Here at JEL, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the year that was 2016. We’ve accomplished so many great things from motion design animation to visual effect composition. It was a challenging yet rewarding year that we had the opportunity to update our gear, website and software to be fully armed going into 2017. Here’s what we achieved:
Back in January, we came across a huge issue when we were working on a small animation for our close film colleague. The simple animation kept causing our computer to experience BSOD, or Blue Screen of Death, which pretty much means that when Windows operates so heavily that it protects itself by shutting down without damaging itself. We knew we had a monumental problem because if a simple animation was causing our tower to do this, imagine what it would do when we had more complex animations to render!
So we bit the bullet and began researching a brand new computer build and within a matter of weeks, ordered all the necessary parts. It was the best decision we made by far in 2016. Our list:
- Intel CPU
- ASUS Motherboard
- 64 GB of RAM
- SSD for Bootdrive
- NVIDIA GeForce GPU
- 1000 Watt PSU
- Corsair Cooling Tower
Not only had our render times increased, but the hardware itself was fully compatible with Windows 10 and for future potential upgrades. This was an absolute game changer that allowed us to accomplish everything else that followed, hence why we wanted to mention it first.
At the close of 2015, we had the opportunity to create another explainer video for the Morgan White Group that propelled us into 2016. Upon finishing up that project, we were immediately approached by Super Shakes in April to help them do their video message boards inside of their stores. Both projects challenged us to design, illustrate and animate 2D vector graphics. Character rigging and animation were also applied that really solidified our confidence in creating such content. Along with our clients, we were immensely happy with the finished products.
We were so blessed to add these two great clients to our list of satisfied customers that it really helped us grow as a motion designer. Can’t wait to see who we can be an asset to in 2017!
With our hardware updated and running smoothly, we began to look to the horizon in what other potential software programs we wanted to learn that would help add to our creative possibilities. One of those programs we had our sites set on was Maxon’s Cinema 4D. All the while becoming more acclimated to Adobe After Effects, we kept seeing the great integration from other artists who used C4D with After Effects. Even though we were busting our butt learning Autodesk Maya, we couldn’t help but notice that Maxon and Adobe continued to grow in their partnership.
By March it was a no brainer to at least begin saving up to purchase the high ticket 3D modeling software program. We couldn’t have timed it any better because Maxon was running a HUGE sale special, celebrating their 25 years as a company that we scored on a great deal that saved us over $1,000.00. The deal also came with free upgrades that we now currently own version R18. Owning the perpetual license is critical, which will allow us to own the software outright for many years to come without paying for a subscription fee. We are thoroughly thrilled to have this in our arsenal and hope to become great at the software by the end of 2017.
After successfully completing the projects from our two clients, in June we started to revisit how our website was doing compared to other successful freelance motion designers and animators. Needless to say we weren’t too thrilled with our own. One of our main problems we saw with the previous site were two things, 1) it was overall too dark color wise and 2) it catered more to a film production company showcasing their films rather than a motion designer trying to showcase their work. Because of this, we knew we had to put the time and effort to restructure and rebrand our entire site in order to effectively communicate who we are and what we do.
After four long months of painstakingly coding and double checking EVERY SINGLE PAGE and with the gracious help from our friend Jim Sherwood at Mediagin.com, we were finally able to reveal our new website on October 5th. Anybody who does websites will agree that creating/maintaining a website is tough work and it’s never fully finished. It’s normal for a website to rebrand itself after three to five years so we’re relieved to have this version completed. We strongly believe this new look will strongly communicate to our future clients in what services we can provide for their projects.
At the end of the day, it needed the upgrade!
Gauntlet. Yes, the movie that we keep trying to find ways to finish when we started back all of those years ago. Yes, that’s plural, YEARS!
One of the biggest successes we had this year was discovering a workflow in creating our 3D model sets with the live action performances shot on green screen. There was a lot of trial and error at the beginning of the year that we learned very hard lessons from. The major one is you can’t just build an entire 3D set with millions upon millions of vertices, edges and faces to compute and expect your computer to handle the render. That’s why they have “render farms” for the VFX Studio houses. We discovered this after pouring in hours upon hours of work over six months on one 3D set. Needless to say our spirits were crushed. Because of this realization, we took a month long break to regather our thoughts.
However, in the early fall, it finally clicked on how we could utilize our production pipeline to succeed. We discovered that we needed to model our 3D sets with props one at a time and then collect them inside of a different file to begin rendering. Because of this, we ended the year on a huge high note in this facet of production. We’re currently compositing two scenes from the film that were shot on green screen and they look phenomenal!
Other Gauntlet news is that we hired a music composer for the project! Kyle Smith has worked on multiple albums and has agreed to score the film which is a huge win for us. We are overjoyed and can’t wait to see what this talented artist can bring to this project.
Our last achievement was finally taking an online course in how to be a better animator. Previously, we just watched a few tutorials to discover the basics of how to animate and then just went with it, not really knowing what to do except for doing what we believed looked right/what the client wanted. We knew that if we had proper training, our work would transcend to the next level. So that’s what we did at the beginning of November, we enrolled in the Animation Bootcamp from School of Motion.
Calling it “Bootcamp” was spot on because it was grueling work. Making sure you left no keyframe untouched was pretty hard. However, it was all worth it! Below is all of the animation techniques that we learned that previously didn’t know it even existed:
- Squash + Stretch
- Follow Through
- Secondary Animation
- Reinforced Movement
- Eye Tracing
Who knew that there was this much stuff to learn about animation? It was an incredible and rewarding experience that we now look at animation differently. Our vocabulary has increased, our workflow in animation has improved and our critical eye has grown to look at other animators’ work by breaking them down frame by frame. Truly an invaluable experience that we’d easily recommend anyone who wants to learn animation to take the course. Hands down.
With 2017 upon us, we are encouraged with our progress and achievements made from this past year that we plan to continue our relentless pursuit in being the best creative asset on the market. Our goals are to be more familiar in Cinema 4D, continue working on the VFX of Gauntlet and ultimately become a better animator. We believe that if we only focus on these three specific goals in 2017 alone, then we are confident that we’ll be able to create some incredible work.
We finally want to thank you as well for sticking with us by visiting our site and giving us tremendous support on social media. Thank you all so much!
Happy New Year!