Space Oddity

As an homage to a character in a few Bowie songs, I decided to use a throwback song from my own childhood—the cover of Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom” by Shiny Toy Guns. I downloaded a slower and wacky version of it online and edited it in Audacity. There is a loud track of it playing forward and a softer track of it playing backward. The audio sets a slow, relaxed, but hopeless tone to the piece. While I don’t want to prescribe any emotions to the viewer, I wanted this audio to be an expression of the astronaut character in my video.

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I designed a moon in Blender, a 3D modeling software. I also animated the moon in blender inside a cube—with a lamp lighting it around the cube. This created a beam of light across the sphere’s surface, suggesting the moon’s different phases. Furthermore, I 3D modeled a spacecraft in Blender. I didn’t animate this in Blender but if I could go back and edit this project I would. I would render out its rotation in Blender and then remove the backgrounds of each render in Photoshop so that it could remain backgroundless in After Effects. The astronaut is a distorted image—I tried a lot of different filters in After Effects. I played around with Glow and Distortion. I did not include any effects on the spacecraft. But thinking back I think I would have tried to add more. I don’t think that I was extremely successful in maintaining the 3D imaging because it looks 2D in After Effects. I’ll definitely work on this in future projects.

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I had a lot of fun playing with different effects. I added snowflakes, digital glitch, fractal noise, and a mirroring effect. Furthermore, in the background with opacities of 50% or less, there are lots of lines with trim paths, repeaters, loops, and kaleidoscope effects going on. I do think the piece is a bit busy but I like the haziness that was made through all the filters.

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The astronaut character is stuck in outer space. He orbits, rotates, and floats around. His body has no control over the gravitational pull away from his ship back home. At the end of this video, he finds his way back to his spacecraft but we don’t know if he gets home. After his spacecraft leaves the scene of the distorted moon, the scene becomes black and less enchanting than the limbo the astronaut was stuck in.

Image 2There are quite a few drafts I made of the prompt. The first couple of movies I rendered out were a little quiet in terms of the action. I wanted the moon to stay in it’s kind of off-center place. But if I could go back I think I’d try to make it pulse a bit to show the kind of gravitational pull towards the astronaut. In the future, I hope to work with more scene changes in After Effects. I don’t have to keep the same objects in every scene.

Image 1Overall, I am happy with this project. I was able to characterize the astronaut a bit more in my final draft. This prompt was a great way for me to get into the nitty gritty with After Effects. I feel pretty confident in making 3 minute long videos. For my next project, I definitely want to play around with having different scenes. I also definitely still want to include 3D images imported from Blender. I also still want to use Photoshop to help create scenes in After Effects.

Here is a link to the video.