Sunday, December 21, 2008

Blue Blue Blue Xmas

CLICK HERE to see my latest video, made just for you!

I struggled and struggled to get a file format that would work on youtube, only to discover it looks so much better in Flash, so I've got both versions up. The advantage of youtube is you can stop it at any time, but it's only about 2 minutes long. Actually if you click the high quality button at lower right it looks ever so much better, a new feature of youtube.

Here's the back story:

Sometime in the 1980's the A.F.I. offered a grant program for music videos. I've always loved the way music and animation worked together, and was sorry I never had a chance to make a video. They offered three songs to choose from: I guess they'd gotten clearance on all three. I chose "Blue Christmas" by Elvis. I've always loved Elvis! I forget what the other two songs were.

The competition was judged on the storyboards submitted, and I did a very full and colorful storyboard, (image above from one panel). I didn't get the grant. Later I learned it was because the judges didn't think it used the particular properties of video enough. They were right. What was I thinking?

However, I was very fond of these storyboards. Last year I scanned them all, and tried making a simple animatic, (which is what they call animated storyboards.) But it looked really cheesy, just trucking in and out on still shots, like an underfunded PBS documentary. So when I came back from New Jersey last week I started animating this. It only took a week because Flash is so nifty for animating. A week! And mostly I was doing other things during that week!


Namowal said...

Wow, Sally! How on earth did you get that out in a week?
Did you find it difficult to sync the action with the music?
I've been tempted to add animation to music I like, but feared I'd be in over my head. What's your secret?

Sally said...

It was kind of weird animating an idea I came up with maybe 20 years ago, some of the panels I'd think, "what's that about?" But because the storyboard was all done, I just had to get going.

You should just plunge in with the music. Do an animatic so you get your cuts to the music, then you can pick up the beat by trial and error.

One of the things you'll discover as you start working with music and animation, is the accidental/serendipitous sync. Your eye just wants to see things sync up. It's hard to explain.

Linda said...

FINALLY! Thank you for this fun movie! My very favorite parts: the duck chorus on escalator, the bear with the PENGUIN PLAYING THE TRIANGLE, Snoflake Diner, the DANCING ORNAMENTS, the wiggling heart on the plate.

p.s. When you say you didn't get the grant "because the judges didn't think it used the particular properties of video enough. They were right." ...what do you mean? Were you supposed to use a camera?

stray g said...

This is wonderful. Thank you for the treat! Love the blue tree. And Linda's right: the dancing ornaments are great. At first I thought it was going to be YOU singing with Elvis, recorded at !!!!

Mean Jean said...

I love it! Santa on the reindeer's lap and the swan in the tunnel of love! I also like that reflection/klaidescope affect.

Sally said...

Glad you've enjoyed it-- glad I managed to finish it so I can get that song out of my mind.

Linda, the grant came with use of their video facility. At the time there were no portable video cameras easily available. But my project only had to do with the music part of a music video, not the video part.

Namowal said...

I know just what you mean about the accidental sync- as a kid I used to amuse myself by turning the volume knob down on the t.v. and playing a record. It looked like the t.v. characters were singing whatever was playing.
I guess this illusion could be my friend in animation!

Anonymous said...

So fine, so effin fine. The heart on the plate at the diner brings laughter out and loud. Is that Quasi in the gondola tipping his hat? Yes or no, we're all tipping our hats to you Miz Sally. Elvis sends his best, and would send a Cadillac, but,you know how things are.

booda baby said...

They didn't name it Flash for how long it took. Ha!

This was so fun!! Which is a little odd, considering it's about a Blue Christmas. I'm thinking I shouldn't be smiling like this.

Hey. I've done everything that can possibly be done to get Flash to YouTube/Revver, so if you need any help ... say so. In the absence of CS3, it's crazy tricky. But not so crazy tricky that I was willing to give up. It's pretty satisfying, seeing it up there, getting passed all over the place.

RHSteeleOH said...

Thank you Sally, it was wonderful. You will always rock.

Sally said...

thanks for all these nifty comments... you guys are so appreciative and have such interesting observations...

Boodababy, here's the technical bread crumb trail- (others ignore!)

Created in CS3 but forgot to set frame rate at 30 fps at beginning, when I thought I was just doing an animatic.

Export from Flash as avi wouldn't play in Windows Media Player.

Export as pngs taken to After Effects-- can't get mov files to work from AE, and sync drifted in AE as avi. grr. Also various errors flashing along the way.

Finally did this- took the swf into an old program made by Flash Ants that I'd purchased a couple of years ago-- got a beautiful avi with no loss of image, but it was silent-- sound was awful.

Took that into the most basic movie maker program, the one that comes on all Windows programs now, added my track to that and got a wmv file which youtube would accept. ay yi yi!

booda baby said...

I like doing the Santa thang and dealing with tech issues on Christmas Eve ... :):) (If I say anything you already know/that's very obvious, I'm sorry. I'm used to giving instructions remotely. Occasionally, we use the logmein option and I waltz into their computer screens. That's SO FUN!)


In my experience, the biggest single wrench and messer up of all things is Quicktime and compatibility issues.

Once you/we know that, it's way easier to not get all frustrated (okay, speaking just for me? I've had myself plenty of frustrations ...)

So, you're on a PC.
1. Do you have Quicktime Pro ($30, one time, might solve EVERYTHING.) (I added a note below re: QT)
2. But, perhaps you don't even need it. In your export options, can you choose export as .mov?
There's no reason at all to export as avi - you'll just have to convert it.
3. Oddly, enough for short-ish animations, the frame rate doesn't matter SOOO much (unless you're doing the NTSC thing)
4. So. Assuming you get to/chose .mov as your export option, then you get to/have to choose video compression. H264 works every time and I've done tons and tons and tons of googling/trying to figure it out. Just believe me. It's the choice. Alternatively, if you're willing to have a bigger file size, 'Animation' works really good, too.

ALTERNATIVELY, if you don't have .mov option and you don't feel like investing in QT Pro (or even QT. Not sure you need pro. It just has to be compatible with CS3) ...

you can save as a Flash 5 file (yes you can.) and THAT is super easily imported as is into AE. I save lots of things with green backgrounds (animated green screen) and then remove with the key thingie. It drops BEAUTIFULLY on top of video footage. Wheee!

(There are really quite a few more easy breezy options, but I'm starting out guessing that your PC/QT issues are at the root of it all.)

Linda said...

Booda b. I need to speak with you if I ever get back home again. Having flash/video nightmares. And Blu-ish Xmas on top of it. But eating well.

Sally said...

Thanks for taking the time to write up all these tips for the elusive flash to youtube conundrum. I actually have Quicktime Pro, and I remember on one project it was useful, but now I can't remember what that was or how I used it!

I have an option of export to mov in Flash but the file is never viewable on export.

I haven't tried the flash 5 trick yet but I'm sure glad to know about it, thanks.