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Post Production Techniques – Motion Graphics Scene Structure

Motion Graphics

Friday 15th April 2011

Motion Graphics – After Effects Scene Structure

Motion Graphics Scene Layout

Motion Graphics Scene Layout

I’ve mentioned earlier how originally I’d planned to design the entire Film Title sequence using Motion Graphics and within After Effects as a continuous camera movement through each of the separate scenes. I abandoned this approach because it made the process unnecessarily difficult with the settings in particular for the Z axis becoming impossibly large.

From the drawing above you can see the problems with the first scenes background set to 3000px and the second scene to 6000px. Inserted between would be the position for the characters I was to animate. I kept with this approach for three scenes before I decided it would be better to break down the scenes using the workspace and exporting each scene  as a movie clip into Premiere for final editing.

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Post Production Techniques – Motion Graphics – Phantom Film Titles

Motion Graphics


Thursday 14th April 2011 – updated 19/04/2011

How did I make it

Using the information I had gathered from experimentation and previous projects I split the runtime of the title sequence down into manageable clip lengths or scenes. This was my first use of cameras in After Effects and Motion Graphics and so I decided that at the point when the camera passes through the background image this would end the scene, so the time that the camera takes to run between the backgrounds dictated the scene length and vice-versa.

I decided that each scene would be of similar length but with room for adjustment to allow for the Text Titles to appear sequentially, roughly this worked out to be  between 8 to 12 seconds.

Storyboards & After Effects/Premiere Screen Shots

Motion Graphics using After Effects

This was my first project using After Effects in particular using cameras, lighting and 3D Layers.

3D Layers adds the extra dimension Z which creates depth to the scene, so as well as motion from left to right and up and down there’s also in and out, this was how I was going to make the title sequence. The camera would start at the zero point and then go into the scene towards the background layer which I set at 3000px or more depending on how many text titles I was going to insert into each scene or how many characters. The maximum setting I used was 8000px for one scene.

As well as using cameras I also moved characters by keying in positions animating them across and towards the camera. I did try using the Auto-Orientation settings in Layers to automatically orientate the moving characters to always face the camera as it passed them but this did not give the effect I was looking for. I like the way that when the camera passes the characters you can see that they are cut-outs only 2D.

I used the Orbital camera tool to control the cameras movement through the scene and to make sure that the camera entered and exited each scene in the right location I also keyed in movement into the background to line up doors and windows to align with the cameras position.

The opening sequence where the gate to the city raises turned out to be more involved than I first thought – I ended up making this from 3 layers, the 1st one being the actual doorway , the 2nd the gate and the 3rd the courtyard inside the gate.

In one scene I felt the need to use a Lighting effect so that the character enters the scene in silhouette and moves into the light which then follows the characters movements through the scene.

In the final scene the chandeliers Anchor point was moved to a position in the centre of the Opera House ceiling setting the point from which the chandelier pivots from side to side.

I added Brightness and Contrast adjustment so that I could individually adjust these setting for each element of the title. Again I was considering making them all appear the same as the background but later changed my mind, making the characters brighter or darker based on how they appeared on screen.

Finally I went back to the design and removed the sky I had originally designed using Fractal Noise/Clouds and replaced this with an image of a nights sky full of stars and another layer showing a full moon. I then added a rose effect to the Moon using Fractal Noise and a Tritone colour effect to make the Moon appear to be blood red with storms raging across it’s surface. I felt this effect would add to the narrative adding something menacing to the visuals.

Soundtrack

I tried several classical music tracks with the title sequence and most worked but no seemed particularly menacing which I felt was vital to the overall feel of the sequence. Fortunately one of the copyright free CDs from the library offered up an excellent ghostly soundtrack which suited the sequence ideally.

I was tempted to added maniacal laughter to the Phantom appearance on scene but I removed it as it added little to the sequence and in fact I felt ruined it.

Image Gallery

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Post Production techniques – The Taking of Pelham 123 Film Title Sequence

Post Production Techniques – Film Title Design


Tuesday 12th April 2011

[youtube.com/watch?v=phTRE1ayJxs]

Re-working the design – Post Production Techniques

This is the final version of this title sequence. In regard to my previous Blog entries I mentioned that having a meeting with Phil I would look at colour choices for my title sequence. I moved my design away form my original choice of primary colours and redesigned the sequence with a darker look using Tertiary colours ie in this case Yellow-Orange and Red-Orange in the main.

I also re-worked some of the graphics particularly the Train at the beginning which I drew in Photoshop using basic shapes (removing the shadows form the original design at Jason’s suggestion).  I’ve added in the sequence of the man firing the gun and re-worked the text changing and adding animation to interact with the trains moving across the screen.

This was my first real project using After Effects and after a very steep learning curve I gradually got to grips with the basics and started to become more comfortable with using this application.

However I initially made the mistake of trying to do the whole sequence in After Effects until I realise it was best to break down the title sequence into manageable clips which I could then edit in Premiere Pro.

Before I could finalise my design I decided to think more about the backgrounds, it would have been easy to select a contrasting solid background colour possibly Black but I decide to look more into the Background effects within After Effects and came across a couple of choices which I liked particularly as they contrasted well with the moving text helping to make the text stand out from the background and be more readable. In the end I settled on using ‘Orb’ which I then modified by using the 4-Colour Gradient settings.

Soundtrack changes – Post Production Techniques

In my original design I looked at using some of my own GarageBand tracks but although these would work I decided that I wanted to look at alternatives. Following on from an Audio tutorial with Phil I came across a CD or copyright free music on which I found an excellent track that I immediately felt would work well with my title sequence. It sounded very similar to Pixars ‘Incredibles’ title music and this worked well with the movement on the screen and so I decided to adopt this rather than continue with the GarageBand track.

Final Edit and Upload to YouTube

In the past I’ve always used the QuickTime option when encoding movie clips for uploading to YouTube but I’ve since learnt that H.264 (MP4) is one of the preferred formats for uploading onto YouTube – it also has the benefit of creating a smaller file size without a immediately noticeable loss in quality. This combination means that uploading to YouTube is much quicker and video processing times are cut.

Another thing I have noticed is that motion graphic videos seem to run smoother if you avoid Progressive and pick Upper or Lower options when encoding your video.

The default AAC format for audio seems to work as well as any other option when choosing to encode audio with you video setting set to H.264.

Conclusions

I enjoyed making this Film Title sequence especially as it gave me the opportunity to really get to grips with After Effects. I’m happy with the final result in fact it exceeds my initial expectations of what I could produce which again I attribute to my increasing ability to be able to work with After Effects and Post Production Techniques.

My initial choices of colour at the beginning of the Project were too bright and conflicting and looking at these choices again I can see that the new colours work so much better with each other. In future projects I plan to do more research into colour choices, make use of Colour Wheels and the sites that I have come across suggesting colour palette’s primarily for web design but also of use in video and in this case title designs.

I also found that the FONT choice was very important to the look of the design and I took time to get this right even down to varying the height of individual characters to create a more randomised effect and in some cases to mould the characters around the images.

Finally and as I’ve mentioned in previous Blogs I’ve decided to continue with another film title design in the time remaining allocated to this module so that I can utilise many of the Tutorials we have had in After Effects since beginning this project, I am currently working on a film title sequence for ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ film released in 1925.

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