Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Summary of AF205 PT.II

Overall I have really liked this project. It has given me a strong insight into the freelance world and what it's like to work with clients and work to a tight deadline. I have learnt an extraordinary amount about the programs I've used, the industry, freelancing and much more. I think working to someone else's vision is really humbling. You can't afford to be proud or stubborn you have to listen to them. I've made the odd album art cover for local bands before and experienced that on a subdued level but it was good experiencing it when there's more on the line and more to loose. 

I have really enjoyed the whole process. It was more relaxed in structure which was nice. It was completely up to me whether I did enough work and I chose which direction I took for nearly every aspect. It was liberating and a little unnerving but brilliant over all.

I was really lucky to have a really enthusiastic client who was genuinely excited and interested in what I was doing. Especially with seeing the state other classmates were in with no contact what-so-ever. That I think really helped me and inspired to work as hard as I could.

The only downsides were with the time limit. The only reason I struggled with it though was because of the nature of the design that I wanted to pursue. If I had done more simplistic motion graphics the time limit wouldn't have been an issue. However, rotoscoping is one of the most time consuming things on the planet and so caused a lot of issues. I did see however, how in the real world the time constraint wouldn't be as big an issue as the client can often be a bit more flexible than the University can.

I am really proud of all my sequences though. They all came out better than I could have expected. I loved doing the sound design and I think that is where I learnt the most. I was only using Premiere Pro to construct the mix which is a very bare bones audio editor. I didn't even touch EQ or compression or anything. That is for another project I think. But seeing how much the audio improved the piece was amazing and I can't wait to do more with it.

Once again I loved this project and am now excited to do more with Latest Sport and more projects like it in the future.

Final Submission

So here are the sequences I am submitting in their final state. They all have music, polish and sound effects and I am happy with how each of them have turned out.

Sports Breakfast:

How'z That Chat:


I am really happy with them all as I've previously said. It would be great to have a little bit more time with them all just to hammer out all the kinks but I am definitely proud of what I've created. The Streetfunk sequence wouldn't have been possible without Jay's correspondence as well:

The music for the Sports Breakfast also works well as well. I do think that it drowns out the sound effects a little and is quite intense. It would be nice to have something that was a little more tame and subdued but that's just nit picking really. Dan (the student who created it) did a great job!


I have somehow managed to overwrite my project file for my How'z That Chat ident with one of the other idents I made later. This means that My After Effects file now contains all the elements for another ident and not the elements for my How'z That Chat sequence. This could be a major issue however, hopefully it isn't.


Class crit this time around was a little strange. This project wasn't structured in the same way as all of our other ones and so the crit didn't carry as much weight. It was more just a showcase of our work than an opportunity to suggest and receive suggestions for change. The only people we needed to adhere to were our clients so they were the only ones we really needed to listen to for suggestions. Also hand in was only two days away and with a project this intense there wasn't really time to be making many changes at all. 

None the less I showed my sequences and they were all well received. They at the point of crit didn't have any sound at all so a lot of the impact was lost and the Streetfunk one in particular was missing a lot of polish. It was helpful to see that my classmates liked my work however, there were no real suggestions or changes to be made.


Now music for the pieces was to be supplied by another student from one of the music courses at Brighton University. I was given his contact information and he sent me the music track through Dropbox. It's good, it's orchestral and upbeat and it works along side the Sports breakfast sequence. It doesn't however, go with the How'z That Chat sequence due to it's length and structure and really doesn't go with the Streetfunk sequence. 

I decided that the How'z That Chat sequence would stand up on it's own with just sound effects as it's only a few seconds and there is no room for music to be added in my opinion however, the Streetfunk sequence was crying out for a hip hop beat.

With that I took the good old Internet and quickly found This site specialises in supplying beats and music for free and it allows them to be used for commercial purposes which is absolutely ideal:

I quickly found a beat that would work perfectly it's called "Strength in Numbers". The beat can be found by clicking this link:

It's upbeat, cool and slick and best of all free to use under a Creative Commons licence. All I will use is the first 5 seconds and they work perfectly with the ident. I couldn't be happier that I found it. 

Sound Design

This is one of my passions. As I've already mentioned many a'time I love filmmaking and it's what I want to pursue. For the longest time I have been really into the production and post-production side. I have always loved being the cinematographer or director in production. And also equally enjoyed editing and compositing visual effects. One thing that always lets my films down however, is sound. It is always the tinny vomit enduring garbage that is captured in the Canon DSLR's "microphone". It pulls the overall quality of everything down massively. Filmmakers always say that sound is more important than the visuals and I have only just begun to realise just how important it is. And so with that in mind I recently purchased a Zoom H6 and have been dying for a chance to use it:

This is an industry standard recorder recording in formats far exceeding what I needed for this project. You can record 96KHz audio at 24bit which is overkill even for a Hollywood movie. So with this I then went out into my back garden with just the standard X/Y microphone that comes as standard and a foam wind guard and captured as many sounds as I thought I'd need.

It is known in the industry as foley recording. Recording sounds for things that didn't exist at the time or eventuating and creating exaggerated, artistic sound examples for films to make something more impactful. I captured footsteps, whooshes, ball impacts, tennis racket fits and various handling sounds along with many more and compiled them together to create this mix:

This is all the audio layers in the sequence in Premiere Pro (as you can se there is quite a lot). They were all recorded by me apart from the crowd cheering and the spring sound effects at the end. However, those two sounds were both royalty free and good for commercial use found on the internet. To show you the importance of sound design I have exported the sequence without any music track only the sound elements:

It is so much better with sound. The piece comes to life and all the movements feel more weighty and natural. It is vastly improved by the addition of sound elements. It was a great introduction to sound design and to the Zoom H6.

The Remaining Sequences

Completing the Sports Breakfast sequence to the standard I wanted took me the vast majority of the allotted time for the project. I had only 4 or 5 days to complete both of the two remaining sequences I wanted to create. With this in mind I set about creating both of the idents as quickly as possible. I managed to make them both in two days. This is what I created for How'z That Chat:

It was created using footage from a Go Pro mounted to the umpires helmet. I think it works quite well. It's short simple and get interesting and engaging.

This is my sequence for Streetfunk:

This is a lot more busy and energetic and I think when a track is laid over the top it too will work really well. 

I am happy with both of these they both follow in a similar vain to the Sports Breakfast sequence and they both work for what they are going to be paired with. It creates a sense of unity over the whole of the sports side of the channel that I really like. I also think that they all have their own energy and space that reflect the variety and ideals of the various shows and sides of the Latest Sport name. I am pleased with them.

Changes to the Brief

The task that I was doing, rotoscoping, is very, very time consuming. It would usually be tackled by a team of people in the time frame I had for it but I was doing it alone in a very short time period with also having to balance my job and the theory side of this course. For that reason we decided it was nesasery to drop some of the sequences. I felt confident I could complete How'z That Chat and Streetfunk for the deadline however, the other two I didn't feel confident about. They would require a lot more work and I simply didn't have the time. They were however, the two simplest and most straight forward and so it wasn't too big a loss. I plan on working with Jay and everyone after the deadline to get them completed too. I will work throughout the summer to get them completed however, it was an impossibility to get them done for the deadline and so they have been dropped unfortunately.

Progression of Sports Breakfast

This is the 30 second sequence I wanted to begin work on. I want here to show the development of my idea and how the contact with the client shaped the various changes. To begin with I felt that I had miss-represented my ideas somewhat with the examples that I sent to Jay (my contact) in the original email so I set about drawing a character and animating him as quickly as possible so that I had something to show him that would more accurately explain my idea and give him a clearer picture of what to expect. This is what I created:

There were two versions. This one is the annotated version as I felt the first (though giving a more accurately timed and flowing representation of the piece) didn't quite get my point fully across. This is the relevant email chain that ensued:

As you can see firstly he reassured me that the style and animation was all good and what he was looking for. This allowed me to go ahead with designing quicker and getting everything structured together now I knew I was heading in the right direction. Also at the end he says that he would like to arrange a meeting:

We arranged a meeting for the following Thursday which gave me a deadline to create a decent amount of work for which was good. So with that deadline in mind I created this to show them at the meeting:

This was a still largely unfinished but solidly structured version of the ident. I had some more of the characters in the scene and had added some more fine details and finesse to the overall look of the piece. They were all very impressed with it and very supportive and excited. This was great as it reassured me my work was what they were looking for. I was able to fully explain in person where I would be heading in a lot greater detail and we were also able to shape the rest of the ident together which was good. They also had a few pointers and changes to make to what was already there. 

The first was to turn the first footballer into a girl. The original footage that I rotoscoped was of a girl doing a free kick so that made it fairly simple as I just had to add in her pony tail. Also they felt it wasn't too clear that the ball was coming out of the stadium on the second shot, wide of the stadium and channel name.

They were the only real pointers they gave me though other than that I was free to carry on creating!

After the meeting I was inspired to make the changes we discussed and add more detail and characters to the ident (although I still didn't have a clip of a basketball player or tennis player I was happy with) so that I could then focus on tightening it up and getting it looking food rather than worrying about the structure. So after a bit more time and tweaking I had created this:

As you can see I added a ponytail. And changed the stadium section to a sign post. I wanted to get feedback on these changes whilst I was animating a tennis player and using the footage of a basketball player Jay sent me (which was ideal for where I needed to use it by the way). This is what he said about it:

This is at the end of a string of emails so is a little out of context but he was happy with ponytail however, they thought that the original idea with the stadium worked better. I think that it does as well as with the idea of a basketball player shooting the ball into the stadium at the end it kind of bookends the piece and creates a sense of resolution and closure.

So. With this all done I was finally at the point to create a final sequence with everything in place and all timed nicely:

This is the final ident in terms of structure and timing. It is still unfinished as there is no sound and some fine details and polish is missing however, this is the last thing I needed feedback for. He was impressed with the final design however, the only comment was the obvious lack of music and sound effects. Something I would postpone fixing for a little while as I needed to create the other sequences.

Contact With the Client

The vast majority seem to be having problems with contacting their clients. This seems to have had a fairly drastic effect on their work and attitude towards the project as a whole. I must be lucky as my client has been in almost constant contact with me. This has been great as I can move on swiftly with my designs. I can send him ideas and mock ups and have a reply later that day or first thing the next day. 

Speaking of which this is a log of the contact I have had with him so far:

To start with I was sent an email which contained links to a variety of shows that they have produced on Latest Sport. This allowed me to get a flavour of Latest Sport. I could see the general tone and get a feel for how my idents should be. The tone I got was a fairly professional one yet they didn't mind being a little bit informal. I felt it was a nice balance and something to aim for with my designs. I could make them slick and professional yet still have hints of cheekiness and informality. I then emailed back commenting on the samples he sent then explaining my idea and showing my early mock ups. 

Here is a better look at the mock up I sent:

I wanted to get across the idea I had in as much detail as possible because then it would allow me to get on with designing more or less immediately as all the variables would have been mentioned. After this was sent I received an email back from the clients.

This email showed that my idea of a white environment with important aspect being highlighted in blue was definitely a good idea to pursue. However, the examples I sent didn't represent my idea clearly enough. I sent examples to illustrate the idea of rotoscoping not to reflect my design intentions and so they just wanted to clarify that I was going down a clean, modern route. Which I confirmed I was.

The emails progressed further. I shall discuss how they shaped my designs in the next post.

Sports Breakfast

This is by far the most extensive project in the brief given to me. It is a 30 second title sequence that is extraordinarily complex with lost of movement and rotoscoping required. I decided to tackle this one first then do the shorter ones at the end. To start with I wanted to compile footage to rotoscope around. The footage needed to be dealing more or less with a single axis. By that I mean that I needed all of the action to take place along the X axis in space. The ball had to be traveling from left to right or right to left. It didn't matter which direction as I could always flip the clips orientation in After Effects and make the ball travel the other way. My idea is to have the ball travel from one player to another left and right and then eventually be shot back into the stadium. This requires a very particular set of footage. However, I was able to find the majority of it on YouTube. The only problem with that being that the quality was fairly abysmal. This makes rotoscoping difficult as it is near impossible for me to see defined edges. 

It does look doable though. All of the footage is perfect as it is clear which each sport is and the balls travel along the X axis perfectly and all at the correct height and pitch each time. Each have their little quirks and pitfalls but I think that they are all useable. I am only missing one for basketball as that requires the player to catch the ball from the right and then shoot it more or less straight ahead. There doesn't seem to be anything like that on YouTube. My contact says he may be able to source something himself. Hopefully the footage he finds suits the motion otherwise I will have to compromise the storyline.


I thought of many visual styles and ideas initially that would technically be doable but I felt not practical considering the time limit and the power/aptitude of my computer. For example I know how to use Cinema 4D to a decent standard and can make some nice looking stuff in there. However, it takes an absolute age. Modelling, texturing, lighting and animating takes long enough but rendering can take upwards of 10 hours to render just a few seconds. My computer only has a fairly puny processor and so chugs massively when given anything with global illumination and sub-surface scattering to deal with. This would be doable in the time limit although the point of the client was that I needed to tailor my designs to them and if i render something out and they then change there minds it is too much work for me to complete to a high standard within the time limit. So I crossed that off the list.

I then wanted to think of programs, ideas and themes that were in a similar vein which would be eye catching, unique and engaging. My initial idea in cinema 4D was to have a very modern and abstract 3D environment. Sort of making everything look as though it was made out of paper. I could then use Latest Sport's key blue colour to highlight whichever aspects they deemed important. My inspiration for which spawned from this advert:

I loved the style of this advert. It was eye catching and using detailed beautiful lighting really made it pop. This inspired my original idea of a paper world in Cinema 4D however, as Cinema 4D was off the list now I wanted to think of another way that was still interesting to get the same idea across. I more or less immediately thought about rotoscoping. 

Rotoscoping is a technique pioneered by animators in the early days of film but now used extensively in the visual effects industry by compositors in their program of choice. I use After Effects as most of my compositing is done out of necessity rather than artistic desire. It is basically using the pen tool or masks in general to cut out a section of an image or video and have it separated from the rest of the frame. This is useful in films and used in almost all of them I would imagine. It allows you to film your actor on set pretending to react to an explosion that isn't really there. When you put the explosion in in post then it will be in front of the actor and you wouldn't be able to see there reaction. Rotoscoping allows you to cut them out and have them on their own layer placing them back in front of the explosion. Here's a visual example:

So as you can see Andrew rotoscoped the actor out to be in front of the explosion:

Raw plate

Final shot

As you can see with the side by side, the actor has been cut out of the original footage frame by frame and placed back in on top of all of the explosion assets. It is a very widely used technique particularly in the visual effects industry where it is near essential. However, I wasn't going to use it in that way I wanted to get back to the animation roots of the technique and create something more abstract and interesting.

I was inspired by the old Apple commercials and the "Take on Me" music video:

I think that these are two of the most synonymous and widely recognised representations of how I want to use rotoscoping. Obviously they are both far to complex and time consuming for me to accomplish. The apple one was done with people dancing in front of a green/blue screen which meant they could be keyed out almost immediately. That is how they are able to achieve that striking level of detail. And the music video I believe was actually physically drawn out by hand which requires specialist gear. I am going to just be using the pen tool within after effects and hopefully draw a blocky, simplistic representation of my chosen characters and make them move in a photorealistic way.

Latest Sport

I have been assigned to create title sequences and inserts for the sports side of Latest TV, Latest Sport. This, at first, felt to me a strange task as I only really follow Rugby and don't really know much about any of the other sports mentioned. I felt as though I wouldn't be able to bring much to the table in terms of ideas. However, I then looked over the brief they supplied and realised that not only did I have more knowledge than I knew but the ideas and sequences weren't going to rely too heavily on sports knowledge or intricate detail. 

This is the brief I received:

(Email addresses blurred by me for placement on the internet)

I was lucky enough to meet my contacts on the day of receiving my brief as well as they happened to venture to Lewes that day as well. Most people were just given emails to contact but I got to actually meet with the guys I was going to be liaising with throughout the project. This was great because as you can see the various sequences in the brief there are ambitious to say the least. This project requires a pretty quick turnaround and to create assets to the standard and detail they were asking for there would take months and probably a team of people. I started to think and chat to them about other visual styles and ideas that would make it doable to a high standard within the time limit and one person. I'll address our discussions in the next post!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Latest TV

It's new brief time again! This is the second half to AF205. And this time it gets more exciting. We are now working with an actual client! This means that our work is somewhat out of our hands and we are no longer really pandering to our own ideals. We have a set brief and the creative vision of someone else to create to. We of course have input in the design and can suggest directions and nuances to include however, the overall style, theme and flow is largely determined and over seen by someone else. This is good as it is a taste of what's to come in the industry. All of the work we have done so far I feel has had a somewhat comfortable deadline and we only have ourselves to content with for the most part so the process is smooth and quite quick. Now we have someone else to show our work and comment on. This has the opportunity to create some major speed bumps in the road and derail production. This is exciting as it gives us a far more accurate idea of the freelance and digital world helping to give a clearer insight into what to expect after university when we get into the industry.

Blog Archive