STEAM Careers – Visual Effects Animator

Who is a Visual Effects Animator?

A visual effects animator is a professional that’s responsible for special effects in films. Now interestingly, they focus on the special effects that cannot be added during the live action shoot. For example, a lot of times, the green screen is used when shooting actors in the studio.

The actual, exciting background we see in the movie however is inserted later. Similarly, these professionals are also responsible for actually creating entire characters. As such all they use is computer software programs to create these entities and integrate them in the film. These characters can be so lively that they can also interact with live action characters.

Remember the dinosaurs and the Anaconda in those blockbuster movies? Well that’s what the visual effects animators can do! Thus the TV shows, commercials, films and other such projects actually become more realistic and exciting.

Background Education / Training

Though it may be safely said that you do not require a formal study to be a visual animator, they certainly train themselves hard and create a strong background in multimedia art and animation. Most of them actually work a other artists and work on their story telling and aesthetic skills for long before they actually realize their dream of being a visual effects animators.

It is usually recommended that professionals interested in this career study arts, fine arts, photography or similar art related fields. Some of them actually go for higher specializations in visual media and visual effects eventually. The ability and training to use computer software with speed is highly valued as a skill.

Work Environment

Most of these professionals spend a lot of time in an office using their computers and animation software. However, those that work with larger media agencies and film studios may actually travel to document, understand and watch the actual filming happen, for research and development.

Their hours are often long and they can be commonly seen working in tight deadlines, on weekends and nights. A lot of them are self-employed and freelance or consult.

The industries that conventionally used to employ them were motion pictures, film industry and video game companies, but of late media agencies, larger YouTube channels, companies that create content for schools, companies that create DIY projects for school and even digital marketing agencies employ them. A lot of content development companies employ animators to create ad videos or films for their clients.

Salary

If it wasn’t exciting enough to transport people to a fantasy / realistic world using art and technology, the salary is lucrative. While disregarding the top-notch in the industry who earn in millions, even the junior animators earn good amounts as they freelance and / or get employed full-time. The more credentials and portfolio you have, the better your earning potential is.

My Top Summer Anime Series

3. Alderamin of the Sky

This show really took me by surprise. It was suggested to me by my brother; not knowing anything about it, I simply sat down and watched it. Boy, am I glad I did. At this moment, it still has one episode left in the season and I am dying for it to come out. The progression of the story line can seem a bit slow, but fret not, every minute of it is amazing. The show has quite a bit of comedy in it, but dark times peer around every corner. Like a light switch, the show can go from making you laugh to making you almost break down in tears.

The main story mostly focuses around two main characters: Ikta and Yatorishino. They are childhood friends; Ikta was an apprentice of a scientist and Yatorishino is a child of the Igsem family, which is known for their exceptional swordsmanship. Ikta accompanies Yatori when she leaves to take her officer’s exam; however, they end up getting shipwrecked along with a few others and the princess of the kingdom. Behind enemy lines, the group finds a way to make it back safely with the princess. After returning, their “reward” is an officer rank, forcibly making them join the military, much to Ikta’s disapproval. From there, the adventure only continues to grow more and more complex and dark. Along the way, Ikta proves through his actions that he may be lazy, but he is the best commander this army has ever seen.

2. Orange

I’m on a roll with these slice of life anime series, and this one throws a little bit of supernatural stuffs into the mix. Like all slice of life anime series, the series itself lives and dies with the characters. Orange does a terrific job of getting you attached to the characters, especially the main three: Kakeru, Suwa, and Naho. Their friends, acting as supporting characters, also add a lot to the story line. This show will take you on a rollercoaster of happy moments followed by feels that are then followed by you yelling at your TV. Personally, I yelled at the TV for Naho to hold Kakeru’s hand several times.

Orange is an anime that holds a basis in alternate, or parallel, universes. A group high school friends, now adults, meet on the tenth anniversary of the death of one of their friends. The friend, Kakeru, died of suicide. The friends talk about their regrets in not being able to save Kakeru, and ultimately decide to chance their luck on writing letters to their past selves. They know it won’t affect the world that they live in, but maybe, just maybe, there is another world where they can save their dear friend. The story begins with the same group of friends, at high school age, receiving mysterious letters from their future selves.

1. Re:Zero

Technically this show started in the Spring, but it just finished up this summer, so it counts! Boy, was this show a rollercoaster. Every episode had me on the edge of my seat, it’s easy to see why it became so popular. The main character, Subaru, gets put through so much hell that you can feel for him. There are times where he is happy, and it makes you happy, and times where he is completely desperate, and it makes you want to cry. The show starts off kind of comedic, that’s before Subaru dies for the first time, and you realize that this show is a lot deeper than most of the shows in the same genre. This show is animated beautifully, has deep, loving characters, and just overall a terrific anime series.

Subaru is just your normal, run of the mill guy making his way through life. However, after exiting a convenience store, he is somehow magically transported to another world. As he figures out, he is able to communicate with people in this world no problem, but his clothes and items are mysterious to the people here. He soon meets Emilia after having a run in with a couple of thieves, who at the time introduces herself as Satalia. Emilia is a half-elf, one that resembles the late evil witch and strikes fear into peoples hearts. After meeting their untimely end later, Subaru then realizes that in this world he has a mysterious power. Whenever he dies, he returns to a specific point in the past where he can then do everything over again. How will he use this power? Will he be able to keep his sanity after seeing and reliving deaths over and over?

How to Light For the Green Screen Video Effect

The green screen video effect is amazing. You stand in front of a green backdrop and hit record on the video camera. Then, you drop the footage into your video editing software, select a new background, apply the chromakey filter and you are instantly transported to a new location. You can be in a shiny new office, standing in a hightech virtual set, on the beach, or even on the moon. At least, that is how you imagine things will work.

All to often, the first attempt you make at the green screen effect produces disappointing results. When you try to remove the green background in your editing software, you do not get all of the color to disappear. You play around with the settings to get more of the green to go away and suddenly the middle of your shirt disappears. You make more and more adjustments until things look better. You have lost all of the fine details around the edges, but the green is gone. But, when you hit play, the edges of your footage dance around like lighting bolts. You go back and blur the edges until they turn to mush.

After hours of tweaking and fine-tuning, you have created bad green screen video.

Creating Bad Green Screen Video is Easy

The secret that most people selling the tools and software for the green screen video effect do not tell you is that it is really easy to create bad results. YouTube is littered with examples of horrible chromakey video. But, there is another secret. It is not much harder to produce fantastic chromakey video.

You do not have to spend thousands of dollars or hundreds of hours of effort to create videos you are proud to share with the world. One major key to success is how you light your screen.

The Big Screen Lighting Myth

There is a big misconception about shooting green screen video that comes from the companies selling screen and lighting kits. Search online and you will see an endless list of options for purchasing a kit that includes everything you need to shoot green screen video. The list of included items is always the same. You get a green muslin screen, a support stand to hold up the screen, and three lights. You always get three lights, and that is the problem.

To get the best results from the process, you need to light the screen separately from the subject. An ideal green screen lighting kit includes five lights. Two lights are dedicated exclusively to lighting the screen itself. The other three lights are used to light your subject.

The Best Lights for Your Green Screen

Flat even lighting is the goal when lighting a green screen. Any variation in brightness will make it harder for your editing software to remove the background while preserving edge details. In a home office video studio, space is usually at a premium, so you can afford to use big soft boxes or place lights far away from the screen. The easiest way to get good results is to use fluorescent or LED bank lights.

A bank light is nothing more than a large flat (usually rectangular) light fixture. Professional versions just look like fancy fluorescent shop lights turned sideways. In fact, you can make your own from inexpensive parts purchased at your local home center. There are a few things to watch out for when making your own. But once you know what to buy, it is easy to do.

LED bank lights are more expensive to purchase, but they last forever, have no glass tube to break, and can usually be dimmed to dial-in the perfect amount of light.

Placing The Lights

Lighting your screen with bank lights is easy. You place one light on each side of the screen. The lights should be oriented vertically so that the light shines out evenly from top to bottom. Adjust the angle and distance from the screen until the entire surface of your green screen is lit at an even level of brightness.

Home Office Video Studio Lighting Stands

Home office video studios are almost always short on floor space. They are often set up in a spare bedroom that is 10 feet wide and 12 to 15 feet deep. That is about one third of the size of a professional video studio. The legs of a typical light stand open up to about three feet wide. Put two or three lights and a camera tripod in your tiny studio and it can get pretty challenging just to walk around. Maximizing your space means finding creative ways to support your lights without resorting to bulky studio lighting stands.

Rethink Your Lights

Large soft lights are generally the best option for studio lighting. They produce flattering light and soften the look of shadows. Many home office video producers turn to inexpensive CFL-based softbox lights, but these lights can be bulky and require those floor space devouring light stands to hold them up. You can get a beautiful soft light from other sources like rice paper lanterns hung from ceiling hooks or large floor lamps with rice paper shades. Use bright CFL bulbs in the lamps and lanterns to light up your studio without the light stands.

If your video productions mostly involve shooting with a webcam at your desk, try some table top lamps with rice paper shades. They come in a variety of sizes and funky styles. If you are creative, you can even make your own lamps.

Keep the Studio Lights and Ditch the Stands

Grips are the people on a movie set who are responsible for setting up the supports that hold the lights. Over decades they have invented many clever little bits of equipment for mounting lights without using stands. For us, the two most useful inventions they have come up with are scissor mounts and mounting plates. A scissor mount is basically a standard light mounting stud with a little x-shaped bracket at the end. This bracket can be clamped onto the support frame for a drop ceiling and lets you hang a small light overhead. The mounting plate is small metal plate with a light mounting stud attached to the center. The plate can be attached to walls, ceilings, or other sturdy objects using simple screws. Then, lights can be attached to the stud.

Scissor clamps and mounting plates are not very expensive and will let you securely mount the lights in your home office studio without using studio lighting stands.

The Devil is in the Details

Removing the studio lighting stands from your home office setup is not hard. But, the keys to getting great lighting for the videos you shoot are not so obvious. You have to pick the right kind of lights (or your colors can look washed out or pick up weird color casts, ) and you have to put the lights right lights in the right place.

Animated Explainer Video: Creating Engagement to Clients

What is an Animated Explainer Video?
Animated explainer video is this short video that is used to engage your audience both online and offline. In most cases the animated explainer video usually explains what you do, or what your company or product is all about. Many companies across the globe have utilized the power of animated explainer videos to simplify complex ideas and concepts to customers and prospects. This has helped them tremendously to both increase their sales and build their brand.

Big and small companies alike have experienced the power of these animated explainer videos in marketing their products, explaining complex procedures, teaching what they do and offer. They have also seen an increase on their Return on Investment, increase in number of clients and prospects because of the responsive engagement the video are creating.

What is an animated explainer video and how is it produced? Just like I have pointed out in the sub paragraph above, these are short animated engaging videos that can be placed on a website. The animated videos can also be used for TV commercials to explain in a simple and effective way who you are and what you do.

There are several stages during which your highly converting explainer video will go through. Firstly the producers of the video need a highly converting video script written by a highly skilled copywriter. The copywriter must be able to synthesize your sales message or ideas into a 150 words script that will communicate your message clearly and to the point.

The video script is the most important element when it comes to animated explainer video because the script will either make or break the video. A good and quality video script must summarize the message within the one minute cap that is the standard duration for most videos. Nonetheless, most animated explainer videos have a range of 1 to 2 minutes in length and each minute is approximately 150 words when counted.

The copywriter must therefore ensure that the message to be passed must be within the 150 word count for a one minute video or so. The script must be written in such a way that the audience will be engaged awesomely when watching the video. The script must have a very clear call to action that will allow the viewers to take a given specified action after watching the video.

After ensuring that you have your well crafted and well written video script, then you need a voice over for your video. You can choose to have your own voice over produced by yourself or engage a professional voice over artist. I would rather recommend a professional artist to do the job simply because you may have the right script with the right message but a bad or poorly recorded voice-over may send the wrong signals to your audience.

After you have ensured that a good and high quality voice over is ready. The video producers then choose to have a storyboard created to visualize how the video will look like. In this case a talented storyboard artist with the appropriate skills to illustrate the video through the script is given the task of bringing your ideas to life.

The storyboard artist creates the video on a scene by scene basis for the approval of the client who wants the video produced. The approval of the storyboard by the client would mean that the video finally needs to be move into the final stage which is the productions stage.

The final video production phase would then begin after all of the other stages are completed. The stage would involve animating the video to match with the voice over. It may not just involve mere animation of the explainer video; every aspect of the animation must reflect the message to be passed and the engagement needed. The viewers must stick to the video to the end.

And after the final animated explainer video with the right format is produced, then it can be uploaded to YouTube or any other video sharing site to create more views. It can also be placed on a website on the landing pages of the website for the site visitors.

18 Top Character Design Tips for Animation Films

Character design is not that simple as it looks in cartoons, movies and animations. It takes long hours of designers to create a character for a particular story. Character designing may have complexities, but the designers always aim to keep them simple. It’s more than just readable features, clean lines that are needed in a character. It is also about where to emphasize and where to downplay based on the personality of the character in the story. We have seen Disneyland cartoons, Tom & Jerry, Ice Age movies, Jungle Book and so many more, and each personality in each one of the afore mentioned has made a strong influence in our minds to remain alive forever. To start creating a character is very complicated but if one has the idea of the character in the mind then following tips would be helpful.

01. Know the Audience

The audience of the any creative project is important in determining its framework. It should be the most significant step on the way to designing characters. The characters designed for kids are brighter in colours and have got very basic shapes. If one is working for clients projects then you need to follow the character specifications shared by your client.

02. Know the Positioning

In which position and how the character will be introduced in the story also plays an important role in character designing. In what medium character will be seen also has a part to show here. Generally small mediums like mobile phone do not need intricacies in the characters as the big screens need. Besides, whatever the medium is, character designing always starts with paper, pencil, lots of sketches, ideas and more.

03. Analyse Other Designs

You should make an analysis of why some characters are successful and some are not. Do a proper research and through study of the various characters appearing in cartoon channels, animation movies, advertisements, etc.

04. Your Character should be Unique

Whether its shape, its personality, its attire or its colour, animation characters must be unique to stand out in the crowd. It could be an animal or a human or beast, the character designs need to be interesting to draw the attention of the people.

05. Drawing Line and Styles to Emphasize

Lines whether thick or thin line should be even and easily sculpted to create a personality that is cute, approachable and influencing. People demand for accuracy in the creation and have become very watchful of the perfection of the personality that is projected in the stories.

06. Magnify the characteristics

If the characters area magnified then it captures the attention of the viewers as it appears larger than life. It also helps audience in identifying the character and recalling it forever besides enhances the personal traits of the character. It could include – big nose, bulging eyes, hands with 2 fingers, big head sizes.

07. Colours Make a Big Difference

Choose colours carefully; as colours make a big difference and help your creation become noticeable in the crowd. Colours like black, blue, grey projects negative intentions, while light colours – white, blues, pinks and yellows describes innocence and purity.

08. Attire and Accessories

Attire and accessories speaks about the traits of the character in the story, besides also about its social status. Lots of diamond and jewelleries stands for riches and untidy and messy cloths indicate poor lifestyle. Besides accessories like swords, flying tools just adds to the personality and the role of the character.

09. 2D or 3D?

You need to decide how you want to project your character and how it should look from different angles. 2D or 3D features adds a completely new look to even a flat picture. If your creation is going to run on 2D or 3D platforms then you need to plan the height, weight and shape of the character very carefully as even a small mistake would change the shape of the character and make it look very different from what you envisioned.

10. Personality & facial expression

Personality of the character is a very important rule to follow while creating it. How it reacts in different situations, how it changes its expression reveals the role of the character. Whether the character is dull or sporty or a genius or a friendly one or has a destructive and villainous nature. Facial expression says it all. Movement of eyes, nose or lips can tell whether one is explosive, irritating, jealous, sad, happy, worried or scared. One can read the emotions from facial expressions depending on its temperament.

11. Character with goals

Whether one is watching a movie, reading a story or watching an animation, the goal of the lead character is the driving force behind a character’s personality. To create a dramatic angle to the story, character should be given goals like – solving mysteries, helping needy people, protecting people from evil characters.

12. Creating a background

A story to back the character makes it more interesting. Where it came from, what are the life changing events in his life, what made it think about takin up a challenging goal, etc. can add interesting and inspiring angles to the story.

13. Investigate and learn

It is not necessary to follow the rule book every time. It also depends on the mood of the artist how the personality of the character will be created. You should be open to experiments that can lead to interesting results.

14. Using paper and pencil is not a bad idea

It is always good to draw your character on paper first. Most of the interesting characters of yesteryears were drawn when drawing with the help of software was a distant dream. While working on paper many interesting things happen, this may not be possible on computers. Besides, it gives a good feel to the artist of creating something with one’s own hands and a feeling of giving life to a picture drawn on paper.

15. Let people share their thoughts

This will help you in understanding if you character is able to interact with the audience or if you are able to put the personality you wanted to in your creation. Whether the character is able to express its traits as planned.

16. Think beyond your plans

It is necessary as an artist to envision your creation on different platforms. How it would look on 2D and 3D platforms. Which platform would enhance the traits better and on which platform audience would love to see it?

17. Right environment makes it popular

Environment in which the creation dwells and interacts is important to make audiences feel the character. It strengthens the life of the character in the viewers mind.

18. Breathe life into the Characters

Your creation should look a real life character. Its facial expressions, the environment it lives in and the personality traits in every situation that is close to real world characters make it accepted by the audience.

5 Tips for Creating an Effective Whiteboard Animation

Whiteboard animations require many innovative ideas, careful decisions and gutsy implementations. Developing a script and the entire pre-production planning stage before the creation of any type of creative work is one of the most important things that one must ensure to work on. Below are a few important tips for an effective whiteboard animation. These tips will enable you to create a great impression in the minds of your audiences and fans.

1. A great script is a must

As far as whiteboard animations are concerned, an average script will not do much favor to you. You need a great script and a one that can help you to create a major impression in the minds of the people or your audiences to keep it simple. Your story must be bought to life in an extraordinary manner.

2. Having a believable flow

Just like it happens in real life, your whiteboard animation should have a story line that is quite distinct in the middle, beginning as well as ending. This means that the videos should be short in order to keep the attention of the audiences. Your story must be told in such a manner that does not take very long to unfold so that the viewers can get a grasp of what you are exactly saying.

3. Having a powerful imagery

Powerful imagery and dynamic illustrations are always at the heart of a successful whiteboard animation. This means that one should ideally spend most of the time creating the images for the whiteboard presentations.

4. A captivating audio

Soundtrack is the heart of a film and same goes to a whiteboard animation. The audio tracks should be captivated in such a manner that they are able to create a very positive impression in the minds of the viewer or a normal audience. There are also a lot of character voice- overs that should be extremely believable and dynamic and this means that they should enhance and not detract from your work.

5. Concentrate on the background music

Background music can also be described as an essence to your whiteboard animation. This is because the viewers will be able to connect emotionally to your content. This means that the will be able to create a great memory as far as your animation is concerned and as a viewer this is what we require. It is one of the important things to remember.

Illustration Techniques for Designers

There are several techniques or styles of making an illustration. Each of these techniques has its distinctive process and media specially used for creating the illustration. The graphic artist must therefore familiarize himself well with a particular technique before adopting and using it for the production of a graphic design product. Examples of some of the techniques in illustration are:

1. Pen and wash- This illustration technique involves the drawing of the outlines of the illustration in pencil. Ink is used to go over the drawn outlines in pencil. When it is dried, a small quantity of the ink is diluted with water in a lighter tone. Brush is used to apply the paint at the darker areas of the drawing. The painted areas are washed to create various tones to bring out the forms of the illustration. The outlines are made stronger by the use of pen lines. It is used for catalogues, village and market scenes, fashion design magazines, book covers etc.

2. Pen and ink- This is the use of pen and ink to draw the outlines of the drawing and using any of the shading methods to bring out the forms in the drawing. It is used for illustrations in books, newspapers and magazines.

3. Flat colour painting- In this technique, the colours are painted flat with no gradation in tone. The edges of the sections of the painted drawings are sharp and distinct, setting the difference in the various parts of the drawing. It is used for illustrations in story books, road signs, greeting cards etc.

4. Realistic painting- This is the drawing of objects to show great details as they actually appear in nature. It is used for advertisement, fashion magazine and illustrations in books.

5. Silhouette- This is the creating of the outlines of a drawing in pencil and filling the inner part uniformly with black paint or ink. Silhouette drawings do not show details just the outlines that define the objects are shown. They are used for road signs, package symbols, illustrations in fashion magazines etc.

6. Cartooning- This is the creation of humorous or satirical figures with exaggerated forms. This illustration technique is used for illustrating children books, newspapers, magazines etc.

7. Photography- This is the taking of shots of real objects and scenes by the use of a camera. It gives the exact likeness of the objects and scenes. Photographs are used for posters, magazines, newspapers etc.

DISH Network Video on Demand – Entertainment at Your Finger Tip

DISH Network can truly be considered as one of the prominent satellite television service providers of USA. It has constantly treated the customers with some of the brand new technologies and features. DISH Network Video on Demand is one such noteworthy instance, which can be referred in this context. With this advanced facility of DISH Network TV, now the viewers can enjoy all of their favorite television shows and movies at any point of time.

DISH Network VOD further provides you the opportunity to watch videos at a high-definition resolution of nearly 1080p. Now, you no longer need to spend that extra amount of dollars while purchasing the Blu-ray discs as the same clarity is now obtainable from the enhanced privilege of DISH Video on Demand. In addition, the customers even possess the liberty to select from a wide range of television shows and movies according to their preferences.

Process for Renting Video on Demand:

Similar to all other DISH Network offers, here also the customers need to follow certain procedures in order to enjoy this amenity. Let us discuss in brief on few of them.

• You must connect your receiver to the home broadband or phone line
• Now, tune into either Channel 1 or 501 and choose the movie, which you want to watch
• Go through the on-screen instructions for renting
• Or else you can even press the DVR button of your remote and select Option 2 i.e. DISH Cinema
• You can either select a film from the new releases section or access the “Search” or the “Explore” options to find a movie

Terms and Conditions:

However, this advanced facility of Video on Demand is available on only some of the selected DISH Network receiver models like – 512 SD/DVR, 522, 612, 625, 722, 722k DVR and 922. Again, if you are one of those, who are fascinated with HD programming, then it is mandatory that you must possess both the high definition receiver and HDTV.

With DISH Network Video on Demand, you can even enjoy some of their preferred channels like AMC, BRAVO, HDNET, NICK, MTV, TWC, SPMAN and the list goes on.

DISH Network TV has even got something to offer for all the movie buffs. Now, you no longer need to visit the local video libraries for renting movies. With DISH Network VOD, the customers can experience the beguiling actions of all their favorite movies.

Whether it is the Oscar winning film “The King’s Speech” or the kid’s favorite “Harry potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”, now you can enjoy all of these from the utter comfort of your home.

Benefits of DISH Satellite TV

When people are watching television, they want to have as many channels as possible. They want to watch whatever they want whenever they want, and having dish capabilities allows people to make the most of their viewing experience. Whether people are with their family for the weekend or are having friends over, satellite television can make the night more enjoyable.

While cable television is great, satellite television, full of many added features, gives people more for their buck. Even more, people can watch more sports channels on satellite television, making any home a sports haven on Sundays. People can watch any type of sport with these packages, such as soccer or baseball. One of the worst things to experience from a fan’s perspective is to miss out on games during a team’s playoff run. These games are crucial to watch because there is so much meaning behind them, and people have access to every single one of these games when they go with satellite television.

Another added benefit that comes with satellite television is that people have free installation when they use dish services. Some people may be consumed with work or school, and they may not have the time to set up their television equipment themselves. Professionals can come out to a person’s home and setup these devices, and these professionals have years of experience to get the job done correctly.

People get many extra features when they decide to go with satellite television. Parents can safeguard their children’s viewing when they are watching television. Children sometimes flip to channels that are not appropriate for their age, and having parenting controls prevents this from even happening. They will not be exposed to violent images at such a young age, allowing the parents to rest easy.

Another benefit of satellite TV is that people can set reminders for their favorite shows. People will be able to see when their favorite programs are about to start so they don’t miss a thing. A message will appear on the television, reminding them that their program is about to start.

In addition to these features, people have 24 hour customer support in case their devices malfunction during their programing.
People are always looking for added value when it comes to television programing, and satellite TV provides this and gives people an impeccable cinema experience when they are at home. They will have the capabilities to watch all of their favorite shows and movies at an affordable price year round.