This adventure started with a simple idea.
I was a little bit fed up with the traditional "tutorial" model of teaching that I'd been using for so long. There are enormous limitations that you run into when your teaching format is "one video at a time, one topic at a time." I found myself jumping through a lot of hoops to justify WHY I was teaching a certain concept.
For example, there is a video on this site that teaches you how to make a cool, abstract 3D effect in Cinema 4D. You could watch that video and extrapolate out some more general skills and techniques if you're paying attention, but this tutorial may really just be a slightly-more-educational form of entertainment... something you watch on your lunch break.
If my goal is to help train Motion Designers to be more effective, what is the best way to do that?
Well, frankly I don't have a definitive answer yet. Our Animation Bootcamp program has been getting great results and amazing reviews, but we know it's not for everyone. Maybe there's a middle ground between a one-off tutorial video and an intense 6-week interactive program.
The big idea behind "Giants."
I've always wanted to explore the idea of teaching online the way you might learn something at an internship, in the context of a real project with real problems that need to be solved. It's a nice idea in theory, but there are a couple of big issues that pop-up when you try to do it.
1. Getting permission to show work that was paid for by a client can be tricky.
2. When you work for a client you don't have time to document every single step.
The only way I could think of to try this in a really in-depth way was to come up with my own project and give myself the time to properly document the process along the way. The result of this experiement is below.
I truly hope that this series inspires and informs you. It was an eye-opener for me, and I'm really proud of how it came out. Check out the episode list below.
Making Giants: The Full Series
In the first episode of the series, we start with a blank canvas and no clue what to do with it. When you can make absolutely anything you want, it's actually really hard to make a decision.
Armed with an idea, we now need to flesh the film out to figure out timing, camera angles, pacing, and how the edit will work. Using some simple 3D geometry and some low-res renders, we build up an animatic using Cinema 4D and Adobe Premiere.
We have a lot of work to do building the 3D world that this film takes place in. In this episode we head into Cinema 4D to build the low-poly desert environment and begin to play with lighting and texturing.
While the scene was a bit "organic" and abstract, the building needs to be designed and modeled in a very specific way. We start by gathering some reference images, laying out basic shapes in Adobe Illustrator, and modeling the building in Cinema 4D.
The hero of this piece is a flower / plant that has to be able to do a few very specific things. This means the modeling and rigging need to be really precise. In this episode we cover some really cool rigging and animation in Cinema 4D.
The vines in the film have to do a bunch of crazy, technical stuff. Stuff that would really be hard to animate by hand. For this task, we're going to try out an incredible tool called X-particles. It's a geeky episode that will show you how much R&D some effects can take.
We're about to hit the render button and send over 1000 frames into battle. Before we do that, we need to make sure our film is buttoned up properly, tweaking a few things and getting render settings dialed in just right.
We've got a bunch of rendered frames! But they aren't all that pretty to look at yet. There is a ton of work to be done in the "compositing" phase, and we'll start in one of my favorite apps of all time... Nuke. Learn how to make your 3D renders really sexy.
In this episode we hit "picture lock." But, before that happens we need to add a little more dazzle to a key shot, and also treat the titles at the end of the film. We use After Effects and a great plugin called Particular to finish off the visuals.
Sound can make or break a film. It has an incredibly powerful ability to set mood and tone for your piece, and to help immerse your audience in the world you've created. In this episode we go over choosing the right VO talent, sound design, and mixing for non-audio folk.
Tools used in the making of Giants
Adobe Creative Cloud
My career has been built on the back of these legendary apps: Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, and After Effects.
Maxon Cinema 4D
My 3D app of choice, and an incredible Motion Design tool.
Nuke from The Foundry
I love working in Nuke for compositing... I wish I had more excuses to play with it!
If you're an After Effects artist, you pretty much have to have this and know how to use it.
A REALLY friggin' cool plugin for Cinema-4D that allowed me to generate the vines in "Giants."
Killer sound effects library from Video Copilot.
Super affordable and POWERFUL cloud-based render farm.