Where to start with this. Oh yeah, Macs. You know when you get denied through the Pearly Gates by St. Peter you’ll be sent to that very hot place down under where it’ll be brim full of Macs that you’ll have to use for all eternity.
So, my idea for my showreel entry;
Well, not that exactly but he’s the man. The name’s Bond, James Bond.
The idea I have/had was to have each individual letter in the James Bond name to have its own little tuxedo; black bottom, white top and a bow tie to boot. Since this was more complicated to pull off than I thought, Peter helped me a fair bit to get the lettering looking good and ready. I’m not kidding here when I say there was a lot of steps getting these letters ready in Illustrator before I could export them into After Effects to actually begin creating this.
I took notes but I know I didn’t catch everything. By the end of the lesson I had the letters finished, (again with masses of help from Peter), and in a composition within After Effects ready for the animation.
Then the Macs struck. It saved my project with a “last used” folder date of January 1984.
At home I found I lost everything. Every save file within Illustrator, every start I’d made within After Effects – the whole lot. I have to be honest here, I wasn’t sure whether to cry or to punch the screen but I did sink when I knew I couldn’t get any of it back. I also know this isn’t the first time I’ve had a Mac screw me over. Its happened many, many times before.
So literally all weekend I had to try and re-create what I’d lost with not very much idea of how. There was lots, and I mean shed loads of trial and error, with what felt like mostly error but eventually I did manage it.
Starting with the basics and what I did know, I created (again) the text and just like I did in lesson time. I created a box over each letter where it would be cut out and/or punched through where I could colour the letters accordingly.
Now, for reasons I don’t know, in college there’s a ‘punch’ tool within a set called Pathfinder in Illustrator that lets me punch a hole through the lettering, like the centre of the ‘a’ for example. This wasn’t in my version, nor could I even find an equivalent – and believe me I Googled the hell out of it. Every help page, image and video I saw said it was there or it could be found within a menu – it wasn’t. I can’t imagine there’d be that much of a difference between a Mac and a PC so presumably its a version difference. I think the college is running 2015 and I’m running CC 2017. I don’t know if that’s the case but I can’t come up with a better answer.
So anyway like the images above show, I had to crop the top off every letter to get to the screen above right. This allowed me to remove the box corners and let me change the colour of each letter’s lower section. Doing this however, I realised that I’d need to do the same to the top so I had to undo everything, save the standard lettering again with a different file name, re-crop each letter the repeat the same process with the top sections.
I ended up with the top half of the name in one file and the bottom half in another so a copy and paste job later meant I had both halves in one file and in their respective colours. This also presented a new problem of joining these two together – after placing them in the right place. The snap tool wouldn’t snap properly, it was either too far off the mark or not enough so I had to zoom right in and place them all by eye.
I tried next to group both halves together for the animation but it just wouldn’t work. Whenever I moved each letter to test, only one half moved. More Googling happened which said to just highlight, right click and group – or do it through the menus. Eventually something wonderful happened and both halves did group. Save progress.
I remembered Peter saying for these to move/animate they’d need to be or it’d be better if they were vectors – I can’t totally remember. I couldn’t see in the menus about how to make these letters vectors, or how to vectorise them (probably not a word but I don’t care) but even more Googling did turn this ditty up;
I followed its instructions but I couldn’t see any difference to the letters, I even hit the PC shortcut a few times to be sure and for one brief moment, I did see something work (the cursor changed to its working animation) so I moved on. I found an export tool in Illustrator and had to export each. letter. individually.
The ‘d’ is asset 19 as this also took a few trials to get right, but I think that was me trying to rush the process and making errors. Finally I had everything in After Effects ready to animate.
It took over four and a half hours on my Saturday afternoon to get to the point where I’d left college on the Friday.
So by where Peter (with his immense knowledge) managed to get there with this route;
A —————————————-> B
my route felt like, and was like this;
So animating it. This itself took a few hours on the Sunday to get right as there was quite a bit going on.
Having to import every letter individually meant nothing was level and to avoid letters being on a wonky line, I used a blue solid as a makeshift ruler. At this point I realised I didn’t have a bullet to fire nor did I have anything to fire it from so I had to spend some time making these assets and trying to vectorise them (I’m going with it). Thing is, I went through that many trials the day before, I think I missed a step in what I had to do to do that. Oh yeah, I’d also realised that I needed bow ties too. Photoshop did those. But what I didn’t realise it that in order for After Effects to recognise it, I had to open the Photoshop file in Illustrator then export them out from there. Bizarre.
Finally I was ready to animate it.
I did use some puppet pins on a few of the letters and numbers but that’s all, they didn’t make it to every asset as I didn’t think it was necessary for what I wanted to achieve.
I never set out with a specific animation process in mind, instead I pretty much made up how each letter would react as I went along. What I didn’t expect was to spend as long doing it. Since I knew I wanted each letter to react differently, I included knock on effects, squash and stretches, spins and position alterations.
Doing this there was quite a few mistakes made, mostly until I got the hang of animating it and remembering to alter and keyframe everything. Sometimes I had to go back a fair few steps as I’d realised I’d forgotten something at the start that’d impact something else later. This animation process itself took quite some time to get right and in all, took me quite a few hours to nail down.
At the end of it though, I have this result as my contribution;
I’m not convinced that any of the assets above are vectors but that’s a problem for another day. I do know that I also want to add a smoke effect just as the bullet is being shot which I’ll add before its submitted on Friday.
Here it is! I’ve tweaked the timing and spins of a few letters and added in the effect I wanted. The final version is below.