I am back on the Motion Graphics trail, having to brush up on my After Effects and Motion skills, having been given a boot up the arris by seeing that Mark Christiansen has released an update of his excellent After Effects Studio Techniques book to the latest AECS4 and I am still working on AE7; and if I don’t do it now, by the time I do finish working my way through his book it will be very out of date! With that in mind I see that Computer Arts have posted some excellent Motion graphics tips, as well as those brilliant guys from VideoCopilot.

Art Beats is also doing an After Effects “REAL WORLD FOOTAGE EFFECTS” podcast geared around working with Stock Footage.

So why do I care? When I am much happier just creating screenplays right now….

Well as an Independent Filmmaker I think that you need to be fully aware of every angle of the filmmaking process; not an expert in every process, but capable enough to fudge your way through it. And if not capable or with no time to tackle a gruelling Motion Graphics shot, desperate to achieve that SAVING PRIVATE RYAN look via Colour Grading your footage, you need to be able to communicate exactly what you want to someone who is an expert – so that you can do it on the cheap and have it done well; so that your made-on-the-cheap flick can hold its head up high when taking up shelf space next to the competition.

On my short film BE CAREFUL… once the initial shoot had finished, my editor went AWOL, then my main actor – when I had last minute reshoots to get in the can. My editor returned and then my Motion Graphics / graphic designer guy went AWOL etc. So I had to teach myself how to Edit. That done, once I had mastered Final Cut Pro, I then realised I needed to fix certain shots – as I could not reshoot them – and that I would need a complex composite shot to communicate a certain minor facet of the story. I couldn’t pay anyone to do the shot for me. I advertised for help, but strangely there were no takers – not for a short film credit, maybe there would have been for a feature credit. So what was I to do, but teach myself Motion Graphics… At least now with that knowledge, I now have the rudimentary knowledge, I know the places to look for answers and to advertise for the right people to help out and I even used the techniques I had learned to complete a complex show reel edit for a client. So not an expert, but no incompetent either. Empowered to some extent.

Did I finish that abortive short film though?…. erm not yet… *cough*ahem. Let’s move on…

I know of other FX guys who have promised to lend a hand on low-to-no budget feature shoots and then walked away when it came down to actually making good on that promise. What would you do if that happened? Would you allow your post production schedule to be ruined by a lack of commitment? Or even worse allow that film to remain unfinished?

On my next film, if I find the practical FX let me down, I hope that CG can help me fix the shots. With a better understanding of what can be achieved, I can breakdown or ever rewrite my script to take into account what I can guarantee that I can actually pull off, so no fixes are required, and that I get it right first time. And I will still look around for others to do the work I need – many hands make light work etc – but I won’t let it hold me back, even if those volunteers later let me down. And maybe some day I’ll actually finish BE CAREFUL…

For now though it’s back to the student phase, gotta hit those books and hit them hard.