Tag Archives: Documentary Group

Midway Map With FX

After Effects Before & After: The importance of a lot of adjustment layers

So I’m working on some maps for a film about naval aviation, and I was struck by how far one had evolved from the starting material.

Here’s how it looks at the moment:

Here’s the underlying vector map layer:

And even that map began life as a set of even more boring public domain vectors. Everything else is AE-generated. (And yes, the size of Hawaii and Midway are exaggerated slightly for increased visibility on your television screen. Shhhh.)

Nothing is finalized yet; the map that actually ends up in the film could be more different still.

Final Final

After Effects Tutorial: Edmonson Cartoon Effect

Requires After Effects CS4+. Use the Cartoon effect to turn a sequence of still photographs into animated line art. You can composite the result over a wide range of textured backgrounds.

Almost a year to the date I originally wrote this tutorial, I can finally make it public because the film has been released! You can watch it here: Jury Selection: Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Company.

This is the trailer, which is almost entirely done with the effect I’m about to explain:

I’m currently working on a new Constitution Project film about Edmonson V. Leesville Concrete Company. In the past, we’ve used methods like digital puppetry to avoid filming reenactments. Edmonson is a much more recent court case than the others we’ve covered (1991), but the US Supreme Court only permits audio recordings of oral arguments, so there’s still no footage of the proceedings.

We were actually able to interview several of the people involved, however, resulting in tons of sharp, clear green screen footage (It’s also our first CP film in HD), as well as hundreds if not thousands of still images. So what to do with them?
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Babyland on ABC’s 20/20 this Friday

Been working on graphics this week for just about the saddest show ever: Babyland, our special edition of 20/20. You can watch the opening of the film here.

A little about what it’s about, courtesy of the press release:

There are places in America where the unthinkable is happening — too many babies are dying. In most cities, black babies are dying at three times the rate of white babies. That’s what’s happening in Memphis, Tennessee, the city with the nation’s highest rate of infant mortality. A baby dies there on average every 43 hours. But many people are working to change that startling statistic. “Babyland,” a one-hour report anchored by Elizabeth Vargas, airs on “20/20,” FRIDAY, AUGUST 22 (10:00-11:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network.

It’s a really important topic, and I definitely think it’s worth watching (and for more reasons than “hey, that’s my work on TV!”), but a warning: some of the footage is pretty intense. I’ve been working on this all week and am still having a bit of a hard time with all the tiny caskets.

My Work on ABC Next Week!

My company’s newest documentary, China Inside Out: Bob Woodruff Reports, premieres next Wednesday night (Aug 6th) on ABC. It’s a special edition of Primetime. I’m excited — it’s my first time I’ll have my graphics on one of the big four networks, and the logo I designed is already popping up in various places on the web.

It’s amazing how many graphics even an entirely live action film needs. Opening titles, logo bumpers for the start and end of every segment, locator maps, lower thirds, end credits — even the midbreak “…will return in a moment” is an animated clip. And on top of the show elements, there are web graphics, promo sequences, email ‘postcard’ promo images… the list goes on. And all this stuff, no matter how elaborate, pretty much goes under the radar of most viewers. If it doesn’t, something’s wrong: it’s either too over-the-top and distracts from the story or lacks the production value that makes your show seem like a real, professional undertaking. The graphics are important; they set the tone and help with the overall feel of the documentary — but subtle is key. That said, I’m pretty happy with the ones I’ve done for China. They’re shiny. :-)

Anyway, a little more about the show:

China Inside Out, a documentary reported by ABC News’ Bob Woodruff, explores the stunning global transformation that is taking place at the outset of what is already being called “The Chinese Century.” While much of American foreign policy has been focused on the Global War on Terror, China has been shaking hands and making deals all around the world. In this hour-long documentary, Woodruff examines four of those relationships to discover how China’s rise is impacting all of us.

You can read more at my company’s site.