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