Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Business of Animation

I have to promote an ad which is 5/15 seconds long exact. Working for the broadcasting companies chellozone and CBS which air different programmes on a variety of channels owned by them. I will be required to pick one or all three briefs, which are: 

'Steet food month'
'Sugar rush Sundays'
'Italian month'

All of the briefs are food related and should reveal the food network logo at the end for 2 seconds.


After looking at some contemporary animations i found these 3 inspirational videos. The first one was related to the brief as it was an innovated motion graphic video for food network itself, i found it quite interesting and gave me a better understanding of food network.
The second video was a short animation for the channel e4 which they play back during commercial breaks, which i could relate to as i would be creating something of similar use. Also the style of the animation was quite inspirational with the minimum use of colours to give a nice 'illustrationy' feel.
The third video was the one that influenced me the most as i had a style in my mind and really wanted it to look like that, cheerful and bright. 


Moodboard showing all things italian, it gave me an idea of what to incoporate into my animation under the theme of 'italy'.

This was the outcome of learning shapes. I had to create a news like intro. I learnt that shapes are quite useful and can save a lot of time if used effectively.


The idea which i had was pretty simple and i knew how to go about it so i went straight into production once i had my initial storyboard (see sketchbook).

I was going to make the background and the different elements in illustrator. I created the clouds using different circles and joining them together using unite command to create the overall shape of the cloud.

This was my initial background based on the storyboard i created. The visual elements were exactly how i imagined but when i thought about the animation i thought the rounded italian flag wouldnt really work as i wanted the colours to remain throughout the video and when the wheel turned one colour would go offscreen, so i changed it into something more practical.

I also decided to change the colours of the background as i thought it would look more appealing if i chose a calm evening kind of look to accentuate the theme of Italy more.

To create the certificate i simply made a box and altered the points to create a smooth bend from corner to corner, and then applied a brush stroke with a pattern for that certificate feel.

Dark red ended up being the best suited colour for the animation.

I created the various elements such as the trees, the rounded circles, the vespa and the cbt certificate in illustrator. It had to be vibrant, cheerful and clean, and a vector graphic program was perfect. I carefully considered the right colours to see if it works or not. 

This screenshot shows the way i animated the whole thing in after effects. It got quite complicated with a lot of layers, but with a lot of organisation and understanding of nesting compositions aswell as parenting different things together, the animation worked a treat!


These were some opening tests to entice the viewer. After some thought later on i thought it would be better to start of with a still shot rather than having a motion intro.

This was an initial test of the whole animation, but it was missing some elements as i didnt create the vector images as of yet. It was to see if the whole thing works well and syncs with the sound. It also gave me an idea of what i should add/remove in terms of animation, if its too fast or too slow. I also had the idea of adding a secondary action to the clouds, giving them slight movement using the wiggle expression in after effects. At this point i felt that some parts moved too fast off-screen, and if i reduced the time it would end up looking unsynced. So that was a problem, until the next test.

Vector helmet made in illustrator

I later was told by my tutor to just use graphics from the web. Initially i was creating the little icons myself but they lacked detail and looked boring, so i took his advice and used icons from the web, but i chose icons that worked well together so they didnt look out of tune, i.e using a photographic image with bad quality.

During my search on the internet i came across some photographs which i needed to remove from the background, so i used a technique where you increase the contrast/brightness leaving the actual parts you wish to remove dark and the bg light, and then play with the levels to make the part you wish to remove totally black, yet leaving the background white, giving enough contrast to remove the background accurately. This would only work on pictures which have a variance in tone to easily seperate the background.

At this point i realised my animation lacked detail and looked too plain, so i thought ill use elements from my inspirational video and apply them into my own (the trees). I also thought ill add iconic things of italy, such as the foods and the buildings to make it more interesting, with everything combined i felt it enchanced my work to a greater level than before. I also fixed the problem of things going off screen to fast, i thought once he mentions the vespa, helmet and the CBT training ill keep them on there until his next sentence where i can bring in the next batch of objects, being the accessories (not shown in this test).



I am quite pleased with the final result. When i first started the project my expectations for the final was for it to be cheerful, vibrant and quirky which is the feeling i got from the sound clip provided, and i feel i have achieved this in my final animation.

I chose italian month because it was the longest and easiest for me to work with. Using the sound clip i generated a storyboard which was quick and easy. I had a clear understanding of how to create the various elements in my scene. Because it was only 15 seconds long the work was consistent and clean. Usually timing is always a problem, but i had enough time to work on this and keep reworking it to my liking, which was quite good as it gave a good result. I think the strongest point about the whole thing is the colours, i chose them carefully so they all work together quite well to give a feeling of a beautiful evening coming to an end which i thought was a good representation of Italy.

The only thing i would consider changing is the icons I used (vespa, helmet, etc..). Originally i was planning on making the icons myself using illustrator, but they seemed to lack a lot of detail and my lack of understanding the tools to create vector graphics didn't give me enough time to create a detailed illustration. I had an attempt at creating them but they came out quite poor, lacking detail and were not smooth, but rather jagged, you can see this in the vespa i made. Instead i searched the web for these icons and used them which was more efficient for me. I chose specific ones so that they have a consistency about them and if they didnt i would tweak them a little to make them look similair. 

When animating i decided to add motion blur as it enchanced the animation and made it look more interesting when different elements came on/off screen.
The use of animation principles differ when working digitally compared to the traditional approach of drawing hence only these principles were applied to my work:

 Staging: The large rounded circles representing the italian flag draw the most attention with the icons inside them, hence why i made them big to cover a large surface area. 

Pose to pose: The best format for animating digitally in a composition program such as after effects. Compared to its other half 'straight ahead action' this technique produces faster, cleaner and smoother results.

Slow in and slow out: Some parts of the animation i used the slow in and slow out function available in after effects (pressing F9 on keyframes). This gave a much more smoother look rather than everything being a constant pace.

Arcs: To an extent this principle comes into play as my whole animation relies on moving around a circle, but not in the context of traditional animation where its usually referred to something natural, i.e limb movement.

Secondary action: I applied this principal to the cloud movement in the background, adding this feature made the scene a little more 'alive'.

Timing: Probably one of the most important principles used here, as everything had to be synced well with the sound aswell as the icons having enough exposure on screen. 

Overall i am pleased with the result, and i have learnt a lot more in the field of motion graphics. This project has also re-enforced my knowledge of after effects and helped me  how to problem solve.

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