For this project I had to create a interactive promotional video which will promote a side scrolling beat ’em-up that has an 80s theme and is called “streets of fury”. This would mean I would have to create a video with two different paths so I can give the viewer interactivity; I would also have create characters and a story to fit the beat ’em-up genre and the 80s theme.
Strengths and weaknesses
For the final outcome of this project, it had many strengths but also weaknesses; some strengths are that the video takes into accountant the video and sound quality of VHS tapes back in the 80s, this is because back in the 80s VHS tapes were very dominate in America which is where the beat ’em-up is set. The video uses two different colour pallets to show two different sides to the city and game, a light colourful place to show the good side of Venice Beach and a dark saturated place to show the dark side of Venice Beach. The video also uses a range of shots in video whilst also following 180 degree rule and combining multiple shots into one like the 3rd shot which is laid out like a comic book panel. The video also uses 3D particles effectively to exaggerate the character’s abilities along with also add some what humor into the video and the last strength is how the video uses the green screen effectively by using it to composite multiply people in one shot. Another strength with the video is that it is layout to work with the annotations that the viewer will click, whilst also working if the viewer can’t or chooses not to click any annotations, it also uses some well know stereotypes with the beat ’em-up genre such as the continue screen or when selecting an option in a game.
The weaknesses of the video are how some of the shots have parts of people disappearing or being trimmed or overlaid, this is because when shooting some of the actors were not fully in the green screen which meant that when keying the footage I had to rotoscrope people in, this has fixed many issues but has also reduced the quality of the content. Another weakness is when syncing the audio in the 6th shot as in the video I say an extra word at the end of my sentence than in the script, so when recording the script I was a word short which makes the video look weird in when syncing. When creating the title sequence, I wanted a branding tool to come in and brand the sign with the game’s name, however when creating the branding tool texture, it was a little too dark which makes the 3d model slightly blend in the black background of the image sequence, I did not notice this until I rendered out the complete video. When rendering out the footage, I had to set the output to AVI DV PAL 48kHz, this is because the rest of the renders would either speed up the footage or cause it to freeze, however rendering it like this has caused the video to be a lot smaller and not fit in YouTube’s standard 1080 by 720 box, but thanks to you YouTube it was able to fit the video into the frame when allowing it to resize the video, this reduces the quality of the video so this can be seen as weakness but also can be used as a strength to make it feel more old. The last weakness parts of the overlay colour pallets on the characters don’t seem to match or change on some of the character’s body, this is again because of rotoscoping as the parts that do not match are the parts where I have rotoscoped. This is because when I was first learning about rotoscoping, I thought that you had to duplicate the main video layer then do the rotoscoping on that, however this was only when tweaking small things and errors, where as for rotoscoping parts of bodies you should work on the main layer.
Themes, influences and characters
The specific theme for my design ideas was set around the beach life which means characters would have clothing like shorts and T-shirts, the colour pallet would be very light and would contain colours like blue and pink. An influence on my main character is Tom Selleck in magnum P.I., along with also Venice Beach fashion in the 80s. I developed my idea for my characters by looking at the dark side of the 80s which were filled with back alley attacks and drug use, whilst also looking at the bright side of the 80s, which I mainly focused around the beach side.
I made these creative choices to show the two sides of the 80s, the groovy, bright coloured, fun side and the dark, violent, drug abused side. What promoted my creative decisions was that recently a YouTuber I watch released a video looking back at 80s and 90s drug commercials, this influenced me to look at more 80s drug commercials and begin to build upon that.
Experimentation and exploration
I explored and experimented with mostly 3Ds max and aftereffects; for 3Ds max I explored the particle effects in the program and experiment with them to see what I could achieve, such as when I learnt that I could use it to create both smoke and dust effects, along with also creating derby to; I did this when creating a box falling to the ground.
I also explored scripting and using the Mass Fx toolbar, the scripting allowed me to fracture objects, this would allow me to make it look like objects were breaking apart from some force such as an explosion; the Mass Fx toolbar is what allowed me to give those fractured parts real physics such as allowing other objects to hit each other and react to each other. With all of this, I used it to recreate the crash scene from the first terminator, I also created a alternate ending for it.
I also had to experiment ways of exporting animated 3D particles and importing them into aftereffects; in the end I was able to figure out that I needed to export the frames as a PNG, then go into premier and make the PNG play at 0.1 seconds each. I did this to all the particles for the project when trying to import them into aftereffects.
For Aftereffects, I explored how to animate text, objects, applying different effects, layer styles, creating mask paths and how to use key light, along with correcting the issues that come with it. When exploring and experimenting with animating objects, and applying different effects and layer styles; I recreated a terminator title sequence from the techniques and methods I had learnt. This used Layer styles like outer and inner glow, I animated objects like the solar flair over the text, along with animating the text like an object by moving its position, I used effects like Gaussian blur to make things look lower quality and blurry.
When exploring how to animate text by using paths, along with also creating paths for objects, I discovered that both of them use the pen tool to draw out the path then its just coping the pen tools line and turning it into a path. I experimented with the different ways I could animate the text on its path and created a video of text sliding down a path, then bouncing.
For the object paths, I experimented also how I could use the path and animate the object, from this I created a Ping pong video.
For key lighting, to experiment and explore it we first re-enacted a scene from terminator with the green screen behind us. We were then showed how to use the key light effect and then explored and experimented with by key lighting the footage we recorded and placed background which was relevant to the scene.
How it effected my development:
This allowed me to have more freedom of my ideas as I knew more things that would be able to do, along with new techniques and methods I could use to create different feelings and effects. Such as when I learnt how to make a video look more VHS quality, this was done in after effects by using a solid, then applying a grid and a Gaussian blur. I also would be able to use compositing to get things into the video that I wouldn’t be able to psychically, such as having multiple of the same person or having objects/particles in the video.
The key areas of development in my project
Here are the key stages of when I was developing the promotional video for the project:
Storyboarding and script writing
The first stage of development was creating the storyboards and a script for the video, that way I had a plan when recording the footage came about. For the storyboards, I created three of them, one would be the main footage all of the audience would view, the second storyboard would be one of the alternate endings that the viewers chose and the last storyboard would be the other choice.
For the script, I chose to have it introduce the main character of the footage and explain a little bit about himself, along with also being comedic and have parts which are directed towards the viewers; the program I used to write this up was celtx.
Recording the footage
When recording the footage, I worked in a group so I could have actors, cameraman and a person on the lights, that way we could record efficiently and in less time. In my recordings I planned to have another person and have them be composited in, so when it came to recording it, I would do the scene with the actor standing in one place, then I would walk out of the scene and the actor reposition himself and act the scene like he is I am there.
Keying the footage
When keying, a lot of it went smoothly however there were times where the actor would be outside of the green screen from either bad camera work or the actor moving too much. To fix this, I used the rotobrush tool which allows me to select specific parts of footage to also be included or excluded, allowing me to bring parts of the actors body back from being cut out by the garbage matte. However using the rotobrush can cause some problems having some of the background still leak out or the part where I used the rotobrush would be very rough; another problem with using the rotobrush is that it is very time consuming, to both do and to render out at the end.
The compositing went very smoothly as well like the keying, I composited the actor to surround me in several shots, however some took more time like from the keying as I had use the rotobrush to fix specific things.
Later on composited the 3D particles and backgrounds after I had finished them, I created three particle effects and for the background I made four. These were the easiest composites, however there were some hiccups with the 3d particles as when I rendered them out first, I did it as an AVI which meant it still had a black background; I did use a key light to get rid of the black backgrounds first, however it became a problem again after changing computers. The solution I found from advice from a class mate was to render out the frames of the particles as PNGs, then bring them into premier, turn the frames play time to 0.1 seconds, then render out as an FLV. This allowed the particle effect footage to be composited without any problems.
For the 3D particles, it was a quick processes as I already had some experience in using the super spray, I also created a new texture for it to make the particle look more smoky than the dust texture I made early from experimenting and exploring. The only time consuming part was when rendering the particle out and compositing it into the video in aftereffects which I explained in the composting stage.
Backgrounds, Effects and layer styles
For the background effects, I took images of the internet that matched what I wanted the scene to be set in like an ally or promenade, and placed them into Photoshop to edit. I made each background match a particular theme of colours such as the beach scenes with promenades had colours like Pink, blue and purple; whereas the alley scenes were coloured Red, orange and yellow. This is because I wanted use the colours to give the audience specific feelings towards each scene, the beach scenes would look fun and light, and the alley scenes look dangerous and dark, giving Venice Beach a juxtaposition, two sides vastly different.
The effects and layer styles I used were mostly to do with the background and the characters being very hard against each other. The effect I used was exposure to control the lighting of the actors, this would allow me to match the lighting with the background like with the dark alley, the actors would have be darker than the actors on a beach whilst its a sunny day. The layer style I used was a gradient overlay, this would allow me to apply the same looking gradient from the background onto the characters, making them fit more with their surroundings.
For the audio, I recorded the script I wrote on audacity, then cut it up to seem seamless, then started applying the effects which were mostly the equalizer and the amplifier. I did it so that the audio would sound a little worse but did not do it to the point were it sounded worse than a VHS tape.
Putting it all together
The second to last step was to put it all together in VideoPad, the original plan was to do it in Adobe premier, however due to time constraints I used an alternative. I first rendered all of my Aftereffects footage and put it together, I then began to sync the audio, in doing so I had to cut out some of the script as the footage from aftereffects wasn’t long enough, however the part I cut out wasn’t that important. When syncing I did discover one fault and that was in the footage we recorded with the green screen, I say one extra word at the end of my sentence, making the audio and visual look out of sync. I also found that when played it felt very empty without a lot of its sound, to fix this I went onto royalty free music websites and tried to find some chip tune music that matched the mood of the video and would sound seamless when the viewer jumped through the video.
The last thing I did was upload it onto YouTube and began applying the interactive features to it by using the annotation system, however I did have some difficulty at first as I was relying on my previous experience with annotations which caused me some confusion to find that YouTube had changed the way to add and edit annotations.
Is the video appropriate with the brief?
The video matches the themes presented by the brief which were an 80s retro theme with a beat ’em-up genre. The video matches because the colours the video uses are very bright and vibrant to match the kind of colours that were used around that time and are also used a lot to refer to that time. I also made the video look and sound like a VHS tape, this was because around the 1980s the VHS tape was very dominate in the market of America which is were I had the game set. The video matches the genre which was a promotional video of a beat ’em-up game called “Streets of Fury”, by showcasing one of the characters you can play in the game. I showcased the character by having him introduce himself to the audience and explain who he is whilst also showing what he can do in the game; I also used the paths the viewer could take to hint and to show what he could do and costs to each move.
The video does meet the requirements of the brief as well, as it is an interactive video because it allows the audience to pick a path in the video which I mentioned before, along with also promoting the game by showcasing one of the player-able characters from the game and having a title sequence show the games title.
The video is appropriate to the platform as it is ordered and put together with the influence on using time jumps from when the viewer clicks an annotation and works if the viewer doesn’t click any annotations. However annotations only appear when on YouTube on the PC, this limits the use of the annotations across mobile and tablets. This interactivity helps to promote the game as many game’s use showcasing of their characters to promote their game but not a lot of them include that extra bit of interactivity which could be a sell to most of the audience.
How the final product compared with my expectations?
The Final product met nearly all of my expectations, it was able to hit the 80s theme very well whilst also fleshing out what kind of game the video is promoting. A couple of my expectations were not met by time constraints such as wanting to have the character blow out his name in smoke using the 3D particle system on 3Ds max or having some camera angles not being achieved due to not having bigger equipment. However the editing process with aftereffects went better than I thought, it did have some hiccups like the rotobrush but it was still great.
The feedback I received from my peers was to have my option titles in the scene where the viewer picks what path to take, should be made bigger; this is because the titles slightly disappear into the background as they are quiet small and thin. The feedback I received from a class mate was that the VHS lines were too easy to see and should be closer together, however this contradicted with my peer as he saw the VHS lines were done very well.
What I would change to improve or develop the work?
I would we recorded the footage with the green screen, I should have been more careful and kept checking the actor and his position on the camera. This would prevent a lot of errors with the actor not staying within the green screen and would allow me more time to work on the footage as I wouldn’t have to take so much time with the rotobrush. Another thing I would change to improve is to make the texture for the 3D model of the branding tool, I would make the texture lighter as the model slightly blended into the black background of the image sequence; this would allow the viewers to be able to see and understand what it is more easily.
I would also increase the size of the options in the options scene, this would allow viewers to see their options more clearly and also could be used to show that the options do have some what value to them, that the viewer could lose. The last thing I would change would be the image sequence at the end, after reflecting on the video and looking back, I found that the image sequence doesn’t have the scan line effect like the rest of the footage, along with also having colours that do not match with the rest of the video. This makes it seem that the image sequence is not really part of the video, so the improvement I would make would be to add the grid effect to make it look like the image sequence has scan lines and added maybe a gradient with some of the colours I used, over the image sequence.