Last week we talked about getting everything finalized and ready to be animated. This week we can finally make the magic happen!
Approaching The Shots
The Technical Stuff
For this project I decided to use the Adobe Creative Suite software for animation and assembly. For those of you who don’t know anything about movie making software, this suite includes a number of media creation applications, but the ones I focused on primarily were Premiere, After Effects, and Photoshop. Premiere is a non-linear editing software designed to assemble media files into movies, and After Effects is a more specialised program for animation, motion graphics, and visual effects on a shot by shot basis. Photoshop is one of the most versatile photo editing softwares available, but it can also be used for drawing, painting and design.
One of the greatest features, in my opinion, of using the Adobe Creative Suite for a project like this, is the ability to dynamically link assets between all three programs. For example, I can take a Photoshop file and import that into in my Premiere timeline – where I can keep all the individual layers intact. In Premiere I can then do a very rough animation for timing, and dynamically send any layers I want into After Effects to be animated.
Once this link is set up, any animation I do in After Effects on that shot will automatically update on my Premiere timeline, making it so that I don’t have to spend hours rendering outputs for versions. Instead I can simply open up After Effects and see how my animation is fitting in with the surrounding shots.
The Creative Stuff
I am a huge fan of traditional animation, and for this video I wanted to make it look like I was using a real camera. To achieve this, I needed to creatively approach each shot in the same way that a multiplane camera would have shot an animated film back in the good old days of film. The multiplane camera is a motion picture camera used in the traditional animation process that moves a number of pieces of artwork past the camera at various speeds and at various distances from one another. Each layer (or plane) would be painted on glass with transparent spots, which would give the illusion of parallax without actually being 3D.
Image Source: HarshLight from San Jose, CA, USA – Multiplane Camera, [CC BY 2.0]
Disney pioneered this technology, and you should’ve seen me geek out when I saw the one that currently lives at the Walt Disney museum in San Francisco…
Similarly in After Effects, you can set up 2D imagery in a 3D space, and then design a camera with all the bells and whistles to move around the set.
When animating, my first order of business would be to create this 3D space and set up the camera. Once I’m happy with my composition, I can start animating objects in the space, as well as the camera if there’s a camera move in there.
Other 3D Elements
Once I’m happy with my animation and camera, I can start to embellish! I added lots of dust particles to help sell the 3D space idea, as well as a camera shake which was reactive to things happening on screen.
The biggest challenge for me was the Punishment Sphere, which was also a 3D object. However, After Effects is not really a 3D program and isn’t designed to do 3D animation. It can handle certain kinds of objects in a 3D space, but it’s pretty limited. Thankfully, Cinema 4D also connects quite nicely to After Effects, which allowed me to create this unique “true” 3D element.
As I animated each shot one by one, I would frequently flip back to Premiere to see how it was feeling when played with the song and all the other shots in the sequence. Sure enough, some stuff didn’t cut well and I had to either completely change shots or come up with new shots to insert and tie things together.
But after a while it started coming together, and once it was all done I had one helluva final product which I am very proud of!
I sincerely hope that you enjoyed learning about how I put this video together, and please leave a comment letting me know if you’d like to see more series like this. Next week I’ll give you a little tour of my home office, (AKA the Command Center), which is where I do all of my development, music, and post-production.