1. How does this work?
Real simple. Well, OK, sorta simple. Well, as simple as it can be made, anyway.
The basic principle is that you get a copy of the project that is being used to run the animation. You make changes in only the action assigned to your character (using only external Action Files, no choreography actions... sorry). You then send back these actions to a central source, which integrates them with the work done by other people, and creates a "scene so far" movie out of all of the action.
That's the basic principle. It's actually a bit more complicated, unfortunately. For one thing, to guarantee privacy, we won't be giving out everyone's carefully built models; instead we'll be distributing simple stand-ins, or "public models" with the same basic movements. For another thing, you really can't just animate a single model in isolation: after all, this is a fight-scene. If a punch falls in the forest, and nobody gets slammed, does it make any sound? When your character is fighting pre-supplied goons, you can just animate their reactions as well, but things get more complicated when you are animating a fight that's Character vs. Character.
2. How do I get the files?
Central Command (for the moment, me) puts together a set of files that you need to download once (consisting of the public models, scenery and lighting/camera setup). You download this and it will install a directory (I'll be using InstallShield if I can get my copy working properly, so there will be an Uninstall option if things go wrong).
Then, each time a new update comes out, you will download an update file. This will change the main Project, as well as change the Action Files assigned to each character. Again, InstallShield at work.
Obviously, if you look around the rather sparse web-site right now, the files aren't there. We're still in early construction phases: be patient.
3. Who can join?
Absolutely anyone who has access to the Animation:Master-98 Beta program. This means pretty much anyone who has either Martin Hash's 3d Animation, or the Animation:Master suite.
4. How do I join?
Email me at: "email@example.com". Please put "Brawl" somewhere in the title, so I can figure out what you're talking about (I'm slow sometimes if not properly cued).
5. Is there a mailing list?
That sure sounds like a good idea. I'm looking around at places that could set me up with a list-server. Got any recommendations?
6. I don't want to join. Is there anything else I can do?
At the moment... well, no. However, in a week or so, we should have thrilling and entertaining information about the various fighters who will be participating in the brawl. And a little bit after that, the first couple seconds of action will be posted as a movie. If you keep checking back, there will be an ever-increasing amount of entertaining material!
7. What if I want to join, but might have to miss a few weeks?
No problem. It's simple to miss a few weeks by just not getting the camera focus for those "sections" of the movie. If you really need to take a long hiatus, some plot element can be inserted: maybe your character is thrown behind a bar, and only re-emerges much later (when you yourself return).
8. What if I'm no good?
What, you mean like an actually evil person? No problem.
Or do you mean that you don't think your modelling and animating talents are likely to be on par with those of others. Don't worry about it. This is not a contest. We're just going to get together and have fun. A range of skill is a necessary by-product of that. And, of course, the important thing no matter what your skill level, is that the brawl will give you an ongoing reason to practice your animation skills. It's the only way to learn, whether you're just beginning, or have been animating for 400 years.
9. What kind of character can I enter?
Pretty much anything. Sentient (or not) rodents, amorphous blobs, Terminator cyborgs, whatever.
However, there is a general consensus on what's going to look vaguely normal in this setting. So far the majority of interest has been in Cute-level anime characters: biggish eyes, and height equal to between three and five head-heights. Of course, this is by no means a restriction, just a de facto average, which will probably change as more provinces are heard from.
10. Can characters use weapons?
NEW! For this first fight, it has been decided that missile weapons (i.e. guns) would complicate matters too much. If your character really needs a gun, I'm sure you can convince the group, but our initial thought was no. Maybe next brawl.
11. Where will the brawl take place?
NEW! The movie will start in a park, with the characters playing frisbee (presumably Ultimate). In the background will be sounds of screeching tires. One of the characters will go out for a long catch in the street just as two or more cars full of goons (presumably fresh from a crime scene) tear around the corner. The goons getaway will be foiled because of our innocent disk-catcher (either because they swerve and crash, or because they slam into a high-body-mass character, and the car just stops). The goons will then take their vengeance.
In all likelihood, we will start the animation actually at the start of the fight, and then backtrack to the frisbee scene when people feel like it: I'd rather start with the high-energy animation, and let people get a feel for their characters, before we start doing stuff that could involve a little bit of subtlety.
12. Who gets to choose directorial issues (camera angles, etc.)?
This also hasn't been figured out. Again, make a recommendation.