Sunday, 27 April 2014

Student Showcase - Kalim Momen explains snow simulation using After Effects

Kalim Momen is one of our talented first year animation & VFX students here at Bucks. One of the first year modules that all our students must complete in order to graduate to the next academic year is Broadcast Animation, which tackles the part of our industry that used to be known (rather dismissively) as flying logos. By definition, Broadcast animation counts as animation, just as important as character animation, creature animation - or any other kind of animation. Broadcast animation is where many of the biggest modern digital VFX houses got their start. The brief for Kalim and the other students was to create a title sequence, using Adobe After Effects, for a famous movie - using titles, animation and design to create a sophisticated piece of work, something that could have been used for the movie itself.

Kalim animated a title sequence for Edward Scissorhands
Kalim chose Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands, a film that helped to define the director's style and also launched the career of led actor Johnny Depp. We asked Kalim a few questions about his project, and how he came to create it.

Bucks: Why Edward Scissorhands?

Kalim: The reason why I chose Edward Scissorhands for the assignment is that it was one of my favorite movies from my childhood.

Bucks: What software did you use to create it?

Kalim: The software I used to create my first broadcast title creation assignment was Adobe CS6 After Effects

Bucks: How did you create the snow effect?

Kalim: The snow effect that I used is located in Effects and Presets, in a tab called Simulation. It is called t2_snownight2. What you do is you go to the tab called Layer and then scroll down to New and then scroll down and click on solid. When you have clicked on Solid, make the new Solid black After you have done this, drag and drop the t2_snowynight2 trap code SD presets effect on the Solid. When you do this, you will be able to customize your snowflakes to be big or small and you have the perfect background that never ends. 

For the snow effect for the text in the video, first you will need a text: so you go to Layers, scroll down to New and click on Text.  When you have clicked on Text, a box will appear.  You write in any random name and, make the text colour white because you want the snow effect to look real before adding in the effect. 

After you have done those steps, you go to the tab Effects and Presets, type in the search bar "card wipe", and then click on Card Wipe Pixel Storm. When you have dragged and dropped on to the text, the next stage is the hard part - making it look like snow. To do this, first you go to the Effects window on the left side of the screen. Go to the card wipe master control and set the Transition Completion to 100.0%. Then go to the brackets (Card wipe) and go to Rows, and set it to 104, and then set Columns to 161, set Timing Randomness to 0.10. After you have done this you must add in the key frame for the transition completion, so you set a key frame at 0 and make the transition completion to 0.0%. Then, set another key frame at 20 or 30 and set the transition completion to 100.0% - and you will get a snow effect. 

Bucks What tips would you offer to anyone trying to do an exercise like this one?

Kalim: Stay calm and and keep trying again and again. Making this effect was not easy;  there will always be some problems in After Effects that can be difficult to overcome, but stay calm and you will eventually find the answer to your problem. 

Bucks: What were the biggest challenges in getting it done?

Kalim: The biggest challenges in getting this assignment done were the technical issues in After Effects that kept being a problem. For instance, when I was applying Effects in After Effects, the software kept on being difficult by closing itself down or sending up error messages. But I got through it all by remaining calm and, where necessary, asking a friend of a teacher for advice.

(Editor's Note: For more impressive work done by our students and recent graduates here at Bucks, check out the work of Jens KopkeBen Gray's Moonbeam, and the architectural visualisations of Sabah Masood and Anton Alfimenko. Also take a look at the work of Andy Thomas here, see our latest commercial project for Rocketseed, our short film done for a global aid agency, and take a look at the excellent work of designer Monika Dzikowicz, architectural visualisation specialist Krsytof Michalski, Alex Whitfield and the 3D artwork of Mike Swan. And don't forget to see the simulation work of our students done in RealFlow. To see our student demo reel, click here.)

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