Layerframe Studios, since its inception, has been a design forward digital agency. Our visual style comes from our Creative Director and Founder E, who brings nearly 20 years of working in digital and design to the studio. The aesthetic leans toward clean designs, with bright, bold colors and lots of images.

In 2016, Layerframe decided it was time to bring our 2D design aesthetic into the 3D and motion design world. So the company purchased software and we started learning. We knew we’d want to show off the skills we’ve been developing between client projects, and we wanted to to do it in a way that was a slight visual departure for the brand. So we decided to create an internal promotion piece. From that conversation, Galactic was born.

In its first iteration, Galactic was a series of simple shapes moving dynamically through outlines. Our original inspiration came from a short ‘Word of the Day’ series that E created. You can see the images below: bold colors, gorgeous shapes, clean designs & typography.

However, after our initial few takes at converting it to motion, we realized that even though it was on brand for us, it didn’t have the impact or carry the excitement that we wanted our work to have. We made some modifications to see if using alternative depth of field, or typography, or different designs would help to carry the project in the way we wanted it to. We ended up leaving it unfinished, with a proof of un-concept video you can see here, and tabled the project.

While working through another project, E saw an image that really caught his eye. So at 4am one night, he Slacked over a couple images from an experiment he was working on. When I woke up, he had a final still developed. As soon as we saw the still, we knew this was the way forward.

It was ‘A New Way,’ a massive visual departure from our brand, all the way from the color palette to the font to mood. Everything about the frames were visually impactful, exciting, and quite frankly, something we hadn’t seen before. The objects in the scenes all looked fresh; a mix between something organic and a machine, with a massive and epic feeling to them. We knew immediately this was the project we were going to make.

These style frames guided our entire process. Since they had been built in Cinema4D already, we knew we could add camera movement and motion to the objects in the scenes, and roughly block out the entire piece just based on that. We knew we’d probably have to add a few scenes, but we had a great start to a motion graphics promo. And so the process began.

Nerdy Stuff:

SOFTWARE & TOOLS USED

  • Cinema4D
    • Physical Renderer
    • HDRI Link from GreyscaleGorilla
    • PixelPlow to render
  • Photoshop for Style Frames and comps
  • Adobe After Effects for compositing, typography and 2d motion
    • Red Giant for particles and plug-ins
  • Adobe Premiere Pro for transcodes
  • Wipster for video review

GENERAL PROCESS

Rough timing:

  • Bring style frames into Premiere Pro
  • Block out the rough length of the video using the styleframes, finding the pace and general timing of each scene
    • We knew we wanted it to be about 60s

Music Selection:

  • Find the right music to help guide the video
    • Originally we wanted a heavily orchestral piece, with lots of instruments and a strong string section. We tried a couple of wildly different music pieces, from electronic to classical to rock. In the end, we found a Philip Glass piece from Mishima that was nearly perfect, and we used it as placeholder music. We thought the juxtaposition of this massive world with classical sounding music would fit very nicely. Knowing we couldn’t use Mr. Glass’s work, we searched a bunch of stock music libraries to find something in that vein. We didn’t have any luck, and realized we’d have to commission a bespoke piece of music.
    • We spoke with Kieran over at Full English Post, who gave us a lot of sound advice regarding our budget and what we could expect. After some deliberation, we realized that an orchestra wasn’t going to work for this project. So we changed directions again, this time drawing inspiration from Different Perspective by Zaoeyo Echoic, done for Pause Fest’s title sequence, which was a bit more electronic. With Kieran’s excellent guidance, we pivoted toward this new, final direction.
  • Edit the length of the scenes based on the placeholder music
    • After putting in the Mishima piece, and then Pause, we made some small tweaks to each scene for pacing, and to help the entire piece continue to build

Organization:

  • Organize, organize, organize
    • Create a google doc that named and tracked each scene and shot, so we didn’t waste any time rendering frames we didn’t need
      • It also gave us a naming convention for referring to shots
    • I could also then estimate render time and costs for each scene, and the overall video, which was useful when we moved to pixel plow
  • Combine the scenes used for the style frame into a single C4D, using takes and layers
  • Realize that the files were too complex to use takes and layers and keep them all in one file, the scenes were chugging
  • Break the scenes back into their own files, organized and labeled appropriately

Camera Motion:

  • Set up the cameras and object motion to last the length of each shot based on the google doc
  • Render a playblast of each scene to see how they played out
  • Realize that most of the cameras moved too fast
    • Tweak the scenes
  • Render playblasts
    • Tweak scenes
  • Render playblasts
    • Repeat until camera and object motion feels right
  • Set up rough render settings for each scene
  • Add and adjust lighting
  • Render out roughs
    • Tweak lighting
  • Render roughs
    • Tweak lighting and cameras
  • Repeat until everything is looking great

Compositing:

  • Render multipass files to be brought into After Effects
    • We used beauty, AO, individual lights, volume, diffuse, reflection
  • Composite files in After Effects

Text Motion Design:

  • Create placeholder text for each scene
  • Manually animate all the hero text on screen
  • Animate the secondary text on screen
  • Tweak text animations
  • Render out entire project as Targa images to be brought into Premiere Pro, in order to add audio and transcode easily
  • From there it was a matter of tweaking scenes, sending them to pixelplow to be rendered, bringing them into After Effects for compositing, color and effects, sending to Premiere Pro and then posting via Wipster for team comments and updates.

Music Review:

  • Once the timing was locked, we reached back out to Kieran at Full English, who worked on all our SFX and did the final mix. He found an excellent composer in Jon Ososki, and brought him in to do the music for the piece.

Exports and Transcodes:

  • Combine the image sequence with audio in Premiere Pro.
    • This way I can render out multiple cuts without having to do the heavy computing that’s required in After Effects for each one. I take the stills, make size + format changes, then push them to Media Encoder.
  • Render the final video.
    • Make social cuts, and share with the world!

Check out the behind the scenes in the video below:

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