To date one of my two biggest hurdles in learning motion graphics and CGVFX has been thinking up something to do. When working with something on this scale it’s not like any idea is going to be easy, simple, or quick. Although I started down this road with the intent to make graphics for live streaming, that hasn’t come to fruition in part because I have no one or no reason to make them for, but also because I learned that After Effects is way cooler when it’s used to add visual effects to video. In order to do this I need to have:

  1. A concept
  2. Footage to work with
  3. An idea of how to accomplish what I want to accomplish

The first item is hard. I can come up with a lot of ideas, of course, because I haven’t made it this far in my nerd-dom and not amassed an encyclopedic pile of “Cool Sci-Fi and Fantasy Concepts”. The problem is that once the first item has been chosen, it’s on to item number 2, which is where the problem lies. I don’t have fancy equipment, a dedicated space, people to help out, or anything that can allow me to acquire any of the above. That means I have to strike when the current situation lights the bulb over my head and when the idea is simple enough that I might be able to execute it alone, like when I was waiting on board a plane to head home after a week’s vacation.

Sitting there in the window seat and looking out on the tarmac as the ground crew went about their business, I was observing the parallax reflections of the window and the clear plastic on the inside of the…porthole? Whatever “windows” are called on a plane. Touching this plastic I thought “since we have this layer inside the plane, what if this was a clear, capacative touch-screen that could allow a passenger to order drinks or snacks, a movie, or a musical selection?”

Since we were delayed by the flight crew rotating in from another flight that had been late, I used my phone to record the footage of me just stabbing the window with my finger. Again, since this was a spur of the moment thing, I had absolutely no advanced planning nor did I have any ability to set up the scene in any way that would help add the effects in later. But at least I had an idea and now footage to work with.

The image above is a rough pass on how such a system might work. I’ll probably add on a “part 2” after this post to break down what was done to get things to this point, and then I’ll be up against item number 3: figuring out how to take the rough pass and make it attractive enough to be convincing as a “special effect”.


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