Sunday, February 26, 2012

Motion Graphics in "Being Elmo"

So this post is coming a little late for this week, I completely forgot to post yesterday evening. Mostly because I got caught up in watching the documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteers Journey, which turned out to be perfect material for discussion on this blog. First, let me start off by saying if you haven't seen this doc than I would definitely suggest adding it to your Netflix instant queue.  For anyone who watched Sesame Street as a child this film is an absolutely incredible and touching look into what it takes to be a puppeteer, specifically the man behind Elmo and his journey to success. The documentary tells the story of how Kevin Clash came to be the genius behind Elmo and several other Sesame Street characters. Lucky for the filmmakers, Kevin had a plethora of home videos of himself as a budding puppeteer in his teens. This made it possible for almost all of the documentary to be made up of video. What I thought was really smart and the reason I am posting about this film is what the filmmakers did when they did not have video provided by Kevin or filmed by themselves to use. Any time they decided to show a photograph to go along with the narration they made the photograph 3D, adding a slight movement of camera so that their audience did not feel as if they were looking at a static image. You can see them using this technique even in the trailer, posted below.

I thought that this was a really intelligent way of using such a simple effect to keep the film "alive." While I have always thought the concept of turning still images into 3D images in After Effects is pretty cool (I'm basing my first project off of the concept), Being Elmo proved to me that there was an extremely practical way to use the technique. In a way you could almost say that it's the Ken
Burns effect for the 21st century. To me, Being Elmo is evidence that motion graphics animation is a tool that we will see more and more documentary filmmakers embracing to help tell their stories over the next few years.

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