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Monday, October 10, 2011

Kunstkammer: A Cabinet of Curiosities

This has to be one of my favorite things I've ever made. Such a fun project. This week for Advanced Survey of Computer Arts, our class was asked to create a short animation or visual effects video using Adobe After Effects. The closest experience I've had to this software was a program called Motion, and I was even a little shaky with that. So this was a total guessing game for me--- even after two weeks of in-class assignments and tutorials, I still had a tough time wrestling with After Effects. I enjoyed myself though! Totally worth it!

Just so you know what my class was getting into, here are some student examples. Click here for the full list.


Animation Using After Effects










Visual Effects Using After Effects








 


Pretty impressive stuff, huh? It was pretty intimidating for me. I had no idea how I could make something at that level with only two weeks to complete it. I decided on making an animation versus a visual effects piece. As a Sequential Art major, I figure cartoons are more of my thing.

Earlier that week, I had received confirmation from Fourth Fridays: Where People and the Arts Collide that I would have the opportunity to show a gallery of my work in November. (This is an art community back in Illinois that I am part of). I was asked to showcase my series of watercolor monsters. I was pretty excited, so I decided to make an advertisement for my gallery exhibit as my After Effects project. This would mean the theme would have to be eerie and mysterious---and probably contain one of my watercolor monsters animated in the video. 


So I doodled some creatures and listened to some creepy music and partially paid attention in art history 2 long enough for something to catch my ear.
This painting by Jan Brueghel, Allegory of Sight was particularly interesting.


The collection of all the objects seen in the painting was referred to a kunstkammer, or a "cabinet of curiosities." There was something about that phrase that really appealed to me. I figured it would be the perfect theme for my gallery on creepy critters.



With that decided, I began to draw a lot of bottles and jars and vases and specimens that one would find in a creepy gallery. I pictured a scene of a room filled with shelves and shelves of THINGS---interesting things. As I continued to doodle, I had the idea of the camera panning around a drawing of those shelves with some of the objects moving.



To try to visualize the sequence of the animation, I made a pretty silly animatic using Windows Movie Maker. The sequence would be the cabinet jars flickering in the light, a pan across all the jars, and the sound of a critter as he is escaping from his jar and peeking at the audience. You might recognize the little fella. I had a song in mind from the beginning of the project, and that's what I set it to-- Marionette by Chris Spheeris.









 
FUN FACT: I did my own foley work. All the sound effects you hear are me being ridiculous. I recorded them using the microphone on my ipod touch headphones. i.e. the sloshing water, the jar lid rattling, the scurrying, even the stupid monster chirps are me.Gross, right?


With the animatic to help me time and visualize things, I broke down the next parts of the assignment:
  1. Making decent drawings of a full cabinet and a monster
  2. Coloring them on Photoshop
  3. Importing all the assets into After Effects
  4. Not Dying in Dyson Lab
  5. Stitching together the audio from 7 minutes to 40 seconds
  6. Placing sound effects
  7. Panning around the cabinet drawing
  8. Animating various elements using the transform controls, animation keyframes, and the puppet tool
  9. Adding text
  10. Not dying in Dyson Lab
 Sorry I don't have a timelapse video of the project in progress----that would have been neat. Instead you get some silly pinups and concept art.






And here you have it: the final video.






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