Univision Holiday Campaign Animation

This animation I made aired throughout the holiday season on Univision. My producers wanted it to be similar to the animation I did for their summer campaign.

The actual logo animation is a very simple spin inside Cinema 4D, it’s not going to rock anyone’s socks off. I created a very reflective red material for the logo because I wanted to try and make it look like it was a Christmas ornament.

The part I ended up liking the best were the gold ribbons, which were a technique I developed after to avoid dealing with the frustrations of working with Cloth in Cinema 4D. I hate using Cloth in Cinema 4D, I will avoid it at all costs. The ribbons are a Plane object modified with a Spline Wrap deformer to get their overall shape and control their path on a Helix spline. But if you stop there you have just a flat and dull looking line circling the screen. The key to making them float and fly in an organic manner was to apply a Displacer deformer to them as well. If you bump up the Height of the Displacement and the Global Scale of the Noise pattern you pick in your Shading options, you can get a wide level of displacement that makes the ribbon look more natural as it flows through the scene. Then you can just change the Seed value on the Noise shader and you’ll get different looking patterns for the ribbons, and you can find one that you like the best. Much easier than using cloth for ribbons.

Rube Goldberg Machine Made with Dynamics

This animation is the result from the final lesson in my book. The last chapter deals with configuring dynamics in Cinema 4D, which is the process of making objects interact with each other with collisions, as well as forces, gravity, and more.

From the moment I started using dynamics in Cinema 4D I always thought of making a Rube Goldberg Machine, an elaborate contraption that yields a very simple result through chain reactions of many objects. It’s basically like creating a big game of Mouse Trap, except you have to make the whole thing yourself and kids will get really bored watching you tweak settings like Rotational Mass, Collision Noise, Linear Damping, and Angular Velocity Threshold.

I designed as many pieces as I could and tried dozens of combinations to get a complete sequence that results in the big finale. The lesson in the book takes you through the process of taking a bunch of static 3D objects and making them behave as this complex machine. The entire process requires no keyframes at all, which is all thanks to the power of dynamics.

Protagonistas Show Opening

Me and a couple other animators were given less than a week to prepare an entire graphics package for this new show called “Protagonistas.” The producers left the graphics on the backburner in the hands of some animators that weren’t cutting it for about 3 months. I would have loved to collect checks and produce subpar graphics for 3 months, but instead I was asked to make something nice in about 5 days.

Protagonistas follows the cookie cutter reality show format of: Auditioning contestants in front of 3 judges -> move selected contestants into house -> sit back and watch them fight/argue/have sex/argue about sex fights -> vote contests off until a star is born.

This show searches for the next big telenovela star. I was denied an opportunity to be on the show to which I am still outraged. Just because I’m white and don’t speak Spanish shouldn’t preclude me from becoming a telenovela star. I could totally be on Que Hora Es? and they know this. I will have to catch my big break at another time.

I highlighted the main part pf the show’s opening that I did in this clip, they added some sound effects and music for the broadcast addition. I had to make a tunnel full of screens showcasing clips of the contestants on the show. They wanted all this to feel like we are going into the camera lens, which is the main element of the show’s logo. The tunnel is a heavy render in Cinema 4D with the help of MoGraph. I modeled one flat screen TV and placed it in a radial cloner, then made a linear cloner of each radial cloner. The camera is set to have a very wide lens to make the tunnel appear a lot deeper than it actual is. I had to apply different clips to each TV so there was some variety among the monitors, so there were a lot of materials. I didn’t have Cinema 4D 13 at my disposal so I couldn’t use the new multishader setting where you can add entire folders to just one material.

The shutter is a transition I made with another radial cloner to the contestants on the show. They wanted a sort of “beam me up Scotty” effect to introduce the characters. Each contestant enters through a combination of effects like linear wipe, turbulent displace, and emitting some particles using Trapcode Particular. I used a lot of tech overlays from the Motion Designer’s Toolkit because having pre-rendered footage like that is the only way I could pull that off in a few days.

This intro marks the first time in Univison history that the female contestants are wearing more clothes than the males. Despite concerns from me and multiple other people with common sense that framing the male characters waist up without a shirt will make people think they are naked, this is exactly what the shows producers wanted to infer. There was plenty of room for me to include the tops of their pants, but I was told to scale them up so that viewers will obviously be so captivated by a bunch of naked hombres on the screen. This will clearly lead to incredible ratings, increased advertising revenue, and ensure that the visionaries that insist on shooting guys waist up without shirt get promoted.

Fix it in Post: Summer Campaign

If by any chance you’ve seen a commercial break on Univision in the past few months you’ve probably seen my promos for the network, suggesting you to enjoy the summer on Univision. Since it’s August already, I strongly recommend you tune in ASAP and absorb one of the many different promos I did for summer before it’s too late for you to disfruta el verano. They feature various on air personalities doing cheesy-fun summer stuff outside. Strangely I myself was not cast to be in any of the fun vignettes with beach balls, picnics, and tropical drinks with umbrellas in them. Weird. Maybe next time.

But you know you’ve hit it big when your work is featured across the web among articles wondering how Paulina Rubio looks in a bathing suit after having a baby.

Each promo ends with a shot of a nice summer scene where I placed an animation of the Univision logo splashing out of the water. The one shot that was deemed the most important of all the endings was a tilting shot from the hotel balcony overlooking beautiful Miami Beach. It was to make you want to jump through your TV on the spot and hopefully land in the Atlantic, except that it looked like this:
green beach

/sad trombone

Awwwww. Why is it all…green? Did we have to shoot directly into the sun? There’s no detail in the water and sky, you know, the stuff that will make it look kinda nice. Really, this is the shot I’m supposed to work with? OK BRING IT:

Basically I created a scene that wasn’t technically real at all, I replaced, enhanced, and added just about everything you see. This is what I feel like a beach is supposed to look like, whether you can actually find a beach that looks like a postcard is not TV’s problem. I could direct you to way better effects breakdowns from bigger studios to show you that the best composites actually go unnoticed, and you have toruble figuring out what parts of the the image are real and what’s been fixed in post production, or you probably don’t think about it at all.

I started by tracking the camera move so that I could position all my new layers properly in the animation. The originally clip needed a massive color correction, the white balance of the camera wasn’t even close, so I had to remove a lot of green to make the beach look somewhat normal. The sun had blown out the exposure and made the water and sky look awful, so I basically took the water detail from the right hand side of the screen and finessed it into the left side of the screen so there would actually be something there. I replaced the sky with a clear image, and color corrected both new pieces to look very saturated and rich, something to original image lacked entirely. From here it was adding the 3D logo I animated in Cinema 4D, as well as compositing the water into the composition. I wish I knew how to use Real Flow, but the water is from the Compositor’s Tool Kit from Digital Juice. I matched up some pieces and had to time remap the clips just so the splashes and condensation looked right with the logo. Then I added a fake sun to make the image a little hazier, I simply placed it in the same spot as the original sun.

The result is a scene that would be nearly impossible to capture in nature, but since you are accustomed to seeing picturesque beach scenes like this, you hardly give it a second thought as to if it’s real or not. And then you rewind your DVR to watch Chiquinquirá Delgado float by on the raft again.

Yea I really wish I could have gone on location for this shoot.

Musical Particle Streaks

Here’s a sample of some particle streaks that I made in After Effects using Trapcode Particular. They were for Univision’s Upfront presentation in 2011, where the network unveiled new programming and company statistics for the upcoming year. It was like a big interactive Powerpoint presentation, except Pitbull performed. I’ve never made a Powerpoint presentation with Pitbull.

This was the opening sequence of the event, almost like a countdown with musical instruments tuning up before the show was about to start. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to do this, less than I would have liked. Each shot with a musician was to be contained in one of 8 screens spread around the New Amsterdam Theater in New York. The trail was designed to lead the audience across the stage to the next screen, and have the trail die off in the next frame. I couldn’t really show that without the actual set up in the venue, so I just combined them into one video for the post.

Each streak is actually 4 different kinds of emitters: one for the puff of smoke in the beginning, the main fat streak, the other skinny streaks, and the floating dust particles. I probably set a personal record for most particles ever used, they were a bit heavy when rendering in HD.

Flame Thrower Text Tutorial

Good fire footage is a must for every animator’s library. Fire is something so natural and organic that you can’t effectively simulate it with cheap plugins. It tends to feel fake; you have to use real fire footage in your designs if you want it to look best.

I got the opportunity to use this Rampant Design Tools 3K Fire and Flame footage on some of my performance loops for Premio Lo Nuestro. It’s a great set of high res fire footage shot on RED One cameras and it blended in perfect with my comp.

So I did a tutorial highlighting the clips and present this example of what you can use this fire footage to create. It uses Cinema 4D and MoGraph to create our title animation and camera movements, and then After Effects to blend our 3D with out fire footage as well as turn up the heat on our animation. Wow that pun was terrible. I’m so sorry.

The footage is available at 25% off using the Coupon Code: BIGMIKEDESIGN

La Puerta de al Lado in Cinema 4D

I designed this as a segment open for the news show Aqui y Ahora in the same respect as my Fuego Cruzado animation. This segment shows situations where people have no idea who is their neighbor, and the person may have something unique about them.

I came up with the concept to literally translate “La Puerta de al Lado” into an animation. In English it means “The door next door” so that is essentially what I based my scene around. There were some previous designs and examples other people did that the producers thought were not alluding to content in this segment enough, they were too abstract. So I tried a rather simple concept based on just a literal translation of the title and they gave me the green light to go through with it.
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Michael Szabo’s Demo Reel

This is my demo reel as of May 1st, 2016. As always, I can’t wait to learn something new and make better work to replace the stuff already on there. It runs just almost 2 minutes and all of the work on it is my own.

Also feel free to check out my demo reel for my live musical and stage performances right here.

Univision Promo: Chasing Butterflies

Here is a Univision Promo I did featuring the lovely Greydis Gil. I want to apologize first for the music. It was not up to me to use a track that was written by Mario and Luigi in the Mushroom Kingdom.

This one took a long time to create. I started by making a butterfly in Cinema 4D that was comprised of the pieces of the Univsion logo. I imported the logo as splines and textured each piece to match the corresponding colors. Then I animated the movement of the wings by linking them together with xpresso and driving them with some user data I keyframed. Continue Reading

Univision Promo: Spanish Maja

Here is a new Univision Promo I did with Cinema 4D and After Effects. They needed it done fast earlier this month because they wanted to air this network promo right after the coverage of the World Cup ended, and they were hoping Spain would win and they could air this promo that has an obvious Spanish theme to it. I got it done with a quick turnaround thanks to MoGraph as always. Continue Reading

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