Behold this greatness. I started using After Effects in summer of 2005. Prior to that I was mostly just a Final Cut Pro guy, editing short videos and home movies. I knew Photoshop to an extent, and eventually I got to the point where there were things I wanted to do with video that I could do with photos in Photoshop.
That led me to After Effects. The date on these files is marked as 6/8/2005, so they are almost 7 years old. I guess this could be considered my entire demo reel in 2005. I worked at an ad agency that made car commercials by the bushel, and they were fast and cheap designs. Well, maybe not designs as much as they were car salesman screaming this sketchy and misleading deal RIGHT NOW before it’s too late.
The footage of the Mustang is from Ford. They rotate the camera and car around and give you the clip and a matte to work with in case you want to composite. And composite I did!
In the first clip, I placed the car behind a stylish premade background from Digital Juice. Then I designed a speedometer in Photoshop and angled it in a 3D layer. I shrewdly separated the needle from the rest of the speedometer so I could do that sweet rotation move as the car’s speed revved up, despite it not driving anywhere. And somehow the whole speedometer starts getting all shaky and crazy but the needle stays perfectly still. You were supposed to feel the raw power of the car with all that shaking but now it just looks weird to me. I give myself an A for effort!
In the second clip, I merely took a dark sky stock footage and placed the car in front of it. I must have had the car filled with a black layer or used the matte to cut out the shape of the car from a solid, then I faded it out and brought the car to light.
MY work has gotten better since then (I hope), through nothing but absorbing tutorials and building project after project. You force yourself to get better by learning how to do things correctly or by creating projects that are based on an effect that people consider quality work. I think it’s important to remember what’s not on your reel and why, and it’s worthwhile to go back and look at work that really isn’t THAT old and see how far you’ve come.
I figured out awhile back that making something cool that introduces your reel is a free and easy way to create something completely unique on your own, without any clients being involved. You have the first and the final say in however it looks. It’s important to have something cool at the start of the reel to set the tone for the rest of your work; you want anybody checking out your stuff to have a positive first impression of what you are capable of designing.
So clearly the only correct answer in this situation is to create some sort of cylindrical, rejected, mechanical prop from Tron 2 and place a flat screen TV inside it with some glitchy video.
I started out just trying to create some sort of video revealer, and I watched and loved a lot of graphics on NFL Network this year so I think this sort of procedural-building-mechanical animation style was on my mind. If only all my work could look like Big Machine’s instead…
I made the basic a shape and cranked up the details, making some sort of sliding space tube. I imagined the TV inside presenting my reel, so I attached it to the inside with these robot claws and pieced the whole thing together. I experimented with different materials, and toyed with a sort of all white, clean room kind of look, but I love the super reflective black look, it probably makes people think I’m super-dangerous and slick. Maybe.
It was a heavy render out of Cinema 4D, I applied Ambient Occlusion to get some shadow detail inside the crevices. I used an External Compositing tag to replace the edit I did to introduce my reel with the footage inside the screen. It’s a more interesting way to introduce myself and tease the contents of my reel.
Finally, I updated my reel with some new stuff and final;ly scrubbed it of all those nasty car commercials. BIg day for me. I also added some new music from the Vimeo Music store, it’s a track by Human Factor called “Step on Back.” Well worth a $1.99, I love this track.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
I did a some content for the show Premio Lo Nuestro this year. This is the second awards show I’ve done content for, also for the 2010 Latin Grammys. I designed the video content that goes on the screens behind the artists when they preform. It’s not just a giant TV behind them, but it’s little accent monitors and displays around the entire stage and venue. It’s definitely a different medium to showcase your work and requires different techniques than traditional motion design for television. In this case, the art is not the focus of the viewer, it’s supplemental to the live performance by the artist. It took me awhile to not think in terms of designing a music video, but something larger that lends itself to the style and artist of the the performance. And once I actually see the content on broadcast TV, it becomes apparent from various camera angles and perspectives that you rarely see your entire design, unless it’s a very wide camera shot. Therefore things can’t appear too big on the screen, and you also can’t focus too much on minute details because they become lost in a performance with singers, dancers, flashing lights, panning cameras, stage effects, etc.
I’m not sure how long these videos will last before the Univison lawyers go off on them, but I’ll try and keep them up as long as I can.
The first one I did was for Ricky Martin. It was not my favorite piece by far. I was given very little time to produce this because of various hold ups with his management. I spent only a couple days designing and executing a iece that was over 3 minutes long, while my other loops were tested and fleshed out over the course of a several weeks. It was too generic for my taste, basing it on a Trapcode Form style animation was not my idea or personal cup of tea.
The next artist I did content for was Tony Dize. The performance was supposed to have a Japanese theme in terms of art direction, so I styled my loops accordingly. I didn’t feel like the set and stage props really tied it together, and I felt like my loops were a little out of place. The opening was a Japanese style room with sliding paper doors revealing a peace bridge scene outside. I also made a koi pond with rippling water and some koi fish I was pretty proud of. I took a still photo and manipulated it to move using some bend effects in After Effects, so it appeared to swim as a real fish. I also made some falling cherry blossom petals and falling red maple leaves for separate scenes. I originally had them paint on over the duration of the loop, but the creatives above me didn’t feel like the effect translated well to the big screens, so I left it on the paper canvas and added the final paint texture to the entire duration of the loop.
I’d like to thank Nick Campbell, the Greyscale Gorilla for publishing a tutorial awhile back based on an effect he saw using reflective glass. It was pretty much exactly what my creative director described that he wanted here for Prince Royce, and I had previously viewed the tutorial so I knew what to do. I added a twist to part of it by launching the reflective glass pieces into the air and having them fall back down with gravity out of the bottom of the frame.
The last artist I did was for Fuego, and it was the act thgat closed the show so that was kind of cool. Obviously being named Fuego, we tied in a fire theme. I presonally love working with fire footage, and I used this 3K FIre Footage from Rampant Media Design Tools for some of my content. I made some nightclub lasers, a full concert stage, dancing girls among fire, as well as various generic fire loops to tie in to his 2 song medley.
All in all it’s a cool gig to design for, it definitely breaks up the monotony that can come from designing the same things for TV all the time.
I forgot to post this after the start of the New Year, but it’s a little snow globe countdown animation I did for the show Despierta America. It popped up in the corner every hour or so on the TV broadcast to remind you how soon Christmas was coming. I made 2 versions, one counting down the days until Christmas and one counting down until New year’s Day. I had to come up with something holiday themed, so I designed this snow globe and made it happen. The globe was modeled in Cinema 4D with some reflections and glass materials. I added the numbers inside the globe and made them kind of flow back and forth with a Formula Effector in Mograph, then I randomized it for each number so that they would be slightly different each day.
I brought it into After Effects and first positioned and animated it in the bottom left corner of the screen. Once it was in place I created a little snow storm inside it with Trapcode Particular. I have only seen snow once in my life, so I had to do hours and hours of research to study how exactly now moves to get the best looking effect I possibly could (no I didn’t). The rest of it was adding little glows, flares, snowflakes, and sparkles to make it fun and festive to go with the holiday. I drew a simple zig-zag Christmas tree and traced it on underneath the effects. It’s a simple but effective animation.
The New Year’s one was very similar, but instead of the tree I created a confetti particle system that launched colored confetti all over the corner of the screen.
I had to update my banner to reflect my actual, accurate weight. When I updated the site over the summer and added the tagline with my height and weight to the banner I listed myself at 160 pounds, which was generous, I was a bit less than that. Yeah, I lied to you. But all of last year I focused myself in the gym for the first time in my life while eating a lot of helpful food to get stronger.
I gained 30-35 pounds in less than a year. Good pounds too, they came with equipped with muscles and everything. So I changed my banner to reflect my new weight, I wish there was a PHP plugin to sync up with my body and do it automatically, but that would be hard to program.
I’m not sure at what weight it stops being ironic that my nickname is “BIG MIKE” but people were calling me that when I was 4 foot nothing so it will stick no matter what happens.
Besides eating and lifting heavy things, I also designed a new file for purchase on videohive.
It’s an Xpresso powered slideshow created in Cinema 4D and After Effects. It allows you to display photos, videos, 3D objects, etc. in actual 3D space within Cinema 4D. I coded the controls to be powered via Xpresso and a User Data control panel. There is minimal keyframing needed to create a great looking 3D presentation slideshow that will blow the pants off anything that can be exported from Microsoft Powerpoint.
I made a video that shows a little how it works in case people want to see behind the scenes before they buy it. I also provided an instruction guide and encourage any emails from users if they get stuck.
I have a bunch of different file ideas I want to execute, I just need more time in the day to be able to work on them.
I guess I play the role of Q in this promo for Unvision features Raul de Molina of El Gordo y La Flaca. He is supposed to be James Bond and I was in charge of creating this gadget watch for him to use. Instead of having it turn into an Aston Martin, a gun, or an Aston Martin made of guns, I made it turn into the Univsion logo. I suppose I should just stick with C4D instead of MI6.
The original clip contains none of the moving parts, it’s just a plain close-up on the watch. The gold watch itself is probably worth more than every car I’ve ever had. I can’t imagine spending that much money on a watch (not that I actually have to worry about it) that only tells me what time it is and looks like clunky and ugly. I am an authority on men’s fashion so I should know.