So… since last time’s conspiracy-themed After Effects template, I realized how much of its potential was wasted on a campy intro. Sure, it looks cool and all, but if you want something serious-er, it doesn’t quite work. So I decided to make a “serious” version, inspired by those those opening sequences at the beginning of conspiracy-themed films and tv series like the X-Files, Phenomenon: The Lost Archives, Fringe and others. It wasn’t just the fact that I love conspiracies and paranormal stuff, it was the fact that I really liked how that 3D effect could be accomplished inside After Effects without any 3rd party plugins and it’d still look good. So I devised a plan to create the entire template INSIDE AE. At first I wasn’t even sure it’d even work. Heck, I wasn’t even sure if it was possible to make it work AND be editable, so this was a “background process” in my head for days until I finally cracked it; From the right angle and the right speed, this thing could totally work! I’ve been using this technique for every single template I’ve done so far, although not for anything like this, but still, could it work?
So basically what I’m rambling about is the thumbtacks. Clearly it’s the most obvious protruding object in this picture. If the thumbtacks don’t work, the whole After Effects template falls apart. So I made a few tests and it worked. This was the green light. The thumbtacks were the linchpin around which everything else was revolving around, so naturally, when THAT worked, everything else fell into place.
After over 70 AE templates done, this one is, judging by the entire length and complexity of the composition, one of the most compact I’ve ever done. With only 40Mb of asset files and no third-party plugins needed.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Don’t we have enough crappy procedural shattered glass templates? Like… After Effects Does this automatically, right?!”
Well, yes. But look again. Notice anything strange? Yup. Exactly. This is not your typical Shatter Plugin template. In fact, I want you to pay attention to the borders of those glass shards. As you can see, they are molded to the shattered glass texture. In other words, there’s a custom-made shatter map. Meaning that someone (Namely your’s truly) sat there for hours making the shatter map by hand. So what is the whole point of this? Well, for starters, flexibility. What this means to you as the user of this After Effects template, is that you have 100% control over how that glass breaks. Maybe not in the immediate control panel, as this template was designed for that that specific logo stinger. But if you are savvy enough with After Effects you can turn this shattered glass template into basically ANYTHING involving breaking glass, since this is a 3D effect.
So I was looking for material to show to a potential customer and looking through my various folders of concept art and drawings I stumbled upon a small treasure trove of illustrations that I made for my “Book of the Dead Names” prop, which you can view here. Which basically was one of the many Necronomicon replicas I’ve made over the years, a subject that I have been passionate and obsessed about over the years, mostly because of the Evil Dead movies, but also because of Lovecraftian lore.
Now, If you don’t know what the Necronomicon is, it’s a fictional book created by American author H. P. Lovecraft, who created an entire mythology around it, from the creation of the the book, somewhere in medieval Damascus to the creatures depicted in it. These creatures were not all created by Lovecraft, some were created after his death by other authors like August Derleth but they are in one way or another mentioned somewhere in Lovecraftian literature and therefore are part of the Lovecraftian Cthulhu mythos.
So anyway, digression aside. This was a very thorough Lovecraftian bestiary that I spent quite some time working on. Most of the biology and physiologies were based on the author’s descriptions of these creatures but I did take certain liberties and creative licenses with some of them. Like, for instance, Night Gaunts were described as having no face, but for an airborne creature, I was thinking they should have a way to in-take air and feed for sustenance (after all, flying does burn calories), so I drew these creatures with nothing but a gaping, lamprey-like mouth hole on their faces. Similarly, I added extra nipples, folds and other features on the bodies of some of the other creatures, because, why the heck not. They are extraterrestrials after all.