The City of Water

The City of Water, 2021, 1920 x 1080 px, Animation

When I was asked to reflect upon places of personal significance for me, I immediately tried to think of the places in which I felt the most joy and at a peak, the places that I reminisce the most. One of those places is Venice, where I had studied abroad for a summer. I remember distinct memories of unique experiences I had with friends and on my own, as well as the contentment I felt even in the supposedly mundane. I wanted to revisit these memories and especially depict my emotions that are tied to them, and even consider water beyond my personal relationship to it and to imagine it in metaphorical language. The following is the description I produced and narrate in my animation:

I always drew energy from water, so living in a city that sits entirely upon water, being constantly surrounded by water, formed a summer in which I felt simultaneously most electric and most at peace. When I sat at the edge of the canals, I watched the light fracture upon the ripples and felt the same light caress and soften the waters within me; calmness settled in, took its place within me. Sometimes, in the silence of the sleeping city, the sounds of my footsteps upon the stone paths accompanied the soft lapping of the waters. The nighttime sensation and the closeness of water enwrapped me and sent me dancing, twirling, rushing to the end of the dock in euphoria, leaping into the place where dark skies meet dark waters. Sometimes the skies reached for the water as the stars dropped their tears, trying to close the distance between them and the ocean. I floated in between the two realms, felt the lust between the two, felt the beautiful frustration as the skies sent lightning streaking across the darkness. I closed my eyes, at home in their tension. When do I feel most happy? When I melt away and lose consciousness of where I end and where my surroundings begin. When I feel in harmony and in alignment with everything, feel at home with my purpose. And in a city of water, I truly lost myself.

The two storyboards I drafted demonstrate the shots that I ultimately included and excluded. They also show the ways in which my portrayal of water became increasingly more abstract, especially compared to the first storyboard that involves depicting a “main character.” I believe my decision to do so challenged me to consider how shapes, colors, movement, etc. can be utilized to convey emotions, rather than simply illustrating the emotions directly through facial expressions and body language. It also allows the audience to enter into the experience more, since the visuals are not exclusive to an individual.

During the process of creating this piece, I struggled most with including kinetic typography effectively. In fact, in my first draft, I barely included any text and moments in which I did, such as the use of “electric,” did not feel entirely fitting to the emotion that I was trying to convey. However, minor changes, like italicizing the words or fitting the appearance and disappearance of the words to the pace of the narration, made a big difference. I also played around with different styles of text based on the mood of the scene. For example, the water ripples scene is very calm, so I included entire sentences that appeared in four lines and layered them behind the ripples themselves to make them even more subtle. The nighttime scene invokes vibrancy, so I chose to highlight individual verbs and played with their curvature and movement.

Ultimately, I am quite proud of this piece. I think the imagery and text I used successfully convey and reflect the emotions experienced in each scene. While I do think that the description I wrote itself involves very different representations of water, the piece feels like it was completed in multiple styles. Moving forward, I would like to hone in on a style more and provide more cohesion through doing so. I also enjoyed applying other applications, like Photoshop, to this project, and would like to practice animating individual sections within a single image, instead of simply animating the entire image.


How to Animate Any Object or Text Along a Path in After Effects | After Effects Tutorial. YouTube. YouTube, 2020.

4 Great Motion Graphics Techniques in After Effects. YouTube. YouTube, 2018.

3 Liquid Motion Graphics Effects in After Effects | Tutorial. YouTube. YouTube, 2019.

Augustus the Animator. Night Sky + Shooting Star After Effects Tutorial – Fractal Noise + Echo. YouTube. YouTube, 2017.

Vaughn, Nathan. Lightning. June 5, 2011. Photograph. Flickr.

This tutorial covered the basics in moving objects and texts based on lines and shapes and heightened the movement in my piece.

The very first shot was possible through the basic line motions demonstrated in this tutorial.

This tutorial helped me create the liquid transition in the background of the footsteps. It also inspired the line and shape movement in the nighttime vibrancy scene.

This tutorial taught me how to create the effects of shooting stars, so that I could convey the visual of the skies “crying” towards the oceans.

I modified this image to create the lightning streaks.