Thursday, January 31, 2013

James Bond Opening Credits

So I was thinking about all of the cool opening sequences that I have watched recently and one really stood out.  The opening to the new James Bond movie Skyfall was incredible.  I remember watching it in the movie theatre with one of my friends and we were just amazed.

007 Skyfall - Opening Credits (Best Quality Yet) from Gunnar Lien on Vimeo.

(Sorry the Italian version was the best quality one I could find)

The very beginning of the sequence is underwater and while it looks really awesome also seems like it could be easy to make.  After that, Bond is in a 3-d environment and this looks really complicated to do.  After that  it goes back underwater this times with dragons and fire.  Then all craziness ensues with picture in picture in picture giving it a fast paced dangerous theme.  After that it is back to the 3-d environment. Then another part that goes into his heart and then ends with a close up on his eye.  Adele also does a great job with the music, and the intro enhances the sound to get a very sad but energetic feeling.

I looked up who designed this intro and it was a man called Daniel Kleinman.  I looked into more of other Kleinmans works and he has done the intros for Golden Eye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, Die Another Day, and Casino Royale.  These intros are all very similar but also very well done.  Apparently the key to success for a James Bond opening sequence is an erie but fast paced song, graphics, guns, girls, and blood.  Now they don't all follow this formula, (ex: no girls in Casino Royale's) but pretty much thats the winning recipe.  I love James Bond movies and I am looking forward to more movies and title sequences in the future.

Bead Game / Afterlife

Here's some early pioneering stop motion animation from Ishu Patel, who worked for the National Film Board of Canada for over twenty-five years producing and directing animated short films while also working as an educator. He developed many animation techniques, including one that allowed thousands of tiny beads to move under a continuously zooming camera (which can be seen in Bead Game). He is known for his experimental style and focus on deep philosophical issues.

Bead Game (1977) was nominated for an Academy Award in 1978. He used beads as a medium and transformed them continuously, offering his vision of evolution from the smallest forms of ancient life to modern man.

Afterlife received an Outstanding Achievement Award at the London Film Festival in 1979. He placed clay shapes on top of glass and lit the animation from below, producing what you see here. This particular animation is considered one of his greatest.

While these videos are both pretty old, it's still important to understand how far we've come and how these animations have inspired artists today.

Music Videos

Something I have always been interested in watching and making is music videos. I love how creative and freestyle they can be. One of my favorite music videos is Immaculate Misconception by Motionless In White. It is a great video that mixes actual staged footage, and live footage that they took from a show. The story goes along with the music, and is very well directed. The video is very dark to go along with the music, has quick edits to go with the fast music, and a lot of the images make you wonder what you just looked at.

Another kind of music video I enjoy are the text based ones. That's something I have always loved to do in my free time, and it's a great way to learn After Effects while doing complex things with just text. My favorite one of these is A Creeping Dose by In Fear and Faith. I feel like the background images go great with the message of the song, and the text movement is awesome in my opinion. What separates this video from others of its kind is how the background images are also changing and not just a single background image.

Dragon Baby

The thing that impressed me the most about this piece is the fact that even though the viewer knows it is fake, it is nearly impossible to catch any flaws in the animation.  This looks soo real and and so well done that its production personal must have an extremely experienced background.  It is one thing to fight on the green screen and then make it look like they are in a miniature environment.  But the fact that they were able to put the child’s head on the actor with such an apparently flawless execution is absolutely stunning.  They were even able to achieve all the head movements and various expressions necessary from the baby with the correct orientation of his head.  The editing that must have gone into this must be remarkable.  I realize that this level of animation mostly likely won’t be able to be achieved from just this class alone, but it would be very interesting to know how they did this.  I am in awe.  

How sound creates character

One of my favorite animated films is Pixar's "WALL-E." I find the way in which the directors and animators of the film bring such life and character to these futuristic robots amazing. The following clip is an interview with Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, Toy Story). The sound design in "WALL-E" is incredible and Stanton gives a little insight into how he used sound to develop the characters in the film. Often times I find myself marveling at computer graphics in films, but this interview shows how sound is just as important as image in animation.

Paperman - Disney Animated Short

Paperman: Disney Animated Short
+ Behind the Scenes

Paperman is an Academy Award Nominated Short Film made by Walt Disney Animation Studios. The complex animation process used to create the interesting graphics in the short involve a combination of 3D and 2D graphic elements. First, the concept art is used to make the format of the characters real. Next, the characters are brought to life in 3D animation sequences. Since the director wanted a hand-drawn style, each drawn frame is hand-drawn over in a 2D painting program, while another program computes the in-between frames. This creates the look of a 3-Dimensional hand drawn animation that is something unlike anything that's been done before.

Behind the Scenes of Paperman

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nuit Blanche - So many layers!

This week I decided to go back and view some of the older vimeo links I have amassed and I came across this classic. It's a short called "Nuit Blanche" and it is about the moment when strangers connect. This video is incredible to watch and the efforts taken by its creators to make this project come together must have been immense. This video really stood out to me because its the type of material I really want to learn from this class. (especially the slow motion water and glass shattering!)

Click to watch the movie here but make sure to check out the accompanying video of the process to create it below!

Nuit Blanche from Spy Films on Vimeo.

Making Of Nuit Blanche from Spy Films on Vimeo.

-Samuel Dickinson

Monday, January 28, 2013

hey everybody so for my first post i thought i'd post about How It Should Have End. It's a popular web series and i'm sure most of you guys have heard of it and if you can't tell from the name  they take notable movies and give them a different ending. The interesting thing about the serious is that it uses Photo shop and After effects for all the animation. In the video it has a behind the scenes look at the process they use to make the animation. It cool to think that we have all the same tools that he has and with the skills could potentially do what he does. any way check out this post and see what i mean

also: i'm not sure if it is posting the wicked witch video because it displays the hobbit for some reason

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lightning Hill Productions

I found this really interesting title logo that someone made for their films. It's under 15 seconds so it's quick and catches the eye, it has perfect camera movements and animation, and the lightning effect at the end is a perfect combination of After Effects and in-scene lighting techniques. This animation was created in the free open-source program Blender, a program which I have used extensively over the last several years, so to see the results from this program be this exceptional is exciting and inspirational.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Life of Pi

     I recently saw the Oscar nominated film Life of Pi.  The CGI in this film is amazing and incredibly difficult, since the CGI of a tiger on a boat had to be cross cut with shots of a real tiger.

     The company that created the CGI graphics, Rhythm & Hues, composed 690 shots of the 960 shots in the film, this includes 85 percent of the shots that involve one of the main characters, the adult Bengal tiger, Richard Parker.  over 600 artists in three countries worked on bringing the scenes to life, including 15 people on hair alone to place and comb all 10 million hairs on Richard Parker.  This company is not new to the art form however, they also did all of the animation on The Chronicles of Narnia and The Golden Compass, so they have a pretty good idea of how animals should move.  The animation is incredible, and the most impressive thing is that while you are watching the movie, you rarely think that the animals are computer generated.

After Effects - Intros and Snow Effects

I really want to get to know After Effects, so naturally I got really distracted by watching videos of a bunch of cool plugins that you can create. I think opening titles can really be great to watch even if you do something simple with them, and I always seem to be become extremely uninterested when the text or opening titles to a movie or project are simple. Here is a cool template I found that I thought were really cool:

Going off of that, I have always been real interested in the plugins side of what After Effects can do, so I looked into some tutorials that would be a challenge yet still be entertaining. There is such a wide array of effects to use on a movie, but given the weather, I figured this tutorial looked appropriate:

I'm Older than After Effects! (Just Barely)

Over the summer, After Effects turned twenty.  Given that this was a big milestone, there has been a lot of history coming out about the program, that I thought would be interesting to post here.  Development on After Effects was started in June of 1992.  It was created by the Company of Science and Art, and codenamed "Egg".  Version 1.0 was released in 1993 under the name we all know, "After Effects".  With After Effects' recent anniversary, screenshots of the original interface have been popping up.  Let's take a look:

Image Credit: Daniel Wilk via Motion League
The thing that I find most interesting about this screenshot, is that if you look past the old-school mac interface and the floating panels (which are still part of the Photoshop interface, among other Adobe products), remarkably little has changed.  Sure, the tool set has expanded dramatically, and After Effects has grown exponentially more powerful now that we are up to version 11.0, but the fundamentals are the same.  There is still the project bin with all the media, effects controls, the layers panel, properties, and timeline (now combined under the timeline panel); all the basics are there.  There are even more similarities if you take a look at the 1993 After Effects Demo Reel...

Besides being an enlightening look at the graphics and music of the '90s, you can see that all the basic tools used by graphics artists on a daily basis were all there.  There are masks, text, layer styles, keyframe animation, even 3d layers, all on display.  This is not to say that After Effects has not improved, but rather to show that the basic core functions are still used and relevant.  Just for kicks, I'll leave you with one more bit of After Effects history before wrapping this up: An unopened AE 1.0 box.

Image (and box!) by redefinery.  Check out their scripts, they're useful!
And here are some other interesting links pertaining to the After Effects anniversary or it's development (or both).

HSG (Hayop Sa Ganda)

One part of motion graphics and animation that interests me the most is title sequences.  In this piece by Praveen Fernandes, I am going to focus on the first nine to ten seconds of the video, where there is a great title.  The editor did a great job syncing up appropriate audio with his animation in order to give it an extra bit of punch.  With the animation itself, I really like how many things there are going on at once.  To start off, there is a camera movement to the right while the the Title itself also spins in to the right at a slightly faster pace.  While all of this is going on, there is an elaborate web of blue laser-like lines that is being navigated in an opposite direction.  All of this along with the complementing audio gives a very professional look to this title sequence.  

After Effects Channel on Vimeo

In my search for cool videos that use After Effects I stumbled upon on a Vimeo channel solely dedicated to editors making animations in After Effects.  Some of these videos are truly amazing:
MIRAGE from Frederic Kokott on Vimeo.

They have all types of different videos.  They have promotions for bands, video mapping, student projects, and pretty much any thing else you can think of.  One of my favorites was done by a senior at California State University at Northridge.  This is completely animated and in my opinion very impressive for a college student:

Tanks for Nothin' from Armstrong Motion and Design on Vimeo.
Take a peek at this site, it will blow your socks off.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Solipsist Short Film amazing use of green screen

The title of this magnificent video is called Solipsist, meaning that the self is all that can be known to exist. Its a belief anything outside of your own mine is unsure and does not exist. Andrew Huang directed this short film which was honored at the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors Showcase at Cannes Lions and won Best Experimental Short Film at the Slamdance Film Festival. This film also caught the attention of singer Bjork, who hired him to direct his music video “Mutual Core”. I decided to share this video because of the unique combination of amazing art/costume design with special effects done in post. In the first part, the girls were shot in front of a green screen however their costumes were real and were moved by string during the shoot. Their faces however were done in post, where they created the moving little snakes with CGI and placed them on their faces. The last part with the sand men, was shot in front of a green screen. They filmed actual sand separately going through a hole and replaced their faces with what they shot during post. Although this video is aesthetically pleasing and amazing to watch, the process to make it isn’t as difficult as we think. This film also had amazing audio that made the costumes seem alive and underwater. Hopefully we’ll be learning the basics in green screening and can learn how this is done. Bellow the video is the behind the scenes on how they made it. 

Interactive Music In Digital Environment

When searching for topics I came across this project that really interested me both as a machine and as a visual spectacle. It is called the V Motion project and It is funded by a company similar to Red Bull. They created a device that takes human motion and midi maps it to a computer running Ableton Live. The person movements actively trigger the music being created in real time. What interested me was how the graphics in the background are also manipulated by the persons movement as well as the music. This is only the first version of this technology but the developers want to make it so more then one person can interact with the program. Check out the video and see it in action but also check out this blog which describes exactly the process used in creating it. 

-Samuel Dickinson

Waking Life - Rotoscoping

The first two clips below are both from animated films by director, Richard Linklater.  The first is from Waking Life, the second is from A Scanner Darkly (feat. Keanu Reeves).  I've always appreciated the use of animation to tell a story and the ability to bring out certain artistic elements in a film.  These two films in particular really struck me with their ability to create such a unique asthetic and are what inspired me to try my hand at animation.  The last video takes a look at the rotoscoping technique via a specially designed program called Rotoshop; currently not available outside the company.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Awesome Series : PokeAwesome - Just a Pokemon Battle

The creator of this video is Arin Hanson, also known as Egoraptor. This video is one of many in a series he calls the "Awesome Series". Egoraptor makes parodies of many memorable video games like Super Mario Bros., Dig Dug and more. He started in 2006 on and his videos are found on his YouTube account, Egoraptor, today. If you compare this video to another from a couple of years ago, his animation style has improved. I enjoy his videos for the animation and the humor. Especially this current video, "PokeAwesome", which involves one of my top favorite game series. This video was animated in Flash and it took him a few months to complete.  I hope to one day create animations with humor similar to his and an art style I can be comfortable with.

Note: This video contains some swearing... or more than some.

Graffiti Stop Motion

Here is one captivating take on stop-motion animation. The artist uses graffiti, as well as other various items such as plastic fencing, for his own stylized interpretation of the life cycle. It uses some really creative ideas, such as a crab poking out of a wall and dumping over a paint bucket to use it as a shell. It's an unconventionally unique approach and I think you all would be interested to see it.


Since I've kinda run out of zombie movies to watch from last semester, I turned to YouTube. As a student hoping to make a zombie movie, this is a great inspiration. It is a student film written, directed, filmed, and edited by a high school student. The sound effects are spectacular, very well written, and the special effects are pretty awesome. Definitely something everyone should watch.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Waltz with Bashir

The following two clips are from the 2008 animated documentary “Waltz with Bashir.” The film is about a man trying to piece together dreams he is having with memories of his past in the IDF during the Lebanon War. I saw this film in the theatres when it first came out and was absolutely blown away by the graphics. I LOVE the color palette in the film. It is so simplistic, which it gives it this dark and ominous quality especially seen in the opening sequence with the dogs. I think the graphics are also really well done. They are really stylized almost taking on this graphic novel quality. Originally I thought the film was rotoscoped but after doing some research I found out the animators used Flash MX. 

An interview with the Animation Director can be found here.

Skip to 0:45 for clip:

Friday, January 18, 2013

IPhones Music Video

So I came across this really cool music video.  They take a bunch of different IPhones and play videos on them to make up a greater story.  This video would have taken a ton of planning.  Every video shown on the IPhones would have to be filmed previously and also filmed in a certain way to make it so when combined with the other IPhones the pictures made sense and flowed.  And then the planning to have the right IPhones brought on screen at the right times and in the right order.  I was just very impressed by the video and thought it was a really cool concept.  I hope you enjoy!