Country Dance Game

Project completed on April 1, 2011.


I recently completed a three-month internship at Fischer Edit/FX, a post-production and production studio located in downtown Minneapolis. To quote their website, they're "known for cutting Super Bowl spots, MTV music videos and hundreds of national TV ads and web trailers. Over the years Fischer has grown to include a full range of high-end visual effects in its suite of services, including compositing, computer graphics, 3D animation, and design."

I was given the opportunity to work on quite a few projects in my three months there, but this is probably one of my favorites as it was a lot of fun to work on. I had a lot of creative freedom with the project, and helped to create many of the visual aspects of the project along with the head Motion Graphics Artist AJ Haines.

The opening segment was created from a still stock photograph of a barn that the client had purchased. They asked us to make it look like there was a party going on inside. I extracted the areas of the barn to be lit up and then with expressions, animated the light's color-change to go with the music.

With the endtag, I created a random circular light pattern that twinkled, then created and used a displacement map to make it look like a curtain (which was the client's idea) and finally placed it in z-space to create an environment, making it look like a stage with a reflective floor. The Producer at Fischer Edit, Ali Napier, suggested at some point that it would be cool if the women on the game art were dancing. Trying to do this with the Puppet-Pin tool without making it look like, well, the Puppet-Pin tool, was unsuccessful, so I looked to other methods.

I found a technique in which I was able to set up inverse-kinematics inside After Effects. This involved cutting the characters up into the separate parts, adjusting the anchor points of these parts, and applying some expressions to the rotation property of each piece. It's actually fully animated with expressions. This involved a lot of sin(x) expressions and random math to make it look not completely automated, and considering it started out as single-layer 2D silhouettes, I think it looks pretty good.

While it's easy to say what I all worked on, it's easy to forget all the work that happened to carry this project from start to finish that didn't involve me. AJ Haines, the main Motion Graphics Artist at Fischer Edit, originally started the project and did a lot to get me started, including extracting the barn and providing me with the necessary assets and suggestions to get started and move forward with the project. Ali Napier, whom I've already mentioned, was great to work with and communicated the client's vision to AJ and I throughout the entirety of the project, including revision calls, suggestions and feedback to us and much more. The Freelance Editor, Lindy Wilson, was also great to work with, and brilliantly cut the in-game footage to go with the music and other visual assets. Additionally, Matt, a VFX artist at Fischer, contributed a great amount of time to ensure ESRB rating and scanline standards were met. All in all, it was one of the best examples of teamwork that I've ever had the pleasure of being part of.