Alas, we have finally made it to the end of my animation journey! It’s been quite a ride. If you are reading this post without having looked at any of my previous projects then I highly recommend checking a lot of those out and witnessing my growth as an artist and an animator.

In this module, I got to create my final project, which is an entirely new concept with a few learnings from the course materials sprinkled in. Before I show you guys the final project, however, I want to quickly wrap up the book summaries with the final chapter of Liz Blazer’s Animated Storytelling and show you all three examples of advanced motion that I find inspiring. After I reveal and discuss my project, I will finally add some reflective thoughts about the seven-week course as a whole and be off on my way with some new knowledge on motion.

Reading

Source: https://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-1383031-uploading-computer-screen-graphic-animation

This is the final chapter of Liz Blazer’s book, where she gives advice on prepping and sharing your prized creation, as well as giving some final words of advice to end her book. She begins the chapter by talking about how the rise of the internet has not only caused a surge of content being shared everywhere, but now everybody’s film has the chance to go viral, and if seen by the right people, could lead to some big opportunities for you.

Her first step in getting ready to share your content is by packaging it. You first want a logo that is recognizable and a still from your film that can act as a movie poster for your website and potential film festivals. It is also beneficial that you write a 2-3 sentence synopsis of your film, a director’s bio that explains who you are, and a few paragraphs that tell the story of your film’s creation and why you felt compelled to tell the story. These can all be useful for future interviews or for websites to quote your content.

Her next step is to create your network, and she emphasizes that the age of the Internet has made this process so much easier for just about anyone to join. She recommends joining an online community or social media groups because you never know what relationships you will make and what opportunities can arise from them. She also recommends when meeting people in person, it is okay if you appear a little goofy, as long as you stay true to who you are and not try to act as someone else.

Her last bit of advice is to be as professional as possible when it comes to sharing your content. She recommends getting everything in on time when submitting to film festivals, and double checking the spelling of every word when submitting to get hired for a job. Her final paragraph is a farewell message that stresses the importance of being an artist and how it is vital to just keep creating no matter what.

Overall, this book was really inspiring and thought-provoking for how short it is. I learned about various methods of preproduction and production that I have never heard of before, and got to follow some examples of really invigorating animations. This last chapter alone hit home a bit because I really struggle with networking and finding my place so getting the emphasis from Blazer may be the kick I need to start reaching out to people so I can start heading in the direction I want to go in life.

Research

There are so many different ways animations can be implemented in an advanced manner, and I figured that I would showcase three advanced animations that I found that I find quite inspiring.

Catch Me If You Can (2002) title sequence

This is the opening credits for a film I have not seen before, but found while I was scrolling through YouTube to look for animated title sequence examples. It is called Catch Me If You Can (2002), and in my opinion, I feel as though the sequence is a mix between a James Bond and a Pink Panther title sequence, both in animation and music. These animations were actually hand drawn and later composited into a digital editing software, where the animators took their characters and built almost a utopia out of the world inside the title sequence. Each of the names of the crew in the credits have long vertical lines that stem from some part of their name that either connect to other names in the credits or other characters in the real world. I can now see a lot of key framing, track matting, and other blending effects being used throughout this piece to make the animation seem as smooth and flawless as possible, and I would not expect anything less from a high budget Hollywood film, especially one directed by Steven Spielberg.

Apple opening animation from their September Event 2019

Once again, I expect nothing less from a company like Apple, but holy cow they blew my mind when I saw this for the first time. This motion graphics animation uses a lot of morphing techniques that seamlessly transition from one product or service to another. Seeing something like this makes me realize that there is a lot more to animation that I feel like I need to learn, because the level of quality and patience it takes to make something like this is unparalleled. Yes, I love Apple and have been a fan of their products for my entire life, but you cannot lie that they’ve created something magical that not only tells the story of their history but sends a powerful message as well.

Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) music video for “Speed Me Up”

Again, this is an advanced animation produced by a high budget film crew, but I enjoy them so much that I feel like I have no choice but to reference them for inspiration. As someone who has been getting into music video creation lately, and has worked on plenty of techniques such as motion tracking and rotoscoping, this video checks off a lot of the marks for me. Probably one of my favorite effects is the animated masks where the pixellated drones fire lasers and when they cross over the rappers, they turn to 16-bit versions of themselves. The merging of green screen footage to animated characters was really sweet to see, and although this video did not feature much from the course materials we’ve learned over the seven weeks, I still think it is a very strong example of using visual effects to combine real-time footage with 16-bit graphics and it does not make the result look awkward.

Creation

Alas, I finally have my final project prepared and ready to share with you all! I spent quite a while with it and I am really happy with how it came out, so check out the video below and once you’ve seen it feel free to read about my process in making it below!

My animated title sequence – DIGITAL

I knew right from the beginning that I wanted to create a Hollywood-style film title sequence. Above is my final creation, DIGITAL. I’ll tell you how I made it and then give you my thoughts on it as a whole.

I first recorded myself using a portable green screen. It was tall, but just not tall enough as I needed to squat down a little for a few shots in order to get my head in frame. I believe I captured about ten shots. I then went straight into After Effects where I exclusively made the entire video.

The first part was a simple track matte where I placed myself behind the text “Gabe.” I gave both the “directed by” and “Gabe” texts an animation that I chose from the presets available to me in the software. I faded and rotated “Gabe” out and moved onto the next shot. This is where I made a cinemagraph, if you were able to catch it. I poured some juice from a coffee cup to and masked just the juice pour so it could keep pouring while my hand and the coffee cup stood still. I then masked another image of myself behind the coffee cup liquid. For aesthetic reasons, I added a boundary and a squiggly line that changed colors whether or not it was inside the boundary lines, and then used that same line to erase myself and the coffee liquid from the frame by using an animated mask.

I then used a very similar element to my UI animation, where I had the glowing blue square rotate on screen. I track matted myself inside the square (though it does not look like it because of the glow effect) and then duplicated the square eight times and keyframed each of their positions and rotations individually to reflect my fake gunshot seemingly causing the square to break off into pieces. The next part was a bit tricky, as I was running out of ideas on what to do for with my green screen footage. My cousin and I talked about it and he suggested I use a shatter effect on myself. After about an hour of troubleshooting, I was finally able to figure out how to apply the basic shatter effect onto my image. I also keyframed a mask stroke and my fill color to add tension towards the shatter.

Lastly, I used the Star Burst effect and keyframed the size and blending properties to get a giant star field to morph into my figure. Once I gave my person a fill, I added text to align with myself and used my figure as one of the letters to form the title of my fake film. Because it is a title sequence, I wanted a clever way to bring the audience back into the rest of the movie, if there was one, and decided to precompose a few layers, make them 3D and keyframe their x-rotation so they fall and rise forward as the screen becomes black. I also believe the music I chose for this suits the mood of the piece as well. It is, however, the only piece of audio I have in the sequence, as I focused more on trying to get the visuals right.

If I were to be completely honest, I am not too happy with what I made here, especially since it is supposed to be a final project. I was extremely limited on time because of another huge final project I needed to complete in the same week, so I had to go into this project without any plan for what types of poses I was doing, what types of shots I was making, or how I wanted the edit to look. Everything was made on the fly, and if you believe it flows somewhat seamlessly, then that is a miracle. I would have loved to mess with the background more, instead of keeping it a deep blue, and I would have liked to learn more about After Effects and use some of its features that I have not tried before.

Despite all that, I gave this project my all, and although it may not be what I was looking to showcase to you all, I do think it looks quite cohesive and is a good example of advanced animation while employing some tactics learned from previous weeks.

Course Reflections – Final Thoughts

Because this is the last post relating towards this animation class, I wanted to share just a few words about the class as a whole and my thoughts on my projects and how the course went.

I honestly loved the fully online structure. It gave me complete freedom to do whatever I wanted with my projects while still learning about pro tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Being able to go back to After Effects to regain some lost knowledge was such a treat and I’m glad I was able to do that.

For the very first assignment, I opened Adobe Animate for the first time and messed around with that. This was a software I was eager to learn about, and I thought I would have the capability to do so in this class. Sadly, however, that would be the last time I touched Animate, and maybe it is for the better because I got to keep all of my focus on After Effects from here on out. That being said, though, now that I have a full subscription to Creative Cloud, I do believe it will be useful to open up both Animate and Character Animator and to learn them to see if they are the software for me.

Believe it or not, my favorite project out of the entire semester was the stop-motion animation. I considered making another one for this final project, but I really wanted to give my attempt at a title sequence instead. Maybe it was the payoff from seeing a week’s worth of planning and a full 8-hour day of shooting turn into an epic chase scene, but I love that project so much and am so satisfied with what I made there. I also enjoyed the logo animation more than I thought, that may be my second favorite assignment due to the sound effects and animation I employed into my logo.

This was a really fun class, and although it was a bit more basic than I would have liked, I still had a lot of fun with it and am really appreciative of all the new tools and capabilities I have learned throughout these past seven weeks.

About the Author Gabe Walerysiak

My name is Gabriel Walerysiak, and I am a graduate student at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. I graduated with my Bachelor's Degree in Film, Television and Media Arts, with a minor in Mathematics in June 2020. I am currently pursuing a Master of Sciene in Interactive Media and Communications and will graduate with my master's degree in May 2021. I recently interned at GlucoseZone this past summer, where I edited and helped film a bunch of promotional content for their social media pages. I have a hobby of capturing and editing video-game footage for a YouTube channel that I started in the Seventh grade, and that channel is the primary reason I chose to major in Film, TV, and Media Arts. I am also a passionate runner, and even though I am no longer on a team, I run to keep in shape because I know how important that is in today's world. I am looking forward to be more fluent with technologically enhanced creative programs such as the Adobe suite, productivity tools such as Microsoft Office, and any other creative tools I can get my hands on to further improve my work as a creator.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: