Final Review, Gaku’s animated short

Here is his video for reference. – I reposted it so that it can be viewed fullscreen. Domo arigato, Gaku-sama!

  • synchronized sound-image relationship

From 0:07 to 0:10 you can hear footsteps that reinforce the idea of the character running.

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From 0:19 to 0:24 you can hear chewing, which greatly enhances the final scene. The first time I watch this animation (without sound) I thought that the snake/creature was talking to the boy who climbed down into the cavern… Now, the lip movements are clarified.

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  • singular off-screen but diegetic sounds

After watching this video a few times, I still have not been able to identify any off-screen sounds. Sure, there are birds and water drops present, but these seem to be territorial sounds, used to enhance the environment.

  • metaphorical (non-literal) or symbolic sound-image relationship

In the opening shot, we hear a frequency crawl pan left to right, which enhances the throwing of the Apple. This sound is non-literal, but implies a kind of “fly-over” effect, similar to an airplane in flight.

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At 0:12, we hear an “ow” sound from the apple itself. Again, clearly this isn’t meant to be literal, but reinforces the idea that the apple fell and landed hard.

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  • diegetic territorial sound to define background or sense-of-place

Starting around 0:05 you can hear birds chirping, which makes sense, given the setting of a park, with trees. At 0:14 you can hear water dripping, and echoing reverberations to give us a better sense of the size of the cavern in the following scene.

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 6.28.18 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-08 at 6.29.06 PM

What do you guys think? Are there other sound elements worth noting? Am I missing anything? Are these sounds adding value to the animations? Comment and let me know.


Project 3: Final Sequence

This is a video rendering of my final animation sequence for Project 3: Cezanne Multipane Animation.

As you can see, the Stylization filters are used heavily to create a greater sense of unity with the original source image of Cezanne’s Still Life With Apples. Other source images were heavily stylized to better match the look of Cezanne’s painting. All materials were used for educational purposes, under Fair Use.

Special thanks to: Robin Esrock (,,, MB Productions (video: Launch Tribute to those who have fallen), Nikita Kozin (The Noun Project),,, and Kenneth Lu. All of these fine folks provided me with either material or inspiration, and I appreciate the opportunity to transform their work into a new creative endeavor.

Adobe Photoshop has many limitations when working with the animation/timeline feature. I especially found it difficult to perform certain tasks when using Smart Objects. I’d often work in stages, first with Smart Objects, but then down-converted to rasterized layers, and merged layers. Doing so ensured much higher frame rates when compiling, but I’m sure other optimizations would be beneficial (due to scheduling for this project, I don’t have time to go back over the original .psd files, but you can download them here.)

Just a word of warning: these files are bigger than you’d likely expect – over 800MB total.

Project 2: Cezanne Deconstruct / Reconstruct

Here is the final image from Project 2: Cezanne Deconstructed


Here is a link to the Photoshop .PSD file.

To recap the details of this project:

This project is making use of an image in the public domain: Still Life With Apples, by Paul Cezanne in (1890).

You can download the original source image here.

Deconstruction: You can read my earlier post about this process here. The goal was to take the individual elements (pieces of fruit, plate, flower pot, table, and wall), and create new layers with the completed forms (since there is overlap, the Healing Brush and Content-Aware Fill are extremely useful for restoring these elements.


Reconstruction: First, I recombined these individual elements with an emphasis of recreating the original as close to a per-pixel level as possible. Here is the result:

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The unseen apple: How many apples do you see? Four? My answer was four when I first saw this image. After spending dozens of hours on this image, I’m convinced that there is a fifth apple. Here’s how I discovered it:

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Notice the gap in between the apples in the above image? This was the result of my reconstruction, but the original image does not have this gap. At first I thought that I was just not following the edges of the four apples. Maybe I was trimming off too much? Nope. That space is not only filled in, but it has a shadow. This can only mean that there is another apple behind the bottom two apples in the background.

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This is the only visible part, but if we assume an average size apple (compared to the others), we can assume a basic shape. Unfortunately, Adobe’s Content-Aware Fill is pushed beyond its limits:

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This just doesn’t quite look right. And it would take great artistic license to “reconstruct”. It would practically be an original drawing, even if it was heavily stylized to match Cezanne’s. And this isn’t important enough for this project to pursue. Ultimate goal is to synthesize an entirely new image – one with an illusion of depth.

Let’s get messy!


In order for this work to be considered Fair Use, I need to create something transformative.

First, we need to create some space. I’ve decided on a simple room construction, using assumed dimensions:


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In order to increase the sense of surface lighting, I used a series of gradients on masked layers. This mimics the reflective and shadow casting elements inside of a room with moderate backlighting.

Then I decided to play around with the other elements:

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Uh oh… I don’t think that plate is going to survive the fall…

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I used the Free Transform Tool to stretch the plate to a top-looking-down-angle, and then used the Eraser Tool to “shatter” the plate. I then used the Magic Wand Selector Tool to isolate individual “shards” as new layers – which I moved around to create clusters. This caused the size of the .psd file to balloon to over 1GB in size. Worth it!

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Cezanne must have been a very frustrated artist.

The final steps: involved depth of focus, additional (failed) works of art, and more manipulation of light and shadow.


This depth of focus effect does cause a considerable loss of detail, but is accurate to the way our eyes focus on different objects and varying distances. The perspective here assumes your focus is on the fine detail of the nearest apple’s core, under a light-source.

Don’t worry, the full detail is still there:

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Strangely, without the soft unfocused effect things do not look as realistic.

Fair Use Considerations: Is this a fair use of a creative work?

  • This work is noncommercial: it was made for educational purposes, and I am not financially benefiting from the use of the original material.
  • Cezanne’s Still Life With Apples is in the public domain
  • This work is transformative in nature – I think. I didn’t just take it apart and put it back together as is, I transformed the image into something new. By synthesizing a scene with transformed elements, you can reimagine  the circumstances behind the original work. This is not a criticism of the original, but perhaps it qualifies as “fan art”.
  • This new digital terror certainly does not “compete with the original or have any negative effect on its market.” No one is going to regard my homage to Cezanne as a counterfeit. For one thing, it’s not a painting, it is contemporary, and referential.

What do you think about this use of Cezanne? Is it Fair Use? Is it a good use of Photoshop? Leave your comments below!


Fair Use – Reflection and Response

“Art is what you can get away with”

-Andy Warhol


-Matt Geiger

To understand fair use, we have to go all the way back to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The Committee on Postponed Parts was responsible for ironing out the details on patent and copyrights. Needless to say, a lot has changed since the late 1700s, but let’s take a look at Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution to see what they came up with:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

…To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

This is still pretty open-ended, but even then it was understood that all culture and scientific discovery is built upon what came before:

“The constitutional goal of the Copyright Act is to promote the making and the dissemination of culture” (1:45)

This is not an open invitation to plagiarism, but a declaration of a carefully orchestrated, and ongoing balancing act. On the one hand, we want a plurality of original works and the good faith use of existing culture to produce new works (Fair Use Doctrine), but we also want to ensure that there remains a secure and reasonable expectation for creators to receive just compensation (Copyright Law).

Like everything else in the US Constitution, this is a compromise.

You can use copyrighted material openly, and without permission from the holder of said copyright, so long as you meet three basic conditions:

  1. Your use is noncommercial: i.e., you’re not financially benefiting from the use of the copyrighted material.
  2. Your created work is transformative in nature: i.e., you are not simply reproducing an unaltered version of an original work, but are transforming it in a way that allows for new interpretation which is separate from the original work. This includes things like commentary, mash-up, remix, and critique. Here are some examples:



(WARNING: Links to torrenting site ThePirateBay, might be NSFW)




The third and final condition is that your use of copyrighted material must not “compete with the original or have any negative effect on its market.” A.K.A. “Parody Law”

Here’s something that pushes the limits: DUMB STARBUCKS

Intellectual Property is a complex web, and there is no guarantee that following these rules will keep you out of legal trouble, but it is still a good idea to follow rules of Fair Use Doctrine when using copyrighted material or even material that is in the public domain. The Center for Media and Social Impact has published this helpful guide of Best Practices for Fair Use in the Visual Arts, but if you want to save yourself the trouble of a single mouse-click, then scroll down for a short list:

PRINCIPLE: Artists may invoke fair use to incorporate copyrighted material into new artworks in any medium, subject to certain limitations:


  • Artists should avoid uses of existing copyrighted material that do not generate new artistic meaning, being aware that a change of medium, without more, may not meet this standard.
  • The use of a preexisting work, whether in part or in whole, should be justified by the artistic objective, and artists who deliberately repurpose copyrighted works should be prepared to explain their rationales both for doing so and for the extent of their uses.
  • Artists should avoid suggesting that incorporated elements are original to them, unless that suggestion is integral to the meaning of the new work.
  • When copying another’s work, an artist should cite the source, whether in the new work or elsewhere (by means such as labeling or embedding), unless there is an articulable aesthetic basis for not doing so.