Saturday, 29 August 2009

About Video Copilot

For those of you who don't know, the first website anyone ever is directed to for After Effects advice is VideoCopilot.net. Its the number 1 place to find the best, most down to earth After Effects tutorials on the web. (did i just call it the "web"? how 1998 of me)

Ontop of that Andrew Kraemer and his team offer products to buy:
Riot Gear: A package containing things such as blood splatters, paint drips and some textures
Action Essentials: Explosions, Fire, Smashed Glass, Smoke etc...
Evolution: A package containing floral flourishes, growing vines etc..

Now these are brilliant packages. I don't doubt their brilliance for a second. And once you get them you just start to wonder the possibilities once you get them! you can finally create the graphics you have always wanted!!

Then you flick through YouTube, and all the motion graphics that people have posted. Their "Original" designs, all of which include elements that you immediately recognise from these packages you have bought. Not only that but you see the tutorial videos that you have just watched being made by people claiming its their own design.

This infuriates me sometimes. YouTube is flooded with the same videos that people have made claiming originality to something that is copied. And it makes me think what Andrew Kraemer would think. Has he created a package of elements that people can use freely as they want? or has he spawned a generation of Motion Graphic Artists whose work all looks the same?

In a way it has made it easier to spot some original design. And if you are serious about your design work, either modify the elements you have just bought, use them among a bigger piece, just don't use them as a focal point, or just because they look cool. Better yet, don't use them at all professionally.

My ego rant is over. Ill get back to using my Riot Gear :P

- Jonny

Friday, 28 August 2009

Sketchbooking!

Sketchbooking is like facebooking but you actually create something. Loads of schools used to have it as part of an artistic curriculum but nowadays its more emphasis on the technical side of design and not so much on being able to actually draw. Drawing is something i am a big believer in, drawing is the best way of being able to visualise what you are trying to portray quickly and easily.

As you may or may not know I am currently on a Motion Graphics and Animation University course, and with animation you would think that it would involve a lot of this drawing melarkey. But yet again drawing is becoming less of a necessity and its all about using the technical tools.

Because that is all Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects and Maya are, tools, and a lot of people first learn how to use them, then think they can be creative with it. Creative people take what they have in their head, look at the material and see what tool will be the best way to accomplish this.

With the rant out the way, i thought i would share some of my sketchbooking...







- Jonny

Monday, 24 August 2009

Primer... (Spoilers May Occur)

... has to be one of the most brilliant films i have ever seen. If you haven't seen it and like me you like time travel films go and watch it. You won't be disappointed.

The dialogue can be a bit hard to follow at times, but its something you don't need to follow precisely. Most of it is banter between two friends who are on the same wavelength. I mean how many times have you been to a party and met some new people and they have a long history of conversation between them. Its like that. This might have the problem in other films of shutting you out and not connecting with the characters. But it doesn't patronise you, it doesn't dumb the dialogue down for the sake of keeping up.

But the part that took me was the time travel itself. Shane Carruth (Dir) ticks the box of the number 1 problem i have had with time travel films in the past, and that's space. I always thought that if Marty McFly got in the DeLorean back to 1955 from 1985, he would find himself in the exact same position in relation to the Earth, but in reality the Earth is a million miles from where it was in 1955, so Marty would end up in Space, and the DeLorean would stetch out and break due to pressure.

Carruth states that to end up in the same place in relation to the Earth, you have to travel through every possible second backwards to end up there. The Box in Primer does this, It stays in relation to the Earth so the characters are grounded in the same place in Texas, not 4 Million miles away from Earth.

All in all its a very intelligent film with a lot to say from director Shane Carruth's first picture. And if you are into time travel films and need something more fresh and new rather than "Im from the future, im here to resuce you" films, then go buy it, its around a tenner. Worth every penny.

-Jonny

Wordard Strikes Again

Wordart reared its ugly head again recently, and while i was trying to enjoy my dinner no less :(

There is a small cafe where i live, and its kitted out like an old school 50's American Diner, it looks brilliant, the neon signs, the chrome, even the milkshakes are on the money, pictures of Monroe and James Dean too. They went all out with the architecture and interior design.

Unfortunately they stopped as soon as it came to the design. The menu's where hand laminated A4 photocopied paper and the posters offering drink offers where done with my best friend Wordart.

Now I am not one to usually go off on one about this sorts of thing, it can sound like a petty argument and something that is so trivial, but when a cafe has had so much time spent on making the decor look reminiscent of the time period, it seems daft to leave out a major customer touch point, ie flyers, menu's posters. Not only that, but there is a Printer's right across the road.

So instead of getting lost in this 1950's American utopian universe that it tries to do, you are reminded of how the world isn't right, not when Wordart still exists. Even someone who has no design knowledge looks at them and associates them with a computer, something far to advanced for the world the Diner tried to create, and therefore snaps you out of what could have been a brilliant dining experience.

Or again, this might just be my over conscious design head getting the better of me.

-Jonny

Sunday, 23 August 2009

A Hundred & Two...

...is a new song by Toby Domoney! and I get to make him a lovely animated music video for it.

As usual procrastination would have it, i have made a short piece of motion work to get a feel for what the video might look like, and an "Official Trailer" for the Music Video too! My, I have been busy...



Also remember to check out Toby's Myspace, not only for some cracking songs and cover versions, but also a million year old banner that I made for him around 5 years ago!

Thats all for now! Sleep now :)

-Jonny

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Ameba's Motion Graphics

Hey there!

I'm getting a lot of Motion Graphics work done nowadays, creating short 10-30 second adverts for fictional bars and clubs to put together on a showreel, i should be adding one every two to three days, feel free to check them out at on my YouTube channel:
www.youtube.com/amebagraphics.

Also my website is in progress at the moment, currently its just showing some cute little cartoons as a "coming soon/under construction" graphic, but i should have it up and running by the time i start University again.

Starting to get a habit this blogging lark!

-Jonny

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Issues With Monsters

Okay, to celebrate the release of Monsters Inc on Blu Ray (which i whole heartedly recommend buying if you own a Blu Ray player and wondering why you shelled out money for it) I have thrown together a list of issues i have with this film.

Don't get me wrong, its a brilliant film, being Pixar its head and shoulders above any other animated films for its demographic, but i feel that Pete Doctor needed to iron out some problems with the Monsters Inc Universe.

Problem 1: Monstropolis
In an alternate universe that have monsters in that are all in some way scary to children, then you would more than likely have everyone working at Monsters Inc, as a sort of community service, like jury duty! I think its rather selfish of some monsters to want to own a coffee shop or sell fruit during a scare shortage! I mean by all means keep on the good scarers, but i think it should be compulsory for monsters to be part of Monsters Inc.

Problem 2: Monsters Incorperated
Monstropolis is on a scare shortage, its mentioned this from the start. But with the vast amount of space they have in the lobby and storing doors you would think they could afford more than one scare floor with roughly 10 doors on it! If there is more scare floors they certainly arnt shown in the film. For a company that is threatened by going under you think they would afford the space for more doors. Made more clear by the CDA shutting the floor down for an hour, other floors would just be able to keep running.

Problem 3: Scare Shortage
Monstropolis is run by scare, and they get there scare from Monsters Inc, but what happens when they shut down Monsters Inc? There would be NO scare for anyone to use! surely a scare station producing a little bit of scare is better than having none at all? I mean is there any other alternative to using scare? like solar or wind power? Or do they have some sort of backup plan for when the company goes under? Who knows. Maybe there are other branches of Monsters Inc. in other parts of Monstropolis, or maybe this one just powers this city in this questionably sized universe.

Problem 4: Scary Kids Scaring Monsters
Waternoose knows that children cannot harm monsters at all, so why build up the big conspiracy that kids are deadly lethal? Maybe to prevent them from getting close to their kids (a-la Sully and Boo) but this is part of their job! its what they get paid (i assume they get paid) to do! If a monster is too compassionate for a child then he shouldn't be working at Monsters Inc but at a adolescent monster centre for reformed scarers. You would think that monsters would be more confident scaring kids (and therefore get more scream) if they know they arn't harmful. You would get less pillocks falling on some Jacks and making the kid immune to monsters and loosing doors.

Problem 5: Laughter
Research seems to be the problem here with Monsters Inc. Science Division. You get some bad scarers who fall on their ass and might accidently make a kid laugh and it fills the container. The R&D at Monsters Inc. might moniter some doors and see what is more effective, or whether a girls scream is more powerful than a boys scream, or the average age of door termination. There just seems to be a lack of recent development in how scaring is done, and it seems to be a formula handed down from generation to generation without question.

Problem 6: Monster Pro-Creation
Monsters come in all shapes and sizes, and i imagine for mating monsters it would be like mating two different breeds of dog, but it must be hard for Ted the giant chicken bird, for him to meet up with someone would be difficult, especially seeing as though he can't speak a word of English. But after years and years of pro creation they would all start to look either inbred or all the same. Or have the same monsters been around forever and just don't age? 

Problem 7: The Monsters Universe
Closets have been around as long as we have had houses, and now we have closets monsters can get their scream and abuse our kids to power their hybrid cars with knarling teeth. But what did monsters do before then? did they even exist? did they live in a great depression where monsters had no power? like humans before fire? If so they have come a hell of a long way (and very similar to our universe) in such a short space of time.


All of these posts are all made null and void by the ultimate line: "Its just a cartoon!" But Pixar has prided itself on making a believable universe for their characters to inhabit. John Lasseter says this is one of the main goals of the company. Don't get me wrong, i still love the film, there are just some deep flaws in the universe that stunts my acceptance of this alternate world of monsters.

Don't get me started on Cars....

-Jonny @ Ameba Graphics

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Hewitt & Walker

Hey! Thought I would update you on my most recent collaboration with Ollie Bostock from Moorlands Films, We made a DVD, named the Hewitt & Walker History Of Cinema. Its a collection of some short films based on Grindhouse Cinema of 1950's America we have been making for the past year or so. It includes some of my motion graphics work. It was loads of fun making it and its fantastic to finally get a DVD finished ready to distribute.

If anyone wants a copy please don't hesitate to ask.

Here are a few pictures of what she looks like...



Let me know what you think!

-Jonny @ Ameba Graphics