The following notes are inspired by a 2nd year project in which an animated character walks in a treadmill fashion through three or four panning environments.
In addition to completing a treadmill walk sequence which you will export a PNG image sequence with transparencies, you should create long panning backgrounds.
Work at organizing each environment as an After Effects composition. In those comps / environments, you should arrange rough layouts to start. That is, as pencil drawings only. Don’t add colour or details in this first production step.
The comps / environments should be wider than one field. For example, regarding typical fields in HD at 16:9:
- 1080 x 1920 pixels: at 3 fields, your artwork should be around 1080 pixels high by 5760 pixels wide
- 720 x 1280 pixels: at 3 fields, your artwork should be around 720 pixels high by 3800 pixels wide
You could make the artwork in a variety of ways, by drawing directly on paper first in pieces, photograph the separate fields, and then organize them as layers in the After Effects comp. Or, you could create everything digitally in Photoshop and add it to the composition, or do a combination of both. Once you have laid everything out as rough panning elements I will show you how to program pans in After Effects and test the movement with the cut-out animation, to make sure everything works properly before you polish the sequences with paint and final rendering.
Information on Layout
You can design artwork at any size, provided the dimensions are proportional to the correct aspect ratios. Once you have done so, scan to the necessary dimensions. For example, here are some measurements for panning backgrounds:
A single field:
- 16 x 9 units (1 field)
- 16 x 9 cm
- 16 x 9 inches, 8 x 4.5 inches, etc.
- Scan and layout elements and sections to fit in an AE composition (1 field)
- 1080p: 1080 x 1920
- 720p: 720 x 1280
A double field:
- 32 x 9 units (2 fields)
- 32 x 9 cm
- 32 x 9 inches, or 16 x 4.5 inches, etc.
- Scan and layout elements and sections to fit in an AE composition (2 fields):
- 1080p: 1080 x 3840
- 720p: 720 x 2650
A triple field:
- 48 x 9 units (3 fields)
- 48 x 9 cm
- 48 x 9 inches, or 24 x 4.5 inches, etc.
- Scan and layout elements and sections to fit in an AE composition (3 fields):
- 1080p: 1080 x 5760
- 720p: 720 x 3840
A quadruple field:
- 64 x 9 units (4 fields)
- 64 x 9 cm
- 64 x 9 inches, or 32 x 4.5 inches, etc.
- Scan and layout elements and sections to fit in an AE composition (4 fields):
- 1080p: 1080 x 7680
- 720p: 720 x 5120
- Create artwork at 18 x 96 cm (three fields) and then scan it at three separate sections of artwork. You could then prep that artwork in Photoshop and assemble it in After Effects.