This is the tenth episode of a series that will last for 12 weeks where I will learn Nightmare Puppeteer and attempt to create short animated scenes. Along the way, I’ll share with you my discoveries, my mistakes, and my successes using this remarkable game engine.
“Nightmare Puppeteer takes the approach of puppetry where you do something with your hands, but instead of using your hands, you are pressing keys on your keyboard….it’s an animation engine”
-M dot Strange
NP is a Game
It’s important to point out that Nightmare Puppeteer is a game and not a 3D application. The gameplay is focused on creating characters, animations, and scenes within the game. And as M dot Strange points out “it’s an animation engine”. Also, the game is built upon the Unity Engine which means it has qualities that only a game made in Unity has (unique shaders and effects, for example).
Advanced Features of Nightmare Puppeteer
We’ve reviewed and tested the basic components of Nightmare Puppeteer like character creation, animation, scene building, etc., but we haven’t covered any of the advanced features in this game. I say advanced because they require a bit more work to use. Plus, you have to have some skills in other applications like Twitch and Adobe Photoshop. However, these components are not so advanced that are beyond the skills of the average game player/content creator.
In this section, I’ll list the advanced components I found most interesting and briefly explain how they work. M dot Strange has created tutorials for all of these components and I will link to the videos for each one.
- Using the mask objects and Skinmin
During the head selection process you’ll come across three heads that are white and pretty bare. These are the three head types you can alter in Photoshop (or any other image editing software) by drawing or pasting them to a base file. You can see the three head types in the photo above. M dot has made the base image file available for download at this link. This also works for a body type when you are working on selecting a body for your character. Note that any image file can be pasted onto the head or body. You can download the body base image file here. Click this link to go to M dot’s tutorial on how to use the mask objects and Skinmin.
- Using the Midi Madness Module
M dot has worked in all kinds of weird features into Nightmare Puppeteer. Most of them are set up to create random media mayhem in a scene. In this component, you load a midi file (you can adjust volume, speed, and sound style of midi) and then use the midi music to drive elements of your scene like animation, body type, head type, scene flavors and more. You can view the tutorial for this feature here.
- Using subtitles and text to speech
If you create a subtitle file (usually .srt) for a scene you are working on, you can load it into an NP scene and the text will appear at the bottom of the screen. Further, by checking boxes in the scene attributes screen, you make give a voice to that text and create speech. Features include male or female voice and a normal or whisper level volume. The text-to-speech voice is limited, however, but very strange. Premiere Pro CC recently added a feature where you can transcribe an audio file and then export it as a .srt file, so this would be a good workflow. The tutorial for this component is here.
- Using the VLoopers and Remix Mode
One of the most useful advanced components is the VLoopers (Video Loopers). This feature allows you to record everything you alter in a scene with a character. This means you can replay animation, camera cuts, and lighting changes. You can do the same thing for the buddy actor character. All of this is controlled by using the F keys at the top of your keyboard. You can even erase the recording and start over. Remix mode does essentially the same thing so I don’t see the difference between the two. Watch the tutorial for VLoopers and Remix Mode here. Maybe you can figure out the difference.
- Using Twitch Mode and HKLR
This is a unique way for twitch members to interact with your Nightmare Puppeteer scene. You set up the mode in the Twitch settings by entering your username, password, and token (he has a link to where to get your token). Once you are connected you can stream on twitch primarily using OBS (the free screen capture software) which has a live Twitch chat feature. M dot has provided commands so that you can change the camera angle, animation, etc. And the HKLR (Heckler Feedback System) allows you (using commands again) to heckle the twitch feed by throwing roses, mud, and all kinds of stuff at the scene. You can view M dot’s tutorial here.
- Using a Steam Friend as the Buddy Voice and Remote Play
Steam has a great feature where you can remotely play with up to four people in Steam games. With Nightmare Puppeteer, it’s a great way to collaborate with someone else on a scene. One person can control the camera, another person can control the animation. Plus, you can utilize a live mic for two people to voice characters (with lipsync) live. Combine this with VLooper and you can record your scenes and then play them back to see how the collaboration looks. The Steam remote tutorial is here and the Buddy Voice tutorial is here.
- Using Beat Objects and Camera Punchins
This component along with Camera Punches is an excellent way to liven up your music videos or operatic productions. Essentially, it makes the characters in a scene bounce with the rhythm of the music you have chosen. Camera Punches are just what they sound like: the camera punches in (moves in) quickly on a scene. It’s very dynamic looking. The tutorial for Camera Punches is here and the Beat Objects tutorial is here.
- Using a live video source + more video fun bits
An amazing feature in Nightmare Puppeteer is that if used creatively can provide unique video elements to a scene. Basically, you can already load a video into any Nightmare Puppeteer scene that has a screen (tv screen essentially) and the video will playback when the scene starts. You can also use your live video webcam as that video source simply by checking a box. But it goes further; in the Green Screen scene you can add a video on top of another video and Nightmare Puppeteer will key out the first video which appears in 3D in front of the second video. More simply stated, use a video of a person speaking and another of some kind of action or scene. NP will key out the area around the person and then place them in front of the second video. It’s pretty neat. Watch M dot’s excellent tutorial on this component here