A World of Motion

What are Motion Graphics?: –

Motion Graphics tend to be used a lot in advertisements and high quality presentations to help display data, this is due to the nature of most motion graphics animations used as a representation of data. Shapes and typography are the most commonly used for animating elements with a moving camera to create fast paced movements that are fluid helping to create an aesthetically pleasing video. Motion Graphics tend to be used in conjunction with narration or music, especially high tempo beats that help progress the animation through its various stages.  These graphics also tend to be very colourful and animated smoothly with attention to detail – this reason is why I personally enjoy watching high quality motion graphics in use.

 Examples: –

The following video shows this common flat design which is seen frequently with motion graphics, various effects with different colours and camera movement has been done to help create a 3D effect.

This second video is a great example of showing how mostion graphics can be used, not only throug shapes and text but through photographs, illustrations and videos. The video has inspired me in a way that I believe will be shown within my one minute wonder convergence task.

Creation: –

I have done much motion graphics work before in the past, however my classmates and I were tasked with animating a cat and an object within After Effects – due to the date being the 5th of November, I decided that a kitten sat opposite the houses of parliament with fireworks shooting at the cat would be an entertaining thing to do. The following video shows my results.


Effects that can be applied and be animated through keyframes are important to know, specifically within Motion Graphics, this is due to the hours that a applying a certain effect can save rather than keyframing for hours. I’ve been known in the past to spend hours and hours figuring out how to achieve certain styles and looks when it was really just a simple click in a menu that I didn’t know existed. Knowing this now I feel that I have truly began to scratch the surface as to what could be done with these tools. This video showcases several shapes moving in different ways through multiple effects that were animated.


Combining multiple elements can sometimes produce something better than anything those individual elements could create. Today I tried to create a logo through some of the theories within my first 2 blog posts alongside motion graphics to create a moving logo that will be present during my convergence task. The convergence task is going to be a full minute describing who I am as a person and what my passions are before finally ending on my logo that will build itself.


I gained inspiration from the following video, which showcases various movie and TV characters as simplified circles. I thought to create my own minimilistic head of myself.

Using shape layers and using shape effects such as trim path, the following video was created with keyframes. I feel that it accurately represents what I look like as a person. This will also be used as my logo.


Convergence Task Applications –

Effects such as the one in the video above will be used on multiple elements within my Convergence Task. I will create a logo made of my head in a simplistic manner which will be animated through these effect options.

The Process of a VFX Shot

Continuing from the previous blog post on VFX and its uses, this article will discuss how I used VFX to track a sink hole onto the side of the road, with fire and impacts surrounding.

The Process: –

We were given assets by Jon Holmes, one included was a sink hole with an alpha channel, helping to feather the edges of the sink hole into the road, giving it a smooth finish. This was important otherwise the edges would be too sharp; by feathering it help convince the viewer that the sink-hole is indeed there and tracked onto the surface of the road.


We used the same process as in the last blog post to track the sinkhole onto the road, however there was a slight twist. With the grid that was tracked onto the cardboard box it was all flat and there was no depth within in the graphic or box – so it was necassary to leave it flat. However due to a sink hole having depth due to it going into the ground we need to cut out the middle of the image which should appear lower down than surface; once put into 3D space its easy to scale up, shift down and backwards in space along the Z axis to help achieve a parallax effect.

The laws of parallax tell us that objects further away from us move slower than objects closer to us – this graphic is a clear example of this. The insides of the hole need to move slower than the surface of the hole. Once cut out and tracked, smoke and fire is added to help create that immersion within that univerise. Because what sinkhole is not complete without fire and smoke?!

Level 2 ::: Workshop 2 ::: Simple Matchmove in AE from The Curious Engine on Vimeo.

Tracking Surfaces in 3D Space with a Moving Camera

The next task was to track 4 points on top of the cardboard box, allowing us to create text and place objects within 3D space while we move the camera around, previously the box moved and the camera was fixed. By tracking the edges of the box using match move it allows the camera to move around to the point where certain track points are off camera – helping create the illusion of objects moving off camera and then reappearing in the same place; helping convince viewers that the objects really are there.

In the following video you can see this clearly; take notice of the magazine in the left lower hand corner side, this surface has also been tracked allowing us to change that graphic should we wish to.

Matchmove ::: AE ::: VFX ::: Basics ::: Example Render from The Curious Engine on Vimeo.


Applications in Convergence Task: –

I feel that VFX will be heavily used within my one minute wonder due to it being relevant to what I am interested in, while also being a way to execute these ideas within a film medium. A few ideas I have include tracking my name onto a surface such as a desk or the side of a building or road. I would also use the tracking tools to replace billboards for instance with graphics that I’ve created that could represent thoughts in my head. This for instance could change when I walk past the billboard or if something was said in the narration.

Visual Effects Vs. Special Effects

Visual Effects Vs. Special Effects: –

In the last 50 years Visual Effects and Special Effects have had a very close line according to a large number of the public who don’t work or spend a lot of time indulging films; to the rest of us it’s fairly simple:

  • Visual Effects = computer generated.
  • Special Effects = real life effects.

In a recent workshop with Jon Holmes, we delved into VFX and its uses, when to use it and what VFX can’t do. Myself and the rest of the class looked at applying a texture onto a moving object within 3D space which is one of the basic steps that opens up many doors to you. This sort of knowledge is what can really help the convergence task flourish, the only limit is your imagination.


History of VFX: –

Voyage Dans La Lune, is one of the oldest examples of VFX, it’s incredible that the following video was created nearly over 115 years ago. As dated as the film looks I personally feel that it still really holds up and does’t spoil the film or feel like a cheap gimmick. At the time this would have been something to get exited about, however now-a-days computer generated visual effects seems to be infesting movies; however we will look at why CGI has a negative stigma surrounding it and why it really isn’t that bad.

I won’t lie to you, I am guilty of being swept up by the uneducated public of just spewing all sorts about CGI and why its the worst thing to happen since sliced bread. Wait, that’s not how it goes… Anyway, CGI has this really negative image at the moment that it’s only used to create stupid looking gopher’s in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull or to throw a Transform across a city in the latest Michael Bay blockbuster. I don’t see that the case anymore; after dicussing VFX, creating some of my own and watching behind the scenes of various movies I have seen the true power of CGI and why we went to hate it. Because bad CGI is all we see, where as good CGI you barely notice, which to be fair is doing its job correctly but to the uneducated the word ‘CGI’ just reminds them of all the crappy 3D models we have seen over the years. The following video by Freddie Wong, over at RocketJump explains this in more detail.

Pros / Cons: –


  • Inexpensive
  • Allows more control
  • Allows creation of sets & characters that otherwise would be impossible


  • Too much noticeable CGI can resort in audience feels a lack of authenticity
  • Time consuming
  • Can risk alienating your audience


Creating VFX: –

The first thing you are taught when it comes to VFX is motion tracking as its a fundemental skill that is needed to progress – it’s like trying to run without learning how to walk. It’s common knowledge to use a high shutter speed when filming your shots that will include visual effects, this is due to it allowing you to remove motion blur from fast movements helping keep tracking points visible for After Effects. Motion blur can then be re-added through the program where as removing blur from these fast movements is a lot harder to do. The following example shows the high shutter speed in action:

2D Motion Tracking Test ::: After Effects CC ::: The Grid on the Box from The Curious Engine on Vimeo.


I explored further with this method of working and began tracking a notification on an Android device, a new composition was created where I created a ‘WARNING’ graphic that would be displayed on the device. The same 4 point pin tracking process was used, helping show its expanding uses.



Tracking can also be used to stick images to other images, for example the following video by Jon Holmes, showcases a sky image that was replaced and then tracked onto a building near the horizon – another processes is used to help the houses and trees not be removed but instead be cut out and allow the sky to be placed behind creating the illusion of the sky being fully replaced.

Workshop1 ::: 2D Tracking ::: Sky Replace from The Curious Engine on Vimeo.

 Uses in the Convergence Task: –

I feel that VFX will be used a lot within the future of my one minute wonder short film, I will discuss this in the next VFX blog post.

An Idiot’s Guide to Augmented Reality

Following on from last week’s workshop with Clive, we delved into Augmented Reality, its rise and the applications within smartphones. Augmented Reality has a similar feeling towards projection mapping, although not necessarily related. They both seem to come from a new sense of technology that hasn’t been fully accepted by modern society just yet. It feels like virtual reality headsets have tried to crack into the market every decade or so with no success – however over the last few years there has been a bigger buzz than ever before. This article will describe the problems with the public’s view of VR and open up the pros & cons to such technology.

What is it?

Augmented Reality to a lot of people is the stereotypical version of AR where you use a device such as a 3DS or smartphone as a window to watch virtual beings or structures in 3D space on a 2D plane move around or interact with other virtual objects. This can get boring very quickly for a lot of people so its no surprise that many innovative media companies around the globe are currently testing out new concepts to help push the boundaries of augmented reality. AR isn’t just this window peering instrument, virtual reality devices such as the Oculus Rift are more advanced versions of the AR genre.


Recently Augmented Reality has moved from a quirk as part of another product to its own experience, this is partially due to the rise of the smartphone and the technology included within it. Summer 2015 prompted Nintendo, to produce a Pokemon virtual reality/augmented reality game that focuses on sending gamers around the world to collect their favourite Pokemon’s in a geocaching like fashion. The game is yet to be released but can be played with just a smartphone or with one of the many smart watch accessories that come with the game.

Another advancement of the AR technology comes from the Disney Research Team who have managed to create a colouring book that allows children to still engage with “old” toys that in this modern age seem to be used less and less but with a twist – the ‘new & updated’ colouring book now enables children to colour in a character on paper and see the same character be coloured in as a texture on a 3D model of their drawing on their smartphone or tablet.

Not all AG products use the ‘virtual window’ to peer into a virtual world through a smartphone’s gyroscope, the Oculus Rift for example uses two screens within a headset with gyroscope to help take the AR immersiveness to a whole other level. The rift allows for experiences like none ever before, where you feel that you are within that virtual world and that you can actually reach out and pick something up. This video showcases a group of individuals all playing on separate Oculus devices with another type of equipment on their hands that allow them to move their fingers within the game and interact with their surroundings.

I ended up pushing a large truck through the Augment app that was operated by Clive McCarthy, I found it quite hard to move my hands into position while looking at the screen to find the correct position. I feel that when interacting with AR it is best to use a “window” you control or through a device such as the Oculus Rift.


Apps & Programs Used: –

Augment was used to browse through various 3D models that have been created by the public before then being put into 3D space, this was done by the app scanning a QR code to help pinpoint where a surface was – allowing the model to stand and stay in the correct position without moving when the camera moved in 3D space.unnamed


Applications in One minute Wonder Project: –

At this current moment I don’t plan to use augmented reality within my film due to the nature of AR being something that one interacts with rather than watches and experiences on a flat surface i.e. a computer screen or tablet. If Augmented Reality was easier to manipulate and adjust models to your own preferences I may have used AR to quickly put my name on my desk and record/view it in 3D space rather than having to use visual effects to create the impression of a 3D graphic within the world. Where as VFX allows you to easily adjust font, font size, colour, extrude and multiple other effects.

In other uses it may be interesting to see what augmented reality could be used for in a film sense over a playful experience; however with this project it is not something I don’t believe I will delve into.

An Idiot’s Guide to Projection Mapping

What is it?

Projection Mapping, is one of those things that everyone has seen at one point in their life and may not realise the extent of its applications or remember its name. Projection Mapping is best described as using a projector to produce a graphic that interacts with our real life surroundings – whether that be as a ‘spread’ graphic that plasters an entire wall, ceiling or floor or is used accurately to pinpoint animated graphics onto objects to create a ‘show’. I was taught projection mapping’s principles, advantages and uses in a recent workshop for Digital Media with Clive McCarthy. This was especially interesting as Lincoln, has the upcoming Frequency Festival that heavily relies on projection mapping.

The effect is achieved by using a projector to project images created on the fly with apps such as Dynamapper on the iPad, or software on the Mac/PC called HeavyM, a recent spatial augmented reality piece of kit that allows you to change shapes, images and videos with point precision in real time allowing to achieve immersive experiences. HeavyM, is one of the best that I’ve seen for editing graphics, especially with their special effects that can be animated and triggered on sounds – a great use for a show that includes sound. The apps and programs will be discussed later in this article.


Examples of Projection Mapping : –

As previously mentioned projection mapping is one of those things that we see all throughout our lives but never really pay attention to it and fully acknowledge it until its pointed out or notice it and then all of a sudden we start remembering various instances as to where we have seen it. I had the same thing happen to me when discussing projection mapping within the workshop – I remembered that in the summer I witnessed projection mapping on the castle within DisneyLand Paris but never connected the dots until I began thinking where I had seen it applied.


I also remembered what I think is one of the most advanced and impressive examples of projection mapping – a short film that introduces a moving projector and how it interacts with a box.



I booked out a projector from media stores at the university and began playing about with different graphics and exposure’s through an FS100 camera. I created a grid graphic within Photoshop as I believed it would help show edges and curves, especially on someone’s face.



I also created a pixelated graphic that moved slightly – I found that this would be extremely creative in the use of a background for when interviewing a subject.





Apps & Programs Used: –

Projection mapping can be achieved in several ways, however the most easiest is probably through an app called Dynamapper, which is as simple as plugging your iPad or iPhone into the projector and you’re off! Dragging and dropping various points on the surface of the tablet is incredibly easy and fast to achieve. These shapes can be switched into various moving graphics, or stills which can be used in whatever way you want. Your creative drive is the limit! A more advacned piece of software can be used – HeavyM is a recent tool-kit that allows you to change shapes, images and videos with point precision in real time allowing to achieve immersive experiences. HeavyM, is one of the best that I’ve seen for editing graphics, especially with their special effects that can be animated and triggered through sounds – a great use for a show that includes sound.



Applications in Convergence Task: –

The Convergence Task could use projection mapping in a variety of ways to present data, enhance a visual aesthetic or push the narrative into unknown territories. At this current moment in time I have a few ideas as to what I could do with the equipment and ideas I have been taught with in the workshop – although nothing is set in stone. Most of the ideas I have are based around projecting onto the subject of the film, which would be myself as its a self reflective film; I don’t believe I would use it heavily within the short video as its not something that I currently engaging with – I’d rather focus on the many, many other digital and personal hobbies and applications that I work with on a day to day basis.

I find that I am someone who is constantly looking towards the future, always trying to experience new opportunities; I have my fingers in many pies so to speak – and projection mapping is something that I am now interested in, so it could be an effective way of putting that message across in the film.