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Thread: Why Derbauer is so good and how they do their effects.

  1. #1

    Why Derbauer is so good and how they do their effects.

    I've seen many threads that have touched upon this subject and have finally decided to help people out by explaining how Derbauer does its effects.

    First, as many have realized, Derbauer is a digital effects company based out of Germany. In case you have never seen the site it is at (http://www.derbauer.de). They specialize in broadcast quality special effects for high-end media. That said, it is much easier to move from traditional media to online media, than it is to move from online media to traditional media. That is what makes them cutting-edge. They founded their company working in broadcast quality special effects, for film, video, and media presentations. So the natural step of porting their innovative creativity and talent into online media would INSTANTLY place them on the cutting edge of the Flash development world. It is as if George Lucus, ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) decided they wanted to be an Internet Media Company. They would be the leaders of the broadband Flash movement literally overnight.

    Now taking all of this into consideration about Derbauer, it doesn't mean that their effects cannot be duplicated. (Keeping in mind that what makes Derbauer so elite is the fact they don't copy anyone, everyone else copies them.)

    They use a number of software programs, including Adobe After Effects, Softimage XSI and 3D with the Mental Ray rendering engine (for the 3D modeling, animation, and effects), Adobe Photoshop for touchups and compression, and many different hardware and software for their custom music and sound effects such as Reason, Rewire, SoundForge, and many others.

    One of the things that makes Derbauer amazing and has had virtually every Flash designer gazing in awe is their ability to merge broadcast quality effects with Flash animation. Yes their file sizes are large, but really not as large as they could be considering their animation content. They have done a very good job at combining bitmap sequencing with vector overlays and backgrounds. They multiply their use of single images to cut down on file size yet never lose the fluidity of their animation.

    Part of their success in accomplishing this is due to their limiting workspace. Too many developers feel the need to use the entire screen with bitmap sequencing for motion graphics then wonder why it takes forever to load, is jumpy, and has resolution loss. Derbauer usually works within a smaller workspace then maximizes it with the most intense, eye-catching, mind-blowing effects they can imagine.

    Derbauer also uses layered bitmap animations. For those of you that remember the older Derbauer site with the door and the smoke coming out from underneath, I will use that as an example. We all know how the concept of bitmap sequencing works. You take a series of images (bitmaps) in an animation (from a 3D animation program, video etc), import each one individually into your Flash project, and place them within consecutive frames in your timeline in the order of the animation. When it plays, it gives the appearance of a motion graphic or video. These images can be in a variety of formats including jpeg, png, gif, tiff, bmp or whatever else you decide to use. Often, however, png 24 with transparency is what is used so that you have an embedded alpha channel for masking. Now, in the example of the smoke coming out of the door, many people would render the entire door, frame by frame then animate that movie. Consequently, the file size would be massive. So instead, you crop the images to include ONLY the part that is animating. Then you place that movie over the image of the Door in the main scene and line up the animated movie with the background image of the door perfectly. Now you have cut the file size down about 90%, it still looks seemless and it actually runs smoother because smaller images are easier to cache and can be rendered faster. Many people know this trick with layered bitmap animations but you would be surprised how many people still import huge sequencing images for animation when the only part that is actually animating is a small portion.

    I also remember a thread in which someone described the "tornado effect" of the cubes on the loading page of the old Derbauer site. They wondered how this was accomplished to give the appearance of being inside a tornado and only seeing part of it (as if the cubes were in a huge spinning circle that continues off the screen). Well, it wasn't done with any fancy program or effect from Swish. (A big problem is that too many people are relying on programs such as Swish for their effects and forget how to do things by hand). That effect was simply a spinning wireframe of a cube (the same you would use if the cube was standing still) that was on a curved motion path. If the spinning of the cube is slowed down enough to line up with the rate of which the curved motion path was turning, it will give the "appearance" of a more complicated effect of multiple cubes rotating around the viewing area in a big circle that goes off the screen.

    That is what makes Derbauer elite, their innovation of implementing their effects in the most efficient way possible. Why make something harder than it has to be when all that matters is the appearance to the viewer.

    Others may wonder how they create effects such as the background “fire”, their glowing rotating logo, having the screen break up into little boxes as it goes in and out, or having the screen break into little particles and fly towards the viewer, all of which can be seen on the new Derbauer trailer for DIII. There are a few programs that can create these effects such as Softimage, Alias/Wavefront, 3D Studio, Truespace 5, etc. and plugins specifically designed to do these effects. Some of these programs are also used to create similar effects for film, video, games, and media presentations. An effect like the screen turning into little boxes is done quite easily in Photoshop and Flash. Simply break up the image into squares, and then skew them. It is really only about 3-4 images that are being animated of the squares being skewed and the rest of the effect is accomplished by the movie being zoomed in and zoomed out very quickly. Again, all that matters is the appearance to the viewer, regardless of how you achieve it.

    I could go on, but I don’t want to make this email too long. I hope I was able to shed some light into the common question of “How did Derbauer do that?”

    Derbauer is a company on the cutting-edge because of their innovative ideas. Many try to copy or duplicate their effects but no matter how successful you are it will ALWAYS be a knock-off of the original. Use companies such as Derbauer for inspiration but I urge every SERIOUS Flash designer to keep pushing the envelope. Experiment with new techniques and create new exciting animations. That is what it really means to be a company like Derbauer.

    [Edited by running_tiger_1 on 11-16-2001 at 04:13 PM]

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Ottawa, Canada

    they seem to have figured out exactly how to take advantage of frame rates and motion to get some high-end results. the motion is seamless and, combined with their use of light and refracted light, the site looks like video....

    do they animate with actionscript or tweening? do they write tutorials????? like the layered bitmap sequencing that you mention?

  3. #3
    Mr Snowman
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    A drinking village with a fishing problem
    The sentiments expressed are music to my ears. Thank you for posting this informative email, I found it helpful.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Just wanted to say thanks for posting such an interesting thread. I will love to see more added to it, as I belive Derbauer is a truly amazing website. Keep writing!

  5. #5
    FK Resident Amazon

    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    i think it's great that this shows how websites designed with black backgrounds can look really good. people always knockin' the black backgrounds...

  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Excelent post. I think this post deserves to be in the Coffee Lounge. How about the rest of you?

  7. #7
    :the D. Ziner: GraphicsGuru's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    sitting in front of my computer.
    Thank you very much for that information. They are an amazing design firm. I really enjoyed reading that and learning.

    Thank you very much.
    imac, do you?
    seize life.

  8. #8
    Member Egan311's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Cincinnati, OH
    Great post! Thanks for shedding some light on Derbauer's creative process.

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