vc021: Jon Forsyth logo animation

#21 of the #100videoclips project is an animation of a personal logo using paper, fire, pastels, and various effects in PremierePro.

The sound track is a snippet of a recording of “Kashmir” by the Scratch Ambassadors of Berklee Valencia, but slowed down 8 times using the fascinating “Paul Stretch” program.

The Inspiration

Having done one logo animation, I wanted to try again using different techniques.

However, the basic concept was the same: start with the finished product, then slowly alter/destroy it, and play it backwards.

This time, I wanted to try fire!

What I Did

I thought it would be cool to start with a pile of ashes and then have a logo “come to life” by showing an inferno in reverse.

I was going to use a technique similar to what I did in vc018: Logo Animation, with the main difference that I didn’t want my camera directly above the action, since even a small fire could very well ruin the camera.

These were the basic steps:

  1. Create a logo in Adobe Illustrator.
  2. Print out and cut out the logo.
  3. Glue the logo (printed on white paper) onto a dark sheet of paper.
  4. Stick the larger paper (with a glue stick) to a cookie sheet.
  5. Set up the cookie sheet at an angle (propped up with some wood), then position the camera on a tripod so it was pointing down at an angle perpendicular to the cookie sheet. (Sorry I didn’t get a photo of this step.)
    1. I wanted to make sure the camera was far enough away and not directly above the paper, since I was going to light the paper on fire.
  6. Film the proceedings.
    1. I first added some colored lines with pastels, thinking I would make those appear as a stop motion effect. However, I didn’t end up using that part.
    2. I drizzled some charcoal lighter fluid from the top edge of the cookie sheet so it dripped down and soaked the paper.
    3. I lit the fluid — which took longer than I expected. I was afraid it would “poof” all at once, but I had to hold a lighter to it for about 10 seconds before it lit.
  7. Edit.
    1. I ran the clip backward as I had originally intended to get the “logo appearing from the flames” look. I also increased the speed of the clip to 5,000%.
    2. Otherwise, I played around with a number of filters and looks, including adding a clean digital copy of the logo from Adobe Illustrator as an overlay and for the final shots.
    3. I layered two of the clips and applied a “difference” blend mode to the top one, which is what accounted for the blue flames. It wasn’t on purpose, but I really like the results.
  8. Add sound. As I explained above, the sound track is a short clip of a recording of a synthesizer and a violin (playing the intro to “Kashmir”), but greatly slowed down using the “Paul Stretch” program. That program can slow audio files to an incredible degree while maintaining audio fidelity.

What I Learned

  • Lighter fluid (at least the stuff we had) doesn’t light as quickly as I thought.
  • As I expected, when filming flames from above (or almost above), take good care of where your equipment will be in relation to the flames.
  • When playing…um, working with flames, be sure to have fire extinguishing capability nearby, if nothing else so you can put the flame out when you’re done. (Did I? See the next point.)
  • If you leave a flame burning on a cookie sheet too long, it makes a black mark that takes a bit of work to get out. (OK, I didn’t really have a way to put it out, so it just kept burning for a bit, and, well, my wife wasn’t thrilled with the results. But all has been restored — and forgiven.)