering a new issue, please let us know on Discord or on our Trello Roadmap.




 

A look back at 2018 and a look ahead

- by Lux

This month marked our 20th Flipside update of 2018, which included our much-anticipated cross-platform multiplayer feature, letting you create content together over distance.

That many updates feels crazy enough on its own, but it's also been one crazy year all-around. We started 2018 just getting Flipside ready to submit to the app stores, and we ended up accomplishing a heck of a lot since then.

A few highlights

We made a music video for Del Records artist T3R Elemento's single En Menos De Un Minuto, which reached 20M views this month!

Flipside was used live on stage more than a dozen times this year, first with Jasper de Tarr from Raktor being a guinea pig for our Mixed Reality support, followed by our CTO Lux's TEDxWinnipeg talk about how avatars are changing our sense of identity, then with acting duo Stephen and Caity in their Pixels live animated improv shows at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival and Winnipeg Improv Festival.

Flipside Studio was used to make a 30 minute show with the team at Tell 'em Steve Dave for their Patreon subscribers.

Bobjenz, one of our users, teamed up with Roblox for this year's Ready Player one release.

Josiah Brooks of Draw With Jazza created an animated short film titled "Sexy Benjamin" using Flipside.

And our list of custom characters is now over 125 strong and our list of custom sets is over 75 strong and growing all the time, thanks to prolific creators like Cybermynd and VRGameDevGirl.

To top it all off we were also nominated for VR Innovative Company of the year at this year's VR Awards held in London.  It's been an amazing year and it will only get better in 2019.

 


Looking ahead

Looking ahead, 2019 looks to be just as crazy. We have new shows in the works, new partnerships we're looking forward to sharing with all of you.

We have a ton of ideas, many of which come straight from our users on our roadmap, and a ton of polish to add to Flipside in order to make it the truly stand-out live animation platform it's quickly growing into.

We couldn't be more proud of how far we've come, and while we're looking forward to some rest over the holidays, we couldn't be more excited for what's to come!


Wishing the Flipside community a warm and happy holidays until we meet again on the Flipside in 2019.

Sincerely,
The Flipside Team

 

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.

 

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