Category Archives: Digital Tools for Artists

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Cloudbirth

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When I signed up to take this course, I knew that I ultimately wanted to learn digital art skills that could pair with the electronic music that has been my primary artistic practice for the last couple of years. Since the theme of the class is “club visuals,” the idea to make visuals that could be projected behind me during a live performance was an obvious choice of project, and perfect for the type of music I make. Being new to digital art, I had no idea how the project would shape until I started using Photoshop and After Effects and learning what was possible. Early in the semester, I was drawn to psychedelic imagery and color palettes and thought my conference visuals might be psychedelic, and incorporate fractals and kaleidoscopes. As I worked in After Effects though, I began to think more critically about abstract shapes acting as characters, and how to build narrative that develops formally. My work shifted away from executing very literal and categorizable ideas like psychedelic imagery, and opened up to more experimentation with how the expression of color, shape, and motion can set a mood and build a work’s personality. When it was time to make my conference piece, I decided the best course of action would be to build a framework guided by the tone of the music to set the mood, and then fill in the narrative with different shape characters that I could develop formally, calling upon all the techniques that we worked on in class. The piece I used is an ambient interlude piece called “Cloudbirth Interlude,” and so the project became the three minute long video, “Cloudbirth,” an ambient visual piece for the music of “Cloudbirth Interlude.”

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The piece opens with a dark purple glitter field that connotes outer space as well as elegance, setting the tone for the piece. The piece “Cloudbirth Interlude” comes in with a “glittery” sounding synth patch, and as this sound enters, the title of the piece, Cloudbirth Interlude appears in an elegant red font over the glitter field. From here, the piece launches into glittery fractals that move across the screen as the music expands. At first, I was almost afraid to use fractals, because of their potential to limit the space and ideas of the piece, but in using them so simply and overtly, as well as in pairing them with the glitter field, I felt satisfied that I was not leaning too hard into the trope of a “fractal space.” The main character of the piece is what I grew to refer to as “the ovules,” which are gray ovular elements that appear in the space and slowly move around. In my first draft of this piece, they had a lot of motion, partially because I was afraid of them becoming stale if they weren’t very active. However, as I edited the piece, I realized the power in the ovules moving slowly, and on their own conditions, even if it felt slower than I thought I “should” have an element move, to keep the piece dynamic. They move around a bit and then rise up, as the next element, red stars are introduced to the piece.

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In keeping with the space theme, my other important character in this piece is the red star, that flashes up from the fractal field and out toward the screen. This happens for a few minutes before a particle rain comes down and the screen strobes with a red “light” that eventually takes over and becomes the new backdrop. Here, our ovule friend can return, alone this time, and express other ambient sentiments, like rippling, and slowly changing from grey to blue to purple, and slowly swelling — though not without returning to its original form just before its departure. This final section of the piece is one of my favourites because of the “eye,” formed from ovals flashing and shaking. At this point in the video, it is almost the end, but all the elements from the fractal world have found a new iteration to take on, unified by their connection to their original identities, as well as to a unifying color palette, and the grounding of the ovule’s return. As the music comes to a close, this scene “strobes out” and flashes back to the glitter field, which serves to bookend the piece, but also to be functional if I wanted to loop the piece during a live performance.

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I found the project to be largely successful, considering its intended purpose. While previous work of mine in the class sometimes had a lack of motion that made imagery too stagnant, the nature of this piece was such that motion could be slower and simpler, and my lack of rapid perpetual motion worked as a stylistic choice. In its first draft phase, I felt the need to move the ovule characters, and they ended up taking on a “cuteness” that did not serve the piece. I think the edits I made helped the characters to be confident in their slow pace, and remain true to their identities within the space. That being said, adapting to making a piece that could serve a slightly different purpose that just a video work and allowing the slow pace to live itself out was a challenge, and I think there are still places where the video would benefit from being slowed down even more. One of those places that really sticks out to me is the part where the particle system is spewing from behind the singular ovule. While I love this scene, the particle system is moving too quickly, and I could not figure out the best way to get it to slow down without changing its identity within the space. I guess in this way, the pacing is one of the most successful elements of the piece, but also one of the unsuccessful ones in the places where it did not come across exactly how I wanted, as disruptions in the flow detrimental to this type of piece.

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As I evaluate how this piece relates to my other work, I think it was one of the first works where my voice and style felt liberated to come through. Not just because of the use of my own music but because I felt justified in building a slow, ambient world, and am starting to see my elements execute themselves with confidence in their identities. The mix of purples and blues and reds and greys set a mood that suited the music and the narrative, and while it was a somewhat limited palette, I never felt like I had to hold back or constrain the ways in which I used them. Similarly, the patterns established by the elements were always interconnected, but not too tightly; the stars find their way back into the piece in a vastly different iteration, as do the ovules, and their ovular backdrop. Motion is the element that is probably the most constrained, as it is super simple, but it feels like I am now developing a sense for when and where elements need to move, in relation to the piece, in order to not become stale.

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Cloudbirth is really just a first take on visuals that I could project with my music. Until I actually use these visuals at a show, I will not know exactly what elements need to change and what can continue to be thematic in my work, but as I continue this kind of work, I plan on expanding on each of the moods set by the different scenes, playing with how slow and ambient I can let them be, while still introducing enough motion to make them interesting as a backdrop for live music. The element of the large oval with waving edges that appears in the fractal world would ideally become a kind of bright frame around my body at the live shows, with the particles and stars embellishing without detracting from me as the focal point. This project, and the wrapping up of this class tied together all the technical and conceptual skills we had worked on and forced me to start considering my own voice as a digital artist, now that I have a basic understanding of how to structure animation art. After finishing and reviewing the work I did on Cloudbirth, I feel like I have reached a point where I can start building exciting visual narratives to go with my music and other artistic projects.

Conference Project Post-Mortem:

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For this conference project, I intended to use after effects to recreate repeating scenes in my dream when I was a child. I believe most of us share the same experience of entering the same dream. When I was a child, I used to see kaleidoscopes before I went to bed and climb into and out of wells as I entered my dreams. When I had fever (even before I knew I would have a fever), I would dream of climbing on cement walls with cement balls crushing on my back. I also repeatedly dreamed of walking into a kindergarten with students and teachers with just three kinds of faces, my parents and I. Sometimes I could see two parallel worlds in my vision. These nightmare-like dreams had given me a lot of pressure, but I wanted to put them into a more joyful theme for this conference project.

After the trip to Japan during this spring break, I made several collages about color palettes I enjoyed for my printmaking class. I decided to introduce pastel colors in spring, for example, green, yellow, pink. into my video. I also picked out a song made by a Japanese musician to go with my project. This aesthetics are influenced by music I listen to on soundcloud. They are some artists from PC music, a record label, for example, Hannah Diamond and QT. I enjoyed the bright and synthetic characteristics with a hint of loneliness and disappointment of it. For my conference project, I hope to combine intimidating images with delightful colors.

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I was able to recreate the kaleidoscope accurately. I took an image of traditional candy in Japan and photoshoped it so the color fit my theme. it was hard for other images since I didn’t have a specific image for other dreams and it was way more effort to put in than I planned to and more technique beyond my capability. Thus, I tried to simplify images into abstract shapes and outlines. Some of the most difficult things to make was on the 3D layers. Because I had so many layers, I had to create combine several after effect files into one in order to create animations in a faster and easier way. I was glad to pick up some new techniques (wave effect, adjustment layer, cc sphere, reversing the direction of a layer) after I followed tutorials on Youtube.

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As I was creating the animation, I kept reminding myself to limit my choices, organize the video into sections and repeat motions and form. I enjoyed the use of echo effect from background in 2d layer to foreground in a 3d layer. Same for the kaleidoscope effect, I introduced this animation twice in the beginning and the end of the video. This decision was inspired my dream: I used climb in and out of the same well as I enter and leave my dream world. I also loved the parallel layer with particles and tunnels and the next section with wave and ball form. I was inspired Ben’s amazing tunnels and Clark’s storyboard in her little robot animation (sudden zoom-in and zoom-out).

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In my conference, Angela suggested me to introduce more parallel/horizon line effect and animate the rotation of horizon line as the parallel world separates. I agree that these adjustments would make audiences more drawn into the video and make my video more cohesive, but unfortunately I did not have the time to do so. I also regret that I could not figure out the best way to make the kindergarten sections. Using just the trim line effect makes the section too plain compared to other ones. I wanted to use more specific images like pictures of my family, but I found the style contrast with other sections too much. So I decided to use outlines of images of interaction between students and teachers I found on line. In summary, I hope my video could have a more consistent story line or a clear expression in my content instead of putting together separate dream images with nothing common.

Impossible – Conference Project

My conference project was not inspired by any work or event in particular; instead, I looked to my newly developed experience since I had been enrolled in this class. I began by creating some squares on a shape layer. By starting simple, I gave myself some breathing room for the effects that I would use. I then added repeaters to the two rectangles in the frame and increased the amount of copies. I added some noise to add visual flare and made the layer 3D. I looked at the waveform to the song I chose (Zebra by Oneohtrix Point Never) and keyframed the copy amount for both rectangles to increase with the change in notes. I did the same thing for the Y axis rotation on the shape layer and rotated it. conference wordpress 1 The next element I focused on revolved around the waveform effect, which displays the waveform of whichever audio source is assigned to it. I left the rainbow noise in for a moment to make for a transition. The waveform spikes and oscillates with the song, adding dynamic effect to the project. No keyframing was necessary to achieve motion. conference wordpress 0 Post-waveform I decided to use fractals; it is an element which never fails to prove itself as dynamic and visually engaging. It took a long time to keyframe and adjust the fractal into a form that could magnify for a long amount of time, as the value slider got more difficult to control as the fractal grew deeper. I also added a white solid layer and chose the opacity flash preset to generate a strobe. As the fractal’s closeup ceases, I added CC Sphere with a fractal superimposed over it to create an object of focus. I set the sphere to rotate along with the actively mutating fractal which created a balance between ambiance and dynamics. This proceeds on for a while; I wanted this section to be trance-like, meditative even. I want viewers to be stunned and contemplate the nature of the complex mathematics which generate such spectacle. The fractal in the background fades out with the music, and the sphere becomes pale and featureless before reversing its revolution of the fractals in the opposite direction. conference wordpress 2 I wanted to move people very rapidly from that meditative space to a more dynamic one. I suddenly cut the white backdrop and fractal and replaced it with a black solid. Here I added CC Particle World  to give the appearance that the sphere has burst with energy. This continues on for a while; perhaps a bit too long, I will admit, but I was so fascinated by the movement and nature of the particles that I decided to leave this in for a while. It gets slightly repetitive, so I added another waveform to draw the viewer back into the space. conference wordpress 3 For the final section of the project I introduce text; ambiguous text, of course, as I wanted the project to remain largely abstract. Question marks serve as a perfect symbol for the daunting and quizzical nature of life and spacetime. I added CC Drizzle, CC Scatterize and CC Particle World to create the raining fire effect. After tweaking the settings, I was finally able to get the effect I wanted. I then added additional text; a statement.“What do we make of this impossible geometry?” This serves as the closing to the project, a question one might ask themselves and hopefully push them to ponder the epistemological ideas about mathematical systems like the ones used to create these virtual worlds. conference wordpress 4 I found the conference project rather difficult; I felt as though I was running out of material very quickly, and grew frustrated; I was much more comfortable in the conceptual context of the kinetic text project, but I am glad to have had the experience of creating this work from the ground up.  

The Drop – Kinetic Text

When I initially thought about what I wanted to do for my interpretation of the kinetic text prompt, I knew I wanted to work with a specific event from my life. I knew that the context gave a dynamic, dramatic sort of scaffold for me to work with. I decided to interpret my experiences with LSD through a digital lens.   I started by choosing a song; I wanted something that conveyed the somber and hallucinatory nature of the story that I was telling. I went with The Haxan Cloak’s track Excavation Part 2; a pessimistic, dark ambient and electronic funeral dirge.   I normally operate best via experimentation, and have difficulty constructing schematics or storyboards for this assignment, so my workflow was slightly affected. As I set out to create this grim revisiting of an incredibly traumatic period of time, I began to organize in my head the way that I wanted to begin.   kinetic text wordpress 1 I began by adding the Radio Waves effect to a black solid and began tweaking the settings. The wave type was set to polygon and the star option was set to on; the color was set to a dark green. I then thought about creating an introductory sequence for the text.  I stacked multiple effects on these initial phrases, which created the scan line transition and slight oscillation of the letters as well as the flashing opacity. The text talks of trauma and insanity; the madness and mania that one experiences under a powerful drug like LSD.   kinetic text wordpress 2 The obvious next step was to work with fractals. I positioned a new layer in my timeline and added the Fractal effect. I set the “set choice” option to Julia Inverse and the equation to “z = z^7 + c” and keyframed the post-inversion offset to generate the fractal in this frame. By serendipitous chance, this created the elements on the perimeter of the fractal which bear resemblance to human skulls. The narrative was now moving into more concrete territory; I began to map out from memory what happened to me in a succinct and unsettling manner. I wanted a darker atmosphere to fill up the negative space and added the image that you see in the back. This image to me conveys the motif of suffering which appears repeatedly in the project. I used an effect called Wiggle to make the text shake and stutter, adding motion to compliment the stillness of the backdrop. I faded to black in order to provide some space for the transition. I kept the text as an element superimposed over the temporary black layer for the several seconds to ease into the next slide.   kinetic text wordpress 3 The next phase of the project involves another backdrop; over-saturated, luminescent, and flashing. I changed the text to avoid overly repeating the same elements. I used CC Threshold to reduce the detail to a harsh black and white. I also added a glow effect to create the strong contrast between colors. The first bit of text changes in opacity and transitions into frame using an animation preset called Venetian blinds and then fades out. The other bits of text are static; without another element in motion (the fractals in the last scene), I wanted things to remain largely static. This part of the project comes at a point in the song where elements are taken away to add tension, so I followed suit by creating a visual compliment to its qualities.   kinetic text wordpress 4 This part of the project serves as a sort of climax; at this point in the story, the drug has kicked in and I was lost in a reality where time and space as I knew it were subject to hallucinatory editing. I aspired for this section to be the most aesthetically bizarre to reflect the sensory overload I had experienced. I superimposed a new layer over the last image to make for some visually interesting results.I took an image of a shrouded figure standing over a cliff and added CC Blobbylize, which gave the entity a more amorphous, unrecognizable visage. CC Threshold was utilized again, to the same effect. Fractal Noise and Turbulent Noise made for the dreary cloudlike imagery which oscillates in the background. I used various animation presets to make the text jitter and explode into frame, keeping the motion of the project moving and adding dynamics.   I wanted to generate feelings of isolation and dread; my goal was to interpret my experience through a digital lens; a dark looking glass through which we can see the unspeakable. I’m proud of this work, and it carries a deep personal meaning for me about the nature of our reality. I was very excited to share this work with others, and am ecstatic to have gained so much experience from this project.  

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Mold and Liquid Metal

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My conference project draws inspiration from several sources. From animated films such as Hiyao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky to video games like Valve’s Portal 2, fictional media has often explored the relationship between nature and technology within futuristic, post-apocalyptic fantasy worlds. Overgrown weeds and mold attempt to retake the remains of long-abandoned high-tech societies. I’m not sure quite why I’m particularly drawn to this theme, but I find that it serves as both a central aesthetic and plot element in many of my favorite films and video games. The visual contrast between raw, colorful nature and silver steel is striking.

For my conference project, I wanted to channel this type of imagery in an animation to accompany an original piece of my music. Before I began animating or even had my vision for what would become the visual content of this piece, I composed and produced the music. In creating this track, I experimented with a variety of musical styles such as breakcore, idm, and trap. Due to its constantly and drastically evolving song structure, this piece works well as the score to an animation. As I have done with past visual accompaniments to my music, I tried to change and introduce visual elements in sync with changes in the music.

In this post-mortem, I will discuss some of the ways I channeled my inspirations into this piece, as well as the technical processes I used to create these effects. Due to the length and complexity of the piece, I am unable to discuss every aspect of the animation and the creative process behind it. I have thus chosen to discuss only the elements I found most challenging and interesting.

The “nature” influence in this piece is directly drawn from the mold-like patterns found in the 2017 film Annihilation. The following image exemplifies the imagery in reference:

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Using adobe color, I created a color palette based on this image. This palette is utilized in the first half of the final animation, until the 2:22 mark. I also used this image to create the background of this first half. In photoshop, I transformed a cropped square from this image into a tile repeated as a background. In after effects, I applied the kaleidoscope cc effect to this image, creating the floral mold pattern serving as the background of the following still:

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The black “liquid metal” layer in the forefront of this still is one element of my animation that draws influence from the technological in this dichotomy. The process of creating this effect required much experimentation, but was ultimately one of the most personally satisfying parts of this whole project. My initial goal was to create a moving “liquid metal” overlay effect similar to that used in experimental electronic musician Oneohtrix Point Never’s recent music video Black Snow. Upon seeing that video, my first thought was of the liquid metal effect used for the T-1000 in the 1991 film Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

Still from "Black Snow"

To achieve this effect, I loosely followed instructions from youtube tutorial videos, supplementing with my own experimentation. First, I created a composition with a transparent background layer. I then created a black solid with the Fractal Noise effect. On this instance of Fractal Noise, I used the “dynamic twist” fractal type and the “soft linear” noise type, with a very high (325) contrast and a very low (-101) brightness. I then applied the Find Edges effect, with “invert” on. To create movement, I used the Turbulent Displace effect, and keyframed the evolution. At this point, I had achieved the liquid metal effect, but because it was applied to a black solid, the background was black. To make this effect applicable as an overlay, I used unmult, an effect which turns specific colors transparent. I set this effect to make the black solid transparent, thus creating a liquid metal overlay with a transparent background that could be applied over my animation.

Liquid Metal Overlay

To create the liquid metal sphere that appears at 00:11, I followed essentially the same process, but applied the cc sphere effect. The second sphere in my animation, which consists of moving lines, was also creating using this effect. To create this element, I created a composition with a shape layer. In this layer, I drew a vector shape using the pen tool. I then applied the wiggle transform, stroke, gradient fill, and repeater animation tools to this vector shape. Finally, I applied the cc sphere effect to the shape to give it its form. The following is a screenshot of this element.

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In conclusion, I’m very proud of the work I accomplished with this project. I successfully executed my goal of creating a visual accompaniment to a piece of my music; one which channels the dichotomy between technology and nature through the replication of visual elements from several sources of inspiration. Not only did I successfully execute this goal, my creative process taught me new skills in after effects. Through the process of creating this piece I learned how to create transparent solids using unmult, create liquid metal elements using fractal noise, and turn vector shapes into spheres using the cc sphere effect.

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Let Me Delete Your Anger

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I started thinking of my project by looking at natural elements in the world around me on campus – fractal leaf shapes, clouds, the blossoms on the dogwood tree on Glen Washington Road. I was looking at the color and shape motifs in the works of Frank Stella and Yayoi Kusama. I am also very inspired by movement and performance artists, especially those who engage with earthwork. During the inception of this project, I was looking at Robert Smithson’s Yucatan Mirror Displacements. I thought about his introduction of foreign surfaces into the environment and how he used the human technology of the mirror to augment a place. I wonder how using Aftereffects can augment the textures and surfaces we experience in our lives. I became enamored with the particle effect, and so I attempted to play with the software and create something that could not exist under our current laws of gravity and motion. An initial draft sprang from a dream of watching blossoms fall upward. I animated a sequence somewhat like snow which I layered on top of a video.
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However, I received the critique that my personal interests in video art were at odds with the technical demands of the class. I realized that when making creative work, I have a habit of relying on my interests and current obsessions and allowing them to guide my workflow. I had to adjust my mindset to working consistently in small chunks of time rather than in large obsessive stretches. My hardest challenge was in stretching myself to find new ways to do things in order to create what I was imagining. After building the initial particle sequence, I felt dry of ideas for developing the sequence into a longer piece. In turning through my notes, I recalled our glitch assignment. I spent a session making .png glitches of screengrabs of my blue and white cloud.  However, although I’m really interested in glitching and would like to explore it in the future, I realized I had to make quick decisions and finish a polished project.
After converting a .png file to a .txt file, I thought the text looked really interesting and had all sorts of graphic symbols like the apple that I could use.  In the past, I have been  drawn to work that makes the text into a graphic part of the piece.  I decided making a text tunnel would be an appealing challenge that would help me practice my skills in building a tunnel and also develop my knowledge of the text animators.
I wanted to make the fog blow through the tunnel toward the viewer.  I copy and pasted sections from the long text document into the text box in Aftereffects.  However, this method stretched the text box in undesirable ways and didn’t look visually pleasing.
I watched a video for inspiration and learned to put the text into a separate composition with settings that made the comp long and skinny.  This allowed me to animate the text in three dimensions like we learned in text studio.  I then made a copy of the layer and flipped it, so that its animation would mirror the bottom layer.  This was the most challenging part of my animation, because it required such close attention to the detail of the keyframes.  I am still not completely satisfied with the symmetry; the top layer moves into frame at a faster rate for the initial 10 seconds before coming more closely into alignment with the rest of the tunnel.
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I think the simple color scheme of blue, white, and black is successful at creating the tone I wanted for this piece.  I wanted to amplify the sense of harmonious symmetry by having the video form a complete loop.  So, I doubled the length of my comp and applied a time reverse effect to the second half.
The title refers the peaceful mood that this piece evokes in me.  I like the idea of using glitching for good.  Maybe the computer is refusing to process all the stressful data it receives and instead is sending a peaceful cloud into our minds.  Or, it could be a sinister memory loss gas like the climactic scene of Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer.  I leave the interpretation to the audience.

Kinetic Text

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For my kinetic text video prompt, I struggled with what exactly I wanted to animate. “Men are trash” and other short phrases popped into my head… Ideas of a visually creative video with strong repetitive sentence or saying was what I was leaning towards. After a bit of brainstorming and planning, I came to the conclusion that maybe that wouldn’t be the most engaging video to animate. At least it was not in my opinion. In the end I chose to animate a poem I wrote in January of last year, after struggling with bouts of depression and choosing the right anti-depressant. The tone of the poem is hard to decipher, I think it may be different for every one that reads it. So, choosing the right song to fit it took a bit a time. I shuffled through the Submarine movie soundtrack by Alex Turner, through the album of my fellow New England native Lin Tullgren, and even some weird chillwave tracks. Nothing quite fit right. It was only until I stumbled upon an old favorite song of mine from the soundtrack of Spirited Away, did I feel like my poem had a certain tone. The song is called “The Sixth Station,” it comes on during the part in the movie when Chihiro and her small group of unlikely companions silently take a train across a lake. The feeling of the track is not necessarily sad, nor hopeful… I would say overall the song is categorized as deeply emotional and beautiful.

In this poem I specifically focus on the condition of my pillow on my bed, and how it is affected by the going-ons in my brain. Due to that topic I chose to use a watercolor painting of a bedroom from the Studio Ghibli film When Marnie Was There. I put the opacity on low and made the bottom layer a dull moss green. I chose this shade of green due to its peaceful demeanor, but also because the color green represents growth, renewal and rebirth. From a psychological perspective, the color green helps create an equilibrium between the head and the heart. Green is an emotionally positive color, that helps give us the ability to love and nurture ourselves. The message or purpose of my poem is to say that I am working on getting better, that after every hardship I go through I will get up and clean up the mess.

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I would like to preface this by saying that not every animated word was timed accurately in combination with the song. The file was so large due to the text and the length of the video that the song would often not play back while I attempted to watch the animation while working on it. So there are a few parts in the video where a word may take up too much time on its own on screen, which makes those parts a bit boring and uncomfortable. I did not foresee the program moving so slowly for this studio prompt, however, I had to make do with what I had and try my best to anticipate changes in the music.

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Throughout the video I wanted to animate the words or sentences with certain effects that complimented them and perhaps even emphasized them. In hindsight, this was not really doable. Therefore I had to be more creative and straight forward with my animation. For example, throughout the entire video I kept every word at 65% opacity, but when I wanted to really emphasize the feeling or image of a word I put the opacity to 100%. I chose to fade out a lot of the words and sentences because it felt appropriate in conjunction with the song, as well with the overall emotion of the poem.

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With some words I was allowed to use an effect that fit the meaning or action of the word appropriately. For example, for the word ‘tingling’ I used an effect that spun it onto the screen letter by letter, and spiraled it all the while. Some other words I wanted to use an certain effect but couldn’t find the right one. So instead I would simply play around with a trim line to have it come on screen in a more interesting way. With other words I would animate them onto and off of the screen in unison with a change in the music. Luckily this was not difficult to do as the entire song consists of only piano.

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More later on in the video I decided to stop focusing so much on the relationship of the animation effect and the meaning of the word, and to focus more on the animation of words and sentences with the movement of the piano playing. Despite not being able to hear the changes in the song while animating most of the poem, I somehow still managed to sync them up. However at the point of these next two screenshots, the song had ended and I was unaware. In a way it is fitting but I wish I had known so I could have been able to go back to the beginning of the video and shorten the screen time of some unimportant words.

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Unfortunately this animation took 13 hours to render to a video file, so it would take a bit more time to go back and edit all of the things I had unintentionally animated. Overall, I am happy with how this video came out, despite how difficult and frustrating it was, I think it paid off mostly.

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Space Oddity

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For this first studio prompt, we were told to listen to the late David Bowie’s song “Space Oddity” and to think about what exactly Bowie was trying to say to us and to decide what we will say in return. I grew up listening to Bowie, I know his songs front to back, and especially this one. He sings of an astronaut, Major Tom, who launches up into outer space… never to return. The song is dizzying due to the fact that the instrumentals are almost the only thing that tells of Major Tom’s journey in the cosmos. Though this astronaut is lost, we know that his adventure continues, and that there is much to be found on his way.

I am terrified of outer space. Yes, it is grand an beautiful, but also horrifying, dark and without air. I commend all astronauts around the world who pursue that lifelong career of exploration and discovery, who are brave enough to leave home knowing that it will be years before they return. In my response video, I decided to say “Stay. There’s much to explore here.” Which is why my video is called “Earth Oddity.”

At the beginning of my video, I pan outwards from a desert landscape, heated by a sizzling sun. The sun rises on its own, slowly. And after the intro of the song, sand dunes of different shades of earth tones grow up from the ground, pointing high to the sky. They then spin out of control, dizzyingly, and grow big enough to consume the screen.

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Once the screen has become a uniform color, trim lines in disguise as snakes slither in zigzags across the screen. This part in particular shows that despite unsavory environments, it can still allow the possibility of sustaining life. Each trim line (snake) is colored vibrantly in red, green, or yellow. I put a Thread effect on each one to mimic a pattern of common snake skin. The trim lines travel across the screen in different directions, and at different speeds.

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At the next part of the song, I wanted to go even further down in scale of life on earth. To a microscopic level even. This is the point when I used the kaleidoscope effect for the prompt. I went onto google images to search for the right image that portrayed an even smaller form of life. Initially I was going to choose a photo of flowers and mountains, but I realized that I didn’t have to go that far down just yet. Ultimately I ended up choosing a photo of a Monarch butterfly, lightly perched on the central disc of a pink flower against the background of a forest.

I spend several moments keyframing the transition of the kaleidoscope. The amount of color combinations the Monarch butterfly photo yielded was quite satisfying. The evolution of the image synced well with the upbeat melody of the song. I saw it as though we were looking through a microscope at tiny organisms and watching them writhe with life energy.

Afterwards I faded out of the kaleidoscoped image and onto a light blue background, reminiscent of our daylight sky. At this point I wanted to give the feeling of one looking upwards at the clouds and becoming overwhelmed with the notion that we are so small and the planet is so vast.

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For the cloud animation I created a few white ovals of different opacities, and added a repeater effect to each one of them. Each repeater effect allowed the oval copies to move at their own velocities and turn in different directions. Apparently there are at least 10 basic types of clouds… But I think I read in a textbook once that there are actually 30 different types of cloud patterns/behaviors. There wasn’t exactly an easy way to animate 30 different cloud types, however, I did my best at showing some diversity and versatility with the movement and portrayal of the animated ovals. This next screenshot shows several circles animated with repeaters to go along with ambient music.

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To continue with the theme of going further down into smaller scales of life, my next animation was of a fractal, with which I wanted to imagine a cell. In the few moments the fractal is on screen, it revolves around and manipulates itself in size, shape, and color. I wanted this cell/fractal to demonstrate the smallest scale of active life. After turning the fractal inside-out, I minimize the scale almost completely so that it disappears from the screen entirely. In a way this is us zooming out of the macro perspective we were at with observing the fractal cell.

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After zooming out of the macro perspective, we come back to the chaotic kaleidoscope shot of microscopic life. This time I chose to animate a photo of a field of colorful flowers before a majestic mountain range. The kaleidoscope evolves along to the cheerful tune of the song, before it quickly begins to multiply upon the screen, resulting in a very detailed pattern of natural colors.

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Ultimately, with this video, the message I put forward is that there is plenty to explore here on planet Earth. There is an abundance of colors and light and life. Yes, there may be that plus even more up in space, but we know more about outer space than we do about our own oceans… Save the risk, unlike Major Tom, and explore what this world has to offer before setting off for other planets.

Conference Project Post-Mortem: An Exploration of Animation Techniques

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At the beginning of my final semester at Sarah Lawrence, I realized that digital animation was a form of art that I was mostly unfamiliar with. Since my sophomore year I’ve taken three oil painting classes, and one sculpture class… It was important to me to take advantage of these creative courses while I still had the time.

It took a few weeks for me to get the hang of the Adobe Creative Suite, but once I knew the ropes of the programs I took vantage of my lack of experience. Throughout the semester there wasn’t any one thing in particular that came to mind for what I wanted my conference project to be. Nor was there a specific artist that I was following with my creative method. At a certain point I came to the conclusion that I wanted to use most of the techniques I had learned in the course and explore them almost individually for my conference work. Angela and I spoke in conference and she told me to stick to the abstract, and that helped me fulfill these videos. With these final four videos, I aimed to show my growth and understanding in this class with Adobe After Effects in a minimalistic way.

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My four conference videos consisted of: a 1 minute video of a 3D tunnel centered on a vertical plain with a text fading up and out; a 2 minute video synced to the beats and happenings of an electronic song; a 1 minute video of a green square morphing into origami style shapes and animals; a 2 minute video of the masking evolution of a square. With these videos I purposefully chose not to have any specific direction, and allowed the Adobe program and my intuition to guide me alone.

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In a couple videos I struggled with the preciseness of some movements of position. In the tunnel video I really wanted the text to be perfectly centered coming into the screen and out of it, but didn’t succeed in doing so manually. One frustrating moment was when I was working on my morphing origami video… Later on in the video I had too many pen points from previous shapes that I had to delete a few to make the following shape easier to make. This resulted in those points deleting themselves from all previous keyframes. Consequently I had to go to the beginning of the video to add more points to complete the shapes I had already made. Another difficulty I faced was choosing the right color palettes. Well, “right” isn’t exactly the appropriate word. I mean to say that I like the color schemes I chose, and they pleased me, but in once instance the color contrast made it hard for the audience to see the animation well.

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I am very proud of my conference video that I synced up to a favorite song of mine (“Girl” by Jamie XX). This video was completed only after my conference critique, in which I showed two shorter videos. It was lucky that I waited to make this one, because I wouldn’t have struck such inspiration without having watched a couple other videos from the class. There were some specific effects I noticed other students had used and they were very appealing. It worked to my advantage that they went well with the animation of this video. One student used an effect called “fractal noise,” which I took to animate an otherworldly chorus in the song. I was also reminded of the use of particles, and how their constant movement would be great to animate ambient sound. I used another early technique, the repeater, to animate the bass in the beginning of the song… Making the repeater circle move from the center of the screen outwards in motion of the beat. Lastly, in the Girl video, I used the effect CC Scatterize to animated my mutated circle. With this effect, the object in question is manipulated to scatter into tiny particles, which I used to animate the final echoing beats of the song.

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Overall, I am content with how these conference videos came out. I believe that they show my creativity and growth from the class very well. In the beginning of my work on these videos, I had intended to make six individual ones consisting of a minute each to meet the conference project requirement. However, I reached a point where I realized I could show a lot more evolution of thought if I made some longer videos. Which is why two of my videos were extended to two minutes.

Conference Project Post Mortem: Space

shadow Throughout this class, I have been drawn to triangles and black & white geometric shapes. I had a bit more of a plan for this piece than I had for my other animations. I knew I wanted to use black, white, and a blue shade. I began by making the first element, triangles with a black fill and gradient stroke. I arranged them all in the positions I wanted. I planned to make them fall into the blue background, but after listening to the music repeatedly, I thought it would suit the music to make the triangles fade onto the screen and then start dancing. After making these triangles, I made the thick white line repeater. I used an element similar to this in my Space Oddity piece, but I loved it so much that I changed the skew of the white lines to create a different angle. I duplicated this layer and played around in After Effects. I continuously remembered that I only needed about 3 elements and 3 colors. I tried really hard to stick with this. I ended up creating a white line repeater that has much skinnier lines. I loved this repeater even more. I thought about just using the skinny repeater, but realized I could use both. I then made the transparent triangle that comes in on top of the white lines. I intended to keep this transparent when the white lines fade off screen, but I found a light sweep effect, that created these incredible shadows. I found that it added an element to my piece that wasn’t there before.IMG_9220 Music has been a huge challenge for me throughout this class. I began this project searching for instrumental music. I found electric guitar music that I adored, but after feedback from the class, I learned that this music was too loud and fast for the animation that I created. The music was asking too much of me and I just could not keep up. Upon, Angela’s suggestion, I switched the music to a softer jazz piece. It works better, but the problem with finding music after creating the animation is that the animation is no longer perfectly in sync with the music. However, something I have learned is that animations don’t necessarily need to be in sync with the music, but use the music as something that enhances the piece. My other challenge was with the positioning of the triangles. They ended up overlapping, but originally I wanted them to look like a tile or wallpaper. I realize now I could have created a tile in Photoshop and then brought it into After Effects, but I do appreciate the imperfect nature of how it came out. My final challenge was the speed of the software. I loved the shadowy feel of the light sweep effect, but as soon as I added it to the triangle, my software started running incredibly slow to the point that I could not work in it. I would like to make another piece using the light sweep, but I need to do it on a more durable computer. k A theme throughout this piece is the idea of using an element from earlier in the animation by changing it slightly to create a fresh image. I used the black and white triangles 3 different times; the first in their original form, the second with the fill being half white & half black, and the third against a black background instead of blue. This structure and plan before-hand did help speed up my process. I’m proud that I was able to stick to 3 different colors and a few elements. At first, I felt like my piece was boring because it repeated elements, but it’s starting to appeal to me more now. Another piece that worked well for my was my attitude while rotating and positioning the white lines. I changed various values and had so much fun seeing what I could create, rather than stressing out about how I wanted this element to look. I saw it as a chance for exploration rather than something strictly planned out. Finally, my transitions in this piece were much more effective than in previous pieces. At the beginning of this course, I made the entire piece first and then worried about transitions, but I’ve learned that doesn’t work as well. When making each element, I thought about how I would transition from each. Sticking to a few elements and three colors also made transitions much easier.l I struggled with time management for this piece, because I was working on my kinetic studio prompt simultaneously. I spend significant more amounts of time on my kinetic text piece than on this piece. Part of me wishes that I balanced my time more, but another part of me knows that my kinetic text piece is much more personal, heavy, and heartfelt, whereas this piece was pure fun to make. My critique of not only this piece but all of my pieces is that I find it hard to work with one element for an extended period of time. My inclination is instead to move from one element to the next very quickly. We did an exercise of using one square and animating it for 60 seconds. I need to do more exercises like this, because, for example, I could have had the entire animation be renditions of the white line repeaters. I could have also rotated the triangles or increased their scale, etc. to have them continuously become new.

Conference: A Way To Be Together Again

Title Sequence A Way To Be Together Again is a project that I hope achieves what the name suggests. My grandparents on my maternal side are no longer alive. I was really, really close to them and affectionately called them Nanu and Dadubhai. There’s definitely a void that I feel (and I think also my family feels) without their presence anymore. This project is my way to link up my family again.   Nanu in Glen Harbor I started this project by choosing old photos of my family. I’d found them in a large black safe in my family’s flat in Ballygunge, Kolkata in the summer of 2015. Nanu was still alive at the time. The photos were all small and square sized. The only way to keep them with me, so that I could peruse them whenever I wished, was to take photos of the photographs. Up until now I’d just go through my photos and look at them.   Dadubhai in Haridwar For example, I placed a background of the Glen Island Harbor Club in New Rochelle (where I used to row for SLC) behind the first image of my grandmother (whom I call Nanu). The next image of my grandfather (whom I call Dadubhai) is placed in front of a sacred space in Haridwar, India. The third image is of my aunt (on the left) and my mom (on the right) and they’re placed above a road in Georgia (my home state). My mom on her bicycle is placed on a railroad track outside of Delhi, India. The next image of my grandmother (holding either my aunt or my mom) is placed in front of the sky seen outside of my home in Duluth, Georgia. My aunt holding my mom is placed in an image of the seating area Hartsfield-Jackson airport. The next image of my grandfather is placed in front of an image taken on the roads/mountains near Kotdwar, India. The following image of my aunt and my mom (wearing a shirt with two buttons opposed to my aunt’s three buttons) is placed near a river in Kotdwar, India. The final background photo is an image I took in Paris when I was sixteen. I placed all four members of the Das family in the front, where I think they belong.     Ma & Moni I used a lot of effects in After Effects to create the dreamlike state the photos exist in. I used Particle Systems, Particle World, Kaleidoscope, Digital Glitch, and Glow effects. I think these effects helped me achieve the dreamlike state. Furthermore, I used a lot of text effects to create the title and the end credits. I also decided to include trim path lines through the piece to make it dynamic. I think the trim paths lines I included are a little bit of a surprise. It’s not something the viewer would expect, I think. Ma near Delhi train tracks Nanu & (Ma or Moni) in Duluth, GA Ma & Moni in Hartsfield-Jackson Airport Dadubhai near Kotdwara Ma & Moni near Kotdwara I am proud of the project and wouldn’t really change it. I am so happy to have made something that is both personal and cultural in Digital Tools. Last Image Together End Sequence

Conference: Adonis The Bussy Boy

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For my conference I decided to animate a poem of mine.  It goes like this:


Adonis The Bussy Boy!

I wish I could flay you alive my love

Let me step into your skin

Let me cast you out

I deserve the cloak of your lean muscled body

I deserve your dick and your chiseled jaw

While your consciousness lays

Broken on the floor

Bleeding out

For me

Sometimes in my dreams my breasts fall off

I see them rolling on the floor

And out of the holes come stars

But for now I must suckle and worship you

Lean Bodied

With the big cock I want

Attached to me

My Eros

I cannot help but look at all of you

And wonder if bathing in your blood would make me a true Adonis

The Adonis that drinks too much

And is eccentric

And goes on benders

And bends you over

And leaves you with big purple love bites

I settle with fucking you

If I can’t take your body

I will have you inside me

Your scent will mingle with mine

And soft kisses

Will replace snatching your skin

And the sight of my own eight inch dick.

Now that this is here, let me take the poem and video apart for you.


The Title- The title makes reference to Adonis, a man so handsome that Aphrodite fell in live with him and uses the term bussy, a slang term for boy pussy.  This title proclaims that this man is both handsome and is trans.  In the trigger warning before the title I mention how the poem and video can be triggering to viewers due to sexual themes and disturbing imagery.  However I end it with a provocation.  Throughout my life I have had to prove and defend my identity, and it has become a near reflex.  The title itself is text following a path, with my legs cut out and with an animated gradient.  I am wearing fishnets and converse for the following reasons: its a look, it goes against heteronormativity, and fishnets have a long history if being associated with sex.


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Stanza One- This stanza is about the experience of sleeping with someone for the following reasons: because you want to look like him and because you’re sexually attracted to him.  However you can’t let anyone but yourself know this because you’re still stuck in the closet.  This experience is violent.  In the video I have cut up the lines of this stanza, and have timed them so they flow across the screen a different speeds and times.  I use a fractal with color changes to keep time to the music.  In addition I have looped four rotating peaches and included a distorted video of me cutting up a kiwi.  This is a play and take on the word/ slur “fruit”.  I am a fruit cutting up a fruit and the peaches amplify that.  My goal with the kiwis was to disturb viewers so they can understand the bare minimum of my experience. 


Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 11.47.00 AMStanza Two- This stanza is a reference to my future chest, but in the past it was just a distant dream and how to the man I was sleeping with, they were beautiful while I found them horrific.  In the video I use a noise and particle effect to create the idea of the cosmos and over this I used a series of flashing images that represent sexual intimacy (I have taken inspiration for the later episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion).  This section to me reads as the “body” section.


Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 11.47.10 AM Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 11.47.15 AMStanza Three- In this stanza I make it explicit that I desire this man as a man would and how if he recognized that and/ or I was out as one, the experience would have been one of mutual power in addition to one of sexual gratification and validation.


Stanza Four-  The final stanza is me accepting that in this encounter, this man will never see me as a man, so instead I settle with being physically animate with him, which is what I want, while recognizing that I need to transition.


For stanzas three and four in the video I incorporate them both over a video of myself that my current boyfriend took.  In the video he asks me to draw certain things and we talk.  The video represents my present: I am an out gay and trans man with a partner that loves and respects me as I respect him.  The text however represents the past but is also a declaration of my resilience and happiness to it.  Within this section I incorporate the pink triangle and a double mars symbol, both symbols of gay identity.


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This piece feels like a baby to me.  It is a symbol of my masculinity and vulnerability.  It marks a point in my evolution as an artists and person and is a reminder for how far I’ve come.  Also if you’re the dude from this past encounter and reading this: I lusted and had sex with you as a man, and even though I was closeted, you can’t take that away from me. 

Kinetic Text: Roses

Wildflowers-Might

The sheer variety and depth of detail that can be created through text animation in After Effects is one of the aspects of the program I find most appealing, so this particular project was quite exciting. In choosing what text to work with, I knew I wanted to use one of my original poems, as animating my own writing struck me as a fascinating challenge. I began by quickly selecting three of my already written and polished poems for more detailed consideration. Two of the three are slam poems in a very direct, personal, confrontational style. One of these, Bias Society, is a reflective piece on gun violence, and the other is an untitled piece in the style of an open letter, written as an assertion of self-identity in claiming the label autistic. Both of these poems are deeply personal and rather emotionally fraught, and once I determined that I was more interested in working on lighter subject-matter at the time, I decided to work with the third poem, Roses. Roses is a Shakespearean sonnet, written as a playful allegory, and is one of my favorite poems I have ever written, so it was a rather ideal choice overall.

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In my ideation process, I began by going through the poem line by line, thinking about how I would visualize the feelings and rhythm that the sonnet evokes in my mind, and making notes on how I might go about animating those things. While brainstorming for the animation of my poem, I focused on emphasizing motifs in the imagery I sought to create. These motifs include that of the sprout effect indicating that text refers to one of the types of flowers, and the background reflecting the shift in seasons over the course of the poem. I was extremely conflicted over what sort of sound to use in this piece. I normally strongly prefer to work with music, but my sonnets have a very definite sound and rhythm in my mind, one with which any music would inevitably conflict. Eventually, I settled on using subtle background sound effects, in order to very gently reinforce the theme of changing seasons, without detracting from the poem’s inherent rhythm.

I personally find that every font feels different to me, and so I put a lot of thought into what fonts I would use. The baseline font, Nueva Std Italic, is meant to be smooth and flowing, like the patterned structure of a sonnet, without being too complex, so as not to distract from animations and other imagery. The two accent fonts, Script MT Bold for emphasis and Courier New for orderliness, are each used very sparingly, in order to better convey the meaning of specific phrases. The roses font, Lucida Calligraphy, is one that I find evocative of aristocratic mannerisms, chosen to subtly convey that the roses in the poem are representative of a ruling class, in the poem’s allegorical structure. As I was unsatisfied with any fonts available on my computer already for the wildflower and weather fonts, I went looking for fonts which are evocative of nature online, eventually deciding on LiveLaughLove for wildflowers, and Virginia Sky for weather. The irregular size and sans-serif letters of LiveLaughLove, along with its slightly rough edges, felt just wild enough to evoke the transgressive feeling of encountering wildflowers, while still being readable. The plentiful loops and feathering of Virginia Sky felt evocative of clouds and the sense of changing weather to me, making this font perfectly suited for weather.

Hand-Earth

Once I moved from ideation into animating this poem in after effects, I found it was both incredibly time consuming and highly engaging. Most of my time in the software was spent working without sound, as the rhythm of the project is fundamentally independent from the sound elements. Through this process, I noticed that I tend to compress my effects over a shorter amount to time than I initially anticipate, which made my project short but very dense.

Figuring out how to animate text around the path of an irregular image in a way that looked sufficiently smooth, as I did for the phrase “By touch of human hand”, was especially challenging. I first tried to convert the image of the hand to a path in illustrator, but quickly realized that the outline without the image made for a very strange looking animation in after effects. I then made several iterations of the image of the hand in photoshop, eventually determining, through trial and error, that leaving whitespace inside the hand for contrast, and some whitespace between the fingers to smooth the path for animation purposes, worked best.

roses'-shadow

The animation of the line pictured above was also quite challenging. I knew from the start that I definitely wanted the phrase “The roses’ shadow” to be in ray traced 3D, which was a bit of a pain to work with, but not the main challenge. I originally intended to use the shadow of the actual words “The roses’ shadow” as the shadow element in this scene, before realizing while working with the image that that isn’t how shadows in after effects work. I improvised, making the shadow shapes from inverted, curved star shapes, and lowering the opacity of the shape layer so it looked like a shadow. This improvisation allowed me to layer text on top of and underneath the shadow layer, creating a subtle darkening effect on certain words.

Upon reflection, while this project has been incredibly time consuming, I am reasonably happy with the result. I was able to produce a satisfactory approximation of what I imagined in my ideation, and did not encounter any problems that I found insurmountable along the way.

Update: Conference Edits

My goal in editing my Kinetic Text project was to refine the composition, making it more fluid in general, and making the transition section smoother and less awkward. The first step I took in doing this was to get feedback on the first version of the composition from several people. This feedback indicated that text transitions were too fast on two of the lines, such that I needed to extend their animation over more time, some of the green text did not contrast enough with the background, the transition section was too long and slow, and the sound transition was not noticeable enough. Implementing changes based on this feedback was straightforward, the challenge coming from learning how to change the timing of one section, while not impacting the timing of subsequent sections. I also realized I could pre-render individual precomps during this process, and this was extremely helpful, as it allowed me to reduce the strain on my computer’s resources from such a large and complex composition, drastically reducing overall time spent rendering, and preventing further After Effects crashes. Overall, I’m quite satisfied with the finished composition. As it was my first time doing detailed text animation work, I’m very pleased at the degree to which the composition resembles what I initially imagined while brainstorming, and look forward to using the skills I learned in future projects.

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Part1-Time, Part2-Factory

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Part 1: “Time”

This part of the conference follows in the footstep of my kinetic text project. I really enjoyed the phone themed soundscape I created in that project and wanted to do another one with the theme of clocks and the passage of time.

The idea started out very vague. I started out with two graphics made in illustrator. They were both the same picture structurally. However, they had drastically different color palettes one was for night and had the moon and stars. The other was for day and had blue sky and the sun. I wanted to make different types of transitions between these two graphic. I also had all the elements of these graphics on seperate layers. So when I imported the Illustrator composition I was able to play around with each them.

Clocks Morning

ClocksNight

I was originally going to start by making the clock hands move on the wall clock as the two graphics fade in and out of eachother. Then I found the clock wipe effect and key framed it to move like clock hands to the sound effect of an atypical ticking clock . The hands on the actual clock stay still as to not draw attention away from the clock wipe and the transition of the color scheme. I also keyframed the sound so that when the clock wipe transitions to the night graphic cricket sounds get louder. As it transitions to the day bird chirping get louder.

I then started playing around with the elements of the graphics individually. After some trial and error I settled on superimposing the sun and moon on different clocks hanging down from string with a drop shadow. I left the background gray to make it seem like the clock was in an empty space separate from the two graphics in the beginning. These clocks were accompanied with a fast moving clock hand keyframed to a ticking timer sound.

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I bounced back and forth between the clocks in the empty space and the two graphics. I ended with a clock that had both the moon and the sun superimposed on it as well as a transition to its corresponding graphic with both the color schemes of the previous graphics blended on top. I also had a clock-strike-the-hour sound to bring the piece to a close. This ended up being one of my slower paced pieces but I do take pride in what I was able to to accomplish when limiting my resources. I also think the slow pacing enhances the experience by forcing the viewer to focus on sound more.

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Part 2: “Factory”

Despite the fact that Part I is called”Time”, I actually created Part II“Factory” first. I decided to switch the order of them up because it seemed more appealing to start out slow and end with a fast paced bang to leave a lasting impact. I started with this idea of a helpless character being trapped in a factory with a bunch of other helpless characters. The piece would end with the character being encased in a box on a shelf with the other characters in the factory.

I thought of animating it to dubstep music of some sort but I did not have any particular soundtrack in mind. I searched the web to see if I could find something that I could work with and saved ones that interested me. There were not too many soundtracks that sounded good for my piece.

I was having so much trouble finding a soundtrack that I was considering just creating a soundscape consisting of factory sounds, but I really just wanted to animate to music on this project. I ended up coming back to one of the soundtracks I already went through. I listened to it again and realized it has a lot more of the somber tone I was looking for.

I made tons of thumbnails and sketches for the characters and background. I wanted to keep things simple since this was my first time animating in After Effects. The character was essentially a square with big eyes and simply shaped limbs that float in mid air without physical connection to the body. Although this character was easy to create it was a bit more complicated to animate. I thought that I would try using the puppet tool to move my character. However, since my character’s limbs were not connected to its body the puppet tool treated every part like it was its own character. This made animating really awkward because the slightest movement could split the shape I made in half. I decided to use keyframing instead. Most of the animation involved keyframing the position and rotation of each part. I used a mask on the eyes to give the illusion of them moving around the head. As I settled into using this new animation method I was able to apply what I already learned from previous 2D animation courses.

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I kept the background as simple as the character. Pretty much everything was a square or circle shape with the exception of the characters limbs. The machine claw was as complicated as the design got.

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When it came to color scheme I was thinking of making the main character as the only one with a black fill and white outline. I was going to make all the others different colors to help the main character stick out more. I decided against this idea since keeping everything grayscale would help with the gloomy factory theme. Thus all the character are the same exact shape and size to further emphasize this theme. I ended up making the main character stand out more by their actions, as they are the only ones struggling to break free from the assembly line.

My project ended up coming to only 1 minute and 14 seconds of work but being that I am studying animation I was not all that surprised. I am used to it taking weeks or months just for a cartoon short. This method of animation took some getting used to but I did end up appreciating the convenience of it (this coming from someone who is used to animating frame by frame). I still managed to tell a full story and I am happy with the results.

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Some things I like

Some things I like

I set out to create a self-portrait of sorts- a piece reflecting my desire for visual aesthetic, in response to a stream of consciousness on the topic of “things I like”. I wanted to implement elements of hand draw animation inspired by some of the work I created at the start of my semester in Digital Tools for Artists. Illustrations I made for the GIF assignment would be utilized both as elements for the sequence and as a source of stylistic inspiration for my piece, “Some things I like”.

Sketch

“Some things I like” was inspired by Wes Anderson’s aesthetic mixed with a minimalist approach to pleasing pastels and clean design. I think I was effective in evoking a minimalist, aesthetically pleasing piece. I’m particularly happy with my use of color, font and minimalist design. Though there is a lot of work to be done in order to achieve the kind of sophistication I hope to express in the finished product, I’m happy with the place I’m at now, a kind of halfway point, as I’ve created a nice backbone for the piece and started working on some of the more intricate details. There is still plenty of work to be done in order to expand on some of the themes articulated in the piece. Specifically, I hope to implement smoother transitions, including fade ins and outs for all of the hand drawn elements. I also hope to enhance the playfullsness of the piece, to really take it all the way in terms of utilizing any and all opportunities to express my abilities as an editor, abilities I’ve acquired through out my time in Angela’s class.

Pencils

The challenges I faced throughout this conference project include the issue of having big ideas that I was unable to express given the amount of time I allotted myself to complete the project. I really wanted to have my pencil and lipstick elements write out text, but I quickly realized that would require a time commitment I wasn’t able to commit to. I also would have liked to accomplish more specific animations for each element, specifically related to the movements I experimented with at the start of the piece.

My conference project remained pretty consistent from the beginning. I’d say the biggest change happened during the middle of the piece. During the creation of the middle content, the pieces that came after the intro and before the conclusion, I struggled with implementing further technique and detail. I had a similar experience to some of the challenges I’ve faced throughout this course, hitting a wall at the one-minute mark and struggling to keep up the momentum.

I’m definitely happy with the look of the piece at this point in time. I feel there is a lot to be done in order to achieve a piece I hope to include in my professional reel, but I am very happy with what I have to work with at this point. I’m specifically happy with how the piece works in relation to the body of work I have developed this semester. The Davi character I created during the GIF assignment resurfaced in my “Davi Has Problems” kinetic text piece, a piece I improved upon as a part of my conference work. Davi appears again in “Some things I like” as a sort of passive tour guide. I’m happy with the way he casually exists in the world I have created for this piece.

Davi

My goal for this semester was to create a cohesive body of work, and I feel like I have achieved that when considering the work I’ve done for conference as well as the individual assignments and studio prompts. I think “Some things I like” articulates the aesthetic I was hoping to achieve. I look forward to continuing my work on this piece, as well as “Davi Has Problems”. I think they will be great additions to my professional portfolio. I look forward to sending future drafts of both pieces to Angela for feedback in the future.

Coffee

Conference: Blue and Tomorrow

Conference Post by Izzy Singer

‘Blue’ and ‘Tomorrow’ are a personal exercise in visualizing music. Music is an influence in all of my art. I am very sensitive to the moods or stories portrayed in songs. Abstract representations are in conflict with my traditional animation background, however, finding a link between emotions and movement became a challenging and fun task that I took on for my Conference.

I did not storyboard, I am sorry to say.

My After Effects pieces take shape based on a single song, album or Spotify Playlist. So for each roughly 3 minute-long piece I tried to choose songs that I had become too familiar with at one point in time. I chose ‘Ring (feat. Kehlani)’ by Cardi B and ‘Tomorrow Comes Today’ by Gorillaz.

Blue 

Due to K. West’s recent political endorsement this song has lost my love. His actions in the last week were so sudden that I was not prepared to speak about it in my blog post but I believe it is necessary. I also changed the song and name of my video from ‘Blue Morning’ to ‘Blue’ and from ‘Good Morning’ to Cardi B’s ‘Ring’ from her new album, ‘Invasion of Privacy’. For the sake of understanding why I originally picked ‘Good Morning’ I am going to analyze the song itself and add some more personal information. I listened to Kanye West’s ‘Good Morning’, sparsely a few months before, religiously for three weeks before, and consecutively a few hours before, my High School Graduation. It was a big deal to graduate High School because of my life-long struggle with learning disabilities. It was also a big deal because for the first time I would not be coming back to a place that already knew I had disabilities. I would be on my own and I would have to put what little wordly experience and wit I had into protecting and supporting myself through college.  At the time of my graduation from High School, his song was a magical mix of cynical with a hopeful and hypnotic melody of “oooh’s”. He peers into the idea of growing up, or rather, “waking up”. Now, I cannot relate to his experiences as a black man which he references consistently throughout the song, but in all honesty, lyrics hold a 40% value to me when I listen to a song. His lyrics hold importance as does the composition of the piece, the “oohooh” vocals, echoing beats and electric-almost-old-timey-sounding piano. I’ve used the words hypnotic, hopeful, cynical; for the most part it is melancholiac, nostalgic. A graduation is a time for reflection because it is an end. It tosses a person into the ring. And, as it happens, I am graduating again. This time into the world. So what color to best represent a little sadness and nostalgia? Blue. ‘Ring’ also encapsulates this sadness. It comes from fresh wounds. It is romantic. And there is something about it that rocks me to sleep and gives me a feeling of validation.

Blue Morning #1

Blue Morning #1

Blue Morning #2

Blue Morning #2

I used a vibrant blue against a black background and tried to keep the particle movements as atmospheric as I could. There are no 3D effects in the work but I love the deep-space look that expanding particles along the Z Radius can create and I played with that a lot while I worked. Once the second chorus began I sought ways to keep the video engaging while sticking to the Z-Radius format. I had begun the video with an immense amount of orbs and circular objects so I moved away from it for a moment to introduce them in an alternative way. I also introduced a new color: red.

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Blue Morngin #3

By the end of the video I reverted back to faded orbs and circular objects with pink tones.

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Blue Morning #4

Tomorrow ‘Tomorrow Comes Today’ by the Gorillaz interlude is very similar to Good Morning but it has a message that comes from a different ideology. Almost all songs by the Gorillaz has some joke or irony in it. I found Gorillaz a year ago and now associate the songs with certain friends who have become very important to me, as well as my own darker shade of humor and love of weird animated art. The personal connection may seem less deep but if bonding over a band is an experience that you can relate to then please understand it was very meaningful for me. I do not bond with others easily, or find artists who make me feel “got”. Where K. West goes big out of ego, the Gorillaz go big for the sake of absurdity and fun political satire. (Gorillaz’s last album was a criticism of conservatism and party culture so we shouldn’t be expecting any hasty Pro-Trump tweets from them.) There is something sarcastically gung-ho about ‘Tomorrow…’ so I wanted to keep it as separate from Blue Morning as I could. I also felt that in the lead singer, 2D’s, voice there is a groundedness and earthiness that always compliments the traveling sounds of the instruments in the background.
Photoshop Texture

Photoshop Texture

The earthiness I conjured by creating textured patterns in photoshop. I plugged those into After Effects and played with Kaleida and Color Change.
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Color Example #1

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Color Example #2

Unlike Blue Morning I could not imagine one color to signify the song.  I pushed it beyond what I usually like (not too many bright colors) and attempted to even the whole thing out with a slow-moving star on the side. A slow-moving thing against an insane background was something I thought captured Gorillaz’s irony very well. It’s almost kinda funny looking. So it is perfect. Once the second part of ‘Tomorrow…’ began I made a very dramatic change to small particles. I tried to keep it from being too linear for as long as I could. I created a ghostly background and had the star fade out for a time as the particles split across the screen. Once I got there, however, I created a linear path by making a vortex of the particles and moving it across like a tornado. I wanted the realistic quality to make an impression during a longer and mellow-er part of the song to keep attention.
Tomorrow #1

Tomorrow #1

Tomorrow #2

Tomorrow #2

Tomorrow #3

Tomorrow #3

The end of it centers around the dark background, moving star, and very sparse particles on the screen. The irony in Gorillaz’s songs are very broad but also dark. In the end it is fair to admit that there is something very ominous about ‘Tomorrow Comes Today’ that deserve a still-ish end.  

Kinetic Text: Tillandsia

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I am not a writer, but I chose to write text that describes myself so that I would be happy with my words. I decided to explain “where I am from?” through this work because this question has bothered me and my family all the time. I felt awkward, embarrassed, annoyed by answering this question because my answer is so specific and detailed that might put stress on the people who are asking. However, it is necessary to explain myself to meet new people as I move to different places almost every year. I thought creating a video for this question I encounter frequently could be a wise and fun solution.

The title and the palette are representational of the text. I named the piece “Tillandsia”, the Latin name for Air plant, a kind of plant that has no root. I thought I share the similarity of not having a fixative “root”, or a “home”, with the plant. In addition, I had one air plant in my room. I appreciated its accompany, so I want to dedicate this piece to my air plant too. I kept the palette for the piece to be black and white because these colors are either a result of mixing all the colors or having no “color” in it. This is the same as my hometowns. I can from everywhere, but nowhere.

I kept the whole piece the minimalism style because I wanted to try making something “clean” instead of the complex effect combination in the first prompt. I find limiting myself with certain fonts, effects, pattern and motion to be very useful in organizing a long piece. It can make my piece feel more polished and finished instead of a project made by a beginner in after effects who wants to try out all the cool things. I intended to let the audiences to focus on the meaning of the words and the graphics. Moreover, by doing this, the visual effect will incorporate with the music very well. In this video, I used regular and alternating rhythms frequently. I have my words contrasting in the direction of up and down, left and right, clockwise and counter clockwise. I repeated the rotating and typewriter motion throughout the piece. These strategies make reading text in various directions more dynamic.

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IMG_7297


 In the beginning, I organized my text into four sections so that each section will have its own signature motion. The first part is the conversation between the asker and me. Originally, I was planning to use two different colors to distinguish the asker and me, but I gave up the idea because I wanted to keep my video as simple as possible. I decided to layout according to the messages on our phone with the same font. I adjusted the pace of typewriter in “…” to strengthen my hesitation in answering the question, just like how I feel in a normal conversation. For the part where there are multiple detailed questions, I used variations of grey and eight different fonts to suggest that they are asked by different people. Still, I insisted on organizing them into vertical lines and using the same trim line effect while introducing the questions and fading out them. Toward the end of the first part, I changed the reading direction of the text to circular. The crossing and almost unreadable text is to suggest that I am a combination of the answers and the answers are not important to me. It also became the transition to the third part of the piece.

IMG_7294

The second part is the explanation of places that are important to me. I struggled about the layout for the text for the origins of my family members. At first, I wanted to create paths with outlines of provinces on the map, or making a shape of the map of china, or using signs that marks locations on google map, or making a family tree. Yet, I reminded myself not to over design the video, so I continued using the same effect from the last section and modified a bit. I varied the fonts and changed the size and pattern of the circle to keep the piece connected and moving. It was difficult to layout the circles on a diagonal in rectangle too. I’ve thought of multiple ways in putting them. When it comes to introducing my story, I brought back the typewriter effect and enlarged the locations to fill the screen. This was inspired by Young Hae Chang. It should be noted that each line with the typewriter effect follows order throughout the video. The asker is always on the left. I am always on the right. The latest sentence is always closer to the bottom of the screen than the previous one.

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 11.08.15 PM

The third part is my reflection on the experience. I kept the keywords, Home and 家, large because they appear frequently in the text of this section. I incorporated rotation on 3d layers to bring in some changes. The keywords rotate by themselves instead of following a path of a circle. Toward to the end of this section, I introduced the particle effect to create changes on the background. I lost some patience in keeping the text graphical so I just threw in a number of animation presets that follow the meaning of some words. The last part is my own ultimate answer to where my home is. I laid them out on the central axis, kept each word far away and used three languages.

The only other two difficulties I haven’t mentioned are deciding where to use masks and adjusting the speed of key frames on the text. Especially, at the end of the third section, I rushed on some lines. I am planning to make my video smoother this week.

Kinetic Text: As I Begin

Screenshot (46)
From viewing other work in class, I liked the idea of  using background images to keep the composition cohesive as the text changed.  I wanted to recreate the colors and textures that I was seeing when I wrote this poem.  I wrote the text sitting by the ocean in San Francisco last summer.  I wanted to use the ripple effect to explore animation patterns which mimicked water.  I like the way this animation simulates the light on the edges of the rings and how the movement makes the piece dynamic.  I was also simultaneously working on another video project for a performance media class, and these two pieces definitely informed one another in color and texture.
I struggled to fill four minutes before the deadline.  I started by breaking up my source text into stanzas and worked only with the first stanza.  I have been thinking recently about the differences between still and moving images.  Gotthold Lessing says about the difference between painting and poetry that “signs existing in space can express only objects whose wholes or parts coexist, while signs that follow one another can express only objects whose wholes or parts are consecutive”.  This made me think about how reading a sentence is different from looking at an image.  I realized that language is a time-based art form, just like video.  (And if we are talking about video as a medium for expression of ideas, then obviously language is also a medium).
I was introduced to the idea of “radical digital painting” by a friend recently, through this webpage: https://schloss-post.com/manifesto-radical-digital-painting/.  This made me think about the work we are doing as paintings that can be run.  I think these works have a lot to say about objects existing in space and time.  A section of Scudder’s Ten Minute Painting states that “repetition is the only thing that makes something less random than it already is”.  I see a connection between this quote and the way I have been using patterns in my work.
This project tested my patience and taught me much about when things go wrong.  I spent a frustrating evening with the Media Encoder, which taught me more about how the Dynamic Link works.  This knowledge was useful when I was rendering my second draft of the project.
Screenshot (47)
In refining my initial sequence, I decided to add the second stanza of my poem.  I thought a shift in color was needed to reflect the tonal shift of the text.  The bright pink seemed like a strong contrast which would still exist harmoniously together with the blue. I also tried to incorporate the general notes given in class about smooth transitions between sections and at the ends of pieces.
The piece has a gentle rhythm with slow and gradual transitions between sections. I wanted to let the text sit without much adornment on the screen.  I am still not fully satisfied with the finer technical points of my animation.  In critique, I received notes about making the transition between phrases more smooth, and that is something I could work on.  I also would like the sequence where I make the letter “c” rotate to be more lively and seem like one concrete element.  I do think I was successful in choosing a font which complemented the mood of the piece.
Screenshot (48)

Kinetic Text

Photo on 4-23-18 at 4.14 PM

For the kinetic text prompt, I decided to animate a poem that I wrote last year, called “free.” Originally, I was going to put this text to my own music since combining my different art forms has always been part of my interest in this class. When I starting sketching out my ideas though, it became apparent to me that a song whose tone fit the piece much better than my own music (maybe because my music is electronic, but jazz is always at my core) is the jazz tune, “Black Narcissus” by Joe Henderson. Since the version I wanted to use is five minutes long, I started out by mapping approximate placement of frames, how long each one would last, and how many there would be, in order to make sure that the text could fill five minutes. It seemed like it would, as long as the text’s pace was relaxed. I wanted a minimalist aesthetic for this project, so it seemed to fit.

Photo on 4-23-18 at 4.16 PM

Once I started building the project, I realized how surprisingly long it takes to animate what feels like a short piece of text. This poem is 70 words, which is one of my shortest poems. Once I was in After Effects, it became apparent that 70 words is a lot to keep track of — especially timing-wise, when trying to coordinate animating them in and out. I had gone into it thinking that maybe some words could be in the same text box or layer, but since my vision involved making each word stand on its own, with its own personality and timeline, I realized they each had to be edited in their own layer and every word had to be given more consideration than I had recognized when I began this process. To deal with this, I split my workflow into steps. I made a background layer, and then made a layer for each of the 70 words. Once I imported the music track, I spent a long time listening and relistening to the track and marking where each word would enter and exit, and taking notes on what kind of transition would bring the word in (a fade? an abrupt entry? a dissolve?). It was tricky figuring out how to pace the words so that they suit the flow of the music, but could also still fill out the length of the song, not leaving music or words over at the end. I wanted the words to speak to the music, and since timing is crucial in jazz, the timing of each word’s entry with a cymbal hit or saxophone note was important to me. I based conceptual ideas of timing and flow around what the instrumentalists in the song are doing.

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Once all of my word layers were in their proper time places, I moved on to the next step in my workflow which was to position them all on the screen, in relationship to each other, as well as in relationship to their timing in the overall context of the piece. This piece has a lot of open space which left a lot of room for play. I went through and arranged the words in different configurations, trying to figure out how to place them on the screen in a way that accented the tone. This piece isn’t supposed to look tidy or advertisement-like, so I tried to find a way to place the words randomly, while also still keeping it clean and have it legibly make sense. Once they all had their places in time, I went in and made all the transitions. Most of them are opacity fade-ins/fade-outs that I hand-animated because it felt like the best way to get everything to line up with free-flowing nature of the music. On certain hits, where the instrumentalists all hit a note together, I found it interesting to not use a transition to bring words on, but to abruptly bring the words onto the screen, so that they “snap,” into existence in imitation of the cymbal hits, and then “snap” away in time with the hits as well. I tried to make these kinds of juxtapositions between slow fade-ons and hard snaps, to keep the viewer engaged and feeling the right vibe.

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Once the basic transitions were done, I interspersed a few interesting textural ones where I thought there needed to be a change or motion to keep the piece fresh. I was determined to keep the piece minimal, so I tried to avoid drastic effects, but went more with ones that added a subtle flow or motion change that enhanced the relationship with the music. One in particular, the “Raining Characters Out” effect seemed like it might be too grandiose, but then I ended up liking it and feeling that it really suited what the sax did at that point in the song. I incorporated more of these presets as the song went on, trying to subtly build new visual ideas and reflect what was happening in the story of the text and the music of the song.

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After all of the words had been positioned where they would come in and out, I moved back to thinking about overall composition and what elements I still needed to add. In my original sketches, I had a shift in the tone in the middle of the piece, where the sax solo comes in and the person in the text story is gathering their possessions to leave the place they are. At that point, I had a word scale up, to play with how the viewer was perceiving the space. I also changed some transitions so that the words move into their places via motion paths. I found that a change in the type of motion was effective in breaking up the sameness and keeping the eye engaged, while still remaining authentic to the tone. At this stage in the project I considered other words to scale and other types of motion to bring in to continue building up the engaging details.

In the time that I had to finish this, I was unable to clean up the project and add the other engaging details like more motion and color changes. For me, underestimating the time it would take to complete was the biggest issue with this project. I thought a minimalist poem would not take as long as other work I have done in After Effects (the last prompt was much more maximalist), and I just did not have enough time to stop and edit again or to add the final touches. Other than that, I had few issues, and found it to be fairly easy to come up with and animate my ideas. I plan on editing this piece and trying to incorporate some of my ideas about color, scale, and motion, as well as change the font in a few places and add a trim pat. I hope to experiment a little with how to make a minimalist piece more interesting, hopefully without changing the tone too much.

  Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 9.31.49 PM

Edit: Post-Conference

For my conference work, I decided to keep editing my kinetic text project. After I finished the original draft, I felt that it was still lacking in personality and wanted to introduce color changes and more dramatic effects to make it more interesting to the viewer.  Around 1:30 is where the piece begins to depart from its old identity with a stagnant color theme and very little motion. Here, I start to grow and wiggle the word “gather,” and as I do that, I slowly shift the background color and the word color. I feel like this change breathed a ton of life into the piece. Going through and adding animations to places where the words sat to long and added color shifts not only kept the piece visually interesting but enhanced the narrative journey expressed in the poem. The work now takes the viewer on a visual journey as the character in the story has her own journey. I feel like this enhanced version expresses my poetic sentiment and personality much more and liberated the piece from the flat world where it was trapped before, which makes a lot of sense considering that the title of the piece is “free,” and there should be a sense of freedom in the way the piece travels through its formal elements like color and motion.

Kinetic Text: Grief

flashlights I’ve written poetry since second grade, it is the art form that comes most naturally and the one that I am most well versed in. However, attempting to convert a spoken word poem into visuals was the most challenging project I’ve had all semester. In some of the kinetic text videos we watched in class, I noticed that if I missed what some of the words said, it wasn’t a huge deal. It seemed like how the font moved and changed was equally important as what the word said. However, the poem I choose is a narrative piece. I had to figure out how to ensure that the continuity of the piece came through visually. Originally I tried to have lines that go together on the screen at one time, but after watching videos on google drive, I noticed that pieces with a lot of text on screen at once did not keep my attention. I felt pressured to read the text quickly, so I then realized I needed to give each phrase more time for the audience to absorb it. I cut out some parts of the poem but was limited in how much I could cut without losing the entire point and message of my poem. Even though I was careful with what text I cut out, a new piece ultimately emerged. In the original poem, the first few stanzas all begin with the line ‘I love’ and they describe various parts of my body. It means that the moods of the poem are a bit more balanced. The animation, however, comes across as much darker and depressing than my original poem. Eventually, I think I want to make a much longer video that contains my poem in its entirety so that the sense of coming to a place of acceptance with my body and my eyes comes through in the animation and the poem.IMG_9189 A constant theme throughout my process was struggling with how to turn a spoken word piece into a visual piece. At first, I wanted to re-create the poem I performed at the poetry slam. I planned on using the recording of my performance instead of music. However, since I drew out lines such as ‘I’ve surrendered’ in the animation, but not in the performance, the timing did not work out. I re-recorded my performance trying to speak the words in sync with the animation, but I didn’t like the sound. The song that I chose was a last minute decision. The song is utterly depressing. I like this at the beginning because it hints to the audience that even though the poem is not yet sad, it soon will be. However, I don’t see this poem as merely sad. It’s a complex piece that touches on various topics and feelings, so I think I need to find a song that better represents that. This change in plans ultimately impacted how I made the animation. If I had planned to use music the whole time, then I think I would have drawn out more lines in the piece rather than worrying about syncing the animation with my recording. Also, I could have sync transitions with the music. Ultimately, I realized that my spoken word piece had to exist as a separate piece of art from the animation of the poem. I couldn’t merely re-create art I had previously made. I had to think of this assignment less as turning a spoken word performance into an animation and more as merely animating text.A constant theme throughout my process was struggling with how to turn a spoken word piece into a visual piece. At first I wanted to re-create the poem I performed at the poetry slam. I planned on using the recording of my performance instead of music. However, since I drew out lines such as ‘I’ve surrendered’ in the animation, but not in the performance, the timing did not work out. I re-recorded my performance trying to speak the words in sync with the animation, but I didn’t like the sound. The song that I chose was a last minute decision. The song is utterly depressing. I like this at the beginning because it hints to the audience that even though the poem is not yet sad, it soon will be. However, I don’t see this poem as merely sad. It’s a complex piece that touches on various topics and feelings, so I think I need to find a song that better represents that. This change in plans ultimately impacted how I made the animation. If I had planned to use music the whole time, then I think I would have drawn out more lines in the piece rather than worrying about syncing the animation with my recording. Also, I could have sync transitions with the music. Ultimately, I realized that my spoken word piece had to exist as a separate piece of art from the animation of the poem. I couldn’t merely re-create art I had previously made. I had to think of this assignment less as turning a spoken word performance into an animation and more as merely animating text. IMG_9190 In addition to struggling with how go about making this piece in a bigger picture sense, I also struggled with the technical bits. I became really overwhelmed with text. Since I’m largely not a page poet, I don’t worry much about text, because usually my ultimate goal is to perform it out loud. Therefore, I type my poems in a default Word font. However, when deciding to animate a poem that’s really important to me, I wanted the font to reflect exactly what the poem meant to me. I tried so many different fonts. At one point I tried using a different font for each line, but it felt too chaotic. I settled on using one main font and then emphasizing particular parts of the poem with different fonts. drive I also was overwhelmed by the variety of text effects. I felt like if I used an effect on a sad line I couldn’t use the same effect on a happier line. I always tell myself I’ll stick to a few effects, but I never follow through because I become so interested in what each effect can create. I felt like I needed an effect or shape that I could use to mark the end of each stanza. I was worried that the audience would lose track of what I was saying and what lines went together. However, I later realized that if the piece was engaging enough, then people will remember the previous lines. I largely used transition effects to animate the text on and off screen, but I did use various other effects to go along with the content of the piece, such as the movement of the word ‘basketball’ and the glow and flashing-like effect on the word ‘flashlight’. hate In addition to text effects, I used changes in the background as a transition between the different moods of the piece. I used the white background with a noise effect to give the feeling of a hospital. I used the yellow at the beginning to signify joy and blue later on when the mood of the piece shifts. I was worried that my color choices were a bit too obvious. Red is such a cliché color for love and anger, yellow for happiness, and blue for sadness, but I think when paired with text that’s more ambiguous, it works, at least I hope so. Color might also be something that I go back and edit when perfecting this piece.

I revised my kinetic text piece as part of my conference work. For this revision, I made small adjustments throughout the piece and assessed the music that I picked. I took the ‘surrender’s’ off-screen more carefully. I changed the transition from ‘basketball shorts’ to the line about 8th grade so that if was smoother and just continued the bouncing of ‘basketball shorts’. Something happened with my software, so the bouncing is no longer there, but I will put it back eventually. This piece is still not completely perfected to how I want it to be, but it is complete for the purposes of this class. I took out the tile effect on the ‘baby dykes’ because I felt like it was too chaotic and brought too much focus to this piece when the core of this piece is not about being queer. After watching videos in class, I noticed the value of not filling up the entire screen and leaving time to appreciate each text animation, so I took of some of the lines in the stanza that begins with ‘I hate’ off screen and then put brought them on screen more slowly. Besides mechanical adjustments, I had some qualms with the music I chose for this piece. Many of these qualms came from wanting to re-create my spoken word poem. When I perform this piece, I feel so empowered because while parts of it are sad, there are other parts that touch on working towards a place of accepting my body and vision loss. The music I chose is incredibly sad, but my class thought that it fit the piece. I worried that the music didn’t fit the beginning of the piece when I’m talking about being a gay and wearing ‘boys’ clothes. However, I now like this music at the beginning because it provides a foreshadow and a warning sign.