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sjon
08-30-2004, 01:25 PM
Making Live Fonts
by Sjon Ueckert


I design in either After Effects of Lightwave (any other 3-d and/or compositing program should work). The first thing I do is layout the glyphs (I use 133 - English, French, Italian, German and Scandinavian). Glyphs are the actual alphanumeric characters. If I am producing the finals in AE, I use Photoshop to layout the masks. If I am doing the layout in Lightwave, I set the left position at 0,0. Remember, all the letters do not start at 0,0, I just set the Text Tool at 0,0. You have to be aware of positioning and that each letter requires a certain amount of space (some require it in front of the letter (like J) and all require it after the letter). I work in an 800 X 800 pixel format to make sure that all my letters can be used in film and high-resolution video. I make each letter (capitals) around 600 pixels high (i.e. I try to fill the available space). Because the dimensions are so large, 72 dpi works just fine at HD and SD

Live Fonts are nothing more than a series of Quicktime movies. Their length depends upon the animation you use. You can have intro frames (as when you have a letter write itself on), looping frames (the part you can repeat) and exit frames (when the latter goes up in a puff of smoke). You can produce fonts that just consist of looping frames, but be careful that when the frames loop, that they don't have a "jump" in them. All in all, the glyph movies are usually between 30 and 90 frames each. And they need to be rendered in the Animation 32 bit codec and MILLIONS of COLOR + so that they have an absolutely clean alpha channel.

Once this is done, you need to develop a script for them. This requires measuring each letter (width, height, rotation x and y, and 4 or 5 pixels beyond the width. I think a sample script is included in our LiveType disk. Each line of the actual script looks like this:

Glyph "A" "A.mov" 328 1 90188 254 463

The first "A" is the keystroke, the second "A.mov" defines which movie the keystroke is attached to, the numbers are the width (plus a few extra pixels. the proxy frame (the one that shows up in canvas - unanimated) ), the registration X, the registration y Z (these define the lower left corner of the glyph - remember, this is not always where the letter starts*). this reg x & y will be the same throughout the script. The final 2 numbers are the rotation x and y. this will be the center of our number and are defined as starting at the lower left of the movie (not the registration points). At first, this was a very time consuming process, but I have since developed a spreadsheet that does much of the work for me.

Then you use FontMaker (in the tools tab of LiveType) to compile the script. Any (and I mean ANY) errors will sop the script from completing. Once the script is done, you will have your .afd and .afp files. Then you have to open them in LiveType (or India Titler) and produce a small example movie (the one that appears in the media browser) at 160 by 120 pixels. This, then needs to be compressed into an .mp4 movie and it placed with the .afp file.

*To see this, open Photoshop and set an x and y grid line. Place your type cursor right on that point and type an "A." It will appear at the corner. Now type a "T" and the lower left part of the glyph will appear a number of pixels in from the corner.

If this is your first font. be prepared to set a lot of time aside. After four or five, the time decreases dramatically.

If you are successful in making a font, I would like a copy. Actually, if you are interested in selling your font, I would be willing (if I and the other people involved in ScreenCaffeine.com like it) to market it for you on our web site. ScreenCaffeine was the very first company to release third party Live Fonts. Our fonts are more expensive than the other two companies, but ours are also the highest definition of all our competitors, We consider our fonts to be more works or art than just fonts.

Hope this helps,

Sjon

mnbear
08-30-2004, 01:46 PM
You rock... :)

Jim

sjon
08-30-2004, 02:14 PM
Aw, gee - shucks, Thanks

Sjon

Beamtracer
08-30-2004, 11:45 PM
Thanks very much, Sjon. This is wonderful. It's a very kind person who shares information with others!

I'm now going to purchase LiveType to give it a go (Production Suite).

sjon
08-31-2004, 12:44 AM
But……(there's always one of those, isn't there?), remember to send me a copy (it's not mandatory, but it would be nice). U know, you don't have to build a whole font if all u're trying to do is have the words, "THE END" melt into a puddle of wax, That's only five glyphs, a 5/133rd the size of a full font (unless u go for "The End" and then u need six).

And if u don't build a whole font, send me what u have and maybe we can build the font put it up on our website (http://www.screencaffeine.com) and pay u a royalty.