Mini Project 4: Animated Type

For my fourth mini project I experimented with text on Adobe After Effects with moving text to a sequence of a film. It was suggested that we create a short video using the dialogue from the film Gravity. As I had no previous experience with Adobe After Effects I decided that I should try another film first so that I could get comfortable with using the program before I attempted to do the Gravity sequence.

The first scene I recreated using animated text was a scene from the film Friday. Friday is a comedy film and the scene I chose is about a father telling his son off for eating all of the food in the fridge. The reason why I chose this scene is because I find the actor and it is a very famous comedy film and scene, it was interesting to see how animated type would compliment humour. when working on this I found that the work had a totally different feel to it than when working with the Gravity sound clip. I also used a different font and different colours because I felt that Gravity had a much darker and anxious vibe to it where as Friday could be more colourful and entertaining. I also took two different approaches when working with each scene, for the Friday scene I tried to make the text synchronize with the characters voices to enhance the humour where as with Gravity I wanted to animate the word around what the actors were saying (i.e. the word detached involves half of the word detaching from the other half). I found that the Friday scene was a great practice for me and it made me more comfortable with After Effects and realise that Gravity was probably a much better scene to do after trying to work with the Friday scene. This was because the content of the dialogue was easier to work with in the Gravity scene, because there were words such as copy, detached, down and nothing. This gave me room to try and experiment with the text and try to recreate what the word meant (for example make a copy of the word copy).

This is the scene from the film Friday that I recreated, I made this so that I could become familiar with After Effects. This helped me to come up with better ideas for the Gravity sequence.

In the Gravity scene astronaut Dr Stone (Sandra Bullock) is on a space walk working on a mission but becomes separated from the workstation in space due to debris from a Russian Satellite colliding with their shuttle. While she is drifting away from the station a fearful Dr Stone receives help from veterinary astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). I tried to use a number of different techniques to emphasise the seriousness of the situation that the characters were in. I wanted to make sure that the text was fast paced and didn’t stay on the screen for too long. What I found about this project was that because the audio was the main part of the sequence that there were parts of the animation where the text didn’t have to stay up long enough to be read clearly as the sound of the words mixed with the visuals gave a clear understanding of what the words were, a good example of this is when Sandra Bullock says ‘I’m Spinning’ For this section I made the word ‘spinning’ rotate 360 degrees, the word stays up on the screen for no longer than half a second, usually this would not give the audience enough time to read the text but as the texts act as a visual to complement the audio it means that they are readable as they are moving in the same rhythm to the speech. Use of text in this way is not the same as subtitles which are a way for people who may not be able to hear the audio to understand what is happening, but they are a part of the scene, the intention of the text is to invoke the same anticipation in the audience as they would feel when they are watching the actual movie, where as subtitles are not made for this purpose.

Another section of this that I feel captures the emotion well is when the character played by Sandra Bullock shouts ‘I can’t’ . Because she repeats I can’t in a sharper, louder voice I felt that it wouldn’t have made sense to have just repeated the words again, to me this wouldn’t have worked with the audio, instead of getting rid of the first ‘I can’t’ I decided to keep the words there and when she said ‘I can’t’ again to make them grow bigger or ‘stronger’. To me this works well with the added emphases and frustration in her tone of voice. Another final thing I did to which I’m still not too sure about was on the dialogue of Sandra Bullocks character I added a ‘wobble’ on After Effects to the text. This makes the text shake and is supposed to accentuate the panic in the voice of the character. I didn’t add this effect on to the dialogue of the George Clooney character because I felt that it didn’t make sense, as his voice was too calm. This creates a contrast between the two characters and because there are no images except for text this makes it more clear which one of the characters is in trouble in the scene, even if it is only subtle. At the end of the scene the character shouts ‘I see nothing’. For this I originally tried to have no text to represent nothing though I found that this didn’t work very well because it didn’t look good. I then tried to fade out into nothing and this worked better but I still wasn’t happy with the ending.

This is a version of the scene which is without the wobble on the text of Dr Stone’s dialogue. This also has a few minor differences such as a different ending.

This was my final version of the Gravity scene, I decided to keep the wobble of the text in the end even though I didn’t like that it made the text look out of place due it being moved from its proper position. I also thought that keeping the text wobbly represented micro gravity in a way because it sort of gave the impression that the text was floating.


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