After Effects. love it.

July 20, 2012 at 9:31 am (School) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

First assignment with Adobe After Effects: make a self-portrait (or a portrait of whatever…), 30 seconds – 2 minutes long. This took FOREVER. Why did I pick so much stuff!!! It was fun, though. Definitely room for improvement, but overall I really like it. Anyone who knows me will get the references.

The second assignment for After Effects was to find a comic and animate using specific features in After Effects. Art from the online comic Lackadaisy by Tracy J. Butler. She is AH-mazing.

Also, the amount of time this 1 minute short took (about 30 hours)… MAD RESPECT for all animators. Seriously.

Motion graphics with typography assignment: Animate song lyrics in Adobe After Effects. I picked (with the encouragement of others) “8 Mile Wide” by Storm Large. Because it is awesome. It is not safe for work. Or children…

If you want to see her official music video… and you should, because it is pretty great.

Next, make an identity video for a real or imagined film company. The cheesier, the better as far as the instructor was concerned.

Use 3D (or 2.5D, as some say) and camera features in After Effects. Length: 10+ seconds. Concept: a nod to Kamelot (yes, I meant to spell it that way): My friends asked me – the resident expert on special effects – how they made the Game of Thrones intro title sequence. Well, GoT titles were definitely done in Maya or some other actual 3D modeling software, but I was taking After Effects, so… I made this for them. AE doesn’t really have 3D, per se. You can manipulate flat planes in 3D space. So to build a 3D object, you have to construct it like a house of cards, using flat pieces… It was a fun experiment.

There were a lot of assignments… next we learned to use the rotoscoping tools (roto) – you trace around something to replace it with something else or replace everything around it with something else. Tedious, but oddly calming. I chose to torture Ripley… as though she hasn’t had enough already.

Now motion tracking… where you track 1 to 4 points of motion to match movement. You’re welcome, nerds. And, uh, I totally jacked this song clip from MrVoletron’s channel. Because it is awesome and it fit the mood… I wish this clip were longer. Not sure what I did?


I replaced the license plate. Added color effects and blur effects to match look of clip.

Finally… the AE FINAL.

Create title credits (open or close). I chose to make opening credits for the characters from my D&D game night.

The art assets were mainly acquired via deviant art using searches to find art that roughly matched each other and the characters I was trying to portray. Having said that, most of them were modified in Photoshop to adjust the background, add features that were missing, change weapons, etc… then put everything I wanted to move on layers and painted underneath to fill in holes, as needed. In AfterEffects I did all of the animations and effects.

Very sad update… Loki and Relic have died… Ok, Relic is not dead, but he was turned to stone and we have to leave him behind. What? We are in the middle of a forrest and he weighs, like, 300lbs… We can go back for him in a few levels… NOT THE POINT! DON’T JUDGE US! A moment of silence, please.

Thank you.

AE Final art & asset credits:
Ayrel by deviantArt user eliz7; I painted her some legs in Photoshop, so she would be standing, and gave her red eyes for the transition at the end of her sequence
Ayrel’s background by deviantArt user jermilex
Bobetta from flickr user twen5: I removed background and changed her two-handed war hammer into a one-handed mace and added a shield
Bobetta’s mace from a work by deviantArt user MarkWinters – I just needed the top of the mace, but it is a cool image so check it out…
Bobetta’s shield by deviantArt user ZombWill (Will Owen)
Bobetta’s background by deviantArt user ink-head
Loki by deviantArt user isriana; I removed background, added glow and wings, used bounce lightning in AE for his magicalness
Loki’s wings deviantArt user littlegoblet
Loki’s background wallpaper by user sasha2d; I painted out the little creatures
Relic by deviantArt user BenWootten; I painted out the flail and added an axe, replaced the rune on his forehead with an anvil
Relic’s axe by deviantArt user vielmond
Urs by deviantArt user Shikamaru-no-kage; I found some vampire teeth (I think I used Kate Beckinsale’s mouth as character Selene from Underworld) and gave her a second mouth for the transition at the end of her sequence
Urs’ background by deviantArt user jermilex (again… his art is pretty great, not gonna lie…)
Brim by deviantArt user NadrojWobrek; I just had to layer and fill in the background – the fire is on 3 separate layers to grow the flames and there are two layers of smoke around them that come in as the fire gets bigger, very subtle but adds something nice…
Minions by deviantArt user ZombWill (Will Owen again – I love his little dudes!)
Minions’ background by deviantArt user jermilex (YET AGAIN)
D&D Logo (a TM of Wizards of the Coast & Hasbro) found on this Adam Ryen Daniels nerdy wordpress review of the Facebook D&D game
Parchment texture image from Mitch Featherston’s blog The Public Domain


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Cut. It. Out. Finally. And professionally.

July 20, 2012 at 7:54 am (School) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

So, funny story…

I took digital video editing with FinalCutPro 4 at the NW Film Center in 2004… just for fun. Our first assignment was to cut together the rushes or dailies from an old episode of “Gunsmoke” …basically an exercise to familiarize the class with the basic functions of FCP. I had fun, but couldn’t find any good sound effects for the fight scene, so I tried to throw everything else in that I could.

Serious respect for anyone who has cut together an action film. It is not easy to match motion and continuity in a fight scene. For realisies.

Assignment 2 was to make a video haiku with image, sound and text. It went something like this…

Assignment 3 was to create a portrait of __________. Whatever. I hate open-ended junk like that. So I did a portrait of someone trying to come up with an idea for a self-portrait.

Ugh. I still hate that thing. On the other hand, it is the only footage, that I know of, of my Shams… I miss him and it is totally awesome to have captured that moment in time.

RIGHT. So fast-forward 8 years after I decide to go back to college for a second BA… for Visual Effects and Motion Graphics. Of course, I have to take Intro to Editing with FinalCutPro 7. Our first assignment… cut together the rushes or dailies from an old episode of “Gunsmoke” …basically an exercise to familiarize the class with the basic functions of FCP.

You are not having déjà vu. It was the same assignment. Also, the exact same footage. I was like… um… really? Yes, really. But, whatever! It has been 8 YEARS, so I needed the refresher. I did some different stuff. You’re welcome, world.

I really liked our second assignment. It was crazy. Take at least 5 found videos and cut together a video collage into something meaningful (at least to you), i.e. there should be some sort of coherent theme. We used the Prelinger Archives online… totally free old news reels, home movies, and those etiquette shorts made from the 30s-70s, etc. SO AWESOME. I got a little distracted. Eventually, I did put something together and I quite liked it.

THE FINAL: Take raw footage from this super-cheesy 70s bank robbery film and do whatever we want with it… so long as we add some sound elements and it is at least a minute and a half long.

My mom helped my find the BEST 70s music. So. Magical. Composer: Lalo Schifrin, specifically take from music he composed for the 60s-70s TV show “Mannix” … more famously, he composed the theme song for “Mission: Impossible” (the original TV show).


So, that was my FinalCut experience. I’m not in love with it. I like playing with visual effects MUCH more. So that’s good that it is my major then. Since I like it. You will see. Next up is from our intro to After Effects. I heart this program. Hard. In the face.

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March 22, 2012 at 5:07 am (School) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

SO. Finals….

My image manipulation class assignment was to find something to use as inspiration. Then, create my own art based on that. As open-ended as it sounds, yes. I mean, there were specs… 180 dpi; RGB; PSD file to turn in with layers labeled; printed version mounted on black matte board, but the other details were totally up to us as the artist.

As my inspiration, I finally landed on a contemporary surrealist, Vladimir Kush:

And here is what I came up with. Digital illustration is definitely not my deal, but it was fun to hone my photoshop skills some more and challenge myself with the illustration related aspects. The instructor actually said during the in-class review that it was her favorite one (and some of them were really good, too #notsohumblebrag)! WHOA.

UPDATE, assets:

I had the same instructor for my 3D modeling class, which was much more difficult. Not in a bad way as far as content goes; a good challenge and something very new. Yay for that! … BUT… she fell behind in material. Like, our final was to complete all of these renders from the scenes we created in Maya throughout the term, put them together in After Effects and make a QuickTime movie. The problem is that she still had stuff to show us… ON THE DAY OF THE FINAL. Sooooo, we had to come to class ready to learn how to turn in the final. As a result, I am not totally satisfied with this. If I had known more of the variables to a+b=c … I would have done things a little differently. With that disclaimer and under the circumstances, I felt pretty good about my output. Some of my textures are really nice. There are a few minor proportion issues that I would go back and fix now and I would definitely refine my ball animation for roll distance and perspective view. Anyway, for a first time with any 3D modeling, I call it a win and look forward to gaining more experience.

Also, if you need me to animate anything for you, let me know! It might be a few years before you see the results, but I TOTALLY WILL! HAHAHA!

PS: every time the instructor asked us to do anything with our balls, the 13 year old boy in my head would giggle. Sometimes out loud.

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