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The Visual Effects Thread

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I know there's a few of us who work in VFX so thought I'd start a thread. I know you can't discuss what you're working on but we can still piss and moan about more general issues. 

 

Here's a nice little film on Vimeo that outlines the basics of visual effects. Handy for explaining to your family and less tech savvy friends what the job's about.

 

 

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Deluxe Paint on the Amiga was the first paint and animation software I got into, my interest grew from there I guess.

 

It's changed in lots of way in the last twenty years ago, less lucrative and director driven but the quality of work is much higher now - some of the tools available now you could only have dreamt of years back. 

 

Still love it, most days, but it's often stressful and demanding. 

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Do you work specifically in compositing? Do you get a lot of sloppy directors adding a mountain of work needlessly to your schedule because they don't have a basic grasp of the process?

 

I just finished a big effects shoot and honestly don't know how we could have done it had a couple of senior members of the post team not been there to supervise!

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I work, generally, as a lead compositor and mostly in short form. I supervise shoots, run the 2D team and often the CG team too. Most of the directors I work with are pretty good with post but you always make sure a job with any significant amount of post is supervised. 

 

When everything was shot on film around a decade ago you'd find much more care and attention paid to crafting each take. Every foot of film counted so folk were much more on the ball. With the rise of digital that's changed - you find an inordinate amount of time can be spent cleaning out apple boxes some gaffers left in frame or a light stand a sparks forgotten to clear. 

 

What sort of work do you do Scratchy?

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Spot I did in the States has just been released. It's a car commercial featuring Lebron James, he's had some success in the basketball arena I'm reliably informed.

 

So the mildly interesting bit from a VFX perspective: It was shot in January, mostly in a big studio in Cleveland where Mr James plies his trade. The idea is that he's being rained on constantly, which was meant to be achieved by, uhm, pouring water all over him. However, on the day of the shoot the temperature was -14C and the studio, given its basically a vast empty space, was impossible to heat to much above freezing. Lebron's 'people' quite sensibly decided that their sporting star probably shouldn't spend around 8 hours in a freezing cold studio wet from head to toe so he was shot completely dry and we did all the water, rain, damp clothes etc in post. Anyway, this is the spot.

 

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At 36 years old, I have made a decision that I want to get into motion graphics and visual FX. It kind of started when the company I work for said we need more 'moving elements' in our social media posts and the like. Y'know the sort of thing, the quick 3 second clips that show a sports score or some such, as well as adding idents for promoting our original video content. 

Anyway, it inspired me to make a start and get to grips with After Effects and any other tools that should be useful for this. 

I am starting with practicing to very short and basic animations for video opening title cards and then building from there. 

 

I made these this week following some tutorials and trying to then add my own content to them (so nothing great looking or original yet, just following tutorials)

 

This was the first one 

 

 

then this

 

I'll keep creating these based on new tutorials and the like and when i am more confident, i can try and be original. 

 

I did use AE about 18 years ago for some college work, but only at a VERY basic level, so this may as well be all new to me. So happy with the above. 

 

Once I get this side of it down, I want to try working with some more Special FX type stuff. Problem is, I don't have access to any equipment, only a phone camera really. Could I still learn the basics of compositing video and adding VFX to a scene?

Also, would it be worth my while learning 3D Modelling programs? Or would I be spreading myself too thin?

I come from a print design education, before being self taught on web design. But this feels like the natural progression I should have made from my background, rather than jumping into web. Or am I foolish for making a change this late?

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@bradigor I'm seeing a lot of motion guys adding 3D to their portfolio lately, usually via Cinema4D. No harm in giving it a go if you're interested, it can be very deep but even relatively simple stuff can add to what you'll achieve in AE. In both cases, work on tutorials for sure and then try to apply the same techniques to something different as you say. When the time comes, the other thing I see a lot is ostensibly pretty good showreels that on any closer inspection prove to be 99% reproductions of tutorials.

 

(full disclosure, I don't really do anything in the fancy worlds of petrolgirls et al and they may have different opinions. Where I'm at, we relatively rarely work with recording actual video footage. Lots and lots of pretty rapidly developed animation for pro sports partnerships and fancy retail, mainly.)

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Yeah @milko I have seen that a lot with portfolios for design work, where they have just copied tutorials and changed very little and then passed it off as their own. 
 

I know I am just 'adding to tutorials' here, but that on my part is so I can get the techniques down. So that second example above was so I could understand how to bring together many different elements to make a relatively simple animation, how blurs work in movement (totally different to using them in still design), How to cheat effects and that sort of thing. I did a spinning light effect tutorial, then added my own finish to it, as well as adding in the company logo in a way if felt part of the animation as much as possible, rather than plopped on at the end. (I sort of achieved it, but can also see where it can be improved a lot)

I don't see the point it all you can do it reproduce existing work. I very much like very understated design on the whole and would likely bring that into what I do motion graphics wise. 

 

Unless a bunch of experts come in and say "You simply MUST get into 3D" I'll leave that to the side for the time being and look at it once I am confident in AE and Premiere Pro at least. 

 

One thing I have found... it is a lot more fun to do than staring at lines of code ;)

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On 15/05/2018 at 12:30, bradigor said:

Once I get this side of it down, I want to try working with some more Special FX type stuff. Problem is, I don't have access to any equipment, only a phone camera really. Could I still learn the basics of compositing video and adding VFX to a scene?


Also, would it be worth my while learning 3D Modelling programs? Or would I be spreading myself too thin?

I come from a print design education, before being self taught on web design. But this feels like the natural progression I should have made from my background, rather than jumping into web. Or am I foolish for making a change this late?

 

Absolutely not! I'm a firm believer in doing whatever engages you.

 

Few bits of advice, I'd focus on one thing at a time, motion graphics, visual effects and 3D modelling are three largely different skills with only a little bit of overlap. You're doing exactly the right thing getting stuck into motion graphics, After Effects is still an excellent tool for this job and doing tutorials then rejigging them for your purposes is a great way to learn. I started out in motion graphics many moons ago and it's the least technically demanding of the skills you're interested in.

 

When you say VFX, do you mean compositing? It's the closest skillset to motion graphics although I absolutely wouldn't use After Effects to composite unless you're some kind of sadist. When you feel it's time to move on get a copy of Nuke and tuck into some of the fxphd courses, https://www.fxphd.com/.

 

Modelling is a whole other ball game, maybe come back and ask questions once you've mastered motion graphics and compositing.

 

Good luck and feel free to ask questions, happy to help.

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Thanks for that. I'll probably have a ton of questions as I go. 

Not sure what I mean for VFX yet, but compositing is the most likely route. To be honest, I would rather not have to bother with 3D modelling programs, as I tried many moons ago and failed to get into it at all. Could have been lack of patience or just being too young to want to learn (if that makes sense). 

Main reason I am using AE and Pr is because it comes with my CC sub I have for work. But if other options are better, than I;d be up for learning those. 
 

 

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For motion graphics I'd absolutely stick to AE, a very fine package in that regard. Premiere is a decent if unexceptional edit package these days, more than good enough for learning the fundamentals of editing. Modelling is much more friendly than it used to be, stuff like ZBrush has made it much more intuitive and there's some amazing modelling tools for VR that have recently been released.

 

Edit: If you are interested in 3D then @milko's suggestion of C4D is spot on, an excellent little package with a similar'ish UI to After Effects and an emphasis on more graphical work. I would still try focus on one thing at a time. This is all quite technically dense and it's easy to be overwhelmed and lose your way if you try digest too much in one go.

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I'm am editor by trade, and have gradually gotten into Cinema 4D over the last 6 years. As petrol girls says its a great package - powerful - yet intuitive. Nick @ Greyscal Gorilla pretty much got me started and is great at explaining the program in layman's terms: https://greyscalegorilla.com

 

I'm still learning and would love to get into Nuke sometime soon. I know and love After Effects and it's a great program - but very frustrating in someways. 

 

Anyways here is a spot we did last year (also kinda featuring LeBron!):

 

 

 

 

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Been doing some learning over the last couple of weeks during some work downtime. Using mainly YouTube tutirials, but also signed up to a free two months on Skill Share. Not done anything for myself as yet, but think I am getting to a stage where I can confidently start doing my own thing. 

Sticking to brand ident stuff and then some character animation, because I found I just don't have the equipment to do actual film editing and compositing and the prices are waaaaaay beyond me. Hopefully one day though. 

One thing I have found, it has been enjoyable learning new skills that are extensions of what I know already, rather than starting from the very bottom (like I did with web design, which had a lot of 'unlearning' first)

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Something I have always struggled with is music and sound in design, as i just can't seem to find the right resources, or find something that fits. 

 

Eg: I put this demo together for work as a proposal for intros for our upcoming video content to create a brand (ignore the design, that will be worked on), but it is so flat with no sound. 

 

 

What process would others suggest for bringing music in? What resources are best for picking up sounds to use in my work? Ideally free at the moment, or at least cheap. (I know I would need to pay out for the better stuff and that is fine, but this is just for practice at the moment to show proof of concept and add life to things)

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Motion graphics can feel a little dry without audio. Sound design rather than music often suits motion graphics well. There's lots of free sounds libraries online, try downloading a bunch of elements and drop them in your timeline in AE, sync them up to events in your animation and just see what works. 

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Zapsplat, Freesound - there's a bunch, have a Google around. Try sync your sound to picture first then once you're broadly happy go in and tighten up your picture to sound - if that makes sense. 

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Quick After Effects question if I may (before asking in ATF)

 

I am creating an advertising banner and the motion I am after is the graphic to drop from the top of the screen at pace, hot the middle and slow to a near standstill (but move down a few pixels in that timeframe) and then drop out at speed. 

 

Is the easiest way to Create the keyframes for the first drop, then add in another for the slow section, then yet another for the speed out? Or is there an easier way cutting down of keyframes?

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49 minutes ago, bradigor said:

Quick After Effects question if I may (before asking in ATF)

 

I am creating an advertising banner and the motion I am after is the graphic to drop from the top of the screen at pace, hot the middle and slow to a near standstill (but move down a few pixels in that timeframe) and then drop out at speed. 

 

Is the easiest way to Create the keyframes for the first drop, then add in another for the slow section, then yet another for the speed out? Or is there an easier way cutting down of keyframes?

 

seems the best way. Take a look at Ease and Whizz on aescripts.com to give nice movement in/out of keyframes

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14 minutes ago, macosx said:

 

seems the best way. Take a look at Ease and Whizz on aescripts.com to give nice movement in/out of keyframes

 

I think I have that already as it rings a bell. Thanks. 

 

I love when you can get a nice simple animation working with AE.

 

Avoided getting pre-made stuff whilst I still learn 

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don't forget you can just tweak the curves on the motion in and out of the keyframes as well - click the little graph icon next to the timeline. I sometimes use 'easy ease' as a start and then just do that, if I want something quick (somewhat lame as it is!).

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On 22/11/2018 at 11:16, bradigor said:

Is the easiest way to Create the keyframes for the first drop, then add in another for the slow section, then yet another for the speed out? Or is there an easier way cutting down of keyframes?

 

You can just use two keyframes here and let your bezier tangents to do the work, this is Flame not AE but the principle is the same:

 

IMG_2577.thumb.jpg.bd365fe93dab8c760011dd51c754d82c.jpg

 

(excuse the photo, it's tricky getting screenshots off this Flame for reasons that are too dull to relate)

 

You can see a tangent at 90 degrees extended to the same y value as your other keyframe will get you pretty much what you want, you can reduce the tangents length to increase the movement in its 'slow section'. Whilst I'm a fan of using minimal keyframes this may be a little too austere for you. As a rule the less keyframes you use the easier it is to manipulate and the less anomalies you get in your animation - but within reason. It may make sense to use this as a starting point then add two more points either side of the slow phase:

 

IMG_2580.thumb.jpg.33353bd33cc640510f39e004d8e033c2.jpg

 

This allows you to have more control but you need to zoom in and ensure the new tangents on your slow phase are carefully aligned to the curve otherwise you'll get some odd movement.   FWIW I'm not a fan of canned animation that AE offers, you'll have much more control and a better understanding of animation if you just tuck into curves.

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Ah yes. You know what, I never once thought about doing it with the graph. Project is done now, but will see how it works in my project file for future use. Cheers guys. 

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