Things I Wish I Knew When I First Started Coding

Hey everyone, my name is Serena, and it took me four years to finally write on episode XD

I’m a perfectionist, and I’m the WORST when it comes to giving up on something too quick because I was not perfect at it immediately. I’m ridiculous and can never get anything done.

Coding on episode was a lot harder than it is now (now that we have more YouTube tutorials, new features in the portal such as the previewer, @Dara.Amarie, etc…).

I literally tried and gave up on episode over and over again for four years.

This time in January 2019 I finally stuck with it! Back when I was first starting out, if you had told me that I’d be the advanced director that I am now here in July 2019, I would NEVER have believed you LOL! I’ve made some crazy stupid progress on my directing skills in 6 months, and it’s all thanks to joining this community and making so many friends who helped me along the way, and taught me new coding tricks!

So, to help others who might be just as frustrated as I was starting out, here are some tips that will hopefully help!

First: Don’t Get Overwhelmed.

  • I know that the script looks intimidating and overwhelming, but you WILL learn to understand it in time! I promise. You have the episode forums to use as a great tool and resource for information, and there’s essentially a template for anything you can imagine.

@Dara.Amarie is a Blessing.

  • Need a customization template? She’s your girl! She also has much more than just customization templates created. Check out her website to see if she has some templates that can help you out! They make life so much easier, I promise. Thank you Dara for your commitment to this community and all of the help you provide <3

@JosephEvans Taught me all of the Coding Basics I Know with his YouTube Videos

  • I learned all the basics of coding through watching Joseph Evans’ YouTube tutorials. If you’re just starting out, I highly recommend you watch them!

@ Isn’t Everything. Have You Tried &?

  • Do you want to try and direct things to happen simultaneously, such as two characters exiting the scene together? Here’s how.

The @ symbol tells the script to fully read this line first and animate what’s on it, THEN move onto the next line. The & symbol tells the script to read this line and animate it while it also moves onto the next line and reads that one too. This makes a world of a difference, trust me!

First, here’s the “wrong” way to do it.

@CHARACTER 1 exits right in 3

@CHARACTER 2 exits right in 3

What this will do is make CHARACTER 1 exit first, then after they leave the screen, CHARACTER 2 will make their exit.

Here’s what you need to do:

&CHARACTER 1 exits right

@CHARACTER 2 exits right

By changing the first @ to &, this makes the script read both lines at the same time, and the two characters will exit together.

The Previewer and the Directing Helper are LIFE SAVERS!

  • The episode writer portal has a lot of new tools that help with coding so much. For instance, the previewer box in the top right corner, and the directing helper tool within it (the other buttons are also helpful, but that’s another topic).

Within the directing helper are four tools that will really help you direct your story.

  • Zoom Helper

    • You can adjust the focus (where on the screen your zoom sits), change the % of how far in or out you zoom, and reset the zoom back to the default.
  • Spot Helper

    • In here you can place your characters in your scene wherever you want, and you can adjust their scale (their size).
  • Bubble Helper

    • You can adjust the scale of the speech bubble (the size), cycle which corner of the bubble the tail sits, and you can place the bubble where you want it to sit on the screen.
  • Overlay Helper

    • In here you can place your overlays on the screen, and you can adjust the scale (the size).

When you tinker with and adjust anything with these tools, the line of code for that is shown in a box below the previewer, which you can directly copy/paste into your script.

Below the previewer are also a lot of helpful tools to utilize, such as the sounds/music catalog, the animations catalog, filters you can copy/paste into the script directly, etc… There are so many tools for you to use.

Making Characters Enter/Exit Flawlessly - Spot Directing

Do you ever struggle to get a character to walk from one place to another without having it look strange? Here’s how to fix that!

  • Understanding how spots work is key.

Spots are made up of three numbers:

Ex: 1.280 55 110

The first number is the character’s scale. This is the size of your character on the screen, and the scale number 1.280 is the standard default size all characters get set to.

The second number is how far left/right on the screen your character is standing.

The third number is how far up/down your character is on the screen. This is important to use for your character’s height.

  • Now, here’s how to make a character enter/exit.

First, put your character where you want them to be on the screen for the scene. We’ll use the spot 1.280 55 110 for this example. Next, click and drag your character to where you want them to go to next. In this example, we’re going off screen, so that new spot is 1.280 200 110.

Notice that the only number that changed was the middle one. All we changed was how far left/right the character is; their scale and height stayed the same. This is KEY for getting a character to walk smoothly.

Here’s what it looks like in action:

INT. BACKGROUND EXAMPLE

@CHARACTER spot 1.280 55 110 in zone 1

CHARACTER

Sample dialogue.

@CHARACTER walks to spot 1.280 200 110 in zone 1 in 3

Making Overlays NOT Appear out of Nowhere

  • There’s actually more than one way to put overlays into a story. The standard way to put an overlay into a story looks like this:

@overlay OVERLAY NAME create

@overlay OVERLAY NAME opacity 1

@overlay OVERLAY NAME shifts to ## ## in zone #

@overlay OVERLAY NAME scales to #### ####

@overlay OVERLAY NAME moves to layer #

I only use this method for creating overlays if the overlay starts out as transparent in the beginning of the scene, then appears later. Here’s how I normally put overlays into the scene–through the background:

INT. BACKGROUND EXAMPLE with OVERLAY NAME to [scale] [shifted position] in zone # at layer #

What this does is puts the overlay(s) in with the background. This eliminates the glitch of the overlay suddenly popping up out of nowhere for a split second when the scene starts. I 100% recommend putting your overlays in like this! It’s much easier and smoother looking. You can put as many overlays in with the background as you want!

Making Animations/Walking to Spots Flow Better

  • Episode has many commands to use to string lines of code together:
    • starts
    • is
    • does it while
    • then
    • and

I use all of these but “starts” basically XD

  • “And” is great for making lines of code happen simultaneously.

  • “Is” makes that action/animation happen immediately.

  • “Starts” will begin the action/animation while still playing it as the script moves onto the next line of code.

  • “Does it while” is great for animating a character to be doing something while walking to a spot

  • “Then” is what I use for making one animation happen right after another.

  • Here are some good ways to use these commands:

    • @CHARACTER walks to spot #### ## ### in zone 1 in 3 and CHARACTER does it while walk_neutral then CHARACTER is wave_extreme
    • @CHARACTER is laugh_giggle then CHARACTER is idle_awkward

Making Different Speech Bubbles

  • There are three types of speech bubbles you can use in episode! Here’s how to code them:
    • Standard Dialogue Bubble

NARRATOR

Insert dialogue here.

  • Thought Bubble

NARRATOR

(Insert dialogue here.)

  • Character-Specific Narrator Bubble

NARRATOR (CHARACTER NAME)

Insert dialogue here.

Controlling Music Volume and Fading Music in/out

  • The magic line of code for controlling sounds and music volume is this:
    • volume music ### ####

The first number is the volume level from numbers 1-100. The second number is the amount of time the volume changes measured in milliseconds.

So, if you type:

volume music 100 3000

This will increase the volume all the way up over the span of three seconds. 1000 milliseconds = 1 second.

If you type:

volume music 0 5000

This will slowly turn the volume off over the span of five seconds.

Zooms Have Animations???

  • Surprise! Zooms have their own animations. Here’s the list:
    • easebounceout
    • easein
    • easeout
    • easeinout
    • easebackout
    • easebackinout
    • easebouncein
    • easebounceinout
    • easeelasticin
    • easeelasticout
    • easeelasticinout
  • You can use these animations for both zooms AND shifting/scaling overlays! Here’s how:
    • @zoom on ### ### to 100% in 3 using easein
    • &overlay OVERLAY NAME shifts to ### ### in zone 1 in 3 using easebounceout

@overlay OVERLAY NAME scales to #### #### in 3 using easebounceout

Helpful Keyboard Commands that make Coding 1000% easier

  • For Windows Operating Systems:
    • Copy: CTRL+C
    • Paste: CTRL+V
    • Cut: CTRL+X
    • Find: CTRL+F
    • Undo: CTRL+Z
    • Select Everything: CTRL+A
  • For Apple/MAC Operating Systems:
    • Copy: CMD+C
    • Paste: CMD+V
    • Cut: CMD+X
    • Find: CMD+F
    • Undo: CMD+Z
    • Select Everything: CMD+A

I hope this helps anyone just starting out!! These were just a few tips off the top of my head, please comment below more tips that I didn’t think of so we can help others!

33 Likes

I am actually not new to coding, I actually code for a few years now and this will sound like I am completely dumb, but could you tell me more about the ‘starts’ code?

Check this out and scroll down to Using “starts”

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Thank you so much!

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Just gonna comment here so I never lose this thread :eyes:

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Thank you so much it really helped :slight_smile:

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i did this also on google docs and typed everything that i learned along the way :00fidget:

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this was helpful :slight_smile:

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this is godsend :triumph::heart_eyes:

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Bump!

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Bump

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BUMP!

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@molly247

Bringing more attention to the thread! :grin: have a good day/night! :heart:

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I wish I knew the zoom helper, because oh boy. I couldn’t get it for nothing. :joy:

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Me and the spot directing can never get along.

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Right?!? Now I’m an expert :wink:

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I try to spot direct on my computer, but I usually just go to the app, and screen shot the code.

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Bump!

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I tried spot directing on my phone but then my characters were all over so I ended up doing it on my computer

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But yeah, when I first started I didn’t look anything up. :woman_facepalming: But hey, I’m here now.

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Bump