Possibly one of the most emotionally intense projects that I have worked on so far. Looking back at all the projects that I have done in my portfolio, they are mostly commercial projects and I never got the chance to work on such a meaningful project until recently.
This project has been special to me in many ways, particularly in my approach towards making the animation. Having only the experience from working in motion graphics companies, it is rare that we have any projects that could match the emotional intensity such as this one. As it is such a personal story, I made sure not to have any superficiality felt in the video. After hearing the voice over that was so raw and emotional, I was more concerned in being able to bring out that same sincerity in my visuals rather than focusing too much on the aesthetics. To remove any superficiality and to be sincere, meant the design has to be expressive and does not feel "cold" by using a lot of generic icons as visual representations. Each element were hand painted in photoshop instead of using illustrator.
Initially, I began the design using illustrator as I have always been for all motion graphics project and also because it is easier to animate using illustrator assets later on in After Effects. After creating the first style frame, it felt wrong. The nature of illustrator always results in something that is perfect, clean and rigid. Very icon-like. Even if I used the turbulent distortion or roughen effect in After Effects, it still felt very rigid. I switched to photoshop and drew out all the style frames, using illustrator only as and when I see that is efficient, not only was I able to get the look I want faster, drawing instead of using pen tool helped me to achieve the expressive look better. Melissa's childhood wasn't perfect and it only seem right that my visuals and animation shouldn't look perfect as well.
Most of the time I used illustrator because it is faster and it does not pixelate no matter how much I abuse it. For this project it was faster to achieve the expressive and organic look by drawing in photoshop. While it was important to get the visuals to look right and organic, it was still ultimately a solo project and I had to combine classical animation technique with After Effects animation so that I can deliver the project on time or make any changes easily. Pure classical animation would be too risky for a two and half month's work, especially when there is only a team of me, myself and I. I used a lot of looping effect in After effects to save time and as well as to achieve a traditional animation look.
For example the quarreling heads below, I created only one head design that is shouting. The rest of the animation was done in After Effects: looping, position and rotation. In case the timing is not right or my client wants to lengthen the quarrel, it can be easily done by shifting the animation keys in the software, instead of drawing more frames.