For the first "warm-up" project in this class, we were asked to create a 5 second .gif using Adobe After Effects. The prompt was open-ended, so I chose to finally pull the trigger on a project I've been wanting to do for a while: animating my large mixed-media piece, "Cross Section."
This was the last piece I completed as an undergrad at Ball State University. Because I had sketched this image digitally before projecting it onto a larger piece of watercolor paper, I wanted to see if I could push the slices together and reform the head in a creepy animation.
To start this animation, I first needed to neatly remove the background from the image. After I did this, I moved each slice onto its own layer.
To be able to animate them separating further apart than they appear in the static image, I had to use Photoshop to "paint" any portions of each slice that were overlapped by another slice. To do this, I simply mirrored each slice and warped them to fit within the missing space. This didn't need to be perfect, just full enough to look natural in motion.
I also created two other versions of the eyes, one that shows them looking to the side, and another that shows them closed, which I used to create a blinking effect. Once each piece was prepared, I imported them into After Effects to start the animation process.
To create this animation, I first blocked out the basic movements and timing, then I used Easy Ease effects to make some of the movements feel more natural and smooth. I added in the other eye types, simply linking them to the original eyes slice so they would move in the same way, and then timing the blinks and eye movements. Finally, I used the "CC Bend It" effect to warp the slices as they moved to give them a slightly floppy look.
I wanted the eyes to blink throughout the animation to make the image feel alive. I find it much more unsettling to see this split head still alive and functioning, rather than just staring into the void. I also added blinks when the slices slap together, I felt that would be a natural response from the eyes.
After the animation was done, I felt there was still something missing, and what I really wanted to do to add as a finishing touch was to add some foley. I searched sound effects websites and YouTube videos to find sticky, gory, and meaty sounds. By layering the collection of sounds I put together, I feel I accurately recreated the sounds this animation had been making in my head. Personally, I feel that the animation is incomplete without the audio.
The biggest challenge of this piece was learning how the Bend It effect operates. Each time I finish and After Effects project, I gain a better understanding of different tools within the program.