Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Over break, I went on a TV/Movie watching frenzy. One movie i watched was "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button". Last time I saw this movie, I thought it was amazing. Seeing it again in terms of motion graphics, I am in awe of how they could make Brad Pitt look so damn old and fragile turn him to look like he's 15.

After watching this video on how the makings of the movie, I realized graphic design is some really complicated stuff. But once you get on that level, you can do so much cool things its amazing.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Video Games and Motion Capture

When you think of motion graphics and animation, I bet your first thought isn’t video games.  But they use a technique that is seen in many other areas of media, even film. A technique seen in a movie such as Avatar, is motion capture. Motion capture, to put it at it’s most basic form, is aligning the movement of physical people to a character. This means a person’s movements can be recorded and rendered into a virtual character’s.
   It’s an extremely fascinating technique that has proven to produce a new form of content creation. For video game makers, animators, and filmmakers alike.

Title Sequence Breakdown: Hasbro Pony Edition 2: Electric Boogaloo

After the modest success of Hasbro's first attempt to bring their My Little Pony franchise to the tween/teen girl market, the highschool girl pony-girl-people are back! With guitars!

                                 Presenting My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks.
The glam-rock elements abound in this one.

"Rainbow Rocks" is brought to us once again by the fine people at DHX Media Group of Vancouver, Canada. The movie itself is what you would expect. They're high school girls, in a battle of the bands in order to take down the forces of evil. The whole thing has a strong sense of Hasbro wanting X, Y, and Z in it to sell toys, and the people working on the movie trying to make the best thing possible with what was given to them.

Should you run out and see this movie? No, not really. It isn't horrible by any means, but I don;t see anyone in this class going to see it. However, there is one part that I feel is worth a mention, and that is the opening title sequence.

This movie has a rockin' title sequence! But I don't want to just tell you, I want to show you. So strap in, grab something to take notes, and let's get to it!

This is the whole thing, in full. Sorry in advance for the potato quality of footage I was able to get, but it should work just fine to dissect this.

First thing I want to look at is this transition. It focuses on an object that then is used in a wipe. It's organic, not too static, and though you can't tell in gif form, it syncs with the music. On top of this, the font choice is good. It's not totally static, but it's moving slowly enough and on a fixed track making it easy to read.
This next part highlights what I feel is one of the strongest parts of the sequence, which is the fact that it has these transitions that take their time and don't have text to them.
This part has a fun animated bit. Her going out of frame, then popping back in impossibly fast has a cartoony squash and stretch feel. The lightning strike and changing color is well timed and uses a gradient, which shifts with the character.
The actor titles have full animated wipes as well. The flash of white on the guitar is a good  palette cleanse into the next color and scene.
The next two title wipes have a continuity to them. Something is happening, and we're seeing it happen in between titles. Also note the sparkles on the nobs. This is an over the top 80's style battle of the bands movie, and oh does it relish in that fact!
This transition is nice, but the main thing I want to point out is the animation and its timing. The dog bites down on the bone in real time so to speak, but afterwords things slow down. It creates a neat effect that the other characters have been doing as well.
When we transition to the other set of characters we get another transition that takes its time to look good and build atmosphere. The transition from guitar neck to rainbow looks good, and is a creative use of the elements we've seen used so far.
Lastly, we get the movie's villains. The way they're introduced here sets them up well. We see that the two don't get along so well, and that their leader pushes them around. The way she pushes through them, and her title does the same to theirs is a creative way to show off her character in the title sequence alone. 

I for one, was impressed with this. Much more impressed than I thought I would be. I decided I wanted to know who was responsible for it, so I did some digging and I found a guy called Tony Cliff . I ended up shooting him and email, and he responded!

This whole thing has inspired me to go at things with increased vigor. Finding something great and unexpected, reaching out and making contact, the whole shebang. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I'm nowhere near quitting!

Photoshop & The Daily Show

One instance where I see obvious Photoshops used extensively is the trifecta of comedy news shows, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Often this isn't really brought up in conversation about these shows, but the photoshops that go along with each host's monologues are responsible for some of the shows' funniest moments. If it wasn't for these hilarious and absurd, often pun-filled photoshops, I think a lot of the jokes on these shows could go by without a laugh. This is one of the only instances I can think of where simple photo editing is a gigantic part of a show's structure.

Full episodes of these shows are available online for anyone to view, and each episode is a great example of how photoshop is used to comedic affect. Just google The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, or Last Week Tonight for plenty of examples. Just for good measure though, here's a collection of 15 photoshops related to the last election that a website called uproxx.com put together:


Also, another blog where some random guy shows off his photoshop skills, trying specifically to get the attention of the people at the Daily Show:



Good Hair Everywhere

I am taking a moment to appreciate 3D animated hair and fur.

Take Sully’s fur from Monsters Inc., for example. Just from looking at it, we are able to imagine what it feels like. We have a good idea of what Sully would feel like if we were able to pat him. The fact that we can compare a real textural feeling to something animated by a cold, hard computer is pretty amazing.

Hair is pretty cool too. Merida’s hair from Brave is probably the most beautiful hair in the entire animated world, as far as I’m concerned. It’s wild and big and out of control and probably took so much memory to create. But every curl behaves like we would expect hair to behave. It moves so naturally in relation to Merida and adds character to her character. It must’ve taken a lot of work to control every curl in order to make her hair look uncontrollable.
Another set of good hair is Rapunzel from Tangled. What’s really amazing about that animation is the sheer amount of hair that had to be considered. The hair at least 10 times longer than Rapunzel herself and it’s used as a prop throughout the movie—it’s a lasso, it’s a rope, it’s a ladder… In animating this hair, utility had to be taken into consideration all the while keeping things silky, shiny, and smooth.

This video showing a variety of hair related goofs with Rapunzel’s hair gives a little bit of insight into the physics of good hair.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chipotle's Animated Advertising

Chipotle has done a great job of creeping us out but also making us feel like they're the best choice for fast food with their "Cultivate a Better World" videos. The storytelling in "The Scarecrow" gets the point across without dialogue; rich visuals with an ominous and ironic soundtrack do the trick.

Chipotle took an emotional approach to advertising to appear as the virtuous fast food chain. An interesting fun fact is that McDonald's used to be the restaurant's largest investor. Now, however, Chipotle is often praised for this marketing technique. They vow to move away from factory farming and improve the way that animals are raised for meat, including eliminating the overuse of antibiotics. The animated videos also go along with an app that they have created based on the scarecrow's journey from the factory to something more "natural." Chipotle gives us a little more insight into what they wanted to convey with these videos below.

I think that one of their other videos, "Back to the Start" is also extremely adorable and although a bit simpler, still provokes the same emotional response. Willie Nelson's cover of "The Scientist" is pretty awesome too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Disney Pixar - For The Birds

I absolutely love this animated short film.  Not only do I find it hilarious, but it also retains a very realistic feeling while having nonsensical undertones.  For example, the smaller birds all have tiny wings - so small they would not be able to fly.  But it only makes sense that birds can fly, so the smaller birds are able to flap three small feathers to magically float in the air!  But the thing that has me most intrigued are the textures of the feathers themselves.  The feathers on both the small birds and the big one look so realistic to me.  Especially when the small birds fluff their feathers when settling on to the wire, you can see every ruffle of their feathers.  It almost appears as though they were animated individually!  I love the detail that went into this short, and I love the comedy that goes with it.


Hi there,

Any fan of the 90's pop-culture, or general hilarious videos is aware of the painfully awkward commercial for Muzzy. Muzzy is a the worlds #1 video language assistance course for children. Below you'll find the original infomercial from 1996.

If you can look past the overall cheese factor within the commercial you'll notice that the program uses animated characters to teach language. While this technique featured primitive animation, it engaged children and gave them a fresh perspective with learning the language. An example of the simple animation is below.

Flash forward to the 21st century and the people at Muzzy have released a new and updated version of their service. The new muzzy features computer animated graphics and catapults the brand into the millennium of advanced technology.

In my personal opinion the new version of Muzzy looks awkward and poorly put together. I prefer the hand drawn animation of the past and think that it is much more fitting of the company.  I'm curious to see how this new adaption and version of the brand have affected sales for the company.

What do you think of this update?

Until next time,


Tuesday, October 14, 2014


The other day a friend of mine showed me a video on YouTube of an electronic music artist named Conte. I was immediately taken aback by the creativity and innovation that I experienced while watching the video and I knew I had to share it with you guys.

This video was created by David Conte, who is also the musician. I don't think that I have ever seen something like this before. It combines the music to the visual lights in a way that makes them feel like they are one of the same. The the lights change colors and move to the beat of the music in a mesmerizing way and every mark is hit in the video. The other impressive thing about this video is that it is all done live. David Conte has the routine down perfectly so that the placement of the objects and lights is not messed up. There really is no room for error in this endeavor. This video makes the music come to life through lights animation and video. I think this is really something special. Check out his videos at http://www.jackconte.com/ -- they are all awesome!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

American Horror Story

To be honest, I'm not really a big fan of the horror genre. But American Horror Story has been all the rage lately so I decided to check out the trailer for the new season. One character that really popped out was the two headed lady. I have no idea how this could be possibly done through motion graphics but it looks amazing.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The OMEn Chronicles: Make-or-Break Effects

    Let me introduce The OMEn Chronicles, written by RJ Aguiar and directed by Wren Weichman. The short film takes place fifteen years after the events of the world-famous Harry Potter series. Although not a lot of information is put forth, it can be inferred that some serious business is going down amongst the wizarding community. While the plot and acting leave a little bit to be desired, the main thing I'd like to address are the special effects. Because this wouldn't have been nearly as half as good as it was, if it had not been for the effects. Especially for a movie about magic, the special effects could be argued to have acted as another character by themselves.
   It's always fascinating to me, watching the before and after shots of any film with a high rate of special effects. It really does make a difference between what was initially shot and what came after. In this case, the post-production work that went into the film was something to be commended. Maybe not for its perfect performance, but by its ability to transport this footage into an entirely different type of world: where magic looks just as real as you and me. Even the color-grading that went into the making of this worked to present an atmosphere that was in synch with the tone of the film.
    And like any other filmmaker interested in this field, I love to know just how things were done. Which is why his tutorials are worth it to check out. Much like other tutorials we've experienced, he provides footage so that we're able to follow along as he teaches us. It's not a perfect system, but it's definitely something you can learn from.

    Even if special effects aren't your thing, The OMEn Chronicles are worth it to check out.

Oh, God, Why: Production Memory Lane

I was inspired to take a trip down memory lane (kind of) and ventured into my YouTube account of high school work. It’s interesting comparing now to then. I think I’m still proud of the stuff I did all those (4…) years ago, but I also think it would be interesting to give some of it another go—redo them with a better knowledge of production. My favorite (and most relevant) piece was a stop motion animation video about a hot air balloon to the moon. I made it with felt, using a felt board background with felt characters and objects. The felt and 2D-ness made it easy to move stuff around because felt sticks to felt. Well, felt sticks to felt if you’re careful and paying attention. I ran into a lot of issues in the approximately 20 hours it took me to make 30 seconds. I kept knocking things and forgetting things and the lighting kept changing… in reality, the quality of this video is not even a little impressive—you can’t even read the title sequence. I still like it though. I still like the story. I still appreciate the amount of work it took me to get those semi-mediocre 30 seconds. I think I’d like to do it again someday. I’d like to revisit the story and try it again and make it better. Then I’ll have a nice “Then and Now” retrospective to impress people with at parties.