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lanhan

Question on Styleframe Workflow

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Hello All,

 

I am a bit lost at the moment so would like to ask a question regarding workflow on creating styleframe.

 

I have been working at a small place where requiring me to finish projects without any proper storyboarding process (of course, with some discussion back and forth with direct supervisor). Unfortunately, I was responsible for a lot more than being a motion graphic artist, everything is just so rush there so eventually my works end up close to worthless in the job market.

 

I am always amazed by designers with styleframes on the websites and I really can't imagine me stepping into a studio and crate such amazing boards all by myself.....

 

My question is, how do you create all the elements especially 3D objects (shoes, cars...etc.) modeled, textured in such a short time? Do studio provide images of celebrity or sports images for you to work with? Say if I am ever hired as a designer, what should I expect when working in a studio environment?

 

Thanks,

 

Lan

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Good producers and shop owners have a good idea of how long things take to create. Sometimes there just isn't budget / time, so the storyboarding and design exploration process is cut.

 

Do a few personal projects / direct jobs that allow you to push the design exploration process as far as you can.

 

 

Its kind of a loaded question you are asking. Every shop is different. If your green, chances are you won't be building out the boards when hired on so it shouldn't be of too much concern in the beginning.

Edited by AromaKat

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Well, just to be upfront about what you're usually looking at in a freelancer's portfolio, the budget typically determines how much design exploration there is. And that means that smaller budget projects have less design exploration, resulting in typically less interesting and less polished looking styleframes, and that's not the kind of stuff you end up seeing in freelancers' portfolios. At least not the portfolios you're impressed by. That said, there is a lot of astonishingly good work that gets made by those freelancers in relatively short time, and here are a few reasons why...

 

The longer you've been doing styleframes and storyboards for a living, the more resources you've amassed to help you create styleframes/storyboards, and that naturally helps you create them faster or better, or both. If you've been doing storyboards for 5 years, you probably have a fat collection of 3d models, stock imagery, textures, patterns, crap you've ripped from google images, etc. For most projects, there's a certain amount of imagery that doesn't need to be very specific, so this stuff works pretty well to indicate general ideas when you manipulate it enough. When you need something really specific that's a focal point in your styleframe, then you go and spend the time to find the right materials and you work with them until they're spot on. You do the best you can with the time that you have to get the idea across.

 

Also, you may note that when you visit a designer's site, the work it features probably has a kind of character to it that you can associate with that freelancer. You might notice that one person tends to make a lot of flat, colorful compositions with basic shapes character designs and simple texture overlays while another tends to make angular, glossy 3d stuff with flares and so forth, and yet another tends to make refined typographically-focused frames with subdued pastel color palettes. There can be lots of crossover, but a designer who's pretty good is usually good at sort of a specific thing. There are geniuses out there who operate on a different level, but the bulk of decent portfolios are built by people who are kind of practicing the same stuff over and over, so they get good at that stuff. They also get fast at that stuff. These designers are probably (or should be) trying new workflows when they can, and generating imagery that's new to them, but when it's crunch time and they've got a day to bust out something client-pleasing, they default to what they do well. And producers or art directors have probably hired them because they know what they'll get that specific thing out of a single day of work.

 

Sometimes the studio is going to supply some materials. Sometimes a designer will have access to a modeller to take some of that strain. Sometimes there will be product shots or headshots or whatever that are going to be necessary and available from the client. But mostly what you're seeing is all coming down to highly experienced designers showcasing a culled selection of stuff they're pretty good at from decently-financed projects.

 

Hopefully that makes sense. If not, I can post some of my own imagery and break it down.

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Binky, you should definitely consider publishing an e-book. I can't help feeling that with the help of an existant distribution channel like GSG it would benefit a lot of kids out there.

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There's not much to add here but let me share my experience

 

You should collect all the footage you are using so your library grows with every layout.

Get to know your tools, so you don't have to experiment what works and what not but can start to actually produce from the beginning.

 

And if your job is just to storyboard or layout don't try to make it "work" in production. The less you care about that the faster you will be.

I know some really good layouters who usually just throw everything together in AE or Photoshop, even when it's supposed to be done in Realflow and 3DS Max later on, because speed and look is everything and you should use the tools that give you this the easiest way.

 

Element3D for After Effects is an example for this. If you can do it natively in AE and sell the look, it doesn't matter what will be used later in the process to actually produce it.

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And if your job is just to storyboard or layout don't try to make it "work" in production.

This is true. As designer, your job is basically to sell ideas in visual form. And I will tell you from experience that the ideas that are sold at the design stage are not necessarily the ideas that end up in the final product. There are eleventeen stages of changes and rewrites and client approvals and disapprovals between a winning styleframe/storyboard and the final. There are also art and creative directors with their own ideas slathered all over the top, producers making their interpretations as go-betweens, and animators and production people taking whatever you intended as a very loose suggestion. Sometimes, you're lucky to even be able to recognize any of your own influence at all in the end. So you may be working remotely for a studio, with autonomy to deliver boards in a few days, but your work is still subject to design by committee when your job is done. As such, the last thing you need to worry about is whether your imagery is going to translate easily to a practical build-out. I'll try to post a real example of what this means.

 

Binky, you should definitely consider publishing an e-book. I can't help feeling that with the help of an existant distribution channel like GSG it would benefit a lot of kids out there.

That's nice of you to say. I wouldn't really know what to put in a book. And Nick certainly has an audience, but I don't know that it's an audience that's going to benefit from my specific pocket of experience. GSG mostly has value to people on the production end of the professional spectrum, and then more widely to non-professionals and hobbyists. They post quick tips, recipes, and tinkering type stuff. That's a good place to launch single-use tools, software gadgets and so forth, which is exactly what they do. Considering how much they make off of that stuff, that seems to be exactly what their audience wants.

 

If there were an audience, I might try to figure it out, but I don't know any. Even this site is on its last legs.

Edited by Binky

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So here's an example of something you'd hack together as a designer, paying attention only to conveying and selling an idea, and disregarding the practicality of production.

 

I wanted to show how a music module in a bespoke entertainment interface would look and function. I already had some of the interface system worked out, so I knew that the module would be a sort of box floating in a dark space. I grabbed a screenshot of an itunes playlist, inverted it in PS and fiddled with the colors, then went into Illustrator and banged out a playhead bar and all of that crap as fast as I could. It could be textured and more detailed, but I didn't want to get stuck building out something that might not work in the end. Brought the playlist and playhead into AE, arranged them with two other solids to act as guides in PS for the sides of the box, and picked a camera angle with some DOF. Rendered a layered PSD and brought it all back to photoshop to glue together the basic parts.

 

In PS, lots of things happen between those few foundation layers. Painted up low-light background. Dust, murk, vignetting over the top and between some layers. Shadows between playhead and playlist. All sorts of lighting artifacts from the light source get dropped in or painted in, like the flare and the blooms that come off of surfaces (it's all brushwork). Couldn't find any decent looking particulate so I bounced to AE, made that in particular and dropped it in. I had this idea about filling these modules with animated reactive elements, so I found some stock fire imagery against black and screened it in there. Seemed to work, so I painted out most of the box guide walls and started building out the fire in a few layers with the back layer blurred out and lots of lighting blooms and shadows between. Painted in some light bouncing off of the interior where the fire looked close, and noodled with the lighting over the whole composition to make sure nothing stuck out when it shouldn't. Probably took 3-4 hours or so. I could have gone back and detailed out the playhead stuff, but I figured the image would already sell itself, so my time was better spent moving on.

 

Now, I actually ended up animating this later, because our team was small, but while designing I honestly didn't care how it got done. Maya? RealFlow? Nuke compositing? Totally unnecessary and super slow. You need a reflection? Copy, flip, paint. You want some ambient occlusion between two cutout layers? Paint it in. You're not making a file to hand over for keyframing. You're making an image to sell to your client, and their client. You know what you need to convey, and you choose which tools you need to do that, not to do some other job that may never even need to get done.

 

 

2quj12v.jpg

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If there were an audience, I might try to figure it out, but I don't know any. Even this site is on its last legs.

 

Too depressing if there isn't an audience for this. You gotta hope that if there is still going to be a market for real solid design than there will be some kind of market for design education.>

 

Maybe FXPHD if not GSG, maybe through AIGA, Motionographer etc? Anyhow much appreciated by those of us still on the board (especially taking the time to post a breakdown) who care about more than just pushing buttons.</div>

 

Edited by anothername

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I would put out a second/third vote or hat in the ring for a Binky book out the somewhere. Honestly I am not on here as much as I used to be but always click through on posts with you there to see the insight that is there. Seems to always be an insightful look into the world of mograph and design.

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I'm on the Binky bus as well.

 

$5-$10 motion design ebook/primer and i'm sure you'd make enough for it to be worth your while. Especially with your credibility and the seamless industry word-of-mouth. Don't let the mograph.net audience fool you. There are a good amount of lurkers, both pro and amateur.

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Another vote Binky. There is a lot of tool training/sharing out there but, not enough process and concept development information. I'll even pre-order it if you sign my copy ;)

 

-gl

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You're not making a file to hand over for keyframing. You're making an image to sell to your client, and their client.

Yes and no. On projects with a tight time schedule (and probably small budget) i'd always prefer to do layouts right inside the production app. Might take a little longer for the initial design but it can save you tons of time later on, when the shits needs to be animated. But if you're mainly refering to pitch work and normal projects you're probably spot on.

Edited by levante

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Yes and no. On projects with a tight time schedule (and probably small budget) i'd always prefer to do layouts right inside the production app. Might take a little longer for the initial design but it can save you tons of time later on, when the shits needs to be animated. But if you're mainly refering to pitch work and normal projects you're probably spot on.

 

This is the beauty of using Photoshop as you can just import the layered psd afterwards. You do have to build it with that in mind however.

 

-gl

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This is the beauty of using Photoshop as you can just import the layered psd afterwards. You do have to build it with that in mind however.

The beauty of using After Effects is that it is non-destructive, all parameters are keyframeable and you can work in 32 bit linear color space.

But maybe i just like it, because i usually have to animate my own boards anyway...

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The beauty of using After Effects is that it is non-destructive, all parameters are keyframeable and you can work in 32 bit linear color space.

But maybe i just like it, because i usually have to animate my own boards anyway...

 

I've been doing all of my storyboards/style frames in afx for that very reason. Once everything is approved, I can dive right into animation with most of the assets already there. Sometimes, especially for 3D fly throughs, it's easier to just throw things into 3d space instead of eyeballing it in Photoshop.

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Whatever workflow works most efficient for you is what you should use. I have actually been experimenting with using PS' 3d options with C4D. It may actually be another option for styleframes or at least to explore some sketches.

 

-gl

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I usually do most of my boards in AE too. Mainly so I can use specific plugins for DoF, but I also like to have each frame trimmed down to it's own section of the timeline, so I can layout every image as they would appear over time, and also I can keyframe the fx and keep a consistent look across the board. Certain adjustment layers/FX span the whole timeline while others are specific to each frame. Lately I've been bringing the rendered frame from AE into PS and hand painting light blooms and fx, color grading, finishing the image in there.

 

Also think it's very important to design w/o thinking about HOW you're going to animate it. Just too easy to question yourself how your going to do it the whole time, which keeps you from really exploring and making things look good.

Edited by theta

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