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ART 325-Digital Multimedia

Course Details

Motion Graphics is essentially the theory and practice of graphic design as applied to time-based media. As such, the same rules that apply to graphic design - color sense, typography, size relationships, the grid, etc. - also apply to motion graphics. However, we must now also consider the added dimension of time.  In this class we shall be reviewing and relearning the former, while immersing ourselves in the nuance of the latter.

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Class Policies

In life I try to be very lax about rules. In fact, you'll learn in this class that design rules should definitely be broken whenever possible, if only to make things interesting. But this does not apply to the class itself, and I have a few rules that you must follow, listed in order of importance:

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Week 1

Welcome to Art/CGI 325:  If you're reading this right now, you're probably in my Art 325 Digital Multimedia Course. Lucky you! Click "Read More" to see what this class is all about and what we'll be covering today.

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Week 2

Today, because there is no better way to learn than to dive right in, we're actually going to begin using After Effects! But first

Week 3

Finishing the Ball Animation and Importing New Content:

  1. Today I would like to finish the simple ball animation that we worked on last week, adding the finishing touches to it. 
  2. Then I'd like to discuss the fanatastic world of Importing Files [tutorial PDF]
  3. You'll need these [exercise files] to continue.

Discussing the Midterm Projects

I know it seems early, but I want you all to begin thinking of ideas for your Midterm projects. Final projects can also become extensions or continuations of Midterm projects, allowing you to refine a single idea over time, feel free to think broadly about what it is you might want to do. I have sketched out a few suggestions for you over on the [Midterm Project page].     

Materials + Resources

“Wait, no software or textbooks?! You straight trippin!” Actually, I’m not tripping.  I make my own in-class tutorials and post them here on my website. I do this because a.) I'm awesome, b.) To save you some duckets, c.) To save trees, and,  most importantly, d.) a lot of information is on the web, and e.) because this shit changes all the time and you'd be wasting money on a book.

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Week 4

Importing: We're going to dicuss importing today. We'll also begin to look a little deeper at the layers and layer management in After Effects.

  1. If you haven't already, download the [Importing Tutorial PDF]
  2. and the [Importing exercise files].
  3. If we have time, I wanted to begin discussing [Layers in After Effects (PDF)].
  4. We'll be using these [Layer exercise files]. 

 

Week 5

Contiuing with Layers and and Intro to Masking

  1. Today we're going to finish up working with Layers. Here is the [Layers tutorial PDF] and [the Layers exercise files] if you don't have them already.
  2. Once we finish the above, we're going to begin working with Masking in After Effects. Here is the [Masking tutorial PDF] and [the Masking exercise files].

Week 6

  1. Today we'll finish working with Masks in After Effects. In case you didn't download it last night, here is the [Masking tutorial PDF] and [the Masking exercise files].
  2. At some point during our discussion above, there will be a fire drill (around 10am). Don't panic, leave your stuff in the the room (I'll lock it up), and calmly file out of the room, out the stairs, and out of the building.
  3. When we return from the fire drill, we'll finish the class by discussing the [ripping and preparation of content] fr0m various sources for use in your projects.

Homework: next week we will spend the first portion of class discussing your ideas. We have about a month until the [midterm], so you should have a fairly solid idea at this point.  

Week 7

I want to begin today by discussing your midterm project ideas. To start the ball rolling, we're going to take a quick field trip. Everyone please bring whatever brainstorming materials you might already have for your project so we can discuss those as well. Then we'll discuss Text in After Effects. If there is time, we'll do a little exercise with text as well. All the details appear below.

  1. Bring any brainstorming materials you have so far with you: we're going on a little field trip!
  2. Let's discuss everyone's ideas for their midterm. Remember: the midterm presentations are Thursday, November 1. That's just three weeks from today. 
  3. Now is the time to begin thinking more about [Text in After Effects]
  4. If there is time, let's create the following branding piece:

Below you will find the video tutorial for creating the above branding piece:

[Click here] to download the completed After Effects (CS6) file for this exercise.

 

Week 8

Branding with Text Animators

We didn't get that branding piece started last week, so let's continue on with it this week. Here is the demo of what we'll be doing:

And, just so you won't need to take notes, here is a video tutorial for creating the above branding piece:

 


The Style Frame and the StoryBoard 

In addition, I want to begin discussing brainstorming and preproduction techniques for your midterm and final projects. One item that helps you considerably when you're coming up with ideas is the style frame. Below is an example of a style frame I am creating for a PSA about closing Guantanamo Bay Detention Center in Cuba. As you can see, I'm really just experimenting with shapes and ideas:

obama-styleframe

Style Frame Tutorial:

Here is a video tutorial that goes over how I made it, and how it helped me make some of the important choices about my project:

 

 


 

The Storyboard

Fr0m the style frame above, it was much easier to make choices about the text and images would behave. This allowed to then make my storyboards. A storyboard is a essentially series of choice frames from your project, that occasionally have other marks and notes in them to communicate camera movement, sound effects, etc. to the production team. Below is a shot of my completed storyboard:

storyboard

Storyboard Tutorial

Here is a video tutorial that shows you how I went from my style frame to storyboard:

Finally: For your own reference, [here is the download URL] for my completed style frame, storyboard, the original sound files, and other associated files.


Homework

As you can probably guess, the benefits of style frames and storyboards in a production enviroment are immense.  Now that you know how to create your own, I want you to think about your project concept and create a style frame for it. It should include a color palette, any font choices you wish to make, and any images associated with the project, etc.  Then I want you to create a storyboard from the style frame you created. If you don't feel comfortable making your storyboard in Illustrator, that's fine: you can find [storyboard templates online]. Print them out and pens or pencils to create the boards.

Whichever method you use, you must have a style frame and storyboards for your project presentation.

 

Midterm Project

Art/CGI 325/480 Midterm Presentation – Thursday, November 1 @ 9:30am

Project Idea #1: The Lehman College Scoreboard

[ Please Note: this is really a project that should be done over the course of the semester, as it requires a lot of time and back-and-forth with the client. If you're interested in this one, I would strongly suggest doing it for your Midterm AND Final.

apex flierChris Gonzales, Sports Information Director and Intramural Sports Coordinator here at Lehman College, is in dire need of motion graphics pieces and promos for Lehman's brand new, 'sort of' high definition, scoreboard that overlooks the baseball and track field. Your goal is to create good looking graphics that Lehman Athletics will throw up on the board during games and other events. To the left is an example of their current promotional material.  

You do not need to be interested in sports to take on this project: in fact, you might find you're more successful if you aren't. Regardless, for this project you will need to coordinate directly with Chris. He will be your client throughout this process, so you will need to discuss with him what it is he needs/wants, provide him with sketches, drafts of your work, and final delivery of usable graphics. 

 Here is a summary of what you will need to do to meet the requirements of this project:

  1. Contact Mr. Gonzales at Lehman Athletics through phone or email (I'll provide you with his contact information, should you decide you want to do this project)
  2. Talk over with him what his needs are
  3. Disucss what he would like to see up on the board.
  4. Create sketches or PhotoShop compositions to get Chris's feedback.
  5. When you both come to an agreement on what the final product should be, create it After Effects.
  6. Run draft copies of the animations by Chris
  7. Final delivery of files, by the end of the semester, ready to be put up on the scoreboard.

You will be graded based on the following criteria:

  1. Communication with the client, the entirety of which I will be CC'ed on. 
  2. Client satisfaction.
  3. Sketches, thumbnails, bran storming materials, and/or story boards you created to develop the project
  4. Presentation of the project during the Midterm and/or Final presentations


Project Idea #2: Branding Piece for Your Reel

Many of you are CGI students, meaning that someday you will graduate and leave Lehman with a degree in Digital Media.  Go you! But guess what? Animation and design studio don't really care if you have a degree or not. They just want talented, hardworking people. Therefore, in addition to sending in your resume with your schooling and work hsitory on it, they will also want to see work you have done in the form of a portfolio (for static work) or a reel (for time-based work).  With this in mind, it is very important to brand yourself as an artist and designer.  To successfully complete this project, you will need to meet the following requirements at the time of the midterm presentation:

  1. Show us sketches and brainstorming material for your brand.
  2. Show us Photoshop/Illustrator comps (if applicable)
  3. A storyboard clearly showing how your animation will play out over time.
  4. A rendered piece

Project Idea #3: Text Animation

I love text animations! They combine the beauty of typography with the amazing narrative qualities of time-based media. Below are a few of my favs:

 

Requirements:

  1. A styleframe showing us the overall layout of your text.
  2. Storyboards of each salient moment in your piece.
  3. The rendered piece of video.  

Project Idea #4: Public Service Announcement (PSA)

A PSA is really just a short advertisement that, rather than selling a product, raises awareness of an idea, a social good, or some type of issue you think people should care about.  Possible subjects include:

  1. Battered Women
  2. Poverty and Homelessness
  3. Campaign Finance Reform
  4. Autism Awareness
  5. Breast Cancer Awareness
  6. Drug Legalization
  7. Renewable Energy
  8. Recycling and Proper Garbage Disposal
  9. Doing More With Less
  10. Diabetes Awareness

The above are just examples. Chances are, there is some kind of social-ecomonic or political issue that is near and dear to your heart. If you choose a topic that you actually care about, your project will be a lot better. For example, I care about the fact that our government tortures human beings, so I made a short PSA directed President Obama, using his own words, to draw attention to this fact:

Project Submission: 

Projects are submitted at the midterm presentation, in front of the entire class. Don't be absent, don't be late, don't be rendering the video on the day of the midterm – have it rendered with all the kinks taken out two full days before. Don't show us After Effects project files – give us full renders. Be polite when people are presenting. Offer plenty of feedback for your fellow classmates – you'll be graded on that as well.

Project Due Date: 

Thursday, November 1 @ 9:30am

Week 9

Audio Syncing in After Effects

Having an [audio file] and [a great idea] are just the beginning of a great project. To actually execute the idea, you'll need to start getting technical. Technique is what today's lesson is all about! We're going to bring our audio file into After Effects and laying down markers where ever we need to record a beat, word, phrase, sound, or any specific moment that we later want to sync motion to. Below you will also find a screen-cast of this lesson:  

Updating and Prepping the Style-Frame for AFX

In addition to this, I think I also need to make an updated style-frame, one that more closely matches the movement suggested by my storyboard. For reference, here is my original style-frame:

obama-styleframe

 


And here is my story-board, riffing off of the above style-frame:

 

storyboard

 


 

There are some movements in the story-board that aren't captured in my style-frame, which is fine: style-frames aren't designed to suggest motion. However, I want to use my style-frame, or something very similar to it, in my After Effects project. This composition will have the text and images all laid out the way I want them to be, as suggested by the story-board. Here is what I have:

updated style-frame

It looks a lot different, and not as nice, as the original style-frame. Therefore, rather than call it 'style-frame', we should probably call this the composition frame, or staging composition, because we can now bring it into our AFX project and animate it.  We'll pick this up again in [Week 12].


In-class Work Day

After we have completed the above lesson, I want to go around and look at all your projects to check your progress ahead of next week's (Nov. 1st) midterm presentations. Have questions ready for me. Here is a quick rundown of what you'll need for a successful midterm presentation:

  1. Your actual body in the room at or before 9:30am on November 1, 2012! An easy one, but totes crucial...
  2. A body that isn't in a vegetative state (Stay awake! Involve yourself in other peoples' projects!). Unclear about this? See Item 1.
  3. A cohesive– and brief! – statement of your project concept. Use this formula:
    • My project is a __ minute animation that (  involves/ is based on/ features/ combines/etc) _______ and _______.  |  (Or something to this effect)
    • Try to keep it to one or two sentences that roll off your tongue in under 10 or 11 seconds.  
  4. Scanned Sketches, diagrams, thumbnails, and/or notes that you used while brainstorming ideas for your project.
  5. Style-frame: this one is (sort of) optional, depending on your project. However, most of you definitely need one.
  6. Story Board: Definitely not optional, a storyboard let's us know that you have a cohesive narrative arc (story) in mind for your final product.
  7. Any Rendered composition you might have at this time. Some of you are farther along than others...and that's fine. If you have some execution of your idea that you have experimented with in After Effects – even if you don't like the results – we need to see it. It will help us help you
  8. few good questions for those watching your presentation.
  9. OPP: OMG, remember that jam?! No? Well, no matter: this OPP stands for Other People's Projects, which you must definitely be down with. Show your fellow students support by taking interest in their projects, offering solutions to problems they might have, and giving constructive criticism. You get graded on this as much as you get graded on anything else.   

Week 10

Hurricane Sandy

Week 11

Mid-Term Presentations

Today we're going to look at your midterm progress. I understand many of you have been without power, so just show us what you have in a neatly organized presentation.

Week 12

Style-Frame Animation

Let's do an exercise in style frame animation. [Download the tutorial PDF] and [the exercise files]. Here's an example of what we're going to create:


Continuing the Text Animation Project

The following tutorial covers the process of creating and refining a more 'animatable' styleframe. [Here are the exercise files]

 


Fixing Things...

Ok, so nothing is perfect right out of the box! We need to fix our quotes so that we can actually work with them. 

 

 


Beginning the Animation

Now that we have our quote shapes under control, let's start animating!

Did you catch all that?! It's cool if you didn't: you can [download the After Effects project with collected files] to look more closely at what I did (Note: these files are in CS6 format). 

Week 13

Lower 3rd and Bugs

Before we begin today's exercise, let's discuss what lower 3rds and broadcast bumps are. 

Lower 3rd: so called because it sits at the bottom 3rd of the screen. This is usually where titles for on-screen interviews or locations go, out of the way of the screen activity. Here is an example of a lower 3rd I created for [this video]:

 

Broadcast Bug: a bug is a type of lower 3rd that doesn't necessarily relate to what's on screen, but rather advertises something else on the network. Sure, it's an annoying result of what is commonly called ad creep (the increasing invasion in our daily lives by different forms of advertising), but that's why they call it a bug. Here's an example of one that I made:

 

Character Animation and Parenting

inline_article_Ruby.png

Today we're going to explore a concept we've become somewhat familiar with – parenting – by applying it to something we aren't so familiar with: character animation. To the right you'll find the character that appears in the above bug.  Her name is Ruby, ee are going to animate her, and you can find her in these [exercise files]. For a disucssion about her we're going to go about this, take a look at the [tutorial PDF].

 

 

Continuing the Text Animation

We probably won't have time to look at this, but I wanted to show you my continuing adventures in text animation:

Week 14

Finishing the Basic Text Animation

A Semi-finished Masterpeice!

So I have completed the principle animation for my Close Guantanamo text animation. I have added a light source and fixed some of the basic animation described below. There are also a few things I would still like to fix, but the general idea is there:

Below you will find the video tutorials explaining how I done did it! To save some time, much of the more redundent steps are fast-forwarded. 


Introducing the 3D camera

It turns out, as you'll see in this video below, that animating our text layers is not so easy with our [current project]. Text layers are overlapping and it's dificult to get a good handle on the composition's dimension, which our currently set to a wildly non-standard 4000 px wide by 6165 px high. We can't hold off creating a camera layer any longer. Watch the video below to understand how the camera works, and watch it in action. Some of this action is fast-forwarded so you can watch it more quickly.


Fixing the Text Layers

We just need to pause for a second to talk about the layers in our composition. As you can see, the layers that were created upon importing our updated styleframe are not actually text layers. There is no available method to convert them into text layers, so we just need to manaually replacte some of these layers with actual text layers in After Effects. The following tutorial describes in more detail what I'm talking about:

 


Fast Forwarding and Finishing the Animation

The animation in this segment took about two hours collectively. Rather than make you watch two hours of me animating, I have fast-forwarded it.

 

 


 

The Final Project Presentations: Dec. 20th, 2012 at 9:30am.

[Click here] for details about the Final 

Final Project

What is expected:

 The requirements for the Final are nearly identical to those of the Midterm (see below). In addition to these items, you also need to show that you have made suitable progress on your respective projects since the Midterm. If you are continuing on with the same project, we need to see that you payed attention to the feedbac you received. If it's an entirely new project, we'll want to see entirely new sketches, storyboard, and styleframe, in addition to the rendered video.  

  1. Your actual body in the room at or before 9:30am on November 1, 2012! An easy one, but totes crucial...
  2. body that isn't in a vegetative state (Stay awake! Involve yourself in other peoples' projects!). Unclear about this? See Item 1.
  3. cohesive– and brief! – statement of your project concept. Use this formula:
    • My project is a __ minute animation that (  involves/ is based on/ features/ combines/etc) _______ and _______.  |  (Or something to this effect)
    • Try to keep it to one or two sentences that roll off your tongue in under 10 or 11 seconds.  
  4. Scanned Sketches, diagrams, thumbnails, and/or notes that you used while brainstorming ideas for your project.
  5. Style-frame: this one is (sort of) optional, depending on your project. However, most of you definitely need one.
  6. Story Board: Definitely not optional, a storyboard let's us know that you have a cohesive narrative arc (story) in mind for your final product.
  7. Any Rendered composition you might have at this time. Some of you are farther along than others...and that's fine. If you have some execution of your idea that you have experimented with in After Effects – even if you don't like the results – we need to see it. It will help us help you
  8. few good questions for those watching your presentation.
  9. OPP: OMG, remember that jam?! No? Well, no matter: this OPP stands for Other People's Projects, which you must definitely be down with. Show your fellow students support by taking interest in their projects, offering solutions to problems they might have, and giving constructive criticism. You get graded on this as much as you get graded on anything else.   

Project Submission: 

We'll be meeting normally, as a class, on Thursday, Dec. 20th.

Project Due Date: Thursday, Dec. 20th

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