Floor 796 It is a website developed entirely by a single web programmer who maintains it for free.
The website gives a fascinating look at life on the space station. The scene is on a 60-frame cycle that repeats every five seconds. The characters, props and sets are inspired by pop culture from the 1980s to today, and it’s easy to navigate through the 32 episodes that make up the show.
That number, 32, is not fixed. Of course, the site’s developer, Pavel Sannikau, is always working on new parts for floor796.
Sannikau is a 36-year-old web programmer living in Belarus with no education or training in graphics or animation. He’s just a die-hard fan.
In the year In 2012, he started drawing short animation clips as a hobby. Before that, he briefly dabbled with game development in Adobe Flash, but eventually switched to drawing animated gifs like the ones seen here.
His passions and the pressures of the real world pushed Sannika into software development and he stopped drawing entirely for five years… until he came up with the idea for Floor796.
We recently caught up with Sannicau to talk about the tools he uses to create the site’s animations, what happens inside the space station’s rooms, and how he chooses his subject matter.
Pavel Sannikau, floor796 Creator:
I wanted to draw, and I wanted to program. I thought about creating a game, but now that the world of game development is so complicated and so competitive, I decided to do something new. This is how the idea came to create a project where many small animations with a common style and meaning are added regularly.
From the ground up
Before this project I have worked with different graphic editors like Adobe Flash, 3D Studio Max, Photoshop, etc. They are all great but they are paid and don’t last forever. By nature I tend to depend on others. For example, in programming, I try to use minimally dependent libraries. Since I decided to work on a project that will last for years, I decided to write my own animation editor, which defines exactly the style that this project needs, projection, color palette, tools, number of frames, transformations, etc. Thanks to the development of my editor, I can quickly draw in the desired style. In any other editor, I have to do a lot more work to maintain such a projection and style.
Creating device It took me about a year. I did it as a pet project in my spare time. But from time to time, I still make modifications based on what I think I need for the next block I’m planning. For example, when I started to draw a block with a pool, I needed a tool to create a wave effect. over here Here is a link to the device demo.
For this project I developed my own video format and my own format for storing drawn scenes. My video format is the best for this animation because it works with this color palette, frame rate, and other animation characteristics. You can read more about how the video format was developed. This column (though in Russian).
Alas, this editor in its current form cannot be used for purposes other than drawing scenes in the floor796 project. But if desired, the work can be edited and sent to any popular format (gif, webp, apng, mp4, etc.).
To begin with, this project has no future plans. As a rule, in the process of painting a scene, I’m thinking about what I’m going to paint next. This is a step-by-step approach to the project. Usually, whatever comes to my mind is more interesting.
The entire animation is divided into equal-sized parts (parts). I call it a block. Every time I add another block to another side of the whole scene, I expand the project. Therefore, the surface of the space station gradually expands in all directions.
I try to make each block with its own theme: hospital, kitchen, park, gym and so on. Right now I’m drawing a block with a small power plant, and then I want to draw a double block with a police station. It takes an average of one month to paint each block. I have completed 32 blocks so far. As a rule, I start drawing a new block from the diagram. I plan what will happen in it, what characters will appear and where they will be placed. Then I paint the walls, the floor and the equipment. After that I start drawing the characters step by step and work out how they interact within the block. As soon as I finish drawing a character or group of characters, I will update the main page. So the project is updated every 2-4 days.
The finished animation shown on the main page was created as follows.
- Individual block elements are drawn: characters, walls, floors, etc. are all placed on their own layers as separate scenes. Currently there are more than 6000 layers in the project.
- All elements of a block are combined into one scene, which is the last block. All the block layers are merged together and the final set of frames of a block is rendered in PNG format.
- All modeled blocks are combined into a common scene which is displayed on the main page.
- This large scene is cut into 508×406 pieces, and each piece is loaded into a special video format.
- In the browser, each partition is loaded in a separate CPU thread and rendered to the screen.
Choosing a subject
It was difficult from the beginning when I thought about which characters to include. I had to synchronize different animations with each other. But maybe after I drew the first 50 characters, it became much easier and now I never think about synchronization or how to turn the plot in 60 frames.