For no particular reason, I set out to practice making a walk cycle in After Effects a while back. I didn’t have any character to start with, so I threw together the retro looking farmer character you see here. He actually started off in an early sketch as an even more heavily stylized, ambiguous humanoid, but quickly evolved when I got into Illustrator. Once I had the character in place, I decided to take the whole thing further, and build the walk cycle in the context of a old-school animation. To achieve that, I brought in a film preroll (which, if you look closely, you may notice includes flashes of my website logo), film grain and scratches, film reel sound effects, and throwback, Ren and Stimpy inspired, music. I mixed eras up a bit with some 3D elements (which I built and rendered out in Cinema 4D), though rendered in a low polygon style, to make them fit with the 2D look of the central character.
I should preface this by saying I don’t think the “Minority Report UI” is a great idea, at all, in terms of real-world usability (this article sums up some reasons why). But nonetheless, it looks pretty cool and has become widespread in sci-fi films and television shows, and even things like CSI:Miami. So, of course, I had to take a crack at it.
As a fan of sci-fi, I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of portals. In honor of TV shows and films like Sliders and Stargate, here’s a test of Cesar going through a portal, from an undisclosed location in Downtown Los Angeles, to… well, the verdict is still out on that one.
The motion tests continue with more footage from the same shoot as my earlier fireball test. My laptop recently died on me, but luckily I was able to salvage the files. Thanks to Cesar Vargas again for his acting skills, he got totally into it. This is a rough cut of a motion tracking and particle generator test (using Trapcode Particular). I haven’t even gotten to rough sound effects yet. I used the built-in tracker in After Effects, but I had to do a fair amount of hand correction/roto to get it to work right. The crossing of arms didn’t exactly help. Look closely and you’ll notice I have masked out the intersections to create a slightly more convincing fiery hand effect. I know, you thought he really had superpowers.
Just a basic VFX test shot, set up as simply as possible (stationary, on a tripod). My main priority here, and in most video/motion tests you may see throughout my blog, is practicing techniques and tools to achieve effects I find cool. But I do need to get around to practicing some storytelling at some point. My subject for this was my friend and fellow designer from my UCLA Design/Media Art days, Cesar Vargas.
Here I used Trapcode Form to create the main fireball, and combined it with some other canned effects (glows, blurs, and animated masks/solids, inside of After Effects), to create a Street Fighter 2/comic book inspired fiery orb that Cesar grows and throws (yes cheesy rhyme intended). I shot the video with my Canon 60D in the Downtown LA area.