sand colored letters on a purple background read: “out of a plane at 15,000” feet.
Screencapture of current draft provided by the author

Motion Design: Animating the Wayhaught Couch Scene Dialogue

Lauren Busser
Apr 20 · 5 min read

This week I learned that my timeline skills have translated nicely.

After creating a storyboard for Wayhaught (Waverly Earp and Nicole Haught)’s first kiss I got started in After Effects working with the jpegs from my storyboard on a timeline.

My previous editing experience includes a lot of video editing where I was both editing and in charge of a production process. I’ve seen where things can hiccup a project like this, and so a lot of my thinking going in was about how to curb those potential pitfalls.

The Animatic

I spent my time in class animating my storyboard.

My original storyboard was 85 frames. I think when I was laying it out I was thinking largely of how a flipbook animation worked and used my canvases to explore how things would work in a low-fidelity environment.

It gave me a good idea of some of the effects that I was going for, but I also knew that my font choice was still off.

There were parts of this I did like, but that couldn’t be fully realized, but this process did give me a lot of information about how the intended effects would appear.

Animatic made from Storyboard JPEGs.

Laying these 85 pieces out also made it easier to start the first draft since I essentially had all the timeline markers. I did need to make multiple adjustments along the way though for timing.

First Draft

I was able to get my animatic complete before my desk crit. While I intended the in-depth storyboard to give me an accurate picture of the animation it didn’t feel quite right.

I knew that Waverly’s dialogue needed to be in a more romantic typeface, and while I knew that a handwritten one would be overwhelming, I wasn’t quite sure which one I wanted to go with. I decided to lay out my text in After Effects with Waverly’s dialogue in Canto and Nicole’s in Gill Sans.

This is better, but I am still not sure it’s the right typeface. One of the things I like about Canto is the Brush weight which has some uniquely tactile fills that I think evoke the idea of a love letter.

Color pallette and text samples created by the author.

Ahmed also took a look at my mood board and suggested I try the colors from the Wynonna Earp comics. I pulled over a dozen colors and began assembling a style guide for myself in Illustrator. This became important later in the week when I wanted to start playing with color changes.

He also suggested I think about ways to indicate a mood shift around the time the music kicks in during my audio clip.

The first draft in After Effects.

I had some experience keyframing and laying things out on a timeline so I was able to get all the pieces laid out relatively quickly. Then I continued to animate it and play with timings and compositions until I got something that I really liked.

One of my biggest triumphs this week was finding the button that turned on the grid. When I was trying to manipulate different size fonts in the same composition I found myself wondering if they were aligned properly and this helped:

The Adobe After Effects environment used by the author displaying grids.
TheAfter Effect environment the author is working in.

I spent most of this week tweaking timings, color, and the font I was using for Nicole’s lines.

I still have not decided what typeface I’ll use for Nicole, but since she only has five lines and components it wasn’t a priority. Instead, I decided that I would focus on more technical aspects and return to the typeface with some fresh eyes.

The author’s edited first draft.

After stepping away for a few days I revisited my color palette and decided to switch out the gray for a purple. While I liked the gray it seemed too flat and didn’t convey the emotion I wanted. The dark purple at least felt like there was something deeper going on.

I also changed the first two compositions to have one of the sand tones. I am not sure how I feel about it in terms of contrast yet, but I am going to give it a day or so and see how I feel.

I also changed Nicole’s typeface to Justus Pro Light. This seemed to be different enough from Canto while still having some romantic character to it.

Overall, I am liking the direction of this so far. I think there is a lot more I can play with and I want to keep experimenting.

I did share an early draft with a few friends both familiar and unfamiliar with the source material and they seem to be getting the feeling that I want out of this.

Takeaways This Week:

  • I laid out all my text in a single composition, but I discovered that if I cut the layers and create new compositions I can then import those to my main timeline and work on subtle animations in environments with fewer layers.
  • Masks would be a helpful tool here but I have yet to figure out how to work them properly. I did watch several videos about kinetic type masks to get an idea of different effects.
  • Grids are still your friends even on video canvases.

Changes I Wish to Make

  • I added tracking animation to “I scare you” but I was hoping to anchor it the left alignment and let you be the only word that animates. It’s possible that when I break it down into smaller compositions I can really get into the weeds and make that change.
  • The “far” in the third composition isn’t working for me. I am hoping if I keep looking into masks and checking out more tutorials I will find a better solution.
  • I also thought a little bit about how I could better convey Waverly’s anxiety as she approaches the moment where she says “is sitting right in front of you.” I think it may be worth including some micro-animations to make the letters look like they’re nervous. I have yet to decide if this is something I should do on a letter, word, or line level though, and I would like to experiment with that going into next week.
Lauren Busser

Written by

Grad Student at NYU Tandon. Associate Editor for Tell-Tale TV. Pop Culture enthusiast. Writer with a dog. Knits.

angles + color + type

a graduate student’s process blog where she explores: design, color, typography, and other nuances.

Lauren Busser

Written by

Grad Student at NYU Tandon. Associate Editor for Tell-Tale TV. Pop Culture enthusiast. Writer with a dog. Knits.

angles + color + type

a graduate student’s process blog where she explores: design, color, typography, and other nuances.

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