Shot 15 – 16: Wave Sequence – is basically Yuk at the moment! I added an extra wave at the back of the shot. The main difficulty with this shot lies in the fact that the RAM previews never render at the full 25 fps, so my timing and key framing efforts are too compressed. It needs to be slower so I will add padding frames in phase two of animation. The layers worked but they are a bit stiff. The whitewash layer that doubles over the balloon worked surprisingly well and I probably won’t need to use a particle engine to render the splash. I’ve inserted a “Text” filler square, pushing forward the dialogue which was to appear in the next shot. This is primarily because there is lag time at the end of shot 16 when a boat is going across the screen and the top half of the shot is empty – perfect for some distracting text.
Shot 17: Aerial Shot – American Fields. This shot was easy to render, though I had to play around for a good hour and a half getting the shadows correct and adding cloud cover. I also played with sizing of back plate, as the larger it is scaled the closer the balloon appears to the ground. For the clouds, I use static graphics in rotation, adding shadow using an alpha silhouette in AE. It requires some ease in and ease out, and like the earlier shot, is a tad too quick, but overall pretty successful.
Shot 18: Nellie Smoking – I constructed 50% of this shot for an earlier particle test but had used a version of the graphic without balloon strings (the basket just hanging in space). I wish I had thought ahead and just used the string version to start with – it was an absolute nightmare getting the strings in the same place for each frame! I ended up having to go back to Photoshop and remark every frame using layers, all because of a slight one or two pixel shifts to the left or right. This particular shot was rendering at huge file sizes and I realised that the little flame particle on the end of the cigarette was responsible. I axed the particle engine and hand key framed it instead. It looks more or less the same but its knocked a good ten MG off the compressed render (let alone what I’ve saved on the uncompressed version). I added a simple particle to create the sparks on the balloon cord, using a zoom to emphasise the action. The pacing has come out quite well in this shot and this won’t require any further work.
Shot 19: Balloon Burn shot – I had constructed some crepe paper guide layers for this shot but it had basically been shelved up until this point. I had to construct six frames of the balloon collapsing. It may need some more frames further down the track but is passable as it is. This was a real particle effects playground – there are about ten render engines in the shot, including flames, soot and smoke. I learnt a lot about Trapcode Particular playing around with the special effects in this shot. This will require some really heavy compression. I audience tested this particular shot on my ten year old brother and he was laughing his head off, and yelling ‘Oh my god!’, so it has the intended effect. A few adults were a bit confused by the black filler plate at the bottom of the screen. I had intended to put clouds/smoke over this but one of the critics suggested it looks like a smouldering patch of earth. This still works as the balloon is seen smoking on a distant hill in the next shot. To restore action consistency, I’m going to inset another shot between 18-19, of the balloon falling from the sky. I completed a particle test using the “firestarter” preset which should suffice and will require minimal adjustments to integrate correctly. It’s good to see those hours of tests are coming in handy. Work on the narrative comic assignment really helped in this instance, as I’d already set up the burning balloon shot on the final page of the comic – it gave me a good feel for what I could achieve in motion.