PSYCHE! I’m back – with more explosions

After that final, poetic send-off in my last post, you probably thought I was gone forever, right? Yeah, well, me too. But nope! I’m back, with one for-real FINAL post for you, my most dedicated reader! (Also known as Santosh Issac – thanks for sticking with it, Santosh!!)

It’s… my book trailer! With great trial and tribulation that lovely collection of images from about two posts back is now a lovely moving sequence WITH sound effects! And I made it happen, on my computer! I just love the 21st century, don’t you???

WITHOUT FURTHER ADO! I present my final motion graphic and Artist’s Statement.

For my motion graphics assignment, I created a book trailer for one of my favorite novels, Apocalypse for Beginners by Nicolas Dickner. This book was my introduction to sophisticated, low-key teen angst though the characters of Hope Randall and Micky Bauerman and their suburban wanderings, philosophical conversations and nightly news viewings in Micky’s basement. I wanted to capture this feeling in my trailer so I relied greatly on muted colours, a suburban setting and a somewhat spare landscape.

I drew all of the elements on Photoshop and then brought them into After Effects to animate. I used the camera tool to create a zoom effect and to create distance between the elements. I also key-framed changes in colour, size and opacity. I liked the effect of starting the video starting out a street level before delving below the surface to illuminate the subterranean-dwelling teenage protagonists. It enhances the notion of them being ensconced in their own little world down there, while watching history unfurl on the small screen.

An important thematic element in the novel is the slightly foreboding threat of the ever-pending apocalypse as predicted by various members of the Randall family, and I chose colours and settings to reflect this feeling. All the houses on the street used the same 6 or 7 seven colours, many of which were slightly shady, off-colour variations on primary colours, chosen because that relates to the “for Beginners” part of the title – primary colours are typically related to youth, kindergarten, and that sort of thing, and I liked the effect of slightly altering this motif. They also stand out nicely against the sky when it fades to black. Then, of course, there’s the mushroom cloud on TV. Although this never actually happens in the book, it was important to me to visually capture the apocalypse in some sense because it is such a huge plot and thematic element. To make the cloud appear to be growing on the TV screen, I imported a series of drawings I did into After Effects to create a stop-motion animation. The apocalypse image on the screen almost appears more realistic than any of the surroundings, which is an effect I liked because it enhances the idea that ‘real life’ is happening out in the world outside of Hope and Micky’s small Montreal suburb, while in the basement they’re still waiting for their ‘real life’ to start.

For typography, I “wrote” my title by hand on Photoshop. I chose this as opposed to a professionally done font because I liked the how it looked a bit playful, which both juxtaposes with the darker elements of the trailer and relates to the sweet, quirky rom-com side of the book. I also wanted the sound to reflect that – it starts with birds chirping, which morph to crickets as it gets dark, with traffic underneath, reflecting the mundane, pleasant side of suburbia, before this is interrupted by the sound of the explosion on TV; much in the same way that the coming of the apocalypse will disrupt their dull but comfortable routine.

As a first time user of After Effects I’m pretty happy with my finished product! The transitions and animations worked quite similarly to how I envisioned them working, so I was really satisfied with that. The main thing I would change if I could do it again would be the images that I created on Photoshop and animated. They looked approximately how I wanted, but I would have preferred them to be a bit more stylized – that’s probably more of a Photoshop issue than an After Effects one, though. I also had some challenges maintaining image quality when I changed the scale of various elements. In several cases I had to swap in a clearer image from Photoshop because I couldn’t figure out how to bring the element up to the image quality that I was hoping for. Finally, the time constraint was a good challenge to have to work around, and I made it a goal of mine to make a 5 second trailer, but it does feel to me perhaps just a touch rushed. I know ten seconds would have been unnecessarily long, so I am content with my choice, but maybe like 6 to 7 seconds would have been truly ideal. However, when I consider all the effort, sleep deprivation and work that went into creating my final product, I am pretty darn happy with it!!

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Well, that’s well and truly it for me! Thanks for reading – it’s been a slice.