Author: alexis


The Power of Pre-comps in After Effects

Real talk about post production — a lot, A LOT, of thorough planning and organization goes into even the simplest of animations. One way to make an animators’ life more enjoyable and organized (in After Effects) is by pre-composing layers. As an editor/motion graphics editor, I can proudly say that I use pre-comps in every single AE project I work on. Pre-composing is immensely useful for managing and organizing complex compositions. Essentially, you gain more power over those layers — and who doesn’t like that?

In After Effects pre-composing is: “the process of packaging a series of layers into a new composition”. It’s essentially the same as grouping layers in Illustrator or Photoshop. Here’s the keyboard shortcut in AE to pre-compose: Command+Shift+C.

Here are some things you can do by pre-composing:

Pre-composing a single layer is useful for adding animation, effects, transform properties, or masks to that layer and that will then be applied to all of the layers within — resulting in cleaner animation that’s a bit simpler to obtain.

Pre-composing multiple layers places them in a new composition which replaces the layers in the original composition — resulting in a more aesthetically pleasing composition that’s a little easier to manage.

Apply complex changes to an entire composition — You can create a composition that contains multiple layers, nest the composition within the overall composition, and animate and apply effects to the nested composition so that all the layers change in the same ways over the same time period.

Here’s an example of how pre-comps are essential. This is a “simple ‘ol” 17-second-long animation that I created for the EPA WARN project we produced in 2018.  

Now let’s dig in —This pedigree chart is a quick and easy representation of how in just these 17 seconds, multiple pre-comps (and pre-comps nested inside pre-comps) complete this animation.

The second pedigree chart is a slightly-more-interesting visual repetition of the complexities of this animation.

That’s just a small glimpse into the mind of a motion graphics editor.  One take away from all this post-production mumbo-jumbo: Command+Shift+C (Mac) is your friend.

Camp Video reaches 20 Thousand Views

Last summer we were fortunate enough to spend some time “working” at Camp Ton-A-Wanda, creating a promotional video.

This video recently reached 20,000 views on Facebook and was shared 179 times.

Camp TAW Facebook

Watch the video below:


And if you want to find out more about Camp Ton-A-Wanda, check out their website: www.camptonawandah.com

DOD Marine Firefighting

Over the past few months we’ve been working on several marine firefighting training projects for the Department of Defense and the US Navy. One of the great things about our job is that we are often given unique opportunities, and this work was no exception.

Air Force DOD

Aimie Burns was christened our Captain Director for this Marine Firefighting Project.

While at Norfolk Naval Base we were granted permission to film on board the USS Boise, a Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine. It was the first time many of us had the opportunity to explore a submarine. Even though the “cool” factor was off the charts, it proved an extremely challenging environment to work in, as every space was tight.

Filming inside the USS Boise

Shane Peters and Mike Teeters take a moment to breath recirculated air inside the USS Boise.

Firefighters on the USS Boise

If filming in a submarine is difficult, try being a firefighter in full bunker gear with a breathing apparatus on your back, pulling a charged fire hose and navigating those cramped spaces. Props to them!

In addition to spending two days on the USS Boise, we also filmed on the USS San Jacinto, a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser. This ship seemed enormous in comparison and we felt we could spread out, even though we were still working in constricted spaces. The shipboard crews and base firefighters working with us were helpful and enthusiastic and did everything they could to ensure we captured what we needed.

marine fires

This project focused on teamwork between on-board and shore-based firefighters to fight marine fires.

This project also took us to the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point in Wilmington, NC where we spent four grueling days aboard the SSG Edward A. Carter, a commercial container ship. Even though we were told this was a “small one” in the world of container ships, it was still an easy five-minute walk to get from the bow to the stern – they said it was nearly four football fields long! Needless to say, we got our steps in that week.

rock creek filming

A job well done! Mike Chirieleison, Amie Burns, and Tim Phillips

Constitution Hall Pass: Federalism

On Monday, September 18th, nearly 100,000 students nationwide tuned in online to see Alexis Antonucci’s work for the National Constitution Center.  Alexis is Rock Creek’s newest motion graphics editor.

National Constitution Center

Our team shot on-camera elements over two days with Bi Jean Ngo in Signer’s Hall in Philadelphia and on the National Mall in Washington DC.

National Mall Washington DC

And then Alexis went to work creating an animated framework to contain the video elements and illustrate the content. “I LOVE this work,” said our ecstatic client. “This looks amazing” and “making this show with [Rock Creek] has been a great experience!”

Federalism Lab

To learn more, check out the link for the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA.

https://constitutioncenter.org/learn/hall-pass

 

Welcoming Alexis

Interview

Interviewing students for the United Way of Asheville Buncombe County 2016 Campaign

We’d like to introduce you to Alexis Antonucci, our newest team member. Alexis graduated from UNC Asheville in 2015 with a BA in New Media concentrating in Film, Video Art and Animation. She is originally from New Jersey, and refers to the beach as “The Shore”. Alexis is an avid photographer, enjoys hiking, painting, making jewelry and taking care of her ever growing plant collection. She started with Rock Creek as an intern in March 2016 and was proven to be an invaluable asset to the Rock Creek family. We’re excited to have her on board.

Rock Creek Set Construction

Rock Creek recently designed, constructed, furnished and propped a living room, dining room, kitchen set for a US Navy training project on making good decisions called “Chart the Course.” Follow along as we made it happen.

Set Construction

The first step was to rough in our ideas. Living room about here, dining room there, kitchen there. Exterior window and front door will go to the right and a hallway to the bedrooms will go to the left.

The next step was to bring in Hank Atterbury, a Hollywood-experienced carpenter and special effects guru to build the set. Here he is on the first day of construction building the flats.

Making good progress. The reusable flats are starting to line up.

At the end of the day we cleaned up so as not to scare the maintenance people.

Next, Hank builds a wall extension, trims out our interior window, and add a front door.

Major construction is now complete.

Mostly painted at this point, starting to take shape. Next, we’ll bring in some flooring, add curtains, furnitures, fixtures, wall decorations and other props to fully furnish the space…

And here’s what the set looked like on camera!

The kitchen and breakfast island, the hallway to the back of the apartment…

The dining room area…

And, just because we weren’t done yet, after we shot the apartment scenes, we turned things around and made use of different spaces and angles in our studio to create this office set. Not bad for a three day shoot.

Let us know what you need, and we’ll build out your ideas just like we did for the US Navy.

Welcoming Mike!

Mike Chirieleison

Everyone at Rock Creek Productions is excited to welcome Mike Chirieleison to the team. He has nearly 10 years of experience working in photography and video production. Mike first started working for us as a freelancer in 2012 after he graduated from Towson University’s Electronic Media and Film Program. He has worked on shows such as; America’s Most Wanted to producing a short piece on a refugee family from Bhutan re-settling in Baltimore, MD.

We are excited to have him on board, and look forward to many fun adventures with him.

Rock Creek Emmy Nomination

Rock Creek Productions is proud to announce the nomination of our documentary film, Peace Through Education: Stealing the Light, for a 2016 Emmy Award in the Southeast region. The film, produced independently by Rock Creek and directed by our own Aimie Burns, tells the story of Dr. Mohammed Khan Kharoti, who strove for years to build a school in and bring education to his home village of Shin Kalay, in the war-torn Helmond province of Afghanistan.

The Emmy Awards gala is on June 11th in Atlanta, and though the competition is stiff, we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed that we come home with a trophy.

The film is available for viewing on iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/peace-through-education-stealing/id717247169

 

Documentary Filmmaking

EPA Drought Guide

Rock Creek contributed nine videos to the Environmental Protection Agency’s comprehensive Drought Response and Recovery Guide.  Designed to assist small and medium-sized water utilities, the EPA’s recently published guide examines a variety of unique and successful solutions to drought-impacts across the country.  As part of the team that included environmental scientists from CSRA and water systems engineers from CH2M-Hill, Rock Creek visited communities in California, Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Kansas, and New Mexico to tell their stories though interview-driven videos.  Rock Creek also scripted and produced three additional videos on broader topics of Managing Water Supplies, Reducing Customer Demand, and Partnerships.

Here’s a link to the Guide:

https://www.epa.gov/waterutilityresponse/drought-response-and-recovery-water-utilities

EPA Drought Response

This is an example of our of our branded titles, designed and implemented by Craig Hirshberg, incorporated animated maps and motion graphic background elements.

 

Sony F5 CineAlta digital cinema camera
DJI Phantom 4K GoPro drone

FAA Praises Video

The FAA contracted with Rock Creek to field two video and still image crews to cover the Experimental Aircraft Association’s international fly-in convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and to interview experts and inventors regarding the Federal Aviation Administration’s initiative on revitalizing and streamlining the rules applied to general aviation.  This is an effort to help streamline the certification processes and approve innovative new technologies more quickly.

Here’s a link to FAA’s press release if you want to learn more:

http://www.faa.gov/tv/?mediaId=1258.

Zoom Lens

Aimie Burns gets up close with her zoom lens.

FAA

We worked our magic and cut an eight minute video, which the FAA loved.

FAA

“Amazing job on the video – we truly appreciated your professionalism, creativity and responsiveness throughout this project!”

— Emily Harcum, FAA Communications Specialist