• Graphical Audio Drama
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  1. #1
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    Graphical Audio Drama

    I've wanted to do this for years but I haven't had the funds to do so. It's still going to be very expensive, although Patreon funding does help a lot. (Thanks guys!) Most Outlaw Star fans know there are soundtracks. Not as many know about the Sound & Scenario CDs. On the scenario disc there are two new Outlaw Star episodes, but of course, they are audio dramas. For a long time I've wondered how good it would be for the fanbase if these audio dramas could be made graphical. I thought of different ways to do this, but ultimately I've concluded that the only way to properly accomplish this is to outsource artists.

    Like I said, this is an expensive endeavour, so I'm just focusing on the first drama episode for now. For those who don't know the gist of it, I'll try to provide an intro. (That I'll probably put too much effort into.) It's set three years before the anime...



    The Lonely Gunman and Hacker Boy

    Sentinel III is an industry-class terraformed world with a population of 1.5 million. Its major cities are Hugo, Locust and Nebula. Generally, public order was usually well maintained, but more serious crime has more recently become a bigger issue. This tale follows a young man called Gene Starwind. Three years prior, while travelling to the Sentinel region with his father their ship was ambushed. At the time the attackers were thought to be mercenary pirates from the Acid B guild who occupy the area. Nevertheless, his father's trade ship was defenceless and Gene's father, Norman, sacrificed his life and threw his son into a lifepod, ejecting him towards Sentinel III.

    Gene Starwind, a young western native of planet Earth, had difficulty fending for himself in this Asiatic world he suddenly found himself in. He spent his later adolescence resorting to petty crime and soon aspired to become a bounty hunter. Recently, Acid B has been wreaking havoc in Locust. They're backing a man called Volg. Amber Dream is a brothel that has also been targeted by Acid B. Jim Hawking is a young boy who lives there but works upstairs alone as an accountant. He often confides in a woman called Natalie. Since his mother passed away and his father—the famous Computer Wizard—is still imprisoned on his homeworld Homage, Natalie has become a mother figure to Jim.

    Gene, however, has a problem with Volg and his mercenaries causing trouble for the townspeople. After defending Amber Dream against an attack by Acid B, Jim took notice and decided to work with Gene to take down Volg before it's too late. But even with his broad technical know-how, can Jim really make a difference in a daring scheme to defeat a powerful syndicate with only the help of an often-reckless lonely gunman?



    So, the project is to make this audio drama graphical; in other words, the closest thing to a normal TV experience. Like I said I've thought of several ways to do this. A few years ago forum user Hisa came up with some designs. Unfortunately she hasn't been seen in some time.

    They show Volg, Natalie (two concepts), Clyde and younger Gene/Jim.

    Graphical Audio Drama-osaudiodrama1-jpg

    Graphical Audio Drama-osaudiodrama2-png


    In order to maintain good visual storytelling I think I'd need an average of one frame change every ten seconds. Of course, there'd be times when that could be faster or slower, but it seems like a decent rough guess. I commissioned three artists to draw the same thing: young Gene and Jim. I gave a lot of info which I'm going to shorten as this thread is already long enough. I more or less sent them all the same text but told them they could ask away if need be.

    Shortened:

    [General info about Gene/Jim, their normal ages, and a summary of the show and its art style]

    [Basic gist of the drama CD episode and how Gene and Jim's appearance would change from the anime, plus link to Outlaw Star clips playlist]

    In the manga of Outlaw Star, at one point there is a flashback that shows both Gene and Jim when they were about three years younger. Although, the manga artwork is different to the anime, yet I am requesting art based on the anime. You should use the manga as a reference to see what features the younger versions had. I have provided images of these here, and in the first two you can see how the older (or current age) Gene looks in the manga: [not including this as it's spoiler hell]

    You can see some immediate difference between younger and older Gene. Younger Gene is rougher, untidy, has shorter hair, plasters on his nose and cheek, earrings and looks like a bit of a cocky punk. What might help is that you get to see Gene with short hair in the anime (only difference is the haircut, but good reference material): [videos showing short-haired Gene in the final episode]

    I think the younger Jim differences are that like Gene he has shorter hair. I think he'll be a bit shorter at three years younger. You also get a look at what younger Gene/Jim's clothes would look like. Quite different to the clothes in most of the anime. Gene's clothes look quite casual, maybe white tee with a jacket over? You'd be a better judge. Jim, black t-shirt, jacket over it, laptop bag, wearing shorts.

    [Sent the below as a pose example]

    Graphical Audio Drama-iygzhn0-png

    Maybe one would be smiling. Of course, since Gene is much taller he would be crouching a bit.


    I'm going to refer to the artists as A, B and C. I'll assess the final work with the important factors being quality and price. A was a bit slow getting back to me but what I got is excellent. Prices are also good.

    Graphical Audio Drama-3-jpg

    Pros

    • Very detailed and clean line art
    • Remembered to fulfil most of my requests
    • Only $10 for single character half-body in colour


    Cons

    • Maybe a little too good; doesn't have any roughness that Outlaw Star often does, but is this a con?
    • Not that fast (although afterwards said he'd be able to take commissions at any time)


    B was great to work with. He gave me a low fee for this rough concept art. He's a hardcore anime fan, particularly of anime from the '80s and '90s, so he was a good find. Because we communicated quite frequently through the process we decided on a few design changes which resulted in a full-body picture. It's a rough sketch and doesn't reflect the full-price art.

    Graphical Audio Drama-1-final-jpg

    Pros

    • Seems very '90s-like
    • He accomplished Gene's ruggedness that I requested
    • Excellent communication


    Cons

    • Quite expensive, at $40 for a waist-up colour character
    • Why is Gene's left hand gigantic?


    C took the longest. I think I like this the least.

    Graphical Audio Drama-2-final-jpg

    Pros

    • Jim looks great
    • Prices are reasonable; $25 for half-body colour character


    Cons

    • Gene looks a bit too young and not like a "punk"


    The main reason I've brought up this "test" concept art is because I'm having a hard time choosing. Put it this way: if I commission a frame for on average every ten seconds and this episode is about 27 minutes, it's simple mathematics. That's nearly 160 frames. It's hard to say what backgrounds would cost. There are ways to lower costs. Recycling the same background would remove that expense from a frame. An artist might be lenient about reducing the cost of a frame with a similar pose.

    This has dragged on for ages. This thread is more like a journal than anything and putting down these ideas helps the process. Do you prefer A, B or C?
    Gene: "Have faith in me guys, enjoy the ride—you're in good hands. I can handle this. I can do it!"
    Jim: "How do you know?"
    Gene: "I don't!"
    Jim: "I knew it."
    Gene: "That's okay. There's a first time for everything!"

    Anime and Steam info

    Anime-Planet.com - anime | manga | reviews



  2. #2
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    I like artist a the most. Sure, his design work is more modern looking but I think he did the best job of capturing Gene's rouge-ish side the best. Since it's a rough sketch, it's tough for me to gauge how artist b's final design will look like but I know you showed me his other work and he does capture that classical 90s style very well so I think he'd be a solid choice but if I had to choose one, I'd go with artist a

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  4. #3
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    I know who most of these artists are, and going into this I was pretty adamant about Artist B, but A captures the characters the best. Where it lacks slightly in 90's style it more than makes up for by having the characters feel more like Gene and Jim. As much as we've talked about this behind the scenes, you knew how much I liked Artist B, but that should make my preference for A more meaningful, I hope.

    I can imagine B being a little too close to the original art style now. If it's not quite right, it will have a knockoff vibe, whereas A is distanced enough to be effective in its own unique way.
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  6. #4
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    I've commissioned artist A to produce a colour version of his artwork. It will feature a background. I can't really say much yet. Gene will probably have a pint of beer, and Jim a glass of milk. Their poses will be redone to match their upcoming background. That background will be Clyde's Bar of course. This is to be the photo in the frame that Melfina picks up at the start of the audio drama episode.
    Gene: "Have faith in me guys, enjoy the ride—you're in good hands. I can handle this. I can do it!"
    Jim: "How do you know?"
    Gene: "I don't!"
    Jim: "I knew it."
    Gene: "That's okay. There's a first time for everything!"

    Anime and Steam info

    Anime-Planet.com - anime | manga | reviews



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