Sparrow Song | Drawing with Light

One of the effects that I’ve used in two productions now is where lines appear to draw-in over time in a video. This effect is fairly easy to generate in After Effects, and I wanted to take a quick moment to detail how it actually works. 

This process can start many ways. For Sparrow song it started by connecting a laptop directly to the projectors being used, and using photoshop to map light directly onto the set. You can see in the photo to the right that each surface that’s intended to be a building has some kind of drawn on look. In photoshop each of these buildings exists as an independent layer. This makes it easy to isolate effects or changes to individual buildings in the animation process.

Here’s a quick tutorial about how I animated the layers to create the desired effect:


Now that I’ve done this several times it finally feels like a fairly straightforward process – even if it can be a rather time consuming one.

Here’s an example of what the rendered video looks like to the playback system.

Here’s an album of documentation photos from the closing show.


Tools Used
Digital Drawing Input – Wacom intuos4
Mapping and Artwork – Adobe Photoshop
Animation and Color – Adobe After Effects
Photos – Cannon EOS 7D
Photo Processing – Adobe LightRoom 4

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