Having created my first sequence with Premier Pro in The Hunt For Red October I reviewed the original brief and what I found was that while I had all my research & ideas in the right place I had failed to begin from the right spot, namely the title, “Stop Motion Title Sequence”. It was pretty obvious that I had gotten carried away with the whole software end of it & missed the target entirely.
Here’s the finished sequence. (See the comments in the critical analysis regarding YouTube)
So. SALT, (an assassin played by Angelina Jolie) is an actual “Stop Motion” sequence. Again, my research covered, but was not limited to, artists such as Sagmeister & Walsh’s sequence “The Happy Film” & “Food Fight” by Tourist Pictures.
The background is black card, I have used a paper print of a pistol, the main character is of course Lego.
I have also used string & twine for the ground & rope, the star scape is table salt & the bullets & decomposing character are made with rock salt.
The blood is done with smoked Paprika.
I sourced the music from the titles of both Reservoir Dogs & the movie Salt. The Foley effects were sourced from Audio Micro
After sketching out my storyboards with the bones of my idea I then listed the elements I needed to begin shooting.
I positioned the background & taped the twine across it for the ground. I then spread table salt for the stars & placed rock salt for the moon & shooting star. (Just as a bit of interest.)
I sketched in the door & placed the gun behind a slit made in the background. Then I positioned my character & placed my camera above the scene. The camera was placed so that it would take in the entire scene without having to be moved. I wanted to keep the same camera angle & compression throughout the entire sequence. The scene was lit with a large window from the top & a directional table lamp from the left.
Once I had photographed the action, moving each piece, character & sky elements, I brought them into Photoshop to tidy up any stray pieces of salt or anything else. I also removed the open door from all frames before where the gun appears.
I imported the images into Adobe Premier Pro & created a timeline where I added the needed audio clips, transitions & other effects. There were a couple of effects that I had not worked with before when I created The Hunt For Red October such as laying a transparent video layer over my timeline & creating a slight vignette. I also used the Nested frames feature to allow me to reduce the playback time for slow motion scenes. This was done for both images & audio.
The nesting feature also allowed me to apply a universal transition or filter to images such as the opening scene where I zoom in for a close-up introduction of “The Mark”.
Once I exported the final title sequence I uploaded it to both Behance & You Tube. I was then able to revisit my responsive website project & embed the sequence in the video page. I have included a screenshot below.
I learned a few things when trying to upload to the web that are new to me. Firstly, Behance will not take a video file if it is larger than about 65mb in size.
Also, YouTube now gives you an option to smooth the shakiness out of your video. !!! DO NOT DO THIS !!! When I did this to my sequence it actually rounded my movements, so where my zoom moved sharply in then back out, it now looked like one continuous circular motion. You can see this in the YouTube link above. The Behance link below has the Non-YouTubeinated version as I intended it.
The final sequence, while great fun & not bad at all I feel, for a first attempt, still has a lot of room for improvement.
I would redo the sequence with a lot more images, instead of aprox 280 images I would probably use about 1000. I would also look at using the salt for more elements of the shoot, such as the gun & the ground.
I have also found that when 2 or more layers of images have been overlaid in the timeline of Premier Pro it can leave a line on the side of the sequence. I have found this in both “SALT” & “The Hunt For Red October”. I have read through the Adobe forums & found this to be a common complaint. It can be remedied only by outputting your sequence then dropping that finished sequence into a new sequence document & stretching it to go outside the boundaries of the new document thus hiding the line.
I would, given a more powerful PC, probably shoot in a higher resolution to allow for clearer images in the final sequence, although in comparing the two sequences mentioned above, Sagmeister & Walsh use what looks like time lapse video which is very clear but in Food Fight the artist uses what appear to be very low quality Jpg’s. I don’t think one is necessarily better than the other, but they both suit the end product equally well. In fact, in the case of the Food Fight the low res images actually add to the emotional impact of the sequence with the artist even using differential focus to add depth & drama to some scenes.
I also realise that the Lego character has been done extensively & to a much better standard so I would probably not use that again. However, I wasn’t overly concerned with using Lego & was more concerned with keeping to the “Stop Motion” aspect of my brief.
I’m not happy about the way YouTube rounded the “Shakiness” out of my sequence but I have left it online to highlight the problem. The Behance version is as intended.
I identified a number of sources of images to make this sequence namely a mobile phone/app, a video camera to shoot time lapse images, a compact camera & also a GoPro type camera. There were a number of reasons why these did not suit my project such as the wrong focal length of the lens or an inability to control the focus.
I settled on a Canon 1Ds SLR, while it is a much bulkier camera it did allow me a lot more control over the images I created. It also allowed me to create images of a lower resolution in Jpg format for use in Premier Pro. All images were then sorted in a local folder but were not renamed on this occasion to allow the software to sort them by file name.
Overall I feel that on this occasion, while the overall quality & smoothness of the sequence could be improved, and the movements of the elements & the elements themselves could be refined with a lot more patience, I do feel that I have kept to the spirit & requirements of the brief.
This Title Sequence can also be seen on my Behance page below.