Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Motion Graphics with After Effects

Yesterday I had a brief look at motion graphics and basic compositing inside of Nuke and how all these elements of a mock advert fit together. Today I'm going to be looking at something similar within After Effects.

As a general rule of thumb After Effects is sneered upon within the compositing community at large as something of a kiddies toy application, or a kind of a "my first compositing" package, and to be honest it's not with out some foundations. However this doesn't mean After Effect doesn't have it's place within creative industry, because as a motion graphics application, AE is second to none.

The tools that are provided with a Program like Nuke are perfectly suited to the high end compositing arena, more specifically working as a finishing package for assets created elsewhere (although with the addition of such elements like its 3D particle system that is beginning to change). After effects on the other hand is much more suited to creating these assets and compositing them as an in-the-box style of work flow.

The first clip that I made for this exercise was a pretty straight piece of motion graphics serving as another mock advert for my impending street scene. The matte of this particular shot was outlined in my Green Screen and Chroma Key blog entry a few days ago when looking at the technique of hard and soft matting.

This video differs from the Nuke motion graphics advert in the sense that all of the assets contained in this advert were created within After Effects itself and not having to rely on Maya to create anything. This is where the power of After Effects lies. * I should point out at this point that the workflow of After Effects is seriously compromised by it's stability and is something I have had a lot of issues with. This is an area where Nuke wins hands down as being one of the most stable applications I've used.

Anyway, after attaining a good key using Keylight (cross-application keyer works the same in AE as Nuke) I then set out to create the sequences look.

As the content of this particular shot oozed cheese, I wanted to create a style of advert that matched Adams dynamic performance. When I think about Cheesy adverts, generally I can't go past Japanese advertising. I love it. Generally my perception of these adverts is short and to the point with lots of bright colours.

As a point of reference I was influenced by a recent film clip by Mark Ronson. This clip is retro to the max and it is this old school retro visual style that I tried to emulate.

With this in mind I first set out to create some very simple animating vector graphics. I wanted them to be bright, colourful and above all simple sticking with this Japanese inspired theme. This I did with 3 simple checker board layers stretched out to create bars and animating over one another. The fonts were then created from a free download of Chinese font packs, again animated over simple, bright vector graphics.

This was all relatively easy and it all looked pretty good once it was done. After the animating part was finished I then turned my attention to the grade as this was what would sell the shit. Ungraded this shot look terrible. The lighting in this shot was one of the hardest things to contend with as it is so stark and all the lack of any definition made it hard to get a professional look.

The first thing I did was to create and adjustment layer that would effect all elements of the shot equally to give it some coherency. With these adjustment layers I reduced a lot of the red in his face and bumped up the contrast to give it a filmic look. On this layer I also added a glow to make the whites pop, this also served as a light wrap style effect that would tie the FG and BG elements together.

Thus creating the final product that is fit for Japanese television.

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