Thursday, December 12, 2013

So Long Motion Graphics, you might be missed...

My time as a motion graphic students has come to an end. The most important lesson I learned in this class is SAVE SAVE SAVE your project. Not only should you save your project you should also alway save multiple copies of it. This semester 2 out of my 3 projects that I have created for this class original files were deleted. The first time it happened I was devastated but I tried to take it as a learning experience, it allowed me to really understand what I was doing when it came to creating my name animation. The second time I did I just wanted to give up but I persevered and it came out even better than the original. All I can say is that other than understanding what you are doing the next most important this is save it! You can always go back to an original copy if you messed up but you cant go back if its not there.

Arturo is a wonderful teacher and is always willing to help you with whatever problem arrises. Maybe I am sucking up a little to get a better grade... but I truly do mean it. Some advise for the Spring Motion Graphics class is to never feel afraid or embarrassed to ask a question, if Arturo can't tell you how to fix it off the top of his head he will eventually figure it out, informational youtube videos really do help, download the free trial, it will definitely come in handy and finally try and use after effects every single day because if you don't you will forget how to use it!

Good Luck!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


                This movie might be the greatest piece of animation I have ever seen. With over 100,000 frames of painstakingly drawn art I don't think that's an outrageous statement to make. It took 7 years to make because of those 100,000+ drawings. I'm posting about it because of a few things. First the shear amount of work it took make this film. It's stunningly beautiful and unique, I have never seen anything like it. I can't imagine drawing all of those frame each one its piece of art by itself. Second, because this is a racing film there's a lot of warping going on, a lot of accelerating and an over all ebb and flow of distortion. Having made several stop motion movies I know how hard it is with still animation to get the timing of things accurate. That on it's own is an arduous task, but when paired with so much warping I really can't believe the animators pulled this off. I think everyone can look at this trailer and see how much motion is in this movie and be as amazed as I am by it.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Opening Titles - The Kite Runner

This is a very simple but powerful opening-title sequence directed by Ben Radatz at MK12. It is really appealing to me because it is an example of a very economical approach to design that works very effectively. The title animation for Kite Runner presents the credits moving around space and being connected through moving brushstrokes that relate to the typography used throughout the piece. It is simple but nonetheless efficient and while being aesthetically pleasing it also clearly connects to the cultural theme of the film.

MK12 // The Kite Runner: Opening Title Sequence from MK12 on Vimeo.

I can see many of the things we learned in class being used in this piece; variations in opacity, camera movement and the general animation of the brush-strokes  and letters although extremely well crafted seems to be very straight-forward as to the way they could've been made, specially if using after effects. It is nice to see that as the semester went by and we kept exercising what we learned I can now look at some of these title-sequences and figure out how they were made and even try it by myself.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

2D Animation as told by Paperman

With technology growing and improving so rapidly, sometimes we forget about the beauty of a simple product.  There is always something so natural and easy about taking old techniques to create a modern piece or media.  In this case, I am talking about taking a few steps backwards from the new and accepted forms of animation and motion graphics that are done on computers.  When animation first became known, it was created through hand drawings.  You had to pick up a pencil and draw your animation line by line.

I came across this video on YouTube about the creation and production of Paperman.  If you have not seen Paperman, I definitely recommend you check it out.  It's a simple love story about two busy city-goers who experience that magical "love-at-first-sight" feeling, with a piece of paper being used to connect them.

What I found interesting is how the creators of Paperman combined old and modern techniques of animation.  It is said in the beginning of the video that there is nothing like hand drawn animation.  Hand drawn characters have a certain details that are hard to put into words.  The hand drawn story can tell such great emotion with such simplicity that director John Kahrs admires so much.  He wanted to get those drawings on top of the CG.  He wanted to keep the beautiful hand drawn sketches.  So, that's exactly what they did.  Paperman started as sketches of hand-drawn figures, just like some of the earliest classical Disney movies.

But what was so lovely and unique is how they took these hand-sketched characters and brought them to life with more modern day animating software and techniques.  They put these drawings into programs and played with the rigging, shading, modeling, vector renderings, and much more to really bring these animated characters to life.

I really recommend that you take a look at this video.  It goes through some of the really cool software and program effects that helped create the characters to look a certain way.  Who would have thought that even with all of the technology we have, Paperman started out on paper....

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Design in Mind - Concept artist Feng Zhu interview

The concept artist that I hold in highest regards, Feng Zhu talks a little about his design influences and where he draws inspiration from when producing his own work. What most people don't realize is that it is easy to make drawings look unbelievable and fantastical. It's much more difficult to make the audience believe what they're seeing could be real. In order to achieve this believability, you have to refer to resource materials with images meant to inform. Using these visual libraries, one can pick and choose elements from these direct sources to manipulate and combine in ways that are creative, innovative, and yet, familiar to the eye.

What fascinates me the most is his ending statements about becoming a better artist. The more you do something, the better you'll get at that something. In an age of convenience and speed, people look for shortcuts or tricks to become better as an artist. Yet, a fundamental element remains the same: time and practice are the only means to getting to a high level of expertise. Feng Zhu states this bluntly, yet beautifully.

Thought Cafe and Political Animaition

So for this week i wanted to point to one of my favorite animation studios, Thought Cafe. I like them not because they have the most amazing, cutting edge 3D animation but because they work excessively on politically motivated pieces for non profits. They say that they want to promote critical awareness using info graphic driven animations, and it shows in their work. They have a certainly distinctive style, with a focus on simple moving figures on larger 2D canvases. I really like the art style not only because I think it's ascetically very nice, but I can also clearly identify with my limited knowledge of animation some basic stuff like wiggle expressions.

In addition, in the interview with Wired, co-founder of the studio Suzanna Brusikiewicz said, ”We were also excited to be different, go against the grain, and show designers and communicators that there are many messages outside of advertising that designers desperately need to cater to.” I think that's a really powerful idea, to be able to use the ideas and concepts of advertisement and mass market design to do something good. Now clearly that idea has been had before, but I think Thought Bubble is doing this in its own way to a new audience of internet users.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Hobbit Post Production and green screening techniques

I have been following this series of production videos for some time but have not yet posted one to this blog. The video below is part 12 of a mini series that goes behind the scenes of the Hobbit shooting. This provides a glimpse of what it is like on a major motion picture set, a set that contains a lot of green screening. When watching this video I was shocked as to how much green screen work there actually was. Not only were backgrounds green screened but entire environments, theres a scene where Gandalf and Radagast were talking to each other in an entire green screen environment. So everything from the lighting, the background, foreground and other various elements would all be added later. There are several video segments where you get to see the original shot before the post production and then after, and so much of this movie is touched up in post production its unbelievable. While clearly post production CGI effects have their place, movies such as the Hobbit take this to a whole new level. There are minimal actual scene objects and environments, even peoples weapons and faces are covered in green to be added later. Theres a scene where the actors are supposed to be fighting spiders but the original shot shows nothing but them swinging swords around, this means the CGI battle must be matched to their movements in the original shot which In my opinion is rather impressive. Anyway, enough of my analysis and enjoy the video that I have posted below.

An Educational Video on Faking It

As many of us know, Hollywood's latest technique for visual effects has been to green screen as much as possible. It makes it much cheaper and easier to get the exact look the director is going for. In today's world it's a generally accepted technique that is used across the board.

But how did we get here? Someone did not all of a sudden realize we can replace a green curtain with pretty much anything we want. This advanced technology has only been prominently used in the last 40 or so years, and many other techniques were used before the green screen. So how did they do in old-fashioned classics like Mary Poppins?

Watching this film today we may just assume they used a green screen to film this scene. But it was actually something much more complex. Before green screen was so popular, there was a technique called the "sodium vapor process". Basically, the background was lit with a very specific shade a yellow that a special camera could pick up and then turn into a black matte. It's best explained with this picture:

The only tragic part about this was that there was only one camera in the world that was able to pick up this shade of yellow and it was owned by Disney. How did I come to learn about all of this? A few days ago I came across an awesome video that actually taught me a lot about the history of visual effects. It was made for a program called "Filmmaker IQ" which seems like yet another online resource to learn the ins and outs of filmmaking. I highly recommend watching this video all the way through (it's only 17 min). Take some time out of your day and learn about something interesting!

Here's the link to the entire lesson the video was made for:


 This is a video created for the song "Do ya' Thing" by the Gorillaz. I think this is a really neat video, and the way they made it is very interesting. From what I saw in the "Making of video", They used an actor as a sort of reference, I'm assuming for the lighting and such, and then placed the 3D character into the scene. This gives the video a very unique look. When I first watched this video I actually thought they were using puppets. I still since watching this video for the first time a year ago haven't seen another video that feels quite like this one. Also important to note is the limited use of some 2D characters within this 3D environment. I like that part of this video as well, I think it adds a few really sort of jarring moments to the video. I'm also a real sucker for the art styles the Gorillaz have used over the years so that's definitely a big part of that too.

This video is the "Making of" video which shows, kind of poorly, how the video was made. It's some pretty interesting stuff but its not all explained as well as it could be. It does show you the process they went through to prepare the space and to set up the shots. All in all this a really unique video that a lot of work went into and I think it really payed off.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Malaria by Edson Oda

Malaria is a new short film by Brazilian filmmaker Edson Oda. The story consists of a dialogue between Death and a mercenary named Fabiano, who announces he's been hired to kill the grim reaper. It is an interesting story in itself but the best thing about it in my opinion is the technique/design; mixing time-lapse with origami, kirigami (which i didn't know about before watching this), and nankin illustration, presented in a comic-book-like style. The different shots and camera angles are changed manually by the "animator" during the film (he changes from shot to shot by placing a new drawing on top of the last one), which gives an interesting aspect of performance to the film.

I am posting this here because I find this to be a very interesting/unusual way of telling a story. Also because I've been working on my computer a lot and it's just very nice to see how creative people can get on the more analog side of things.

Here's the link;

Malaria from Edson Oda on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Newsroom Title Sequence(s)

     The Newsroom is one of may favorite television series right now so I thought I would post about both seasons title sequences. The season one opening credits are my favorite due to the old school rather nostalgic look it conveys. The opening score also grabs my attention as it is much more interactive and fits the shots of the early beginnings of television news and its production. The title sequence does a fantastic job at intriguing the audience and ultimately peaks their interest in watching the show. Additionally the sequence starts out in the early days of television news and subtly transitions to a more modern feel of television news production in a seamless manner. Greg Wolf mentioned Aaron Sorkin's obsession with incorporating government and politics in his other political drama West Wing. His decision to include the title sequence in this manner does justice to that obsession while also revealing the other side of the political process which is how the news portrays issues and the internal struggles that accompany delivering those stories. Maybe I am biased because I am a television radio major but it is much more appealing and almost has a magical sense about it as opposed to the second season title sequence. Here is a look at the season one title sequence...

      The season two of The Newsroom was created by Huge Designs a design company founded in 1993. Hugo Moss was the director for The Newsroom opening credits for the second season. Although I really like the overall product of the second season it doesn't rise to the occasion of the first seasons title sequence. Even though they tried to make it interesting it just doesn't have the same feel and ultimately lacks the sense of spirit that is conveyed in the previous season. Unlike the season one title sequence the synergy between music and the the footage is just not as good, overall it is less inspiring. From start to end I just feel as if the production team figured it was a safe bet for the sequence yet there is little to set it apart as it is pretty general in the beginning and additionally while it does get better as the sequence gradually progresses the audiences attention span is lost before it hits the climax. Lastly if you look at the majority of comments about the season two title sequence it is repeatedly called out for not being up to par. Hopefully as season three premieres in Spring 2014 the series will incorporate fan criticism in their next title sequence as a large number of individuals weren't satisfied with the season two sequence and would also like to keep the theme music by Thomas Newman in the first season title sequence. Here is the second season title sequence...

Monsters, Inc. Title Sequence

Created by Pixar Animation Studios and published by Walt Disney Pictures in 2001, Monsters, Inc. is a hit comedy film by director Pete Docter. Showcasing a fully-animated, monster-populated world in 3D, Monsters, Inc. takes place in a world where electricity is generated by the screams of children. The title sequence at the start of the film reflects the colorful, yet "scary" state of the monster world, including the doors to the human world which are ever-prominent throughout the movie. 

The whole title sequence is showcased in 2D, with simple colors and what looks like paper cut-outs of the doors and creatures littering the screen. The background is pitch black, but it adds to the childlike views on screen, as everything appears to have been deliberately animated in that manner.

For 2001, especially, this is adorable. The music reflects the state of mind that the audience probably had when viewing this title sequence for the first time, and it definitely draws on Pixar's "cute but serious" style of storytelling and animation.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

West Wing opening Credits and Thoughts

For my post this week I wanted to talk about the opening credits to The West Wing because they have always sort of fascinated me for their seeming simplicity on the surface but complex compositing underneath. On the surface it seems like, well, any other television opening sequence. "Make sure to get everyone in with scenes from the show" seems to me the M.O. for many TV shows, particularly during the 90's and early 2000's. However what makes this memorable for me is how many flash frames, extra assets, and compositing is going on between each shot. The sequence flows so well that you barely notice them the first few times you watch without a keen eye, but as you watch you can pick out more and more. I watched the entire run of the show years ago, and it still took a long time to be able to see. One in particular i'd like to bring your attention to is that as the sequence goes on the black and white pictures stop covering the screen and become more like pictures on a desktop being moved around.

 For me this gives the piece a much more alive feel, like someone was going through a stack of historical photographs. The thoughtfulness of the photographs themselves are also interesting to me, in the last 5 seconds there are several of these shown, but the one ended on is the shot of the president facing away from the camera.

 Even though the show is really about adding personality and character to political figures, the title sequence ends on this, showing Aaron Sorkin's awe of the "majesty" of government, a thought that definitely comes through in his writing of the show

Even Thor Plans Ahead

  Pre-visulization is crucial for movies that depend on visual effects, and as FX become more popular and advances each year, pre-visulization becomes more prevalent. Third Floor in London and LA did pre-visualization for the box office hit Thor:The Dark World.



  Pre-visualization helps pace out time, set shots, and help make FX seem as realistic as possible. I feel in our course we should focus more on Pre-Visualization for each of our projects. Without this step, projects can be scattered and unfocused. 

Be like Thor and plan ahead. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Star Trek opening titles

Below I posted a video of the opening titles of each series of Star Trek. What I thought was interesting to watch was how the graphics progressed over the years. The original was quite crude by today's standards, but back when the original series was created, it was actually acceptable and the graphics were very similar to other shows. Most effects used to deal with miniaturization as computers weren't powerful enough to create intense three dimensional graphics. As time goes on, you can see how computer graphics began to become a more integral part of the introductions. By the time of even Star Trek Voyager, computer animations and graphics almost entirely made up the entire introduction. I like videos such as these where you can witness the progression of computer animation, and how it became more advanced as years go on.

'Six Feet Under' Title Sequence

I was recently brainstorming for my final animation project and wanted to look into the creative process. I wanted to see what goes into making a title from nothing but still creating something that centers around a main idea. I watched the 'Six Feet Under' sequence for inspiration and it lead to storyboarding and looking into artist Danny Yount's work. He explains his creative process and how planning ahead is key to animation and creating titles. Each shot must capture the mood of the show and stand alone as a beautiful composition. We talked about composition and framing but storyboarding and coming up with alternatives and backup plans are necessary when creating a title sequence. The sequence refrains from using actors and the ambiguity of the characters and emotional shots create a sense of sorrow and darkness. The font and titles are simple but the composition of the shots is amazing and truly draws the audience in to the main theme of the show in a dark yet beautiful way.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Steam Autumn Sale! Artistic Indie Games to Check Out!

Happy holidays everybody! It's that time of the year again where you can buy games off of Steam during their holiday sale and I wanted to share a couple hidden indie gems available at reduced prices that have quite the unique art styles. The above trailer for the game Contrast depicts the mechanic of shadow manipulation. The player is able move both in 3d as the main character, and as her cast shadow in 2d space. Hence the title Contrast which deals with the dynamic relationship between light and shadow. It has a cartoon cabaret art style that is both instantly recognizable and beautiful.

Don't Starve is a crafting survival game that has a flat, cut-paper aesthetic with an original demented circus fair soundtrack. It's flatness is accentuated by being able to rotate the player view in 3d yet all the visual elements remain two dimensional. The trailer above demonstrates this odd, yet strangely satisfying, visual paradox

Antichamber, is a first person puzzle game that forces players to disregard conventional puzzle-solving methods and substitute more creative solutions. The art style can be categorized as minimalist. Most areas are pure white save for key elements within the game which serve as visual clues, tools, and indicators of progression. I have yet to see a more abstract and playable game.

There you guys have it. Hope you guys are having a good break!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thor - Ending Titles

The ending sequence to Marvel's hit superhero movie, "Thor", is a sight that has to be seen to be believed. Based off of images from the Hubble Space Telescope, the ending titles to Thor take us on a journey through our universe and beyond, focusing in on galaxies, nebulae, stars, and other such space-worthy existences.

This all takes place immediately after Thor blasts off from Earth, leaving a comet-like trail in his wake as he returns to Asgard. Simple titles of those who helped to create the film are displayed, without interfering with the beautiful scenes, on the screen. It all cultimates on a journey through unknown stellar formations, all the way until the camera reaches Asgard itself, a kingdom built on the clouds of its own galaxiular disc.

It's a sight to behold, and also created in After Effects! With a little help from the likes of Maya, anyone could create a sequence of this caliber.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Top of the Lake

This week I'm going to talk about the BBC show Top of the Lake. This is a show about detectives looking for a girl who has gone missing after being sexually assaulted. The dynamic and interesting cast of the show is what really sets this show apart from other crime dramas, and makes for a really interesting watch. Here's a trailer so you can get an idea of what the show's about.

(Sorry this is a link, it's not letting me embed the clip.)

The reason I'm posting this intro is because of how well I think it captures the feeling of the show. It's very short, only about 30 seconds long, but in that time you get a real feeling for the show is going to be about. The colors used in the clip, aquas and deep blues make you feel calm when you watch it. the music also helps to create a very placid feeling. It's because of those elements that the symbolism really makes you feel uneasy. The image of the deer head slowly sinking until it disappears into the darkness of the bottom of the lake and the fetus and photo appearing just makes you feel on edge. On top of that the stop motion feel that this intro has also adds to the feel of unease this intro is trying to convey. I just really think this clip does a fantastic job of setting a mood for the show to follow. Here's the intro.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Game of thrones Title sequence

Since i'm doing my title sequence on "Game of Thrones" on HBO, I thought I would talk a little bit about the real one for my blog this week, which is probably one of my favorite title sequences in television or film. The best thing I think this sequence does use perspective to carry the viewer around the world of the show. Because the show is so spread out over wintery wilderness, to deserts, to cities, this title sequence also has a lot of utility in the story, allowing the viewer to take in the sheer scope of the world. This effect starts immediately, with the pan down from the sun over to the map of the world, establishing immediately that the sequence will be traveling. The sequence then travels between every major location in the episode of the show (with this changing each time). The effect that really grabs you though is that the world "builds itself" from out of the map. Here is what the creative director on the project, Angus Wall had to say from an interview with Art of the Title here

"Our goal was to try to replicate something that looks and acts like a physical object. Art Director Rob Feng referenced  Leonardo's Machines which have a timeless sense of design. We wanted the title sequence to be rooted in world of the show, which is a technically unsophisticated place, but to also have a complexity that gives it life"

(Final Render of the Sun/Astrolabe)

There was clearly a lot of thought and work that went into this title sequence and I think it really shines in terms of design and production value as an amazing piece. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Movie Production Logos

Recently, I saw All is Lost starring Robert Redford and it was basically Cast Away without Wilson. Regardless, I started thinking about production logos and what makes them special. I watched many intros and realized at this point in my school career, I could remake practically all of the logos. The memorable part of each logo, however, is the sound. You recognize the Focus synth and the MGM lion roar as much as you remember the logo itself. Arturo stresses the use of sound in animation and it truly is important. Whether it is a song or a synth swell, the audience can associate the sound with the logo. More advanced titles are recognizable such as Jerry Bruckheimer Films and it preps the audience to expect something amazing. If you see an unrecognizable production title you may not know what to expect but if you see the MGM logo, for example, you associate it with extremely high production value. The companies have a few seconds to express the brand and need to make it memorable. Each logo requires a sound and it's usually a swell that draws you into the picture. I plan to create a powerful logo for my reel that draws the audience in through sound and simplicity.

DSLR rig, and video effects

This is a video about a a DSLR rig that the user Matthew Pearce put together, making a camera into a full fledged video rig. This cannon 5DMKIII has been completely outfitted to be used as a cinema quality device. This rig features a matte box for the front lens and an external monitor for enhanced viewing during video. Aside from the actual rig itself, the video features some nice effects to showcase the additions to the original camera. There are some nice stylistic titles to show each of the new parts for the camera rig. The titles as seen in the second shot were mapped to the footage to scale appropriately to the shot as it zoomed in. These are the kind of effects that we have been seeing in class, and would be easily replicated with our current skill set. I'm sure there was some color correction on this footage as well, and once again this is another effect that is completely within our range of capabilities. So I leave you now to watch the video, as you watch not only to admire the rig, but the subtle effects that add to the video to make it more interesting to watch.

The History of the Title Sequence

Seeing as our next and final project is to create or recreate a title sequence for a film I thought it would be appropriate to learn about the history of how the title sequence evolved. The main function of a title sequence is to display the movies's title and to credit the director, producer, actors and other people who were involved in the making of the film. However, the title sequence is also suppose to prepare the viewer for the viewing of the film.

The original title sequence started off as simple title cards, they were used to top and tail silent film presentations in order to identify both the film and the production company and to act as a signal to show that the film has finished and started.

J. Stuart Blackton directed "Humorous Phases of Funny Faces" (1906), they had one of the first animated opening title sequences.

Graphic designs were created by lettering artists' who created compositions of typeface and some minimum decorative patterns until about the 1960's. Throughout the 1930-50's the title sequences were considered to be conservative and unimaginative. During the 1960's a preference emerged among the avant garde filmmakers, this stye became a kind of prestige symbol for of all the movies

One title sequence that really stuck out to me when I was growing up was the one for North By North West which was created by Saul Bass in 1959.

As the years have gone on technology has improved allowing the artist to create even more amazing title sequences. One of my most favorite ones is Monster Inc. created by Susan Bradley in 200.

Animate Still Photos in After Effects

Arturo has briefly gone over this technique in class, but I recently saw a very impressive video made entirely of still images from the WWF archive that have been animated to look like video. It's a really captivating technique and it gives the pictures a breath of new life. Ken Burns, I'm sorry, but your methods are just too old school nowadays. It's time to get our pictures animated with After Effects!

First, check out the video they cerated:

Some of these shots took a lot more worth then others, but you can see how much more captivating the picture becomes when it starts moving. If one of you is looking to create a similar effect in your movie trailer project, here's a nifty tutorial by The Creators Project that walks you through the process:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

This is a very short animation I found on YouTube, I believe it's a student animation from some competition. Anyway, I picked it because it does a very good job of telling a story. I won't spoil it for you, but the ending is great, and very unexpected. In just over a minute this animation conveys a sense of tension, whimsy, anxiety, and a plethora of other emotions. I think story really is the most important part of any animation, game, video, website, or whatever you're making. Conveying a feeling or a theme is, in theory, why you're creating whatever it is you're working on. I think the creator/creators of this video did a really good job of conveying a mood, theme, and feeling in this piece. I also think they did a really nice job of leaving some questions in this story. You don't know what this monster is, you don't know why it's chasing this guy or why they're on this train, and I think that's deliberate. There's enough holes in this story for people to make assumptions and fill in the blanks, and that's pretty cool too.

Storytelling in Animation: South Park

This week I thought I would switch things up a bit with a look into the storytelling behind South Park since I've always wanted to write about this topic! While many of us are consumed with the aesthetic elements which make up our animations as we progress we should really  incorporate a strong plot in order to convey a cohesive product. Lastly while I am not trying to tell you to create ridiculous animations this is food for thought in what provokes your audience and how you can catch their attention.
  South Park has long been considered a major source of uncertainty for millions of Americans and citizens of other nations alike. Often known for exploiting social hierarchy, corporate America and depicting hundreds of other cultural references South Park uses unique provocative satire in their storytelling along with animation to construct social criticism and exploit wider issues in society.
Satire is found in many past and present-day plays, literature, television shows, media, commentary and has been a crucial part of South Park’s success in their 17 seasons as an American adult animated sitcom. South Park embodies a complex set of comedic values to project preferred meanings about social criticism, corruption of America and other political and social concepts involving worldwide phenomena. The storytelling behind the animated sitcom is considered so controversial it has been the source of much critical analysis by college students and scholars alike in the media and literary fields. The cultural norms displayed on the television series are often an exaggerated form of comedy used to shock the audience. While many people might explicitly reject these absurd recreations of human interaction, the questions raised by the production team in many of their episodes are something to consider. An interesting aspect to explore with the show is how the graphic material affects the way in which the individual views the world and therefore how their actions are based on their reactions to what they are viewing. For example, in many occurrences episodes contain disturbing even comedic mockery of major catastrophes and tragic events that have occurred. While some people are outraged at the show and even call the witty artistic expression a disgrace, people in America especially tend to alienate themselves from information about foreign/ national events making the show an interesting pill to swallow for the people of this nature. The show can also utilize subliminal tactics making it hard for the uninformed to pick up on the irony, satire or symbolism being used; this is sort of an “inside” joke if you will. This also raises another interesting question about whether the American public and international citizens alike can handle the ugly truth of worldwide corruption. The fact of the matter is while South Park may not be the actual event occurring in live time the animations created by this unique production team exposes the traumatizing real life truth of the world we live in.
South Park remains a controversial source of media due to the programs ruthless demeanor and unorthodox form of artistic expression. Consequently, South Park producers Matt Stone and Trey Parker utilize a compacted and convenient television show as its medium to deliver brilliant manifestations of irony and sarcasm focusing on critical worldwide issues to awaken an other wise naïve audience.

        Here are some examples of my argument... 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"Fireflower" by Pierre Michel

Punctuated by a dramatic soundtrack, and beautifully colored 'flames', Pierre Michel's short video "Fireflower" is sure to induce awe in those who watch it.

It's simply animated at first glance, but it's extremely effective at illiciting the emotion it desires to illicit. It's an abstract vision of sensuality, according to the motionographer, and the intense focus on texture and color add to the already mystic views of the film.

The one thing that I really enjoy about this clip is that it appears to have been made entirely in After Effects - And I can pretty much see exactly how, too! Particle generators, 3D lights, and simple expressions are all that anyone needs to create a piece of art like this, and that is certainly a phenomenal thing.

Without a doubt, this is one of the more pleasant After Effects videos that I have had the pleasure of viewing. It's all particle effects and simple colors, with the periodic partial silhouette of a woman, but at the same time, I feel like that's all it needs.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Second Son

I know I posted about a video game last week but I'm going to again. This trailer came out about a day ago and it was just way too good to not talk about. This trailer is for a game coming out in February 2014 called Infamous Second Son. In this game you play as Delson Rowe a man with super powers fighting for equality for himself and others like him. The reason I posted this trailer is because its all about his new neon power which is a sort of teleportation  power. That means this movie is literally all about movement. Very interesting and beautiful movement of the main character and how it looks in game. As a Game Development minor and someone in this animation class I was blown away both by how complicated it would be to pull of the mechanical/implementation aspects of this power. I was also amazed by how hard it would be to create the elements needed to make these pieces of animation and how hard it would be to actually put them all together. Anyway, watch this video I am so excited to play this game and look at this piece art even more.

Signs opening titles: too easy for a major motion picture

Sorry for the short post guys but I just wrapped from 13 hours on set and I'm a little exhausted. I quickly just wanted to point out something I noticed when flipping through the other day. The "Signs" opening title sequence. Some of you may remember when this movie came out... I myself was just a little 10 year. Most people thought the movie was terrible but as a 10 year old I was scared out of my mind and therefore thought it was pretty good.

I got a better idea about what people where talking about when I watched the opening sequence on Yes, it's effective... but good god it's too simple. I realize now that I could have done this in just one of our class periods.

Take a look at it at this link.

I think you'll all agree that this title sequence is a bit too simple. The music however I still find very captivating. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

NBA Jingle Hoops

This is a commercial for the upcoming release of the new Xmas day NBA jersey's and NBA Xmas day schedule. The reason I am posting this is because if you watch the original video and the behind the scenes video, you'll see how the crew used a bunch of green screening and computer effects to put this together. This relates perfectly to what we've been doing in class, as they took a few real objects and seamlessly merged them together to make the entire video, the wood floor is generated, the area is computer generated and the shots themselves are actually generated as they used the actual footage as more of a reference and then tweaked them to the beat of song jingle bells. I thought it was interesting how they shot each person separately and then merged them into one single scene to make the video. I recommend watching the finished project first before watching the behind the scenes clip, both are great and very interesting.

Taking 2D objects and making them 3D

3D sweep is a new tool that will allow users to take 2D images and transform them into 3D objects. A team of researchers from the Interdisciplinary Centre in Israel and Tel Aviv University wanted to create this program in order to simplify the process of pulling out 3D shapes and objects from regular photos.

As you can tell by the video almost anyone can use this program. The user traces around the object to define the dimensions and then the outline will automatically snap the the object in the photo. The creators made it clear that users must understand that it doesn't work on every photo and the initial design was to allow users to have a more convenient method the create 3D objects.

"X-Men: First Class" Title Sequence

I was looking at some title sequences i liked and trying to have some ideas for our next class project and came accross these. X-Men First Class's title sequence is one that, in my opinion, is a really interesting piece because it matches very well with the theme of the movie and shows that simple but powerful motion design.

Here's the main title sequence:

XMEN : FIRSTCLASS TITLE from Ash Thorp on Vimeo.

But also, I found some other options they had for the title sequences, I think I understand the reason why they ended up choosing the one they did since it has more of a scientific, retro feeling to it while still maintaining the X:Men themes throughout. Regardless, they are all really enjoyable.

X-Men: First Class title sequence - alternative 3-D motion test from Submarine Channel on Vimeo.

Beyond Two Souls: A look into motion capture

Beyond Two Souls is a AAA title video game made by Quantic Dream for the Playstation 3 release October 8th, 2013. The player plays the part of Jodie, played and motion-captured by Ellen Page, a girl who has an unexplained link to a paranormal entity. The facial capture and reproduction in 3d staggered me when I first played and had me in awe.

This video demonstrates the sheer amount of complexity in shooting an otherwise difficult scene. The nature of narrative, player-driven games is that of multiple story choice. It also demonstrates just how alien-like motion capture is.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Nintendo Controller Animation

This is a nice little animation I'm a real fan of because of its simplicity and cleverness with fairly simple materials. It is an animation following the evolution of consoles on Nintendo systems. The killer effect here is that all of the buttons never go away, but are modified in each transition so it appears that one controller flows seamlessly into the next. Its an effect I've seen a bunch of times before, and I assume its done with just a lot of work with keyframes. If you look closely frame by frame you see that the elements actually turn into little droplets as they change places and color. This lets the animation have its "flowing" feel that it does.

I also really like the transition effect for the body of the controller itself, because each time the animation has the body turn Z 90 degrees so the controller becomes essentially not there, and then when it passes 90 degrees it becomes the next controller. A similar transition was used on the last one, where the controller becomes a single rotating line, and then that line expands out to become the next one. Overall a really nice example of simple and elegant design.

Life of Hulk

In great action movies, such as The Avengers, the effects are larger than life (EX: The Hulk). Have you ever wondered how they make these monsters look so realistic, and how they create a whole location and make it seem real? Through the advancement of technology, CGI characters are broke down to the skeleton, making the creations more believable than ever before. Also, cities and oceans are now just painted on in Post-Production as Green/Blue Screen has become a highly valued location.
In both The Avengers and Life of Pi CGI work is used for more than making an animation, but rather bring a new world, and its creatures in it, alive.

Evolution of the Title Sequence in Cinema

         Many of us reading this blog may only of ever known the spectacular opening title sequences in the motion pictures we grew up watching as kids. This week I thought since we are starting our title sequence projects it would be only fit to provide a short evolution of the title sequence in cinema.

Beginning of Title Sequence in Film

         Film titles made their earliest appearance on screen during the silent film era. These were called film titles or letter cards and had to provide only the essential information to the audience. Often times these film titles or letter cards were created by a lettering artist who collaborated with the script writer and director. The biggest film studios had the funds to afford typesetters and therefore employed their work in production of title cards as well. Soon after the incorporation of typesetters in film the typography of the letter forms not only in motion picture but also advertising seemed to match the art movement of that time (ex. art deco, expressionism, etc...). Additionally sans-serif along with the art-nouveau style is an example of classic horror film text used in the film portrayed below.

Also the main title from D.W.Griffith's "Intolerance" (1916) considered one of if not the greatest film of the silent era. 

Title Sequence Progression

           As film became more popular their titles progressed in a vernacular sort of manner., especially do to influence of the Nazi's and the World Wars.  Animation slowly worked its way into movies and became a common additive to the opening credits. Here is a look at the oldest feature-length animated film "The Adventures of Prince Achmed" by German animator Lotte Reiniger.

Additionally here is the first mickey mouse cartoon in 1929 with its main title "Plane Crazy."

The incorporation of audio didn't immediately revolutionize how film titles were created until a man by the name of Oskar Fischinger came around providing insight on the relationship between motion graphics and title design. The first real score visualization product is seen in Fischinger's film "Studies" as he anticipates the motion graphic effects by Saul Bass in the title sequence "The Man With the Golden Arm" (1955).

Another example of score visualization by Susan Bradley in "Monsters, Inc." (2001)

Refining the Title Sequence

           With figures such as Saul Bass, Pablo Ferro, Maurice Binder and Richard Williams arriving in the 1950's innovation of the traditional title sequence went through a complete transformation as studios began creating for television. Here is a look at some of these artists works.

Maurice Binder and his famous 007 opening title sequence (1967)

Saul Bass and a still from "North by NorthWest," his first film with legend Alfred Hitchcock

It might be argued that the title sequence has lost its typography during this phase of evolution nonetheless many believe it has put more emphasize on the imagery behind the credits.

Future Development 

With the development of technology came the advancement of computers and therefore the integration of film and future. Consequently while this technology isn't always bad many in the industry fear that future artists will rely on progressive technologies unaware of the actual creative process. With Pixar and Disney currently at the forefront of this development the studios have almost branded there style with the hundreds of their storytelling title sequences. Here is a revolutionary title sequence for the film "Se7en"created by Kyle Cooper that was named "one of the most important design innovations of the 1990s."

A look at Susan Bradley's closing credits for Pixar's "Ratatouille" (2007)

Throughout the history of motion picture film titles have evolved with the time, fashion and the film industry. Although these sequences may be much more intricate then that of the silent film era the function of the titles  serve the same purpose as 100 years ago. As any great designer knows intriguing the audience in the first seconds of the film can be the deciding factor between success or failure for remainder of the motion picture.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Title Sequence- The Great Gatsby

Since we are moving into our next project, I wanted to make this week's blog post about another title sequence.  Particularly, I wanted to pick a title sequence that had simpler shapes, but great animations.  The title sequence I am choosing to recreate is from Monster's Inc-- which I talked about before on this blog.  It is very creative, using shapes to form pictures to help create an idea for the audience of what the film is going to be about.  (Here's a reminder of what the title sequence looks like).

This sequence, as I mentioned, takes different colored shapes and animates them in accordance to the music.  It is very childlike, simple, and eye-catching.  Another title sequence that I am using for inspiration for our project is a "fake" title sequence from The Great Gatsby.   This isn't the real sequence they used in the movie.  But similar to Monster's Inc., they match up the animation to jazzy music.  The shapes are simple but they play with animations.  There is a great deal of scaling, rotating, and changing the position of the graphics to create an easy-to-watch yet entertaining piece.

Video Game High School - RPG & Opening

(NOTE: For the purposes of this post, only watch the first 2 minutes and 30 seconds of this video.)

Video Game High School, a fantastic Kickstarter-funded series by Freddie Wong, depicts a world where there is a high school... where you play video games. That is legitimately all you do. A whole world was created for this purpose, with the high school's classes ranging from "Sniping 101" to "Advanced Kart Racing". All-in-all, the world is pretty believable, all the way down to the pizza-in-a-can-from-a-vending-machine.

In this first episode from the second season, the show opens to the main characters having a bit of an adventure in an RPG, "questing". A couple of the characters fire off their own versions of attacks, all of which have a bit of After Effecting done to them. One character pulls out a lute, playing a melody which travels all the way to the girl, who is an archer. She then looses her arrow, the camera following it in slow motion all the way to the attacking brute, freezing him and allowing him to be shattered into hundreds of block-like pieces.

As for the opening, it's all quick titles and transitions set to music, but it's all very smooth and pleasant, both to look at and listen to. Freddie Wong and his colleagues did a fantastic job on this series, and it shows.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Richard Morrison

Richard Morrison is an English title-sequence designer from England and has designed the titles for films like Tim Burton's Batman, Sweeney Todd, Frankenweenie and others like Brazil, Run Lola Run, The Constant Gardener and about 150 others. What I like the most about his work is that you can see a clear connection between the titles and the narrative/themes of the movie. His designs don't seem to be too complicated animation-wise, but are very conceptual and efficient.

My favorite one is the opening sequence for the 1998 German film Run Lola Run. It's probably a more experimental approach but it directly relates to the themes of the movie and builds up in a way that it really sets the mood for the rest of the movie. There are 4 different "acts" in the sequence, each one with a very different style. Of course the technique is important and crucial in this piece, but what really sets it apart is the idea and the message it's trying to convey.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Animation and Interactivity: The Future of Media Viewing

T_Visionarium is a 360-degree screen which animates several channels in front of its viewer at the same time, allowing you to select one or multiple screens by the gesture of your hard. T_Visionarium is not meant to be used as a way to watch one or multiple videos, but to use these videos as building blocks to create a larger visual landscape.

In this experiment, each video also carries data of the gender of actors, their positions, actions, emotions, and other aesthetic content. By using a special interface the viewer can select, rearrange, and link different clips based on relations of gesture and movement.

Basically, this is not a tool made to control the mediascape but a way of surrounding ourselves in a sphere of common media. In this way, T_Visionarium is a steppingstone in the history of new media. Some see it as a little more revolutionary then I do, but I still believe that this technology can be expanded upon, refined, and turned into something truly useful.

With it's organizational quality and ability to piece clips together, it could even by used as an interactive video editing tool... but I'm just spitballing ideas here.

National grid animated informational video.

This video's purpose was not to highlight motion graphics but to simply spread a message about national grid. The reason I'm posting this is to show how graphics can be applied to any topic to make it interesting and entertaining to watch. The graphics used to make this video are relatively simple, but used correctly can make a good video. Using 2D elements layers over each other is a nice way to create some appealing visual elements, they're simple but appealing to the eye. I came across this video completely by chance but I thought it was full of some nice effects that were worthy of posting on this page. All of these effects seem similar to things we've seen in class, and all the effects seem like things we could possibly manage to do in After Effects.