Monday, October 31, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Animation

A friend of mine just showed me this video. It’s an advertisement for the Samsung Galaxy and the animation in it is very well done. It is a simple concept but with some creative animation, it turns into an extremely interesting piece. The animation also doesn’t look too difficult to do. It is very quick but a lot of it seems like tracking and the shapes are pretty simple. The animation starts about 40 seconds into the video. Enjoy!

I also found this video. It is a remix of the original advertisement above that someone made using Adobe After Effects and plugin called Plexus from AEScripts.

Stop Motion Animation

Stop motion animation is a way to make an object appear it is moving on its own. In order to do this you must take an object and move it in small increments between different photographed frames. This will give the illusion that the object is moving by itself when you play the frames in a continuous sequence. People often use clay figures to do this because it is easy to reposition them.

Stop motion animation has been in many movies. The first time the stop motion technique was used was by Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton for The Humpty Dumpty Circus in 1897. This movie had toys at the circus come to life. I couldn't find a video of the Humpty Dumpty circus but here is another video made by the same people.

Here is another example of stop motion animation that is used in a music video. This is a more recent piece.

Motion Graphics Showreel

So I came across this motion graphics guy's showreel from 2007 on Youtube. I haven't seen too many reels for motion graphics, so I don't have much to compare it to, but it seems pretty cool. The video description says that it's a mix of his personal and commercial stuff.

I think my favorite part is the recycling bin logo coming off the bin and the face effects that show up towards the beginning of the reel. He also seems to really like camera mapping (at least I think that's what it's called), the zooming in and out of a series of 2-D images to create a 3D world. He seems to do that a lot, especially with tree branches. The video that comes up first on his channel is like that as well- it uses what looks like paper cutouts stacked on top of each other to make a layered environment. I think it's cool that he has that as his favorite technique, it makes you recognize his work more easily. If I find any other reels that have patterns or techniques/looks that they seem to favor, I'll post them, too.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Normandy Omaha Beach Scene

Never having a brother, I was forced to take over the role of surrogate son for my dad on many occasions, such as watching or playing sports with him, or mowing the lawn. Another thing I often did with my dad was watch war movies that my mom often refused to partake in watching. War movies have always fascinated me, but today I am fascinated with them in a completely different way. Today what fascinates me is the way war scenes are constructed and shot. Many war scenes seem so intricate and filled with detail that it would take weeks for one scene to be shot. One of the best war scenes of all time is the opening scene of the movie Saving Private Ryan, the Normandy Omaha Beach Landing. Out of the film's $65 million budget, $12 million was spent on filming the opening scene alone. The scene took 15 days to film and 11 weeks in post production to achieve such a realistic replica of the Normandy Beach scene.

The following video is a behind the scenes look at a recreation of the Omaha Beach Landing scene in the movie Saving Private Ryan. Obviously, this team did not have the budget that the feature film did, but it still looks pretty good and only took four days to shoot (but I assume it took a lot longer to put it together in post).

While not exactly like the $12 million version, it still looks pretty good for the limited resources used on it! It just goes to show what animation can really do.

Strata Stencil

When the first video revealing Pottermore came out this summer, I was truly excited to have something to continue my childhood journey with Harry Potter. However, after watching the announcement, I found myself distracted. I was more preoccupied with the "paper cut-out animation" used in the sequences with the book, than I was with the actual Pottermore site. It was just so beautiful. Well as time passed, this type of animation has started to pop up everywhere.

After reading an interview with Simon Lloyd and Christine Turner, who led the animation team for the Pottermore announcement, I discovered that "Nothing in this piece is CG. Every element was shot in camera and painstakingly cut, piece by piece, and then moved bit by bit to create a stop frame animation. The book is actually very large in scale to make creating the elements easier. This book was made by a specialist book binder and was a complete replica of an ordinary printed version."

I decided to continue my research and discovered quite a few other techniques that are similar to the animation done for Pottermore. One of them is Strata cut animation which uses cuttings from layers of clay.

Eventually I found, what was to me, a combination of the two animation techniques, "Stratastencil," which is an experimental animation technique that Javan Ivey uses in his animation, "My Paper Mind." Ivey says that "Stratacut removes material to reveal another layer, while this technique adds another layer while still showing the layer before it."

My Paper Mind from Javan Ivey on Vimeo.

Finally I arrived at my final goal, "How do I achieve this amazing effect?" Well, now you can learn how to create a sequence similar to "My Paper Mind" or "Pottermore" in this After Effects tutorial, without the large consumption of paper or time. I think it's quite a beautiful style of animation and I have a feeling it will not be disappearing soon. Enjoy!

Harold and Kumar go to 3D

I have realized that there are movies out there that I can watch a million different times and always laugh and enjoy it. These movies are never necessarily considered good movies, but I can always watch them over and over because they do not require a lot of attention to get a laugh. I am referring to titles such as Tommy Boy, Billy Madison, and Anchorman.

Another movie trilogy is Harold and Kumar. The first one, to me, was very funny and the movie as a whole was at least worth watching and laughing too. The second one, like in many trilogies, was definitely worse to watch than the first one. In no way am I dedicating this post to how much I like these two movies, but more of how the creators are taking this money making idea to the next level.

3D is currently a very popular technology right now and taking a weak story line and adding 3D elements to it, can be an easy money making plan.

I never thought the directors were going to make a third Harold and Kumar because of how weak and terrible the second one was, but without seeing the third one yet I am betting that it will still do fine at the box offices, because the average consumer is a sucker for great motion graphics thrown into a weak story.

As much as I hate how much terrible movies make tons of money every year, I have to give them credit because the whole point is to spend the least amount of money to make these movies so the profit margin is high. I hope this one isn't worse than the second one.

Real Life Disney Characters?

Earlier I literally stumbled upon these images of Disney princesses (and one villian) portrayed pretty realistically by real people. I love them because they are perfect combination of the animated world and real life. I'm sure that creating these pictures didn't come without a lot of effort however because these girls are not only dressed and posed in a way that really captures the personalities, but they also have a lot of (and in some cases all) the physical attributes that the creators of each movie envisioned for the particular characters.

Below are my three favorites:
Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

 Megara (or Meg) from Hercules

Ursula from The Little Mermaid
This is the blog of the creator, Jirka Vinse Jonatan Väätäinen, a Finnish design enthusiast studying graphic design at the Arts College at Bournemouth. In order to create these ten pictures, Jirka uses extreme amounts of photo manipulation detailed here.
Below is an example of how he takes pieces of different photos and puts them together to make a separate photo using each different piece.

I think this is a very unique and refreshing take on photography and these types of skills/components can definitely be applied to visual effects in movies to either replicate an image or create a brand new one for the best looking characters possible.

Happy Halloween!

While searching for a Halloween related video, I found Cirque du Freak's title sequence. And since it is Halloween and we are working on our own title sequences, I thought this was very appropriate. And plus the creativity and motion graphics are very impressive.

Here is an interview with the Motiongrapher Brandon Lori. To read the complete interview, click here! (I highly suggest it)

"Specifically, for Cirque du Freak, what was the most challenging aspect of distilling the film’s long-form narrative into the economy of time provided by a main title?"

"It is quite a challenge to condense the film’s long-form narrative into a title sequence. I normally do not over think too much in creating a complex narrative for the opening unless it is needed. The idea of a main title sequence is to set up the tone and mood for the audience to discover the story as the movie unfolds. The opening sequence needs to be metaphorical in content and impressionistic in tone. Unless there is a very specific prologue that the filmmaker feels strongly needs to be explained, I usually will try not to be too literal and keep it simple.

We don’t want to reveal too much about the plot of the film in the title sequence. As for Cirque Du Freak, it is a graphic opening. The idea is to introduce six freak show characters and bring them all together through the journey of two puppets. I wanted to let the credits play an important role in the sequence. They become the main actors throughout the sequence then the story becomes a backdrop. I think title design is about the titles and other elements are secondary."

"Can you explain the title’s typographic significance, and how you decided to have the letterforms serve a dual purpose in providing information, while also becoming interactive devices for the characters?"

"The typography is inspired by some older reference in graphic design history. I am particularly interested in Dada artists such as Filippo Marinetti in the way they use letters to literally illustrate the content. It becomes a figurative poem. And concrete poetry—the idea of seeing letters as actual objects, as well as Bradbury Thompson’s work in the 50’s and 60’s. All those are the original source of inspiration on what we did for the title.

I also wanted to invent a new way of seeing how the credits behave. If you see the credits as actors on stage instead of just titles in the foreground, then we can imagine them to do anything that you want them to do as long as you direct them. They can dance and they can interact with the characters. In this case, they are truly the actor on stage with the puppets."

Creative Credits:

Project: “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant” main title sequence

Client: Universal Pictures
Design/Animation: yU+Co., Hollywood, CA

Creative Director: Garson Yu

Art Director: Etsuko Uji

Designer: Edwin Baker

2D Animator: Wayland Via

2D Animator: Allen Yeung

2D Animator: Jill Dadducci

2D Animator: Chris Coogan

3D Artist: Pota Tseng

3D Artist: Stephen Delalla

Fruit Ninja

Having an iPhone, I have used the popular application, Fruit Ninja. It's essentially a game where the user has to swipe the screen as fruit flies up, and you slice the fruit, while trying to avoid the bombs that show up across the screen.

Having spent countless precious hours of my life playing this game, I was interested to see this group of guys create their own real-life (somewhat) version of the game using After Effects and a green screen. Not only is it funny to watch, but it's interesting to see the technique of how they want about bringing the game to life!

Mosaic Effect

When I was searching for a movie to create a new opening for, I had several ideas including She's All That and The Truman Show. Ultimately I chose to use Center Stage as my film, but I found myself still looking into The Truman Show, staring Jim Carey, just because it's a movie I particularly like. During my exploration of the movie, I noticed the poster used for the film which I had completely forgotten about.

The Truman Show Movie Poster
I've seen this effect a lot before: for 5,000 piece puzzles, versions of famous art, etc; and I know that an art class at IC uses a similar idea to create a self-portrait. Despite how often I've seen this design, I've never known how to do this electronically. In order to use this effect, there are many possibilities available online and in stores. MacOSaiX is a good choice if you are a Mac user, like myself. It is a free download that only requires 3 steps and appears to be one of the more trusted photo-mosaic programs. Free websites range from detailed options to basic file uploading. Big Huge Labs gives you the freedom to choose the number of pixels between each photo, border color, and select where you want to upload your files from (facebook, flikr, or individually selected by you). It was surprising to me how easy it is to make if you search "photo mosaic." You will find more than enough options for you to create a very interesting photograph.

Let Go's use of Animation

While visiting and volunteering at the Austin film Festival Last weekend, I got to see the premiere of a movie that I interned on in LA called Let Go. The movie stars David Denman, Gillian Jacobs, Ed Asner, and Kevin Hart among others. Here is the festival’s blurb about the movie:

Parole officer Walter Dishman (David Denman, “The Office”) is having a rough time. In addition to his failing marriage, Walter has just been assigned to three of the strangest parolees he’s ever met. There’s Darla DeMint (Gillian Jacobs, “Community”), a steamy seductress on the make who spots an easy target on Walter’s forehead. Then there’s Kris Styles (Kevin Hart), an ex-con on a short leash with an even shorter temper. Finally, there’s Artie Satz (Ed Asner), a longtime prisoner who find the real world to be much different than it was when he went into lockdown. Will these crazy criminals ruin Walter’s life, or will they somehow help him become a better man? Written and Directed by Brian Jett and Produced by Leif Lillehaugen.

Why am I writing about this on our blog? Well besides the fact that I want to shamelessly promote a movie that I helped with, the movie used animation in a really unique way. The movie was live action but instead of using traditional day to night time lapses and location transitions, Let Go used animated ones. And they weren’t your traditional drawn animations either. The animator, Giles Timms, was inspired by Russian Cut-out Animation, Expressionism, and Comics. According to his IMDB page: “Giles has cultivated a distinctive technique that is textural, stylized and painterly. Using history and its motifs, Giles creates pop surreal worlds that are grounded in the real - 3D worlds in a flat 2D paper style.” Thus, the animations in Let Go were used a cut out styles to create a whimsical transition from night to day or day to night".

During the Question and Answer session after the film, someone actually asked the director about his choice of unique animated transitions. He responded that he had been a fan of the 3D cut out style and found someone within the movie’s budget who practiced that style (Giles Timms). The director wanted to make sure to keep the light, whimsical nature of the movie’s tone prevalent and figured that having these whimsical, surreal transitions would help avoid pushing the storyline in a more depressing direction. I thought this was a really interesting touch to the movie that did help keep the tone on the lighter side.

Unfortunately since it just premiered, I have no video examples but if you want you can watch a trailer for Let Go below. Don’t judge the quality of the movie on the low-budgetness of the trailer-it actually came out really well and the producer and director are working towards distribution!

Black Swan

This weekend I saw so many people dressed as black swan which made me think about the effects that were used to transform Natalie Portman into the black swan. In the film, there are scenes where we see feathers coming out of her skin. And of course the part when her arms become full feathered wings. I did some searching around and found that there were so many more effects that went into the making of this movie than one would have imagined. For instance, there are a few times in the film when Natalie Portman's head was composited onto another dancers body to make it look like she did all the dancing.

Here is a video of visual effects supervisor, Dan Schrecker, discussing the effects in the film.

Improving Old Home Videos and Final Project

Searching for motion graphics videos on youtube I came across this interesting video. I like to deconstruct the videos and try to decide what tools were used to produce some of these effects. Additions from After Effects gives you the ability to incorporate new elements to your old projects and would be a great way to alter old home videos.

For my final project I decided to remake the opening for Mrs. DoubtFire. I am currently juggling ideas around for how exactly I want the segment to flow. I want the style to be similar to a children's television opening due the role Robin Williams plays within the movie. I was thinking of building off the Saved by the Bell, incorporating iconic props from the film. Each time I think about conceptualizing the project my idea changes.


So since it is Halloween my friends and I were watching some creepy movies, one of which was Predator. All my friends were talking about how it must have been so hard to do so many of the effects that were seen in the movie since it was produced so long ago. I started talking about after effects and how it would be easy to do now. A couple of them bet me that I couldn’t. So I was looking online and found several tutorials about how exactly the effect was done. The people doing the tutorials aren’t exactly “professional” or the easiest to understand, but they have a decent step-by-step tutorial, (3 phases) of how to replicate the predators helmet “hud” as they call it. Here are the three videos.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Motion Graphics On Television

A lot of television channels use motion graphics for intros to shows and commercials for shows. They can be very intricate with their design and they are very interesting to watch. I found a website that showed a lot of good ones but I picked a few of my favorites to post here.

I thought this introduction to MTV was very good. I enjoyed all the colors and the complexity of it but I was not able to post the video. You can view it on the website I posted above.

I thought this video was good for the SyFy channel.

This last video is for FX and it is very interesting because it shows the steps of how they made the final product. It shows you from storyboards to every step they take after filming. You can view the full commercials on the website.


Since it's the middle of fall and almost Halloween, I decided to redo the opening for the horror film, Halloween. The original opening credits for the film is very simple, mainly because the film was very low budget. Here is the original opening credits:

The opening to the film is just about the only effect they use because of the strict budget. I've decided to give the opening a little extra kick. I want to keep the theme of simplicity because i believe it works for the film so i decided i'm going to used a variety of photos and videos. I want to stay away from crazy modern effects because the film isn't modern. it's a classic and it should keep that look.

the shots I'm collecting include videos and pictures of jack-o-lanterns, gravestones, autumn leaves, fog, and peoples' Halloween decorations. I'll also incorporate blood into many of these shots. I want to use the same music because i believe the score of the film is so amazingly well done that it can't be replaced. I've been researching eerie-type effects online and hopefully this comes out how i picture it in my head.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

As a last minute decision, I've decided to use Scott Pilgrim as my material for this project. I came across this interesting article that goes into depth about the visual effects in the movie and the style behind it to give it that comic book feel. The article mostly focuses on the fighting sequences in the movie and how they incorporated and copied the actions that happened in the actual graphic novel. It's a very interesting article and I found it extremely helpful when researching the topic for my project. The link it below!

Scott Pilgrim and VFX Against the World

Phantom Video Link

I'm not sure why the embedded video in my last post isn't working, so here's the link. Sorry about that. :/
If anyone knows of any tutorials that talk about making flickering lights in AfterEffects or goes in-depth about the Stroke effect when making titles, let me know. :)

Phantom of the Opera- Titles Project

So I'm currently trying to come up with an outline for how I want to do the Phantom of the Opera opening titles. The movie (the 2004 version) doesn't have full titles, just the title of the movie and a zoom into a picture as they start the film. Here's the actual opening for the movie.

I really like the candle/flickering light theme that have going on, and I'd like to expand that at least for part of my opening titles. I'm using part of the music that's played over the final scrolling credits for the movie, which is about 2:20 in length. Now I'm just trying to figure out what I want to have appear at what time and what names to put in the credits (after I get through the main cast members, director, etc). I'm also a little worried that I face a big learning curve when it comes to making the names show up and making that light flicker. I'm currently trying to look for Video Copilot tutorials that fit what I'm looking for, but I can't find any great ones at the moment. I think I'll be using a lot of Write-On/Stroke effects and playing around with keyframes on the lights.
I'm hoping I can get through the outlining process soon so I can start putting elements together and seeing if this will actually work. We'll see how it goes...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Behind the Scenes of "Heroes"

After completing the first project, the opening title sequence of a tv show, I decided to research a little more into the television show I chose, Heroes. I watched the first two seasons of Heroes when it originally aired a few years back and I must say, it was one of the most visually stunning television shows I have seen. Every episode felt like a mini movie with all of the high quality special effects. In the first season alone, the show utilized over 1000 visual effects. I found this article that describes a lot of the visual effects used in the pilot episode (which if you haven't seen it, I definitely recommend checking it out just for the visual effects alone!)

I also found this video that goes into great detail about the special effects used in the show. It interviews the visual effects crew and they go into depth about how they create the stunning images seen in the show. It is amazing that they are able to create all of these effects for a show that airs every week.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Motion + Design: "What is Motion Design?"

Earlier today I was on the motiongrapher website and I saw a post titled Motion Plus Design: "What is Motion Design?". It is honestly one of the coolest videos I have ever seen! This video was created by a group called Motion + Design. This video was created because although motion design is everywhere from billboards to TV screens, there is no place solely dedicated to celebrating the achievements that have been accomplished in this field.

The creators of Motion + Design are Paola Boileau & Kook Ewo. Motion + Design breaks down its vision in three steps. First this organization aims to open the world of motion design to the public through free entry. The centre will be located in Paris in order to encourage large amounts of visitors. The second reason for the creation of this center is to bring a wide variety of patrons together from the curious student to the professional artist. Motion + Design wants to feature either a specific artist, production team, or theme. These works will be viewable through a monthly mini-documentary that will play on a loop on a large screen or by using one of the available iPads at the centre. Finally, the centre's main aim is to promote young artists who come from diverse areas and movements of the world of design.

Here is the video:

I really love it because it features a lot of the title sequences we have watched in class, such as Seven, but it also tracks motion design back to its roots with films such as the "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari." Besides film this video also demonstrates the accomplishments of motion design in television with mainstream networks such as CBS and NBC.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Tribute to Burny Mattinson

Mattinson is one of the few remaining Disney artists that worked with Walt Disney on the animation of Disney creations we know and love. He began his career working in the mailroom at Disney at the age of 18 with no formal art training. Soon he was working as an in-betweener on Lady and the Tramp and shortly after became an assistant animator on Sleeping Beauty. He worked on other movies such as 101 Dalmatians, The Sword and the Stone, The Jungle Book, The Aristocats and Robin Hood.

He got his big break however, as key animator of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too.
Mattinson states that his biggest challenge on this project was to make Winnie and his friends exactly as they had in the previous two movies. This not only meant modeling them correctly, but giving them the characteristics, features, movements, and life that the characters had previously. I find this very interesting because you never think much about everything that goes into maintaining certain characters throughout multiple movies, but the minute something is off or doesn't feel right about a character audiences know really well, it can easily ruin the movie and you often wonder why the creators didn't do something to fix that.

After Pooh, Mattinson went on to direct Mickey's Christmas Carol in 1983 that was nominated for an Academy Award as well as write, produce, and direct The Great Mouse Detective (one of my favorite Disney movies) in 1984.

Interestingly enough however, Mattinson is primarily remembered for his work on the original Winnie the Pooh featurettes because he is the only crew member left to have worked with Walt Disney and the "Nine Old Men." In a sense, he has almost become the Pooh guru and as long as he is alive, I doubt the cartoon will be reopened again without him. This is fortunate because Winnie the Pooh is one of few childrens' stories that truly has become timeless, kids still love it now just as much as children did when the first movie was release in 1964.

Below, Mattinson addresses his work on Winnie the Pooh, how he feels about the other characters he created, and what it was like to work with Walt Disney

For more information on Mattinson, visit this website with an exclusive interview of Mattinson by Animated Views.

Dumb & Dumber Remix

When we initially discussed opening title sequences to remake, I got to thinking about the Superbad title sequence our very own Ashley Chiocco posted about. This got me thinking about a debate among my friends as far as whether the comedies of today (Superbad, Knocked Up, The Hangover, etc.) can stack up against the comedies of our childhood (Dumb & Dumber, Tommy Boy, Ace Ventura, etc.), so why not compare the title sequences as well? In this case, the movies of today take the cake. Superbad's opening sequence is so unique and catches the eye so well, whereas a movie such as Dumb & Dumber has a sequence that brings virtually nothing to the table with the exception of having a cliche catchy 90's song to go along with it.

As you can see, this opening sequence doesn't quite hold a candle to the effort that went into the Superbad sequence.

I have decided to try to bring a more unique edge to the opening of Dumb & Dumber, hopefully combining After Effects and Photoshop to make something more creative than a few names showing up and animating themselves over some video! Wish me luck.

Opening Movie Credit Project Ideas

For the first project, I thought that I picked an easy show to recreate, that being Parks and Recreation. I found out that it was quite a bit harder than I thought. So I decided to find a project to push the boundaries of my after effects skills. I felt like I learned a lot more by challenging myself and attempting a harder project.

I stumbled upon this movie on Netflix as I was fishing my way through the action and adventure section. I figured this would be the best spot to find a movie with a great opening credit scene. Honestly this sequence looks really difficult and involved, but I would love to be able to do it and if I can pull it off, I will be confident in my after effects skills. The only problem I can see with doing this is that there is not much video it would be mostly lens flares and pictures, but still this should be easy enough to find the content. The use of photoshop should be a help as well.

The Fly

I was thinking about different titles to do my recreation of for the opening scene when I came across the movie “The fly”. This movie has been remade several times by many different people. In fact there are over four different recreations of the movie. Though they are working off the same or very similar material, each movie is creatively different. Which I found very similar to our assignment ‘Use the same idea, just present it differently” This video portrayed each movie well, and just how the director changed the portrayal while keeping the theme the same.

50/50 Movie

Over fall break I went to the Ithaca Mall Movie Theater. I was focused on the trailers and opening sequence of 50/50 to hopefully gain some inspiring ideas/concepts. Much to my surprise 50/50 used very few motion graphics. The text used seemed overly simple for such a big budget film. The opening sequence was pretty much just a single shot of Joseph Gordon-Levitt jogging. The titles used in the trailer are also simple full screen backgrounds with white letters. Due to the nature of the motion graphics course I believe it has raised my expectations of what these big budget films should be able to produce. I wanted to search into the film to perhaps find answers to what appears to be a quickly produced title sequence. I located a very inspiring article about hurdles the film makers encountered. Some large hurdles they encountered was coming up with a title that they could sell and also the lead actor James McAvoy backed out just weeks before filming. It is comforting to know that professional projects also have bumps and snags. This is important to remember when your next project for Park encounters some trouble. The film I believe overall was a success and pleasurable viewing experience that effects your emotions.

Inception Inspired

Over the week, I saw a commercial involving a car that appeared to be inspired by the movie Inception. At first, I was only half paying attention, because I wasn't watching TV for the commercials, but my eyes drifted to the screen because of the amount of movement that was happening. Once I was focused on the TV, I felt seasick and wished the commercial would end- but I couldn't look away because I had to see how much worse it got. Of course, now that I have a minute to sit down and write about said commercial, I can't remember what the commercial was for (a car, auto insurance, etc;).

In my quest to find this offensive commercial I found that Lexus has created three different commercials for their vehicles that also seem to be inspired by Inception. The differences I felt between the Lexus commercials and the mystery commercial is that Lexus used creative graphic effects but didn't suffocate the audience with sensory overload. The cuts used are not too fast and give the viewer time to process what is happening. Lexus also didn't overuse Z axis manipulation. Although in these commercials the Z axis is changing and the shot appears to flip onto it's side, I still know where I am at all times. Lexus isn't the only one using Inception for ideas. I also found an LG commercial for a vacuum that seems to be inspired by Inception. I feel that since the film came out in theatres, more and more media professionals are trying to incorporate full scale graphic effects.

Title Sequence Project

When searching for my next title sequence I found this very interesting video and explanation...

A History Of The Title Sequence from jurjen versteeg on Vimeo.

And here is the explanation...

"Designed as a possible title sequence for a fictitious documentary, this film shows a history of the title sequence in a nutshell. The sequence includes all the names of title designers who had a revolutionary impact on the history and evolution of the title sequence. The names of the title designers all refer to specific characteristics of the revolutionary titles that they designed.
This film refers to elements such as the cut and shifted characters of Saul Bass' Psycho title, the colored circles of Maurice Binder's design for Dr. No and the contemporary designs of Kyle Cooper and Danny Yount.

This title sequence refers to the following designers and their titles:
Georges Méliès - Un Voyage Dans La Lune, Saul Bass - Psycho, Maurice Binder - Dr. No, Stephen Frankfurt - To Kill A Mockingbird, Pablo Ferro - Dr. Strangelove, Richard Greenberg - Alien, Kyle Cooper - Seven, Danny Yount - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang / Sherlock Holmes" - Jurjen Versteeg

For the next project, I was thinking about creating a "Going the Distance" title sequence. I love the movie and I love the title sequence. It will be difficult to make it my own because I love how the original one was made. It is also a bit intimidating because of all the layers and motion. I will have to channel Georges Melies and Saul Bass for their creativity! The company who created this title sequence is Imaginary Forces. They have created many mainstream title sequences and I am definitely going to look into more of their work. They have a great website!

Hello from the Austin Film Festival!

Hey guys, I am writing this kind of late so hopefully I can construct coherent sentences…Anyways, I am volunteering at the Austin Film Festival over fall break so I thought I would post about some of my experiences!

So far it has been a lot of fun and a great experience! I have worked at a few panel sessions but mostly I have been helping out at screenings at different theaters around Austin-which is great because usually I have gotten to sit in on the screenings! There are over 600 volunteers working on the festival and I have met and talked to so many different interesting people-many from Texas but some from all over. I have even gotten a chance to talk to some of the filmmakers! For example, last night I was working at a screening of a film called Restive (check out the website HERE-it is a thriller with pretty dark subject matter that was very well shot) and while it was playing all of the volunteers watched it on a screen in the lobby and the writer/director named Jeremiah Jones seemed too antsy to sit in the theater and watch which was fine for me because he periodically came over to where I was watching and was giving a mini directors commentary which was really cool!

Since I have been taking this class, I have tried to keep motion graphics and animation on my mind while watching movies lately so I have been keeping my eye out for interesting graphics in the films I’ve seen so far at the festival. One thing that I have noticed that I think has been a nice touch to the films are these short animated clips that they show before each film. Each animated clip begins with a crinkled piece of paper being opened up with the title and then continues on to show a sketch-like animation of one of the writers/producers who has spoken at the festival in the past. The clips show that writer/producer in animated form answering a question from a previous panel and they usually try to pick something funny. One that I’ve seen a few times that I have enjoyed was with one of the producers of star wars talking about his reaction to finding out that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. It was really a unique style of animation-If they post these videos online eventually, I will try to post an example. Later in the week when I am more awake (sorry for rambling) I will try to post about the interesting title sequence in one of the films that I saw tonight.

Friday, October 21, 2011


So this weekend I re-watched Tangled with a few of my friends and while we all love the movie, we noticed that the hair lengths of Rapunzel change often depending on what Rapunzel is doing in the scene.

For example, when Rapunzel is running away from the "Snuggly Duckling," she rounds up all of her hair within seconds and runs away carrying it all by herself.

But a few shots later, Flynn Rider has to help Rapunzel gather up her hair, so that they can run away from the rushing water. So unlike the other scene, she now has too much hair to carry all by herself... Not to mention that a few shots earlier, her hair was long enough to run all the way up to the window in the tower with a bit extra to spare.

We wondered whether or not the animators had decided on a set length of her hair? Was it whatever fit the story? Or were they set on the length of a football field, for example? I figured that the animators had set a specific length for the purpose of continuity, but had to change the length so that the story could be better played out. They knew that Rapunzel had extremely lengthy hair but had a difficult time making the length continuous.

Yet, after I did some research, I realized that hair is quite difficult to animate, and the graphic artists might have been concentrating more on the appearance of the hair, rather than the specific length; after all, an audience is more likely to notice hair that is flat or doesn't fall properly, than hair that changes in length by a few feet.

In fact, Byron Howard, a co-director of "Tangled," said "They tell you never to do long hair in CG because it’s one of the most difficult, most complicated things to do... at its core, this movie is about a girl with 70 feet of hair, and if you can’t get that right, then you don’t have a movie."

In the video below, the directors and animators actually go into how difficult it was to animate the hair, but why it was so important from a symbolic and storyline standpoint.

CNN also provides an inside look at the other techniques the animators used to create Rapunzel's hair, but the video is unable to be embedded, so here is the link.

Basically the animators had to experiment in real life with fishing wire in order to see how hair shines and moves, especially at a length of 70 feet. From there they used sketches and computer simulations to actually animate the hair.

The LA Times has a really good article on the challenges the directors faced with animation and provides two videos showing the before and after examples of the animation. 

Overall, I find that Tangled is a really good example of how something that seems so simple, can turn out to be so difficult. Not only are the animators responsible for animating the weight and movement of the hair, but they are responsible for 70 feet of a plot driving force. So while we may have a way to go in making our animation technology a bit more advanced, Tangled is a really good example for how much work is necessary in a professional animation industry.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stock Footage Resources

So I was looking around for sites that had free downloadable stock footage for the final project, and I came across this blog post that compiled a bunch of different sites that have different kinds of stock footage. While a lot of the sites this guy mentions sells their footage, there are a few on there (like Umesh and Stock Footage for Free) that have free downloads. Others send you free downloads occasionally if you register with them, which is pretty cool- so if you think you're going to need to buy stock footage in the future, I would go with one of the sites that sends weekly/monthly free clips to its users.
If you're willing to look through Umesh's blog, I think that could be your best bet (along with Stock Footage for Free and Internet Archives) if you want free stuff. I'm going to keep looking for other stock footage sites because I don't know quite yet what I need. I'm thinking about doing opening titles for Phantom of the Opera (the 2004 version), because they don't really have anything else other than the title appear before they go straight into the film.
Hope some of the links on the post help!

Movie Opening Idea

One of the coolest but simplistic film openings I have seen in awhile is that of Blue Valentine. After seeing the movie in its entirety I like the title sequence even more. By using still images the film makers capture the couple as they fall in and out of love before the movie even begins.

For my project I am pretty sure I am reworking the title sequence to "Casablanca." Since it is an old black and white film the graphics are extremely simple and outdated. Unfortunately embedding is disabled but here's the link to the original Casablanca opening (won't allow me to link it):


I'm not sure exactly how yet but I want to make the opening sequence incorporate all the different aspects that this movie has to offer. It has romance, heart break, deceit, suspense, violence and many other timeless motifs. One thing is for sure, I am going to be extremely busy this break gathering clips and brainstorming ideas for my workflow.

Project Ideas

I'm not sure exactly what I want to do for this project, but I do have a few ideas. Two of them include the movies (500) Days of Summer, and the other is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

The (500) Days of Summer opening right now is very simple, and very nice. I will most likely shoot my own footage for this project, but I still don't know what I want my opening sequence to be. I just love the movie and I know I could have a lot of fun with it.

The opening sequence to these movies are already amazing, which is slightly intimidating when you're a young college student in your first motion graphics class. What I hope to do for Scott Pilgrim is insert parts of the comic book into the opening.

Those are my two ideas and I haven't committed to either one just yet. Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Behind the Scenes of Alice in Wonderland

Although it didn't do so hot in the box office or with reviews, Alice in Wonderland was amazing in terms of animation and visual effects. Using green screen, the entire movie was shot in a Los Angeles sound stage. Ken Ralston was the mastermind behind the entire movie, putting CGI with things such as Nerf balls, rubber rabbits, stilts, trick bow ties, and green leotards to make the audience really believe they are in an actual wonderland. In most movies, the costumes are real, but in this movie most of the costumes were even added in later on.

A great example of all of this put together is in the tea party scene where Alice meets the Mad Hatter.

In order to construct this scene, the only thing actually present were the table, chairs, and actor Johnny Depp. Where the other characters are supposed to be (such as the March Hare, Cheshire Cate, and the Dormouse), voice talent is placed in all green at the exact spot where the film makers wanted voices to come from.

The video below gives an even greater look at to how the world of Wonderland was created.

Pan Am: Using Visual Effects to Create Different Worlds

One of the new shows that I've really enjoyed so far this season is ABC's Pan Am, which centers around a group of Pan Am stewardesses in the 1960s. The show is shot in New York but takes place all around the world. In the past four episodes alone it has taken place in Hong Kong, Paris, Jakarta, London, New York City, and Berlin. The show has done a great job of portraying these different locations and is very convincing. A lot can be attributed to the visual effects team and art department.They are able to build entire cities without ever leaving their studio in New York. This is especially important for a show that's main focus is the different cities the
flight attendants go to.
Even the scenes that take place in the Pan Am terminal in New York are extremely convincing and well done. The sets are huge and you can tell that the production doesn't hold back, especially when it comes to its visual effects. I found this article that describes the making of the pilot episode. I found out that Stargate Studios, the visual effects company I posted about a few weeks ago is the company behind the visual effects of Pan Am. The article goes into detail about how the Pan Am features one of the largest virtual sets ever created, the main airport terminal set. Rather than build the entire set, an area of 150 square-feet was covered in green screen and used for shooting.
The production used Stargate's VB-live real time compositing system, which requires the studio to pre-build all of the virtual sets so the actors can see them on monitors as they are filming. After shooting, they fine-tuned the shots in Maya and After Effects. The results are stunning in my opinion. Pan Am is beautifully shot and so much of that can be attributed to the visual effects team. I definitely recommend you all check out the pilot! Here is the trailer:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Movie Openings

Since our next project is creating an opening sequence for a movie I thought I would look up some of the more famous openings. I cam across this site that had 30 Unforgettable Movie Opening Sequences.

I am still not sure what movie I want to create an opening for but all of the sequences on this site were very interesting. They looked very hard to make but they are extremely well done. These make a very good first impression for the movie especially when I haven't seen all of them. Below are a few on the opening sequences I personally liked the best.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Love & Hate"

After watching "Nuit Blanche" in class last week, I wanted to see more work by Arev Manoukian. I couldn't believe that something so awesome (for lack of a better word) wasn't ever shown to me before, had never come up in my [almost] four years at Park, or something I hadn't found for myself on the internet. In my search I found the opening Manoukian directed for the Advertising & Design Club of Canada awards.

Again, Manoukian demonstrates great control and attention to detail. The beginning of the video reminds me of the particles effect, but they're pieces of paper that finally pause in time. One of my favorite moments is when we're watching the suspended papers and the focus is on one page with a drawing on it. Even when we get the close ups of the employees, take a look at how many papers are in the background. I was pleased to read that Manoukian received an award for his work on the this opening... a Gold at the Bessie Awards.

Evolution of Flash

I was sitting on my couch with my roommates this morning, and I asked them what they thought when they heard motion graphics/animation. They both said “ASDF” and I had no idea what they were talking about. I looked up “ASDF” and saw that it was a flash movie. There are several of them and they are insanely popular some with over 20 million views. I found it fascinating that even though flash animations originated in the early 1990’s they are still so popular. Sites like Newgrounds are primarily all amateur flash animations. I did some research and found that the first ever-flash animation show was “The George Liquor Program”. The same creator as Ren and Stimpy produced it. It was somewhat crude humor, but its interesting that it was much more detailed than the ASDF flash, yet had only 16,000 views compared to the 20 million.

Here is ASDF

Here is George Liquor Program