Author Archives: Melissa Molina

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Bueno, Claro Que Si


My conference project is a reflection on my heritage as a Cuban-American. Bueno and Claro Que Si are two phrases that come up quite often when in conversation with Cubans. The project is comprised of three separate videos. The first video is more of a reflection of who I am and why I look the way I look. The second video is a reflection on working at a sneaker store where most of the customers only speak spanish and I can only communicate in Spanglish. In the third video I used footage of my grandmother describing parties in Cuba, translated it (for the most part), and used kinetic text to type it in english.

Each video uses rotoscoping to include short animations relevant to the kinetic text. This was my mission when going into my conference project- to use kinetic text and short animation together. The short animations and text were all drawn out in advance in order to set up my animations with kinetic text first, make the small animations second. I tried using different effects, using shape motions to interweave text and animation, and using different colors.


In the first animation I wanted to use the colors of the cuban flag, which also happen to be the colors of the American flag. On of the longest rotoscoping animations I made can be previewed above. I simply took a video of myself holding an expresso cup and holding it up to my mouth as if I were drinking from it. I then took that footage, created different frames from it, and drew over the video to create a short and sweet animation. I started with hair, then body, the expresso cup, then the coloring on the cup. Although I do like the first video I am more proud of the second half than the first.


The second animation is a reflection of my time working at a sneaker store and working with customers who only speak and understand Spanish. I wanted to convey my frustration with customers, and the situation. In this projection I wanted to use a different color scheme than most of my projects in general and get away from using grey or white. I decided to use blue because it is a color involved with the company I work at. The video was planned with kinetic text and where I would insert short videos. I also played around with drawing simple circles and making them into borders. During my conference project work I also discovered the beautiful revelation that I could make my own images and videos into tiles using effects. I love the dangling feet with shoes in this animation and the idea is reprised again with a border of legs.


I had a hard time in the third animation because I am very bad at drawing faces, so I will often revise it over and over only to make the faces look even messier. I threw out another rotoscope section in the animation because I did not think it was well enough done. At the end of the video my grandmother plays the piano and I rotoscoped a piece. For this piece, I went in and erased the face, and although there is no face detail now I am still very much overall happy with how it came out. I used a photo my grandma has of Cuba hanging up in her kitchen throughout. This piece was definitely much more for me and my family than anything else. I have always been interested in the parties in Cuba, and the balls my grandmother would attend. The video footage was something I have had for quite some time, and used to help me write a screenplay I had been writing. I always intended to use the footage in this sort of manner and I am glad I finally was able to. I am very happy with how it came out.

Over all, my project was very time consuming but worth it and something I am definitely proud of. I do wish the three videos looked a little more similar only to make it more clear that the video are indeed part of the same project and series. There is a part in the second video where the kinetic text goes incredibly faster then I wanted it to, but I think it works only to express how frustrating it is to work in retail and have several people speaking to you at once. I left it alone, only for this reason and hope it is conveyed in this manner. The first video too, I wish I had done something slightly different with the beginning.

Working on the project I learned I work very slowly. I make mistakes, and immediately go back to perfect them. I had to learn to let go and not make every singly frame perfect. It was also a part of the look that I was going for. An artist I looked at was Julia Pott, a lot of her work looks a little messy but there is a sweet charm to it that I really like. I tried to copy this charm and I hope I got a least a little bit of it. I am very happy with how my project turned out!



Video Mapping: Projector Night


Preparing for projector night was exciting and fun (only the slightest bit nerve wracking)! VPT is a great tool that allows for so many more options that I would have thought in projection. Quickly I loved the idea that one could import multiple videos and combine them in different arrangements in order to make something different. At the beginning of using VPT I enjoyed using the live camera combined with pre-made videos. The idea that a person could walk into a projection and see themselves is simple but could be a powerful tool. I played around with the camera feature in class and ended up with a still image of my eyes overlooking the classroom from above. Only slightly disturbing but it allowed me to play around with other tools VPT offers like blur edge , masking, and blend modes.


The idea I went into projection night with was: display a central video then surround that video with others and utilize blend mode and blue edges to make the videos appear as seamless as possible. The videos around my central video were the same composition but without the kinetic text. The only thing I didn’t catch was that there were a few seconds at one point in which main color in the central video changes to an orangey color but the surrounding videos stayed blue. This made for a little odd appearance but not a totally mismatched one. Something I wish I had thought about before going into Projection night was that my use of blurred edges would perhaps eat up some of the text in the central video. Simply, if I centered the text a little more in After Effects the blurred edges would have appeared a little bit cleaner.


Overall I was very happy with the end product of my projection and happy with my planning. My video viewed to loop seamlessly- another aspect I enjoyed. It is difficult to be completely satisfied with any of my projects. I always go back and think, oh well if i did this… or did that.., but over all I got more done with the time I had than I thought I would.


Projector Night itself was not absent of pressure. The idea that I could not create the projection in VPT before hand did scare me. I prepared myself earlier and allowed myself more time before class to play with my projection in VPT and get it to look how I would have wanted but it is always different once the projector is on. I closed out and started over at one point because I became frustrated with what I had done. I wanted to create something that was interesting to look at more than anything. I hope all the people who experienced my projection felt the least bit interested in all the colors, shapes, and different moving parts of it. It helped to step away from my projection for a while and experience the projections of my  talented classmates. It was a fun and inspiring night.


Projecting was a much more of a fun experience that I would have thought. I would have liked to play around a little bit more with masking and with creating shapes out of my animations as well. If I am able to project again in the future I would most certainly like to work a little bit more with the architecture of a building and space. I also enjoyed the concept that the viewer can become much more of a participant in the projection through the use of the live camera option on VPT. It is in this similar sense that the kinetic text is quite demanding. It tells you what to do, and I wanted to give limited space when reading it. It is simple, odd, and I hope these things were the littlest bit conveyed to all who viewed the projection.

Conference Project Proposal: Bueno, Claro Que Si

My conference project will consist of three animated videos with a length of 3 -6 min each. I will be using kinetic text and rotoscoping in order to create a series that reflect on my heritage as a Cuban-American.

Rotoscoping is the act of tracing/drawing onto each individual frame of a video in order to create an animation. In the past I have used rotoscoping by bringing in the video footage into adobe flash, creating keyframes, then drawing on another layer’s keyframes in order to make the animation. With this conference project I will attempt to use the roto brush in after effects instead in order to achieve the same outcome.

My goal is that each animation have kinetic text with accompanying line animations. In the photo above the video layer is apparent, and so is the layer above it on which I have sketched out what I want to be presented. Then the video layer will be deleted, and I will be left with a mini animation. Each mini animation will then be brought into after effects and find it’s home in a video. I will be using a Wacom tablet to draw with, and will be collecting footage of myself, and friends in order to create the mini animations. Many of the animations will not have color except for a few. I want to concentrate on bringing the animations in and working it with text. I hope each will tell a story.


Julia Pott, Belly.

Julia Pott makes surreal but beautiful animations. Her animations have much movement and incorporate a lot of different sorts of materials including real images. I want to incorporate some of what Julia Pott does in her animations into mine. I hope to work with more colors, incorporate real world images, and create mini animations that have a lot of movement to them. A lot of her work can be viewed on her Vimeo at:


The title of the Conference Project: Bueno, Claro Que Si, reflects what the project will be based on. The project will be based on my own personal experiences as a Cuban-American. Much of the kinetic text involved will be in my 2nd language: Spanglish, of course. Video #1 will be based more specifically on my experiences working in the sneaker department in a Macys where 90% of the customers only speak Spanish. Video #2 will focus on myself in relation to my parents and my grandparents and will be a better reflection on who it is I am. Video #3 will be a recounting of some of my grandparent’s memories of Cuba. Only video #3 will have a audio soundtrack. For video #3 I will be using footage I took of my grandmother retelling stories, some of this video will be rotoscoped, and some of the audio will be used. I have sort of storyboarded/ sketched out what each of the animation will look like. A sample of what this looks like can be viewed above. The end product, I hope, will be a bit of a mixed-media series comprised of three animations.



Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF


I used one of my favorite tiles for the Gif above. What I really became interested in, and what is very evident in the Gif above, is the idea of nature contrasted with the man made. Of course, the images shown are drawn roses-and are a representation of real roses. I really enjoy watching the black lines come in and separate the blocks of roses- making the image a little bit less chaotic.

Throughout my gifs I thought about the word CHAOS a lot. I thought about nature, and the use of computer-made objects such as lines and circles. I stuck with a very limited color scheme and focused on what ideas I had.

For the roses Gif above, I ended up with only 17 images. I started with the basic tile then would add a line here and there, save then repeat. Once I made the gif the first time I did not like how the lines would come out into the blocks then simply cut back to the beginning of the gif. So I then added each layer from 17-1 backwards in Gimp so that I could get the retracting effect of the lines. This created a better flow and a Gif that didn’t make me want to fix something. Although, even now, I wish I could fix the upper left hand corner lines so that they come out from either side rather than in a already square fashion.

In my next Gif I focused on fixed points, fixed areas, and rigid lines. Below, I created a Gif with a very simple pattern and movement that would too look endless in a loop. 


I ended up with 54 layers. To make this gif I made a very precise grid. I followed the grid very carefully so that each line would be precisely positioned in each frame. Watching the gif now, I want to open Gimp and make one where lines intersect. But I do enjoy how this one turned out- although simple. Nothing is jumping around, and it reminds me of the roses gif simply beach of the patterns. Watching it, there are no surprises. 

The gif below takes from the two gifs above. I thought about CHAOS, and about very exact shapes. The precise circles are distributed in an un-perfect circle that although bothers me makes a sort of sense with the chaotic movement of the perfect circles. 


Nothing is exactly perfect in this gif, and although it bothers me. It bothers me in a good sense. Although the gif is somewhat unpredictable it is predictable in the sense that it loops over and over. The gif draws elements from both gifs above. I finished the gif with 39 layers then placed 39-1 so that it would collapse back to the original circle in the center then loop seamlessly. The gif itself has 78 layers.

The process of gif making is much more time consuming than I thought it would be, but I enjoyed creating something I am happy with. There are many many gifs I am not happy with, but the process is definitely about practicing and figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t.