Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Tale of the Three Brothers

This week I decided to post the Tale of the Three Brothers, the animation from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this animation when I first saw it in theaters and now that I have some experience with animation I really just appreciate it more. It's a beautiful piece that is extremely well planned out and incredibly executed. The character design is really what gets me every time though, and that's what I want to talk about the most. The fabric on these characters is just stunning I think. The transparent quality of all of the three brother's limbs along with the smoky quality of death's cloak all adds up to some really nicely created characters. The look of this animation is also very purposeful which I think is important. The over all look of this animation helps to reinforce the idea that this is a children's story being read aloud. The colors, the design of the locations, characters, and even the movement. You can see this being illustrations in a children's book, a creepy one but still. that kind of blending of genres can be very easily messed up and because every part of this animation is done very purposefully  it isn't.

Food Fight - US War History Depicted via Food

In a somewhat hilarious yet simultaneously, oddly sobering After Effects experience, "Food Fight" manages to summarize and depict a variety of United States-centric wars, using food to represent people and machines. Hamburgers and french fries line the streets, representing American soldiers and tanks, going up against a variety of food from different countries (which also represents those respective countries).

It all has a stop motion feel to it, and seems to be viewed through what looks like an old film camera. Sound effects and music punctuate the views, with human screams and blood-curdling explosions commonplace. It's all very disconcerting, especially since what we're looking at is only food, after all.

The art direction is simple, with the food represented in warm colors with little shadowing. The backgrounds are all just a tone of brown. Nonetheless, it's an effective, entertaining video that offers a different perspective on how this country's wars happened.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Freddie Wong simple skit

While this video is simply a short comedy skit, it does feature some hints of motion graphics that I thought were good enough to post on this blog. Some examples of graphics added to this particular video are the lasers on the guns, the drone in the sky and the masks that each of the characters take off. The masks, while only being a short segment of the entire scene were interesting to me as they had to map the persons face to the mask mesh that was to be taken off. There is evidence of tracking in this video as well, the laser on the sniper rifle clearly was added during post production. They must have tracked the gun footage and then added that laser to the bottom of it. And obviously the end gunshots and city scape were both computer generated as the wizard city titles came into view. Overall a funny video, this shows that effects like gunshots and such don't need to be over the top to add to the existing footage and make a simple story.

The Art of Drowning

The Art of Drowning

I wonder how it all got started, this business
about seeing your life flash before your eyes
while you drown, as if panic, or the act of submergence,
could startle time into such compression, crushing
decades in the vice of your desperate, final seconds.

After falling off a steamship or being swept away

in a rush of floodwaters, wouldn't you hope
for a more leisurely review, an invisible hand
turning the pages of an album of photographs-
you up on a pony or blowing out candles in a conic hat.

How about a short animated film, a slide presentation?

Your life expressed in an essay, or in one model photograph?
Wouldn't any form be better than this sudden flash?
Your whole existence going off in your face
in an eyebrow-singeing explosion of biography-
nothing like the three large volumes you envisioned.

Survivors would have us believe in a brilliance

here, some bolt of truth forking across the water,
an ultimate Light before all the lights go out,
dawning on you with all its megalithic tonnage.
But if something does flash before your eyes
as you go under, it will probably be a fish,

a quick blur of curved silver darting away,

having nothing to do with your life or your death.
The tide will take you, or the lake will accept it all
as you sink toward the weedy disarray of the bottom,
leaving behind what you have already forgotten,
the surface, now overrun with the high travel of clouds. 

This depressing yet beautiful poem written by Billy Collins has been read by many of us. "Many of us" tragically did not include me until today, but poetry and I rarely got along in elementary school you see. I'm slowly catching up. Anyways, I came across this poem after watching a short animated film by Diego Maclean:

This two minute film, like its source, is very strait forward. The poem and film both match a style of raw simplicity that I find really impressive. After looking more into it I found Diego Maclean's personal website which features an awesome opening reel.

Billy and Diego are both very talented artists and their collaboration worked seamlessly. Making animations that coincide with poetry seems like a great stimulus for a project idea. Sadly, animation is no quick process and I may have to wait until winter break to tackle something like this. Damn, this material has gotten me into a really sad yet realistic mindset. 

Nice try MGFX

This was a pitch for the X-Men: First Class title sequence.
The makers, MGFX Studios, followed the 60's feel that the following X-Men's other introductions.
The minimalistic look is created by simple shapes and various hues of colors. 
The shapes are to represent the first recorded image of DNA.

The continuous usage of the X and the DNA images comments on the mutation that has affected the characters.
I chose this video because in preparation for our next assignment, it is interesting to look at runner ups to title sequences and the thought process that goes behind each creation. 

Pixar - Behind the Scenes

After this week's classes, looking at 3D animation has a whole new appreciation and understanding.  Even though this week, we jumped right into Maya and 3D sculpture, it is important to take a step back and look at the creative aspect of things.

In this video below, we can see that it is very important to have a sculpture idea before jumping into editing software.  Coming up with a detailed plan will help immensely before jumping into programs like Maya.  It also seems like a lot of fun, watch the link below to understand what I'm talking about.

Another important part of animation is color schemes.  Color schemes can be generated from anything, such as a sweater pattern or a pattern on a blanket.  Experimenting with color expands options and also seems really fun.

Basics of Motion Design

I came accross this video on Vimeo and thought it was really interesting, it's basically a compilation of clips designed by students at the University of the Arts in Bremen where they were supposed to explain, in each clip, principles of motion design through animation. The most interesting for me is the simplicity of the animations and also the fact that I can identify many of these principles after I started taking M&A.

Some of the "basics of motion design" shown here are:
Print x Motion Design
Negative Space
and many more (check it out)

The Basics of Motion Design from Rogge & Pott on Vimeo.

Motion Graphics in Sherlock on BBC

So a couple weeks ago I shared the Sherlock opening titles, and I realized that I also wanted to do a post on the motion graphics in the show, because I think that they are some of the smartest I've seen on TV. It's hard to find video of this on youtube, above is a reel from the studio in the UK that makes them, however. What is amazing to me is both their simplicity and their effect. The graphics studio has said that their primary effort and inspiration in their designs is trying to get the viewer into the mind of Sherlock Holmes. Keep in mind that in this rendition of Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch plays a neurotic, crazed, aloof genius. So the motion graphics in this show display this kind of "stream of consciousness to them" that is really cool. In one of the first ones (The second video on the website), you can see Sherlock sorting through what this writing on the floor of a woman who died means. He rotates through possible options, choosing one but then disregarding it, which is shown by the dictionary term for "Rache" (the word on the ground) being shattered. He then looks on the ground and cycles through letters, coming to the conclusion that what the victim was trying to say was "Rachel".

The show also really smartly handles texts in the show. For me, it has been a problem of shows in the past few years being able to integrate texting, because the visuality to it is only on the phone itself. Some shows do close ups on the phone to show what is going on, but Sherlock, in my opinion, does it better. The graphics studio has the text floating next to the person writing it, and while it might seem to be distracting or too not real for this type of show, it really works in this case

Overall I highly recommend watching Sherlock's graphics for an example of understated, modern style of motion graphics on TV.

Some more examples from the show:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

After Effects Tributes

For my final project, I want to make a title sequence for my friend's documentary about hops production and micro breweries. I've been brainstorming ideas such as names been poured in glasses through particles, tractor's picking up hops, hops rolling and formulating into names, and many others. I've been looking at reproductions of title sequences to understand what aspects to capture and I've found some that are possible to remake and capture the true essence of the specific film. I think that simple titles, even 2D, can capture the true meaning of a film and the simplicity, like the Pee-Wee animation, can capture the cartoony feel and important parts of the film without giving too much away. The use of sound is necessary and syncing up effects and music will enhance my final project. The Pee-Wee intro utilizes Sure Target but the only flaw are the stationary clouds. As Pee-Wee moves, the clouds stay still and it's distracting and takes away from the passing buildings and overall title sequence. The 007 title sequence uses transparency filters and layers that sync with the music to create a seductive yet mysterious feel. I think it works well and the silhouettes of the female characters are reminiscent of a James Bond film.


Arenamation: LED Fascia or Ribbon Board

            This week I thought I'd switch it up a bit and focus on a production company called Arenamation that is out of the New York area. Arenamation is a design firm that specializes in creation of sports motion graphics. Additonally the firm prides itself in its LED Fascia/ Ribbon Board animations that  have been seen throughout sport venues in the U.S. including the NBA, MLB, NHL and the NFL. For any of you that aren't familiar with LED Fascia animations which are often referred to as ribbon board, this is the LED technology found in sport venues and on outdoor billboards. Here is an example of a ribbon board inside a Major League Baseball venue...

           A typical ribbon board has one blue, one red and one green LED (Light Emitting Diode) to form only one pixel. Although the ribbon board is capable of playing animations and live video similar to a television what sets it apart is the aspect ratio. With most ribbon boards having a height of only 48 pixels and a width of over 10,00 pixels this creates a considerable challenge when creating the content, something that Arenamation has many years of experience doing. Here is another example of ribbon board...

Here is some of Arenamation's other works...




This was created by Arenamation for the New Orleans Saints 2012 introduction video and is displayed right before the players take the field.


Lastly another example of their work with the Pittsburgh Penguins 3D Logo...


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mario is Warped to the "Real World"

Titular video game character Mario is inserted into the real world in this hilarious After Effects parody by Matthew Dominick.

While attempting to use a common item in his world (a warp whistle, thus the name of the video), which would normally transport Mario to a different location in his own world, Mario suddenly finds himself on the streets of what appears to be New York City. Wandering around for himself, he soon finds that things aren't quite so different from his world, and he adjusts accordingly.

Aesthetically, the video is fairly well made. Mario, a 8-bit character, is inserted sort of like a cardboard stand-in in our own world, as he has his own shadow and his lighting is similar to that of the world around him, even though he is a flat, pixelly little dude. He throws fireballs at actors, which are a lot higher detailed than he is, but it doesn't seem to take viewers out of the experience.

The video culminates in Mario suffering a disastrous fate at the hands of multiple real-life vehicles, but he ends up 'winning' anyway, as he made it to the castle - In this case, a White Castle. An entertaining short, at the very least.

Projection Mapping

For this week I decided to post a sequence of projection mapping videos because of some of the things we discussed in class. I think projection mapping is a really interesting and impressive blend of new technologies. Also it can and has been applied to a variety of art forms. Projection is being used as entertainment at fairs and festivals, video, and even musicals/plays are starting to recognize the potential this new form of visual expression possesses. Disney has been using projection technologies for years in their shows and festivals. This is an art form that will become very common place in the US, like it has in Europe already.
This is the first part of a series of projection mapping projects made by a group that has been put up on the PlayStation video store. This is just really incredible and intricate. Augmented reality has interested me for a long time and this is definitely something that can and will be used to create newer and better augmented reality technology.
This is the second of those videos. The rest are on youtube if you're interested.

Films for Action

This is a good example of a simple animation done to the soundtrack. Films for Action is an independent media, community driven site that explores important social, environmental and media-related issues not commonly covered by the mainstream news.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Another nice little Animation, and the use of sound in animations

This is an animation that I found this week, and Im posting it mostly because I really like the art style, and it is a clear example of the importance of sound in animations. Arturo is always talking about how you cant animate without sound, because you need something to animate to, and to be able to base timings on. Here, every sound effect has perfect placement with the arrows being shot, or hooks being thrown. Without the sound effects, this animation wouldn't be much of anything. The Art style is iterating to me because obviously your average youtuber doesn't have the time or money to make real 3D happen and to make it look good, so the animator opted for 2D characters on 2D backgrounds, but inside of a 3D space. This is an effect that we actually have talked about and that I could accomplish pretty easily myself. Obviously the art is sort of outside my area of expertise because it is pretty nice, but this sort of thing is totally doable.

Friday, October 18, 2013

It Just Feels Good At First

Train came out with their new music video for their song "Feels Good At First".  This music video features a very cool effect where you watch the video in a silhouette of Pat's head.  As well as this, the music video plays a lot with transparency to help create the idea of reminiscing on memories.

If I had to guess how they created the effect of playing the music video in the silhouette of Pat's head, I would say that they masked his head and took out Pat's face.  They then inserted the music video into where Pat's head was.  But if you look closely, there is the rest of the image in Pat's head on the outside of the silhouette, just with a higher opacity.  This could be done through using Mocha to track and then mask Pat's head.  It's a simple technique with a creative and powerful image.

Awesome Motion Graphics Video

I stumbled on this animation randomly and thought the animations were really awesome. One thing I think makes this animation great is its speed and pace; nothing is ever on screen longer than it needs to be and there is always some sort of movement, even if slow at times, but always something is moving. The lesson I take from this is the more energy an animation has, the more fun it is to watch. At least for my brain.

Motionographer Jobs

This past summer I worked as an office production assistant for a company called Red Car NY. They are are a national creative editorial company that offers their clients a diverse roster of creative editors, designers, animators, and visual-effects artists. Throughout my 3 month internship I was fortunate enough to spend time watching a Flame Artist work his magic. Now you may be asking your self, how what is a Flame Artist and how do they get their name. More often than not many jobs get their names from the tools they use and a Flame Artist is no exception. Flame is a computer program used to create 3D visual effects, advanced graphics and 3D compositing. Visual effect artist can use this program for real-time color grading and editorial finishing post-production solutions.

Typical solutions that Flame artist can fix consist of color correction, removing microphones/lights from background of the scene, adding special effects such as fires, mythical creatures, soaring bands of color, or flying splatters of blood.

Example of a Flame Artist using flame to relight a shot in a film.

Depending on their skill level a flame artist salary can range from $26,000 to $112,000 a year. Clients will typically pay them by the hour. Usually a Flame Artists office is a a lager room so that their clients can sit in an watch what you are doing and give them suggestions on your revisions. 

If you feel that you are ready for a challenge, and work well under pressure and are a team player becoming a Flame Artist might be the job for you! 

Magic Trip Title Sequence

             So earlier in the semester I posted about the documentary Magic Trip in my fiction field class with Arturo. Recently while I was checking out the link to the forget the film website I stumbled upon the opening title sequence to this documentary. As it is one of my favorite documentary films of all time I thought it would only be right to do a breakdown of this sequence. The title sequence was created by Karin Fong, a creative director and designer based in New York City. Alex Gibney an academy-award nominated director/ filmmaker asked Fong in 2009 to design the main and special title sequences for the  epic American road trip which ultimately inspired the peace and social movements of the 1960's.


Fong stated that the paint on film aesthetics were inspired from experimental filmmakers such as Stan Brakhage and Len Lye. This is an example of frames from a Stan Brakhage film with the paint on film technique.

The author of the article asked Fong if she had ever tried LSD, she described herself as being a "straight arrow." Although not having a personal experience with the powerful psychedelic substance Fong was able to visualize and understand more of its effects by researching Ken Kesey. Ken Kesey is an American author known for authorship of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest as well as his major role in the road trip and the acid trials done by the U.S Governement in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Here is a video of the recording and movie insights involved with Ken Kesey and his experiences with the LSD trials. Fong studied this and many other examples of the effects and insights about LSD in order to create an accurate feel of the drug for her title sequences. 


Here is a little more about Karin Fong (creative director on Magic Trip)...


Title Recreation: Breaking Bad

  I posted about the original Breaking Bad opening sequence but I recently saw a recreation of the title sequence. This particular sequence includes the actors and their names whereas in the original sequence, the show title and creator are shown in a few seconds. The title that "jamesmontalbano" created is a little over a minute and includes video clips from the show in a mosaic form using the periodic table of elements. I think that this title sequence is better than the original. It poses the question, why would Breaking Bad have such a simple title with no character names or actors? I believe that a show with a large following and such a complex story requires a simple title. The dedicated viewers know who is in the show and what more content rather than a filler title sequence going on for a few minutes every week. I think that a title sequence similar to this recreation could be used on the pilot episode of a show to introduce important characters. I would like to see a tutorial for this After Effects creation. This title sequence uses important scenes from various episodes to describe each character and although the mosaic effect shows small video clips, they all act to paint of picture of the character's past and reflects certain traits.

Lights, Camera,Spinifex!

Spinifex brings motion graphics to a new level by creating graphics at a scale that is larger than life. Ranging from Olympic opening ceremonies to "MOVIE" experiences, Spinifex truly puts entertainment in a different perspective. The team uses their environment around them as a canvas for breath taking designs and incorporate performers to dance across their artwork. Spinifex proves that art is a action, not just an object. 

"Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony" 

"How to Train a Dragon"

"Dr. Who Live Light Show" Sydney Custom house

"Lighting of the Sails" 

"Vivid Festival 2013"

To check out more of their amazing work, go to

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Shaun the Sheep

Wallace and Gromit started as a short film series featuring the claymation figures of Wallace (left) and Gromit (right) This eventually led to the release of "Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-rabbit", a feature film released in 2005. A unique style of motion-graphics, "Wallace and Gromit" is one of the most famous claymation series ever made. It's brilliance was brought to us by Nick Park and Aardman Studios.

In one of the Wallace and Gromit short films, "A Close Shave", there's a fantastic sequence where Wallace and Gromit save a herd of stolen sheep. Check it out:

I just found out that the main sheep from this episode, "Shaun", has gotten his very own series called "Shaun the Sheep", also created by Nick Park. Each clip is only about a minute long but they've created several dozens of them and it's also a TV show that plays internationally. The generally light material is usually meant for kids, but I think older people can enjoy it just as much. 

Anyone familiar with the Wallace and Gromit series should love this spin-off. It's all the same stuff... but with more sheep. 


Norman McLaren's Animation

Norman McLaren was a Scottish-born animator and has done most of his work for the National Film Board of Canada. His films notably won awards at BAFTA, the Oscars, and the Berlin International Film Festivals. He mainly used techniques such as Direct animation (drawn-on-film), drawn sound, and pixilation, which means he created most of his films by directly working on the film stock, by scratching it, painting it and drawing on it, creating both the images and the sounds analogically.

I find his work so interesting because he was one of the pioneers in combining music with animation,  and his technique is really great. The technology has advanced a lot since his time but it's still interesting to compare his work with the work of today's artists and notice how it is less about the tools you use and mainly about what idea you have and the way you communicate it.

Here are some of his most famous Drawn-on-film animations, and below there's a video explaining his drawn-sound technique.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dubstep Guns

This is another example of something really cool that is more than doable using after effects. The only real problem with recreating this is making the 3D elements which would probably need to be done in Maya or Processing. Other than that it's possible for us to shoot the necessary footage and and combine that and 3D graphics in after effects. I really love this 80's neon look that these "lasers" have, It's a fantastic stylistic choice and is very underutilized in most media. It is sort of making a comeback though especially thanks to people like this who are doing some very high quality independent work.

After writing the top part here I did a little more digging and found this. Just in case anyone was curious about how these guys actually did it. I thought this was a very interesting and informative video on how they actually crated the shots, 3D elements, and motion in the video.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It's about Character (pun intended)

I fell in love with puppet theatre when I was a kid, and the fascination about it has never stopped entrancing me. There is something magical about the transference that occurs from puppeteer to puppet and vice versa, as the puppet character takes not only a life of it's own but starts controlling the life of the puppeteer!

As Ricky Syers, creator of Stix says in this video "I'm not really sure where Stix is going...but I am willing to go along for the ride".  This experience holds true for all of us who work in this or other forms of storytelling. We see our characters take a life of their own and have to be very careful not to intervene but simply clear the way to let them express themselves.

Like Gustave Baumann, a maker of marionettes and creator of The Puppet Wranglers said in his comment about the work of master Bill Dwiggins; "These animated pieces of wood, properly jointed, take on a life of their own, move about in ways you never dreamed of, and rewrite your script without bothering to ask permission."

William Addison Dwiggins (1880-1956) by the way, was a type designer (characters, get it?), calligrapher, typographer, illustrator and writer, one of the foremost contributors to the printing arts, but my admiration for him comes from the world he created through his Experimental Theatre, where some truly extraordinary characters came to life, in a meticulous carved environment where every element of design, wether visible to the audience or not, was made with the exacting precision of his great font designs, widely used in the book publishing industry, and carried today in digital form by Linotype.

Dwiggins is also credited with coining the term 'graphic designer' in 1922*

*Livingston, Alan and Isabella., 'Dictionary of graphic design and designers'. London: Thames and Hudson, 1992

Friday, October 11, 2013

Irresponsible use of lightsabers...

After seeing how to create the lightsaber effect during last class, I was reminded of this older video from youtuber Freddie Wong. In it, Freddie and fellow jedi A-hole reek havoc on the public as two bro-jedi. What's impressive is thinking about the amount of time and energy spent into creating the lightsabers and other impressive effects such the jet being stopped in midair. Though one of Freddiew's minor productions, it goes to show how skilled he is as a special effects master.

Catch me if you can opening titles

Below I have attached a link to the opening titles of the movie catch me if you can. I really liked the opening credits to this movie as they were simplistic but still very appealing to the viewer. The titles themselves played a out a simple narrative of their own which helped introduce the story to viewer. Aside from the meaning of the titles, the titles themselves were exceptionally well done. The interesting ways to shape letters through shapes and different patterns was very interesting. I can see that the basics that were using in class through after effects can be applied to make titles similar to these. While watching, I was able to see the possibilities of how it was created through various effects that we have seen in class. I hope that people watch this and enjoy it, as it is very entertaining in itself. 

Spiderman Title Sequence

The Spiderman title sequence seems to feature a lot of the things we've learned in class recently.

The very beginning, "Columbia Pictures Presents", breaks apart randomly and the letters fly in all different directions.  This looks familiar to the text patterns we learned in Bridge.  As the sequence continues, we see a play on the use of 3D effects and Sure Target.

The text moves from spiderweb to spiderweb which looks like what we learned to do in Sure Target.  There is also use of 3D lighting going over the spiderweb in beams.  Moving from web to web, it looks like Sure Target playing with the x,y, and z axis.  This continues and then we are brought to the sky scrapers.

Considerations of the Green Sreen

The green screen is wonderful. It's used on rinky-dink YouTube videos and major motion pictures alike. The green screen, in all of its power, is a placeholder for any visual you can think of. But standing in front of a green screen and putting a galaxy behind you is not going to make the next Star Wars. Anyone can do that... and in order to create something impressive you'll have to get a little more creative then that. Today I want to take a quick tour around ways video effects have been created with and without the use of a green screen.

First off: The Great Gatsby. This movie went head-over-heals on the green screen. They saved millions of dollars with this strategy, although I'm not sure I fully liked it. Although it would have been incredibly more expensive I would have loved to see them create the real world of Gatsby and bring it to the screen. Check out this behind the scenes video, and realize how little of that movie really was practical.

(side note: god I'm in love with movie's soundtrack.)

Let's move just a couple months into the future with Pacific Rim. Obviously the bulk of this movie was made with visual effects, but they also incorporated many practical effects. Here is a video that details the filming inside the head of the giant robots the humans operate:

"It's like a giant theme park simulator" the director says. Giant simulator, indeed! That thing looks fun! Strap me in one of those, eh? Anyways, this is a good example of combining the practical and green screen effects to make a visually compelling piece.

My last example is a commercial that uses no green screen at all... which is what makes it so god damn impressive. First, check out the full commercial:

Impressive, right? I'm sure you're wondering how they did it. I know I was. The answer is a crap load of planning, measuring, and executing. Check out this behind the scenes video!

VFX Show Reel Summer 2013 Breakdown

        This video created by Stian Halvorsen is a great example of compositing and a few other really cool effects. To create the avalanche the artist imported the 3D solving and tracking points into Houdini to create the geometry of the mountain. Stian then added a birth particle simulation to give the avalanche the moving effect. Additional layers of particles were then added to give the avalanche detail, the final rendering was done in Mantra. Nuke was used for the compositing and after all said and done it took a total of 8 weeks to complete the final project. The second project featured was the Oscar which  has an intricate feather explosion produced by using Houdini to create the feathers. After this the artist used a particle system to simulate the feathers to fly and roto shaped the person in Nuke and then projected it in Houdini. This project was also not a small feat and thus took a total of 7 weeks to complete. The second to last project was composited in Nuke, altered in Photoshop and also was created in Realflow and Maya. Although thats all the information that I could gather about this specific grouping of projects I am owerwhelmed with attention to detail and the overall appearance of the artists work. Additionally it is inspiring to see an artist use so many different applications and programs in sync to get one final product.

Stian Halvorsen - VFX Show Reel Summer 2013 from Stian Halvorsen on Vimeo.

Editing to the Music

I feel this video is a good example for editing to the music. Just as dancers dance to the rhythm, motion graphics need to move to the beats. With the usage of 3D shapes and lines, the motion graphics extended the performers movements and created more strength in the number.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sherlock Title Sequence

This is the titles for series 2 of Sherlock, from the BBC. The thing I want to draw your attention to is the elegance at which the title sequence flows, but the sheer amount of assets used as well. The more complicated the sequence, you would think the more confusing and complicated the video would seem to be. However, I couldn't talk up the slickness of the compositing in this sequence. Each piece of video flows into the next, and so the whole thing flows incredibly well. I want to draw your attention to a couple of incredible edits in this piece. First, there is a transition with a flashlight that really impressed me. The flashlight at :18 flashes in front of the camera, and transitions to a shot of the front of Sherlock's apartment. In the shot of the apartment door there is a light bloom effect to give the transition more effect. There is also some incredible compositing between :5 and :15, each giving depth and a sense of character for Sherlock and Watson. And of course, Arturo has been talking a lot about the importance music in graphics, and this sequence masterfully matches the audio, making for just a superb piece.

Stalley's "Go On"

   One of my favorite hip-hop artists is Kyle Myricks aka Stalley. His music videos often involve a story or some kind of animation. This music video is very creative and directed by Walu Mwalilino. I looked into Walu's past work and he directs videos for some of the biggest names in hip-hop. His videos are all very different from each other yet he has a unique style that captivates the audience and creates a story rather than highlight the typical girls, cars, money aspect. He highlights the rappers' lifestyles and brings out the substance in their lyrics. In the Stalley music video, I'm not sure how Walu created the effect of a past body behind Stalley. He may have tracked each movement and created layers so that it appears Stalley is still in one place when he is still moving. I understand how he did the effect when the camera was static but often times, the camera is panning or moving shakily and he still pulls off the effect. I want to look into Walu's work and see if there are any tutorials for the effects he uses because this is one of my favorite music videos.

Walu's Blog

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Scott Pilgrim is Possible!

This week I'm posting about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. This is a movie based on a graphic novel and because of that it incorporates a lot of graphic novel and video game elements as effects. I enjoy this movie quite a bit because of these elements and how the effect the look and feel of the movie. There's a lot of effects used to add excitement to the film by making it feel really fast paced and choppy. More importantly I feel like a lot of these effects are totally replicable with the skill set we now have in After Effects. I post a lot about effects like this, by that I mean effects we are able to replicate, but that's because I think it's really cool. Being able to look at a movie like this and say "I could do that" is pretty cool. granted it takes a lot of work to mimic anything like this but with the exception of the flaming sword I think it's all stuff that we've gone over in class. There's a lot of 2D elements layered over the video track, like the "LEVEL UP" graphic and the others like it. Those are things we could make in Photoshop or Illustrator and incorporate into  a movie with ease. I just can't believe how cool effects like this are so simple to create. Don't get me wrong, it's a lot of time effect to put these things together but it's totally doable with what we know now.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Attack on Titan - Guren No Yumiya

Dust and particles fly across the screen in this action packed, extremely exciting intro to Japan's "Shingeki No Kyojin - Attack on Titan". A very popular intro for both its theme and production values, the opening sequence to this anime focuses on foreshadowing, bringing the giant titans into view multiple times, as the screen is covered in blood.

For someone who has never seen the show before, the intro may just be an action-packed sequence that doesn't quite make sense. But, for someone familiar with the series, each and every scene in this 1-minute long video represents an important event (or events) in the series. Theme composer "Revo", whose previous compositions include the ever-popular video game "Bravely Default" on the 3DS, composed this theme for the show. (They also composed the theme for the second opening, "Jiyuu no Tsubasa".

Aesthetically, the opening has a lot of shakycam - it looks like they could have used Sure Target or something! There is also a lot of bloom, and staticky, glowy particles floating around the screen at most times. In addition, the building breaking apart partway through the intro appears to be a 3D model created in Maya or something along those lines. The character animation itself would definitely be more difficult, but the minor parts of this intro would be fairly simple to recreate.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Spiderman opening titles

I found this title sequence to be incredibly interesting, since it takes the simple task of introducing actors and turns it into part of the movie. Setting up a movie through a title sequence can really bring an audience into a film, and keep them engaged. The sequence itself is very interesting by how the webs make up the names of those involved with the movie. I personally enjoy these more involved sequences at the beginning of movies, as I stated before, they gain the attention of the audience. so below I have attached a video of the Spiderman opening title sequence, hope you enjoy. 

Blast to the Past – Animator vs. Animation

So I wrote this really great blog post about an incredibly creative video called 'Animator vs. Animation', when I accidentally pressed the undo button a couple too many times and it deleted everything I wrote. And then THANK GOD it automatically saved the nothingness.

Needless to say, tears are dripping onto the keyboard right now. But I gotta give you guys something so I hope you don't mind if I sum up what I wrote. First off, here's the original video created by Alan Becker:

The video has many sequels, including my favorite where they go onto the desktop of the computer:

After this I talked about these videos paving the way for creative videos taking place on a computer. I tied this into a recent short film called "Noah", which tells an entire story through the eye of a computer screen. I'm having trouble getting the video embedded here but you can check it out on this site:

Sorry for the lack of beautiful words guys but I don't want to damage my computer with all of these tears falling on the keyboard. *sigh* Better luck next time. 


I recently saw Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity" at the Ithaca cinema and I have mixed emotions about the film. The title sequence was quite simple. The screen reads "Gravity" as the camera dollies in and an intense, loud synth noise turns into a shot of the earth from space and complete silence. The beginning of the movie is extremely intense and one is easily distracted and annoyed by any small rustlings of candy or popcorn in the theater. Throughout the movie, one can imagine what space is like and the audience is watching the movie from space. The lack of sound is beautiful and forces the audience to become bewildered with the though of space exploration. The sounds, or lack of sound, is unlike many space movies and are realistic because in space, sound cannot travel. The shadows and lighting are great and I would like to see a behind-the-scenes video of how "Gravity" was filmed. The animation of the satellites and spaceships were very intricate and realistic. The complexity of the earth shots and movement of the astronauts was extremely realistic and was truly groundbreaking for space movies. 

The only problem I had with the movie was the script and Sandra Bullock. Clooney's performance was amazing and his character was genuine. Bullock, however, lacked knowledge of her role and had many cliche one-liners. I think, visually speaking, the movie was amazing but Bullock could've easily been replaced by a more worthy actress. Cuarón didn't seem to offer much direction and Bullock seemed awkward during long takes and unnatural. The ending was quite farfetched as well. Apparently, it's pretty easy to navigate top of the line space technology with little to no training. I suggest everyone sees the movie and formulates their own opinion.

Enter the Void and All Of the Lights

I read a very interesting article this week on art of the title about a specific title sequence, from "Enter the Void", and a fairly prominent example of either homage or plagiarism, depending on your point of view. First, lets talk about the title sequence. It is incredibly aggressive, with heavy, bassy beats and almost unreadably text, mostly because of the speed. In fact I would argue the text is almost unimportant, because it streams by so fast one couldn't ever be expected to actually read the credits. However going frame by frame shows some really really cool designs for names, that are only on screen for literally a few frames. However the thing that the sequence really does best is play with the idea of a title sequence. It doesn't really accomplish crediting the actors and crew, what it does is be flashy, aggressive, and introduce the themes of the movie to the viewer right from the start

Another thing I want to touch on is a possible plagiarism of this sequence in a music video. The song, Kanye West's "All of the Lights", has a pretty great music video. However if you watch it, the opening sequence looks, almost shockingly so, exactly like the titles from enter the void. The graphic designers behind the music video said that it was just homage to the "enter the void" sequence. Tom Kan, graphics designer on Enter the Void, didn't seem to mind to the level of suing Kanye West, but did say "Plagiarism always devalues the imitator". He did go on to say that the expansion of the internet has allowed for collaboration and imitation between graphic designers like never before, which I think is a very interesting thought, and a very good point.

Green Screener App

Anyone who is familiar with green screen knows how difficult of a challenge lighting
 it evenly can be. This recently designed cinematography app does just that, Green Screener uses image banding as a way to determine the luminescence in an image. This image is a visual reference to further explain the technology, taken from the Green Screener website.

The app essentially takes your device camera and the green channel ultimately dividing them into 4, 8 and 16 bands. These can be related to the f-stops that we have learned about and thus would roughly correlate to the 2-stop, 1-stop or 1/2 stop resolution between the bands. Although Green Screener is not equivalent in the scientific sense of the f-stop it is much more accurate then a light-meter or a waveform-monitor. In simpler terms the application breaks down whatever image is being displayed and uses the bands to show different levels of light. Here is an example of the banding...

Overall if your trying to keep an evenly light background for your green screen and have a decently well trained eye accompanied with a light meter, for only $10.00 this is a significantly inexpensive tool that will do the job.

Symphonie Diagonale

The film begins with: "Made in 1924 by Viking Eggeling, SYMPHONIE DIAGONALE is the best abstract film yet conceived. It is an experiment to discover the basic principles of the organization of time intervals in the film medium."

Symphonie Diagonale is widely considered to be a one of the best early short animation films, leaving an imprint of the history of film. Done in the the style of art deco, Swedish director and famous Dadaist, Viking Eggeling explored motion using scroll drawings.

Since animation at the time was not in the mainstream of art, Eggeling originally framed his idea for the film on long scrolls of paper. He would paint sequential images on the scrolls as if he were painting the film itself. This abstract way of making film was closely tied to music, in new form that Eggeling called "Visual Music."

Visual music was borrowed from numerous times, especially from Bauhaus design students who embraced it as a new temporal design method. Often using jazz, this new form changed the minds of many well known German animators.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


A unique insetion of design for a movie or television series can become a symbol for the story.
The below video is a series of interviews with successful motion graphic design artists. 
Within the PBS interviews there is conversation of Kyle Cooper and his "game-changing" production of the Opening Sequence for Se7en. Cooper said that a good introduction is like a courtesy to the audience, for it means the creators are going to try as hard as they possibly can to entertain the viewer. Cooper's Se7en opening was a thought provoking intro that related deeply to the psychopath and his journal he keeps throughout the film. 
Jim Helton and Charles Christopher Rubino’s story they tell at the ending of Blue Valentine is proof that there use to be love in the character's relationship. It is heart wrenching for you had just watched their dramatic break up, making the viewers follow the characters in their emotions.
Lastly, Zombieland motion graphic designer Ben Conrad, inserts text into the story, creating a light hearted feeling during this graphic scene. By using a simple font and creating a simple concept, the humorous mood is set for the rest of the movie.