Audio Considerations

Types of sound

Audio can be used in many ways within immersive design, this could be through the use of music, dialogue, ambience, environmental sounds, internalised sounds and interactive feedback. Some immersive design experiences or games may use all these types, but it is possible to limit which forms of sounds are used depending on the situation. For example, an atmospheric, scarier experience may just utilise ambient sounds to create lots of tension whereas something with lots of action may use all of the mentioned types. 

Forms of audio 

Immersive design will most likely utilise a type of audio called ‘spatial audio’ this ‘involves the manipulation of audio signals so they mimic acoustic behavior in the real world. An accurate sonic representation of a virtual world is a very powerful way to create a compelling and immersive experience’ (Thakur, n.d.) which is fundamental within immersive design. The sounds surround the user and can be positioned specifically within the space. Within VR, the form of spacial audio which will most often be used would be binaural this is where ‘a different audio signal is fed to each ear in order to create the perception of a three-dimensional sound field’ (Crute, 2019) this is due to the fact that someone experiencing VR will most likely be doing so through a headset and headphones which use binaural audio. I plan on using binaural audio within my piece, as I feel that it is one of the most immersive aspects to VR. 

Immersing the user

One way that audio can completely immerse the user would be that it is possible that audio can trigger a physical response in people. Audio can make someone feel intense emotions which will have a big impact on their experience. For example, this could be done through altering things such as pitch and dissonance which could then release stress hormones and alter the listeners heart rate, this would work well within a horror immersive design experience. 

Audio use within my piece

For my production piece, I will need to ensure the audio matches well with the overall spooky aesthetic of my piece. I plan on achieving this through just having sound effects and environmental sounds in my piece. As I would mostly like to focus on creating lots of atmosphere within my production piece, I don’t plan on including any dialogue, internalised sound or any music. I personally feel that this will be much more realistic and therefore will help to immerse the user deeper into the experience. There may even be some parts to my production piece which are silent, to again add to the tension in my piece. I will, however make sure I include some sounds to alert the user to events that are happening or objects that may require interaction to help with the navigation aspects. I will most likely be sourcing the audio online on audio libraries and I will then go onto editing them into binaural audio through the DearVR application on Adobe Audition.  

References:

Thakur, A (n.d.) Spatial audio for cinematic VR and 360 videos. Available online: https://creator.oculus.com/learn/spatial-audio/ [Accessed 17/11/21].

Crute, A (2019) Recording and mixing audio for virtual reality. Available online: https://musictech.com/features/trends/vr-recording-and-mixing/ [17/11/21].

Digital Affordance and Navigation Considerations

What is digital affordance?

Digital affordance ‘is a readily perceivable interaction possibility. It occurs when an object, whether physical or digital, has sensory characteristics that intuitively implies its functionality and use’ (Coyle, 2015). In the digital world, digital affordance will often be cues to functions which we are able to relate to the physical world such as the ‘add to cart’ button on online shopping websites having a shopping cart symbol and the recycle bin having a bin symbol – these are often cues which we can easily recognise and understand how to interact with them using our intuition. 

Within an immersive environment, however, it may not always be quite as clear that a specific object is interactive and the user may even miss out on important aspects of their experience because they might not notice something, therefore, within immersive environments the cues may often need to be more obvious. Some examples of cues that could be used within immersive environments could be through lighting – this might be things such as spotlights shining on objects of interest or objects glowing/becoming highlighted. Another style of cue may be through the use of audio, particularly binaural audio to capture the users attention – an example being a phone that needs interacting with on the left side of the room may have a ringing phone sound effect that it projected through only the left earphone to lure the user to that correct part of the experience that should be explored but it might not be so obvious otherwise. 

My digital affordance considerations

As my production piece is going to be immersive but not interactive, I will need to find ways to catch the users attention when any important things are going to happen. As mentioned above, I will also be using lighting and audio cues for this. 

A small storyboard outlining the three scenes in my piece

First, the experience starts outside the house in a street, the majority of the street will be fairly dark, but then I will ensure the doorway to the house is lit up through a well positioned lighting, there will also be pumpkins around the doorway which will have light sources inside them, this will hopefully help the user to face in the right direction ready to start their experience. Next there will be a knocking sound ready for the door to open. 

Once the user is inside the first room of the house, they will have the opportunity to take in their environment and the halloween decorations will make noises and appear around the room. Then, the ‘drink me’ bottle will appear along with a sound effect for this and it will seem as if the user is drinking something. 

Next, there will be a creaky door sound and they will make their way through to the next room. Here, the room will be completely dark but pumpkins will be placed surrounding the user and their carved faces will light up so the user will know to focus on them. Again, I will also be adding in sound effects here to make sure the user notices the pumpkins. Finally, the user will ‘fall’ through a void into the new world that they have been transported into.

Navigation considerations

I am also going to need to strongly consider the ways the user will navigate around my environment as I don’t want the user to feel disorientated. Again, as this is only going to be an immersive video, there are limitations as the user isn’t going to be able to physically move theirselves through my world, but I will need to make sure it seems like they are. 

For my scenes, the user will actually be stood still but will be able to look around the room so I don’t need to worry too much about the movement. However, I will be considering the navigation aspects more when the user is being transported to the various rooms through the doors. I will be using the teleportation locomotion method for my production piece by applying fade to black transitions to make it seem that the user is travelling into another room. I feel this will work the best within my piece as teleportation locomotion is less likely to give motion sickness which is a very important aspect within VR as this could potentially ruin someones experience.

References:

Coyle, A (2015) The evolution of digital affordances. Available online: https://uxdesign.cc/affordances-ad4fff2ff6c8 [Accessed 14/11/21].

Story Structure and Development Considerations

Story

Overall, my immersive design experience will be influenced by the Alice in Wonderland story but I want it to have a scarier edge, for this, I would like to incorporate a Halloween theme. I feel that having a spookier theme will work well within a VR environment to really immerse the user into the experience. As well as having an overall spooky aesthetic throughout my experience, I aim on creating lots of atmosphere within my prototype which will be achieved through sensory aspects. 

I decided to start my experience in a dark street, outside a spooky looking house on the night of Halloween. My experience will be the initial transportation stage of the going ‘down the rabbit hole’ concept. It will be viewed through the eyes of a trick or treater – they will knock on the door which will open and then they will enter and then be immersed into a room in the house that is decorated for Halloween. Here, the user will be able to look around the room and take in their new surroundings. Ghosts will appear around the room and the other halloween themed objects will be animated. Then, similar to the traditional Alice in Wonderland story, a ‘drink me’ or ‘eat me’ object will appear in the room. As the user won’t be able to fully interact with this due to my piece only being VR, I will most likely have them come up to the user’s face as if they are consuming it. Finally, the user will then enter into another room where pumpkins which will be carved with an unnervingly creepy face like the cheshire cat will keep lighting up all around the user and the experience will end where the user is falling into their new wonderland world. I am imagining that my experience would be the opening sequence of a game – a way of showing the journey that the character went on to get into the world that the game is set in. 

As I haven’t created any VR work before, I know that I will find this module quite challenging, but hopefully I will be able to create the narrative and experience that I am aiming for and will be able to completely immerse the user into the environment and take them on a journey.

A birds eye view/map of the scene 

Aesthetics 

As mentioned above, my production piece will have an Alice in Wonderland/Halloween theme. To help me before designing or sourcing my 3D assets, I decided to create an inspiration collage and a Pinterest board to help me get together ideas of how I would like the overall aesthetic of my piece to be. 

My Inspiration Collage I created to help me gather inspiration for the aesthetic I am aiming for

As seen in my inspiration collage, I would like to go for a colour scheme of black, white and red. I feel that these colours work really well for both the Alice in Wonderland theme and the Halloween theme. I also think that by sticking to a colour scheme, it will help my piece to be distinctive and consistent. I’d like to incorporate the harlequin style patterns and playing card suit patterns as seen in the background of my inspiration collage, these may work well as wall coverings inside the house. Overall, to add to the spooky atmosphere I would like my piece to be quite dark, this will enable me to utilise atmospheric lighting throughout my piece. 


My Pinterest board (Please click on ‘Dark Alice in Wonderland’ to view the board on Pinterest or click here)

References for inspiration collage: 

Gate:

Kelloween (2013) Iron gate metal tree architecture. Available online: https://www.halloweenforum.com/threads/dark-alice-in-wonderland-party-this-year.126363/page-2#lg=thread-126363&slide=2 [Accessed 17/10/21].

Illustrations:

yoh_monochrome (2021) Yoh’s monochrome circus. Available online: https://www.instagram.com/p/COdNEQKrXdW/?utm_medium=copy_link [Accessed 17/10/21].

yoh_monochrome (2021) Yoh’s monochrome circus. Available online: https://www.instagram.com/p/COfsP4krvfl/?utm_medium=copy_link [Accessed 17/10/21].

yoh_monochrome (2021) Yoh’s monochrome world. Available online: https://www.instagram.com/p/CUz_KWWPdCx/?utm_medium=copy_link [Accessed 17/10/21].

American McGee’s Alice:

Shepherd, A (n.d.) AMR cover. Available online: https://alice.fandom.com/wiki/Alice:_Madness_Returns?file=AMR_cover.png [Accessed 17/10/21].

Looking up at gate:

Albinwonderland (n.d.) ALB. Available online: https://albinwonderland.tumblr.com/image/65698943043 [Accessed 17/10/21].

Girl with wine glass:

Hiera12 (2019) Eightstudio illustrator. Available online: https://twitter.com/hiera12/status/1175027320433700865 [Accessed 17/10/21].

Cauldron:

Desire soaps and candles (n.d.) Witches brew cauldron mug. Available online: https://desiresoapsandcandles.com/products/witches-brew-cauldron-mug?epik=dj0yJnU9NUpLZlBlcnR2ZGxRWFFEQm5QaDRYNXBfbzdWXzhBeEQmcD0wJm49Qzl5alFPTUFMb1lEc0hWYTQzRks2ZyZ0PUFBQUFBR0ZzQVNB [Accessed 17/10/21].

Cheshire Cats:

Zoeyfd2005 (n.d.) Chessur. Available online: https://aliceinwonderland.fandom.com/wiki/Chessur?file=7623346620_1572cf505a_b.jpg [Accessed 17/10/21].

Waterwecna (n.d.) Chessur. Available online: https://aliceinwonderland.fandom.com/wiki/Chessur?file=Ches4.jpg [Accessed 17/10/21].

Skull:

Saplakoglu, Y (2019) The human skull obeys the ‘golden ratio’ study suggests. Anatomists say that’s ridiculous. Available online: https://www.livescience.com/golden-ratio-human-skull.html [Accessed 17/10/21].

Broomstick:

Chiccostume (2021) California costume collections 60620 witch’s broom – black. Available online: https://www.ebay.co.uk/p/1828711911 [Accessed 17/10/21].

Ghost:

Ehrlich, D and Blauvelt, C (2021) The best movies about ghosts, from ‘the haunting’ to ‘the others’. Available online: https://www.indiewire.com/gallery/best-ghost-movies/ [Accessed 17/10/21].

Eyeball sweets:

Wicked Uncle (n.d.) Giant gooey chocolate eyeballs. Available online: https://www.wickeduncle.co.uk/childrens-presents/gooey-chocolate-eyeballs [Accessed 17/10/21].

Drink me bottle: 

Little Gem Girl (n.d.) Drink me Alice in Wonderland glass bottle charm necklace with blue liquid shimmer shrinking potion. Available online: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wonderland-Bottle-Necklace-Shimmer-Shrinking/dp/B00YIH47F0 [Accessed 17/10/21].

Pumpkin:

Rice, E (2018) 100 genius pumpkin carving ideas for Halloween 2018. Available online: https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/gallery/100-genius-pumpkin-carving-ideas-15297516 [Accessed 17/10/21].

Alice Sketch:

drj1828 (2012) “Drink me” Alice in Wonderland ornament – product image #2 – sketch. Available online: https://www.flickr.com/photos/68105287@N03/7941244642/in/photostream/ [Accessed 17/10/21].

Mad Hatter’s Hat Illustration:

The Mad Hatter (n.d.) Mad-Hatter-Restaurant-Blog-Hat-Image. Available online: https://www.madhatteranoka.com/mad-hatter-restaurant-blog-hat-image/ [Accessed 17/10/21].

Playing Card Suits Pattern:

Liu, S (n.d.) Alice in Wonderland (pattern). Available online: https://www.behance.net/gallery/44363397/Alice-in-Wonderland-(Pattern) [Accessed 17/10/21].

Harlequin Pattern: 

Black Gryphon (2019) Harlequin pattern. Available online: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/harlequin-pattern-black-gryphon.html [Accessed 17/10/21].

 

What is Immersive Design?

For my immersive design assignment, I am to design an immersive experience prototype surrounding the story of Alice In Wonderland. As I am new to the world of immersive design, I decided to do some research before I began designing anything to help me gain a better understanding of it. 

What is Immersive Design?

Immersive design basically enables the user to feel as if they are physically interacting with things within another world, it ‘pulls a person into a new or augmented reality, enhancing everyday life (by making it more engaging or satisfying) via technology’ (Karnes, n.d.). Immersive design is also known by the umbrella term of extended reality or ‘XR’ which can then be narrowed down further into the three segments of augmented reality ‘AR’, virtual reality ‘VR’ and mixed reality ‘MR’.

My graph showing the types of extended reality

Augmented Reality 

‘AR adds digital elements to the real world and projects them onto your line of sight’ (Autodesk, n.d.). An example of this could be the mobile game, Pokemon Go in which the user virtually captures Pokemon on their phone screen which via the phone camera, look as if they are appearing in whatever environment the user is in. 

Augmented reality can also be used this way for companies trying to sell things such as the furniture company, IKEA who have an app in which you are able to ‘virtually place true-to-scale 3D models [of IKEA furniture] in your very own space’ (Apple 2021). This is really interesting to see how through the use of AR it can not only help a company to sell their items but also helps the consumer to make sure they are making the right decision with their purchases. 

A GIF showing an example of augmented reality game Pokemon Go

Virtual Reality

‘VR replaces the real world with a simulated one in 3d’ (Autodesk, n.d.). The games industry is probably what initially will spring to mind for most people when they think of the term VR, from the rise in popularity of Virtual Reality headsets such as the Oculus Quest, HTC Vive, Playstation VR and Google Cardboard in recent years. The user will wear a headset which covers their eyes completely (blocking out the physical world) and secures at the back of their head, and hold controls in their hand. Through the use of screens inside the headset, the user will be able to see their new virtual world, which generally will surround them to a 360 degree angle. When the user moves, they will also move in the virtual world and through the use of hand controls, they will be able to interact with things. There are many games that have been made solely for VR, such as Half-Life Alyx. There are also many games which were already popular on other consoles that have been transformed onto VR platforms such as Minecraft, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. 

The games industry certainly isn’t the only industry that uses Virtual Reality, according to ‘Virtual Speech’ there are now 21 other industries that utilise this technology. One of these is the healthcare industry, where VR can have a very positive impact: ‘healthcare professionals now use virtual models to prepare themselves for working on real bodies and VR has even been used as pain relief for burn injuries’ (Thompson, 2020). This shows that VR isn’t just used for leisure, but also can change people’s lives for the better. 

Similar to the augmented reality IKEA app mentioned earlier, VR can also be used to help sell products to consumers. This is seen in the architecture and real estate industry who both use 3D models to show customers how their building work may look once complete or in the case of the real estate industry, prospective buyers of houses can virtually take part in house viewings. 

VR is also used in the motor industry to help create prototypes of cars, this ‘is saving the automotive industry millions by reducing the number of prototypes built per vehicle line’ (Thompson, 2020). This is also an example of how VR can actually help the environment too.

Finalising the list of the 21 main industries that use VR, the rest are retail, tourism, gambling, learning and development, recruitment, entertainment, education, sports, art and design, events and conferences, wellbeing, social, charity, marketing, recreation, law enforcement and finally news and journalism. This extensive list is proof that VR will have an impact in most peoples lives somehow. 

A GIF showing some users experiencing virtual reality games

Mixed Reality

‘MR is a hybrid of virtual reality and augmented reality’ (Autodesk, n.d.), a ‘blend of physical and virtual worlds’ (Microsoft, 2021). This type is quite often seen on mobile devices, for example ‘people may not even realize that the AR filters they use on Instagram are Mixed Reality experiences.’ (Microsoft, 2021). These types of face filters on apps such as Instagram and Snapchat react with the physical world, for example, some of the filters react to changes in facial expressions or movement. 

A GIF showing an example of Snapchat face filters which respond to movement

My Personal Experience 

As I had personally never experienced any type of extended reality before, early on in the module in one of the labs I was given the chance to try out the university’s Oculus headset which is a VR gaming headset. I found that having this first hand experience to be very useful, it certainly helped me understand Immersive Design more and helped me to start gaining ideas for my prototype. 

During this experience, I first tried out some of the introductory orienteering games which are designed to help new users get acquainted with how to use the head set and controls. Initially, I did feel a bit confused by how to use the controllers but by doing small tasks within the new world such as picking up blocks and stacking them, throwing paper planes and inserting game cartridges into a console, I was able to gain much more confidence with how to use the controls. These tasks all sound like very basic things, but in a way when using VR for the first time it is almost like learning how to use your hands again, so I found this part of it crucial and very helpful. 

Overall, I found my experience using the VR headset to be very fun, I was able to see and experience how immersive design is such a sensory experience, and that this important aspect is what ultimately helps to literally immerse the user into the experience. I will be now take what I have learnt from both my experience using VR and my research into it to create an interesting immersive prototype. 

References:

Karnes (n.d.) What is an immersive experience and how do you create one? Available online: https://clevertap.com/blog/immersive-experience/ [Accessed 16/10/21].

Autodesk (n.d.) Introducing immersive design. Available online: https://www.autodesk.co.uk/solutions/virtual-reality [Accessed 16/10/21].

Apple (2021) App store preview: IKEA place. Available online: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/ikea-place/id1279244498 [Accessed 16/10/21].

Thompson, S (2020) VR applications: 21 industries already using virtual reality. Available online: https://virtualspeech.com/blog/vr-applications [Accessed 16/10/21].

Microsoft (2021) What is mixed reality? Available online: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/mixed-reality/discover/mixed-reality [Accessed 16/10/21].

GIFS:

Pretty Little Bakers (2016) Pokemon-go-gif. Available online: https://prettylittlebakers.com/poke-ball-cookies/pokemon-go-gif/ [Accessed 10/01/22].

Product Hunt (n.d.) Virtual reality gif. Available online: https://giphy.com/gifs/producthunt-virtual-reality-mixed-xTiN0AVV7Ebad21L7q [Accessed 10/01/22].

Primogif (n.d.) Filter gif. Available online: https://www.primogif.com/p/11lBqvULyT9C36 [Accessed 10/01/22].

References to found assets

Apart from one photo which I will be using in shot 5, I am aiming to record all of the footage and create any assets myself for my final piece. The photo which I will be using is referenced below. I will also be adding sound from sound libraries to my piece, but I have yet to source these so will be referencing them alongside my final piece.

Stocksnap (2017) Stars-galaxy-space-universe-night. Available online: https://pixabay.com/photos/stars-galaxy-space-universe-night-2616537/ [Accessed 18/11/21].

Production Notes

Production Notes

Fall is a horror TV show which centres around a young couple. They are going on an autumnal walk into the woods until suddenly, the trees lose all of their leaves and it starts thundering and lightning. They decide to head back home but they realise that the once small woodland is now seemingly never-ending and they are trapped inside this strange place. They now have to figure out how to survive in the woodland and try and find a way out, but many scary obstacles will get in their way. The opening to Fall aims to show snippets of the main storyline and outline the main locations of the show using atmospheric shots to intrigue the viewer into watching more. 

Location Scouting

Ready for the filming of my project, I decided to do some additional planning on the location where I would be filming some of my footage. I already had an ideal location in mind at the start of this project as I had visited in the past and knew there were already multiple ready made shelters in there so that I wouldn’t have to create one myself. The location is a local woods which is within reasonable travelling distance for me. 

Photographs are my own

Map screenshots reference: 

Google (2021) Google Maps. Available online: https://www.google.com/maps [Accessed 9/11/21].

Tools to be used

My illustrations of the tools I will be using

As I will be physically filming my project, I will also need some physical tools to help me with this. I will first need a camera and a tripod to do the actual filming. I already own these since I have used them on previous projects and also as a hobby in my spare time. I will also need a laptop with access to the Adobe programs, After Effects and Premier Pro which I also have. Luckily I don’t need to buy any of this equipment or rent anything which would eat into the production and post production time. Instead, I should be able to do the filming when the time is right and then do the post production editing in my own time. 

Props 

No additional props will need to be used for my production piece. The majority of the piece will be focusing on natural, physical things such as the trees in the woods which already exist. Any additional things I may need will be added in post production editing. 

Health and Safety

As my piece will be filmed physically, I need to also take into consideration any health and safety aspects. I wont be filming any actors or other people in my piece so I don’t have to worry about this, and as I will be the only person involved I wont have to get anyone to fill in a consent form. The only risks that may pose a threat to me would be possible injuries when filming the scene, but I aim to control this risk by wearing suitable footwear on the day of filming and being careful with any equipment.

Assets to be created

My piece will have an ending scene where the title of the show will appear on screen. I will be creating a logo for ‘Fall’ for this scene by experimenting with various fonts and colours and seeing what would work best for the atmosphere that I would like in my overall piece. I may also include some illustrated 2D aspects to my piece such as some of the leaves that fall of the trees. I will most likely illustrate these using Procreate and then import them into After Effects. 

Narrative of Techniques/Tools

Skills from Lab Tutorials and Lectures

After doing the lab tutorials and lectures, I realised that I would be able to apply many of the aspects I have learnt into my own piece. First, I learnt how to apply depth of field effects which I will be able to apply on shot 8 where the camera will be travelling through seemingly never-ending trees. It will help me to create the deep depth that I am looking for. 

One crucial effect that I learnt in a lab tutorial that I will certainly be using in every shot within my sequence is the colour correction settings. In my practise video of the waterfall, I decided to alter the colour settings to be much darker and desaturated because I knew that this is the style I would like in my final sequence. From doing this, I found that the colour settings are much easier to adjust than I was expecting, and now I have a good understanding of this, I feel confident that I will be able to adjust the colours in my final video to the dark and atmospheric look I am going for. 

I then learnt about different ways to add lighting within scenes. The tutorial was specifically on how to add lighting effectively, which I will be doing in my final scene where the title ‘Fall’ appears on screen. I will also be able to use the same principle to applying lighting within my other scenes – despite the fact that the overall look of my sequence will be quite dark, I will still need to illuminate certain aspects within scenes, most likely through the use of low key lighting which ‘creates tension due to its mysterious and dark atmosphere, controlling how much of the surroundings and characters are revealed’ (Austin School of Film, 2019). I now have the confidence to be able to play around with the various types of lighting in my final scene. 

I have also learnt many skills through attending the lectures that have given me a better understanding of the techniques used within visual effects in both physical and virtual film such as cinematography, camera placement and lighting. These will all be applied throughout the whole of my piece. 

Skills from Independent Learning

Next, to increase my confidence in using After Effects ready for my final piece, I decided to practise some additional effects that I would be using. I mainly gained an understanding of them through doing further research and through following tutorials found online. 

Lightning

First, from a tutorial on youtube, I learnt how to create a lightning effect within After Effects ready for shot 5. I applied an ‘advance lightning’ effect and learnt how it is possible to move the various anchor points around which would mean where the lightning would start and what direction it would travel in. I also learnt that it is possible to change the setting to different style lightning bolts, the one I used in the video above was the ‘strike’ setting which gave me a similar look to what I am after in my final video. I was learnt how to change the lightning settings such as the colour and the glow settings, I gave the lightning bolt a white shade as I felt it was much more realistic than the default blue, and again, the white was the kind of look I am wanting in my final video. Finally, I learnt how to apply a ‘linear wipe’ effect to the lightning which made it look as if it was appearing on screen more naturally. 

Colour Change

Next, I decided to try and follow a colour change tutorial as I would be needing this effect for shot 4 where I will be looking up at the treetops and the leaves will change from green to an autumnal colour. First, I added the ‘keylight’ effect and then used the colour picker to select the green parts of the houseplants, I then altered the view to ‘combined matte’ which changed everything to black and white, from this I was able to alter the settings so that the parts of the plants that I was wanting to adjust the colour on were white and the rest of the composition was black. Next, I added a the ‘hue/saturation’ colour correction effect which I was able to alter the settings to my desired colour of purple. I then realised that some of the things in the background were changing to purple which I didn’t want to I added a basic mask around the plants, the mask ensured the purple colour change only effect the things inside the mask (as I was only practising for this video it was still a very rough mask, but in my final video I will ensure this is done much neater and precise). I then needed to alter the mask throughout certain points in the video as it was staying in the same position and some things that I needed inside the mask would go outside of it. As I hadn’t really used masking before, I took a while to figure out how to properly do this but through keyframing the ‘mask path’ I managed to figure it out. Finally, I managed to do some more practise ready for my final video and I keyframed the mask so that the leaves would start off as green but then change to purple. 

Here are a few screenshots showing my colour change process

Particle Effect

I then decided to practice another particle effect, as I knew that I wanted to use quite a lot of particle effects in my final sequence. I decided to try and create some leaves falling as I was wanting to do this in shot 6 of my sequence. First, I added the ‘CC Particle World’ effect and then I imported a leaf png. Then, I made sure to change the particle type to ‘textured disk’ and then altered the ‘texture layer’ to my imported image. I then tried out some of the different animation types to see what would work best for falling leaves, and ended up settling with the ‘viscouse’ option. Next, I altered the position of the emitter to outside of the screen and made it wider so the leaves would look as if they are falling all over the screen. I also increased the ‘birth rate’ to give it more leaves and then altered the gravity slightly. As After Effects seemed to run quite slow when doing the particle effect, this made it very hard for me to see how fast the leaves were falling when I played the effect back, I also unfortunately had the same problem when I had exported my effect into Premier Pro, so I didn’t always know how it was going to look until I had exported the video. I did the effect a few times and looking at my final attempt, I still feel that the leaves are falling too fast, this will be something I will have to rectify when it comes to creating this effect in my final sequence. 

Overall, learning these techniques has definitely helped me to understand how to do more effects  confidently and I will be able to apply many of them to my final sequence.

References:

Austin School of Film (2019) How to make your film look cinematic on a budget. Available online: https://austinfilmschool.org/blog/how-to-make-your-film-look-more-cinematic-on-a-budget [Accessed 10/11/21].

Lightening Tutorial:

Adobe in a minute (2016) After Effects CC: How to create a lightning strike effect. Available online: youtube.com/watch?v=pWnogMnNh6Q [Accessed 9/11/21].

Colour Change Tutorial: 

TunnelvizionTV (2017) After Effects tutorials how to change the color of something in your scene. Available online: youtube.com/watch?v=PtVo6XwA13A [Accessed 11/11/21].

Leaf PNG:

Vecteezy (n.d.) Maple leaf. Available online: https://www.vecteezy.com/png/1201811-maple-leaf [Accessed 13/11/21].

Effect Exercises

As I am a beginner to using After Effects, to improve my skills and confidence ready for my final project I have made sure to do the lab tutorials provided. Initially, I realised that After Effects had a similar interface to some other Adobe programs, so I did feel confident enough that I wouldn’t find it too confusing, although there was still a lot to learn. 

Depth of field effect practise

Firstly, I was introduced to the various depth of field options available on Adobe After Effects. The main thing I learnt was how to control the camera within a 3D environment, despite using 2D images. This is done by using an X axis as well as the usual YZ axis’, this also taught me how to use different camera views in After Effects as I often had to go back and forth to the top view camera to ensure the objects were correctly places in the new 3D space. I also learnt how to focus the camera on particular objects and how to emphasise the focal points by blurring objects and zooming in. I also learnt some more basic aspects to creating things within After Effects such as adding keyframes and understanding the overall interface more. 

Flower references:

Blooming Artificial (2021) Artificial rose stem [Photo]. Available online: 

https://www.bloomingartificial.co.uk/artificial-rose-stem [Accessed 28/10/21]

Blooming Artificial (2021) Artificial cabbage rose stem [Photo]. Available online: https://www.bloomingartificial.co.uk/artificial-cabbage-rose-stem [Accessed 28/10/21].

Motion blur effect practise 

Next, I learnt how to add motion blur onto objects. I created some basic rectangles, and by using keyframes, I learnt how to animate them and add rotations. I then added the motion blur effect to the top rectangle, and can definitely see now how this has made the movement look much more natural. I did encounter a slight problem when it came to the rotations of the rectangles – at first the circumference of the rotation was really big and the rectangles would move out of shot. I then realised that it was the anchor point of the rectangles that were the problem – they were too far away. So, by doing a bit of research I learnt how to alter the anchor point and then when I did the rotations again they worked.

Lens and colour effect practise

I then learnt how to apply lens distortion onto an old video of mine that I filmed in Iceland of a waterfall. I went for a fish eye lens as I quite like this style effect. I also learnt how to alter the colour settings of video within After Effects. I learnt how to apply a very basic auto colour correction which I did feel improved the look of my video, but, I decided to alter some of the settings myself manually and I experimented with the colour settings such as exposure, contrast, black and white tones and saturation. Overall, I decided I wanted my video to have a moodier look so I made sure to take the exposure level down and desaturated it quite significantly. 

I did end up having some problems when it came to trying to render this video, first I tried to export to Media Encoder but it just wouldn’t go into the queue. I then tried to export it into Premier Pro, where an error message came up saying that the effects were missing. I then tried to solve this problem by doing some research, and I found a new way to link After Effects and Premier Pro via something called ‘Dynamic Links’ which seemed to work fine. 

Lighting effect practise

Next I learnt how to apply different types of lights within After Effects and how these various lights had different impacts on illuminating the scenes. For this task, I applied all of the different types of lights onto some text, I was able to manipulate where the lights were positioned and what parts of the text they were focusing on. Overall, I found out that some lights weren’t always suitable – such as the ambient light which in this particular situation, I felt was too dull compared to the others, despite editing with the intensity settings the text wouldn’t stand out. 

Particle effect practise

Here, I learnt how to make objects disappear by using basic particle effects. I filmed a basic short video of a Pusheen plush on a bed then took it out of shot, similar to the provided tutorial video. I then learnt how you can add layers to videos in After Effects and I separated the background layer from the top layer. I then used the pen tool to mask Pusheen, then using keyframes, I was then able to apply a basic particle filter and make it look as if it was disappearing. I then experimented a bit more with this setting and made Pusheen reappear. 

Typography effects

Finally, I experimented with some different types of typography effects to use within my final piece as typography will be featuring quite prominently in my final piece. The names of my cast members will be appearing over the video footage throughout my opening, and there will also be an ending screen which will feature the TV show title ‘Fall’. I haven’t settled on a particular effect that I would defiantly like to use in my final piece at the time of writing, but one that did stand out to me was the ‘typewriter’ effect. I felt that it was quite a simple effect but the style seemed to fit in with the horror aspect of my piece. As the typography will be one of the last things I will need to add to my piece, I plan on doing some more experiments when I have edited and added all other effects to the footage so I will be able to see properly if the typography effect matches well with what is on screen. 

Animatic

Here is an animatic I have created of my whole piece. I had never created an animatic before, but found that ‘the goal of an animatic is to define the timing for a piece of moving image’ (Chambers, 2021) and I definitely agree that creating my animatic has helped me to plan out and visualise my final sequence much better. Originally, within my storyboard I didn’t include any estimated timings because I was finding it quite hard to visualise my piece but, when putting together my shots of the animatic I was able to try out different timings for the various scenes and then figure out what timings would work the best and how well each scene would flow. Creating the animatic also enabled me to make sure I would have enough footage to last until the required 60 seconds for the sequence.

Overall, the animatic did seem to take me quite a while to make, but this was mainly because I decided to draw out each frame again as I wasn’t happy with how some of them looked. I did encounter some small problems when creating my animatic, particularly when trying to save each frame for the animatic from Procreate onto my iPad, and then from there onto Box ready to load onto my laptop in Premier Pro, I realised that even though I had named and numbered all of my files in order of the sequence that I wanted on Procreate, for some reason they ended up having automated and generic image names that weren’t in the order of the sequence. Because of this, I then had to spend some time saving my frames individually in order, uploading them to multiple Box files ready for importing into Premier Pro correctly. This has helped to highlight how important naming files and organising them correctly is, particularly when creating something like this where it is crucial that all frames are in the correct sequence. 

References:

Chambers, J (2021) What is an animatic? Available online: https://boords.com/animatic/what-is-the-definition-of-an-animatic-storyboard [Accessed 27/10/21].

Storyboard

The storyboard for my sequence is going to be a really important part of the whole process. ‘Storyboards are a key part of visual storytelling – they can help you visualize your idea, help you explain it to a client, and plan a creative project’ (Boicheva, 2020). At first, I did struggle to find a way to translate the ideas that I had in my head for my sequence onto a planned and ordered storyboard, as I had lots of ideas for possible shots but they weren’t necessarily in a particular order. By drawing all of the shot ideas onto Procreate on my iPad, I was then able to arrange them and use this to help me decide what order they should be shown in on my sequence.

My final storyboard

From doing some research into existing storyboards to help me, I found that the most important things to include in a storyboard would be the basic illustration or graphic of the shot to help visualise how it will look. It’s also important to include a short description of the shot, and to write down the camera angles or styles ready for doing the actual filming. And, as this project is focused on visual effects, I also ensured to include what visual effects I would like in each shot. Usually in storyboards, it is also possible to include a brief description of any dialogue in the shots, however, my storyboard won’t have any dialogue, it will just have an instrumental and possibly some other audio sound effects which aren’t yet decided so I didn’t include this part in my storyboard.

As my sequence is going to be about 60 seconds long, this will make each of my shots be on average about 6.6 seconds long, although, I will most likely make some shots more or less than this number depending on the situation. Generally, horror shots in films will last an average of 16 seconds compared to action film shots which would be an average of 4 seconds. I feel like mine being around 6.6 seconds should be acceptable, but to help add to more atmosphere in my opening sequence, I will probably try to make some longer, but I will most likely alter the timings of the shots during post-production.

In terms of the types of shots and camera angles, I did have a go using the ‘Shot Designer’ app for some of my shots to try and help me get a better understanding of the positioning of everything when it comes to shooting. Here, I was able to add the objects that would be in frame and then add the camera and if the camera would be moving in that shot, you can create a camera pathway to represent this. I did find using this app useful to help me visualise everything better. 

Shot 1 screenshot 

I felt that this one didn’t work as well because the app wouldn’t allow me to alter the angle of the camera, and in this scene I will require the camera to be facing down.

Shot 2 screenshot

It was much easier to translate what I had envisaged for this shot onto the app, this plan looks much clearer and is easier to understand that the camera will be focusing towards the trees and will be moving from location 1 to 2.

Shot 3 screenshot

Shot 3 seemed to work out well too, it shows that the camera will be panning from location 1 to 2 (left the right).

Overall, I have attempted to do a variety of different shot types throughout my storyboard to hopefully try and make my final sequence be as visually appealing as possible. I have tried to include types of shots and camera angles which would be suited for the horror genre, for example, in the first shot it will be a close up of the main characters shoes walking along to the path towards the forest. Having this as an opening scene will hopefully intrigue the viewer and I will be able to focus on the sound of footsteps, to match the footage and this should hopefully add to the creepy feeling I aim to go for and therefore set the tone for the rest of the opening sequence. In shot 4, I have chosen to do a low angle shot looking up at the trees, I was hoping that this would almost come across as quite intimidating to the viewer. Low angle shots are often used in horror films as they ‘can really help to jolt the audience into the headspace of the characters’ (Kroll, 2015). 

References:

Boicheva, A (2020) What is a storyboard [theory, examples and mega inspiration]. Available online: https://graphicmama.com/blog/what-is-a-storyboard/ [Accessed 25/10/21].

Average shots information found at:

Stephen Follows (2017) How many shots are in the average movie? Available online: https://stephenfollows.com/many-shots-average-movie/ [Accessed 25/10/21].

Kroll, N (2015) Cinematography tips for horror filmmakers. Available online: https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/cinematography-tips-for-horror-filmmakers/ [Accessed 26/10/21].

Screenshots taken from the app ‘Shot Designer’

Hollywood Camera Work LLC (2021) Shot Designer [App]. Available online: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/shot-designer/id556342711 [Accessed 25/10/21].