Friday, September 15, 2017

Getting Oriented to the 3D World of Maya

Hello Students,
Today we begin a new project in using a 3D program to create computer generated imagery. We will be using Autodesk's Maya, a cutting edge program widely used in the entertainment industry. We will begin with the basics and move on to more complex projects such as creating 3D models, and adding lights, textures and cameras and animating them and move on to more complex tasks such as merging video and 3D together with motion tracking.

Maya Basics:
Find and launch Maya on your computer, then open each of the links below if safari. Read through each page of the 3 lessons below and try out the steps for your self in Maya. These lessons will teach you how to use the Maya interface, how to create and manipulate objects and how to control your objects and your view of your objects. Create something with the skills you develop here and save the file as "" and copy it to the external drive to turn it in.

Link: Getting Started with Maya

Link: Creating and Manipulating Objects

Link: Viewing and Controlling your 3D Scene

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hello Students,
To develop our motion graphics and visual effects skills we will work in teams to shoot a short video and use After Effects to apply a lightsaber effect. There a several ways to achieve this effect and I will demonstrate them both to the class. There are tutorials listed below to illustrate effective technique. This project will utilize masks, keyframing and effects to achieve the final result. The techniques and methods in this project can be utilized to achieve a wide range of special effects.

Lightsaber Duel VFX Project:

  • Work in teams of 2-3
  • Shoot a short lightsaber battle sequence that consists of at least 3 different shots, don't make too many shots where the lightsabers appear or you will create too much work for yourself
  • Create a short storyboard that shows each shot and include dialog, camera angle and camera action (camera pans left, camera tracks right, etc)
  • After shooting, copy the video footage onto each team member's computer, each team member must produce their own final video with their own VFX, SFX and final edit.
  • There are 2 methods for creating the saber effect, using the Beam effect or using solids with animated masks and glow effects added, this is the preferred method and will achieve the best results
  • Add sparks, lightning or lens flares to enhance the effect from our stock footage library
  • Add SFX to complement the illusion
  • When complete, export your final movie and copy to external HD for credit
Resource Links:
Tutorial: Using masks and glow to create lightsaber VFX

Grading Rubric:
2 Points for storyboarding and smooth camera work
2 Points for effective use of VFX methods
2 Points for clean editing, no glitches, added sound effects
2 Points for turning in on time
2 Points for good team work and participation by all team members

Due on tuesday, have fun!
 - Mr.W

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Parallax Effect (Aka: Ken Burns Effect) Project

Hello Students,
AE has some amazing capabilities such as the ability to animate in a 3D space using 2D objects. This method is referred to as 2.5D. This method was made popular by the famous documentarian Ken Burns. The same technique is also referred to as a Parralax effect, which is a technique that shows objects that move against each other from the foreground to the background to create an illusion of depth. This is used in cinema, cartoons, video games and can even be created using HTML5 to add an creative and eye catching feature to websites.

Parallax Project (Aka: Ken Burns Project)
  • Find or take a photograph that you can animate using the 2.5D/Parallax method, this photo should be high resolution, include good amounts of detail and have a good balance of foreground and background, as a rule your photo should have at least twice the resolution of your composition
  • Open your photo in photoshop and create layers for your animation, use selection tools to isolate your foreground subject from the background. If you take your own photo make sure to take a version with no subject so you have a clean background to use and you can skip the next step
  • On the background layer in photoshop use the "fill with content aware" and touch up area with the clone tool where you need to cover up
  • Save your photo as a Photoshop document with your layers ready and import it into After Effects
  • Make sure to click "import as composition" to preserve your layers for use in AE
  • Create a new composition in AE for your project
  • Open your PSD composition and Copy/Paste the layers into your main composition
  • Enable the 3D button for all layers
  • Create a 3D camera for your scene
  • Use the camera manipulator tool to zoom into your Photograph layers and frame your "shot"
  • Using the move tool, select your subject layer and drag it on the Z axis towards the camera a little bit
  • Move the background away and scale up if needed
  • Use the camera manipulator tool to explore the range of motion that looks good, create a set of keyframes for the camera position, then move the playback head to the end of your composition and move your camera inwards and to the right or left in a subtle movement
  • Preview your animation to get the camera/layer position just right
  • Use Ease-In on your last set of keyframes to slow down the motion
  • Add a vignette, tint, depth-of-field effect or other enhancements for full credit
  • Having trouble? Try googling "parallax effect in AE" and look for a tutorial video, there are some very good and easy to follow tutorials online
Due on tuesday, have fun! - Mr.W

Thursday, August 31, 2017

AE Skills Continued: 20 Effects & Filters Exercise

Hello Students,
Motion Graphics is a technique that is used to bring graphics, animation and 3D content to life. It is used in commercials, production, movies, animation and more. From the most complicated animated feature film to a simple logo animation, motion graphics makes it happen.

Tutorials - After Effects for Beginners:
Read and work through these tutorials to gain an in-depth understanding of the After Effects workflow. Don't skip any steps or skim over the material, read each and every paragraph and try out the steps yourself. Be thorough, you will be calling on these skills for the next assignment. Work through all, from intermediate to advanced.
Motion Graphics can blur the line between video, art and animation

20 Different AE Effects Assignment Details:
  • Find a short clip from one of your previous projects, output a 3-5 second clip of video from Final Cut. Use the Export > Quicktime function for best results.
  • Launch Adobe After Effects
  • Go to File > Import > Files and navigate to your clip
  • Drag your clip into the timeline and set up a composition
  • Explore the Effects menu, pick one while your clip is selected in the timeline to apply that effect
  • You can use Command-D to duplicate a clip, you can also Option-ClickDrag to make a copy.
  • Use the Text Tool to create a text object and type in the name of the Effect, shorten the Text Objects Layer in the Timeline so it only appears for that specific clip. Repeat for each clip.
  • Apply 20 different Effects to 20 different clips... explore the effects palette to modify the Effect's parameters. 
  • When done, set up your in/out markers and use Command-Control-M to "Make" a movie. You will see the Render Que... hit the Render button to save your movie.
  • Transfer your movie to my laptop via thumbdrive to turn it in
  • Files are due before end of class monday
Grading for a total of 10 points:
2.5 Points - All 20 clips created with effects
2.5 Points - Effects have labels
2.5 Points - Quicktime movie turned in and is proper video format
2.5 Points - File turned in on time

AE Effects Samples:

Have Fun!

 - Mr.W

Monday, August 28, 2017

Modern Motion Graphics: Introduction to Animation with Key Frames in AE

Hello Students,
To re-inforce our newly developing skills in After Effects (AE) we will revisit the effects and animation tutorial to create a short series of sample animations that demonstrate different capabilities in AE.

Tutorial Link: AE for beginners - effects and animation

Animation Basics Project:
In this project you are required to read the tutorial link above and create examples of different methods and techniques of animating with AE. Your animation should use simple solid shapes or images, the key is to simply demonstrate each technique listed below. Keep your sample animations short and to the point. Total running time for project should be kept under 2 minutes.

  • Open up the link above in a web page
  • Launch AE and create a new HD composition
  • Create an animation sample using simple solid shapes or images for each of the following listed below
  • Work with your classmates to share information and discoveries
  • When complete export your sample animation movie and turn in to the external HD
  • If you are unsure refer to the tutorial page, it lists all the methods to create these samples

Create a sample key framed animation that demonstrates the ability to transform:

  • Position
  • Opacity
  • Scale
  • Rotation

Create a sample animation that demonstrates the ability to alter the velocity of a keyframe:

  • Easing into a keyframe, to slow down
  • Easing out of a keyframe, to begin slowly and speed up

Create a sample animation that demonstrates:

  • Parenting of 2 objects
  • 2-3 objects that overlap each other and show blending modes applied to change how objects blend together
  • A masked object
  • A masked object with a feather applied to the mask
  • A masked object where the mask is animated

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Traditional Animation Origins: Thaumatropes and Phenakistoscopes

Hello Students,

Your next module is a physical exercise in creating examples of the earliest forms of animation. This module will create an understanding the illusion that makes animation possible, this is called "Persistence of Vision".

Animation History Project 1: Creating a Thaumatrope
  • Make a thaumatrope using the materials available
  • Think of an interesting 2-frame animation idea and create a handmade thaumatrope device, it can be created digitally and printed out or by drawn by hand
  • You will turn in a physical example of your thaumatrope.
  • Due at end of class today!

Animation History Project 2: Creating a Phenakistoscope
  • Create a phenakistoscope using the materials available
  • Follow the lesson details outlined in the CTEOnline curriculum for creating a "Spindle Viewer". This lesson contains a template which may be printed and used
  • Think of an interesting 16 frame animation, it should be able to loop seamlessly if you are successful
  • Your animation can be drawn by hand, created digitally or with photographs, your imagination and skill level is the only limit
  • You will turn in a physical example if your phenakistoscope along with an animated GIF file of your phenakistoscope. We will learn how to make animated GIF's with Photoshop before you turn it in.

Phenakistoscope Instructions
  1. Obtain or print up a copy of the phenakistoscope template
  2. Sketch your animation very lightly in pencil, make sure to keep your artwork consistent and evenly spaced for best results. Make sure the scale of your characters or artwork is consistent.
  3. Spin your template for a quick preview of what your animation will look like, adjust lines or artwork if needed
  4. Once the artwork is complete, ink the sketched artwork with a dark pen. Felt tip pens are best but any will work. Make sure the lines are bold and easy to see for best results.
  5. Scan your template with the scanner and transfer to your computer
  6. Open your scanned image with adobe photoshop
  7. Create a new layer and set the blending mode to darken. On this layer paint color over your artwork with a brush/pencil tool. The blending mode "darken" will allow your line art to show through the color you added
  8. When the color layer is complete flatten your image to make the color and artwork into a single layer. Save a copy of this to preserve your original layered file.
  9. Open your flattened image and open the animation palette in photoshop, set the palette to work in frame mode.
  10. Create 16 layers of your template, rotating each layer so that it is aligned and ready for animation
  11. In the animation palette sub menu, select "make frames from layers" and your layers will be cast across the timeline in the animation palette
  12. Adjust your duration and delete any frames that don't belong.
  13. Hit the play button to see your animation, adjust speed/duration if necassary
  14. Export a GIF files to make an animated web safe file
  15. Make sure the GIF looks good and is set to loop "forever"
  16. Make sure you add your first and last name to the file and turn it into my external hard drive or copy to my laptop.
Due by end of class Monday

    Have fun! - Mr.W

    Monday, January 23, 2017

    Thank You Video Production Class of 2017

    Thank You Video Production Class of 2017
    Thank you to all my great students from this years Video Production and Animation class. There were some very impressive portfolios and projects and I thank you all for your hard work and dedication.

    This blog will go live again for the fall semester 2017-18.

    - Mr.W