In the End, Money Always Wins
For another class assignment, my partner and I decided to make a psuedo live-action animation. The challenge was to use green screens and keying to add extant objects into an 2D animation. This short emulates the 90s fighter video game style to deliver a fun yet cynical commentary on plutocracy.
About this project
Tools and Softwares Used:
Photoshop, Premier, After Effects
The process of creating this animation has been anything but easy. The amount of time and energy needed to create such a project was, without a doubt, colossal. Nevertheless, the rough cut reflects our efforts thus far as well as areas with still require improvement.
Initially, Dave and I had conceived a story about an anthropomorphized logo on a wall clock, which was to get knocked down from its place at the top of the clock by the minute hand. The plot of this story would thence be centered around the efforts of this logo to get back to its home. Unfortunately, neither of us was in love with this idea, and so when we had another idea, we quickly jumped ship.
After deciding to switch narratives, I came up with a makeshift storyboard to outline the premise of our newly conceived animation. This animation would be a reference to old, 8-bit style arcade games, and the action would depict me and Dave fighting similar to characters in the "Mortal Kombat" or "Streetfighter" games brawl.
We named this animation “Junior Brawl”, and like these games, we had animated a sequence of title screens and ended with actual fighting. For most of the animation, we had designed Photoshop images to create a video game title screen, player select, level select, and combat level. Once these were created, it was simply a matter of placing them within After Effects to animate these sections.
To create the fighting avatars, Dave and I had set up a green screen and filmed ourselves doing various actions that the characters of such video games typically do. Such actions included: neutral stances, jabs, punches, jumps, low kicks, special attacks, etc. After filming sequences of both me and Dave completing these actions, we placed these shots into After Effects and used the masking function to crop the shots scope to only the green screen and the person within it. From there, we used After Effect’s keying option to select the shades of green present within the green screen. This allowed us to effectually eliminate every aspect of the footage except for me or Dave. From here, we simply placed these clips into the animation, scaled them down, and arranged them as was necessary.
We were not able to finish this animation, as time was not on our side. However, we were able to complete a substantial amount of it, including the opening title, player select, and the first half of the fighting. Dave, for the most part, animated the fighting, while I worked on creating and animating the initial frames. After we had all the animation, Dave included some sound effects which jived quite well with the 8-bit theme of our video.
The responses we received from our animation’s screening was very useful. For me, the greatest take away was that the film needed to A) stylistically adhere to the video game style we sought to emulate, and B) clean up all aspects of the animation. From this feedback, I am certain that the final cut will be enjoyable.
As with all animations, we began by brainstorming an idea, followed by making a storyboard of the narrative. Here are some sheets from our intitial concept
Once we finalized our story, we went ahead and gathered assets. This meant getting images online, creating custom assets in Photoshop, and gathering our greenscreen footage. Here you can see my partner Dave acting in front of a greenscreen. We would later take all the footage of him and I from the greenscreen and use Premier to key the green out.
After we had gathered our assets, we went into post production. In this stage, we designed the whole video in After effects. We made one rough cut for class, to showcase our progress and receive feedback. After thisrough cut, we added modifications, notes, and final touches to make our final cut.
Much was learned as Dave and I had worked to complete our animation and consider the feedback we received after the viewing of our rough cut. And to continue our progress, Dave and I split the workload with me working on the first half of the of the clip, and he working on the latter.
For me, the rest of this process was mainly fixing up assets created in photoshop so that they were clearer, more optimized for the 8-bit aesthetic, and slightly pixelated. The title screen, and character select had already been made, but the animation required an initial screen and a character select screen. After cleaning up the already fabricated assets, I set to work making the initial screen. This initial screen was meant to emulate the first bit of animation one sees when playing an old arcade game. Typically in this screen, one sees the brand of the maker, like “Atari” or “Sega”. We decided to call our faux video game company “D&NCO”, and so I typed this in arcade style font and inserted it into this first screen. The player select asset was a bit tricky to design, as I required a large map to simulate different stages for the player to choose from. I used internet resources to find suitable assets though, and placed these into Photoshop to create the player select asset. In addition, I had to alter the animation so that each of the moving part either blinked or moved in a slow and graphically-limiting manner to match these older video games.
For Dave, the process was mainly concerned with painstakingly adjusting each fight clip’s motion so that they were not too slow and fit the arena. In addition, Dave created assets for the “friends” that appear in the sky, dialogue boxes, health bar, loading screen, and ending screen. After creating and animating these, he used Adobe Illustrator’s “particle effect” to create the energy that flowed from my friends, which gave the illusion of an aura exuding from their mouths. In addition, he used the shape object and altered its brightness in order to give it a glowing effect. Both of these critical aspects were difficult to implement, but added to the videos overall quality. Here is the final project.