Get started with PocketStudio
Make your first project
This step-by-step introduction focuses on the primary function of PocketStudio which is to put together a 3D animation movie from layout to editing within one single application. For an introduction to some of its other unique and powerful features see: real-time collaborative editing, high quality rendering and creation of virtual cameras using augmented reality.
To create your first project:
- Sign in: launch PocketStudio for desktop and sign in with your PocketStudio account. If your credentials are valid, you will be taken to the project screen.
- Create a new project: click on the icon. A new project card will be added to the project list.
- Rename the project: click once on the project’s default name to edit the project title.
- Add an image to the project’s card: drag and drop an image (jpg or png) on the card to customize its appearance.
- Open the project: double click on the project’s card. The project view will transition into the scene and sequence view.
To add a new 3D scene to the project:
- Create a 3D scene: click on the icon next to the Scenes label. A new scene card will be added to the list of scenes.
- Rename the 3D scene: click once on the card label to edit the scene’s name.
- Open the scene: double click on the card.
We can now edit the content of this new 3D scene.
- Create a ground plane: click on the plane icon on the Toolbar (to the right of the Viewport). A pre-defined plane primitive will be added to the center of the scene.
- Navigate in the viewport: PocketStudio uses Maya-like navigation controls. Use alt+LMB (left mouse button) to tumble (move around the object the camera is looking at), alt+MMB (middle mouse button) to track the camera and the mouse wheel to dolly the camera in and out. Tracking moves the camera left, right, up, or down in the camera plane (in two dimensions).
- Select and transform the plane: select the plane by clicking on it in the viewport. It should now be highlighted with its properties visible in the Property Editor panel to the right. The move, scale and translate tools can be displayed by pressing the w, e or r keys respectively. Press the w key to display the move tool in the Viewport. Click and hold LMB on any of the move tool axe and drag the mouse to move the plane along that axis. With the plane still selected, press the f key to frame the plane in the Viewport.
Import an animated character: The PocketStudio installation pack comes with some rights free assets ready for you to import into the application. In the folder containing the application executable, you will find a folder named assets.
- Drag and drop the file gangnam.fbx from that folder into the Viewport. A pulsing ball will appear at the center of the scene, indicating that the file is loading.
- The Import panel will also open as soon as you drop the file on the Viewport (to the left of the Viewport) with a progress bar indicating how much of the file has been read. Once loaded in memory, the geometry will appear in the viewport highlighted in blue. To complete the import process, select the file in the Import panel and click on the ‘OK’ button. This will trigger the upload of the assets to the cloud and add the asset to your scene.
- Click on the icon to play the animation.
- Choose a viewpoint: navigate in the Viewport to choose a point of view from which you would like to “record” the scene.
- Create the camera: click on the icon on the Toolbar. This will display the camera popover containing a “New” button. Click on this button to create a new camera from the current view.
- Look through the camera: from the camera popover, double click on the thumbnail of the camera you want to look through. Note that the camera properties are now visible in the Property Editor panel located to the right of the Toolbar. The camera viewpoint by default is locked but can be unlocked by clicking on the icon located in the top left corner of the Viewport. Click on the play button to view the animation through this camera.
- Exit the camera view: click on the icon located in the top left corner of the viewport to exit the camera view and get back to the perspective camera view. Repeat the last 4 steps to create more cameras.
- Exit the scene editor: use the breadcrumbs at the top of the window to head back a level; click on your project name to get back to the Scene and Sequence view.
The process of creating a sequence is very similar to that of creating a 3D scene.
- Create a sequence: from the scenes and sequences screen, click on the icon next to the sequence label.
- Rename the sequence: click once on the sequence card’s label to edit the sequence’s name.
- Open the sequence: double click on the sequence’s card.
The sequence editor works like most non-linear video editor such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Rush or iMovie. However keep in mind that you won’t be editing videos but 3D scenes instead. The sequence editor’s workspace contains three main panels:
- Media Library: a list of all the 3D scenes contained in your project.
- Timeline: where 3D scenes are arranged into a series/sequence of shots.
- Viewport or Preview Monitor: to let you view the result of the current sequence.
Make your first shot: drag and drop the 3D scene you created from the Media Library onto the Timeline. A shot will be inserted at the start of the sequence.
If have problems dropping a scene on the Timeline, first of all check that your scene contains at least one camera. PocketStudio won’t be able to create a shot out of a 3D scene if it doesn’t contain at least one camera.
Select the camera the scene is rendered from: when a 3D scene is dropped on the Timeline the first camera from the dropped scene is used by default. If you have multiple cameras and want to change it do as follows:
- Click on the shot for which you wish to change the camera, a popover with a list of all the cameras contained in that scene, will be displayed just above the shot.
- Select the camera you want from that list. This will become the camera from which the scene will be rendered from for this particular shot.
- Watch the sequence and scroll through it: you can watch the sequence (even though it only contains one shot for now) by clicking on the play button located below the Viewport / Preview Monitor (or press the space bar). Another thing you can do, is to quickly scroll through the sequence by moving the playhead across the Timeline. The playhead is the vertical bar from the Timeline that indicates where you are in the sequence, which part of the sequence you are looking at. To quickly move the playhead you can either move the mouse in the Timeline horizontally. You can also click anywhere on the Timeline to reposition the playhead.
- Create more shots: repeat the steps 4 to 6 to create two more shots.
You now have a sequence with three shots, each using a different camera, but as you play the sequence (by clicking on the play button) you may notice that the animation is not continuous from one shot to the next. In fact, in this example, the animation starts from the beginning every time the playhead jumps at the start of the next shot. This is what we call in editing, continuity of action (or lack of it in this particular case). Here is how you fix the issue:
Look at the shots on the Timeline and pay attention to the 2 numbers that are written at the bottom left and right corner of each shot respectively. These are called in the in and out our edit points of your shot. If the scene used for this shot is 120 frames long, and that these numbers indicate 0 and 60 respectively, the shot will start right at the beginning of the animation, and the shot itself will be 2 seconds and 1 frame long (assuming your playback framerate is 30 frames per second).
If you add another shot using the same scene right after this shot, to get continuity of action, the second shot should start its animation at frame 61 as showed in the example below:
- Cut the shots to work out continuity of action:
- Select the shot you wish to change the start / end frames by clicking on it; selected shots are highlighted.
- Position you mouse at the head or tail of the shot (start or end point), and while maintaining the left mouse button down (click-hold), drag the cursor either to the left or to the right. This will effectively either trim the shot (decreasing its duration), or extending it (increasing its duration). Note that as you drag the side of a shot along, the number corresponding to the corner of the shot you are editing, is updated at the same time as well. If you edit two consecutive shots so that the number to the right of the first shot is exactly one frame less than the number to the left of the second shot, then you will have accurate continuity of action.
- Exit the sequence editor: click on the project’s name on the breadcrumb trail to leave the sequence editor and get back to the scenes and sequences view.
- Open the playback screen: click on the play button at the bottom right corner of the scenes and sequences view.
- Play the movie: the playback screen looks like a video player with controls at the bottom of the workspace. Keep in mind that you are not looking at a video but at 3D content rendered in real-time. Click on the play button.
- Render the movie to a video file: click on the (the icon looking like a film strip). This will open a file dialog from which you will be able to specify the path and the name of the file, the video will be exported to. Click on the ok button. By default, video files are saved in the MKV format.
You can put in practice what you have learned in this quick introduction to add more scenes and sequences to your project. Creating 3D scenes and sequences in a single application is at the core of PocketStudio’s design. Once you feel comfortable with reproducing the steps described in this introduction, you can then learn about advanced features.