Friday, September 28, 2012

Miniatures On The Moon

Hello everybody,

I have always found it fascinating how special effects have progressed throughout history. It's fascinating that these artists can trick the mind of a person into truly believing that what in front of them on the screen is "real." I came across some behind the scenes of the sci-fi film Moon (2009) the other day that really intrigued me. Here's the link: . "Moon" takes place, you guessed it, on the Moon in a base. In order to create the actual base, the filmmakers choose to build a physical miniature instead of using digital effects. The detail and the effort put into the base amazes me and I believe it really works.
You can see that there are other computer generated graphics in this clip, so it's interesting to see that both physical and virtual elements are used to create this film. I would think it's be pretty neat to film a miniature then animate it in after effects. You could add some unique textures or some exaggerated movement. If you haven't seen Moon, I highly recommend it. A really well done sci-fi film. 

Analyzing Motion Graphics

This past week my favorite record label, Spinnin' Records, released a preview to a new song by Alex Kenji and Leon Boiler.
What I find really fun to do now that I know more about After Effects is to watch videos and try to analyze what they did.  It looks like they put a wiggle expression on the camera to make it shake throughout.  There are also a couple of color flares thrown in here and there that are pretty easy to make in After Effects.

Something I would love to learn how to create are all the "straws" that form the portal around the :48 mark and seen throughout.  They seem to be effected by the sound of the music so their animation must be parented to the audio.  Also at 1:02 and 1:08 the rotating portals are really fun to watch but I guess they were made in Processing and not in AE.  I make that guess based on their similarities to the fractal pattern at the end of the Casino Royale opening.  But alas!  I will see what I can figure out in AE.

Developing a 2D Game

What up doods?

So I'm in a club on campus called IC Game Developer's where we work together to try to design and develop video games. It's student run and a lot of fun, and throws you right into the experience of being a game designer, so if you're interested in joining or just want some more info you should talk to me after class sometime. Anyways, we are currently working on a 2D sidescrolling game about a robot trying to become human. I'm working as the art team leader and have a lot of work ahead of me to get the game at least into a working stage. It's been a bit of a struggle since I have just begun to scratch the surface on programs like GIMP, Photoshop and Illustrator, but since everyone is at that point we are all learning as we work towards a functioning game. My role is to create the enemies in the game, and get them animating in smooth cycles. It is really difficult but I am learning a lot as I go, and hopefully some of the skills will transfer to my animations in After Effects. I've been really inspired lately by a small indie game called Fez... if you haven't heard of it do yourself a favor and check it out. It is a beautifully rendered game with a retro pixel art style that sits in both a 2D and 3D world. It's a platformer and in order to solve the games puzzle and get past each level you have to change the perspective of the camera, manipulating the entire stage of the game. The art style is incredibly original and has a charming appeal to it. Here is one of the games trailers:

This weekend the Game Developer's are holding a game jam to try to crank out as much work as possible. It's pretty much a 48 hour lock in where we do nothing but work, so it's gonna be intense and hopefully extremely productive! I will probably post next week about the results.

I'm also now in charge of the twitter account! So follow us @ICGDC! I'll be posting a ton this weekend to update on our progress!

Despicable Me (2)

I'm not sure if it's the fact that I was born in the 90's, but I love animated movies. I love the Disney classics like Peter Pan and Snow White as much as I loved more recent animated films, such as Tangled.

One of my favorite recently released animated films (apart from Finding Nemo in 3D, which was epic) is definitely Despicable Me. The film, released in the summer of 2010, is about a super villain named Gru (voiced by Steve Carrel), who is struggling to reach his goal of being the most evil super villain in the world. In order to do so, he decides he has to steal the moon right out of the night sky. First, however, he must steal a shrink-ray from his arch-nemisis, Vector (voiced by Jason Segal). His plan, however, is thwarted, and in order to steal his shrink-ray, Gru needs the help of three little orphans, whom he adopts.

While the film is very much meant for a younger audience, the humor of the film, and the way it was written, makes it very entertaining for everyone who watches it. The characters are all unique and hilarious, and feature voices from actors such as Kristen Wiig, Julie Andrews, Russell Brand, Miranda Cosgrove, and Jack McBrayer.

The best part of the film by far, though, is the animation. The scenery is so amazing and looks so real, and all of Gru's things, such as his house and his ginormous car are all so very intricately designed and detailed. No wonder the sequel to the film has taken almost two and a half years to finish. Despicable Me 2 hits theaters this summer, and from the preview alone, I'm pretty excited.

Steve Carrel on his character, Gru

For a second look at the trailer, and for more behind-the-scenes with the actors who discuss voice acting for animation, check out this video. It's a little repetitive, but provides a cool look at how actors prepare for their roles, which is something I've always found really interesting, especially in animation.

Despicable Me 2 Trailer, just because I love it....

From Guitar Legend to Guitar Hero

Recently, we started looking into motion tracking and that reminded me of a video I watched in high school. The video (see below) contains the behind the scenes work for the 2007 Guitar Hero game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock that was out for PlayStation 2&3, Wii, Xbox 360, Windows, and Mac OS X. The video features Tom Morello, American guitarist best known for his work with the bands Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, and his solo project The Nightwatchmen, and the process that went behind putting him into the game for players to play as or battle against musically, known as Motion Capture.

Motion Capture is the process of recording the movement of a person or an object and is used in many different fields including the military, medical applications, and entertainment. Once the motions are recorded, they are used to animate digital character models in 2D or 3D computer animation. You may be asking yourself, "Cody, does this mean that motion capture is the same as motion tracking?" Well motion capture, with the use of many cameras, helps track the XYZ coordinates of a joints movement while motion tracking is more about determining how a single camera moves while filming live action so that 3D images could be rendered from the exact camera angles and distances. So the answer is no, but they are very similar and a lot of software can be used for both although motion capture is more expensive to do.

Anyways, rock on!

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Hey guys! So I was looking up expressions this week because from what I can tell they are pretty important. It is almost like writing computer code, in that you need to be exact with what you are coding and very specific. I feel like once I know how to write expressions it will make a lot of things easier in terms of connecting layers and controlling their properties.

From some of the tutorials that I've looked at, it seems like particle systems can be very powerful/important and using expressions to control them is a necessity. What I found was another blog about Motion Graphics.

On this blog there are free programs and tutorials. What I think will be most useful is a free eBook about the basics of After Effects expressions. It is in the "Free Stuff" tab and can be downloaded from there (It is called "After Effects Expressions Basics").  I haven't had the chance to look through the book yet, but I will keep y'all updated on how useful it is and what I learn from it.

Music Video Project

I was brainstorming ideas for my music video project for class. Since I like sports and have a lot of footage of the football team I film, I was thinking of a way to incorporate that. I like the song, "Heart of a Champion" by Nelly for my project. For this project I would like to be moving through different layers of football footage. This song has a lot of great motivational lyrics that pertain to exactly what the footage is showing. For the lines in the song that are really good and tie in directly to the footage, I want to have just those lyrics come out overlaying the footage. Again, not all the lyrics will display on the screen, just the ones that have a lot of meaning to what the footage is showing. I don't want this to seem like a karaoke style video like most of the lyrical videos on Youtube are. I want to be sure to keep the motivational sports theme in it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Music Video Ideas

                 Yesterday I posted a video by Coldplay that had similar qualities to the artist Blu.  Today I came across another lyric music video by Ingrid Michaelson.  This gave me some more ideas for the music video project.  I know that I will be using stop motion and AfterEffects, now I just need the perfect song to showcase powerful lyrics!

Holding and Roving Keyframes (with Charlie the Chupacabra)

Hey guys. Just wanted to share a tutorial on holding and roving keyframes.

Holding keyframes will allow you to hold an object in one position until the next keyframe.You'll see this is similar to what Arturo was demonstrating when editing to the beat of music.

Roving keyframes allow your animation to move at a constant velocity.

Hope this comes in handy!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Coldplay - Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall

Since discussing what the class can do for our projects, I have been looking up different music videos with lyrics.  I think this project is a great way to showcase the lyrics of a song.  Last year, when I was filming a music video for another production class, I came across this music video by Coldplay.  I like how they incorporate some words but also drew pictures on the wall as well (ex. trees, hearts, music notes).  I have always wanted to do something similar to this, and now I can with the help of AfterEffects!  I have been on a stop- motion kick recently, so of course this video has stop motion!

Another part of this video I love is the use of glow-in-the-dark paints.  The colors are really bright and capture the audience's eye.  This video also plays with the textures of buildings and bricks, giving an additional layer of interest.  At the end of the video, paint splatters are animated so it looks as though paint is on the screen.  The combination of stop motion, animation, and video keeps the audience wondering what is coming next.  It is interesting and engaging until the very last drum set.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Monster in Paris

    I just watched this movie this weekend and really enjoyed it! The story is very simple and sweet it follows two friends Raoul and Emile who get into a little trouble whilst making a delivery to the Botanical Gardens. Due to the absence of the professor who usually runs the place, the two friends let curiosity get the best of them and wreck havoc on the garden creating the mysterious Francoeur (a fly turned humanoid with an incredible musical ability) and the plot develops.
     The entire is movie is filled with absolutely beautiful graphics. The colors and the artistic choices I feel are definitely unique to the movie. There are scenes where you get this beautiful washed look, it is almost like you are looking at a very detailed watercolor. If i could explain the animation and graphics in one word for this movie it would be, elegant.
    I'm actually really surprised that this movie didn't do much better in the box office and didn't become an international success. I think a lot of it had to do with their marketing strategies because I know I had not heard about this movie through any medium. The only way i discovered this gem was through word of mouth (which is effective and says something about the power of the movie but its much harder to reach a vast audience when you solely depend on that).
    Oh I also forgot to mention that the music is INCREDIBLE I  think you will notice that in the above clip...

Stimulate Your Senses

So I have been bouncing around through all kinds of cool animated videos on YouTube and various sites for a solid half hour this evening. I came across some super awesome fluid simulation clips for awhile. Much of what I saw seemed to be created with a program called Blender, but there were some others as well. I haven't given much thought to animating liquids before, but the outcomes are mesmerizing. The videos demonstrate all types of things like morphing what appears to be water into shapes like teapots and humans to making liquids "dance" to the beats of music. Some of what I saw reminded me of the clip we watched in class during the first week designed through Processing (where it looked like grains of sand flowing into and out of body shapes). Then all of a sudden I thought of the 5 Gum commercials because many of them have elements that remind me of this type of animation. Specifically the commercials for the React and Rain gums channel the fluid simulation videos I started off watching. The React commercial (which I've included) morphs a black blob into different shapes and the Rain commercial has a giant pool of metallic marbles that pulsate. 5 Gum does a great job marketing in my opinion because those advertisements stick in your mind and make you curious to try their product. But that is beside the point. So I'm left wondering now if After Effects can do any animation that resembles this? Or would Processing be better? I'm not sure, but it'll be something fun to look into!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

One of my favorite shows on TV is CSI:NY. I have always been intrigued by the opening sequence. Every season, the title sequence changes, usually with an addition or subtraction of a character. The sequence itself rarely changes. However in season 7, both changes occurred. There was a change in cast as well as a change in the opening sequence. I know it is rather simple, but I like it. I like how the viewer first plunges right into the heart of New York city then we are introduced to characters, in order of importance. There is usually some sort of graphic that is in sync with the character. We first see Gary Sinise and surrounding him are numbers and characters from a murder case he solved in a previous episode. I also think the red blood cells we see before we are introduced to Anna Belknap are pretty cool. The 3-d model that Robert Joy, the coroner, is working on is also an impressive piece of craftsmanship. One last thing that I find cool about the sequence is the bullet fired right before we are introduced to Eddie Cahill. I like how the bullet is fired then tracked to its destination. Again, I understand this isn't really too impressive, but it is intriguing. I just wonder how they came up with the ideas they did or how they created them. I am not even sure if any of this was made with after effects, but I like the ideas presented and thought you might too.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Toy Story:The First Feature Length Computer Animated Movie

The Toy Story franchise has always been very close to my heart. I was roughly the same age as the boy in the story (Andy) when each of the three movies came out, and the idea that my toys were alive was kind of really cool when I saw the first one (I was like 5 or 6 at the time) Part of the reason I loved these movies so much was because of how great the animation is. The toys all have different textures (Rex the dinosaur is scaly, Woody is sewn together, Buzz is plastic) and those textures show really well in all of the scenes. Sometimes the toys act like they aren't alive and the fall realistically (Woody's arms hang while Buzz's are stiff) The amount of detail and thought that had to go into every scene, movement, and action of each toy is amazing. I really do think that Toy Story helped shape my imagination, and I would be very interested in learning how it was made.

From the video I posted, I learned that they had to build their own animating programs, and that it took them at least 6 years from start to finish to make the first Toy Story movie. I also realized how far we have come in computer animation in the past 15 years.

V Squared Labs

      One of the things I am most passionate about in my life is electronic dance music (EDM).  Ever since I was little I have loved its particular sound.  Nearly two years ago I began DJing as a hobby and as a way to make money on the side.  Recently I have acquired a copy of Ableton and now I am learning how to produce this genre of music.  It would be a dream career for me to be a DJ and producer who gets to travel around the world and spin for masses of people.

      Since taking this class, I have discovered a new interest of mine.  Most of the EDM events feature some sort of lighting and visual effects.  In my opinion, poor visuals will break a DJs performance while decent to superb visuals will only serve to make their set better.  I personally think a really fun and exciting career would be to work for a company that has to design all of these background visuals.  One company I find to be top notch and would be fantastic to work for is V Squared Labs.

     V Squared Labs assembles both the visuals and the actual structures on stage.  They work with many of the best artists in not just EDM but in all of today's biggest music genres.  Here's an example of their work below.

V Squared Labs Reel from V Squared Labs Inc. on Vimeo.

      Of all of the set designs they show in that video I find Amon Tobin's ISAM the most incredible.  I wonder how long it takes to produce all of these things!  I would not be surprised if it took much longer to make the actual visual than it does to build the on-stage construct.

Doc Ellis and The No Hitter

It's becoming clearer as time goes on that After Effects is a program that you can basically do anything with. There are simply are no restrictions to what you can do with it. I've been interested to see what kind of animation you can do by importing Photoshop images into AE and playing around. One video that inspired me to start this is Doc Ellis and The No Hitter. Shown to me by a friend, it's a hilarious account of a professional baseball player pitching a no hitter while on the drug LSD.
I think this animation is absolutely hysterical. The use of very simple effects, great sound, and a rare radio interview really adds up to a fantastic animation. The style of using these frozen stills instead of fluid characters is perfect for this story. When I rewatched this a week ago, I realized that this can all be done using the Adobe suite. By importing Photoshop files and animating them with AE, this style is easy to achieve. The mix of black and white to color is most apparent in my favorite scene when they show the rookie "Dave Cash." Or "I'm high as a Georgie Pine!" I would love to find an audio file from an interview so I can animate the visuals and bring to life someone's story. Great stuff.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Just recently I watched Drive for the second time. I was showing my roommates because it has quickly become one of my favorite movies. I tell people that its more of an experience than a movie because the story is so loose and the dialogue so sparse that you really need to pay attention to all of the other details in order for the point to come across to you. The soundtrack is so powerful that you could probably get most of the story and tension through it without ever opening your eyes. When I watched it the second time, I couldn't ignore all of the effects that were done in After Effects. Obviously things like title scenes and credits, but there were a lot of moments where the scene was color corrected or the lights were edited. One scene in particular, Ryan Gosling stares down a former client of his until he leaves the scene. The camera stays on Goslings face for the entire action, but you can see the reflection in his eyes of the man getting up and leaving. I believe that this effect was made possible through after effects, and it blew me away both times I saw it. It's an extremely powerful moment. I think that the way the story was told with such little dialogue is so impressive and the scenes with silence are so powerful that the movie will someday be called a cult hit.

If you have not seen this movie, I more than recommend it.

Lyric Videos and Motion Graphics

I've noticed that lately a lot of musicians are releasing "lyric videos"of their new songs. Sometimes they're interesting and set to footage of the band, and sometimes they're simply lyrics of the song on the screen set to the music.

I found one lyric video recently that used the same kind of pop-up style we saw in one of Arturo's films in class. The video is by Taylor Swift for her new single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and it came out a week before the actual music video. While the song isn't one of my favorites, I really like the animation of the lyrics and how they're constantly moving and changing. The transitions are really cool, and they're something I aspire to learn this semester in class.

Another lyrics video that I like and think is really interesting in terms of graphics is by a band called All Time Low. The song is called "For Baltimore" and it's from their new album, Don't Panic that's going to be released in early October. This lyric video combines footage of the band with animation, which I thought was really cool, especially how I recognized some of the expressions from After Effects (the wiggling letters!).

With lyric videos becoming more and more popular, I think they'll present a good example for us as we endeavor to learn After Effects. After watching both of these I kind of want to try and make my own lyric video for one of my favorite songs, and hopefully sometime soon I'll have enough free time to give it a try.

Sports Graphics

Lately, I've been editing some football highlight videos for a high school and I've been learning After Effects in class. It's unbelievable how many graphics you see in a day without even trying. All the time on television I watch Sportscenter and I just can't believe how some of the graphics look so sophisticated. As I learn more and more of After Effects, I realize that it really isn't as sophisticated as it looks on television. I looked for some really cool sports graphics to just get ideas of the design of some of them. Like the one I found below, I think this is a really attractive and well done sports graphic. I would like to try to create something like this by the end of the semester.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Think with Portals, not Safety

So I stumbled across this video while looking to purchase a replica of the Aperture Laboratories' famous portal gun from the critically acclaimed video game series Portal. Portal is a first-person puzzle-platformer released in 2007 by the Valve Corperation. At first it was a bundle package but then later it was released as a standalone game with additional features as well as a port to the Mac OS X.

This video was created Portal fan and Minnesotian Jason Craft. After studying Visual Effects and Motion Graphics for a few years at The Art Institutes International Minnesota, he now works as a compositor for a company called Ghost Productions, a 3D medical animation studio in promotional marketing, surgical technique, and surgeon and patient education. Janson made this video a few months ago and has been tweaking it ever since to get it just right. Using a combination of Maya for modeling & lighting, After Effects to composite, and some more other software.

Public access to professional grade software has really been a great asset to movie-making fanboys as well as people movie-watching fanboys and allows for user created videos like this one and many more. Check them out!


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Stop Motion is AWESOME

So I know a lot of you guys have probably seen this video before but it still gets me every time.  Stop Motion truly leaves me in awe.

My absolute favorite part of the video is when he is cutting one thing and it magically turns into dice as soon as the knife hits the cutting board.  If you were not paying attention to the fact that he is using things like grenades and baseballs to make guacamole, you would think it was a cooking tutorial.

It has great comedic timing and sounds effects.  The colors are absolutely brilliant and the picture is unbelievable.  This video has inspired me to make a short film with stop motion.  Now I just need to know where to start.

In class we are learning all about title sequences.  However, I hope that we can learn how to create a stop motion short film using the wonders of After Effects.  I love the convergence of art technologies.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Explorations in After Effects

I recently got After Effects onto my laptop, and oh boy.  Despite feeling absolutely awful the last few days, I felt kind of like a kid at Christmas getting to use the program and explore some of its features.  A slightly dorky kid, but hey, it is what it is.

Naturally, I did what any successful student would: I pressed buttons and played with things until my little MacBook Pro sounded like a 747 taking flight.  Then, I realized I'd probably have more straight up directions from a tutorial on YouTube or something of the like, saving my poor computer...and continued on blazing my own trail through the program.

It's kind of funny, but I feel like I learn better by making mistakes and being shown the right way from there, rather than just having the answers to my questions given to me straight away.  That way, when I do something right, I've figured it out on my own, and will therefore remember what I did much better.  Being instructed is great, but I really do enjoy exploring new things while they're still somewhat mysterious to me (computers and technology are not my forte, to put it simply).  I guess the same thing goes for my philosophy on life, make mistakes and learn from them, but that would be another blog post entirely, and I'm considering a very early bedtime tonight.

Looking at other things I've dealt with this way (learning another language, teaching myself better photography, some life lessons, things like that), I can say it's not a bad method for me; in fact, it's usually a pretty successful way of getting things done.  Plus, every now and then, mistakes turn out wonderfully, so I'm hoping that a few of my After Effects snafus can become something fantastic.

Anyone else feel they learn best like this?  I'm kind of curious.

A Challenge

Below is part of the email I talked to you about:

My name is dawn pierce and I am an assistant professor of voice in the school of music.  I'm writing to ask you to encourage them to participate with me  on a recital that is using technology and audience interaction to create a performance that is a collaboration of words, art, music and audience feedback.  There are several collaborators on this project, including pianist Charis Dimaris, technical artist, Cass Barbour and soprano, Emily Newton.  In addition we have a number of visual artists who are giving us visual images that will be used as a sort of projected scenery and would be open to submissions in that category as well.

We are looking for short, creative videos (submitted by Oct. 1, 2012) that express a quote.  Each quote or poem has been chosen to accompany the feeling and or/meaning of our musical pieces.  The videos will precede each musical piece to which they are thematically tied.

Here are a couple of quote examples. Visit for more information and to see the 10 quotes for which we are seeking a video interpretation.  We would love to see what your students bring to life from these written words.

“Ambition is a lust that is never quenched, but grows more inflamed and madder by enjoyment.”

- Thomas Otway

“And none will hear the postman’s knock
Without a quickening of the heart.
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?”

- W. H. Auden

Here is a little inspiration to get started.

Word in Motion, 2012 from Smile for London on Vimeo.

New Challenges

I'm running into some exciting and daunting new challenges in life. The other night after class I had a discussion with Professor Sinclair on what it takes to be a part of the games industry, to help refocus myself and my goals. I expected his answer, but I have yet to get a grip on my reaction. In other words, I am both excited and intimidated and once again do not know which career path within the industry to pursue.

One area we specifically talked about that got me really excited was in 3D modelling, using a program called Maya. I have had some trouble downloading the program, but once I do I plan to really play around with it and see what it can do. I started looking up videos of what people have done with such a program and I was blown away... here is one example I found on youtube:

Yah... nuts. So it looks like this is a combination of several programs; Photoshop, 3Ds Max (similar in power to Maya), Mudbox (?), Brazil (for rendering I believe) and After Effects. These are the programs that I am just starting to scratch the surface of... I have a long way to go before I can pull something off like what this guy has done. My goals for this summer are to find an internship when I go to LA, (I'm looking at both Blizzard and Doublefine!) and I believe knowledge of this program will greatly help my chances. Hopefully by the end of this semester I will be able to post something that has some kind of 3D modelling in it, but nothing close to what this guy has done! If you are somewhere out there, Nareg Kalenderian...TEACH ME YOUR WAYS

BOOM Goes Losts Title Sequence.

I've been watching a lot of Lost recently with some of my friends. Most of us have seen the series, but one of my roommates is completely new to it, and with each little discovery she gets into it more and more. It's really amusing to watch first-timers discovering Lost. Every little thing seems so much bigger to them, because everything is fresh. I sometimes wish I didn't know the whole story just so I could watch it again and have the same reactions.

Cast of Lost, Season 1

But anyways, the reason I decided to write about Lost was because I read an interesting fact about it recently. The creator of Lost, JJ Abrams actually also created the intro sequence to the show as well. This seemed pretty cool to me because I didn't think that this happens very often. It is modeled after the Twilight Zone because he was inspired by the black and white theme and the mysterious use of focus.

Lost intro

It's such a simple opening, even at our current level of After Effects experience, any one of us could probably replicate this if we really wanted to. But this is also why it's so effective. The mysterious music, and the drifting of the title only add to the themes of the show. Rather than having a cheesy opening with collected footage set to upbeat pop music, they chose to add to the already mysterious effect of the show, which makes all the difference. 

Lost outro

Additionally, the end of the show featured this same logo. However, for the end shot of the show they rotate the title so that it faces the audience head on. My friend made the observation the other day that it's almost like a challenge, the way they change the title format. It just makes you want to watch more of the show, which is completely true. 
My favorite part about the end logo is the accompanying music. JJ Abrams is also responsible for the music of the intro/outro. He created the majority of it with parts from the plane they used as the Oceanic Flight 815. The "boom" noise at the end comes from hitting a piece of the plane. 
I don't know about you guys, but this just about blew my mind. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

An In-Depth Look at the Fractal Noise Plugin

Ever wonder how some of the plugins in AE actually work? I do (sometimes, when I'm feeling really ambitious). Today I came across this great explanation of how the Fractal Noise Plugin generates its mind-blowing results. It's a lengthy read, but hopefully you'll be inspired to use this plugin in your future compositions.

Here's a bit of what you'll learn:

And no, there's no video included. Sorry, guys (and gals)!

The New iPhone and iPad Look Pretty Sweet

So have you heard about the new iPhone 5's features? Some say that it will boost the economy while others say it will revolutionize technology. All of these rumors sounded too good to be true so I decided to look up videos and they are all true! The site I found even had the new features for the next iPad as well. Here, watch these links:

I have three words for you: OH EMM GEE. I cannot wait to drive an hour to Syracuse to get in the long line to wait for hours to have both of these beautiful products so that I can live forever in peace and joy until the upgraded products come out and then I have to repeat the process all over again.

Alrighty, lets get serious though. These videos were made by Aatma, an animation and digital content studio specializing in the production of imagery for television, film, advertising and interactive media. Aatma has worked on a number of projects including a joint-campaign for Brisk and Star Wars Episode 1 when it came back to theaters, as well as a handful of viral videos mostly using computer graphics. I remember watching the iPad 3 Concept video a few months ago and thinking that Apple most likely has these planned in the next 7 years or so. I recently rediscovered this video and decided to watch more videos from this studio which are just as equally as cool as these two clips. Aatma has a unique ability to make videos that look so realistic that they're believable and its all very cleverly shot and perfectly edited. I'm looking forward to future videos from them.

Casino Royale

      My favorite movie franchise of all time is Albert Broccoli and Eon Production's depiction of James Bond.  Strangely enough, both Mr. Broccoli and I share the nickname "Cubby!"  Back on topic though, I find it impressive that the Bond series stays fresh and enjoyable despite having more than twenty movies.  Sure it may be the same spy premise every time, but if it's not broken, why change it?  Aside from how entertaining the films are, I also love the title sequences.
      Everyone knows the gun barrel sequence, which may be perhaps the most recognizable aspect of the series aside from the theme music.  What I like more than the famous gun barrel sequence is the intro credits.  They all follow some sort of theme from the movie.  Of all the intros, I like Casino Royale's the best.  The theme it follows is playing cards, which constitutes the latter half of the film.
      There are so many subtle aspects of this intro that get often overlooked.  For example, at about 1:36 when the crosshair passes over the queen's face, it reveals the face of the lead actress.  At the end of the sequence, there are cards flying around but over time they change into British pounds if you look closely.  What I would like to replicate or learn how it was done would be at 2:16 when the gun fires and streaks fly out in different directions.  It makes me wonder if it was done with an expression or perhaps when they assembled it they set it to random and it just happened to create that design.  A better question might be how many people did it take to put this together!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Great Graphics

As the course goes on, I've become less intimidated by the program After Effects. Coming into the class with zero previous knowledge, I imagined I would forever be hopeless. But it turns out, AE is just like any other program/medium. It takes time and effort to really learn the craft and use it to its full potential. I'm loving the entire interface and it truly is a beautifully designed program.

I recently just bought a new VCR for 10 bucks at Ithaca Reuse (if you haven't been there before, check it out. Tons of awesome/cheap stuff) and brought all my old VHS tapes back from home. It's hilarious to see how many movies I've collected over the years, especially when I was younger. One film that I just watched was Spawn (1997). I use to adore the movie and I still do... Except that I now realized it's a horrible film. Really bad script, a long and boring title sequence, and even worse acting. BUT, some of the graphics are still as awesome as I remember. Check out his cape in some of these scenes. 

I love the way it flows so freely as if it has a mind of its own. The luscious crimson red and shine to it really makes it stand out of the film. I have no clue what kind of programming they used at this time but it really does hold up in my opinion. I would love to try and replicate this in After Effects and see how well it can come out. 

Promotional Graphic

This is a promotional video for a high school football team I did and for the seniors on the team. I am contracted by the high school through my company (Kaneff Productions) to film and produce highlight videos. I figured I would be creative and make this neat promo for the new season. This was created with Apple Motion. I did not feel comfortable enough yet to make the jump to After Effects to create a more sophisticated piece like this. All footage used in this was filmed by me as well.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Community: Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas

One of my favorite comedies is Community on NBC. Aside from the great characters. They have always been able to do great genre specific episodes. One of my favorite episodes was Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas. This christmas themed episode was done in Stop Motion style animation.

The style lent itself to the episode very well, reminding the audience of christmas specials from when they were younger. Since I'm Jewish I didn't really ever watch any of the classic christmas movies and haven't seen stop motion done that often.  It really does add a "child like" feel to the story, despite the story itself being very adult.

One of the coolest things for me was the behind the scenes making of the episode. I learned a lot about stop motion that I didn't know before (not that I knew a lot before.) They started making the episode very early in the season because of how long stop motion animation takes. One of the most interesting things that I learned is that the hardest shots to make are group walking shots. Each time a character is walking, A drill/screw is put into a hole in the character's foot, and is screwed into the stage. This keeps the character standing up and balanced while the other foot is in the air. Than screw is painted over. When the shot is over and it is time to move the other foot in the air, the process is repeated and the place in the stage where the screw used to be is also painted over.  This process can get very annoying and tedious when you have six or seven characters walking at once.  It is probably very tempting to cut corners and make the models walk at the same time or not have the group shots. The fact that no corners were shows how dedicated the team was. The main animator even won an Emmy for his work.

Motion Graphics, easier said then done.

As we dove right into AfterEffects this week, I came to grasp how complex motion graphics actually is.    Before this class, I watched title sequences and would just be able to comment how cool it looked.  Now I am starting to grasp the long hours of hard, tedious work these artist put in.

 Our assignment for next class is to animate our names.  I am excited that we are getting right into AfterEffects, but I hope I can remember how to do it all.  It is one thing to be able to animate your name, it is another thing to animate your name well.  It will be fun to play around in AfterEffects, I just hope I don't get lost in the key frames.

One of the most incredible opening title sequences I have ever seen is the opening of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  The opening creates this epic, yet disturbing, tone.  I love the dark color schemes and pictures created out of the splashing metal liquid.  This would be a fun (yet extremely difficult) concept for my name animation!

Spirited Away Trailer High Quality

Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away is easily one of the best animated films of all time.  Within the first five minutes you wouldn't exactly understand why its dubbed as such, the graphics are simple and the characters are average looking but as the story goes on the simplicity is what makes the movie so pure and beautiful. Miyazaki purposefully made this artistic choice claiming that he didn't want the animation to "steal the show"and although they had a very vast knowledge of the software necessary to create elaborate animations the animators mostly animated the characters by hand ( the good ole fashion way).  I personally can't imagine the movie any other way. There is something so raw and unadulterated about Miyazaki's style that perfectly fits the theme of the movie: the journey from childhood to adulthood.

This trailer does not do the movie justice in the least bit, but I recommend you watch it if you haven't already. It is an absolutely beautiful story.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

just getting started

I must say I am enjoying my first week of working in After Effects. I came into this class with no prior experience in any graphics software, including photoshop. I have had only a minor introduction to Motion but that was it. My desire to learn this program came from watching my roommate last year spend countless hours working on videos and doing AE tutorials from video copilot. I watched with a sense of awe as a 2-D image suddenly became 3-D and animated. When I saw this class was available, I had to seize the opportunity. My first experiences have been good ones. I have learned how to do extremely basic 2-D animation and how to get text to appear as though it is being written by hand using the "stroke" or "write on" commands. I am also becoming familiar with the nuances of the program such as keyframes, editing the timeline to a certain length and how to render only a certain part of the timeline. What seemed to be a daunting task is now becoming a little clearer with every lesson. I look forward to the remainder of the semester and see what I can really do with such a powerful program.

A Few Things I Find Interesting...

I'm finally getting around to posting my first blog- ever! This is a really neat requirement for the class; I like the idea of sharing our thoughts and opinions through here as opposed to solely class discussions. I want to admit that the first few days have been a little intimidating. I say this for a couple reasons- first off I think I'm the youngest student in the class as only being a sophomore and I haven't taken many production classes yet and while I am fascinated by motion graphics I don't have a clue what I'm doing yet! The program After Effects that we will be using is so sophisticated and intriguing I really want to play around and learn more. I wasn't sure before the class began if I would want to invest in the software, but after this past week I had to get my hands on it. No better way to learn than having access 24/7 without worrying about reserving a space in one of the labs. (By the way if anyone else is considering purchasing AE do it through the campus bookstore! As a student you can get a bundle of 9+ Adobe programs including AE for $350- way better than purchasing it online.)

Next, I have to say watching the interviews, videos, and title sequence clips in class has really made me think about all of the possibilities that can be produced. And as Arturo stated on the first day, "There isn't anything that can be imagined which can't be created." I stopped to think about this and it's very impressive. We can create apocalypses and travel to far away universes, just an infinite number of ideas that you can make happen with motion graphics and animation. My two favorite websites that we have been introduced to so far are and! When I was sitting in class I instantly thought of the HBO series Game of Thrones title sequence because it's probably the most impressive one that I've seen recently. (I just started watching Game of Thrones over the summer.) If any of you haven't seen the title sequence check it out on YouTube because apparently my embed code didn't want to work. I'll try to get this taken care of.

That about concludes my first blog posting. :-) I can't wait to work with my classmates and learn all sorts of amazing things! I'm off to try to do our homework assignment- animating our name. See you guys soon!

The Smallest the Biggest and the Best

After watching Rebecca's very cool stop-motion animation, a medium I really love, I though I would post a few samples.

This one is supposedly the tiniest stop motion animation. I am a big fan of stop motion and have worked on many, so I can tell how precise and time consuming it must have been. But it is cool. Enjoy

This one made with Nokia phones as part of a campaign is though to be the biggest stop motion. I think it is an interesting exercise but not as effective as a final film. What do you think?

Finally, of course, we have to always go back to the masters, which in turn learned from other giants of the field.
Some of my favorite stop motion artists are the Brothers Quay. Their films are among the most haunting that I've ever seen. They have a dream like quality that resides permanently in your psyche. Very powerful storytellers. They in turn learned form Ray Harryhausen , Jan Švankmajer  and Jiří Trnka among others all of whom you should seek and know their work. They are history at its best.

Here is a short sample of  Quay's films, you can find their work and that of the others mentioned above at our film library:

Friday, September 7, 2012

I still think...wait, what do I think?

I've been wondering about that for a while now, but I'm pretty sure that I can say with some level of security that I'm learning and creating my future.  At first when I picked up this class, I only did so because I needed it for my major, I knew the professor was great, and I had the free time to do it.  Now, after only two classes, I think I might be hooked...I knew I enjoyed doing animation, but this is way too cool to pass up.

In my Intro to Field Production class my first semester here at Ithaca, I made a five minute long stop motion animation music video for my final project.  My professor warned me of the work it would mean putting in, but I really wasn't worried; I wanted to do this so badly.  After several sleepless nights and a lot of caffeine, I came out with a finished product that I was moderately happy with, and submitted it for grading.  Now, looking back on it, I find so many things that I'd like to fix and redo, but unfortunately all of the materials that I used to create each frame have long since been lost to Ithaca's recycling system, and I don't quite have the time to re-make everything.  This was also before the point in time that I knew that Park had a lab for such work; I instead spent many grueling hours hovering over a piece of white posterboard with my roommate's camera and no tripod, occasionally offloading my camera into Final Cut 7, to get every single shot in the video.

Now that I'm in this class and have just been handed After Effects (which is a thrilling new program for me), doors have been flying open in my head with all sorts of ideas pouring out.  Having this capability at my fingertips is mindblowing, and I plan to utilize it to the full extent.  I've always looked at animation groups like Pixar and been awed by their creations, so it's fantastic to finally start working with similar technology and know that someday, I could be the creator or editor of something that a young girl looks up to just as I did.

First Impressions

Wanna know something funny? The first day I walked into class, I had no idea what After Effects even was. I'm so clueless sometimes it's a bit ridiculous. In any event, now that I know what it is, I'm extremely excited to be part of the class and learn the program. After playing around with it for just the first few days I've been trying to think about the possibilities of the program and what it could mean for my future in game design. I've worked a little with Photoshop and Illustrator, and I'm taking a class this semester that works with Flash. By the end of my time here at IC I would love to be proficient in each program to be able to adapt my drawings and sketches into polished concept art and animations.

The short time I've spent with After Effects has opened my mind up to even more than that. I'm still not decided on exactly what I want to do... I seem to have run the gambit of game design and don't know exactly where my niche is. Art, writing, and production seem to be where I find myself always returning to. But talking about all these intros to movies has made me think critically about them, and the possibility of doing something with movies or television is always in the back of my mind. One of my favorite movies of all time is 300, so when we talked about it and I began to realize that we were working with the very same program that made the special effects possible, I got very excited. I'm a pretty good artist and I really want to use my drawing skills with the After Effects program to create some cool animations like the ones in the credit scene, and I've told some friends that maybe someday I'll be able to create some cool intros for their film projects.

One of the coolest things I've seen done with the After Effects program is people on YouTube making live action, or real-life videos of games, or spoofs on them. Specifically for the game, Skyrim. This is one such video that if I could, I would love to make:

By the end of this class, I hope to have my own Skyrim Badass video on youtube. Cody, I know you're out there, lets do it.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Opening title sequences

Last class was great being able to see many different opening title sequences. I liked being able to hear from the creators themselves. It helps to know what the creators were thinking when creating these pieces. I was shocked how powerful this program really is. I did the simplest thing in After Effects. For instance just make a square and add some key frames to it. Then at the end of the class was told that is how simple some opening sequences really are with After Effects. It was really neat just making a shape with the shape or pen tool.

"Cigarettes, Scotch, and Sex" A Look at the Title Sequence of Mad Men

So I thought long and hard into this and I came up with something I feel like the majority of people have asked themselves from time to time: how deep is the title sequence of Mad Men? Currently, I'm on the third season with only one or two more episodes until I progress to the fourth and every episode I watch furthers my interest in the story, setting, and style of the show. Every episode begins the same way, with a mostly silhouetted business man walking into his office before his world literally falls apart, all to the musical stylings of RJD2. The titles, created by production house Imaginary Forces, pay homage to graphic designer Saul Bass's skyscraper-filled opening titles for Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1959) and falling man poster from Vertigo (1958). Every time I start a new episode because it reminds me that although every visual aspect of the show speaks "classy" on a certain level, nothing is perfect and your world could come out from beneath you as easy as dropping your briefcase, as seen in the show. The intro continues by displaying the man falling from what looks like a skyscraper of advertisements with provocatively looking women, the all American family, and alcohol from the 60s, placing the viewer into the world right next to the characters of the show. I remember the first time watching the intro and thinking to myself, "Yes, I'm going to enjoy this show" solely because the intro's animation got me hook-line-and-sinker.

If you haven't seen it yet, Mad Men is a show on AMC that isn't currently airing new episode but can be watched between the hours of 6 am to about 8 or 9 am on Sundays and is also available online through Netflix and a number of streaming sites.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

At the Moulin Rouge, You'll Have Fun...

When I was in tenth grade, I decided I really wanted to go into the film industry. I'd always had an interest in film and photography, but it was when I rented Moulin Rouge that I really decided film was something I wanted to do. Even though it's not the most conventional favorite movie, it has been my favorite for years. I think the way it's edited and its use of mise-en-scen is amazing. As an editor, the fast pace and unusual style of the film is something I really admire. And the general appearance, with its use of color and camera movement, there is really no comparison. It’s so unlike every other movie that I appreciate it so much more.  And interestingly enough, Moulin Rouge is a part of a trilogy of films called “The Red Curtain Trilogy” all of which were directed by the incomparable Baz Luhrmann. Spanning over ten years, the Red Curtain Trilogy is composed of Strictly Ballroom (1992), Romeo + Juliet (1996), and Moulin Rouge (2001). While the trilogy is referred to as a trilogy, the films are all independent and do not share a storyline. Baz refers to his first three films as thus because of the similar style in which they were made. They all used a similar fast editing style combined with a vivid use of color, but their individual plots and characters are all dazzlingly unique.
Overall, Moulin Rouge is a fantastic, powerful, and vibrant film that you should most definitely check out.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Zach Snyder

Zach Snyder is definitely one of my all time favorite directors. My love affair with his work all started with his box office hit "300" which still to this day is one of my favorite movies (and no its not because of the half naked men in loin cloths, contrary to popular belief).Everything he does is beautiful and complex. If you are familiar with Snyder's work you know exactly why he is absolutely relevant to the topic of motion graphics and animation. I definitely think that his team is one of the best in the industry right now. Every single one of his movies, (300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch) have some of the cleanest and most outrageous effects out there. To say that I understand the complexity of all these heavily animated scenes would be a lie but I hope this class helps me at least somewhat disect and understand some of the scenes of some of these marvelous movies directed by one of my idols.

Enjoy a small clip from 300...

Blog Post 1: Interest in Animation

In high school I took a computer class where we learned about tons of different adobe programs. We mostly learned about Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and Flash.  Messing around and learning to use Adobe Flash was the coolest thing to me. Getting to make a stick figure come to life, or a car drive off the screen was awesome to 15 year old me.  I convinced my teacher to let me have a copy for home so I could work on school projects and teach myself how to use the program better.

That was my first experience with animation, and even though they were very short and rough around the edges, I was very happy that I found something that I actually really liked to do.  Last semester I took a Flash Animation class and found that I still loved doing homework in that class and would spend much longer than I had to perfecting my animations.  While other people had stick figures that would glide across the screen, mine would walk.  If I cut corners and did the bare minimum, I could have still gotten an A. But I would know that I could have done better.  I wouldn't be proud to show it to anyone if it wasn't the best I could do. That led to a lot of late nights and extra effort that I tended to not put into  my other classes.

I'm not sure if I really like doing animation, or if I just can't stand when it looks bad.  Either way, there is a passion there that I don't have with a lot of other things that I do, and the way I look at it, that is something I need to pursue further. The first day of class I said that I didn't know what I wanted to do yet for my career.  This Motion Graphics and Animation class is the next step for me in narrowing down what I want to do. Since I am a TVR major, I am hoping that one way or another, I will be closer to figuring out what I want be when I grow up.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Welcome to AE

      I must say I am very excited to dig deeper into After Effects!  The first time I used the program was probably around three years ago.  During this time I was really into the video game Call of Duty 4, and I often liked to make videos of gameplay.  This is actually how I ended up wanting to pursue a career in the editing world because of how much fun it was to arrange clips, color correct, and tons more.  To further expand on what I knew of post production, I decided to try out After Effects.  What really appealed to me about After Effects was a plug in for it called Twixtor.  This plug in allows for super slow motion while still being able to retain quality.  You can see an application of it below.

      I also liked After Effects for all the neat text effects and video introductions that it can produce.  I remember one time I took text and made it dissipate into bits of sand.  The ability to produce these otherwise nearly impossible graphics goes to show how powerful After Effects is.  How even an amateur with a tutorial can create things of the caliber of a professional studio is why I think After Effects is perhaps the best Adobe application out today.

Blog 1: Motion Graphics Introduction

Last semester I took a mini-course in After Effects and it really opened my eyes to the limitless possibilities of animation and graphic movement.  I know the very basics of After Effects but I can't wait to make a title sequence with this program.  I have always been in love with the Mad Men opening and would love to create something like that for my new television show on ICTV this semester.  The title sequence always sets the tone for a television show.  It can make or break the number of eyes on your content.  If you can't captivate an audience in the first 30-45 seconds, you're essentially done.  I am looking to hone my skills in After Effects but most importantly I am looking to use these skills to entertain.  You can "know" an editing program, but still lack creativity and captivation.  Below I have attached a link to the Mad Men opening.  In my opinion, it entices the viewer and creates the perfect amount of suspense to see what the show has in store for them.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Anchor point

I learned in last class just how important anchor points are. I used Adobe After Effects before, but believe it or not, never had to move the anchor point, therefore I never really understood what it was. Now that I do understand what it is I am experimenting with images changing up the anchor point making really cool effects I couldn't have before.