Lotta Nieminen Video
Collecting Audio Files, and Refining a Script
In order to start brainstorming the story of my video, I first went and watched talks that Lotta Nieminen gave, as well as browsing existing videos and interviews people have done with her. There were more talks she gave on stages with a powerpoint presentation, and few professionally taken videos, but I was able to learn about her working style from those presentations, and use the audio from an existing interview. However, in order to make this my own crafted story, I chose to split up, rearrange and add music.
To the left are some key quotes, descriptions, and inspirational things Lotta has said, that I planned out would work and pair with different visual representations. I also thought about the narrative, and how to design to make something watchable and not a reiteration of her work. I knew I wanted the beginning to be a grabber — maybe a quote or something that clearly catches the reader. As I started working and cutting audio parts, I had the idea to incorporate Lotta’s laughter and her easygoing attitude into the beginning. She says, “My biggest project this year has been working. . . less” and then she chuckles, which I thought is an important message, because she is saying that it is hard in fact, to narrow down your process and be efficient with the amount of work you do, and the time you take to do it. Lotta focuses on purpose and meaning of her work, whether it be designing for children’s brands or fashion companies, or doing illustrations for marketed products. I therefore I wanted to make sure I highlight the breadth and depth of her work, and play especially with stop-motion and color to represent the cutting and putting together nature of her illustrations.
For my initial storyboarding ideas, I focused on trying to sketch out the opening, and also parts of the middle. I wanted the start to be an open work surface, with some scissors, and pencils, and have there be scribbles resembling the ones that she designed for Masionette, a kids branding company. The work surface would crumple into a ball when she mentions “working less”.
Another sequence would be floating or jittering type that settles to form her name while showing a portrait of her.
To showcase her kids cookbooks, I wanted there to be a stop motion sequence of work appearing one after another, a book turning pages, and transitions like zooming in and out, or whisking everything into the next scene.
One thing I found, is that these thumbnail sketches really helped me work through ideas quickly, and map out key points where I wanted transitions or key unique moments, and it was also helpful because I could move around these rectangles and change the order of the sequences.
Low-Fidelity iMovie Iteration
- Audio too fast, no break when talking
One of the comments I got was that the compilation of audio clips of Lotta talking seemed a bit run-on, and as if there was no break. This made it seem a bit artificial, and not natural in the way that people would generally talk. Even if her way of speaking is naturally fast, I need to make sure there were enough pauses, so the viewer could really soak in the message and linger on the visuals a bit without having everything be so fast-paced. I also noted from my classmates work, that some of them had slower calm talking voices and sometimes very little bit spoken, but this sometimes was more intriguing for the viewer because of the sense of anticipation and mystery of what would be said next.
- Need to move from sketch to illustrated stills
Another point of feedback is that timing stills with the audio track is helpful to plan out the scenes, even if the animation isn’t completely done. I used photos and images as placeholders, and this helped me gain a better overview and vision of what I planned to animate. Additionally I need to move from sketch stills to the fully illustrated ones, so greater fidelity and refinement start to come into play.
- Timing plays a role
A main aspect that makes the video a hit or miss is all about the timing. From watching other’s progress, and reflecting on my own, I realized that the way images or tiled sections of images would appear into the screen affects the overall takeaway impact for the viewer. I need to make sure that elements fly in or pop up correctly to the beats, and disappear by the time the next scene unfolds.
Refined Script (1:07)
My biggest project this year has been working. . . Less (laughs) so. . .
. . . It’s for this AMAZING restaurant in Brooklyn, I went and ate the whole menu at once, I’m still feeling like. . . sick from it, I think I gained like couple pounds.
I’m Lotta Nieminen, I’m a graphic designer, illustrator, and art director
Originally from Finland, but been living in New York for the past 3 years
My approaches in graphic design and illustration are quite different. . . In graphic design. . . I’m very much uh, based on instincts, and it’s very much relying on in just my head, thinking it’s right.
In illustration I like to. . . not sketch, I like to start straight away.
To me, like, finding color combinations are quite interesting, I usually take like pictures and then try to utilize them later in work.
Ancient art I think is really fun, I’ve actually heard my illustrations look a little bit like Egyptian. . . African statues all those kind of things.
I think it’s interesting to look outside and kind of thinking. . . how would I interpret this in my own field.
For my music choice, I wanted there to be a lot of beats and something that was uplifting and cinematic, to showcase the breath and depth of her work. Also because Lotta’s work is very colorful, and her illustrations are dreamlike and imaginative, I wanted to find music that enhanced that and had different variations in the tone.
I browsed sound cloud and Youtube and found a lot of advertisement background music, but the catch was that it was too overpowering, and would dominate on top of Lotta speaking. Finally I settled on one called “Motivating and Upbeat Background Music” by MorningLight music, a channel that has a variety of instrumental and cinematic background compositions.
After cutting parts of the music and mashing it up so there was a soft buildup to the “chorus” I found that it paired nicely with the audio of Lotta speaking, and feedback I got was generally positive and approving of the two put together for my video.
After Effects Progress
For another round of editing, I started compiling photoshopped files into after effects and editing placement, timing, and sequence of pop ups.
While working, some challenges or things that took time, were the curation of image pieces. Because I chose to cut components of Lotta’s work that was already photographed (like eliminating background shadows or fixing parts of food vector shapes that were originally cut off), it was tedious, but made it a lot easier to control what parts I could have show up, and layer on top of one another in AfterEffects.
Here are some edits and updates to my Artboards:
- Audio levels
The volume level of the music in the video was a bit hard to hear Lotta’s voice. I needed to adjust this so that Lotta speaking is more prominent and the music is more of a secondary compliment, than being too over powering.
- Play with type or hand drawn lettering more
From seeing other people’s work, I was really inspired by the ease of the hand-drawn text some people used. In particular, Chris’s approach was interesting and very playful with color, which I thought could be a useful method to add more parts to my video. I plan to also use type as part of design to enhance key points of the video, or draw more emphasis to key words or phrases to give it more meaning.
- Lingering on parts too long
Another thing I aimed to resolve is not having the video linger too long on certain images or scenes, and rather have a more consistent change of pace and to the next scene. This is also something to work on simultaneously with the timing of parts with the beats of the music.
- Choppy camera movement
The issue of choppy camera movement was a specific problem I personally felt needed to be fixed with the puzzle piece “putting together”scene transitioning to the part with the iPad. Because the zooming and moving part didn’t appear the way that I’d liked, I chose to split up the blocky rooms into appearing at different times and “forming together”.
- Credits shouldn’t be too long
Finally, the credits part should only be a few seconds and not be too long.
Additional Specific Feedback from Classmates
- Break apart illustrations/play with expanding and compressing
This piece of feedback focused on helping to guide me in a direction to be more creative with the illustrations. Because of the file size, it was difficult to zoom in without getting too pixelated, so I needed to work around this and think about how I could break apart the illustrations into unique ways it could come together and transition to the next scene.
- Diver fix
The diver scene seems too short and choppy and not realistic to the nature of an actual dive (placement of diver in frames seem off), so I need to fix the craft and pay more attention to detail.
As I took into consideration and tried to edit the video according to all the feedback I was given throughout the semester, I felt that it was a lot to tackle but putting in the effort to make the most minor updates in the long run made a difference.
My greatest challenges were definitely in After Effects with syncing things to a beat. Decisions I was happy with is the choice of adding a bit more frames and actually using a chalk style crayon digitally and hand drawing the type. The texture gave the video a more crafty feel and I think it complimented the colorful vibe.
I felt that this project was probably my favorite because there was so much room for creativity, and I enjoyed the process of cutting, pasting, layering and drawing on the type. I feel that because I was ambitious and had ideas to do so much, it made me put think I needed to do more than what was necessary for the animations, such as having several frames to animate a scribble filling the page, but in reality, it ended up having to be deleted because there wasn’t enough time with Lotta’s speech to fill it with certain animations.
Sometimes, the simpler option is better, and it took me hours of trying things and drawing frames to figure that out. For example, the jittering letter movement that would only also a second or two, needed only like 3 frame changes and not 10 or else it would hurt the viewer’s eye.
Overall, I learnt a lot about how to refine craft and enjoyed the experimentation process. For future projects like this, I want to maybe experiment with camera movement with higher quality images that could afford to be zoomed in and out of, and maybe that could lead to a different method of storytelling.