November 29, 2020 : Well, What’s Next?

Whenever I complete a project, there is a mix of emotions. Obviously a sense of accomplishment is there. However, I start to feel a certain anxiousness because I know a question to myself always arises: What’s next?

In the short term, there’s usually a list of items related to the recently finished project: uploading it, sharing it with peers, potential submissions to festivals (ugh), etc.

The past few weeks, I’ve been preoccupied with that along with a few non-Me-and-Me related things. Still, I’m starting to wonder what is next. At the moment, the answer is “I don’t know.” I’m always hesitant to jump into a new project, knowing I need some time to unwind; but couple that with the limited time I currently have to work on new projects, I’m not surprised that I don’t have an answer to the initial question.

At the same time, not working on much of anything is weird and won’t sit well with me. Therefore, I’d like to think I will try to occupy my time with something, even if it’s not intended to amount to anything. In the meantime, my goal is to enjoy the Holidays… and I’ll probably purchase and install the new version of Lightwave before the end of the year (for tax purposes).

posted by Pi Visuals at 12:51 am

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November 12, 2020 : ‘Me and Me’ Complete!

My new short, Me and Me, has finally been certified “Done”:

The last month was spent wrapping up loose ends and endlessly tweaking things. Since there wasn’t much of a deadline, I found it tougher than usual to put the pencil down.

That said, I liked how it came out. I will probably touch on a few pieces in future posts; but for now, I’ll just savor the feeling of a job well done.

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:28 pm

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October 2, 2020 : First Pass Animation Complete

All of the sequences for the short have now been animated. I have also completed the associated After Effects work and even added sound effects (although these haven’t been properly mixed). As such, I have a solid first draft.

I have viewed this version a lot… A LOT. I want to watch it some more, but the goal is to create a comprehensive list of needed revisions. I have reviewed previous iterations and made a fair amount of tweaks already this draft is already further along than normal.

That said, I still anticipate a lengthy list – at last count, the tally is up to 27. While I don’t expect any huge overhauls, I know some changes will take time. While doing this, I also hope to get started on the music tracks, which is the last major hurdle in production.

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:37 pm

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September 20, 2020 : Production Homestretch

The last two weeks were spent working on a very After Effects heavy set of sequences. It was a fun twenty seconds of footage that had challenging pieces, and I really like how it is coming together. Once that is out of the way, there are only three sequences left to animate – totaling about ten seconds.

Even when the Lightwave and After Effects work is complete, there will still be several things on the ‘To Do’ list. Notably, writing two musical elements, creating a Title Card, and audio mixing. I also still need to go through revisions. Although since I’ve been regularly reviewing and revising pieces as they were completed, the revision process will be truncated.

That said, things are coming together, and we are in the homestretch. Here’s hoping there aren’t any last minute issues or surprises that spring up.

posted by Pi Visuals at 12:46 am

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August 21, 2020 : Hologram Goodness

I just completed a set of sequences, and they required Holograms. I previously discussed the Holographic Timer, which borrowed techniques from Ultra – an older short of mine neither critically nor commercially successful – with some tweaks.

A new graphical element needed for this part was a Holographic projection of a character. I wanted to have some fun with this since had never done the effect before, but I also needed it to stay consistent with the Timer. Below is a screenshot:

I’m very happy with the end result. However to really sell the visuals, I realize the need to have solid accompanying audio effects. I’ve already placed in a lot of SFX for earlier sequences, and as always the case, it makes things so much better. I expect the same to happen with the Hologram sequences.

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:55 pm

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August 15, 2020 : After Effects Expressions

This week I finished animating a series of sequences totaling about 20 seconds, and I am pretty stoked about it. The animation itself was standard fare, but it requires some fun accompanying elements in After Effects.

One of these is a timer that is precise down to hundredths of a second. To easily keep consistency between sequences, I used a Slider Control to set the start and end times. Parts of the graphic even changes color based on the time.

To get all this to work (and look good visually), I only used Expressions. I have a base knowledge of them so this required some research. It was a fun challenge, and I’m happy with how robust it turned out. Here’s a screenshot pf the Comp in After Effects:

I still need to add a little more to the design of the timer, but it’s coming together. I also need to create another graphical element for the sequences, and that should be equally fun. That I haven’t started yet, but is next up on the docket

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:38 pm

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July 25, 2020 : Short Update – After Effects Work

I haven’t mentioned it much the last few weeks, but things are moving along with the short. More days than not, I am able to squeeze in an hour or so of work on it; and while that doesn’t sound like much, it adds up. In a given week, I have been able to animate anywhere from 5-10 seconds.

This week I wasn’t able to animate anything. Instead, I spent all my time in After Effects, working on three consecutive sequences that was animated last week. This 12.5 second stretch had a lot of effects; and it not only took time to get those done, but I also had to ensure consistency between the shots – adding extra time on top.

With it done, I’m not quite ready to get back into animating new sequences. Instead, I will review the completed footage to see what needs adjusting and tightening. I also want to add in more sound effects as the first part of the short already has them, but a good part does not. Ultimately, I am happy with my progress the last month or two. While I anticipate revisions for the existing footage, I only have about 50 seconds left of new animation to do… not too shabby.

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:32 pm

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June 20, 2020 : L & J-Cuts And Animation

L and J-Cuts are commonly used editing transitions to make two shots more seamless. Fun fact – I first studied them while watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. They are prevalent in that show because there is so much dialogue; and those cuts help the flow of a scene, preventing it from being too rigid.

However, I’ve realized L and J-cuts are not commonly used in animation, and I am still not sure why. Perhaps it’s because animation tends to be a more visual medium that needs to be more rigid and that expectation contradicts the cuts’ effect?

I’ve been thinking about this recently since I’ve been able to get a few more sequences done for my short. I’ve used these cuts in previous projects, but very sparingly. There have been times when I thought they would work, but during editing they seem off. As such, I don’t use them.

With the current project, I have identified a few potential spots; but I’ll need to see how things look in editing. It’s very possible they get nixed. Bottom line: we’ll see.

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:50 pm

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May 17, 2020 : Work On Short Resumes – Revisions

Animation has resumed on the short. It’s been in small doses – a little here, a little there; but when you string along several days of that, it adds up.

I needed to address an issue with the story. Specifically, the visuals didn’t effectively convey something in the script, and it was a key part of the short’s premise. I was worried this was the case, and asked others for their input (thanks Moridin Urban Exile).

Sure enough, I needed to tweak a few sequences to better solidify what was going on. Doing those revisions were necessary; and now with it done, I am happy with the first quarter of the short – ready to move on to the next part.

posted by Pi Visuals at 12:13 am

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January 19, 2020 : After Effects In All Its Glory

The first half minute of the new short is moving along, and several sequences required a good deal of After Effects work. One particular shot that just wrapped up was particularly heavy, and I liked how it came out. As such, I decided to create a quick gif (note you might need to click on it to animate):

Lightwave and After Effects work is done for the first 35 seconds. Before animating new scenes, the plan is to add sound effects and review the overall pacing. I really want to make sure the flow works, particularly since the initial shots set up the rest of the story.

posted by Pi Visuals at 12:37 am

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