In looking for employment, I completed a test project for WRWR, a local news station that includes newspaper, radio, and television. My superiors asked that I complete a promo introducing “the newest members of the newsnight team!” Mayci McCleod is a reporter, and John Birdsong is an executive producer and reporter.
I implemented several creative ideas that really make the video work, some of which I have never used outside of school projects meant to demonstrate my ability to produce those effects.
- Gradient Background with Animation
- Active Lensflare
- Black-and-White to Color
Gradient Background with Animation
Gradient backgrounds make everything better! Just kidding, but they do help a lot. Gradient backgrounds make an image look more professional. You would think that such backgrounds would distract a viewer, but in fact they help the viewer to focus on what is in the foreground. They can also point the viewer’s eyes in the correct direction; for example, a vertical gradient can point guide the viewers eyes from top to bottom, such as on a web page. In my video, I used a gradient simply to make the b.g. look more professional. I used the station’s colors in a combination that is easy on the eyes. I chose dark to light because reversed the combination was very distracting. The vertical gradient in combination with the horizontally animated stars worked together to keep the focus in the foreground, and the design bold. You know how I feel about bold!
As I was creating this video, I started with 2 versions. Neither of which I used. I completely redid the project after a dream-like revelation in that inbetween stage of sleep and awake. I give glory to God for that spark of creativity, because the project was seriously struggling before that.
Anyway! I knew right off the bat that I wanted to use an animated lens flare and that I wanted ribbon-like graphics beneath the words. The animated lensflare just seemed like a “newsy” type element. The logo that I created consists of the keywords and patriot-style “belts” beneath the words. WRWR is called the Patriot, so I looked up images of a patriot on Google Images. Combining the ribbon idea with the antique idea of a patriot belt, this is what my logo turned into. I animated two lensflares going across each belt at the same time, meeting in the middle, with one ending slightly behind the other because the top belt curves under.
You look at various news logos and tell me how many lensflares of various types and color are used… You’ll notice them a lot now!
Black-and-White to Color
Causing an image to change from black and white to color has always been a design element that struck me as fascinating, interesting, and professional. I have never used this function, and the WRWR video was just my chance to implement it! This saturation change (which is what that is) is a simple tool to add a touch of visual interest to a video or photo. Photography, film, video, and television are visual arts. You must tell a story through visuals. Using the saturation effect adds visual interest and also creates a WAPOW! effect that says, “Look! John and Mayci…they’ve arrived! They’re stars, and they are awesome!” Speaking of stars…
The WRWR promo is animation-heavy. I have never made a video as labor-intensive, tedious, and animated as this video. However, it has been one of the most rewarding projects! One concept that I realized during this project is that constant movement looks professional and keeps the eyes occupied and the viewer interested. All I did was make the stars move side to side in opposite directions, and to switch directions after John’s segment and after Mayci’s segment. Betchya didn’t notice the switching! …they couldn’t keep going all the way, now could they?
Making the stars and images spin added to the emotional impact of the video. I wanted viewers to be excited about the new team members. I wanted to present them as stars! What better way to do that than to place John and Mayci inside a star…and spinning in — like a shooting star?? Not only does it demonstrate my ability to parent items, but to show that I’m not afraid of using bold transitions in an appropriate context.
Masking is fascinating! One way to grab a viewer’s attention is to put a 2D background behind a 3D person. Commercials employ this tactic with white backgrounds, blue backgrounds, black backgrounds, gradient backgrounds, superimposed backgrounds…you name it, they’ve done it!
Masking also brings attention to the subject of the video, as it does in my promo and in the aforementioned commercials. An unnatural background with humans cut out in front puts the focus on the foreground and humans instead of a distracting background. Desaturating John and Mayci’s images against a colored background further draws attention to them because of the design element of contrast.
If you utilize masking, make sure to soften the edges a little bit so the image doesn’t look so flat and separated from the background. Make it smooth. You’ll use the Feather Edges element of the mask to adjust this.
WRWR provided me with a massive array of music to choose from. I usually choose my music last, as I did in this project, but it’s a good idea to choose music first when doing animation. That way you don’t have to adjust the many, many keyframes a second time after creating them. Had I entered the music before making the animations, I would have shaved at least an hour off working time, probably two.
Just in case you are wondering, I created this promo with Adobe After Effects.