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Behind the Keyframes: Lead & Learn with Greg Stewart

Ryan Plummer

Greg Stewart takes us behind the keyframes to chat about three fantastic motion design projects.

As a School of Motion Alumni, Greg Stewart has worked on projects big and small, showcasing his thoughtful visual communication skills in everything he creates.

Greg recently leaped into full-time freelancing and what a rollercoaster it has been. In this new video format I sat down with Greg to chat about three different animation projects.

All of these projects offered their own unique challenges, from managing a team of motion designers to animating a solo project with complete freedom to being mentored by giants in the industry. If you're ready to get a taste of what the freelance lifestyle is like from one of the kindest people in the industry this commentary is for you. Enjoy!

Want to take a behind the scenes look at one of these projects? Greg was kind enough to pitch in this free After Effects project file for you to download and play with.



Greg Stewart is a Motion Designer based out of Minnesota, but born Canadian. He's taken several School of Motion courses including Animation Bootcamp, Design Bootcamp, Explainer Camp, and is currently in the Advanced Motion Methods Beta. Greg has worked alongside some very well known animation geniuses, such as JR. Canest, and spent time working at Giant Ant. In short, Greg is legit.

Here's his demo reel:



Heading up creating a team to complete this motion project is no easy task. In this section Greg talks about his role as a project lead. We chat about how he handled setting up his team with the direction they need, and hiring last minute freelancers to complete deadlines.

Greg pulled in other School of Motion alumni to help build out these motion graphics. In the video Greg talks about how having a common language helped move the projects forward in a smooth manner.  


Having creative freedom is a dream for most motion designers. For this project created for Helpshift, Greg had an artistic license to do almost anything he wanted, and the work that came from it was a delight to watch.

There can be a lot of road blocks that you can run into when the client hands off responsibility. In this section we chat about how he navigated meetings, feedback, and how simple techniques used while building his projects saved him a ton of time.


What is it like to work under a master? One of the most exciting parts of this commentary is the discussion about working with JR. Canest and Victor Silva. Together this dream team tackled a project commissioned by The Bible Project called "GOD".

Still images from GOD by The Bible Project

The result is a stunning use of simplicity and complex technical animations that leave you asking "how did they do that?" Luckily we got some insight on how they pulled off a few of those moves.


Don't stop now, Greg has been an open book when it comes to his motion design workflow. You can check out his interview on minimalistic animation. There you'll find sketches, book references, and sneak peaks into other motion projects.

If you want to see more work he's done you can check out his super awesome website jdgstewart.co!

If you're interested in learning how to speak the language of a motion designer then check out our Animation Bootcamp. There you'll learn the principles of animation, how to wield the dynamic power of After Effects, and get connected to a support network of other motion designers on the same journey. That's all for now, happy animating!


Tutorial Full Transcript Below 👇:

Ryan Plummer (00:00:10): Hey, this is Ryan with school of motion. Today's video is really interesting. I recently had a chance to sit down with Greg Stewart and take a tour of some of his latest projects. And this video, Greg covers how he approaches storyboarding animation, working with client feedback and his time spent with some of the top talent in the industry, along with what it's like to direct motion design teams. This is actually a new type of video for school of motion. The goal is to have this feel like a tutorial and an interview at the same time. So let's get to it first things first. Uh, Greg, do you want to say hello? Yeah.

Greg Stewart (00:00:43): Yeah. I'm Greg Stewart and I'm a school of motion. Alumni did a animation bootcamp two years ago, design bootcamp, and looking forward to many more courses. What, what does this first piece that you have here? Yeah, so this piece is a promotional video for a missions conference called cross conference. So this was a project where I was direct to client. So I was sort of sitting in a director and producer chair. Um, I'd worked with the clients before on a different piece for a different conference that they put on. So, um, this was kinda my first, really big piece since stepping out into the freelance world and not just being handed boards and the animating, but getting to be in on the client conversations and talk through what is the story that you guys want to tell with this piece? And what's, what's your goal

Greg Stewart (00:01:28): Who are you speaking to? Do you have a theme in mind? So I got to be part of like from start to finish writing the script, coming up with a concept. Um, I worked on this, uh, with a friend of mine named Bradley Wakefield. He's, uh, just a really talented designer and a great guy. We have a little partnership. We work on stuff every once in a while. Okay. Uh, he's, full-time remote with like a mortgage company or something doing design. So, um, and is in a way that I really admire just a very balanced person and prioritize his family. So opportunities are, um, select, but, um, yeah, so he kind of led the charge on all like the visual language and design, and we really worked together on that, but in terms of like the art direction, that was all him. But, um, so it was really fun to work on this, like with him. And we had a couple other school emotion, alumni work on the animation. So it was really fun for me just as like a challenge to go from mostly just animating things to kind of more creative directing.

Ryan Plummer (00:02:29): So what do you mean by like big project? Like what does that mean?

Greg Stewart (00:02:34):

So, um, I think like big in terms of the role, um, that I was playing and then just it being like this, isn't just like a logo animation. This is a two minute piece. They really wanted to promote this on Facebook. And you know, some of the speakers at this conference have hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter and so they really wanted this to be good. Um, so it was just, yeah, just super, kind of just like a fun challenge for me to, um, start at the very beginning of the process and then, um, work from, from there to the finish. So, so once, once we had the script, um, just cause I was juggling a couple projects at this time, I sort of figured the best way to kind of set up my other animators for success was for me to animate like a chunk of it.

Greg Stewart (00:03:28): And then to pass off that project file and kind of have a conversation with them about, um, you know, here's, here's this bit I've animated here is kind of the feel that I want for this given like the goal and like the goal of this project was to challenge, um, peop so this is for a conference for Christians, a challenge challenge 18 to 25 year olds to just really think about how seriously committed they are to their faith. And I think there's things about that that would translate outside of just that world. But, um, so for Radley and I, as we were thinking through this, we really wanted to capture like a sense of beauty with that and to feel like, you know, if you're really giving your all to this, there's, um, hard things about that, but there's really wonderful global things that can come with that as well.

Greg Stewart (00:04:18): And this conference is sort of aimed at getting people, um, out of like from the Christian world to go overseas and to put themselves in really challenging situations. And so trying to just associate like color and vibrance and beauty with that. Um, and so a lot of like the handmade kind of like we exported this at 12 frame or poster as at 12 frames a second and had some like wiggles on a lot of like little things just to try and get it to feel, not too techie, but sort of handmade. Okay. Um, and then kind of like longer drawn out smoother elegant movements to try and like, oh, that feels nice. It feels nice.

Ryan Plummer (00:05:00): I think on this frame, I mean that, you're definitely pulling in that hand a handmade kind of look, and it's interesting that you put it out at 12 frames per second to kind of, uh, give it that aesthetic. Um, and what you said just a minute ago was, uh, really interesting is that you animated a chunk of it before you sent it to the rest of your team. And I remember, um, I was reading through the animators survival kit, uh, and uh, he was talking about the process of like, you would make the key frames for the junior animators and then, uh, they would go based off of that and then you would critique their work to try to make it smooth and stuff. So it's kind of interesting to see, like you're, you're bringing in, uh, old, almost old school tactics, you know, into a modern animation time. Yeah.

Greg Stewart (00:05:41): So that was super, I mean, I think like part of the fun thing for me about being more in like the director producer senior person in this role was that I could selfishly just sort of pick the parts that I really wanted to do. Um, so as part of this, I wanted to experiment with doing some like frame-by-frame stuff in Photoshop. And so I, um, did a couple like just frame by frame hand drawn transition. So like, as these texts bits are coming in, you know, those are all like totally custom frame by frame hand painted transitions that I made in Photoshop simply because I just wanted to try something new. And so, because I assigned myself that role, I got to do that

Ryan Plummer (00:06:30): So you wanted to try something new and, uh, did you like, did you just like instantly know, like I wanna try something new and I know I wanted to try this or did you kind of like do some research and development to figure out, like, what is this tech, how should it come on? And like, what's kind of a best practice for that?

Greg Stewart (00:06:44): Um, no, honestly, it's something I've been sort of noodling on for awhile. Like, oh, I think it'd be cool to, I think it could bring like another level, um, like having that in my, my skill set or just being able to do that would give me some more options and like another thing in my toolkit for motion design. Um, and just from an efficiency standpoint, I mean this whole thing, we animated it, I want to say in like two weeks, um, you know, and that was with me working on a couple things and Francisco and Kenji, the other animator is also working on a couple things. So, um, just from the get go, I had to think about how do we do this really well, but also really efficiently. And so my thought was, if I make a couple transitions, they can just throw these on everything. And then we have like, uh, an elegant, interesting, unique way to, I mean, there's the cool thing about that is like, nobody else has that exact transition, you know? Um, there's obviously very similar things.

Ryan Plummer (00:07:38): It's not just a linear wipe across the text and it comes on you, you had taken the time to draw it each frame to, to make that transition happen. That's, that's cool. That's it that's really like takes another level of like ownership over the animation that you're actually doing. And so what was kind of, you know, you, you animated a chunk of it and then, uh, you, um, you handed off like the rest of the animation to, uh, you know, the rest of the team. Like what was that process like, and maybe talk about some of the things that you learned. Uh, yeah,

Greg Stewart (00:08:08): Yeah, yeah, for sure. So this, this was the chunk I animated just from like that book transition through here. I think this was the, the first chunk I did that I passed off. Okay. Um, so Francisco and Kenji, we kind of onboarded the Kenji. We brought in a little later that game when it was like, oh, we really need another, another person. And he just knocked it out of the park, put in some late nights, which I really appreciated, um, not, not altogether foreign to those of us in this world. Um, so we brought, I knew Francisco and I kind of been chatting for a while and I was like, I really want to get, get to work with this guy on something he's just super talented animator. And I think we have like somewhat similar styles. Um, so I had been onboarding him actually pretty, pretty early on in the process as we were still even writing the script.

Greg Stewart (00:09:00): Um, and just sort of saying, this is generally what we're trying to do with this video, as we were doing the frames Radley, like cranked out all these friends, like one day, he just like, it's just a beast. Um, so I sent him all those and I said like, Hey, are there bits of these that are any frames out of here that you get excited about animating or you have energy around doing? I think like that was one thing I learned was just giving people things that they're excited to do. Um, you can't obviously always be over the moon about everything that you get to do on a project. But I think, um, just trying to think of like the skill sets of the people that I've got working with me and how can I give them things that they're going to want to do and have creative energy around. Um, so he kind of saw like the whole thing, like from board start to finish, we did like these board Maddix where we threw all the frames and like premiere with the voiceover and just timed it out. Um, and just because we didn't have a ton of time for like rounds of revisions, it was really important to get client approval on like here's the timing and is, does this feel good? Yes. Okay. Then we can go innovate it.

Ryan Plummer (00:10:05): And you said, this is kind of like your first, uh, go at like kind of running, managing a team with a team and everything. And so, uh, can you kind of talk about like, how is that different than you being by yourself, especially managing client expectations, running through boards and then like casting?

Greg Stewart (00:10:22): Yeah. I mean, man, I think it's way better. I think like this is, I maybe was just really lucky to have a great experience doing this on my first go at it. But, um, previous to this, I was, um, kind of just like a, not like a one man show cause I was working on teams and you know, I really don't want to downplay the role that designers that I worked, you know, but when it came to the actual execution of the motion, um, I think that my personality is that I just work better when I'm putting more of myself into fewer things than spreading myself too thin. Okay. And so I think just like my mental bandwidth from being able to say, I only have to animate like this this one bit, so I can really dive into this. That was really exciting. Um, and then being able to just take that and hand that off to other people and say like, they can take this.

Greg Stewart (00:11:11): And like some of the things Francisco did, like I didn't have in my head, but it was just so cool to be like, oh, like he did this, um, this like 3d, he had sort of seen this kind of like 3d looking book thing and he's like, oh, I want to do something kind of like that. So this door, like that was not even, I had no idea how we were going to get from this. This was like one of the style frames to this. And so just to like see that, which was not in my head and is like a great idea and execute it so well, it was just

Ryan Plummer (00:11:40): So cool, man. That's awesome. So he, from here, he just added in this door that closes, but the door was in the frames, but I, that transition. Right.

Greg Stewart (00:11:49): That's awesome. Yeah. So that was super cool. Just to be like, oh, I wouldn't, I would never have had that idea. Um, and you came up with that on your own and did it so well. So

Ryan Plummer (00:11:59): You said that, uh, there was another school of motion alumni working on this process with you. And one of the things that I feel like I keep seeing is this, there's this little, uh, dotted line that's traveling through. Uh, you know, and, and we learn like right here in this scene, uh, there's this dotted line and it's, I tracing, you know, it's pulling, it's pulling you across the frame so that you can, uh, uh, guide the viewer, uh, or be guided as a viewer. So what was it like working with another alumni that, you know, Hey, you've learned some of these same principles you've, um, you've gone through some of the same courses and like be able to have that communication.

Greg Stewart (00:12:33): No, that's great. I think just sort of, it's like learning any language, like when, you know, you have the same foundation of like, we know the same word. So when I say the term I trace or overshoot, you're going to understand what I'm saying. I think it just makes communication a lot easier. And same with Francisco. Like just being able to say, Hey, like I think if you have this overshoot by just a couple of frames or I would love for you to just think about like, you know, so for instance, this, um, this thing, uh, this here to there, we really wanted what we wanted this frame to communicate was like for people to think I am at point a in my life, we all have at least whether it's fully developed or not some idea of we want to get somewhere. And the way that Francisco had originally animated, this was like, these dots were just all kind of changing colors, um, as they, and they just all popped on at once.

Greg Stewart (00:13:27): And so, because like big picture, our concept is how do we get people to think about I'm here and I'm going there. We don't want these things to be blinking on and off because that doesn't connect with that idea. And so giving him the feedback of like, can we have these pop on from left to right. And the line travel from literally here to there. So we're bringing the person's eye from here to there, with the goal of getting that idea in their head. And so I think it was really neat, sort of talking about these techniques and principles, but in the context of big picture ideas and how are we getting people to think and feel okay.

Ryan Plummer (00:14:10): Yeah. And it's, uh, it's, it's really amazing how, uh, this line, it's kind of the character of that S you know, this segment, um, and like you would think like, oh, the, the dots are the prettiest part, but really the thing that's driving the animation as a simple line, uh, that's going from here to there literally. Um, and so that's, that's really cool that, um, uh, it's, it's got kind of process that you guys walk through, um, for this. So what is another piece? You got some other pieces here for me to kind of look through,

Greg Stewart (00:14:39): This is a super fun, I'll just play it for now. Um, peace. I got to animate this with an agency out of LA called veracity collab, CoLab, Paul slimmer works there. Um, this is just a super fun process. So in contrast to the crosspiece, um, I was given boards, um, their designer drew, uh, drew white was kind of the creative lead on this. And so he sent me a bunch of boards and we hopped on this. It's such a great experience. We call, we were on a call for probably a couple hours, like several times, just so he kind of walked me through his vision for, um, you know, start to finish. Here's like what we want this piece to do. Um, this is for like a service that does AI bot chat. And so we want this to feel fun and approachable. And so I think just like getting aligned right off the bat of like, what is it you want this to feel like was super helpful. And then, um, one thing I just really appreciate about working with their team was they gave me a ton of creative control and input. And, um, drew was just, it was just so fun. We'd like throw out these different ideas for how do we want this to transition? And, you know, there were some, some things that he had kind of written out in the design story board, and I was like, well, actually think like this might be a cooler way of doing that. And he's like, totally like have at it, man. That's

Ryan Plummer (00:15:57): Awesome to be able to even have that opportunity to one, like, is just, there's a certain scary, uh, feeling about like getting boards and like you have total creative freedom. It's like, oh, give me some boundaries, you know? And it seems like it's the artistic dream to just get, to put your own voice on everything, but it's cool that you were able to give feedback and work on a process with a client, like what you're talking about.

Greg Stewart (00:16:18): Yeah. So that was so much fun. I think like, I mean, just for me, I really, I feel strongly like time, you know, time is something I can't get back. And so I want to spend my creative energy and time working on things that I feel, um, as much as possible, like excited to work on. And for me, challenging myself is something that's really exciting. So taking on things that are kind of maybe one level above where I feel comfortable. Um, and so there is some techniques in this that I really wanted to try. So like these little bots, um, I just did that with a pretty simple like joysticks and sliders rig, but I'd never really used that before or done a ton of like character animation. I, this would be pretty simple character, but a lot of what I've done is just, you know, like these, like shapey shape smeary things. And so like just sort of seeing this bot and in the style frames, it was all flat, but thinking, how can I add a little bit of life to this guy and make, make him feel friendly and approachable, kind of like what the goal for the project.

Ryan Plummer (00:17:19): I think this bot definitely, I feel like he drives the piece almost like, um, I think we, you had shared this piece with me a while back and I was like, man, that robot, like, I feel like I, I heard what the, the, uh, ad was trying to show and stuff like that, but like the robot really killed me. It kept me engaged, you know, popping up and frames and like how, you know, quote unquote cute. He was, uh, throughout the process. And it is interesting that you're talking about, like, this is a simple character compared to like character rigging and stuff like that, but it's really like how you use the character and like the, and the character you give it that really kind of drives the piece, uh, and, and makes it, you know, seem advanced in a way.

Greg Stewart (00:17:58): Yeah. Thank you. Um, yeah, I mean, I think like something I just like increasingly believe is that, um, it's like the things that you feel more than, maybe the things that you see and recognize. And so like, you know, having it blink or having the motion path of like the joystick not be linear, but kind of curve as it's looking from left to, right. It's not going straight, but kind of curving down a little bit. Like those things make it feel a little bit more alive. And, you know, even though the vast majority of people watching that are gonna be like, oh, cool, like the path isn't linear, you feel that, and it feels more alive even though you can't necessarily articulate that. And I think those details are the ones that are really, I mean, they can be the hardest ones to nail down, but I think they're worth like, they're just so worth spending all the time on.

Ryan Plummer (00:18:51): So where are these colors? That means these colors are awesome. Were they part of their ranting branding guidelines or,

Greg Stewart (00:18:56): Yeah, I th I think they were taken off like the, so the client was Helpshift. I think they were taken off their, their brand guidelines. Um, yeah. So, um, yeah, so one of the, one of the, like a couple of my favorite favorite bits from this was so like this, this for instance was one of the frames like this here, and, you know, this was maybe the, this was maybe the frame before that. Uh, it's funny that things get, I think it's cut off there. Whoops. Um, can't be perfect. So maybe this was the frame before, uh, and like, this was the frame before that. So I think like, honestly, sometimes when I have boards given to me the way I just like, get thinking about transitions rather than just like hopping into after effects is literally just staring at them and like circling things or shapes that are similar between like frame one and frame two. So seeing like, okay, here, we've got three shapes that are smeared and they are circular and they're moving down. And then in this frame we have like, there's these three circles. So like, okay, that's maybe like a starting point for what I want to have transition into what, um,

Ryan Plummer (00:20:10): And I know this is like a, like a very detailed question, but like, did you print off these frames on paper and like work on them? Okay. It's entry. So you didn't like pull an iPad, like you just old school, like printed it out and started.

Greg Stewart (00:20:21):

Yeah. Well, I think sometimes it's just helpful to get away from a computer, because I think like, if I'm thinking about this in after effects, I'm thinking about this, like these things with the limitation of like, well, can I do that with this effect or that effect versus if I'm kind of taking a step back from that and just looking on paper, I feel like there's less constraints. And I think like so much of the creative process is funneling in and getting focused as you move forward.

Ryan Plummer (00:20:47):

I think in the podcasts that I listened to with other like really high-end animators, I feel like I constantly hear like, stop thinking what I can do in after effects. Just thinking about like, how can I am, like, how can I bring this to life? Like, what are the ways that I want to animate this? Not like, what are the limitations of after effects and what the effects

Greg Stewart (00:21:05): Well, and I think like something I'm learning as I've, um, just like been privileged to work with some pretty sweet people and like, get, get better work is just that like so much of making good stuff is, is, is just that it's like the problem solving of like, how do I get after effects to do this thing that it, maybe it doesn't wasn't designed to do, or because of the concept or the feeling that we want to communicate with this piece, I need this to move in this way, or I need this to do this thing that is sort of impossible, but how can I figure out a way to do that? Whether that's cutting or some janky expressions or, or whatever,

Ryan Plummer (00:21:42): It's amazing, like just a really quick touch on the cutting part. Like, it's amazing how much I did not use cutting, you know, to transition between things in aftereffects when it seems like it's a simple video editing thing to, to use, but, um, I'm always like wanting to morph things, you know, or whatever. Uh, and so like sometimes I think our limitation is just thinking, like, what are the tools that I do have that I can get the effect I want? And cutting is one of those things

Greg Stewart (00:22:07): Yeah. Like this, um, this is maybe a super, like, I mean, that's a cut, but like when I was working with Jorge and Vancouver, he would like go through and be like, I don't like how this frame looks. And I was like, wow, like you really have to, you know, I, I think I was maybe expecting feedback to feel like, ah, the curve isn't right. But it'd be like this frame. This is a frame that bothers me because of the size of those dots, but I was going back out, change it. But I think like, honestly, cuts are just, even from a, like a workflow logistical standpoint. Like, it's just so helpful because if you have everything morphed in key frames and you have to go back and shift the timing, and this is a piece where we did have to shift the timing around a little bit, um, because of some stuff with the voiceover, like you are like, you were just really shooting yourself in the foot.

Greg Stewart (00:22:49): Um, and so having like this cut, it's like, well, I just need to maybe draw out the end of this a little bit. And then like, we're good to go from there. I don't have to redo this whole complex morphing, you know? Um, so even like the transition from like, I think somewhere like this was maybe the frame that probably not with those dots kind of overlapping, but, um, it's like maybe that was framed too or whatever. And this was the second frame, um, you know, kind of like the Drew's vision for this was that, like, this would feel like a rotary phone. So this ring around the edge is kind of like moving around. And so part of that was like, oh, well, maybe like to try and connect those things. We should like zoom into a phone. Then also just looking at the frames and seeing this frame has a circle in the middle and this frame has a circle in the middle, like, boom.

Ryan Plummer (00:23:40): Yeah. And in my eyes it's like, oh, that turned into that, you know, and really not even that close as far as it's just like my brain automatically connect the dots. That was a circle. This is the

Greg Stewart (00:23:50): So cool. And I think too, like, it's so important as you're working on stuff to watch things in chunks. And I think you're so often working like frame, not necessarily like literally frame by frame, but you're working like these tiny little, like one second things. And I think to like export and watch 10 seconds and then get a feel for, oh, like this is moving way too fast. Or, um, because yeah, I think that like, subconsciously you think, oh, that morphed into that even though that's really not at all, what happens?

Ryan Plummer (00:24:17): I'm new in the beginning here in this, in this, uh, project. Uh, there's not a lot of color in it. Uh, you're kind of like, I guess it's like a gray or like a, uh, like a really, really light Navy blue, um, this, like you haven't introduced any color. What was, was there any challenge to like balancing the artwork, uh, before you could bring in these other like, uh, accents?

Greg Stewart (00:24:39): Um, I mean, not really, I don't know if that was like a intentional thing on, on Drew's end as he was like, thinking about this. I think I could definitely see that. Um, I mean, I think like, honestly, one of his things that he said right up front, it was like, we just really intentionally kept the design on this minimal because we want to really lean into the motion on this. And so, um, yeah, I mean, I think like a lot of like the challenge for me on this front end was like, how do I, I think I, as a motion designer always feel the burden to like, things gotta keep moving. We got to have interests, like nothing should ever be still. Uh, you always have to remember that, like this isn't for other motion designers, ultimately this is for like product managers or something, and they're not going to be like, oh, why is this thing still? If anything, it's going to, why is so much I don't get it. Um, and so always having that in the back of your head, I think is, uh, is helpful. Um,

Ryan Plummer (00:25:36): Cadence is like a thing that you just don't, it takes a while to kind of develop, you have to like put in, you know, reviews for your rough drafts of animation and client feedback. And then eventually you like gain like that understanding and that to be able to put your own voice in the work, uh, but also have a cadence that's, you know, uh, there for the viewers.

Greg Stewart (00:25:56): Yeah. And, um, yeah, so that was, that was kind of my first pass at this like opening chunks. It's just like insane. There's just way too much happening. Drew's like, oh, this is cool. I think I need to tone it down. I was like, dang it. But,

Ryan Plummer (00:26:09): Um, but it's good that you, at least you have, you know, like the hard thing is like, well, I did spend more time on it, but at the same time, like I can scale it back instead of like, this is not enough, you know? So I guess like on the imposter syndrome, you know, part of our brain that that actually feels better, you know?

Greg Stewart (00:26:24): Well, I mean, I feel like, man, I just, I it's so rough drafts are so hard for me. I got, I'm just such a perfectionist. And I think, especially like this was my first project working with them, I really wanted to impress them. And so it was like, well, I don't want to, I want to show them something that looks good. Not some, you know, like little rough draft that looks bad. And then, you know, and of course they have feedback and then it's like, oh, dang it. Like, they didn't like her, which wasn't at all the case. But I think like, yeah, it's so easy for me to just like, I think try and compensate that imposter syndrome by, um, you know, putting maybe a little bit too much in, on the front end, but then like the bummer for me is that then it takes way more effort to fix, to make those adjustments because I've key framed all of these things and felt all this time on the curves. And then it's like, well, you know, we need this to be less crazy kind of stuff to start over.

Ryan Plummer (00:27:16): And that's where I'm really getting into the mindset of doing animatics, you know, building out storyboards and stuff like that. And like the communication that you, uh, really kind of it's, it's almost, uh, if you want to advance as a motion designer, you know, in your career, you really want to learn that process of being able to communicate what your ideas are so that when you're in the edit, you know, you know, okay, this isn't like the prettiest thing, but I'm showing them like, this is the basic movement. This is, what's going to go from here to here. I'm going to make it prettier later, you know?

Greg Stewart (00:27:44): Yeah. I think processes, I don't want to say it's everything. I think it's just really important, not for the sake of process, but I think like good process gives you bandwidth to have creative freedom later on in the room. Like, because if you just jump in and you, you know, I'm going to design this whole thing in after effects and you start animating it. I think one, because you're in your animation software and you're designing, you're just thinking about things differently. And I think you're going to miss out on different ideas that you might've had otherwise. Um, but I think that like process is something that shouldn't be, well, I have to do this animatic this way because every project's a little different, but I do think that like, you know, for instance having margins so that if something comes up a week before the deadline you've already got the thing finished, rather than you're pushing it, like the very last minute, it's just like less stressful. And you're, you're building in capacity to incorporate some of the shifts that are going to happen or the client ideas that you might really hate, but you know, you're serving them. And so you have to listen to that. Um, so yeah, I think process like developing your own process and something that works for you and it also works for the client, I think is just really important.

Ryan Plummer (00:28:54): Yeah. That's, that's really good advice. Um, and, and a lot of times it's like, you really just need to get the full piece done because like I, when I first started, the hardest thing to do is to stop touching all the little details and then we would get to the last two days, you know, and I'm like, I still have, you know, 50% of this project to finish and I didn't build a baseline foundation or the project, you know, that's really a lot like what you just said.

Greg Stewart (00:29:16): Well, and especially with clients who haven't been through a process like this before, I think I'm, I've found that sometimes they just don't really know how to react until they see like an animated video, because you send them a bunch of style frames and it's like, well, what am I looking at? Yeah, that's interesting. But I think for your own interests, like putting in that work on the front end to release it with them and explain, you know, this is what you're looking at. Um, this is, you know, here's frame one, here's from two kind of maybe how this might move so that when they see a rough draft, like they're not like overwhelmed and want to change a million things. Yeah. Um, yeah. So, and I think too, just like really putting in the work to understand what is it that they're trying to communicate, because I think, I think I just said this, but like ultimately a lot of our work is not for other motion designers.

Greg Stewart (00:30:05): And so making work that people are going to connect with, you have to constantly be thinking, like asking yourself, why is this moving this way? And is this connected to a bigger idea? I think that was something I really learned, um, at the agency I was at before I was freelance open book. Um, just like stupidly talented people there, but I, like, I'd never been asked, like told, like I don't get it. Or why did it move this way? Or like, I remember it was like one of my first projects there. I was working on this thing. It was starting off like over map of New York and like this dot moving. And my boss is like, why is it moving in the east river? And it was just sort of like, it became kind of like a running joke, but I was like, so funny, honestly, I don't have an answer. I don't know. And so I think, yeah, just like, that's something I was really grateful for from, from learning. There was that I was constantly pushed to like, think, like, ask myself why,

Ryan Plummer (00:30:55): And there's two ways you could have gone with that feedback. You would have been like, well, you're, you're dumb. Of course, like I'm moving it because it makes it more interesting. But at the other point, like you also have the viewer, like who's wanting to curious, like I'm distracted by this dot, you know, and like really kind of like balancing out what that is. Uh, and I took theater and, uh, high school. And one of the things that you, whenever you made a movement across the stage, an advancement on something, there gonna be a reason for it. You didn't just throw your hands up in the air randomly because people be like, w what was that? You know? And so like, there was, you had to have intention in it. And I think that is something that, uh, you know, not everybody has gone through, uh, the electrical, you know, whatever classes or anything like that, but that's something that definitely kind of sticks into my emotion, design thought process is like, there's a reason for it, you know, it needs to be, and sometimes you kinda lose sight of that. And until someone else says, like, I don't understand why you're doing that, you know?

Greg Stewart (00:31:43): Well, and like, because it looks cool, might be a good enough reason for another motion designer, but, you know, if you're working on a video for fundraisers and you're targeting wealthy CEOs, like they, they don't have, like, they don't care about like, what's cool, you know, they want to know statistics or they want to feel compelled in some way. And yeah, anyways, that's all kind of a side note, but, um, yeah, I think one of my other, my other favorite transitions that just sort of came, um, as I was animating, like, I think to back to the thing about process, I think like some of the best ideas that I've had have come as I've been working and not on the front end. And so I think, like trying to strike that balance between not holding myself too tightly to a script, um, and having like time and margin to explore things.

Greg Stewart (00:32:36): So like this whole, I think that, um, you know, in terms of like the board I was given, like, this was maybe a frame and, uh, what was it like just before this? Um, this was a frame like where it gets like split into three pieces and then the next thing was just this. So there wasn't drew and I kind of went back and forth about like, how do we transition? And like, the thing that I like, how I sort of came up with this was like, well, there's three pieces here and there's three things here. Can I fall in their own little bin? Yeah. And ultimately, I didn't want, I think sometimes if you're, it's really obvious if a transition is forced and you know, you're trying too hard to connect things in one frame to another. So having these two fall out of frame and then kind of, you're able to follow this one and you know, like, I'm not, you know, the point of this isn't to morph this quarter circle into this little like, slider as much, like, how can I give something? Like, someone's something to actually follow as there, as like, this transition is happening,

Ryan Plummer (00:33:46): You had to drop it a slider like that, that continues that motion, you know, like we talked about earlier, the I tracing. And one thing that I think that we should definitely kind of point out is like, before this drops in, like the two pieces in the left, they dropped down, but they're rectangles don't come up first because the last quarter that's on the screen still, uh, is, is where your eye is at now, your phone now. And so that first right side rectangle catches it first. And that's like, it's like a, such a small detail, but if you would have had that quarter on the right side dropping down, and then all of the rectangle, the left jump up, then that would like compete for I frame. Oh, no, sorry. I frame that would compete for your eye tracing to where then people might miss the slider, you know, dropping down to continue that motion.

Greg Stewart (00:34:31): Exactly. Yeah. And I think, I mean, I, I sort of experimented with that and I think like the perfectionist brain in me is like, well, this doesn't literally make sense because of course the ones in the left would come up first, but ultimately like the priority isn't necessarily making things that literally follow the rules of whatever, as much as like for whoever's watching this, you don't want to overwhelm them. Like you want to make sure that they're able to follow what's happening or they're going to be distressed. Like the motion should be something that serves to communicate the concept. And the message is a piece, not something that distracts from it. And so if you overdo it, you're going to distract from it.

Ryan Plummer (00:35:08): That should just be a quote like that should be a quote and will, and just like a print out and put it on your wall. Yeah. That's awesome.

Greg Stewart (00:35:14): Well, it's so important. And then this was one of my other favorite transitions, like, um, I feel weird telling my favorite bits of my own work, but, um, so this, I mean, this was generally like, you know, frame, we'll call it frame B and this was frame a and I think the initial idea was to sort of have everything like collapsed into the middle and then this calendar comes out. And I think as, as I was just like toggling back and forth between this and this, I was like, well, man, like, there's all these, like, you know, I'm looking at these three kind of squares in the middle here and thinking like, oh, there's like those lines there. And those lines there. And, you know, rather than having everything kind of like collapsed and then reappear, which might be one of those things where it could be really interesting transition, but it's just too much happening.

Greg Stewart (00:36:05): Like, is there a way that, you know, and granted these three shapes aren't squares, but is there a way that I could just kind of pop out of that into this? And it like, technically it wasn't a crazy difficult thing to execute. I mean, it was a matter of, I think like these three, you know, solids or shape layers or whatever, I'll just like parented to a novel and it scales down. So they become squares. And then the rest of these are, um, and I had tried a couple iterations where all these other squares are like moving in and it was just, it was,

Ryan Plummer (00:36:39): Oh man. And it's really, this move specifically gives the piece a lot of depth, which is really hard to do whenever you're working with 2d, you know, design, giving your piece. Like it's not just sliding left and right. All the time, you know, but being able to use, uh, basically a pull-out, you know,

Greg Stewart (00:36:56): Y yeah. And so I think like, you know, having it anticipate in a little bit, you know, like, so you've got the edges of that yellow or no blue, like moving in that sort of help kick it off. And then the other thing that I sort of enjoyed was all these sliders move down and then you have the contrast in motion of like the, the dots coming up. Yeah. And so like, that just feels satisfying because it's kinda like, it goes like that that's gonna translate, but like it comes and that's like, that's, uh, an extra element that just sort of helps sell that. And like, I think the most rewarding thing is just to watch something like, oh, that's cool.

Ryan Plummer (00:37:39): Yeah. And I was thinking about what you said, well, it goes like, this is my favorite transition. And really, I think what you're saying is like, I found a lot of the light animating this and like, at the end of it, I was proud of it, you know? And there are those little pieces that are like, you know, and sometimes they're just like happenstance that they just, you know, they're there, you know? And like you, she might've been replied the wrong effect sometimes. And then they gave you an idea. Yeah.

Greg Stewart (00:38:02): Yeah. We were like this moment too, like, this was a, you know, a thing where they, this was like the frame and it was sort of, the direction was the bot kind of goes down in and I, you know, even like having it blink beforehand, I think like for some reason just kind of makes it, like,

Ryan Plummer (00:38:17): I always got little curved, you know, that's just like a small detail, like, cause a little eye blinks or curved, you know, it's a little happier,

Greg Stewart (00:38:24): Um, you know, this whole like squares expanding thing like that, wasn't in the style frame. I was just like, well, I feel like just having all these, uh, I forgot to met him. Gosh,

Ryan Plummer (00:38:37): You know what again, like that's something that like, it kind of didn't even matter in this case. Like I didn't even notice it. And I feel like my eye is trained pretty decently over the, over the years of working in this, you know, that I can catch those kinds of things, but it happens so fast, you know?

Greg Stewart (00:38:53): Yeah. Um, so this was fun cause like thinking, okay, the point of impact is here and um, you know, and so like, like the, the technical, like the behind of this is like not, it's not sexy at all. It was literally just like, I took a bunch of solids and I sequenced them out from this point on the screen, like expanding outwards. And in retrospect, I know there's a script. That'll like do that from the center and I probably could have just done that and then moved that whole thing over. But, and then, you know, like having all these, some of, some of the mouths on a couple of these like heads are moving and opening and again, like enough to add a subtle amount of detail, but not so much as to be overwhelming, you know? So here's like another hard cut and I was just like, Hmm, there's no way I'm going to like morph this into sometimes it's just like lazy, but I don't think that's always like working smart and working lazy are sometimes hard to tell the difference between, but this was, this was a fun little sequence too.

Greg Stewart (00:39:51): Um, I think, I mean, it was, this was very inspired by at Jordan Scott. I think that Google UX Scott's work. Yeah. I mean, drew just like, literally he's like just do basically do something like this. Um, you know, I don't, I mean like a lot of people, uh, hopefully this isn't like weird to say, but like really loved this transition. And I was just kind of like, I don't, like, I just tried to make that big white thing somehow become an I, um, yeah, I think like it's, it's hard to, it's sometimes weird to critique your own work, but like this was a transition that I think like, I felt sort of like, this is lazy. Like just literally taking, I mean, if this is, you know, frame a, this is frame B, I feel like I kind of just took like the shortest, like, well, I'm just going round, round the corners on them, adjust the paths a little bit. So they become circles and move stuff into place. And I think like sometimes it's okay, like you don't always have to do the most complicated thing. Um, you know, and like, I don't know, that's how, like not everything has to be in,

Ryan Plummer (00:41:02): You know, and the detail in here that I think is important, uh, as far as like continuity and like how things actually work, the, the specular highlight in this eye, that little yellow dot, um, it actually stays in the top left corner. Like that's, you know, it wouldn't, it wouldn't guide itself. Like the robot kind of does it's it's its face and stuff like that, which might make it look awkward. Like it's not even a human eye in a sense. Um, but you kept it up there, you know, thinking about like, I don't know if that's just like over time, you've just you observe how things work or just like, uh, you know, improving artistic vision or anything like that.

Greg Stewart (00:41:33): Honestly, like, I wasn't really, I tried to find, like, I think for this, I actually spent quite a bit of time trying to find like I references because I was like, what? Like, because this is obviously a reflection like this yellow.is a reflection. It's not part of the eye, so it's not going to move with it, but yeah. How is it going to move? But I couldn't find, so I eventually was like, I think this feels okay. Um, but yeah, I mean, I think like something that's really hard to do well is to imitate real things. It's one thing when you're, you know, like taking a square and move, I mean, you can move it however you want, but when you're doing something that like, because I think people even don't have a list of rules, but they, they just know when something doesn't feel right. That's like an eye or a hand it's like, oh, that doesn't

Ryan Plummer (00:42:18): Deserve it every single day. So, you know,

Greg Stewart (00:42:21): You can call BS on that. But so I think that's like, so those are some of the hardest things to, to pull off.

Ryan Plummer (00:42:26): But so you have another piece you actually want to show me and this one's really exciting because, um, you, you get to work with, uh, Jorge, uh, um, and I'm not sure exactly how to say his last name. How do you,

Greg Stewart (00:42:40): Uh, well, it's it Strada is I think he, his last name is they go by Canedo. Um, but yeah, it's Jorge Rolando Canedo is okay. Which I forget we were talking about because I also have four names. Um, but we were talking about the meaning of names over lunch. I think like his last two names mean street dog or something, farmers, something odd to ask him, but yeah. Yeah. So this was a super, super fun piece to work on. Um, it's kind of an animated explainer video for a ministry called the Bible project, uh, explaining, attempting to explain the Trinity, which is a sort of Christian doctrine that, um, there's one God, but he has sort of three persons, but it's one God. So outside of that bubble or world, that might be kind of weird, but, um, it was

Ryan Plummer (00:43:31): Your first time working with Jorge, right?

Greg Stewart (00:43:34): Uh in-person yet I had worked on one, um, just like a couple shots from a piece with him, uh, maybe like a month before this. Um, so this is a long, this is like almost an eight minute piece. So it was Jorge and, uh, Victor Silva, both. I mean, both of those guys, I just like they're so like just nice people and also just like stupidly talented, I think like, as someone coming out of being self-taught being kind of like the motion designer at my other places of employment or being, you know, like solo freelance, just like getting to sit next to people and be like, oh, that's, that's how you do that. Or, oh, like, why don't you try it this way? Or can you help me? Or like, this doesn't look quite right. And so it was just like just a dream to be able to work with people of that, of that caliber. And I just really thankful that I got, um, got that opportunity.

Ryan Plummer (00:44:28): Yeah. It's the secret that, I mean, a lot of people look up to and like, what, how do you even get to that level? And I think he released something here recently. It was like his first a demo reel. And it was actually really encouraging for me because I was like, that's good, but it's not great. You know, it's like, that doesn't look like for hates piece, you know, like what he would make, but it's like where he starts, you know, and stuff like that. And so, but like to see the level of work, like, especially with what we're watching is like

Greg Stewart (00:44:52): To where he is painted all this. Yeah. This is, uh, I think all those bubbles, they were at C four D um, yeah. So the challenge of this was like trying to explain, and I wasn't involved in the script or anything. Ironically, I was a theology major. So if anything on paper, that's what I should have been involved in. But, um, so a guy named ukiamaka did all the designs for this. Um, and so before we started, uh, Jorge just kind of threw all the shots in a Google documents, like pick whatever looks interesting. And so I was immediately like, I want to pick ones that look cool. I was like sitting in the back of a van, driving home from a backpacking trip, like on my phone. I was like, no, I want to pick the cool ones. But also I want to pick ones that are gonna challenge me and like be complex.

Greg Stewart (00:45:39): And, you know, if I'm going to have these people with me that I can lean on for help, like I want to pick stuff that's really gonna push me. Um, so this, this was like the beginning of, of one of the shots I did. So like this was like a style frame. And I mean, just like that just looks so attractive. Um, and I think when you're, when you're working with design, that's really awesome. I think it sort of forces you to kick up, like, you want your animation to be faithful to that, and you want to like kick up your game a little bit. Um, so yeah, I don't really know how to even do this. Like this was a, this is my favorite bit here, I think. Um, and I think what was Sony was like, I, um, you know, there was like the very ending bit was, um, you know, that, that was kind of like the frame. And then before that there was like a sketched version of maybe this. And then before that it was, I think, like this or something,

Ryan Plummer (00:46:46): You all this geometry you animated to, to kind of live within that and to grow, uh, into, uh, what does this ending frame here?

Greg Stewart (00:46:54): Yeah. Grow into this. It's like representing the world and, and Jorge was like, he just said, you know, this is a shot. I really, I really want this to stand out. So like, feel free to put some time into it and, you know, really sink some time into it. So that was like, it was fun to just have that. I just like appreciated having that, like sort of the green light to really like spend some, I mean, I think I spent a couple of days honestly. Um, and then I actually did a shot with a similar like world shape later on and sort of completely redid, like, just to give you an idea of how inefficient I can be sometimes. So like each one of these lines is its own shape layer with that, uh, maintain scale, well, parented expression, which if you're not familiar, it basically you can parent something to a no. And then if you scale that no up and down, it kind of inverts the scale. So it decides remains consistent. So you can like take a bunch of dots that are all kind of like around the middle of something. And then if you scale that no up and down with those dots, having that expression, they just like move from the center. Yeah. Um,

Ryan Plummer (00:48:00): That's, that's super humble. I feel like I hear like, especially on our school of motion, alumni channel, like we, I hear like all the time, like, Hey, how can I get this stroke to stop the scaling? You know? And so, yeah.

Greg Stewart (00:48:10): So same idea. Um, but it was just like what made sense in the moment. So, I mean, just like first off having, you know, I don't know how many layers this is, but like that's a ton of layers, all having a kind of big expression on them. So it was like very render heavy in a way that it didn't need to be, you know, these, all these like kind of, I don't, I don't know what the term is, but these other ones, like that was a shape players with repeaters, but like, I just wanted this to feel really complex. So each of these circles has its own gradient strokes so that, you know, it's not all, they're not all shaded exactly the same. They're all black and white. And then I actually, um, you know, at a bunch of different gradients to work with that Yuki had designed. So actually made this like simple, like linear gradient that had the points wiggling, it was black and white. And then I just tinted it to be like pre content and intended it to be different colors.

Ryan Plummer (00:49:06): Nice. That's a really, I feel like it's a really efficient way to work, especially if like, if these colors didn't work, you know, that's just one of those little smart thought processes. Yeah. That's all

Greg Stewart (00:49:15): One of the few that I did on this. Um, you know, so like these lines have a slightly different, uh, Grady, you know, this is like more red and the circle is a little different than that circle. And so I think like, again, these are all things that most people aren't going to stop and like, oh, I noticed that this color is different, but I think that the whole, this unit as a whole just feels more complex because there's more detail and, you know, for like one bit, um, you know, here, like I, I duplicated these circles and blur the edges a little bit. So there's just a tiny bit of shading that almost is like a shadow. And it, again, like who cares if anyone notices, but it's the feeling, it's the feel of like, this is there's more, or like you've especially noticed that here. I think we're like the edge of this, these like straight lines is a little like more gradient did. Um,

Ryan Plummer (00:50:06): I feel like as I started to be a motion designer, professionally, uh, sacred geometry, it was like a super popular thing. I feel like I haven't seen it a lot lately and like to see this, it kind of like, almost like I say, nostalgic, you know, I haven't been in the industry that long, but like, it's really cool to see that. And it feels like it's really done in, um, the, the cheapest word I have in my mind is premium way. Um, so no, but, um, but man that pulls it off. So, so well

Greg Stewart (00:50:32): And this is, this is an example where I really leaned into Jorge and Victor a lot because, um, you know, my first couple of passes at this, uh, it kind of like, there's a couple extra frames before it started moving. And so just being able to invite them over and be like, Hey, like this just doesn't feel right. I can't maybe articulate why I can sort of point like this area maybe. Um, and so having their suggestions of, well, you know, I think it just needs to move right away. So it feels more like you're looking at it on a frame by frame level, but then when you zoom back, you know, that just feels better than it did before. Um, you know, one other example of something I learned here was that originally, so these are all shaped layers with particular trails, but I had originally key framed, you know, four different dots and was having to just like edit stuff and edit stuff.

Greg Stewart (00:51:23): And it was a huge pain in the butt because, you know, you're, it's four layers and the paths are all different. And then I, it just struck me, like, why don't I just pre one of, one of these rotate it four times? And I was like, oh, that makes me more sad. I was like, oh, that would have saved me hours. Um, you know, this was kind of, I mean, again, like another like little detail is that, uh, so these stars are made with trap code form and, um, because the script is talking about the world being created. And I think conceptually really wanting it to feel like this, this dot, which is representing God's wisdom is doing the motion, like kicking all this stuff off. So you like having the rotation of this thing in the middle B offset, a couple frames behind the movement of this dot. So it's like, it's subtly, like they're not moving exactly at the same time, but one is moving and the other one's following it kind of just like, I guess like hierarchy of meaning, like this.is the main thing. Um, but then also I had a light parented to this that is bringing on all these, um, like the stars so that, you know, if you watch through this like really closely, um, you can see like, it's, they're generally kind of expanding out with the motion of that. And again, like,

Ryan Plummer (00:52:45): Can I mix it? Like, it feels like it feels like it's coming alive in a sense. Yeah. And it's interesting because like, I feel like, uh, people can really apply this, like across the, across the board, you know, whether they're doing something for, you know, that has a theological basis or anything. Like if you have a story and you have a drive, uh, like a driving character or a component to it, you can really make it start to influence other decisions and stuff like that. And so, uh, that's, that's really cool like that you pointed that out because I, I, I felt it come alive, like the frame or these, uh, the segment and stuff like that. But like now, knowing it makes me appreciate it even more, you know, of course you can't always explain that to your audience or anything like that, but

Greg Stewart (00:53:24): Yeah, I think like that just goes to, like, I think the techniques and the fundamentals are also worth learning, but I think if you don't apply them, conceptually, it's sort of like, I don't know. It becomes like, um, you know, here's how to replicate this effect in after effects. Not like here's what you can do with it. And so, you know, stopping and thinking, okay, I really want this to feel like X, like, I want it to feel like this.is making all these other things come alive and, you know, that's the direction I've received. That's the feedback I've gotten. Like, that's, that's what the goal of this is. How do I take all these things I've learned? Like I trace an overshoot and easing and like apply it to this so that it does that. And I think if you don't, if you learn like, oh, I can do this glitch effect with fractal noise.

Greg Stewart (00:54:11): That's great. But you're learning how to do, uh, like copy someone else's work. And I think we all start there. That was how I started. But if you don't just like practice having a goal and the thing you want to communicate and then taking some of those techniques and applying them to those things, like, I think that, um, your work really suffers. And I think I, you know, I've been surrounded by people throughout my career who have really, I wouldn't have chosen that for myself. I was like, what got me into this was like, oh, that's cool. I can, how do you do that? That looks cool. But having people like, yeah, especially at open-book who are always pushing me to think, like, what are you communicating with this? Um, I think has really helped me develop a passion for like, creating work that connects with people. And doesn't just look cool.

Ryan Plummer (00:54:54): So you've already talked a little bit about, like, you were stuck on a segment and then you went to Jorge, uh, and, uh, Victor and, um, Silva. And you were like, Hey, I'm stuck on here. What's it like, uh, you know, because again, like we talked about earlier, like they're kind of giants in our industry, what's it like working with somebody that you can go pick their brain on something that you're working on for them? Like, is there, I'm sure imposter syndrome is probably running rampant, you know, inside of your mind, but like, was it like also, like, was there an easiness to it or was like better than you thought it would be? Or

Greg Stewart (00:55:27): It was so easy. I mean, I think like something I just respect about people like Jorge and Victor, is it? Yeah. Like they have, they've done amazing work, but they're the most like kind people I think I sort of just sort of like assumed that if you're really good at what you do, you're kind of, you know, full of yourself. And I don't think that has to be true. Uh, I hope that's never true of me. Um, but it was just so like, it was not like a, oh, I guess I'll come look at your thing. Or like, I don't have time. Do you know who I am? There's like, oh yeah, sure. You know, like maybe give me a couple of minutes or I can't do that right now, but, um, I think I always, maybe this is just me, but I sort of like feel a sense of shame and having to ask for help at all.

Greg Stewart (00:56:08): And I think, especially working on like, this is like a big thing I'm really excited to be working on this. I want to contribute. There's all this sort of like internal monologue that I think every artist probably deals with of like, yeah, I guess just like shame. Like, I, I feel like I should have figured this out already, or I shouldn't need help. Um, but I also think like, even back to the cross thing, like other people have ideas that are better than mine, uh, and the best idea should win. And that's hard. That's really hard for me cause I want my idea to be the best idea, but, um, I think, and even just seeing them like that whole like bubbly thing at the beginning that was called like the God space, um, Jorge spent, I think like three days or four days making that in after-effects and it just didn't work.

Greg Stewart (00:56:52): Um, and so he threw it out and started over and see 4d and just seeing like, not only is that okay, but that's like the right thing to do for the project is to like, not think, be so precious about your work, that, uh, or, you know, your contribution or your input that you lose sight of like the big picture. Um, and so I think it was just really encouraging and like helpful for me to see that exemplified. Um, and there's a, there's a shot that Victor worked on, um, later on here. Um, so I did through, I mean I can, before we get there, but, um, yeah, so this is like the rest of my, my bit here. Um, yeah, just kind of fun, like bringing all these little things to,

Ryan Plummer (00:57:42): I feel like I love all the colors blending in between each other, especially this dot that keeps popping up here. I'm sorry.

Greg Stewart (00:57:50): Um, yeah, but it was fun. I mean, like we, we were trying to, these are all like particular emitters and we were all trying to figure out like, um, how do we get three waves to merge into one? And so like Jorge asked for help, like it's, you know, um, we're all like, he's human, we're all human. Um, so that was fun. Like, I don't remember exactly how we figured it out, but it was, you know, each of these is kind of on a novel that's moving up and down and parented all three of those nails to one knowledges scales down. So they all, like, it was a pretty simple solution, but I think sometimes finding the simple thing is the hard thing. Yeah. So this is the sequence that Victor did, which is so cool. Um, and yeah, there's this like, so this kind of shape is representing the spirit and I'm trying to remember all the different things we were trying to solve for, but it was having the dot spacing remain consistent as is expanding out.

Greg Stewart (00:58:47): Um, you know, so like little dots are getting added in, but they're also like they're pulsing and waving like as a, as a unit. And then also they had to connect into this line to kind of reveal this is God's space. And I don't even know how many, we kind of like give him a hard time about it. Um, because it, like, not like it took so long, it was just a really complex thing to figure out. And there's a very specific way that it needed to be animated. So he'd always be like, oh, you have to redo it. But, um, I just really admired his like, and willing to suspend because this isn't a thing that looks necessarily incredibly complex, but the amount of expressions and things that went into having to have this went into it animating in the way that it did is like just incredible.

Greg Stewart (00:59:39): So Victor you're the man. Um, the other bit that I did of this and some of this was like pretty like, you know, so I did this and there isn't much happening. And there were just some parts where like, the things that they were talking about in the script was so complex that you didn't want there to be a ton of things happening on screen. But, um, this is another sequence that had some challenging looking stuff in it. So I was excited to, to do this as well. Um, you know, so like waves and, um, again, so this was a very similar like shape as to what I had done earlier, but this time I having learned like, oh, wow, the way did it before it was way inefficient and too many expressions, you make it more efficient. Yeah. It's a great question. So rather than having each line be its own layer, um, and then using expressions, I think I built this with maybe three layers, uh, shape layers and repeaters, and then just key frame that I think I like expression, like the position of, you know, like if one of these lines is just repeated and then rotated, I just, um, added like a slider control to affect how far it is from the center.

Greg Stewart (01:00:58): And then the other three lines that make up like the four move in and out. And so, um, you know, I could have just, uh, taken a grid and scaled it up and down, but, um, I wanted there to be sort of layers of movement as it's coming in. So like the diagonal ones are like, they all meet up, but, um, and then, you know, one thing Jorge wanted from this shot was that, um, cause it's talking about how like in the Bible Jesus trigger people's sins, which was not something that any human had had the authority to do. And so to kind of line up with the voiceover, we wanted it to feel like this character in the middle is interacting with the world behind it. And so like when it scales down the lines, follow behind it and then as it's so just having like those different layers of movement, um, but like, yeah. Yeah. And I mean, another fun thing is that each one of these lines has a gradient stroke on it with wiggling and so that like there's movement within each line. Um, and then this way of saying that was a, a rig that Jorge made is really brilliant

Ryan Plummer (01:02:05): Wiggle and fractal noise or the basis for every single awesome thing in after effects. And it's so weird. It's like every time I've ever watched Andrew Kramer video, copilot tutorials, like, all right, we're going to show you how to make, you know, whatever. And it's like first news and proximal always, you know, like why

Greg Stewart (01:02:20): Fractal, miss, I'm going to create a solid, um, but I think too, like it's one thing to know fractal noise exists, right? Like, oh, I didn't know. We joke about using wave warp, just use a wave for fondant, um, or wave world. Like just kind of be like funny effects that a wave warp is really useful. Uh, I don't think I've ever used wave world, but maybe someday. Um, but it's one thing to know these effects exist. Right? It's another thing to know, like here's what you can make it do that maybe it wasn't intended to do. Um,

Ryan Plummer (01:02:51): And it, and it in combination with something else and that's where, like, I think that's what we're all saying in all of Andrew Kramer is that like, he takes four effects that you have, like, you would think no relation to it. And then he's got, uh, you know, a fully blown planet, you know, it's just like, you just made that out of some shoestring and uh, you know, where'd you even get the shoestring effect or whatever, you know,

Greg Stewart (01:03:11): So yeah, I think just, and that's like, why experimentation? And, you know, not just like scrubbing through someone else's thing, frame by frame and figuring like, I think there's just like this obsession that I even have over, like, how did they do that? Uh, you know, like what software did you make a tutorial please? Um, and I think that's like, that's fine. But I also think that like, if there's a little bit, I mean, I'll speak to my own motivation in that. Cause I can't, I don't want a big blanket statements for other people. Like there's this bit of, well, there's gotta be some button that I clicked that just does that. Right? Like, did you use, you know, what plugin or, you know, and I think, I mean, a lot of like some of this stuff is just like, it's just not sexy. Like the way I got this.

Greg Stewart (01:03:57):  And I would say not to use it, like it's not sexy. It's like maybe like silly like this, you know, this particle trail to get it to form into this triangle was like kind of ridiculous to figure out because I had sort of created these like three triangles. These again, particular trails are being blown backwards in Z space. Like the wind, uh, negatives you wind, which is Jorge's idea. Um, but I had to create all these position, key frames as linear and then pre competent time remap it because otherwise the edges of the corners would, or like the corners of the triangle would get curved because of how particular works. And so I had to make, um, this trail that comes in this, like up through here, that's one layer and now it's a different layer, uh, [email protected] different. And so it was just a matter of like wiping off this trail, like frame by frame with like a feathered mask until, you know, so now it's its own thing and it's going around in, uh, in its little triangle,

Ryan Plummer (01:05:10): But for the sake of like getting it right and not just accepting, like, okay, it's just, or whatever, but like, it's not like, Hey, this is what it's supposed to be, is what we needed to be finding out a wa

Greg Stewart (01:05:22): I that's that's dot in one comp and now it's a.in a different comp and then like the trails are just kind of blended together until, you know, here. Um, anyway, there's probably a way more efficient way to do that. I'm not saying this to be like, oh, look at how I did this. There's probably a way better way to do it. But I think that like the bottom line of what I'm saying is there's just things that like effect an effect isn't going to do and you have to really get creative about, um, yes. Uh, like how, how you stack things together that maybe we wouldn't stack. Um, and so, yeah, I think like it's just, it's really good to not just like Google things right away sometimes. And, um, just try and try different things and like beat your head against the desk until something works. And I think the frustrating thing is sometimes there's like a super simple thing. Like, you know, I'd be like, come up with this like really elaborate rig and then you realize, oh, I could have just done this really super simple thing. And it would have done the same,

Ryan Plummer (01:06:27): Your case in point earlier was the four dots that you turned into. Like you just had, you know, turn into one you're like I could have just had one dot and then

Greg Stewart (01:06:35): Why am I changing key frames on four layers? And then using ease copy to make sure all the easing is exactly the same. So they're moving at the same time. Like if I wanted them to all move differently than yeah. But like the point was for there to be symmetry. And so like, why, why have I been doing this for days? And, but I think like, it's, you shouldn't feel like, oh, I'm an idiot for not thinking of that. Like it should be, oh, like now there is a more efficient way I can do this next time. Like that's just growing is getting better than where you're at. Yeah.

Ryan Plummer (01:07:03): And so speaking of like growing it and getting better where you're at, like we, we kind of a little bit of conversation before this. And, and you mentioned it earlier that like on your, on your last piece, the, the Helpshift, um, that, you know, this is one frame that like, I feel like Corey wouldn't like, you know, whatever. And so you would talk to me about, like, it wasn't like that the movement was wrong on every frame when you were working with, uh, Jorge, but it was like that this frame specifically didn't look good that he didn't like, you know, like the way it kind of laid out the design of it. And that was really intriguing to me because I don't think that personally I've ever gone through the process of picking apart every frame, you know, and that can be what makes it, uh, different between, uh, you know, low, mid and high level animators is that they pick apart each frame. And so can you kind of talk about like, what is that, you know, done for your process as far as like an animator or like what you view things? Uh, kind of like pinpointing that out. Yeah.

Greg Stewart (01:07:57): And it wasn't like, all right. It was not at all like some crazy art director. Like I hate this frame. It was just kind of like, but I think it was just the fact that he cared so much about the piece to take that level of detail and to say like, dislike this one. I mean, first off, like his attention, did you feel that, like you notice one frame out of 24 and a second, that doesn't look right? Um, I think like it just, uh, it just made me like more excited about that level of like attention to detail, because I think like, those are like the non-sexy things that go into creating beautiful work, um, and work that is really like top level. And, you know, just how I'm wired. Like I always want to get better and I want to keep like growing

Greg Stewart (01:08:42): Um, and so I think it was just sort of helpful to like get inside the head of someone who I really respect as a person and as an animator to see this is the amount of time or like this amount of detail that you have to have to create these things. And so, um, yeah, it was just, I had never like had the experience of thinking on like a frame, I mean, frame by frame. Yeah. Like sometimes I like key frame things on every frame, but just thinking like, does this frame look good? Does this frame, do we need this frame? Um, and it was honestly like really freeing in a way to just to think like, oh, like one, here's a very simple way that I can get better is just to look at every frame and think like, not so much, like, is this attractive, but does this fit? Uh, and so like that one frame in the health ship thing where the, um, the dots were too small, I was like, I could have just turned the dots off on that layer and had him come in and the next one, and, you know, then I wouldn't be bothered by that anymore.

Ryan Plummer (01:09:37): That's interesting. Yeah. Yeah. And so like again, cuts and like the small little tricks that we don't think are like the fanciest things, you know, as far as what we need to use to make like a beautiful motion piece, it's like, those are sometimes the, the, the foundational pivot points, you know?

Greg Stewart (01:09:53): Yeah, totally. And I think like so much of good motion design is problem solving. And I think that's even like historically true with animation. I remember, I think it was an animator survival kit, but I was reading how in some loony tunes scenes, like there's a scene where a character walks off stage and you hear these sounds of something being built and walks back on, like walks back into frame with this contraption built and to think like, I mean, there's probably a lot of conceptual story reasons to do that, but also simply like to animate them building a ladder or whatever. Uh, I think he was like a high diving board or so I don't remember, but like would have been insanely complex, but they walk off, they walk off frame, so you don't even have to animate it. You hear sounds, you know, something's being built and they walk back down and you think, oh, they built that.

Greg Stewart (01:10:42): But like, again, I'm not going to call that lazy. I just think that's incredibly smart. And so I think like from day one, a lot of what's built into the nature of animation is working smart and working efficiently. And, um, so I think that's something I'm still like really much trying to learn because I'm so detail oriented that I want. Like I would want to animate the thing off screen anyway, it's just to say I did it. Yeah. Um, or just in case, you know, we need it. Like, that's just my, and I don't think that's great. I think it's a little silly, but, um, just seeing that like problem solving is what's built into this from like, historically, that's just part of what it is. Like you add a button in the 1940s when you're doing cell animation and suddenly you have to add that button on every single frame. Someone's got to outline it. Someone's got to color it. Um, and so you always have to, like, you've always had to be thinking about what does it cost to do this, or, and is it worth it and you know, what are we trying to do? Um,

Ryan Plummer (01:11:38): So like kind of like feeding off what you're talking about. There's, you know, in cinema there's like a, and people might disagree with me, but I feel like we overuse effects sometimes to where, like, we want to show, you know, like, let's just say it's a gruesome scene and someone like gets shot. Right. They would cut away, you know, like someone to see the gun and then boom. And then you hear the person fall. That person just shot that person, you know? But now it's like, no, we want to show like every detail of it and stuff like that. But sometimes like I would argue, that's not even like the best way to go about it.

Greg Stewart (01:12:06): Yeah. I think that's why putting in the work to have a concept. I mean, it's just like, you have to have guiding principle, like you have to have parameters around your project, uh, for it to be like, you have to be focused. And so having like, this is the thing I'm trying to communicate. And then when you're faced with those decisions, like, well, you know, do I do put in the work to build this thing or not? It's like, you can look at that. I mean, I used to put a post-it note and stick it on my monitor and be like, you know, this is like the goal for this project. Then you can say, well, does this help that no, then don't do it. Like, just don't, uh, because you'll save, like, you only have so much creative bandwidth per project, I think in general. Um, and so like, do you want to expand a lot of that, making something that like, isn't gonna work in, sometimes you have to, to, to find out like how something's going to work. But, um, yeah. I just think like having like a focus and a goal always in your mind helps make some of those decisions. Um,

Ryan Plummer (01:13:03): It almost like, I feel like we should have like a challenge almost of like communicated, not shown in a sense. And like, to really, like, I don't think it's a muscle we flex often as like, how can we communicate it, that this thing happened and not show that that thing happened, you know? Um, and, and that could be longer pauses on a screen, you know, I think when you think about old cinema like that the shots would stay on someone's face longer. So you could see them go from like discuss to realization that know they're in the wrong or something like that. You know? And like that process of being able to walk through as, as an audience member, or is it just as human being? Because we talked about earlier, like the, I like people notice the details and so they get to make the connection themselves. It's a, let people make the connection themselves in Southern motion.

Greg Stewart (01:13:45): Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And I think that's totally fine. Like, this is all communication anyways. And so it's not lazy to, it's not like a shortcut, you're just, you're making a wise decision based on the goal and the concept of your project. Yeah. It's awesome. Yeah.

Ryan Plummer (01:14:00): Well, Greg, it's been awesome getting to walk through this piece or all three of these pieces with you. I hope that like this helps other people, like, kind of think about the process, you know, what does it, what kind of goes into it, how to communicate? I think we covered a lot of really good stuff that even personally, like, I feel like I learned a lot in this process. And so, uh, man, uh, thank you so much for taking the time to kind of sit down and eat this.

Greg Stewart (01:14:23): Oh man, it's been super sweet and I'm really thankful for the opportunity and grateful that

Ryan Plummer (01:14:28): Do what I do. If you want to learn more about Greg head over to school of motion, you can find the link in the description of this video. Thank you so much for watching and best of luck on all of your motion design projects.

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