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.

Free ink in water footage 1080/24fps.

DIY-builds and hacks, Film

Here’s some of the footage I wrote about in my previous ink in water post. I did some tweaking in Premiere Pro with the levels, and made a upside down version in black and white as well.

If you find any use for this type of stuff feel free to download it and use it however you see fit (there’s a download option if you watch the videos on Vimeo). Should work fine as top layers if you play around with the blending modes. In case you’re wondering what I’m on about here just watch this tutorial.

If you do happen to use this footage send me a link so I can check it out just for kicks.

How to shoot ink in water.

DIY-builds and hacks, Film

Today I shot inkdrops dissolving in water for a studio based music video planned for next week. This type of footage could be used as abstract backgrounds in titles, or perhaps as an overlay in some trippy video art. I’m sure there are a million other creative things (duh!) you could do with this type of footage. Now I know that there are plenty of animations out there like this, but they joy of making films for me is in crafting all my components, be it practical effects or a simple animated title card. Remember; stay original.

So whats there to think about? Well, I guess it all depends on how you’re planning to use your footage. In my case, I’m gonna do a live projection of this footage onto the artist and studio backdrop so the ink in water footage isn’t going to be too much in focus. If you’re making an opening title card, credits or something like that, you might want to be a bit more careful about where and how you put your inkdrop into your frame. Let’s get started.

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This project is very simple and you can pretty much set this up at home in your kitchen.

Here’s what you need:

  • Camera (something with a manual focus)
  • Tripod
  • Jug, or preferably a fish tank
  • Ink (or food coloring)
  • Eye-dropper
  • White background
  • Access to water / sink
  • Some sort of directional light source

The first thing you want to do is making sure that the container for the water has a somewhat flat side directed towards your camera. A cylindrical shape will be harder to light and you’ll end up with a lot of highlights. A fish tank would be optimal since you want the glass (or plastic) to be as clear and flat as possible.

Next, fill your container with water and set it up in front of your white background. Try and position your light on the side (or bottom if that’s and option for you) so that the area which will be in your frame is evenly lit.

Use a lens with manual focus. You want to get close enough to cut off all the edges of your container, but still be able to focus properly. The Canon 30-105mm did it for me. Now, before you put your ink in, put a spoon, stick or finger in the middle of your container so that you can set your focus on it. This is where you’ll be putting your inkdrops.

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Ink is cheap, especially if you order online, but if you’re in a hurry, standard food coloring works just as well.

I shot my footage at 24fps but if you know you’re going slow-mo on this you might want to shoot yours at 60fps or higher if that’s an option for you. Like I said, it all depends on what you’re going to use it for in the end.

After this you pretty much just hit record and put the drops in one by one. It all takes a bit of trial and error before you know how the ink reacts and behaves but this is a lot of fun and no drop looks the same. So keep at it. Here’s a few tips:

  • Ink dissolves/spreads quicker in hot water, and slower in cold.
  • Ink tints the water after a while – keep putting clean water in before each take.
  • You can swirl the water around with your hand before you put your ink in to make the trails rotate a bit more.
  • Mix colours! Start with something light and work your way up to darkness (i.e. Red – Blue – Black.)
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Mixing colours looks great – but make sure to time it so that it really shows – check your screen when shooting to get an idea of where and when to put in your next drop.

I’m going to edit my footage a bit before I use it. I plan on doing some colorgrading, mixed speeds and see how it looks inverted. If it comes out the way I want it too, I’ll put up a link so that you guys can download it and use in your own projects. But I really do recommend shooting your own, simply because it’s so much fun. Stay playful!