Tuesday, July 20, 2004
LA Film School
(Sponsored by Adobe Systems)
LINEUP: Ken Locsmandi: Key to Arson music video / Anthony Phills: Building a Giant Brand / Raj Naik: Rose McGowan music video
This month was dedicated to artists showing how they use their tools to create a variety of work - from a pair of music videos to corporate presentations to creating a "brand" identity that needs to be repurposed for the web and even cell phones. We began our meeting with our regular Q&A session. Topics included the state of Media 100, Firewire Drives and upgrading to AE 6.5 (a no-brainer due to the included Final Effects plugs alone).
Our first presenter of the evening was Lee Roderick who came down to show us how he approaches "Real Jobs with Real Clients." He explained that, while it's always cool to see the state of the art in digital effects, it's equally valuable to learn something about the kind of jobs that keep many of us employed - industrial videos. Lee explained that we may have seen his work in.... well.... okay nobody here has seen his work unless they attended a few sales meetings for Apple, Maxtor, Discreet, and others (including Papa Murphy's Pizza). Lee went on to describe the type of work he does as two-and-a-half-D as he gets interesting 3D looks out of Discreet's Combustion.
The first project Lee showed was for Papa Murphy's Pizza. Here he took an existing PowerPoint presentation and animated it in Combustion; he did this by importing and then tracing over the original via Vector Paint. Once he built the bar graph it was easy to perform a 3D camera move and make the elements come to life. He also explained that since bar graphs and other sales-related graphics are similar, he's been able to build up a library of elements that he can mix and match.
Next Lee showed an intro featuring an animated logo for Stryker Biotech. Here he took various text elements from the logo and created a large 3D grid. He then flew the camera through it and resolved to the logo. He explained that he greatly prefers to animate only the camera - even if it's a complex set of moves - as it gives him just one set of keyframes to manage.
Lee showed us how much he can accomplish by moving just the camera in a piece promo'ing Apple's Final Cut Pro. He built a large 3D space with flat elements describing FCP's workflow and simply moved the camera through the 3D space as each element was discussed. In a piece for Maxtor he used a similar technique but also added shadows, lights and raytraced reflections.
Lastly, Lee showed us a bit from his Combustion training series, marketed by Runaway Training.
Our next presenter, Ken Locsmandi, is quickly becoming an MGLA veteran. Ken's company Filmworks/FX does everything from technical film work to music videos. Tonight he came down to show his first foray in directing. Of course, he couldn't relinquish the production work so he did both in a music video for the band Key to Arson which he co-directed with his partner David Alexander.
Ken explained that there is ferocious competition in landing a gig as a music video director. So it's hard to land your first job. His "in" was that he and his partner were able to pull off some very impressive special effects for next to nothing budget-wise. He noted that they could only afford about 3800 feet of film (not much at all) so they had to be VERY practical. They used Maya to pre-vis the entire video so they knew exactly how each shot would work before they did it. In fact, even though they started shooting late in the schedule, they were able to complete more live shots that they had planned for. Their tools included Maya, After Effects, Photoshop and 3DS Max (a bit). They used Maya Fluid Effects to create the ubiquitous water, and also grabbed whatever they could from previous shoots - including a cool frog.
After the break Anthony Phills of Calypso Studios took the stage to discuss branding in the sports industry - specifically his creation of the "Home Run Brand" for slugger Barry Bonds. Phills was very brave to bring this presentation from San Francisco down to Los Angeles in the middle of a pennant race. Nonetheless he was warmly received. Phill explained that after stints with Real Networks and Adobe, he was approached by Barry Bonds to develop the look and feel for his branding.
Phills told us that their original concept was to portray Bonds as a "complete player" which specifically related to hitting, stealing and fielding. However, when they put a hitter, a runner and someone diving for a ground ball together, it only looked like a player falling down. So they went back to the drawing board. When they asked fans what they thought of when it came to Bonds, it was "hitting" and "stealing". A logo simply reflecting that worked well, as did the phrase "Home Run Man."
Phill then showed us a number of products, from bats to bobble-heads that were all managed by him in order to keep all merchandising consistent. He also showed us other current and possible future logos which illustrated how involved the branding for a single superstar player can be.
Our final presenter in an evening filled with artists was Raj Naik. Raj came down to show how easy it is to rescue a music video when you have Final Cut Pro and After Effects - plus lots of talent! He explained that he inherited footage shot on greenscreen for actress Rose McGowan. The powers-that-be were not happy with the way the music video was going so they looked to Raj to take it in another direction.
Of course, since the footage was already shot, Raj's creative options were somewhat limited. His approach was to "play with time and light - 'cause that's all I had," he explained. He brought the footage into FCP and identified related sections. He then came up with a color palette and design for verses, choruses, etc. He used a number of Tinderbox effects in AE as well as Knoll Light Factory. The result, still a work in progress, was quite impressive. Raj showed that with a relatively limited set of tools and source material, much can be accomplished if you have solid creative ideas.
And again, thanks to Adobe's sponsorship of MGLA this year, admission was free! We look forward to seeing you next month.
Chris, Trish, Lucky, Tony, Warren, and Marshal
Your MGLA co-hosts
* Virtual Insanity stock footage library, courtesy of Artbeats ($499 value)
* ProductionBlox Unit 04 stock footage library, courtesy 12 Inch Design ($249 value)
* a 10 CD set of motion graphics project lessons for Photoshop and After Effects from Dean Velez of The Anvel ($150 value)
* Total Training's Adobe Video Collection: From Edit to Output training DVD hosted by Steve Holmes ($99 value)
* a copy of DMTS Inside After Effects 6 training DVD, courtesy of Magnet Media ($99 value)
* a copy of Creating Motion Graphics Volume 2: Advanced Techniques by MGLA co-hosts Trish & Chris Meyer ($60 value)
* a copy of Inside Lightwave 8 by Dan Ablan, courtesy of Peachpit Press ($60 value)
* copy of the just-released Photoshop CS for Nonlinear Editors (second edition) by Richard Harrington, courtesy of CMP Books ($55 value)
* a copy of DMTS Shoot for the Cut: Using the Panasonic DVX100 Camera training DVD, courtesy of Magnet Media ($49 value)
* two copies of the latest motion graphics DVD magazine Zoom In, including a mini-documentary on the use of After Effects to create Comedy Central's South Park promos ($49 value each)
* Total Training's Premiere Pro Tips & Tricks training DVD ($49 value)
* a copy of Creating Titling with Premiere Pro by Ed Gaskell, courtesy of CMP Books ($45 value)
* a copy of the Focal Easy Guide to Maya 5 by Jason Patnode, courtesy of Focal Press ($27 value)
* a copy of instant DVD Workshop 2 by Mark Dileo, courtesy of CMP Books ($25 value)
* a copy of the Focal Easy Guide to DVD Studio Pro 3 by Rick Young, courtesy of Focal Press ($25 value)
* at least two copies of Runaway Training's combustion underground - Set Extensions, Extending your Budget courtesy of presenter Lee Roderick ($20 value each)