Whenever I’m working on a design project, I record a timelapse of the work – they’re fun to watch and provide a nice behind-the-scenes look at my process. I wanted to share a few of my favorites, along with some of the context and background that the videos don’t convey.
Fair warning: some of these don’t have background music, which…makes them kinda boring. I didn’t realize that I could actually put background music behind these until I had done most of them, so if the silence is too deafening, I recommend just playing Brian Eno’s “Ambient Music for Airports” in another tab. For that matter, it’s a good idea to just always have Airports playing in the background. Makes life more enjoyable.
Halloween Dance 2016
Northside’s annual Halloween dance, hosted on alternating years by Student Council and NCP Latin, typically attracts a large attendance and is appreciated by students, but it also lacks somewhat in the theming department. When it came time for Student Council to plan the 2016 Halloween Dance, I recommended that we theme it according to the popular Halloween movie series, “Halloween.” To that end, I prepared a series of marketing materials, using motifs and aesthetic themes from the Halloween series. At the time, Northside had just installed several prominent TV screens in the hallways, and I decided to leverage this new medium by creating a short animation.
The NCP Latin Owl
When I was developing Northside Latin’s award winning website, I had to create a brand for the program, including logos, colors, taglines, and more. One element was the Owl logo, the result of a long iterative design process inspired by the collection of owls that Mr. Nifong, the Latin teacher, keeps in his room. The mark is now featured prominently on the website, NCP Latin merchandise, and has been physically reproduced to add to Mr. Nifong’s collection.
I’ve selected this timelapse as one of my favorites because it’s a great example of design iteration and the thought process that goes into the creation of logomarks. Ideas for designs aren’t a one-off thing, they have to be hacked at for a while. Not included in the video are the many sketches I did, including different eye shapes, face elements (one has some hilarious eyebrows), and absolutely awful attempts to draw an owl in profile (it didn’t occur to me at the time that they literally have flat faces and it was just a MESS).
Arizona Falls Cinemagraph
The cinemagraph is one of the most beautifully simple mediums out there – they are moments frozen in time, playing over and over again. Typically distributed as a .gif, cinemagraphs depict a scene with some moving element looping seamlessly. There are tons of great examples out there (a search for “cinemagraphs” or a visit to /r/cinemagraphs should get you started), and many make creative use of the scene, drawing out specific, sometimes unexpected, elements in a cinemagraph.
I came across them a while back, and, of course, had to give it a try. One of my favorites, made by a reddit user called /u/orbojunglist, was produced from a video titled “Harvasupi Falls Recap.” Later in that same video, there’s a scene where two people are sitting in front of a waterfall, watching peacefully as the water crashes down in front of them.
I took a hearty stab at turning that moment into a good cinemagraph, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. The subject matter was, perhaps, not the best choice for a first try – typically, the moving portion of a cinemagraph can simply be masked out from the rest of the scene and the gif can be rendered as-is. The scene I chose has a moving background, which introduces some complexity when it comes to masking out the figures in the foreground. This was a tedious process, and you’ll see me fiddling about with the brush tool, trying to get the woman’s hair hidden just right and the rest of the scene accurately outlined. Looking back, I’d do a few things differently, but I’m still very happy with the result.
Unfortunately, I did manage to bungle the “final product” at the end of that video, so here’s the proper cinemagraph, in all its .gif glory.
The Trouble Child: HoofReel Intro
In the middle of Junior year, I was approached by Northside’s Documentary club, the HoofReel, to create a logo and movie introduction. The project didn’t seem that challenging and I had been itching to get back to motion graphics, so I readily accepted.
Turns out, my After Effects skills had grown rather rusty. I had recently seen a phenomenal logo animation by the creative studio BUCK, and I was aiming to do something similar with the HoofReel, which, seeing as I am not a studio containing some of the best animators out there, did not pan out.
Eventually, I had to give up my hopes for some elaborate animation and go with a simple, but pleasant, swipe on/off. I’m quite happy with the end result - it gets the job done, and the HoofReel loves it - but at the time, I was really frustrated that I couldn’t actualize my idea for the project. It reminded me that I’ve still got a lot to learn about After Effects and design as a whole, which is ultimately why I love doing this sort of thing so much. It’s about learning how to use the tools at hand to visualize your ideas and how to apply creativity to what aren’t inherently items of creative expression.
If design isn’t your thing and you’d prefer to see some more hands on work, I created a timelapse video of a typewriter restoration, viewable here.