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Using the Flipside set importer

- by Rachael Hosein

In this tutorial post, we will show you how to import a set into Flipside.

Prerequisites

This tutorial assumes you have installed and setup the Flipside Creator Tools

Step 1. Get a set model

For this tutorial, we're going to use Cube Room by Naomi Chen from Google Poly. You can source any model you would like to use for your set, all you will need is an .obj file for the model, a .mtl file for its material, and any associated textures. 

Step 2. Import your set into Unity

Launch Unity and have the Flipside Creator Tools set up.

If using Google Poly to get your set model:

If you have a model from elsewhere:

  • Import your model by choosing dragging the .obj, .mtl and any associated texture files into your Unity project
  • Create a new scene in Unity by choosing File > New Scene
  • Place your set model into the Unity Scene by dragging it from the project panel into the scene


Step 3. Clean up

Since you don't need the default camera and light, delete them from the Hierarchy panel.

 

Step 4. Convert your scene into a Flipside set

Convert your scene into a Flipside set by choosing Flipside Creator Tools > Create Set From Current Scene.


Step 5. Input the Set Info

With the root set object selected in the Hierarchy panel, go to the Inspector panel to access the Set Info.

If the set model is under a Creative Commons with Attribution license:

  • In the Inspector panel for the set, add the creator's name in the Attribution field.

Position the set so it's on the floor of your scene:

  • In the Inspector panel for the set, position the set so the floor of the set is the same as the floor of the scene by using the Transform handles or going into the Inspector panel for the set and adjust the Y value.

Step 6. Create the set bundle

In the scene window, click Build Set Bundle.  Once the set building process is complete, click on Find Set Bundle File to locate your set file.

Step 7. Add the set to your account

  • Go to www.flipsidexr.com and log into your Creator account.
  • Navigate to the Sets section and click the + icon to add your set.  This will bring you to a page where you can upload the set file from the Flipside Creator Tools, a thumbnail of the set, and an attribution to the set creator.

Step 8. Launch Flipside and check out your set

Once your set has been added to your Creator account, launch the Flipside app and check out your new set!

For a more detailed breakdown of how to import your own set, visit Creating a Custom Set in the Flipside documentation.

 

Flipside Alpha Update #10

- by John Luxford

This update has been a few weeks in the making, and we're super excited to share these improvements with you, so let's jump right in!

Import your own custom sets

The Flipside Creator Tools now support importing not just your own custom characters, but your own complete sets too! Along with our custom props and skies, Flipside Studio is now the only VR animation software that gives you complete control as a content creator.

Our mission is to empower you as a creator, and this is the last major piece of that puzzle in terms of customizing your shows. But don't think that means we're close to finished; we're only going to make it better and better from here.

Click here to learn how to create your own custom sets.

Realistic hair, cloth, and tail movement

Flipside's character importing now works with Unity's Dynamic Bone plugin for more realistic hair, cloth, and tail movement. This is part of our continued effort to make your characters - the heart of your shows - come to life.

Flipside's characters now support facial expressions, lip syncing, natural eye movement, full body movement and tracking, and now realistic hair, cloth, and tail movement too. And we're proud to be able to say that every one of these features works through the Flipside Creator Tools, because it's the same tool we use to build our own character sets too.

Click here to learn how to add realistic hair, cloth, and tail movement to your custom characters.

Simplified lip syncing option

Flipside's character importing now supports a third mode for lip syncing, which we call Simplified Blend Shapes. Our full blend shape mapping requires individual shapes for each viseme (aah, ih, oh, ou, etc.), which many character models don't have. Our new Simplified Blend Shape mapping option still lets you map the facial expressions and eye movements, but it uses only one "open mouth" shape to control the lip syncing.

This means as long as a character has a default (closed mouth) state and one open mouth shape, it should still work in Flipside. It also means Flipside can now achieve effects like Muppet-style mouth movements!

The updated Flipside Creator Tools also automatically maps Adobe Fuse characters to this simplified setup, so Fuse users don't have to do anything to map their facial expressions, eyes, or lip syncing.

Camera properties in the Set Builder

We've expanded the properties panel for props in the Set Builder to work with cameras and preview monitors too now, and added our first customizable camera setting: enable/disable camera shake.


To open the properties panel, grab the camera or prop and press either the Application Menu button on HTC Vive, or the A/X buttons on the Oculus Touch controllers.

Teleporter shows your play area

A few users have expressed that when using the teleporter, it would be great if they could see where their boundaries are - a suggestion that we decided to move on sooner than later. The next time you use the teleporter, you'll notice that in addition to the marker that shows where you'll land, you'll also see the boundaries of your play area so you can see where you can walk around at your teleporter destination. We will also be rolling out some visual updates to the teleporter in the near future!

Bug fixes

  • Fixed wrist twisting issues by supporting twist bones
  • Better error handling when assets fail to load
  • Various palette fixes for characters and props
  • Fixed display of stick men on the palette and in set builder mode
  • Fixed the saucy hip movement of the dino characters
  • Fixed a case where Mixed Reality mode would show black instead of the 4 quadrants
  • Fixed the loading notice count of how many characters are loading
  • Slideshow now supports regular YouTube video links (not just share links)
  • Slideshow and teleprompter working properly when recording additional parts
  • Lots of other minor updates

Join us on our Discord chat, our community forum, or our Steam discussion page to let us know what you think, to share your Flipside creations, and to get to know others in the Flipside Creator Community.

We're learning so much from all of you that are helping shape Flipside Studio into the product that it is. A big thank you from our whole team for that invaluable input!

 

Flipside Studio is now available in Oculus Home

- by John Luxford

We're excited to share that Flipside Studio is now available for free in the Oculus Home app store! This makes Flipside Studio the first VR animation software to go cross-platform, since our release on Steam on March 13th.

Our goal is to make the animation experience you've always dreamed of, while providing maximum creative control to make your shows your way. This means your characters, your concepts, your content.

By making Flipside easy to use, we also want to introduce VR and AR content creation to creators who otherwise wouldn't be able to participate because they don't have a team of 3D artists and programmers at their disposal. We believe VR and AR creation should be open to anyone, so we're making that happen.

We're still on the road to 1.0 and you'll notice Flipside is listed in the Early Access category in Oculus Home too. But we're moving fast, and we have a number of major improvements to roll out in the coming weeks that we can't wait to share with all of you.

So a very warm welcome to all the new Oculus users to our Flipside Creator Community. We couldn't be happier to have you, and we can't wait to see what you create with Flipside!

Click here to download Flipside Studio on Oculus Home.

Sincerely,
The Flipside Team

 

Using Adobe Mixamo to rig a custom character for Flipside

- by John Luxford

In this tutorial post, we will show you how to use Adobe Mixamo to rig a custom character model for importing into Flipside Studio.

Rigging is the process of creating a skeleton for a 3D model that determines how it can move. Mixamo is a free tool that helps automate the process of rigging 3D character models.

Prerequisites

This tutorial assumes you have installed and setup the Flipside Creator Tools. It also assumes you have registered for an Adobe account, which you can do on the Mixamo website.

Step 1. Get a character model

For this tutorial, we're going to use the Iron Giant character from Google Poly. Click on the Download link and choose OBJ file to download the character model. This will download a zip file of the character model, its materials, and any associated texture images.

"Iron Giant" by Steve P is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

You can upload the zip file directly to Mixamo, but if you want to explore what it contains you can unzip the downloaded file by right-clicking it in Windows Explorer and choosing Extract All. You should have an unzipped folder containing two files:

  • materials.mtl - This file describes the material properties of the character.
  • model.obj - This file is the 3D model of the character itself.

Some characters will also include one or more images that are the material file uses as textures on the model. In this case, there's just the two files.

Step 2. Upload the character to Mixamo

Log into the Mixamo website, then click on the Upload Character button on the right. Select the zip file of your character model and click Next. After the upload is processed, you should see the following screen:

If you need to rotate your character so it's facing the front, use the left-right arrow button in the bottom left corner. Click Next to continue when your character is upright and facing forward. This will take you to the Auto-Rigger screen below.

Step 3. The Auto-Rigger

First, uncheck the Use Symmetry checkbox, because this character model is not symmetrical.

It should also be noted here that characters will work best if they are in a T-pose with the palms facing down, however Mixamo does a pretty good job in many cases with models in various poses.

Now drag each circle on the left to its corresponding point on your character. When you're finished it should look like this:

Click Next again for the auto-rigging process to begin. If everything looks good after Mixamo has rigged your character, import your character into Mixamo by clicking Next again.

The last step is to download your newly-rigged character model. Click on the Download button in the top-right corner and leave the default options as is.

You are now ready to import your character into the Flipside Creator Tools! Here are some links to guide you through the next steps:

 

Flipside Alpha Update #9

- by John Luxford

Continuing our focus on bug fixes from last week's update, we've made lots of little improvements again this week too. But we also have one new feature we're excited to share:

Sky's the limit

You can now upload your own 360 photos to change the skies in Flipside! Combined with our blank set, this means you can use any 360 photo as a custom environment for your shows.

Flipside supports both mono and stereoscopic 360 photos in either PNG or JPG format. Stereo photos must be in "over/under" mode (left eye on top, right eye on bottom).

This opens up a world of new show possibilities, and is step one on our way to completely custom set importing. We can't wait to see where you guys take Flipside next!

Bug fixes

Here's what we managed to improve for you guys since last week:

  • Improved keyboard controls for camera editing: Pressing 1, 2, 3 now respects the current latch setting (cut or move), but you can override the latch via C+1 or M+1 combos to specify a deliberate cut or move.
  • Imported props now support a much wider number of material settings, so your props should be looking better than ever.
  • We made more fixes to the slideshow, which now supports loads of video formats, as well as photos, YouTube links, Dropbox links, and live streams over RTSP and RTMP.
  • Lots of smaller behind-the-scenes fixes.

We're moving fast, and we have lots more coming up too that we can't wait to share with our amazing creator community. Make sure you share your creations on our Discord chat, our community forum, or using the hashtag #madeinflipside on Twitter.

 

Flipside Alpha Update #8

- by John Luxford

This week's update is focused on bringing you bug fixes and quality of life improvements.

Slideshow supports YouTube videos

We've made a big upgrade to the slideshow video playback, and now you can link to YouTube videos, and a wider list of video formats are supported now too.

That's our Flipside Studio trailer, playing in Flipside via YouTube!

Hands, touching hands, reaching ooout...

In the last few releases, your real hands and your character's hands weren't completely aligned. This caused noticeable issues when interacting with props that feel like they're not quite in your hand. We're happy to say we've solved this by adding a little stretchiness to the arms, which works more closely to how our arm system worked in the past.

For characters with really long arms, we've also found that you can run your body calibration sitting down and without fully extending your arms. Then you can act that part while sitting, and your arms will stretch to feel more natural for your character. This is one of the techniques actors use when embodying puppets that don't match their own dimensions, and it's pretty fun too!

Holding props while recording starts

There was a bug that caused props that were being held at the start of a recording to be reset to their original positions on the set. That's been fixed, and now you can grab a prop and have it ready in hand when recording starts.

Twitter photo sharing

Photos weren't showing up in Twitter photo shares, but that's now been fixed. Share on, Wayne!

Misc fixes

  • We've added more error checking to prevent the disappearing menu bug.
  • We've fixed how characters scale, so now you can adjust their size in the Creator Tools and Flipside will apply the correct scale to your characters. Note: Make sure you update to version 0.8 of the Flipside Creator Tools.
  • Playback and physics are now paused when you open the Steam menu or Oculus Dash.
 

Flipside Alpha Update #7

- by John Luxford

It's time for another Flipside Studio update!

Discord chat server

First, we've added a Discord chat server to our list of ways you can reach us for help, as well as meet other creators in the Flipside Creator Community. We're also active on our Steam Discussion page as well, so feel free to reach out in whatever way work best for you!

Mixed Reality filming in Flipside (preview)

Flipside Studio now supports Mixed Reality filming via an HTC Vive Tracker attached to a real-world camera. The coolest part is that it also works with our existing Vive Tracker support for tracking your lower body! The second coolest part is that you can still switch back and forth between Mixed Reality and any other cameras you have on your set, without exiting Mixed Reality mode.

We're calling this a feature preview since it's a big change and may have introduced new bugs we didn't catch yet. And of course, you can find the complete info on using Flipside's new Mixed Reality mode in our documentation.

Special thanks to Raktor and LIV for their help in getting this feature built.

Viking props

Vikings are cool. Because vikings are so cool, we've started adding viking-related things into Flipside, starting with some new viking props. More viking-related things will follow.


Why yes, you may see my battle axe. Would you care for another flagon of ale?

Bug fixes

1. We fixed an issue that caused Flipside Studio to fail to load in some cases. Apologies to everyone that was affected by this bug!

2. Oculus Touch controllers now work the same through SteamVR as they do through Oculus Home, including the ability to control the slideshow and teleprompter in VR (HTC Vive users will be able to do this soon too, we promise!).

3. Camera previews in the Set Builder now show a 1:1 preview of the real camera output, so now you have an accurate reference when setting up your cameras.

4. We've made a big improvement to the feel and accuracy of throwing props away in the Set Builder. For reference, you can delete objects by throwing them over your shoulder or with the Delete button in the Prop Settings panel.

5. We've added a scale reference and automatic fixes for scale when your imported character is way too small or too large. Click here to go download the latest version of the Flipside Creator Tools. A big thanks to Bruno Pato for working through these issues with us!


That's it for this week. Stay tuned, we've got tons more exciting things to share in the coming weeks!

 

Flipside Alpha Update #6

- by John Luxford

Flipside update time! This week we have a small update with some really cool things for you.

Stickman characters

We've added two stickman-style characters for you to play with. Making your own stickman shows in Flipside is ridiculous fun!

Character importer movement previews

Last week we showed you that you could press Play in the Unity editor to preview your characters in VR before importing them into Flipside. Now when you press A/X on Oculus Touch, the Application Menu buttons on HTC Vive, or hit the space bar on your keyboard, your character will do a little dance for you that shows you how your character moves from all angles, helping identify issues in your model's rigging, weighting, textures, etc.

Here's a little video of our stickman dancing in the Flipside Creator Tools.

Character importer texture fixes

We've also improved our texture handling, particularly for Adobe Fuse & Mixamo character importing. This should make everyone's lives a little easier importing custom characters. No extra steps, just make sure you're on the latest version of the Flipside Creator Tools.

Visit the Creator Tools page to download the latest update (v0.6).

That's it for this week. Stay tuned, we've got tons more exciting things to share in the coming weeks!

 

Flipside Studio is live on Steam Early Access!

- by John Luxford

Flipside Studio is now available on Steam Early Access, and we couldn't be more excited to welcome more creators into the Flipside Creator Community.

This has been a long time in the making. When we first set out to create Flipside, we had trouble even conveying what a piece of software that helped people make "shows" using VR was or did. We called it things like a "social performance platform" that often left people scratching their heads.

Now we can just show you.

Our message has become much clearer too. Flipside Studio is real-time animation software that lets you be inside of your animated shows like a TV or movie set. Press record and act your parts by being your characters.

In working with actors, we've found that we can often reduce the time it takes to produce animated content from around 1 minute produced per week, to 1 minute produced per hour, including editing and post. That's a 40x efficiency boost. That's an order of magnitude in time savings that is going to change the way people make animated shows.

And it's only just the beginning.

We have so many ideas, many from talking directly to creators like yourself, that Flipside Studio is going to also become not just the fastest but also the most powerful way to make animated shows. Our priorities are to give you the most creative agency by bringing in your character to make your shows your way, and to provide the right tools to make the best shows you can, in both 2D and 3D.

Flipside Studio captures your movements, just like a motion capture suit, so you can replay and record as many takes and new camera angles as you want. We also capture them this way so your YouTube shows today can one day be shared in 3D too. One show for all screens.

We're still on the road to 1.0 and there are lots of bugs and features that aren't perfect, or even complete yet. But Flipside is improving rapidly, and becoming something really special for us. It's a privilege to help people make their art, something we take very seriously inside of all the ridiculous fun we have making this app for you.

We hope you love it too. We hope you make lots of great things with it, and we can't wait to see those things.

Click here to download Flipside Studio on Steam.

Sincerely,
The Flipside Team

 

The Animator's Dilemma: Beating the YouTube Algorithm

- by Lesley Klassen

At the end of each year, YouTube creates their Rewind video that celebrates the videos, people, music, and memes that hit big. For the first time, YouTube featured animators in their Rewind video

In fact, animation is really growing on YouTube and you can see this at conferences like VidCon, that are seeing more programming devoted to animation. 

You may be saying to yourself, “What’s the big deal? Animations are becoming more popular on YouTube, so what.” It all comes down to the YouTube algorithm and the added challenges that animators face over live-action content creators.

If you have an hour or more to spare watch this enlightening video on the YouTube algorithm by the Fine Brothers and MatPat from Game Theorist. There are some great insights to take from this video. Primarily, creators need to post regularly and have videos with longer watch times, preferably over 10 minutes long.

Creating 10 minutes of live-action video is challenging enough, but it’s not nearly as tough as it is to create 10 minutes of animated content on a regular basis. It’s actually damn near impossible. Animation takes a long time. 

YouTube made it even harder for animators with the new changes to their monetization policy. Now you need 1000 subscribers and at least 4000 hours of viewership over the last 12 months in order to qualify for their YouTube Partner Program. This means that animators need to create 10 minutes of content or longer on a frequent basis, preferably 2 - 3 times a week, and build a subscriber base of 1000 before even turning on monetization. For many animators, why bother?


Channel Frederator represents over 3000 animators on YouTube and provide services that help YouTubers market their animations.  They felt the need to respond to the new YouTube monetization policy. "Channel Frederator Network has decided to allow members of the network, who have been kicked out of YouTube's Partnership Program, to stay and use our tools & resources to help them reach new audiences," states Director of Networks Kenneth Ash. 

Animators really do have a dilemma.  Especially those up and coming channels who haven't reached monetization. That's the thing about animators, they are so passionate about animating that they will persist for the love of the art. But persistence won’t change the YouTube algorithm, however technology can help. 

Flipside Studio is a real-time animation studio. We simulate a film set or TV studio inside virtual reality to allow an animator to use filmmaking techniques along with real-time motion capture to make animated content. Because it’s real-time, it takes about the same amount of time to make a Flipside animation as it takes to record a live-action video. We make it easier to make longer animations more frequently so animators can start competing against live-action creators for subscribers and watch time.  

There are multiple strategies animators are using to currently keep pace with the demands of the YouTube algorithm, and we know Flipside can help. 

  • Interstitial content
    Many animators release monthly, which is not optimal. Interstitial content can be created with Flipside and released in between the larger monthly releases to keep a channel freshly updated.
  • Add to an already existing animation format
    Augmenting an already produced show with new elements made in Flipside will speed up the process. For example, Liam the Leprechaun is using Flipside to introduce his gaming channels. 
  • Create new animations
    Use Flipside to make a new show that satisfies the YouTube algorithm by taking advantage of the real-time nature of Flipside. FunPack is an example of this.
  • Live stream an animated show
    Real-time animation is great for live streaming.  Each stream can be captured and re-edited too.  Take advantage of connecting with a live audience while making content well suited for YouTube. 

We believe that real-time animation technology will play a big role in the future of animation. This is especially true on competitive platforms like YouTube that have algorithms that play a role in surfacing content. Animators have it tough but new technologies like Flipside are emerging to level the playing field. Sign up for our private Alpha to give Flipside a try.  

 

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