Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Jack Rollins - The Seance - Animated promo video

Review video.

Final Video (Brightened)

Final Video (Dark Version)

I had to change features from the initial plan, due to time constraints, problems on my computer system, and knowledge of the programs used.
 A main feature changed is the "Ancient Greece" segment. What was going to be completely animated, was turned into semi-still frames. The camera moving through the scene, the water simulation to keep the viewer drawn to the screen. These changes were massive time savers, resulting in the animation of characters were reduced greatly. Factors like this would result in the project price being reduced. The publisher was kept in the loop through these changes to ensure they would be happy with the result.
The mirror frame and fireplace (which was not used in the end) were not made using the Sculpt Geometry tool, as the level of detail could not be given on the objects using this method. To gain a high quality version, the polygon count would have to be ridiculously high, which would impact on performance and render times.

Render Times were a large factor, some scenes taking several hours, the largest Render Time was 23 hours.

Martin Bell, of Yes, Commissioner  animation studio gave me tips on setting up skeletons for characters in Maya.

One of the characters required rigging from scratch, which was a new experience in Maya.

The completed skeleton.

Naming structure

Skeleton and model. Note the texturing issues, also.

When rendered, these issues were not visible, meaning they were completely Viewport settings.

Below are tests for the ocean scene. Using inbuilt Indirect Lighting settings, I was able to simulate time of day via changing the X axis properties,

Another simulated piece was the table cloth. I simulated this to get the best quality folds of material.
This was exported as an .obj and imported back into the program, meaning the system no longer simulated the cloth, keeping the detail.

Light tests of the first scene. I would alter the lights greatly to give a more pleasing look. The mirror would have a green tinted light shining on it to give an eerie feel.

The flame of the candle is a direct simulation of fire. This is a completely different kind of flame to what you would find with a lit candle. This was to create an eerie, supernatural effect. 
The obsidian block gives off a green glow which is clearly visible on the table in the Fisherman's home. Green was used as the haunting colour as it was the main colour used on the book cover. When the mirror is revealed, the green light is still shining on the mirror, giving it a slight tint.

The mirror reveal is done off screen, due to the simulation not giving a satisfactory result. Going further, I will look at how to attach faces/vertices to models, so they directly impact the movement of the simulated cloth.

The cat was originally made in 3Ds Max and could not be opened in Maya. By saving the original file as an .fbx format, Maya was able to read the file, including the bone structure, meaning one less character required rigging.

Test of candle light flicker.

Test of grain effects. These would be toned down, slightly, as they were quite jarring.


Friday, 14 November 2014

Phoneme Shapes

Lip syncing - There are 10 basic shapes of the mouth when it comes to lip sync.
 *Courtesy of Rubber Onion Animation

A and I: For the A and I vowel sounds, the lips are generally pulled a bit wider, teeth open, tongue visible and flat against the floor of the mouth.
E: The E phoneme is similar to the A and I, but the lips are stretched a bit wider, the corners uplifted more, and the mouth and teeth closed a bit more.
U: For the U sound, the lips are pursed outwards, drawn into a pucker but still somewhat open; the teeth open, and the tongue somewhat lifted.
O: Again the mouth is drawn to a pucker, but the lips don't purse outwards, and the mouth is rounder, the tongue flat against the floor of the mouth.
C, D, G, K, N, R, S, Th, Y, and Z: Long list, wasn't it? This configuration pretty much covers all the major hard consonants: lips mostly closed, stretched wide, teeth closed or nearly closed.
F and V: Mouth at about standard width, but teeth pressed down into the lower lip. At times there can be variations closer to the D/Th configuration.
L: The mouth is open and stretched apart much like the A/I configuration, but
M, B, and P: These sounds are made with the lips pressed together; it's the duration that matters. "M" is a long hold, "mmm"; "B" is a shorter hold then part, almost a "buh" sound; P is a quick hold, puff of air.
W and Q: These two sounds purse the mouth the most, almost closing it over the teeth, with just the bottoms of the upper teeth visible, sometimes not even that. Think of a "rosebud mouth".
Rest Position: Think of this as the "slack" position, when the mouth is at rest--only with the thread of drool distinctly absent.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Interview on Rubber Onion Podcast!


Rubber Onion Animation Podcast Episode 54! Big Hero 6! It's just come out and Stephen and Rob went to see it! John Lasseter prepares to thank Daddy Warbucks with the announcement of Toy Story 4 (And Rob's idea is brutally brilliant) Futurama and Simpsons meet up in another crossover, The Minions are getting their own film where they go through time finding a despicable boss (probably steering clear of Hitler, though), Stephen's computer takes a Diamond to the mouth repeatedly... SPEAKING OF DIAMONDS IN THE MOUTH! I get a mini interview/hangout with Stephen, Pat and Rob where we talk wrestling, banging Jodi Benson who played Ariel in Little Mermaid, Macho Man Randy Savage, and the ‪#‎RubberOnionPodcastFanArt‬competition which I shared the gold and won the interview. Skreeonk.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Seance stuff

Generic Male - Cloth Modifier to make clothes, needs textured

http://www.creativecrash.com/maya/downloads/character-rigs/c/humanmale  <-- For Maya

Cat - Rigged


Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock. It is produced when felsic lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimum crystal growth.


Slap On Rig


Flickering for a candle, MEL code to add to light

Selective area Blendshapes for full body models

Another way to do this

Blendshapes for Maya

More Blendshapes

Excellent Example of Blend Shapes

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Short Story Presentation

Short Story Project, Week 7 Presentation


What is my project? It is an animated advert for Jack Rollins' new short story, The Seance, published by Dark Chapter Press.

My sequence is based around the history of the mysterious mirror which houses a demon and how it came to be in the possession of Lord Aubrey Levi-Black, an “authentic, genuine, beyond a shadow of a doubt, Black Magician.”
I noted down the key features of this section of story, as originally I was going to make the whole history, but time constraints were against me, so I cut down to just the Greek fisherman and book-ending it with Levi-Black telling the story.
The Greek Fisherman section has the most detail, but it is still open ended enough for me to take some artistic liberties as it gives you the base story which lets your imagination create more of the scene, and as it was the first instance of the dark object, I felt it was quite fitting to use this as the advert for the book.
Having successfully worked with Jack Rollins before, creating the cover for the book, and the Kickstarter launch image, we were happy to work together on this project. Through the designing of the piece, I worked with him to ensure I wasn't breaking canon or revealing spoilers. The work I showed, he was impressed and liked the artistic licensing I took with the Obsidian block, turning it from a slab to a smaller chunk, which grows as it feeds. Also referencing a key piece from later in the book, where someone is partially submerged in the obsidian block was said to be a nice touch.


The Programs I will use are Autodesk's Maya and Adobe's After Effects. Maya will be what I animate in, After Effects will be used for compositing some VFX onto it. I like the idea of when something is entering the Obsidian block, it gives out a demonic light, so a directional blur in After Effects would be a nice way to do that.


For pacing of the piece, as you don't get a full Beginning-Middle-End as it is only a couple minutes long, I looked at other examples of short story in media, like TV. My best example was Nickelodeon's Are You Afraid Of The Dark. The structure it uses is bookended by the Midnight Society, a group who gather to tell scary stories at night. They announce the story with a small blurb, then launch the tale. The opening of the tale is often a summary of the characters, "Joey just moved to town and had trouble making friends," or, "The town was rumoured to be cursed by witches, but Ross didn't believe in magic" and things like that. Instantly letting you know about the characters. The episodes have a running time of around 23 minutes, giving the tale a screen time of about 15, allowing the rest to be used by the Midnight Society for intro and outro.

Real world examples of advertising for novels:

R.L. Stine, Red Rain (Circle of Seven, 2012)
An animated/motion graphics advert, the camera moves through a 3D house, with blood effects and puppet tool on the images of the kids.

Lori Foster, Hard To Handle (Circle of Seven, 2007)
Using video from wrestling and 3D sequence (in the car) with some text.

Christine Feehan, Dangerous Tides (Circle of Seven, 2006)
Video sequences with voice over.
Circle of Seven have changed their style slightly over the years, from simplistic video sequences from their earlier videos, to a higher quality of work using 3D animation and motion graphics. This would be made easier with the easier access to 3D animation tools of a high quality (licenses for Max/Maya, or Blender which is free). Technology is pushing their work further.

COS have their prices on their website. They have three advert styles, Basic, Intermediate, Advanced.

Using these prices as a guideline, I have valued my work at: £311

That is Animation : £231 which includes storyboard, animatic, animation, simulation, VFX, Motion Graphics
Voice over/voice acting, audio editing: £80
That is without addition revisions. I would price those according to the changes required.

Correen Callahan, Knight Avenged (Rasit Creations, 2014)
A series of images that zoom in, with some text. Very basic looking.

Jennifer Lyon, The Plus One Chronicles (Rasit Creations, 2013)
Rasit Creations create their adverts the same way. Images with zooms and some text.

Dean Koontz, Deeply Odd (2013)
Video with voiceover

Dean Koontz, 77 Shadow Street (2011)
Motion Graphics heavy work.
Sadly, I was unable to see who made these Dean Koontz videos. They didn't have their name on their videos and the Dean Koontz site doesn't advertise them.

Jo Nesbø, The Snowman (2011)
This is the US trailer for one of my favorite authors, Jo Nesbø. This trailer is a lot of video and VFX work, stunningly shot with a voice over

Jo Nesbø, The Redbreast (2007(
A Motion Graphic/3D sequence with some Live Action and voice over.

Creating a storyboard, I followed a technique I have used for some time now, which I learned from an animator friend of mine, Stephen Brooks. It uses sticky notes, so rearranging the scene is easier, and any mistakes can quickly be removed and redone correctly. Although it lacks some elements, like timing of each shot (which can be added, if need be), I find that I work through this when it goes to Animatic. If for some reason, I don't go to animatic, I add time stamps (like in the previous year's Motion Capture storyboard where timing was critical for capture takes when it is set to music), but in this project where speech used, the timing of when certain words may be changed depending on the voice actor's performance, unlike with a predetermined musical performance. But this is just how I feel about it, and of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.

I make notes under frames with regards to staging, camera movements and character movements.


We discussed Oblique Strategies in a lecture, where I was given "Wear Earplugs". I am going to implement this in the project when the fisherman has his head in the block. The sound will dip and only a heartbeat will be heard, like when your ears are blocked and you can hear the thumping.


Seances were very popular in the Victorian era. The paranormal and the travelling circuses with curiosities always drew massive crowds, and with that money. The Seances would be proven as cons, use of string, invisible in the low light, black-clad men in cupboards writing on blackboards and ringing bells, wooden poles up the sleeves of the "medium" which would lock under the table, making it easier to lift the table up, with their hands on top of the surface.
The higher classes had the money to attend and arrange such performances, which I will need to convey in my piece, which leads to the next moodboard.

The upper-classes of the Victorian era wore lavish attire. The women wore elegant dresses, often with a large rear end. This was from the Bustles they would wear underneath, which was worn to keep the rear of the dress off the ground. Through the Victorian period, the fashions changed slightly, giving larger bustles in the mid-Victorian period. Colours were also very decadent as the dyes were hard to come by, therefore, expensive. The gentry would adorn themselves in suits and tophats, as a gentlemen should never be without his tophat! 

Living rooms - The main room in the house! A reoccurring theme I found was that the living room in upper class houses would have lavish, elaborate fireplaces. Although my scenes inside the house will not be light fully (a candle will be providing the light for theatricality and to reduce modelling time) some elements of the room will be visible in the flickering light of the flame.
Along with this, the elaborate designs in the fireplaces reflect the description of the mirror in the story, The Seance. The frame of which is adorned with a settlement within Hell, like Pandemonium or Dis, demons and other iconography of hell.

So what were Victorian mirrors like? Were they as detailed as Jack Rollins says? In short, yes! As with other Upper-Class things, the more "show-y" they are, the more it shows your wealth! And glass was an expensive thing back then. 

Ancient Greek houses, bare stone walls and floors with some wooden sections on the interiors. The stonework can be done with a texture and bump map quite easily.

Fishermen, they were simply dressed, a tunic, or chiton. The boats were simple wooden boats.


Arnold Renderer - Arnold gave my favourite render. The shadows are so smooth on this, giving the most realistic effect from my tests. I would add further lights in the final renders. I would use 3-point lighting.

Maya Hardware - The shadows are very deep, not what I would be looking for. And the lighting on the houses does not match very well with the other shadows.

Maya Software- A little better than the Hardware, but still not my ideal.

Mentalray - If I cannot use Arnold (due to concerns with if I could do the scenes from home), I would use Mental Ray. I would definitely require to soften the shadows slightly, as the hills seem a little too harsh, but the effect on the houses are better than on the Maya Software test.

Water Sim Test, Maya Software - I would need to fix some issues with the water if I used Arnold for this preset water sim, as it appears as just black. Although with extra lights, the shadows aren't as harsh as before. The light shine on the water looks very nice.


Concerns for the scene - Modelling time. The room shouldn't take too long, as the setting is pretty dark, so details aren't majorly important. Hinting at details could give a good effect, which I will test.

Detailing the Mirror frame. Again, hinting at details will be key. I could create a basic shape, then UV map the texture to it with a Bump map to give that little bit of extra depth. Or even Sculpt Geometry tool it, which uses a greyscale image to generate peaks and troughs. Black areas are the lowest, white is the highest, greys are determined by intensity. I've seen examples of scenery made like this.

Models - I will have to create the facial rigs for the characters myself (luckily, this ties in with my dissertation). Time is the main factor for this, as I will have to model the character's features. Main ones, Phoneme shapes (for speech) and eyes. I would need to do this for two characters, Levi-Black and the Fisherman. I can save time by not showing the faces of the Seance visitors. This will save a lot of time, which is key, and the visitors can be represented by the backs of their heads.

Test of Blendshapes within Maya. Easy to set up and gives you a basic slider interface right away!

Simulation - There is a scene where water will be required to be simulated. Maya 2015 has a Bifrost plugin which simulates water brilliantly. Sadly, it hasn't worked on my computer. It seems it may have been an issue with it's installation, which I will reinstall. There also seems to have been an issue with other simulation styles for water in my version. If this is not fixable, I'll either have to do the Maya simulations in University - if it works fine there, or use an earlier version of Maya on my home computer.

UPDATE: Reinstalling Maya 2015 with all the Service Packs has not fixed the issue with BiFrost. Autodesk contacted me with a response to my problem, saying it sounds like a problem with my Preferences settings, so to reset them and try again. This still didn't work, so at the moment, I will be unable to use it, at least at home. The Uni computers are still to be tried and from there, I will see if a file from the university can be used successfully on my own computer.

MEL Scripting? - To keyframe a flickering candle is just time consuming. Keying the intensity is easy enough, but just a time killer. If I can get some MEL script working on the lighting, I'll save some time.

Conclusion - All of the concerns have ways they can be done. Some just rely on time, others need other fixes, like working elsewhere or on a previous version of Maya. In 5 weeks, I am confident I'll have a finished product I will be happy with, as will the client.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Bradford Animation Festival

BAF is just around the corner and some of my lecturers have put together a competition for two winners to go to BAF with the full tickets. We need to make a 7 second Vine for them (animated, obviously).
I really want to go to BAF so will definitely be entering that! For my piece, I'm thinking an animated animal, like a cat!
I do love cats... Here's the Tipp himself!

So I reference drew this chap out in Flash:

Coloured version

In a field!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

MOTION GRAPHICS PROJECT - Research into Motion Graphics


I made no mystery of not knowing just what counts as Motion Graphics. I just think it's a stupid term, because animation is in a sense Motion Graphics. They are images (or graphics) that move (motion). In the same way VFX are Motion Graphics. You can be adding things to a scene that were not there originally, or emphasising them in ways that were not possible in the original shoot. More often than not, through a form of animation. Look at Corridor Digital's Dubstep Guns: When they fire and the visual representation of  the music is emitted, a series of lines are wrapped around and animated to pulse and grow using an key framed Start/End percentage. To me, that is Motion Graphics. To others, it's VFX.
This made my progression through the early stages of the project very slow and laborious, as I wasn't sure what actually constituted Motion Graphics, as it draws from multiple areas, but is a blurry line at the edge of just being one of the individual pieces.
I was told, "Add text, so it is definitely Motion Graphics," so I've done that. I'm also using a lot of Parallax motion, as that too is safely Motion Graphics. I will also incorporate Rotoscoped segments (1 of them, due to timing), because as I said above, animation is a form of Motion Graphics and vice versa.

  1. Motion graphics are graphics that use video footage and/or animation technology to create the illusion of motion or rotation, and are usually combined with audio for use in multimedia projects.
Or to put it another way...

Opening sequence to Right At Your Door (Lionsgate, 2006)

I like this opening sequence. At the start, the words just seem to be randomly aligning themselves in the frame, but the final reveal shows a street plan in LA, where the film is set.

007: Casino Royale opening (Columbia Pictures, 2006)

Hugely imaginative, opening with a Live Action sequence, the iconic down the barrel shot, then the fantastical animated sequence bringing in the intricate details found on playing cards and turning them into interactive elements in the piece. The suits being used as bullets and knives, the patterns found on the face cards becoming almost like snakes. And Chris Cornell doing the theme is always a winner.

Mad Men intro (AMC, 2007)

The bold, contrasting colours of the falling man and again at the end, with Don Draper sat on a sofa with a cigar. That imagery sticks with me, especially when placed on top of the 50s style advertising projected on the buildings as he falls. Very simple, but very powerful in my eyes.

Panic Room Opening sequence (Columbia Pictures, 2002)

Not all sequences need to be running and gunning. This simple intro to Panic Room is simple text on film. It does remind me a lot of the Element 3D Metropolitan trailer from Video Colpilot, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cC7fCpX9fZU

Almost: Round 3 - Almost Skateboarding Video (Whyte House Productions, 2004)

One of my favourite skate videos with some of my favourite skaters! The intro to Almost Round 3 blew my mind when I first saw it. I had been animating on Flash for a couple years by this point and set about recreating the intro in Flash (as it was actually made in Flash originally). My Flash skills improved a lot through this!

The Walking Dead intro (AMC, 2010)

Above link shows a the intros to Seasons 1 through 3 (2010-2013)
The Walking Dead uses a lot of Parallax in it's intros.

InFamous -PS3 (Sucker Punch, 2009)
InFamous intro video.
A 2D comic style added into 3D, added parallax. I've always loved this effect.
A behind the scenes look at how they made the comic style cutscenes.

Dubstep Guns (Corridor Digital, 2011)
I will fight you if you say the emission from the guns are not Motion Graphics. They are.

25 Amazing Motion Graphics Animations and Videos
I love the Cartoon Network one. That is similar to what I want to achieve.

Pacific Rim Making Of
It even calls them Motion Graphics, where some would say VFX. Showing that not only are Motion Graphics and animation reflecting forms of each other, but the same is for VFX.

Second Year Graphic Design Student - Sindre Dahl
A Scandinavian student who was tasked with creating an opening for a fictional TV show.

Lichtspiel Opus I (Walther Ruttmann, 1921)
Coloured shapes moving to music

An Optical Poem (Oskar Fischinger, 1938)
Coloured shapes moving to music

Rhythmus 21 (Hans Richter, 1921)
Coloured shapes moving to music

Mirror's Edge Intro (DICE, 2009
Mirror's Edge is a beautiful game. The clean rendered environments make me think of running through a Motion Graphics set of a city. The intro itself, with the text would be regarded as Motion Graphics. There are amazing cut scenes that, although very simply done, are brilliant at conveying 3D space in 2D.

Researching for my Short Story project brought up a lot of Motion Graphics pieces for book advertising.

R.L. Stine Novel advert (Circle of Seven, 2012)

Correen Callahan, Knight Avenged (Rasit Creations, 2014)
A series of images that zoom in, with some text. Very basic looking.

Jennifer Lyon, The Plus One Chronicles (Rasit Creations, 2013)
Rasit Creations create their adverts the same way. Images with zooms and some text.

Dean Koontz, Deeply Odd (2013)
Video with voiceover

Dean Koontz, 77 Shadow Street (2011)
Motion Graphics heavy work.
Sadly, I was unable to see who made these Dean Koontz videos. They didn't have their name on their videos and the Dean Koontz site doesn't advertise them.

Jo Nesbø, The Snowman (2011)
This is the US trailer for one of my favorite authors, Jo Nesbø. This trailer is a lot of video and VFX work, stunningly shot with a voice over

Jo Nesbø, The Redbreast (2007)
A Motion Graphic/3D sequence with some Live Action and voice over.

Lori Foster, Hard To Handle (Circle of Seven, 2007)
Using video from wrestling and 3D sequence (in the car) with some text.

Royalty Free music that can be used on any project:

Teknoaxe:- They create music that can be freely downloaded and used in projects, whether monetised or not.
They produce a range of music styles, but I feel a metal track would work best for my project.
**This track is Royalty Free and is free for anyone to use in YouTube videos or other projects, whether monetized or not.**
Each video on Youtube holds these disclaimers, plus a link to download the track.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdYpnhlSDA4 - Simple Metal
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhXTACf03wU - Psycho Nu Metal
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAIkfyE8tOA - Hyperbole

Smoking Rolo Sideshow:- My brother's friend's band. Originally thought of using a track from their second album, Rocket Silence, but I am leaning further towards the harder metal sound to link in with the mindless violence in my piece.

And of course, the greatest song in the world, Synthadel's Bergerac. My old band. We did a song called Bergerac which I also used in my L5 VFX work. Again, leaning towards a metal soundtrack, though.

Using a technique from an animator friend on mine, Stephen Brooks, I created the storyboard on stickynotes in a process he also calls Stickyboarding. I like this technique because if I don't like how it looks, I can simply remove it and replace it (which happened a few times). From there, I scanned them onto my PC, then arranged them in Photoshop to just show the stickynotes, which I could then use to create the animatic.


I have created my own assets to use in the project. Key features that will work alongside the main graphics are noise/grunge graphics - pieces that will be placed on backgrounds to give them more interest, rather than just plain slates of colour. It also allows depth to them, which will help with the parallax . Ink splats will be used on the characters to "grime" them up a bit, but also be used in the place of blood. The images I have created can easily have their colours changed. I have only used these colours while working on them in Photoshop, removing them from their original photos. I've also used in for smoke-like, or blood effects. By dropping ink into water, the ink spreads out. I tried a few different coloured inks because, as a model painter, I know that the pigmentation of different inks vary, not just from brand to brand, but colour to colour. I find Yellow Inks tend to have thinner pigments meaning less dilution is required. Black ink is a very thick ink and requires a lot of dilution, or you risk using what is essentially watered down paint. Blue pigments in inks vary a lot, so I made a note to try this one out. The ink I used was quite thin, giving interesting results in the long term, but not as much on the initial drops. Red ink worked fantastically. It was just the right pigment thickness, giving a great result. For the final asset creations with the inks, I will be using both black and red inks as I found they gave the best results. Here I will be showing snippets of the videos I took of the ink. Note, the black ink test, I coloured in post, as you wouldn't see it on the background after it was keyed out.

Red Ink test - Colour has been boosted
Black Ink test - Colour changed in post. The thick ink gives a great effect

Blue ink test - Colour boosted. A thin ink, not really ideal for my use on this project.

For testing the ink in water, I made use of my green screen, daylight bulb (a must for painting) and ink. My camera was placed on a tripod. I also used White foamcore boards to reflect light.
The conditions I made these tests in are by no means good enough for final creations, so I would strongly advise against it. With the lack of studio lighting in my house, if I was to create the final assets at home, really I'd look at creating them on an overcast day. The light diffusing on the clouds theoretically would give a good lighting.

Ink splats, simply ink on foamcore (a sheet of foam with thin card on front and back faces), then photographed using the GH4, giving me RAW images which I can later edit in Photoshop. By varying the height at which the ink was dropped would give me different results, as would loading different amounts of ink on the brush. I also experimented with different sized brushes with different bristle types. Smaller drops were obtained from the Windsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable brushes, Size 00 - some of the finest brushes made, as far as I'm concerned. Soft bristled brushes which held ink very well. Larger splats were from generic stiff bristled brushes, size 5. With these, I also tried with the unbristled end of the brushes to see if they gave different results. Those ones were small, rounder splats which weren't ideal for what I was looking for.

Taking the images into Photoshop, I coloured them just for ease of viewing on my end. The colours will be easy enough to change in After Effects when needed. The smaller, trail like splats could even be animated to progress through the image. Something I will keep in mind for the scene where the riot police are shooting the protesters.

Grunge it up!
Scrunching up a sheet of paper, then flattening it out makes for a decent grunge map. There are a few effects you can add to it to tie it together and use it a few times without it looking the same. Altering levels to either harden or soften the creases works well, or even adding a blur to it. I prefer to use Gaussian Blur for it.

How it looks on an image.

Generate noise on a square and you have a simple noise/grunge map

How it looks on an image.

Smoke is another asset I may want to think about creating. I can do this in Maya fairly easily. Last semester I had done it on a couple occasions successfully.

I made this last year as part of Animation & Simulation. Creating something similar, I could do. Removing the fire effect would be a matter of reducing the area the fuel burns. Alternatively, the ink in water can give a very nice smoke effect, too.

Particles could be a possible addition for sections and muzzle flashes, too. Muzzle flashes could be created in After Effects. During the Summer, I had worked on a couple tests for muzzle flashes thanks to Video CoPilot.

For this test shot, it uses a directional blur coming from the muzzle. Altering the shape to be like that of a "conventional" weapon, directional blurring could give very nice muzzle flashes for my Motion Graphics piece. A few different shapes shooting together would look pretty nice, I'd think!

A technique of taking footage and drawing over it. a-ha's video for Take On Me is one of the best known uses of Rotoscope.


I will be using Element 3D for two reasons in this piece. The 3D text and the 3D room. Element is a Video Copilot plugin that makes using 3D models in After Effects easy! Not only does it allow you to place OBJ files into the scene, you can texture it up using UVW maps and add HDRI images for environment reflections. This will mainly come into play on the text. Making a reflective Diffuse Map and making a simple pattern in Photoshop can garner good results.

In a similar style to the InFamous cut scenes, I will be looking at comic art for the main part of the piece. 
I very much like the style of Charlie Adlard, a British comic artist best known for his work on 2000 AD's Judge Dredd and Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead.

Sadly, I know I wouldn't be able to replicate his style, but it is a big influence on mine.

An example of my drawing. Photoshop, Pen and Tablet.
I prefer drawing alone, then shading it rather than colouring, but this project will require colour. By muting the colours, though, I'll be able to make some stark contrasts to the backgrounds, keeping attention on the characters on screen.

The "Guy Ritchie" Effect
An effect I picked up from Film Riot. I love these guys' work. They started out just wanting to make films, but not having a budget, so figuring out what Hollywood did, but on a tiny, TINY budget. They are really close with their community, too, which shapes their video uploads, this technique, for example!
They refer to it as the Guy Ritchie effect, because it's an effect he uses a lot. I want to use it, as it would combine with the comic look very nicely!
I've done a test of the effect with my... *ahem* good friend Jean-Claude Van Damme. (Thanks to No Film School for this footage)

Simply a test I did for the effect, with no bearing on my final piece.

I will have part where the camera pans around to the front of two characters at the start. I want to have this tracked and revolve with the 3D scene they are in. I have shown this in the animatic, too. As it will be handheld, the footage will need stabilised.

Test of stabilising footage and tracking in After Effects


To be allowed to use the DMC-GH4 Lumix off site, I was required to fill out a Risk Assessment form. I've blacked out personal details.

My assets would be best filmed on the GH4 cameras, as they are 4K (Cinema 4K: 4096x2160 /24fps and QFHD - Quad Full HD - 4K: 3840x2160 up to 30fps). 
The live footage section will be shot with the GH4, as the camera suppresses rolling shutter effect when using electronic shutter.
Still images would also be best shot on the GH4, as the 16.05-Megapixel Digital Live MOS Sensor gives high quality, high sensitivity image recording with a very quick response.

Although as backup, I would have my Nikon D5200.

It's not as high quality as the GH4, but when all else fails, it would have to do. It has 23.5 x 15.6mm CMOS sensor and can shoot RAW images, just not RAW video.

Things to bear in mind:

Noise, Rolling Shutter
The noise is able to throw off the tracking of shots. Noise is especially prevalent in dark shots, which should not be an issue for my shots. If you raise the ISO to give yourself a brighter shot, you are going to open yourself up to more noise, so you have to be very careful and shoot on a lower ISO. Noise is always going to be there, but you can remove that in post. At the end of the sequence, however, I will add noise. This will keep the piece looking "right" as we are used to seeing the noise in film.

Low ISO, giving a very dark scene for the lighting available. (

High ISO, the image is brightened by the High ISO 

Just right!
ISO is the last port of call for brightening images. It's best to alter the F number, which determines how much light is able to get to the sensor. If that fails to give the desired result, THEN you deal with the ISO.
(From Wikipedia)

Rolling Shutter:
Unless the camera has Global Shutter, you will be dealing with this. The sensor scans from top to bottom, meaning that if the camera is moving side to side, your image is going to be skewed, like this: \
Global Shutter is, if you imagine a stamped image. Everything is scanned at once.

Depth of Field in the video sequence will be important only on the characters, as the rest is blue screen. But in the CG elements, there will be DOF, as the parallax is making 2D images into 3D (or 2.5D to be precise).

Focus is on the background, bringing the front of the scene out of focus, blurring it.
Focus on the front of scene, the cat is fully focussed, where as the background has begun to blur out.

Ironically, for an animator, I don't like the image based planning or full chart style Gantt Charts. I prefer mine to be written out as below. It's not pretty, but it works for me, just like sticky boarding does.

Not being sure what Motion Graphics were really hindered my progress...