Sunday, April 22


Recently, I've been focusing on trying to make the sting look as though it was hand-drawn and shot onto film. This was the way it was done in the era I'm mimicking, so I thought it'd be nice to somehow imperfect the inherent sharpness and consistency that you get with Flash animation.

I exported the sting as it is at the moment (90% complete, I'd say), popped the Quicktime video into After Effects and added veeery subtle flickers and grains to the footage. Now, even moments of stillness are given a slight energy by having no two frames be exactly alike; it's as though each frame is an individually printed still on a film reel, subject to slight photographic changes that you wouldn't get with a digitally-produced video.

In addition, I blurred the video slightly, to remove that distinctive Flash animation sharpness. To retain the detail of the original footage, however, I made it so that the blurred version of the video was overlaid over the original, using the 'darken' blend setting.
Don't understand? I'll give you a hand!
The image above should help to simplify matters a bit - like the hand, I've increased the size of the blur so it's easier to see.
Picture (A) is simply a picture of a hand, drawn in Flash and exported as it is. It's very nice and all, but it's very clean. Clean can be a good thing, but when you want to subtly obscure the fact that it was made on a computer, such perfect sharpness can be a dead giveaway.

If you're trying to reduce the sharpness of the image, the next logical step is to blur the image, as demonstrated in picture (B). You reduce the sharpness, but you also lose the resolution. Leave it like this, and you might as well reduce the resolution of the video. And that's a big no-no. All that work, wasted on a low-res video where many lovingly-crafted details are indistinguishable! Imagine that! Gah!

So! That's why I settled on the method employed on picture (C). As mentioned earlier, I overlaid the blurred image over the original, setting the blend to 'darken'. The blur's still doing it's thing, darks blending into lights and lights blending into darks, but the original outlines can still be seen clearly. It's a happy compromise, and I really like the effect it has on the sting. Combined with the grain and the flicker, things look more old-fashioned and filmic.

Here's the video, by the way. Due to YouTube compressing the video, the blur and the grain are hard to spot, but the flicker's visible (watch in 480p).

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