I wanted to create a really cool looking Showreel, which in itself would demonstrate some of my abilities using after effects. So I decided to go for a ‘touch screen' effect, since now in 2012 there is hardly anyone who hasn't played around with a touch screen (phones, iPads, computer screens..), so it should definitely be an experience people can relate to.
A few words about the process – it was filmed with Canon XF100 with a green screen background and edited in After Effects. Even though it's only 1 minute long, it probably took 60-70 hours of work (if not more) – which included planning, filming, e-d-i-t-i-n-g, and adding the sound effects.
This is probably the most important step. Without it, you won't get far.
So what do I mean by planning? First, thinking.
- What do I want to do? (A showreel..)
- Who is the audience? (all ages / 18-40+)
- What should the look of the movie be? (high tech, clean, gadgets..)
- What should the feel of the movie be? (fun, entertaining, happy..)
And of course there are many more questions you could ask.
After you've decided on the idea, you then come to the fun part. Brainstorming & Sketching. Take a white piece of paper, and start sketching out what your idea should look like. Try to make as many sketches as possible for that specific idea. Even if you think some sketches are stupid, don't give up on them – they might turn out to be great for a 2 second composition of your clip. The more sketches and possibilities the better.When you're finished with this step, decide which sketch you like the most, and write a script and a storyboard. It's easiest to create a simple table:
- ‘During seconds 1-4, I reveal the logo and then click on it.' | Storyboard picture.
2. 1st Edit
After planning exactly what I wanted to happen in each second of the Show reel, I jumped into After Effects, added all the Showreel content (Graphics, Videos, VFX's) and created all the motion for the menus, buttons and elements. I paid less attention to how everything looked, but more to the behavior and movement of the different elements. This had to be done at this point, because without this step I wouldn't know where to press on the ‘screen' when filming. This step was probably the most (or second most) time consuming part.
Equipment: Canon XF100, Green screen, 2 lights.
Before I got to the actual filming, I had to practice my movements. So to get it right, I had the laptop set up in front of me – with the video from step 2 playing on a loop, and I started practicing the different hand movements.
It took lots of practice and 7-10 takes until I got it right. The setup was actually very simple. A camera on a tripod, a green screen background and 2 lights – one on the green screen (to keep its color even) and 1 on myself.
Have a look, This is quite funny. It seems as if it's been on my mind for some time now to create a ‘touch screen' effect'. This is a video I made at 2005.
4. Main Edit
This part was quite fun, because I started to see what the movie was going to look like. The first step here was replacing the green background with a transparent background (‘key light 1.2' effect worked great). Then, I needed to adjust all the movements of the different elements to exactly match the position of my hands (clicking, moving, opening and so on). When that was done, I started to pay more attention to the visual side. Adjusting all the colors of the element so they go together, making sure everything is aligned properly, choosing the right fonts, creating the background, adding adjustment layers with curves and more color correction tools and so on.
5. Finalizing and adding Sound effects
Sometimes, it's hard to understand how important sound is. So just so you get it, try watching the Showreel again, but this time mute the sound. You'll immediately understand what I'm talking about.
So since the sound is so important, it has to be good and it has to work. I added all the sound effects directly in After Effects (which isn't always the best idea, but in this case it worked fine). This was the last step, so I was already quite tired and really wanted to finish with the movie, but I knew that if I didn't pay enough attention to this step, I would be very mad at myself later on. So when you get to the step of sound editing, you shouldn't underestimate how important it is.
Well you can imagine how it feels to finish a project like this. It's really fun and satisfying but on the other hand you are quite exhausted and don't want to touch after effects for a month. But it was definitely worth it, and I'm happy with the final result.
If you have any questions or comments, write them in the comment section below. I'd love to hear what you think.
Thanks and have fun creating your Showreel!