Behind the Scenes: Making “The Belgic Confession” in AE

Posted on August 24, 2011 · Posted in Blue Banner Media

In Fall 2010, we began our first film as Blue Banner Media. This was an animated historical piece on the writing of the Belgic Confession during the Reformation. Our plan was to take 2-dimensional drawings (done by illustrator Vic Lockman) and simulate camera movement and depth. To do this we had 3 basic steps using Adobe CS4:

1. Scan the drawings into the computer

2. Separate the drawings into a foreground, a middle, and a background in Photoshop.

3. Use After Effects to pan a camera through the layers of the drawings to create our video.

Step 1 is pretty self-explanatory, so I’ll skip it and move on to the good stuff…

STEP 2:

For Step 2, we opened the scanned files into Photoshop and used the brush tool to select the area of the image that we wanted to separate, and then delete the rest. This meant we had to create 2-3 projects in PS for each “scene” (image) in the film. We had over 20 scenes!

STEP 3:

Next came the After Effects part. For Step 3, we took those psd files we created in PS and imported them into AE. After Effects allows you to set up images on a 3D plane and then add cameras, lights, FX and titles. We kept things relatively basic: we placed the background images furthest back, then the middle and the foreground in the front, almost like a shadow box or puppet stage. Adding a camera and a light or two made our set-up complete. Then, using the timeline, we animated the camera movement and even the characters sometimes, again very basic. This took the most fine-tuning, but in the end, the result is amazing!

Next, the fully-rendered videos were be brought into Final Cut Pro for editing. This was a lot of fun! We added our narration, music, sound FX and titles. At last, we had a film.

There you have it folks, a mad dash through our behind-the-scenes. You now know, roughly, how we made “The Belgic Confession”.