Animating the Julia Intro – Ryan’s production notes

To pull back the curtain on the demo industry a bit I’m going to say that I put way more work into this demo than I charged for. Demo people charge based on their audience size and frankly, our audience size isn’t at the place where we could charge an amount that would be profitable for making this level of demo video. Obviously the animated intro is really what pushes this video out of the realm of normal profitability, so why did I work so hard on this demo?  First off, because I really, really wanted to. I’m a huge fan of the Creature from the Black Lagoon (affectionately referred to as ‘Gillman’) and when I saw the art on the Julia, with that classic ‘Gillman’ webbed hand coming out of the water, I immediately knew that I wanted to have a drama play out between Gillman and his female counter part ‘Julia’. Secondly, I really wanted to produce it as a portfolio piece. I’m a big believer that you should do the work you want to get paid for until you can get paid for it and this is the kind of creative video work I would love to do for fair compensation.

My first step was to produce sketches of the characters.

The Creature from the black lagoon (Gillman) and his ex girlfriend Julia.

I played with the idea of using photo manipulations of the Creature from the Black Lagoon, but once I had some quick sketches going I knew that I wanted to go the illustration/animation route. How was I going to animate it? Frame by frame animation is extremely tedious and takes way longer than I would ever have ambition for. After looking around at a few software options I committed to using Adobe After Effects, a piece of software I’m already very familiar with but had never used for this type of animating.

The next step was to fully illustrate the characters and break them up in the parts I would manipulate as animations in After Effects. The head/body was one part, the eyes were another and the pupils, eyebrows, lips and hands were also their own separate parts.

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To animate the characters I applied what After Effects calls ‘puppet pins’ along the illustrated body parts and used the puppet pins to warp and move the individual graphics frame by frame. This is much much easier than traditional animation but still time consuming. All in all I put about 20 hours into producing/animating a minute and a half of animation as the intro for the Julia demo.

Each one of the white dots at the bottom represents and adjustment of the three puppet pins on the mouth. What you see here only represents 1/4th of the animation done just for the mouth. Similar adjustment were made to all body parts of both characters.

An incredible amount of work went into the animation and I could probably write a book about all the steps involved but then you have to consider all the the other skills that went into this demo. I wrote a script, performed voice acting for both characters, recorded and edited the audio, Illustrated, animated, edited, photo manipulated (for the backgrounds) and that’s all before I even started on the demo portion of the video which required its own set of skills and equipment.


I’m very happy with the result of my time investment in this video, but its clear to me that this will not be a normal element of our demo videos until we can command the kind of fee that would make 4 days of work worth it.


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