3 March 2011
Midterm Project Critique
My midterm project is based on a photography project I had last spring semester. Last spring, I made a black and white, film noir inspired “photonovel” or a comic book with photographs. Unfortunately, because it is not a digital photography project, the pictures are not online. They are posted in a black sketchbook as part of a “detective’s file.” The story follows Detective John Wilson Hart as he battles corruption and other metropolitan issues in a New York police district. I started telling the story with his last case file where he is killed by Madam Madeline King at the end so the midterm project is a continuation of the storyline. John’s older brother Dr. Calvin Lloyd Hart takes over John’s business in an effort to bring down the people who murdered him.
The 30 second video is an advertisement notifying “fans” of the John Wilson Hart series when the next installment is going to be released via date and website. The ad is supposed to be dramatic, intriguing, and mysterious as the story introduces Dr. Hart. Upon watching it, fans will browse the website and buy the novel whereas nonfans will be inspired to learn more about the series. To make this dramatic ad, I used several tools in Photoshop and After Effects.
In Photoshop, I composed the backdrop and bloodstained badge. Using online tutorials, I made the foggy and rainy night scene using layers and various filters. For the rain, I used “add noise” and motion blur followed by levels under the adjustment settings. Finally, I added film grain to make it look like rain from a Frank Miller novel. Next, I created the silhouette of a man using an existing picture I found via a Google search. This was the original picture:
I chose this picture because it was very large, had a white background that I could easily cut out, and had a subject in a simple pose wearing a fedora. This picture was perfect for my silhouette. I used the following layer properties: drop shadow, inner shadow, outer shadow, and stroke to turn this photo into a silhouette. I added a new layer, rendered clouds and then liquefied them to get my fog. Finally, I used color, blend modes, and layer orders to get the right composition. The words were also made in Photoshop but in a separate file so that I can animate them easily. Besides the night scene, I made a bloodstained badge through an online Photoshop tutorial that utilized shapes, colors, layers, layer properties, burn tools, smudge tools, and varying opacities. Once I finished all of these elements I animated them in After Effects.
My use of After Effects was strictly for animation. I did not create anything new in the program. I animated mostly words using the chapter “Textacy” from the course book. I animated the position, opacity, tracking, motion blur, scale, and leading to achieve a typing effect which adds to my crime drama themed book. I animated the title “Return of the Quack” using position and scale. Besides the text, I animated the badge’s position and rotation to make it look like it was rolling on the ground.
My sounds were apple loops from Soundtrack Pro. It’s supposed to sound like Dr. Hart is walking in a thunderstorm until he meets Madam King. He says a “witty line” (“The Doctor will see you, Madam”) and cocks a gun. I personally thought everything sounded cool and worked for my theme, but I could have improved my image by adding vocals (i.e. a narrator’s and Dr. Hart’s) to the track.
Overall, I am satisfied with my 30 second ad, but I could improve it in numerous ways. I could have created the background in After Effects. The background was the most frustrating part of the project because it looked fine in the program but when outputted it looked compressed. I imported the background as Photoshop layers and as a TIFF besides rending out in higher quality (i.e. as an animation file), but nothing seems to work. My background is the only part I would definitely change if I had figured out how to create it in After Effects. Unfortunately, the book didn’t give me ideas on how to achieve this, and the few tutorials I did find required cameras, plug-ins, or tools beyond my understanding and skill. Besides the background, I would have added vocals, slowed down the badge, manipulated a photo I owned (to make it 100% legal) and changed the pacing of my text (because it was very slow). In conclusion, I have learned a lot more about After Effects and Photoshop, and though I did use a lot of Photoshop to make the commercial, the techniques I learned such as burn, smudge, and liquidfy might be transferrable to After Effects. Now that I know what tools exist I must find them in After Effects.