2Pac-Man – California

Hello friends. About 2/3 years ago in 2017 or 2018 or something, I was looking to do another Pac-Man vid for my YouTube channel to try and capture some of the magic of my other Pac-Man vid that’s got like 28 million views or something.

My buddy James Wolfaardt suggested 2Pac-Man – it’s like Tupac mixed with Pac-Man. Anyways, I thought that was a great idea, and started drawing pixel art for it. Then I would pick it up and leave it at various times throughout the next couple years, until I recently completed it.

The Process:

I started out by making the song – something I’m not thaaat au fait with, but anyways, I got the a Capella voice track by ‘California Love’ by 2Pac ft. Dr. Dre, then got the midi for the song, brought everything into Ableton Live, and started changing the instruments to 8bit sounds, 8bit drums (using various 8bit instruments and effects I’ve either bought or downloaded free ones), etc. I also got a bunch of Pac-Man sfx and extra ones from Splice, and started putting them into the track, and created a much shorter and unique arrangement and worked on that a while.

The song was made at 100bpm, so I also made a click track in Ableton to visually see the beats, so I could land them better.

Once the song was done, I made a storyboard/animatic for it in Toon Boom Storyboard Pro. I kept working it to get the shots down and to simplify the types of shots to give myself an easier time. I also tried reusing some stuff in the later shots, but ended tweaking them to make them more unique anyways. I used the clicktrack too to see exactly where beats landed and land the action on beats too, and so I could cut shots on the beat too.

Once the animatic was locked, I started drawing the sprites on iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil in an app called Pixaki – it’s a neat little app where you can draw pixel sprites and create pixel animations.

Once those were all done, I exported them as PSD from Pixaki and shared using Airdrop to my Macbook Pro and prepared the files in an app called ‘Affinity Photo’ (it’s an alternative to Adobe Photoshop, I’ve got off the Adobe subscription model) to prepare them for animation.

The rest of the process happens on laptop, iPad was only to draw the stuff.

Once layers were prepped, named and grouped correctly, I exported the files as a PSD, and imported them into Toon Boom Harmony Premium. I then exported little movies for each shot from Toon Boom Storyboard Pro, and brought them into Toon Boom Harmony Premium too, to get the shot timings. The movies had the song sections and click track audio with them, which were also imported into Toon Boom Harmony. I animated/moved around the sprites, added any background panning, sequenced the images, added effects like flashing stars, character movement etc.

Then (phew) I exported each shot first as H264 vids to do a test arrangement in Final Cut Pro X. Once I could see it was all working, and experimented with a couple things and effects, I exported each shot as Apple ProRes 422HQ (or Apple ProRes 444 for shots that required transparency) and sequenced them to the animatic and a click track in Final Cut Pro X on Macbook Pro. I made sure to use the animatic as a guide, and also used a clicktrack to check that stuff was aligning.

I used a website called Landr.com to automatically master the song so that it sounded decent. It cost me 10 bucks or something.

I swapped in the mastered track to Final Cut Pro X, and then used this great free FCPX plugin by Game Sack called ‘Retro Video’ which adds scanlines, CRT curve and glow, etc. to video. It’s got pretty great controls, and it took a while to make sure the scanlines lined up exactly with the pixels I made.

Added in my MIKDOG logo at the start with some custom audio (I’m thinking of changing my YouTube channel back to ‘Mikdog’ from ‘Mike Scott Animation’), and other bits and pieces like adding coloured backgrounds to some shots, comp’d in some VHS ‘Play’ ‘Start’ stuff I bought a while ago, etc.

Once all was done, then I rendered that bad boy out and then it was done and now I am FREEE of that project and I guess moving on to other unfinished projects.

Bye.

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