Pixel Juicy : Motion Gfx Microscopics


(Ye Olde tech-book review, written in 2008, added in 2016, because well, it may as well be saved somewhere it can be read)

Maybe architecture is a kind of frozen music. Your favourite abstract CD cover a mere snapshot in time. Forever hinting at moments before and after, a process in pause. Often the coherency and integrity, what makes an abstract image work for me, comes from the the way it resonates with a larger process, offers a a deeper ‘structure’. No surprise then, that under the belly of many a good abstract still, lurks a motion graphics package, or at least an approach to the image that involves rhythm and time, involves music. Understand the rhythm, understand the time, and your images will sing too.

Motion GFX
Musical notation itself is the simplest example of visually representing rhythm and time. And treat yer eyeballs, let the riddum hit ’em – what sounds can be read when you scan other imagery, other symbols? And conversely, embedding a little rhythm and motion in your graphics doesn’t limit you to making SBS news transitions, but can give you another way of ‘farming’ images – and giving a range of images grabbed from various stages of a sequence/process a coherency or even signature. VJ tools ( see www.audiovisualizers.com & www.vjcentral.com for overviews ) are ever-growing in number and capacity, and can be a great way to produce imagery this way. Similarly, video editing and FX programs such as After Effects, or animation programs can also be enlisted in a quest for creating rhythmically enhanced images. In the beginning though, image manipulators such as photoshop’ll get you far, especially when combined with some:

Vector Buddies
Instead of containing a bit in the file for each bit of a line drawing, a vector graphic file describes a series of points to be connected, resulting a much smaller file. This also means you can resize them, or zoom in on them easily without any pixelation. Designers be liking them then, for making various purpose logos and such, and tend to use Illustrator for print vector gfx or Flash for small-file-sized web vector gfx.

Light & Dark : Photoshop & Illustrator
The Friends of Ed 4×4 book series is a quite cool collection, aimed at curious experimenters dulled by the usual software manuals. 4 artists explore a theme, expose their processes, construct and de-construct a work, give feedback to each other, and remix each other’s work. The books all come with extensive comments, a CD-rom showcasing the files and templates discussed, and a website where readers can upload, download and remix these examples. Theme for the illustrator and Photoshop book is Light & Dark, explored by the artists behind goingonsix.com, prate.com, and rare designers without webpages – Nick Higgins & Adrian Luna. Each artist’s process reveals a different approach to the nuances of illustrator and vector graphics, and how they integrate or use the scalable capacities in combination with photographic images – be they scanned drawings or leaves, or well cropped photographs. It’s easy enough to learn the basics behind these programs elsewhere, and much more rewarding to see the artists remix each other, and read their discussions about it.

Time : Photoshop & Flash
( www.friendsofed.com/4×4/flash )
If you like your pixels in motion, freeze-framed or not, the place for spreadinem like SARS, b.on the web for sure. Flash offers great creative potential and control for pixel manipulation on the web, though it’s not without detractors ( see www.anti-flash.co.uk/why.html etc etc ), who criticise the way Flash affects webpages and the default cliches designers revert to with it. Being able to get under the designer bonnet in this book, helps understanding of how much room there is to actually use Flash in an innovative way, and in what unorthodox ways Flash can be bent to provide you an image-tooler. With time under the spotlight, I expected more of a tweak with Flashes interactive and animation muscles, but most of the crew seemed to combine tools with the aim of generating an unusual end image. Each step of their flash scripts are screenshotted where used, and carefully explained – in the words of the artist too, and not a textbook writer. No CD, but deserves cigar.

Rich Media : Video & Sound In Flash (Studiolab )
( www.friendsofed.com/books/studiolab/richmedia )
Pitched as a ‘laboratory’ for combining and optimising flash with video and sound, this is the book of the 3 you’d probably thumb the most, despite it’s now creaky 2001 vintage. Alongside comprehensive tutorials ( formats, compression, using after FX with flash, html, dynamic sound, etc etc ), multiple authors provide background topic chapters on digital sound theory, understanding MIDI & cubase and ways media can be used on the web. We’re talkin around 500 pages of crisply honed guidance through creating webbed multimedia from scratch. Doubleplus good. Like the others, it’s distro-ed in OZ from : www.mcgraw-hill.com.au.

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