Month: April 2016

JAWS – Trailer Evaluation

My game trailer was presented infront of audience, and I was given written feedback from 5 of my peers. I was pleasantly surprised when my trailer generated such a great response, being rated a 9 or even 10 out of 10 from some people. The trailer wasn’t without it’s criticisms, however.

General Consensus 

In general, I felt my trailer received very positive feedback, and in a couple of the feedback forms, the “What are the Weaknesses?” section contained comments such as “I can’t think of any“, or “Does with even count for you?, I have no words for this“. From the 5 feedback reports I received, my trailer scored an average of 10/10. The comments I received directly after the presentation were better than I could have anticipated also; I received commands like “It builds suspense well and has a climatic ending“, and one person even said “It’s basically everything you want in a trailer” I don’t think it gets much better than that.

Sound

The feedback for the sound featured in my animation was positive, with no real criticisms on that part. The written feedback contained comments such as “Sound and music fit the visuals” and “Good use of music, incorporated well with animation“. The soundtrack really had to carry the trailer, and it was the 2nd biggest part of the entire production. I had created the sound mostly from scratch, taking inspiration from various different sources to create a piece that flowed nicely into each scene. It was nice to see that people appreciated all the work I put into it.

One of the criticisms I got however was related to the length of certain scenes- “Sometimes there was a bit of a pause between scenes” and “Graphics maybe go by too fast” Unfortunately this is something that was dictated by the length of that particular music during those parts, so in a sense, thats a criticism of the soundtrack. It’s something I also had a problem with, but I couldn’t really fix without chopping up or changing the soundtrack completely. It’s something that could have been amended, but due to time constraints I was unable to do so.

Personally, I would have done the sound and music after the animation had been completed, and then have the music controlled by the animation, and not the other way around.

Animation

The feedback for the animation was largely positive, and its the part I was personally most proud of. I received comments such as “Animation was fantastic over the live action” and “Professional looking graphics, the live action and animation go well together“. I felt that my unique style choice set my animation apart, and really gave it a unique feel.

The criticisms I did get were mostly over small details, two reported similarly- “Try to make the animations more smooth“, while one wrote “Uh… the character was small compared to the fish? The fish were big so the shark seemed less scary” In the end I feel these are simply nit-picks, and not really comments on the entirety of the animations. In response to the criticism over my jagged animations, it was once again a matter of time constraints and general lack of experience working with the program.

Given more time and perhaps previous experience with After Effects, these small issues could easily be ironed out.

Motion Graphics 

The motion graphics were a relatively small portion of the animation, but none the less greatly contributed to the final result. I was told that my graphics looked professional and suited the style of the animation.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I couldn’t have asked for a better response. I filled me with absolute joy that everyone enjoyed the result of my hard work. Though there were faults, I felt that none were too stand-outish or detracted from the overall experience I wanted to create, and could have been fixed with relative ease, given more time.

The biggest criticism of the trailer myself is how long it is. It exceeds the given time limit by 24 seconds, something I tried to rectify but couldn’t without making the scenes go by too fast, splicing the music, or removing scenes entirely. I’ve been told that it’s an acceptable length, but I can’t help but feel I failed somewhat in that regard.

 

Jaws Tang

 

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The Times – Edit Rationale

We (Me, John Pearse and Tom Rainey) were tasked with revamping a Website. Specifically, The Times.co.uk

We started off with some rough drafts and the current Times website to go from. We felt that overall the site needed cleaning up and re-arranging of certain items, making things more clear, whilst trying to keep the style of the original.

Initial Draft – By all 3 of us 

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New Articles – By Tom Rainey

The site didn’t contain any other articles on the front page, so we thought we’d design a basic template and create new ones.

IMG_0272 

Rationale – By John Pearse 

Site Changes

Edited Page – By Ben

The result of our changes lead to the page from looking like this:

Times.co.uk

To this:

The Times Site Revamp copy

 

JAWS – Trailer Production

A production log explaining some of the process I used to create the animation aspect of my trailer.

Backgrounds and Lighting

The backgrounds are the environments of my animation, and they range from dark abyssal trenches to colourful reefs. Each environment requires a different style of lighting and effects.

The most basic environment in my animation was from the Scene with the squids in the darkened abyssal waters.

JAWS Process 1.png

I started out with a photo of an appropriate cliff face and edited it to fit a 1920 x 1080 resolution. With this basic environment I then continued to create various lighting effects such as lights and a basic vignette-

JAWS Process 2.png

These were all created very simply with Paint.NET, a program I would us to create all of my animation assets.

After compositing them all into Adobe After Effects and tweaking with some of the layer transparencies and Blending modes, I got this result-

JAWS Process 3.png

To give the illusion of movement in the water, I created a light source that was on a slow wiggle path, illuminating different parts of the environment as it drifted around. It was subtle, but effective. I continued to use this technique almost throughout my entire animation.

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By providing  a light source  over the top of the backgrounds, I can create an light environment that both the live-action and animated characters will be affected by, helping to blend the two together. Adjusting the contrast/hue saturation of various animated assets to fit the environment and adding separate shadows to them also gives an effect of place in the environment.

To further blend the animated with the live action, I used the Wiggler tool with the Brightness/Contrast effect in an effort to simulate the flashing caustic light over certain environments. It’s another subtle effect, but something I feel adds further depth.

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I ended up changing/customising all of these  effects depending on the given environment so each one feels unique.

In one particular scene I had to add a peice of terrain to suit my needs. I used a similar techniques to blend the two, but also had to purposefully degrade the quality of the HD image to suit the rather grainy/lower resolution background.

JAWS Process 17.png

JAWS Process 18.png

On the topic of grain and resolution, despite having a 1080p camera, I found the iPhone to struggle with recording low-light environments resulting in degraded image quality. In an attempt to fix this, I used the ‘Remove Grain’ effect with varying results.

JAWS Process 15.png

In the end, the effect wasn’t enough to fix he problem entirely without producing other unwanted visual effects.

Animation and Effects

The toughest aspect of my producing my trailer was the creation of the individual animations for the characters. Among those, I found the Giant Squid turned out particularly well. After some experimenting I found that my original graphic wasn’t suitable, so I had to make a T-posed/stretched out version-

JAWS Process 4.png

This subsequently gave me movement possibilities for each individual tentacle, and I was able to produce some fluid and realistic animation.

I used the puppet tool to create all of my characters’s animations. Timing the puppet movement with what was happening in the animation was difficult, and the puppet tool itself was very restrictive when creating exaggerated animations. Fortunately, the fluid movements of the tool worked well with my underwater environment.

JAWS Process 6.png

I then used a similar technique with my main character. However, I decided to use a hierarchy method so I could pose my character into different positions depending on what the scene required-

JAWS Process 7.png

 

 

Each scene has its own unique style, so I had to edit each asset individually to suit it. In the  short scene with the Jellyfish, I made use of the transparency and glow effects to make the characters feel less flat and 2 dimensional. I played around with various settings until I found combinations that were suitable.

JAWS Process 8.png

Similarly, I used the gaussian blur and opacity effects to create the illusion of objects further in the distance.

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To create the movement of the yellow fish, I keyframed a basic path from right-to-left and then skewed it into curves. I then keyframed individual rotation points along the path so the fish pitches up and down with it, creating an effect of the fish swimming through the water.

Jaws Process 10

In an effort to make my animation as fluid as possible, I used the Keyframe Velocity effect. Keyframe velocity can slow or speed up the entry/or exit of an objects position.

JAWS process 16.png

I allow the the light on the helmet to light up, I created a separate layer in Paint.NET of the shape of the light, parented it to main character, but kept it above the overlays and effects that created the darkness, giving the effect that it is illuminated. Adding a simple glow to the layer completed the effect.

JAWS Process 11.png

Adding the particles in my animation proved troublesome. I started by adding the Particle  Simulator II to a solid, and worked out the particles from there. For this particular scene, I parented the solid containing the particles to my logo, so they would move with it. For some reason, the particle effect doesn’t give you an option to control the particles speed, which is something I just had to work around.

Live-Action Recording and Editing

Recording the live-action portion of my animation was indeed the most stressful part of the production process.

I travled to the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth to capture my live action footage. I took with me a GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition, an iPhone 6 and a Tripod.

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I mounted the GoPro onto a tripod so it would remain steady, and aimed it at the aquariums. I also did the same with the iPhone, incase the GoPro didn’t capture the desired footage or ran out of battery/memory.

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After recording the footage and returning home, I inspected the GoPro footage first. GoPro has a specific program for extracting and editing footage called GoPro studio.

JAWS Process 14.png

The main issue with the GoPro I found was that it lacked a rear screen to see what the camera was seeing, so I was left guessing what was and wasn’t inside the GoPro’s gigantic FoV.

GoPros aren’t exactly designed for conventional filming, and as a result film with a massive FoV which gave my images a disorietanting feel. GoPro Studio does have an option to remove this effect, though it wasn’t perfect and compressed the image. I also found that all my footage from the GoPro had a flashing red light reflected off the glass from the device itself, which would be very distracting within the animation.

In the end I found the iPhones’s footage to be far more acceptable for my animation. Aside from being slightly lower in quality, I was able to position the iPhone with great precision and get the exact shots I needed because I could see what the camera was capturing.

Final Production and Saving

My final animation file is saved as .MPG, because I found that it saved at an acceptable quality while keeping the file size low enough to effectively transport and playback. When rendering with CC Media Encoder, the MPG preset matched the resolution and FPS of the animation and complied the audio within the same file, when as presets for MP4, MPEG 4 and AVI rendered with the audio in a separate file, for some reason.

JAWS Process 19.png

My animation was split up into 11 separate files for each scene, each saved as .AVI as to not loose quality before I compiled them all into one composition, added the soundtrack and sound effects, and then finally save the output as .mpg

JAWS process 9.png