Media Blog, VCD302

VCD302 Blog Post 6 + FINAL PROJECT


My final Motion Design topic, Call of the Wild, was personally a success for me. I met my own objectives and what I wanted to achieve for this project. In terms of technical achievement, I didn’t do anything complicated that needed a tutorial, nor did I use any effects in my work. Since the project was narrative driven, the story came before the technical requirements. So as a purely technical goal, I don’t think I achieved much as I only used basic functions.

I think motional design fundamentals were a bit better, I did get some frames moving very well and follow some primary animation for the dogs. Other than that, it is mostly a slideshow of scenes with little bits of movement to draw attention to a scene. One thing I did play with was lyrics. I arranged an order so that my lyrics are always behind the dogs and main scenes. It gives more depth to the image, as well as the lyrics itself being a form of motion to complement the dogs.

Aesthetically, I think it came out great and was the strongest part of my Animatic. It has consistent designs and scenery/art direction that is recognisable. Balancing the colours was my goal, as well as simplicity.

As for my own goals, I’m very happy it turned out the way it did. Using my reference of ‘Ivypool- Ain’t it fun’ was a good benchmark to go for and motivated me to reach that level. Telling a story in 3 and a half minutes with a song in the background is no easy task, but I hit most of the marks. One that I didn’t hit in my opinion was smoothness and animation. Some scenes are very static, and while I did my best to make it all flow, it can come off as a glorified PowerPoint at times.

My 3 critical moments. My first critical moment in getting this project off the ground was drawing the design references of Buck and Spitz. Drawing those felt like a step towards an ‘official project’ and I felt motivated to complete it.

My second critical moment was opening After Effects and combining the scenes together to make the first part of the Animatic where Buck gets kidnapped and driven away to Alaska. It reassured me that I could put everything together in the way that I wanted, and it wasn’t a complicated skill out of reach.

My third and final critical moment was drawing the background for a scene (artwork below) and I figured out a way to make very simple snow marks in a short time frame. I was really happy with the result and how it looked, so it gave me a confidence boost in drawing the other backgrounds for the project and gave me a way to but more effort into the backgrounds.

This project has certainly showed me that there are a lot more possibilities to After Effects than just what I created. While my reference of ‘Ivypool- Ain’t it fun’ was a good benchmark to aim for, there are other references I looked at that set a higher bar with effects and layering, providing more depth to it than just a slideshow, examples being ‘Fumetsu no Anata E MAD’ at 0:30 with the food bowl and ‘Dovepaw: Rolling Thunder’ at 1:11 with the camera going over the hill.

Overall, it was a good exercise in my art abilities and creating a contained narrative in the time I was given.

Extra Tidbit- My total working hours for this project from JUST drawing alone (Procreate tracks how long you draw for) add up to 54 hours. That includes the sketching, drawing and backgrounds used for the project. It does not include the editing time.

Media Blog, VCD302

VCD203 Blog Post 5- Process and behind the scenes

My project ‘Call of the Wild’ is based on a book written by Jack London in 1903 and set in the Alaskan Gold Rush in the 1890’s. One challenge of mine was simplifying the designs, as elaborated in my previous blog post.

Another big issue of this project was time restraint. Although the restraints can also help to keep me in check to complete the project, it can also hurry the final project, especially when everything is hand drawn. It can create crunch, procrastination or all nighters, which I didn’t want to do. My solution to this problem to manage my time was to duplicate frames. People watching the video probably will not have to look too closely to see that some frames of the dogs look the same but in different scenes. Duplicating frames but changing them a little is the biggest way for me to save time, as I do not have to spend more times drawing and it can instead be spent on editing. In reality, I drew probably around 60 dog frames rather than 70 full drawings. The backgrounds were also done the same way. A snow landscape doesn’t need to be filled with details to be recognisable, so I reused the snow backgrounds a lot in my animatic. Since the summer Alaska scenes (green trees etc.) were short, I put more effort into making it recognisable than the snow scenes. I had some duplicates in there are well, but not as much as the snow. In all, I probably drew around 27 backgrounds for the entire animatic.

I have a lot of storyboarding and completed frames to show. Thanks to Procreate’s automatic time-lapse replay function, every stroke that I made creating the animatic is available. Here is a short section of the ‘speedpaint’ showing my drawing process (Slow video speed to 0.25), as well as the sketch version of my project that I presented.

There hasn’t been any drastic difference in my project development, my timeline that I outlined at the beginning is pretty much the same. Since I sketched everything beforehand to present at the Week 9 Presentation, everything was pretty much locked in at that point and I had to proceed with it if I wanted to make the deadline.

The only alterations that I have made were cosmetic because of the time limit of 4 weeks. I think my drawings are quite amateur and cartoonish, and I would have liked to go with a more semi realistic style had I been given all the time in the world, but it would have also been a lot more work. I was also planning to have the Buck and Spitz fight scene where they chase the rabbit at night. However, it was too much of a headache to change the colour palette for a single scene, so I left it as daytime. But this way also works, as it looks more cohesive than just changing day/night cycle. I go back and forth between selecting and implementing (according to the Ambrose and Harris 7 steps for design). Even though I may have all of the sketches set in stone, I have gone back and tidied up or redone a background so that its implementation is more recognisable. One example is going back to add blood to John Thornton (The man with the big brown hat in the animatic), to make it more clear that he was dead.

Media Blog, VCD302

VCD302 Blog Post 4- Call of the Wild Animatic

The function of my project is to explore movement in After effects. I want to explore and have it be inserted into my project as part of a narrative. The area of investigation is small and is pretty much limited to serving the narrative of my piece. All of the editing in After Effects will likely only involve the transform, scale, and blur tool, but they will also stack on one another, making the scenes more complex to pull off in the end. I will also try to incorporate camera effects, and possibly lyrics as well. Though it will depend on how much time I have at the end, as it will be last priority. I aim to use these tools in service of a narrative to make it more impactful.

My project is a narrative video. The whole video is telling the story of ‘Call of the Wild’ by Jack London. Written in 1903, it is a short story about a dog named Buck that gets shipped off to Alaska to be a sled dog and ends up as a wild dog. I will be drawing pivotal scenes from the book and making it into a narrative that fits a song I chose. The song is “I know I’m a Wolf’ by the Young Heretics. The song itself is completely unrelated to Call of the Wild, but the lyrics fit the overall themes of the book, hence why I chose that song to go over the top of the video.

I will be using my own drawings and inserting them into After Effects to be edited. This involves a lot of drawing, as I have 70 frames to complete, including the dogs and the backgrounds, so it will be a lot of work. It will be a methodical process that involves me doing sketches, then lining the art, and finally doing base colours of the art. Then it is ready to be inserted into a scene and then edited for movement. This project is half a design work/art work, and there is a huge focus on composition/designs on the art side, whereas After Effects is only for editing.

I have a lot of references for this project, and the one that I am taking the most from is ‘Ivypool-Ain’t it fun?’ video. The video shows what I want to achieve for my project. It is a contain narrative about a character that is indirectly explained to us through the lyrics of the song. It is also based on a book, and only people who have read the source material will get the whole story, but is still somewhat understandable to a public audience, which is what I am aiming for.

Ain’t it fun- the major inspiration for my project

For my proof of concept, I have sketches and completed frames to show, as well as character designs for Buck and Spitz. My goal with this was to make their designs distinct and stand out as important characters among the others. I used the movies (2020 and 1981) as a reference for both of their looks. I portrayed Buck as more softer and friendly features (round eyes) and gave Spitz some qualities you would find in an antagonist, like a scar and exaggerated ‘demon’ eyes.

Media Blog, VCD302

VCD302 Blog Post 3 – Design Analysis and Reflection

My project, ‘Coral Sea’, has been finalised and completed. I will be assessing the project outcomes to see if it was a good choice.

For overall outcomes, I thought the technical proficiency was moderate. I didn’t try anything particularity complicated, it was just a refinement of the basic points in After Effects, using the transform tool, timing and stroke options.

Most of my motion design fundamentals that I used were zooming in and out. As well as using waves to convey a sense of movement.

I am very happy with my aesthetic outcomes. The gradient colour palette worked really well for a coral aesthetic and the contrasting colours gave it life.

Coral Sea

The first critical moment for me was when I experimented with the exploding star in ‘Transition’. That was the point when I realised that I should have more confidence in my After Effects knowledge and pushed me to explore a little further. Using very fast keyframes and transform abilities opened the possibilities for me.

The second moment was when I scrapped my ‘Transition’ Project and started ‘Coral Sea’. I really liked the transitions I used for my first work, but unfortunately it was a little bland and had no cohesive design in it. It was me shifting from using my technical skills in a draft piece, to focus on the design of the real piece, which was always on the forefront when creating ‘Coral Sea’, unlike the ‘Transition’ piece which was hastily cobbled together.

My third critical moment was making the 3-wave pattern in ‘Coral Sea’. After trying for an hour to make the wave look like it is moving and not just going up and down, I made it look smooth. This boosted my confidence in the rest of the piece because I was able to get it down on a technical and artistic level.

3-wave pattern

As for looking towards the future, I am thinking of distinct styles of opening credits, like the two colours and transitions of Harrow, or a storybook design. I would be very interested to see if I could recreate the Harrow opening in After Effects, or maybe make use of that inspiration to make a new project. The transitions drew me in and was pulled off very well.

Harrow Opening

The other I want to try out is storybook style introduction or narrative. A complex example of this would be the Kung Fu Panda 2 Opening, where they use drawing still frames to give a storybook feel.

Kung Fu Panda Opening Scene

A simpler version, is this fan made video on Youtube, ‘Dovepaw- Rolling Thunder‘ where they use still frame drawings, giving the appearance of a storybook, plus they combine the video with lyrics and other effects.

This PMV is handrawn, but many are still shots and use transitions/effects

This gives me an idea of creating my own PMV (Picture Music Video) on either an original topic or a fanbase I am into. I would have to probably make the drawings be rough sketches, as it would take a lot of time to storyboard and organise all the components, more so than trying a Harrow inspired opening.

Still divided on what path to take, but both are interesting to me in different ways.

Media Blog, VCD302

VCD302 Blog Post 2- Design Process

Since starting this Assignment, I have appreciated how all the fundamentals of animation are used to create works, like in ads or in TV shows. My design process has been one of trial and error, and just discovering new things and workarounds as they come up.

As a result, my first After Effects work, called ‘Transition’ was scrapped after I did not find a cohesive theme or design to latch on to. My first work was about exploring the principles of animation and the transitions that I could do between them, but I also neglected to take care in the Design quality and themes.

My current AE document ‘Coral Sea’ is all about exploring wave forms in motion. The three starting waves are a good example of this, but I also use it for moving the tiny shapes around by giving them a wavelength effect. The wave effect is a good example of squash and stretch, one of the 12 Principles of Animation. It gives the illusion of an ocean by squashing and stretching what was originally a straight line. My project also aims to explore colours in a gradient and the wavelengths of objects. I have a more cohesive colour scheme of pinks and blue/green that fit well with the design theme of ‘coral sea’. I utilised this concept by adding small shapes and putting wavelength effects on them, to simplify deep sea creatures and adding enough movement to make it feel like small organic life was moving.

My challenge was showing the illusion of motion with the three waves. By just adding a wavelength effect on a stroke, I was not able to simulate movement of the sea and it just felt like lines going up and down. To make the motion better, I changed the position so that the stroke went from right to left while doing the wavelength effect, and it looked much better.

The three waves that bookend this project

I went through the 7-step design process while making this. For ‘Transition’, I did no prior research and instead relied on messing around in AE to produce something for this assignment. My only goal was to focus on how I could utilise AE and what effects I could produce with my limited knowledge. Transition ended up being a prototype for Coral Sea, which I had a better approach to and did a moodboard for it before starting on it. I learned from Transition and implemented a better design aesthetic and theme this time around.

In the UK Double Diamond Model of discover, define, develop and deliver, I alternated between discovering what After Effects can do and defining my project the second time around with Coral Sea. I am getting around to developing the final product.

My AE Coral Sea work as a whole is meant to be a simple but artistic representation of the beauty of the sea. Using ideas like wavelengths and gradients, I feel that my process for this project is solid.

Media Blog, VCD302

VCD302 Blog Post 1 – Analysis of ‘Night of Demons’ and ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’

Night of the Demons Intro-

The transitions here are detailed but simple. The transition from the zoom out of the red mouth to the red mouth popping into a white circle, then diffusing into moonlight with clouds is detailed. The transition at 2:55 shows how they integrate the animation and make it blend with the background as seen below.

It has slow pans and zooms with areas of no secondary motion, which can be unsettling when the demons zoom in and out of frame. The demons are all different speeds to create the illusion of a group. They do not have individual limb movement and instead wobble to exaggerate it. The demons themselves look like cut outs and objects like the houses and crosses are simplified representations of the actual thing, the art style and effects reminiscent of a fairy tale story.

Demons on screen

The colours scheme is very muted, with only grayscale and red for text being prominent colours in the intro to create an eerie feeling. The slow motion of the camera in scenes make it feel scarier. Due to being an older movie, there are less effects available for them to use.

The extent of the colour scheme is shown here

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Intro-

A storybook intro

This intro utilised a lot of camera pans and zooms as transitions from one scene to another. The entire sequence was like flipping through a storybook of 2D animated slides. All of the aesthetics, from the 2D drawings to the pans, are meant to read like a pop-up book. The motion of the background and the character/foreground is often different to incorporate a ‘follow through’ and create a secondary motion with the background. Both the character and the background have an slow in effect at different times for added emphasis.  The arcs in the transitions are not jagged or to the point, there is a soft curve to prepare viewers for the next image. The crow at 0.52 is a great example of primary motion, since it flies out from one frame and introduces another, while the background swipes in behind it. That scene is also a good example of focus, as it creates depth to the image by blurring out the foreground, allowing people to focus on the background characters. There is always a little background motion in every scene, like eyes blinking or leaves stirring, that help with the soft transitions, as nothing stops moving in frame until the screen goes black at the end.

The colour scheme is comprised of bright primary colours, one of which is usually the focus for a single scene. A scene may be majority red and the blue and yellow compliment it on the side by utilising the background objects. The bright colours also provide a very good contrast to the black ink drawn characters. They are heavily blocked out in black, with all of their shadows being black, as well as other important details like lipstick. This allows the colour to be bright and fill the screen while the characters are still clearly visible.

Sabrina builds upon the foundation that is ‘Night of the Demons’ by utilising current technology like AE to keep a constant sense of movement inside the frame. Although the bright colours are a deviance from ‘Demons’, the storybook concept carries over.