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PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2022 10:15 am 

Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2022 9:20 am
Posts: 1
First, I love Chaotica. Not to compare it to J*******e, but I find it more polished and competent in every aspect over that garbage-can-on-fire-UI. That said, having worked with many DAWs and some NLEs over the years, ... well.

So, first of all, I get that you're not like, swimming in $100 bills, as even with the relatively higher price tag, it's still a niche product. I get that. We won't get all the features in the world just because we paid for a license - and I always tell people, only buy product if you're going to get the value for money in the *current* state, so please don't take this as me complaining for something I imagined you'd give me vs what Chaotica is today.

That said, aim high, eh?

tl;dr - I would like Chaotica to work as an OpenFX plugin, or have a more featured automation editor with optionally many/all automated params visible and editable at once.

Background of the issue:
Editing animation that's meant to sync to music that's not boringly predictable is a huge annoying busywork, because
1. you cannot sync audio to the animation editor and see the waveform of the audio to see the beats / other notable events in the audio
2. you cannot easily animate/edit several params at once (you can visually edit several params of one transform at once, but that's about it, as far as I know.)
3. you cannot make jumps to different scenes (not easily, without automating a giant amount of params, or having a lot of transforms and automating the weights and having them visually pleasing both before and after)

So what you can end up doing as things are today is

A) Do your best at making a cool animation, and then cut it up and sync it in a NLE (in my case, DaVinci Resolve) - at the cost of having to likely re-render some segments, and in general rendering for hours or days (4k/5k footage esp at 60fps) and then going back and forth between apps

B) have a plan in your head, analyze the audio track separately, find timestamp of events in audio, convert to frame number, then do your best to animate it well in Chaotica without hearing it synced, quick render, add audio, test, go back to edit details, render in hi-def once happy

(Better workflow suggestions are welcome, or any of your experiences, of course.)

Proposed solution 1: OpenFX*

(((* Just to be clear, this is about OFX 1.4 standard, not the unrelated, identically named
Code:
openfx.org
thing.)))


I'll be honest, I have no idea how much work this would be. However! Once you're an OpenFX, your potential market size increases tremendously. Instead of being "some obscure software for cool backgrounds" it becomes "some plugin I could use in my NLE".

(I'd argue that taking this further, it would be cool to offer Chaotica as a plugin to things like Unreal Engine or Max/MSP or Blender whatever else people use for animation, rendering and post-production, but that's a different can of worms.)

Going the OpenFX plugin way, while it could mean a lot of refactoring for you, it would however free you from working on UI of Chaotica animation/automation, and you can just rely on the host software to deal with it.

Not a proposed solution, but maybe: VST

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have Chaotica as a VST, as potentially you could have the same OpenFX benefits: You let a DAW handle all the parameter automation, you just need to expose them, and offer some realtime-ish low-res rendering. I assume this would have a limited use as VST are meant to work in realtime, so you'd just need to maybe make some semi-intelligent downscaling that would decrease the render resolution/framerate drastically based on the CPU usage, and be careful to always render asynchonously as not to block the DAW.

This would be a tremendous help, again, because of the huge amount of tools for automation available in DAWs.

In the simplest implementation, Chaotica VST could just be a "player", i.e. no parameters would be editable from the host software, but it would still help a lot to sync audio to fractal animation. Potentially complicated part is syncing a VST plugin(s) into a Chaotica main app, and again, dealing with asynchronicity, crashes, rapid timeline jumps, start/stop signals, multiple plugin instances open, etc.

Proposed solution 2: tons of small and big improvements to the animation editor

I'm sure you have your set of ideas about how to make it work, but here's my vision, again, coming from the background of using DAWs and NLEs:

2.1. OK small thing first: When opening the animation window, there's absolutely zero reason to center frame 0 in the center of the editor. Just move it 5% from the left side of the viewport. Also, by default, I think the zoom level should cover the whole timeline length.

2.2. There really should be an option to move animation from a 2-click process to 1-click.
2.2.1 There should be an option to have all available automatable params for the world in one list.
2.2.2 This should also be switchable to "only show already animated ones"
2.2.3 Also, the ones with an without animation should have different colors, or an icon, on the list
2.2.4 There should be absolute minimum of switching required between the world editor and animation editor.

2.3 The most interesting animations happen when multiple parameters are edited at once. The current animation editor actively works against it.
2.3.1 For all the automated params, there should be an option to display them at once, in one grid editor. This is not trivial, as it would mean figuring out how to distinguish them (color, line width, line style, opacity), but would be a HUGE help.
2.3.2 Once the basics of the above are working, there should be an option to edit them at once. This is again possible in three steps: First, clicking on a different param in the left menu, without resetting the list of all params displayed at once, just making a different one available for editing.
2.3.3 Second, switching between them by just clicking on the "inactive" curve in the editor
2.3.4 Third, actually editing more of them at once - e.g. click-drag a selection box around a bunch of keyframes, which selects them, then click-drag to move them all in sync.

2.4 There should be an option to have a temporary dual render window (in a very low quality) - one at the "current" frame, and one at the point where I'm currently editing a param. A parallel / precedent to this is when in NLEs, you edit a transition, or a length of a clip, or a host of any other things, and the editor automatically shows you the first and the last frame of whatever you're doing. (Sometimes even 4 of them, e.g. first and last frame of the currently edited clip, and previous and next frames from the surrounding clips. Context is everything, after all.)

----------

OK, I know this is a lot to read, so I thank you for taking the time, hopefully I didn't sound too feature-greedy. I am a software developer, so I get that the things I mentioned can be sometimes easy enough, sometimes months of work because of this or that technical decision made years ago in the Chaotica internals, and possibly some flat out impossible without a major rewrite. Again, I'm not trying to justify any of these as profitable for you, I have really no idea what your sales are like, if Chaotica even breaks even, or if it's a love project, what's the quality of the source code in the frame of things like OpenFX plugin possibility, and as I'm not a manager in any big movie studio, I cannot even remotely guess how much viable interest there would be, but at least I can say for myself, I would gladly pay another... idk, $50-100 for an OpenFX plugin, if it was solid, reliable, and easily let me edit all the params one would hope for.

Thanks again for everything, and hope you're all taking care of you & your loved ones!

m.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2022 3:44 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 02, 2020 12:44 am
Posts: 54
Location: United States
I agree that the ability to sync to music would improve animation capabilities by leaps and bounds. What I end up using is Process B, which can be quite cumbersome. In fact, I've given up on animations in the past because the process was so tedious.

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