This has been a busy month. I finally got around to inserting background extras into several shots (the lead image is a viewport capture from part of that process), as well as making a number of other improvements, leading to new finished shot animation (though they will still need compositing work):
I managed to re-familiarize myself with Blender’s Non-Linear Animation (NLA) Editor, which I haven’t used in a very long time. I do find some aspects of it confusing — particularly how it relates to what you see in the Graph Editor and Dope Sheet/Action Editors views, but I do believe I’m getting the hang of it again.
Which is good, because I need to use it a lot more for the remaining character animation shots.
Project History Series
I have a fourth installment in the works, which is mainly about publishing options for video, that I had hoped to release this month. I put a lot of work into it, on research, illustrations, and text, but it’s still not ready. Might be out in the next week or two. A few illustrations as a teaser:
Server Migration Coming in November
I’ve also done some important IT work leading up to migrating our server from cloud infrastructure to a co-located dedicated server (a Dell PowerEdge R720, which is older, but adequate hardware, and not so expensive to pick up on e-Bay). We’ve now committed to a move-in in November (was trying for 11/10, but I think maybe I won’t quite make that).
The architecture I’m working on is based on Debian 11, with Proxmox VE installed over that, and YunoHost installed into a VPS on it. This will give me the flexibility to add additional services via additional VPS, should they be incompatible with running on the YunoHost platform.
I’ve never run Proxmox or any kind of server virtualization and my grasp of networking and subnets is tenuous at best, so this is a pretty steep learning curve for me.
The deciding reason for this platform migration was the lack of local disk space on the cloud infrastructure. It’s very expensive to get the amount we need, and the object storage solutions that I was using to compensate have fallen short in key areas, particularly Nextcloud, on which my current solution is intolerably slow for production access to source data (slower than the Subversion solution was, which could take hours to synchronize).
I made the decision to move production sources to Nextcloud, following a lead from Morevna Project. I’m not entirely satisfied with the features of Nextcloud compared to Resource Space, particularly as to metadata, search, and visualization for multimedia data, but it is easier to install and has some useful integrations, including the Collabora suite (which is basically the LibreOffice suite via the browser).
Nextcloud lacks true version control, but the Git/Gitea experiment for production sources was kind of a disaster. It’s far too complex to use, and most of the complexity arises from features that make no sense for production multimedia files. I do plan to continue Gitea for our software repositories. But I’ll be removing the production repos from Git/Gitea as soon as I’ve got them fully re-deployed in Nextcloud (which should happen during the server migration, as I’ve already copied them onto the new machine). So instead, I’ll be implementing a system of backups to allow individual files to be retrieved if they are damaged or lost.
I’m really looking forward to this move. I’ve always found the idea of running my own machine in a datacenter kind of exciting, since I’ve never done it before. Feels more “real” than putting everything “in the cloud”. I acknowledge and embrace this irrationality!
There may be some side benefits to other apps. Our PeerTube, has been working well enough for our purposes, but I do notice a lot more buffering on playback than I did with Vimeo or YouTube, which is probably down to latency and bandwidth issues with the data storage. The new storage (an SSD drive on the server), will hopefully be faster than either our current object storage or the VPS storage available on Digital Ocean.
I was never able to get a “migration in place” solution to work for converting my Misskey instance to Firefish, so I’ll have to start over building a following there. Pixelfed is working well, though, so I’ll be keeping that as is. And I expect to keep using WordPress for at least a few more months, though I am considering migrating to a static blogging platform, like Pelican. I might make more changes in January 2024. YunoHost is working out pretty well as a way to manage these web applications, so that will remain the basis for our “virtual studio”.
To summarize, by the end of November, our “virtual studio” website will feature:
- This WordPress Production Log.
- A new Firefish Social Media Site, mainly for my producer/director notes.
- Pixelfed photoblog for the project (continuation).
- PeerTube for studio videos (continuation, but will migrate to local storage).
- Nextcloud for production source files (all new content) and business documents.
- Gitea for software repositories (continued, with production sources removed).
If I do this right, you will hardly be able to tell anything has happened. There will be the Misskey-to-Firefish change, and most of the services should perform better. There is, of course, always the possibility that I will screw up, and then it may be a little rougher!
I’ll re-assess in January, and might add some other features or applications, possibly including:
- Pelican static blog, with content migrated from WordPress.
- Static site CMS, using LunaGen
- Friendica, Hubzilla, Plume, or WriteFreely microblog (possible migrations from Firefish).
- ResourceSpace, as an additional interface to production source data.
- Abantecart, as a possibly alternative to continuing with Gumroad.
- Jitsi Meet or BigBlueButton for video meetings.
But these are still speculative. I have no real complaints about Gumroad, just a general concern about depending on an outside service — I want to make sure I have an alternative. And video meetings will only really be meaningful if we start recruiting collaborators again, and that’s going to depend a lot on our success with releasing the pilot episode.
Improving my PeerTube Game!
Well, YouTube seems to have peaked with the Ad-Blocker-Blocking meta: greed, overconfidence, and forgetting where your power comes from seems to be endangering the future of yet another Silicon Valley mega-service. It may take awhile for that to play out, but meanwhile, PeerTube has been seeing a little bit of a boost.
A few people have boldly made comparisons to Mastodon booming when Twitter started becoming hostile, but I think that might be an overstatement — this doesn’t seem nearly as intense as that to me.
Nevertheless, it did make me feel a little bit like “OMG, THE GUESTS ARE COMING, I NEED TO CLEAN!”
So, I decided that maybe my existing utilitarian “Video Posters” were just a wee bit DULL:
Yeah. I mean, I’m pretty sure that if I weren’t me, and didn’t know this was also me, I probably would NOT click on this!
Nevertheless, the video itself is not so bad. It’s a timelapse of my work in August, starting with a lot of Blender production work, and then moving on to more technical and perhaps less engaging stuff, but set to some atmospheric and energetic music — which isn’t even mentioned in this front title card. It’s on the back end:
This arrangement actually makes a lot of sense to ME, since these are my notes and keeping them in a consistent outline format like this makes it easy to find stuff.
But to the casual browser, this is NOT engaging. So if I’m going to put these up out in public at all, I probably should spiff up the cover posters a little!
So, this Saturday, I did. Behold the new, improved, much more visually appealing and eye-catching version (I hope):
I changed the headline from the month/year to the most interesting production subject matter, and added secondary headlines for the less exciting stuff (but still focused on the highlights). And picked an image from the work I was doing during that month. As the headline tells you, this image is from the “Soyuz Rollout” sequence.
I also promoted the music to the poster, including the album art from the artists, along with artist name and track titles. The details for finding them online are still on the end-credits card, of course.
And I added my picture, of course. Even though I do not appear in the video, I am the one doing the stuff you see.
Finally there’s a neat little logo on the upper-right telling you this video is a timelapse, and if you look close, there’s the month still. Just not the most important bit.
This information was there before, just not as attractively arranged.
All the new posters:
Starting with October 2023, I’ll be making my opening titlecards in the videos like this. For these, the video is unchanged, this is just the image you see in the listings on PeerTube and before you press “play”.
October 2023 is the first timelapse fully in the new format (I just changed the posters for the earlier ones).
00:13 Review of the entire Lunatics pilot episode (all sequences), taking animation notes, including…
02:09 Re-timing decisions for the “Launch” sequence, leading to…
02:15 Shot Animation: re-timing LA-1-A/B, adding billboard extras characters, and updating pre-compositing.
13:37 Character animation fixes for LA-1-C (also needed to review NLA Editor practice for this!).
19:10 More ventilator problems in LA-1-D (where to put Georgiana’s so the hose works!)
20:13 Extended the mech shot of the launchpad elevator (LA-3-A), and added an extra, but also needed to fix a scale problem.
25:58 Decided to upgrade all the timelapse video cover posters for this PeerTube site.
30:57 A bit of recording for a college play and some icon design work for a biology textbook.
39:04 Installation of Debian + Proxmox + Yunohost on Dell PowerEdge R720 server for web migration to datacenter colocation.
47:02 Troubleshooting a disk problem on the cloud server (Gitea created a lot of small log files and used up all the iNodes!)
48:16 Investigated how PeerTube stores local and object storage information for videos (for migration reasons).
49:28 A brief slideshow, including our trip to Junction, TX to catch the Annular Solar Eclipse. No great photos, I’m afraid, but fun was had.
Music for this Month:
Lee Rosevere – “Face of the Clock” FMA Microsongs / CC0 v1.0 (Public Domain)
from album “Деревня Моя” Jamendo #42305 / CC By-SA 3.0
The James Quintet –
“Pay the Piper (Take 05)”
“Untitled Jam 02”
“Time to Split (Take 05)”
“Stella (Take 02)”
from album “The Studio Sessions 1” Jamendo #48475 / CC-By-SA 3.0