How to: Loopable frame by frame animation.

Animation, Film

I’m back in Malmö studying Visual communication again. I took a break for a year (6 months at home with kids, 6 months studying Experimental mediaproduction). One of our startup assignments was to create a loopable 5 – 10 sec animation which can be used as a digital businesscard, or as a creative element in your E-mail signature.

After Effects project footage.

I filmes myself on a rotation chair going around full circle with, and without a rabbits mask. I used a dissolvetransition between the takes and ended up with a loopable video. After that, I simply (actually this is the tedious part), sketched around my face in After Effects with my Wacom Intuos board.

24 frames per second, using the brushtool. On export i ticked the box “paint on transparent” in the Effects panel and job done. I could have easily used 12 FPS instead to save some time but since I painted every frame of the video I got som really nice organic details.

Final export.

Reanimating dead walls – The secrets behind the ArtstreetHBG-trailer.

Animation, DIY-builds and hacks, Film

A few days ago I handed over three versions of a video I produced for Helsingborg’s Stad. I guess you could call it a trailer of some sort for the upcoming street art festival ArtstreetHBG. The original seed which sparked the idea for this video was the tagline; “Be there when dead walls come back to life”. After weeks of planning, pitching scripts and drawing up a storyboard the idea was given the green light. While my colleagues were busy hunting actors, clearing permits and making sure we had a casket for the shoot, I started creating props and shooting the VFX-footage.

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The plot is quite simple. Mourning humans carrying a casket. All black. Spray cans, which are alive, are watching, wondering if the sorrow will ever end. One of the cans chooses to act. The can gets hurt (looses cap), and causes an accident. The cascet falls, out comes the body. But the body is actually a dead wall (mono-coloured bricks). The spray can brings the wall back to life by giving it colour back. Everyone happy.

I created black flags for drama and a dynamic image. Black smoke to up the drama some more. I chose bamboo-sticks for the flags so that I could hide the smokecharges inside the sticks. I had two sets of bricks, 16 “boring ones”, and 16 “happy ones”, which I painted one afternoon while my kid was asleep. I had some old spray cans in the studio which I banged up quite a bit to make them look really worn and broken. It’s always nice when the hero has some flaws in your story. The stakes are higher that way. I went and got this spinning breakfast-tray from IKEA which I painted green. After that, I started shooting my cans. I wanted them to be able to bend and spin at the same time in my video to make them look as “real” as possible. I could have used a photo of a can, and the PIN-tool in After Effects to get them to bend, but I think the rotating effects really worked well and gave it that extra nudge.

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Shooting rotating cans on greenscreen.

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Final composition after using the Pin-tool. The can which rolls away was brought to set and thrown in front of the camera after giving it some time to fall.

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The shot from above planned out in the storyboard-phase.

After the casket falls we reach a peak in the video. All hope seems lost but of course, it’s not. It never is. The bricks you see during the fall are the normal, unpainted ones. After getting my “misery-shots”, the pile of “dead” bricks was replaced with the coloured ones. All I had to do in post was to duplicate the layer (I made sure to shoot with a tripod of course), mask out the stones and de-saturate the masked out top layer. After this, I could simply keyframe the saturation back (by changing the opacity of my top layer from 100% to 0%), and voila, boring stones are no more. Add a touch of the 80’s and we’re golden.

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I really enjoy using real, on-set effects where you get the result straight away. I’ve done reverseshots before and this was my go-to plan for the end, when the bricks come to life. I hade the actors throw the bricks into frame twice – so that the shot could be reversed later. I had my multitalented friend Christian walking backwards in frame to sell the effects a bit more.7For the final shot things got a bit more complex. Here I had to shoot a backplate (a clean background of the wall which is blocked by rope and actor in my used shot), and mask out the rope and actor afterwards. It’s not that hard in theory, but on set, with time pressure, it occasionally happens that you forget the backplate. So I made sure to really get that down on the storyboard and shotlist. Here is the original footage for the scenes mentioned before they are reversed and masked. Just look at Christian! Walking like a pro even following the bricks in reverse with his gaze.

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I’m so happy with the final production and I had a blast shooting it. We shot the whole thing in about two hours (!) and got everything we needed pretty much straight away. Of course I couldn’t have done it without the help of an amazing crew that day (and the days leading up to the shoot). There is a massive credits-list in the end of the video and it shows how much work everyone put in just to create this little bizarre, but lovely video.

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The video will be playing before screenings at cinema Röda Kvarn in Helsingborg, on the big screen at the central station, all over the web and with a little bit of luck, on busses and trains. I’m so excited to see how it will be received now that it’s out after one stressful week of editing. Here it is – enjoy.

Animating Mediatool.

Animation, Film, Photoshop

I’ve been doing some PR-videos for Mediatool for a while now and one of the videos I created was the following animation. The concept is quite simple and understandable, since Mediatool was created to help out advertisers and media-agencies and make their day-to-day work easier and more manageable.

“Mediatool gathers all of your marketing in one place. Use it to get a comprehensive overview of all your marketing activities, campaign plans, and yearly summaries in one place. Gone are the days of sharing excel spreadsheets.”
– Mediatool.com

I begun making some sketches and after getting those approved I begun animating. There were tons of layers, split layers, duplicated layers, shape layers (you get the picture), and towards the end my project file looked like something that could have used a Mediatool for animators. Somebody should create that.

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The tiny icons were animated separately and exported with an alpha-layer. These videos where animated further using wiggle and bounce expressions. The lines and circles which reach out and grab the platforms are shapelayers using no fill and a stroke of 3px. I animated these using trim paths and I found this tutorial on animating lines in After Effects to be really helpful. After swapping icons and making changes here and there, we decided to give the animation a cinematic, bassy, transformersy-with-a-hint-of-organic-elements kind of sound. And here’s how it all turned out.

Jack & the jollybeans – Posterdrop.

Animation, Film, Photoshop, Projectionmapping

Our latest animated project is an adaptation of the classic fairytale Jack and the beanstalk. The film is a part of a larger projectionmapping project in school and for our final showing it will be projected onto a miniature set which I built in my studio. We won’t be releasing the film just yet since we want to see if we can get it selected for the 2018 Pixel filmfestival, but I’ll be posting a video of our set and some of the projections soon. Until then I wanted to share the poster which I created for our film. You can follow the entire process on our instagram sketchbook found here.

pOSTER UPDATED

Social Innovation Animation – Or; why our standard nights were cut in half for three weeks.

Animation, Photoshop

When Amanda Nilsson and I got asked if we were interested in creating the intro video for this years Social Innovation Summit we knew right away that we’d be spending the next three weeks in a sleep deprived state if we’d take this one on. We said yes pretty much straight away of course. The summit is a massive happening, packed with awesome people and to top it all of SVT will be documenting the whole shebang. There wasn’t much time to begin with (isn’t that always the case?) and there was no room for the usual darkness and neck-twisting/breaking/crunching/snapping me and Amanda usually spice up our productions with. But still, we dove right in. Head first. Necks intact.

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We were working alongside a few experimental media students who got the task of creating a sound, to let the guests know when intermissions at the summit are coming to an end (kind of like the tone between acts in a theatre).  We managed to incorporate their sounds into the intro of our video in the hopes of making  a smooth audio-visual transition at the actual summit. If nothing else, we’ve got a dreamy intro for the logos.

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We had a look at the clients  website(s) and found a lot of orange in there. After moodboarding and storyboarding a few loose ideas, we located the do’s, dont’s and definite no! no’s! and begun sketching up a timeline. We also extracted the key values for the summit and had a look at the different speakers attending the summit. Here we picked a mix of (ten) people based on age and visual appearances. We gave them all a neutral costume so that we wouldn’t accidentally offend anyone (the ice might be thinner than you think here) but gave each character an individual print on the shirt.

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The scenes were composed in After Effects, and for most of them we used the AE 3D-camera so we had to build every component in each scene from scratch to make sure the resolution would be ok for the camera zooms. We used a lot of vector graphics and gave everything a vintage kind of feel using public domain images from the British library over at Flickr. This is an awesome, free resource, so make sure to check it out if you’re looking for some vintage hi-res book scans for your next project.

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We rendered some of the objects in the scenes individually exporting them with the Alpha+RGB settings and also used some wiggle and bounce expressions to make the animations a bit more smoothe and playful. Here is a link to a document containing some of them. Feel free to download these and try ’em out. There are plenty of informative tutorials up on YouTube, so save yourself some time and start using expressions.

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The film will premiere at the summit and I will post it here after. This was a great project to work on and although it was extremely time-consuming, I’m positive it will generate more of this type of work for us both. And more nights cut in half. No rest for the wicked.

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Thanks for checking in! Have a good one.

The deadly bandits – Animating the dead.

Animation, Film, Illustration, Photoshop

For film class we were asked to create a short (about 40 seconds long) video in After Effects of an anthropomorphic band performing a tune in 2.5D space. The video should contain some camera movement through a layered world of our own creation. Teaming up for this one was easy.

Amanda Nilsson and myself (Bad Apple Films) hooked up with Leon Remstedt and Daniel Sjöberg (Woodland Films) and spent a good minute on agreeing that something must be dead, and something must die. The story pretty much wrote itself. We knew we wanted a concept similar to Disney’s The Skeleton Dance (1929), and we knew we would have to come up with a grim way to abruptly end the song after about 30 seconds.

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Kevin MacLeod’s “One-eyed maestro” is 1:58 long – we needed it to be about 0:40. Easy fix.

Since we went with animal skulls instead of heads we had to pick animals with skulls that differ from each other. Que a cow, vulture and a crocodile. Amanda, Daniel and me animated a musician each while Leon animated the background. After a few days we met up and put the whole composition together over two days and added camera movement and sound effects.

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Original drafts and sketches for “Rojaz”, “Nevada” and “Diego” with their instruments.

Even though the animation tends to get a bit stiff when animating cut-out’s, it does add a quirky charm to your video. And if you haven’t played around with the built-in camera in After Effects i strongly recommend you try it out. It’s actually less complicated than one might think. Thanks for watching!

Dutzie the drunk – All you need is beer.

Animation, Film, Illustration

For our lip sync assignment we had to record some audio to begin with. We were told to ask random people the question; “What is love?” After picking out the best answer we were told to listen to the audio, and listen hard.

“What type of animal does the voice you recorded sound like and where is it?”

After asking Christian Andersen we knew it was going to head in a somewhat darker direction. A rabbit-like creature, trying to look real mean and hard, but with a inside of melted fudge just waiting to pour out of that thin, tired shell of a body. Dutzie was born.

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This was the first sketch made on the train home from school.

Obviously Dutzie was in a bar throwing back some nice crispy (lukewarm and stale) brew – through a straw. Since he is trying so hard – but still is quite helpless and small. We added the fly since, (as always) something must die. Blood must be spilled. The fly also gave us a reason to play around a bit more with Dutzie’s eyes and the audio (the buzzing of the fly in relation to the microphone in the film).

Instead of eye-brows we used whiskers and ears because a true oddball needs to have big dumb eyes and nothing around the eyes, but wrinkles. And eyes. So much eyes. Eyes eyes and eyes. Oddball – Eyeball. This is science at it’s finest. We spent a whole day on lip syncing using about 12 different sets of mouths – and another 5 days just adding life to the character and the surroundings.

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This was the first time for both Amanda and me working with Adobe Animate (or any type of animation for that matter) so I’m sure we could have gone a bit faster on a relatively small animation like this – if it wasn’t for the fact that we figured every single step out as we went along. This tutorial was amazing.

We fell in love with Dutzie – so we even printed T-shirts. And others seemed to like him too. This animation landed us a music video job we’ll be working on over the summer together. So stay tuned, because we’re not done yet.