After Effects

A Little Monday Fun.

About 15 years ago I worked in the marketing and design department for a large midwestern based bank. Like most financial institutions, the marketing materials were conservative, and not very adventurous which was driven partly by corporate policy, and partly because the people running the department weren’t exactly visionaries in terms of design, advertising, and branding. That’s why when I saw the video below for Comdirect Bank I started grinning from ear to ear. There is no way this would have flown at my former employer, even if it is a spot aimed at recruiting UI designers. If this had been executed at my former job, by the time the committee running the project got done with it, and a thousand people hand commented or asked for changes this spot would have been a talking head in a yellow shirt giving a 15-second pitch. A pitch that probably would have appealed to an accountant, not a UI designer. Watch the video. It has no editorial, no voice over, just some really nice animation that was built using Cinema 4D, and it works. I tried to find additional parts of the complete campaign but came up with nothing. If I find additional images or a specific site, I’ll post an update.

We were honored being asked by the German bank, Comdirect, to create a short animation for an online campaign — aimed at attracting and recruiting UI-designers.

Our idea was to create a bunch of action-reaction based animations. The very first concept was based on the idea of pushing, shifting, scrolling and clicking various buttons triggering a diverse mix of animations. We then worked up different metaphors for dealing with money and at the same time used keywords the client had provided us. During the process, the client fell in love with all the little “reaction” stories so we ended up stitching them together to create a seamless narrative — open to interpretation and detached from conservative visualizations so often associated with banks.

The color palette is based on the new CI of Comdirect, predominantly anthracite and grayscale. Yellow acts as the highlight color with a gradient to green drawing the viewer’s attention to the stories’ heroes. The environment is based on dots, points, and circles inspired by the visual language used in the world of stock markets.

Our software package was Cinema 4D and Octane renderer. The edit and compositing were done in Adobe Premiere and After Effects.

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Adobe’s Software Development Teams Need To Get a Clue.

adobeYesterday I finally broke down and installed all of the software upgrades that Adobe’s Creative Cloud had been pushing on me since they were announced at Adobe Max. While the process of running the upgrades wasn’t painful (at first) it was time-consuming (and still is). So let’s get to this. If you haven’t upgraded yet, be prepared to spend a boat load of time being involved with this process. Not because the initial upgrade will eat your day, but because the aftermath will. Why? because the Adobe software engineering team failed to take into account that an upgrade involves more than just their base software. It involves all the third-party plugins, presets scripts, and additional add-ons that most of use to extend Adobe’s software and make it more functional.

The new upgrade installs completely new versions of the Creative Cloud suite. That’s right it doesn’t actually upgrade your existing software base, it installs a brand new version of each piece of software you use. Adobe, this is an engineering fail and let me explain why. By installing a new version of the software as opposed to overwriting the existing software you force me to spend hours downloading and reinstalling hundreds of third-party add-ons across 14 applications that were upgraded in a single move. Now I know I am probably an exception to the rule since I use more than the average Joe when it comes to your software suite, but even for people only using, let’s say Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, this sucks. For instance, I have to now download and reinstall just for Photoshop the Nik plugin pack, Topaz Denoise, Natural HDR, Luminosity mask scripts, all of the actions I had created for previous versions, and a handful of other plugins and scripts. For After Effects it’s even worse I have to download and reinstall the entire Red Giant suite, (Particular, Light Factory, Composite Wizard, Holomatrix, Warp, Text Anarchy, Plane Space, Lux, Shine, Starglow, 3D Stroke, Sound Keys, Mir, Tow, Form, Looks, Colorista, Primatte, and about 8 more), not to mention scripts like Ease and Wizz and about 10 others.

This is a giant time suck, and time is money.

Adobe is the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to creative software. If you are a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, filmmaker, typographer, sound designer, videographer, or artist you probably use at least one Adobe product if not components from the entire suite, and you are probably using Adobe’s Creative Cloud to stay current. Like many of you, I have a love-hate relationship with the Creative Cloud. I love that it keeps me up to date. I hate that every time there is a major upgrade I have to go through this bullshit. I get that Adobe moved to the Creative Cloud set up to combat software piracy, and control versioning across a large distribution base. What I don’t get is why after 3 or 4 years of pushing everyone to use the Creative Cloud, no one at Adobe has figured out that their upgrade process truly sucks. It’s broken. The user experience after making the upgrade is pure crap. It’s a gigantic time suck, and it could be avoided. The thing is, when you are the only game in town, you don’t have to make things right for your customer base

The thing is, when you are the only game in town, you don’t have to make things right for your customer base. You just keep doing what you are doing, because the chances of being dethroned after 30 years is pretty small. Adobe if you are listening, and I doubt you are, I am going to spend the better part of a day completing the upgrade to CC 2017, because your software engineering team didn’t feel that it was important enough to create an actual “Upgrade” as opposed to a complete new install. A new install that left legacy versions of 10 applications sitting on my hard drive wasting space, and is forcing me to track down essential tools I need to complete my workflow and reinstall them.

I know there are alternative tool sets available, but like so many I have bought into the Adobe workflow, and have spent decades learning to use these tools to master my craft. For lack of a better term, Adobe has me by the balls, and they know I am too invested to give them up. Consequently, it feels as though they have stopped giving a damn about the total user experience which involves maintenance like upgrades, but hey they added some new features to Photoshop I’ll probably never use.

I wonder if I can send them a bill for the time I’ll spend installing everything else I need to make the current updates fully functional with my workflow?

 

UPDATE: Like pouring salt in an open wound, if you are a Mac user, all of the applications in your Dock no longer work so you get to spend additional time removing all of them and adding the new application updates back in.

dock

PQ Mo•Bits.

Anyone who works in graphic design, broadcast, video or advertising, knows that time is usually pretty tight when it comes to getting work done. Deadlines are always shifting, last minute jobs are dropped in your lap and due by the end of the day. I’m not griping, I’m just saying, and that is why I am always on the lookout for content that I can use when I am in a jam and don’t have time to create it from scratch. Take the video below from Peter Quinn. It is the promo for his latest release, PQ Mo-Bits, a collection of “obvious, everyday icons that a motion designer needs to keep handy.” This guy does great work and trust me there are some of these that I can use on a regular basis. I’m not being lazy, I’m being thrifty because I don’t always have the luxury of time to create something this good.

Duik 15 for After Effects.

If you do any kind of character animation work in After Effects, you know the built in tools can be a bit limiting. Rigging parts to move together is time consuming and awkward, the puppet tool only goes so far, and results from both can be frustrating. Thankfully Duik 15 from DuDuf is coming later this month and it looks pretty damn amazing. The video below walks through a ton of new features, and then rolls into a show reel with some killer animations built using the plugin for After Effects. The video starts out in silent mode. Don’t adjust your speakers. When it gets to the show reel part the audio comes up.

SVT Powder ID – Trollbäck + Company.

The video below is a behind the scenes look from  on how they produced the SVT2 Powder ID. In world full of digital effects and post production CGI work, it’s refreshing to see that this was for the most part an old school process. In the video you see that  literally through colored powder by hand through a cut out piece of foam-core.  Sometimes no matter how good your digital tools are, you just can’t get the same results as shooting the real deal. This was shot at a whopping 1200 fps on a Phantom to get the super slow motion look.

“Inspired by the Holi festival of colors, our SVT2 Powder ID required us to develop our own mixtures to get the right viscosity for the dense and colorful look of our original designs. These colorful mixtures were thrown with human propulsion in a variety of scenarios; both with and without practically built “2” logos.”

Carboni Studio Mind Boggling Animation for Cruisr’s “All Over”.

OK this animated music video for Cruisr’s “All Over” by Carboni Studio is insane. First off it was animated in Photoshop and finished in After Effects to keep the hand crafted feel running through out. That’s right animated in Photoshop, Comped in After Effects. Now you watch it you’ll notice that each scene has to blend into the next as it ends. Not an easy task, and something that requires a lot of pre visualization and very talented animators to pull off.

Now, how many movies can you name here? The entire video is a montage of movie characters and scenes. I stopped counting after 20.

Sebas and Clim “Anicons”.

Here is something fun from designers . Anicons is a series of animated icons available for Adobe After Effects for about 50 bucks. The fully customizable icon sets that are easy to use and modify. The icons are built as a library for motion designers, editors, or anyone else involved with the development of animation, and moving images. The icon sets feature a fun illustrative style, and fluid animations with bright color pallets. The best part is, you could probably use these as a starting point for your animation and swap out the graphics with your own illustrations to extend the sets.