Dev Blog: Adobe After Effects

Blog Post 7 – Adobe After Effects

During the game, cutscenes are used often at climactic parts of the story. The introduction of the game informs the player of the world’s background through a 5 minute animated cutscene. The end of the game wraps the whole thing up through an animated cliff hanger. Throughout the game, there are also cutscenes during crucial parts of narrative such as the main events. Cutscenes are therefore used to allow the player to sit back and take in important information, as well as focus on the story without any distraction. Besides this, they are also used to divide the game into sections and give the players time to take a break between parts of the game which might contain intense gameplay.

This was a task which I took on board. I had not had any prior experience with animating cutscenes, nor Adobe After Effects, although I did create 2D character animations for a project last year. Although this was a relatively new area of games design, which I had not explored much of before, I was excited to learn a new piece of software and create such an important part of the game. After a bit of research online, and help from friends on animating courses, I dug in and learnt how to animate through working on the intro cutscene. I created all of the assets for the animations on Procreate on my iPad. Procreate allowed me to hand draw everything with precision, whilst also being able to separate things between layers, which could be exported individually, and used in after effects to determine what goes in front of what. However, before getting on with the work, I planned how the camera would move around the screen in my head. For instance, the first scene starts with the camera panning down from the sky, showing the wall, and then the two towns divided. In order to create this panning effect, I created a long canvas in Procreate and drew one elongated drawing of the scene. In adobe after effects, whilst the camera stays still, this elongated scene moves from a starting position fixated on the top of the image, to an end position fixated on the bottom of the image. The placement of these two keyframes allows after effects to create a slow panning effect as if the camera was moving.

Working on the animations was a whole new process. Some of the cutscenes already had planned keyframes by Jess for what she envisioned them to look like, other cutscenes I had complete creative freedom over. The intro and end cutscenes were already planned out, however, once I received the audio files which went over the cutscene, I realised that there were a lot of points which nothing was planned to happen. Occasionally there would be 10 – 15 seconds where all the viewer would see was a still image, times like this I improvised with Jess’ designs and added something relevant to the cutscene in an attempt to retain the viewer’s attention. Coming up with new content wasn’t easy at times, the lines of dialogue at often did not offer easy imagery for me to draw. For instance, during the intro cutscene, both voice actors describe the music of the game. Here blues is described as “wholesome”, “soulful” and transparent”. These three descriptive words are not easy to imagine nor provide imagery for, so at points like this, I had to research what these words truly meant, in order to represent them properly. The imagery I used in this example was a heart for wholesome, a symbol for soulful commonly seen in meditation teachings, and the image of an eye for transparent, as it is believed that looking at a person’s eyes allows us to tell if they are being honest and transparent about what they are saying. Although it was a struggle at times to represent what was being said in the audio-visually, it was still a new and exciting opportunity to learn new software and a new skill crucial for the game’s development. Below you can find the trailer for our game, the cutscenes I created have been used in this as well as throughout the game.

  • Adam Watts

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