March 26th 2018, a little over a year ago from today, I started a new project for myself called “100 Days of Motion”. I figured since it’s been a while, it would be constructive to reflect on the project.
Whether or not the title is accurate, 100 Days of Motion was a 100-day challenge that involved creating and posting anything to do with motion graphics, visual effects, or 3D animation. I would create five different pieces to post each week, Monday through Friday on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
I’ve pinned down my reflection into three parts. The Overall Takeaway where I look back on the project as a whole, Highlights, where I’ll give you my insight or purpose behind some of my best and worst pieces, and What’s Next, where I’ll explain how this project has pointed me into different directions.
The Overall Takeaway
One of my goals with the project was to practice content scheduling, to improve my focus, and to stress my creativity in ways I’ve never done before. I’m able to confidently say that I’ve learned something in each of these categories.
Working with Restrictions
The first thing I noticed was how much consistent focus 100 Days of Motion actually required. I decided to do this project on a whim and spent very little time actually planning it out. With a journal, I wrote down plans for about 30 of the days, and the rest was improvised. I didn’t follow my notes day by day, but rather, I used them as an “idea bank.” The notes were a great help when I was having trouble improvising.
Working on the project for only three to five hours each day, I spent most of my mornings coming up with ideas for the next day. For perspective, I have about 5 – 6 hours of personal time in the afternoon, so I used more than half of that time each day. This very quickly led to burnout and disliking some of my creations, but it still granted a sense of accomplishment that I could feel daily.
Time Quality vs. Time Quantity
Working on 100 Days of Motion made something clear to me, and it’s that the quality of time spent on creating something is more valuable than the total time spent. You could allocate a whole day to work on something and still end up with less productivity than if you allocated three to four hours of high quality and uninterrupted focus. While I was disappointed with how some pieces came out, there were also some that I surprised myself with. As of my current abilities, there are a few pieces I put together in three to four hours that normally would have taken me eight hours or more. It was only because of the intense focus that I had to apply that provided me with that outcome.
Overall with this project, I definitely feel improvements on key attributes in my life.
Self motivated pressure combined with publicizing the project imbued a strong sense of accountability within me. There were a few times where I took a week-long break because it was just burning me out, but otherwise I faithfully stuck to my schedule and completed the 100 Days that I promised
Check out the full compilation of 100 Days of Motion in the video below!
I wanted to pick out the first day not because it was visually significant, but because it’s the beginning and it clearly had no sense of direction. I was just trying to get something out there and plant the seed, so I started with a little montage of motion. Generally, I stuck with some concepts I already understood.
I have a soft spot for Kinetic Typography combined with supporting visuals. Using the intro to EpicLloyd’s song, “Pawn” I combined the lyrics with some custom graphics. As I was searching for songs to use for this piece, I stumbled across this track and It just worked for me. Lyrics that entice visuals work really well for Kinetic Typography.
The fantasy of holding a flame in my hand still plagues me to this day… I’m still really proud of this piece for the time I gave myself to do it. I wanted to focus on getting the environmental lighting right, and I feel like I did well. Getting the flame to appear from my hands without it looking too slow or too fast was a challenge, and I think i’ll pay special attention to that next time I try this effect. The key to making this work was being indoors and keeping my hands still, otherwise I would have had to find a way to make the flames move realistic to wind and my hand moving. To improve upon this, utilizing a particle simulation could be effective.
I just had to include this in 100 Days of Motion because I’ve been playing with the falling effect for a while now; it’s just too fun. The effect isn’t really difficult to execute or understand, however there is a challenge in finding the sweet spot in how fast you animate the fall from the sky. The illusion of the falling effect gets lost almost immediately If you animate the subject too fast or too slow. There’s also a balance in the camera shake that needs to be met, otherwise it appears as if too much is happening at once. I’ve always been happy with this effect once I pinpoint those variables.
Chromatic Aberration is definitely an overused effect, but I still love it all the same. If you don’t know, Chromatic Aberration is the look where the Red, Green, and Blue color channels offset to make what resembles a digital glitch effect. I could have recorded better footage for this effect, but I still got what I was looking for in the experiment. Using animated chromatic aberration to hide cuts and transition into other shots is a cool look to me, so I wanted to give it a shot. In the future, adding some textured distress to the footage could improve the look.
I used the RayTrace 3D Engine in Adobe After Effects to create this coin animation, mostly because I was curious to see if the Raytrace engine still holds up. I primarily use the plug-in Element 3D by Video Copilot for any three dimensional motion graphics work. With this little animation, I can attest that it still works for simpler things, but it just feels really inefficient if you want more effective results. Either way, this coin animation was a spur of the moment creation and I like the flat look. I’d like to do more work like this, perhaps for a product showcase video.
Day 18 and Day 20
This piece just came out visually pleasing to me, and the glossy text and camera depth is what makes it stand out. I haven’t spent enough attention to the 3D camera controls in after effects, so this piece was largely an experiment with setting up different angles and cuts, as well as animating the depth of field to switch or maintain focus. Just to add to this, I’ll mention Day 20 as an extension to this experiment as well. Not only did I learn about replicating 3D shapes with Day 20, but I just further experimented with depth of field. I’m also just happy with the glossy blue look.
This is another effect I’ve always envisioned but never gave myself the chance to create until 100 Days of Motion. I want to work more on this kind of effect, but this is still a starting point that i’m more than content with. The reversed particles and tracking could be better, and the actual muzzle flash isn’t as impactful as I feel like it should be for how intense the charge looks. Otherwise, the environmental lighting is the same technique I used for the flame in my hands on Day 6!
I would say the majority of time was spent getting the textures right on this piece. I’ve never created a seamless texture designed for a sphere, so I learned a lot about a technique involving polarizing texture maps. Creating a 3D planet is something I used to dream about creating, so this piece is somewhat sentimental. It took quite a lot of problem solving to get it the way I envisioned, but I couldn’t be happier with my first planet! Now that i’m learning 3D modeling, I absolutely intend on creating a more realistic planet.
Day 39 and 40
One of my favorite aesthetics is anything in the fantasy-cyber and digital genre. This piece was inspired by the holographic HUD elements from the Iron Man movies. If I were to do anything different, it would be to add smaller details and parallax between the primary elements. I’d say this is a good start and I definitely plan on refining this kind of effect. A continuation of this design element was on Day 40 where I created an energy circle. These pieces come off as concepts with more potential than final products.
Day 41 actually serves as a milestone for me. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years understanding 3D camera tracking and matching elements into a shot, and this piece was my chance to put that knowledge to the test. It turned out a lot better than I anticipated, but I still feel like there’s more that needs to be done to really blend it in. I’ll be exploring effects like these a lot more moving forward, most likely during my 3D Modeling journey.
I ultimately want to get into making larger films and shows one day. Sky replacements, or matte paintings, are one of the most common effects used for more ambitious shows. I created this piece almost out of necessity and to train myself, but I’m still proud of it. It’s such a low profile effect that provides a large impact, and that’s what I’m all about. In the future, I’d like to add more depth using 3D models.
Using some stock footage from ActionVFX, I wanted to create a break in some kind of wall. I don’t think red brick was the best choice for this effect, but either way… learning about displacement maps to have the stock footage actually effect the wall was a lot of fun. I don’t think it blends quite right and could have used more work, but i’m satisfied with how the crack actually bulges and affects the bricks in some way. I’d like to try a custom simulation for this kind of effect someday.
This umbrella effect was inspired by the movie Kingsman: The Secret service. After watching that movie I just had to try some kind of effect of my own using an umbrella. I’m pretty happy with this one, and as with most of these highlights, I intend to take it further. My current thoughts are to make a short film using the concept.
When I experimented with basic 3D modeling, I always wanted to create a fictional beverage. Being an avid energy drink… consumer.. I wanted to create my own energy drink animation. It’s based off of the Shocksense Branding which feels very fitting.. This should be a real thing. I’d drink it. (Shocksense Cinema was a short lived name I was using.)
This little animation was an attempt at doing a 3D Comic aesthetic, matching onomatopoeia with it’s visual term. There’s nothing major to note about this, I just really like what it inspires. I could see using this effect in a related skit or short film.
It was around this point in 100 Days of motion that I had to let go of Shocksense Cinema as a name, so I dedicated Day 75 to the logo animation that I had already developed before I started the 100 day project. While I do like this animation, I was coming up with a replacement already. Something about it wasn’t settling well with me, but looking back on it now it’s just a little sentimental.
Days 76 and 77
Days 76 and 77 were environment experiments! I wanted to create some kind of environment using Element 3D. Each environment was made to invoke a mood and feel very different from each other. Day 76 was inspired by Portal 2 and the ever-expansive underground facility within the game. Day 77 was kind of my own thing with inspiration from Steam-punk aesthetics. All of the elements used are from the asset packs that you can purchase at Video Copilot’s website.
I spent about a week experimenting with image compositing. I found free stock images and pieced together little animated compositions, and this one is my favorite of the bunch. The only reason is because, in my opinion… it’s the strangest of the bunch. I can see the potential effectiveness of refining this skill, but it’s not my preferred style of animation.
I was spending the whole week focusing on simple text animations when this animation was posted. I’ve seen this kind of effect used all over the place in various commercials, logo animations, or transitions. I wanted to experiment with it and I feel like I achieved my goal. The best name I can come up with for this look is the “Glass Reveal” transition effect.
More space stuff! I used Red Giant’s Particular to make this. One day I want to create a sci-fi show, and what better way to start than to create a star-field effect? This was a pretty good experiment with particles and particular. Particles are definitely more along the lines of organic effects, and they have always seemed daunting to me. This was an attempt to step out of that boundary, and with more practice I’d like to create something more realistic.
If i’m going to highlight the first day, it’s only fair that I highlight the last day. Day 100 was definitely a celebration. It was a celebration of the tangible evidence I’ve set before myself; evidence of the traits outlined at the beginning of this blog post. This animation was also just plain fun, and I learned how to blend 2D and 3D animation in a stylistic way.
Lately I’ve been learning 3D Modeling and rendering, so i’m excited to start sharing some of my progress. Also, sometime in the near future, I intend on creating tutorials featuring some of these creations. If there is anything in the 100 Days of Motion project that you would like to learn about, leave a comment and i’ll consider making a tutorial about it!
Will I ever complete a daily challenge like this in the future? As of right now, most likely not. While it was a fun experiment, I feel like there’s nothing more to gain from the concept. At this point, I would rather take my time with future projects and expand upon the concepts I’ve already set up.
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