interaction + visual designer
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La Valse D'Amelie

A motion piece to capture the mood of a piece of music through movement.

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Visual / Motion

Dec 2016

La Valse D'Amélie

Using experimental and animated geometry to convey emotion of an orchestral piece.

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motion, visual design

 
 

The Goal

How can I take music from the quirky French film Amélie and connote a passionate, quirky, and moving emotion through animated geometric shapes to match its mood?

 

Initial Exploration

I wanted to represent multifaceted and complicated personalities coming together and separating. While brainstorming, I also figured to make this piece full-circle, it would be beneficial to end with a similar pattern from the beginning.

For colors, I started with the deep red tones of the cinematography, and initially drew inspiration from some of the greener shots as well.

Initial Storyboard

As shown below, there is a slight change of color combination as the music intensifies. This is where the colors feel deeper and more passionate. The full-circle aspect can be seen in the inverted first and second-to-last panels. 

Aftereffects iterating

While beginning to animate, I also took liberties and started playing with color as I went along. Something I noticed is how the color palette change is too dramatic (i.e, the green completely disappears in the second half). In the end, it made more sense to keep the red, tan, and chocolate colors through the whole piece, and invert the foreground and background colors halfway through.

When I made it to the end, I went back to make more changes to make sure the shapes connoted the emotional and organic mood. One of the biggest changes I made was this one. Both images were for the same point of time in the piece.

The left/before image, is very sharp and geometric. I realized later they look like chomping teeth. Making those shapes into semi-circles made the first half of the piece more cohesive.

Another large change was layout. At the beginning of the second half, I had the waves stacked on top of each other very methodically. This worked a little, as the first draft had the camera appear to move further away as the music gets slightly quieter. However, I experimented and tried placing them more sporadically, taking away the unintended rigidity.

 

Final Storyboard

DLscreengrabs
 

Reflection

One of the major things I realized going through the process from sketches all the way to the final Aftereffects file was how much the medium affects the outcome. When I started making my initial ideas on paper, it was easy to feel “tricked” that my ideas wouldn’t work out the way I would like them to unless I had a very clear vision of how my storyboards would look. Having a clear plan of what I wanted, I went straight to Aftereffects, but then I realized that now that I was dealing with software that I didn’t know 100% of the features of. Therefore, there wasn’t an absolute guarantee that I could do everything that I had originally sketched. Fortunately,  I realized quickly that this can have positive outcomes.


Initially, I wanted to make a certain part (the fast, orchestral portion) a series of waving, repeating lines moving with the violins. And although I couldn’t quite get that effect on the computer, experimenting with the software (with a loose storyboard in mind) is what made my video more dynamic.