Musical Theatre West 2017-2018 Season Teaser

The 2017-2018 theatrical season will quickly be upon us, and as such it became time to make the newest season teaser for Musical Theatre West.  As is very common in video production this minute and a half of video actually took weeks to create, with the vast majority of the graphics being created from scratch in Adobe Photoshop and/or Illustrator.  The animations were of course done in Adobe After Effects.

For those interested the process in creating these types of motion graphics promos, a very simplistic overview of how the process goes is outlined below:

  1. Music Selection
  2. Music cut/mix made in Adobe Premiere
  3. Early draft of motion graphics in After Effects
  4. Create graphics in Adobe Photoshop and/or Illustrator
  5. Create motion graphics in After Effects with finalized graphics
  6. Export finished motion graphics/animated video out of After Effects
  7. Import motion graphics/animated video into Premiere
  8. Pair up original music cut/mix with motion graphics/animated video and export final video (from Premiere and or Adobe Media Encoder)

That is an incredibly simplified version of the process but as I get a lot of questions about the motion graphics process specifically I felt it was worth it to give a brief run down.

Of course, there are many places in that process that take enormous amounts of time, or places where you'll have to go back a step or two if something isn't working.  For example, I've often created a music cut in Premiere and started animating to it in After Effects when I've found I need to add or take away time in the music cut to better accommodate the animation.  So I'll go back to Premiere and take another shot at a music cut that works better.  That's why it's important to create a simplified version or draft of the animation if possible.  You don't want to lose time creating an elaborate animation that is only going to be changed or even cut due to a needed change in the music.

Creating graphics to use in animation is also no small task.  I do not create the logos for the shows, I only animate around them.  However, I always try to match the color palette and style of each logo I'm given with the graphics I create.  I try to create the graphics when possible in Adobe Illustrator to take full advantage of vector files.  Sometimes there are things that I prefer to do in Photoshop and when that's the case I usually make them in a massive file size/resolution so I can zoom in and out of them in After Effects without issues.

What people often don't realize is how time consuming creating graphics can be; just ask an illustrator or graphic designer, (I don't claim to be either of those things for the record).  A good example in this video project was the champagne bottle and glass in the "Nice Work If You Can Get It" section.  The client asked that I add in a champagne bottle and/or glass after I had already moved on from working on that segment.  I was happy to do so, I had already planned on adding those assets when we create a motion graphic video just for that show, but I had not yet created them for the purposes of this teaser.

Creating that bottle and glass in a style that worked with what I already had took a good chunk of time, (2 plus hours at least).  I created the bottle and glass in Illustrator and then put them into After Effects to see if I liked how it fit in with what had already been made.  It took a lot of tweaking before I got it just right.

Of course, I wasn't happy just placing a bottle and glass in the section, I wanted to animate them.  I started by creating a popping cork animation, (which meant of course I had to go back and create a cork in Illustrator).  The popping cork animation is very quick but it looked best that way to my eye.  That probably took a good hour or so to create.   

Then I went about filling the bottle and glass with moving liquid, (the Motion plugin from Mt. Mograph was a great tool here), and finally bubbles, (made possible of course with particle effects).  All in all, creating the bottle and champagne glass with those animations etc., took the better part of a full working day.  That's a good deal of work for something that shows onscreen for I'm guessing around 5-7 seconds.

So what's my point?  There really isn't one except to help people better understand the process involved.  Even though I don't design the show logos I am designing completely around them and trying to create both graphics and animations that match the tone of each show, and specifically the music being used.

I'm sure there are many people wondering why I don't just pull graphics from other sources instead of creating them myself.  I could answer that here, but I don't want this post to get any longer.  So, check out my next post in which I'll quickly explain my reasons for creating graphics vs using other people's graphics, (spoiler alert: there are times to purchase and times to create, and I'll explain more in the next post).