Several people have asked me how I put together my Scripture For Life chapel challenge video (If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here!) So I thought I might take the night alone in my room to write a basic tutorial explaining how I made the animations using just Photoshop and Final Cut Pro X.
I started out with the idea. My roommate suggested doing an animation versus a live-action video because I wouldn’t have to feel bad about collecting the prize scholarship when so many actors would have helped with the project. With a cartoon made completely from my computer, I would have done the entire video myself.
The first thing to do was come up with a verse I’d like to center my video around. That was easy, since my college verses are Isaiah 41:10,13. I liked the visual image I got when I read the verses, since it specifically talks about the God of the universe holding our right hand and leading us along through our life’s trials.
The next step was to write the script.
Since I wanted a typographical video, I wanted to emphasize certain words that were important or words I expected could create visually pleasing images, so I wrote the script to cater to that idea. Here’s the unedited version:
Ye shall reap
IF YOU FAINT NOT.
Notice the keyword:
Now I’m sure some Bible majors could get real deep into the greek and hebrew texts and go on and on about how I’m using that verse out of context….
But let’s be honest.
Sometimes you really do feel like fainting.
Think about your schedule:
Wake up 6:30
Eat breakfast 7:00
Class 8:00 – 9:00
More class 12:00 – 2:00
Work 2:00 – 4:00
Prayer group 10:30
Five days a week.
“But I have the weekend to relax.”
SAID NO COLLEGE STUDENT EVER.
And let’s not even talk about Sundays, when we all ACTUALLY do homework….
Pretty sure God didn’t have this problem when He rested on the seventh….
But my point is this:
Sometimes we feel overwhelmed.
We feel like we’re
Like Peter’s water-walking business.
But whenever I get overwhelmed, I think of
ISAIAH 41:10 and 13
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
When I read this, I thought it was weird that God said He’d hold me with His right hand
Then say later that He would hold MY right hand.
How does that work?
I mean, if God is walking beside us, SOMEONE’S hand is going to be their left.
Until I thought through it.
God is UPHOLDING US.
Pulling us out of the water.
or the stress
or the homework
or the exams
Because GOD is upholding us,
we SHALL REAP.
Because we WILL faint not.
After writing the script, I attempted a very poor rendition of a storyboard (a total of two frames. Whoop! Whoop!). But then realized that since I didn’t even know the fonts or sizes I would be using for the project, I scrapped that idea and decided to move forward on my own and to see what happened.
I’m about 104% sure no one’s going to want to read every single mouse click I made on this twelve-hour project, so this is where I’m going to basically summarize what I did to get moving cartoons to cooperate.
In the picture below, I’ve stitch together several pieces of the timeline for you to be able to see the beginning seconds of the video all stacked up on top of each other. “CC Frame 1.5.psd” is my main clip with the words pre-written on a JPEG from Photoshop (learned later it was faster just to type the text into FCPX). The files “CC Cover” are small square boxes I had that matched the red background and covered words that I didn’t want to reveal yet. Each box would disappear when the next word was ready to show up.
Note: It’s really important not to just eyeball the colors because your backlighting from your computer screen will trick you into looking at your project a certain way. You may not run into such a big problem if it’s a video that will stay on the screen, but in print, the colors will actually look differently, so I used the exact color code.
This is what my screen looked like when I had one of the boxes selected (you can change the size with the Transform tool down on the bottom left of the screen – the blue rectangle).
For animating the pencil writing, I literally just used QuickTime to record a screen capture as I wrote sideways in Photoshop with my Wacom tablet. I actually turned my laptop on its side like a book, then turned my Wacom, and wrote that way, which is why in the timeline you can see the words are actually horizontal instead of vertical (Yeah. No fancy editing for that. It’s an all-new level of digital redneck, right here.) As for the sounds, I used Apple’s pre-recorded sound effects – because what college student has the time to professionally record scribbling pencils, typewriters, seagulls, bubbles, and water noises?
Here’s an example of probably my most complicated scene: the “seventh day.” Which, if you count the seagulls, equals 12 layers of animations. I wanted to have individual parts rush in at different times, so I created the scene in Photoshop with gradients, fill tools, and my Wacom, with each piece being on a separate layer. I then saved each layer as a .TIFF file and clicked the option “save transparency” so it would import into FCPX with a transparent background. For reference, the bottom layer (CC Frame 12) is the setting sky, Frame 19 is the clouds, 18 is the sun, 13, 14, and 15 are the different water levels, and 16 and 17 are the trees and people (FYI they’re God, Adam, and Eve – in that order).
The “Untitled Project Clip” files are text animations that I tweaked from the original settings. FCPX won’t let you change the speed of the text animation (a wipe from left to right in this case) without saving it as a “compound clip.” I did a lot of these because I wanted as much control over the project as I could get.
These next few pictures show how the actual animation part of the video was done. I used what FCPX calls “keyframes” to do my animating. Basically, you take your image (in this case, two water layers, the girl, and the background) and stack them up how you want them, then drag them to where you want them to be when the clip starts. In this case, I wanted all the water and the girl off-screen. So I dragged them all down below the screen, and at the start of the clip, I added a keyframe (top left buttons). I did that for each layer.
Second step: where do I want the girl and the waves to end up by the end of the clip? Each time I move the picture after clicking the keyframe, it tracks where it moves. So say I have the girl off-screen at time 0:00 and want her to be on-screen at 0:05. I drag my cursor over to 0:05 and move the girl to where I want her at that point and hit the keyframe.
Each keyframe is shown as a grey diamond in the pictures below, and each picture represents a different layer. The first picture is the background’s waves, which zigzag back and forth through the clip. The red line connects them so you can see where they move.
The second picture is the girl bobbin up and down in the water, and the third picture is the foreground waves. The girl and the front waves also pivot, so you can see that with the thin white box tilting back and forth between each picture (you can pivot by setting keyframes as you grab the blue circle handle and twist).
And here’s a picture of all three layers overlapping each other. With keyframes, it’s fairly easy to get an image to move all across the screen, though sometimes, it became too complicated and I had to flatten all the layers into a JPEG before I could transition into the next scene (like this scene into the underwater scene. If you look carefully in the video, the girl and the waves actually freeze as they move off screen. That’s because I turned it into a JPEG.)
To get the audio to work and to fine-tune a few things, I exported the project without the music and then reimported it into a new project. I then put the music on it and recorded my voice through my phone’s Voice Memos and slapped it over the whole thing, that way if I needed to retime a few things, I could have it all flat and not have to work with individual pieces. I matched the audio with the music and then tweaked some of the settings while it was playing until I liked the sound of it.
And that’s basically my process. Granted, these are just a few examples and not the whole 2:29 minute video, but keyframes and Photoshop layers (36 exported files and maybe twice that many layers) are basically how I made everything work, even the text stacking “Christian service, basketball games, etc” scene.
Hope this helps anyone who was wondering how I made it, and once again, if you haven’t checked the original video out yet, I invite you to watch it here.