Making an animation was perhaps one of the most difficult and rewarding processes of this semester, as it was not only among the most labor intensive, but also the most showing of the effort put in. Like most tools utilized during this semester, using Aftereffects was an educational experience, for applying principles learned in class by putting them into the process truly reinforced those concepts. Furthermore, the repetition incurred throughout the process, like the utilization of puppet pins for simulating movement, really clarified how animation can be done using this medium.
Initially an issue I faced was creating the storyboard. I think this because my initial storyboard was incredibly ambitious, and reflected how little I knew about the animation process. Upon learning about the amount of work my ambitious project required, I reassessed and changed the idea entirely. Even the changed storyboard was a little bit too ambitious, so I edited and worked as I saw fit throughout the process.
The next step, gathering the assets, was a little bit tricky, as I needed to create and/or assimilate all images, characters, and settings, and then compile them into an After Effects friendly format. This process was time consuming, but I managed to make the animation’s characters and scenery using the Smart Objects option in Photoshop. The challenge here was creating a specific image for each action. For example, I had to make a separate pair of eyes to show my characters blinking, and make specific body parts for each character to simulate motion in After Effects. It is necessary to note that I didn’t assemble any sound assets until I began animating, and lost these assets when I changed computers. The lesson here is, always save all assets to the same folder that the project is saved in.
After this was done, I uploaded all my assets into After Effects and began my work. In keeping with the storyboard, I needed to make scenes that corresponded with each shot of the storyboard. To do this, I made a composition to correspond with each of these panels, and hence simulated camera angles. This process, of creating the scenes themselves, was difficult, as using the puppet pins and other After Effects techniques to simulate motion is generally difficult. Nevertheless, we continued on, and although I never quite perfectly matched realistic motion, I think the end result was enough like a cartoon to work.
Here is the first cut:
After the initial round of feedback I received, I changed a few things to make the animation a little better. First, I went back into Photoshop and fixed the lines of my characters so that they were bolder and stood out more easily. In addition, I changed the balloon’s mouth so that it appeared more like a mouth than a “bat”. Then I edited the motion to make the movements of the character’s more natural. Finally, I brought in some ambient sound and other music, which helped the animation progress and not remain stagnant. The final step was to make the dialogue of the film and convert it into key frames. From here, I parented the balloon’s mouth the the key frames, which allowed the mouth to move in chorus with the speaking parts. Essentially, this simulated the balloon speaking.
Overall, I would say I spent maybe 20 plus hours working on this project, and rendering certainly contributed to the length. Nevertheless, after rendering and compression, I finished this process and I can say that I am proud of the animation “Billy’s Revenge”