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My reel 2011

August 19, 2011

i regret having no time for color correction, but i had time for motion blur on the camera pans.

This is where my newly minted vimeo account is worth every penny. All of these assets are comps i have created to practice, for fun, for spec and for my job at NYU. The last montage are all works from this summer session. this is a quick roto masterpiece. I used mocha for all but one of them. I GET MOCHA NOW! so much better than hand roto using masks. AND, i think i have found my new OCD hobby. The best technique is breaking the rotos into discreet parts so dont have to make a ton of keyframes OR make masks with lots of points. the human body is a tricky beast!

i am on a tears for fears kick every since vic gudontra of google posted that song on google plus. it’s the non-descript playa anthem. Thank goodness i can stop using this parody persona. It ends on a high note. a tired high note.

Ok, it’s a tiny miracle that the music synced up with the onscreen action. Total coincidence. i notice there is a random black frame somewhere.


summer vacation my ass



August 19, 2011

For my final, I wanted to return to the best thing i feel i have done all summer and an explore an idea that didnt have explosions, guns, blood, fighting, or anything that leaned heavily on the effects in after effects. I was lucky to partner up with Natalie Peng, who worked with me on the street fighter piece. I told her  at first i wanted to make a seemingly serious looking piece that had an abrupt punchline. We worked all weekend to develop a storyboard, and eventually scrapped the idea of it being a joke. We realized we had a more interesting piece that explored what it was like for a robot, who lacked emotions, to be among humans in new york ctiy, a place very effective at alienation.

There were a few goals we had besides trying to create the story. Natalie recently purchased a 5d Mark2, and we wanted to put it through the paces . That meant, green screen capture, motion capture, light conditions, outdoor wet conditions. I own a rebel 2ti. Sir (looking at you, rebel), i now know the 5d and you are no canon 5d. It took ridiculous shots in the evening. I know its not 4:4:4, but damn, it looks close!

A second goal was to try to make the assets we used feel as organic possible. Having enjoyed our green screen assignment so much, we wanted to experiment with using actual keyed footage for layers like shadows in front of the screen and falling leaves. Unfortunately, the former did work, but we didnt have time to incorporate it, and the latter needed more tweaking. We included it in the piece, and Gabe remarked how it felt out of place. He made a comment that struck me and I want talk more about later.  He wondered, why go through all that trouble when we could have used a particle system instead.

On that organic note, i really enjoyed the tracking assignment we did in class. From Iphone4 movie footage, all compressed and with strange dimensions, i was able to track a button my shirt and produce this:

the pumpkin is parented to the tracking data and to create more realism, i manually tweaked the rotation and position to make the head seem more independent from the body. I loved the result (even though adding too many keyframes can give it a less natural look), and i really wanted to incorporate more of our natural movement into our final, instead of using the wiggle expression. I have read that to get better camera shake  , people have tracked actual hand held footage and applied it to the AE camera. An initial test got me excited:

So we taped my joints up and tried to get  rudimentary motion data. It was hard to keep those suckers on. Good thing we used the green screen as backdrop. it made it easier to track things later on. Here is a tip when doing this sort of thing. Really think of your movements and how a robot would look like. Otherwise you may create a  monster. I got tracking data. but none that were thematically appropriate for the quick cuts we decided on doing for the piece. I can still use the data, and we  did apply some of it to the body of the robot, but it was not easy to perceive it. Just that little amount gave PengU life.

The other goal we had was to create a 3d figure in after effects using the 2.5 D geometry of the program with AI vector layers. Gabe’s demo in class with lighting of fake 3d objects in AE  made me want to experiment with shadows and textures. Since the plates we were going to use were live action from the 5D, I wanted to easily place the character in perspective using the camera. That was successful. We were easily able to turn Peng around and keyframe him through the 2d plate. at times, especially in the last shot, it was very successful.  It made keyframing VERY easy. it was as if PengU was on a stage and i was directing her where to go. It was probably possible to get this sort of functionality from another 3d program, like gabe pointed out, but there really is no fun in that solution. We would have to learn an entire new way of creating characters in a program and would not be able to leverage all the knowledge we have accumulated the past 6 weeks with AE. In 6 weeks, we were able to push AE into a space it was not intended to go. For a first draft we worked on for a 5 days, that is pretty damn impressive. Because of that,  i think the piece was a huge success. It needs a great deal of editing and  effect work to push the feel and look, but all the assets are there. AND we rendered it very low quality. We didnt use the vector settings for the illustrator assets because of time. Adding lights , more textures, reflections and shadows would do a lot to making this character feel in the space. As matt’s final showed, a cartoon reflection can go a LONG way.

But even if we were not set up so well to improve the work, it still was a success in my mind. Experimentation is it’s own reward. I understand how gabe feels about creating a polished piece, but we are not experts and i am not an artist. I found it very beneficial, in class, to experiment with things i have been thinking over 2 years with AE. I didnt want to make another cartoon or viral video. I wanted to push the envelope so one day i could be confident i could do a project as amazing as the super talented folks over at tiny inventions laboriously craft.

I hope i can continue working with natalie on this and other projects.

Daniel Plainview, Teapot dome playa

August 19, 2011

I had not seen that until today. Ridiculous. There are very few figures, fictional or real, that can achieve the salty, bitter playa that is Daniel Plainview. Like Michael Corleone did in the two Godfathers, the Plainview character creates an important moment in the history of our country and capitalism. If you don’t know about PT Anderson’s masterpiece with Daniel Day Lewis starring in an amazing oscar winning effort, now you know.


Our assignment  for class was to make a title sequence for a movie that lacked a memorable one. I got a drama.  Although TWBB has a stark opening that is appropriate to the tone and setting of the first and subsequent scenes, I thought I might try to tackle  a difficult and complicated movie. It was a very difficult time. Although i storyboarded, time constraints found me making many decisions to cut good ideas to that might have taken the comp to a more concise and better timed story. The class gave a suggestion about how the styles mixed too much and it became muddled because of it. I feel the worst thing i did was not try to simplify the action. SIMPLIFY. So easy to type. Much harder to do. I still like the ending, but i understand why it feels so jarring from the rest of the piece. Couldnt get that bloody saturation i was looking for anyway.

I am going to go back and recut this piece into having more jumpcuts. I fleshed out the storyboard better and i hope i can make it into something that is deserving of TWBB. I also should change the perception of how he falls. I am afraid though that i am approaching mad men territory which i didnt notice until gabe pointed it out in class. i should make sure to avoid that.

One thing i really loved  making in this assignment, and i want to do again is playing with trackmattes to create hills and rock. The effect in the cave was definitely a technique i am going to do again and again. I took textures, and made them into both curved and angular rock face. I feathered the edge and then made the layer 3d.  Then i put the light on it, and put a wiggle expression on the intensity. It took a flat layer and made it into nuanced and interesting rock.

The track is Snow Song by the brooklyn based band Nymph.

my playa kingdom

August 19, 2011

to find a way to eliminate the hit you take when you add motion blur.

can you get any more playa than street fighter?

August 18, 2011

The thing i enjoy the most about this piece we made after playing with one large green screen in class is that this went from crazy idea to reality in 2.5 days. It was a lot of effort from everyone to make it seem authentic, funny and awesome. Our rudimentary workflow was impressive, where we made a matte/sloppy copy of the action to make an audio master, and split up the effects and major keyframing workflow. The audio contributes greatly to the entire piece; great timing there. Masks all over the place and plenty of internal Adobe After effects plugins made it possible. My favorite and newest technique to keep all the disparate green scree animations together was using a master clip to parent all the action to, and slowly easing on opacity. The result isnt perfect, and as fluid as the true street fighter, but it works. the rendering of the crowd in the background, with duplicates of us keyed proved to be the longest render. Mental note, export the keyed layers first, THEN layer them. putting all those calculations per frame really hurt my old macbook pro. check it out:

Our professor gave great input, like improving the masks around the hands when the fireballs generate.  The actual story is a bit derivative, and we have discussed revisiting it, and really turning up the camp and hilarity factor. For time constraints, the entire piece was made without motion blur. I am curious if that would ruin the little 8bit feel it has. I just dont remember those old games having motion blur, however, those pixels were so low res it did look like a form of blur. That would definitely make that effect looks better.Ahh so many pixels, so little.

Cambridge Interstitial take 2

July 25, 2011

There are many ways to become the ultimate playa. But make no mistake,  the fore-father of playadom  was right when he crooned that if you can make it (NYC) there, you can make it anywhere. Cambridge is stepping up his game and bringing the elemental playa, ripping the fabric of time and space to that mecca of playa, New York City. He has a message well known to playas far and wide: he wants it all, and he wants it now.

Cambridge wants it all

July 21, 2011
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The art of making a true animated playa takes its first step. Lots of sync issues with the music, but with some key frame adjustments, i think i can bring out  this character’s inner playa. So far, he is indeed rocking. Please put any critique in the comments! i want to improve my character animation. I really hate how the head has that tick in it when it slides in. I want to fix that. Any tips would be great.