MGLA Meeting Tuesday July 3 2001
------Cover charge: FREE (Sponsored by ProMax)------

Lineup : Jodi Binstock & Branding / Dan Warvi & color selection tip / Fred Lewis & AE5 / Belief & Alive Network design

This meeting will be at AFI's Mark Goodson Screening Room - see directions further down this page.

This is an updated agenda for the next MGLA meeting on July 3 at AFI. As promised, we have a lot of artists presentations on tap. The times below are not necessarily final, although the overall sequence should be as follows:

* pre-meeting banter *

Our usual Q&A and gossip session before the actual meeting starts. Dan Warvi wrapped up the recent BDA show in Miami, including the news that OTIS College had won an important design award and would be using the proceeds to cover student scholarships. Trish Meyer added that Trapcode had released a lights rays plug-in called Shine for After Effects, which looked very nice and rendered fast (Shine will be covered in next month's meeting). Trish and Chris also enthused about a new type book they just bought, "A Designer's Guide to Web Type." They have a mini-review of it and link on their own Bookshelf page. One of our co-hosts, Lucky Westfall, couldn't make the meeting due to an illness, but we look forward to having him back next month.

BDA set up a booth in the lobby and were handing out information on membership and selling Gold Awards tapes (and taking orders for other tapes from the recent Promax/BDA conference). During the break we played a section of the Gold Awards tape.

* Jodi Binstock & Cohesive Branding *

Jodi is the Vice President of On-Air Promotion for the Fox Family Channel. In a reprise of her recent BDA session, she described branding challenges she and Fox faced in redesigning Fox Family. The channel is aimed at kids and "tweens" (12-13 year olds) during the day and adults 18-55 by nights. The four main designers - Jodi Binstock, Patty LaVigne, Gary Adler and Doug Yates - set out to develop a quirky, sophisticated, contemporary and flexible brand design using After Effects as the main design tool.

The color palette arrived at was first and foremost "TV safe" (no red for instance), and gender neutral. The kids palette was bold and bright with white accents, while the prime-time palette was more muted, using sophisticated "jewel tones" and black accents. The palette was used across all packaging, labels and print design. On the website, the left side of the frame was the day time (kids) design, while the right side featured the primetime programming. Clicking on either the left or right side brought you to either kids or primetime details.

The font chosen was Univers, and is was used in lower case only (even for show titles) as it was deemed friendlier and less formal. A major motif was the "Fox Family brackets", which are used as design elements to emphasize important messages; their popularity spilled over into packaging and even merchandise like book ends.

Although the brand was strictly adhered to, once the rules were established they were broken on occasion. For instance, red type and brackets were used for Christmas promo spots. The spots included some interesting twists, such as images of people entering a festive house with snow falling, only to have the camera pull back to reveal that the house was inside a classic Christmas ornament.

Also designed were 10-second interstitials, using well-known two-word phrases with a visual pun. Examples shown included "Independence Day", showing a young woman with her first driving license. Other issues Jodi covered were the "upfront" venue where Fox Family pitches to advertisers, humorous parental advisory spots, and the commitment at the network to the new design from top management to the mailroom.

Finally, it was noted that the branding effort paid off, as Fox Family hit their demographics of 18-34 year olds.

(Postscript: Fox Family has since been bought by Disney, and will be re-named ABC Family. We'll have to see what happens to the design....)

* Dan Warvi & Color Theory For Cheap Lazy Bastards *

One of the most important uses of color in design is the ability to create mood, to symbolize ideas, and to express personal emotions according to MGLA host, Dan Warvi. For instance, blue could signal loyalty while red warns of danger. Dan's tip for designing a color palette for a project short but very sweet:

1. What is the project? (a.k.a. Practice Safe Design — use a concept)
2. Determine the mood and emotion of the project.
3. Find a piece of art that expresses those properties.

The example Dan used as "The NFL and the Law", a tongue-in-cheek documentary of sports stars in trouble with the law. Emotions included melancholy, lonely, danger and conflict.

The find art that matched these moods, Dan searched on numerous websites, including, and

Once you've picked your image, open it in Photoshop and apply a Gaussian blur to average the colors, then apply Mosaic using a value (such as 25) which will give you large color squares. Eyedropper about 6 of these colors for your basic color palette, and add them to the Photoshop color palette.

(In After Effects, you can either eyedropper the Photoshop color palette in the background, or import an image with colored squares that you can use for a palette.)

* Fred Lewis & AE5 project & tips*

Next up was Fred Lewis from Moving Media, showing a project completed in AE 5 that used Z-depth, Expressions and Parenting. Highlights of this extensive project included creating a robot with multiple arms, linked together with parenting and rotating via expressions. This basic robot precomp was then duplicated using the Motion Tile effect to get a 6 across and 6 down pattern (i.e., 36 robots animating in sync). Fred then created a grayscale gradient and using a Mosaic effect, converted it to a 6x6 grid of gray blocks, which he used as a Time Displacement map for the robot grid. To make the 36 robots look even more random, he used Card Dance with the same 6x6 gray blocks grid as a gradient map to control their orientation (position/scale/rotation). If that wasn't enough, the entire random grid of robots was duplicated twice, and the three copies moved apart in z-space, to give the illusion of an infinite number of robots animating independently. The camera was then animated to pull back and show the robots were encompassing a globe.

Fred also covered creating a temporary parenting example using an expression that could be used when animating such things as an eagle picking up a fish and then dropping it. For instance, the eagle would fly down (fish not parented), picks up a fish (fish parented) and then the eagle drops the fish (fish unparented). Fred posted this expression on the MGLA Cafe.

* Belief & Alive Network *

Earlier this year, Belief designed the on-air package for the Hong Kong based travel network Alive, with affiliates in Australia, Singapore, and other countries. Although Alive was a travel channel, it need to translate across cultures, so no recognizable vistas could be used. Michael Goedecke of Belief walked us through how they shot custom water elements to represent landscapes, and shot all the people and their activities in silhouette so that the audience wouldn't be able to recognize ethnicity or age, just gender. The result was that a silhouetted water skiing would move across the frame interacting with an abstract water element; thus the audience could infer ocean or lake depending on the viewer's point of view. An internet "feel" was introduced with the use of 3D icons and buttons.

Mike showed some of the early storyboards, with stand-in actors shot with a digital still image camera. The storyboards were remarkably close to the finished animations. Belief designed based not on what was new or hot at the time, but what was best for the clients needs and budget.

The experiments with water included shooting bubbles, fluids with different viscosities, blowing compressed air and dropping ink into a tank, dry ice and water making bubbles, and so on. All the water elements were shot without regards to color, as color was easily added later in After Effects. The water was shot on film at a high frame rate, since most of the action happens very quickly. If another element was needed later, this was shot on video.

The actors were shot on greenscreen, and the mattes were pulled in realtime in the telecine bay. This proved faster than pulling mattes in After Effects and rendering. A wide variety of actions were shot, from a couple toasting glasses, to rock climbing, water scuba diving and dancing.

Belief delivered not a set of tapes, but a set of After Effects projects and sources, allowing affiliates to further customize the package for their own programming. (This project will be profiled in co-host Trish & Chris' new book, After Effects in Production, which is due out around October.)

Mike wrapped up by showing some of the pieces from Untitled whose theme this year was Infinity (last year's theme was Darkness). Untitled is a collaboration of 28 different studios; there are no parameters except for the theme, leading to some experimental pieces with engaging graphics and sound effects. All movies are online; the BDA is selling tapes with proceeds going to a scholarship.

* demo reels *

Reels were shown from the following artists or studios:

Image Line
Tel: (310) 892-4621

Bill Wade (no contact info)

Studio Kaz, Venice CA
Tel: (310) 314-4481

Scott Boyer, Redlands CA
Polygon King Motion Graphics
Tel: (909) 307 6146

Asa Hammond

* door prizes *

Door prizes included This time around, a copy of Electric Image's Amorphium Pro, dvGarage's Surface Toolkit, and a coupon for dvGarage's recently announced 3D Toolkit. Thanks to the respective companies for their donations (and again, to ProMax for paying for the room each month!).

Trish, Chris, Lucky, and Dan
Your MGLA Hosts

door prizes donated by: