Reel | Projects | Info
motion graphics

The world within money.
Photoshop/After Effects

Director/Design/Animation/Editing: Karen Chin

Instructor: Jun Sassa
Motion Graphics 2 Assignment

Fall 2010

  Tao-chia Karen Chin © 2012

money screenshot
Money - Motion Graphics 2 course 3D layers project

Assignment: 3D Layers - Use 3D in AEFX.

With barely any restrictions, other than using layers and a camera, I thought it would've been fun to do something that I wanted to but never got around to.

One of which, is to do something with money.

Money. I like money. Yes, I know you do too, but that's not what I meant. Other than finding currency itself interesting, I am totally drawn into the patterns and design on these bills. Simply put, it's cool. It's probably the most looked at yet the least examined thing most people see everyday. (Well, with the exception of your own nose.) There are enormous amounts of design happening on there that probably only banks and forgers know what's going on.

Of course, it's been done before.
Here's a few I was (still am) inspired by that I can remember and find off the top of my head right now:

Money - Statefarm by EyeballNYC http://www.eyeballnyc.com/?cat=advertising&id=39
SPARKASSEXWORK by Sehsucht http://www.sehsucht.de/sparkasse-work/
Ramona Falls - I Say Fever by Stefan Nadelman http://vimeo.com/12267193

Send me an e-mail if I'm missing out on something cool, I'm totally into references. :D

I wasn't planning on building any real 3D like Sehsucht's piece during the one week span, but I really like the idea of exploring and revealing the world within money. What's life like living in the world of a bill? Why does Franklin look so upset on the 100? What are they doing when people aren't looking? (Wait, what?)
Similar to the last wink from Lincoln in the Statefarm commercial, I wanted to add some character and play off of their expressions.
I came up with a rough idea of them playing poker (while waiting to get their pictures taken) with Franklin losing at the end, hence the upset mug shot.

Getting "relatively" new crisp bills from the bank along with getting eyed suspiciously was actually a lot less of a problem compared to scanning them.
Fun fact: New USD bills can not be scanned. The ones with the huge heads... yeah, no good. Apparently scanners are super smart and can crash the scanning program if you try to scan the "newest" current currency, unfortunately I had to find out much later than I hoped for.
After crashing Photoshop and the default Imagescan a decent amount of times (and cursing at my stupid new broken scanner a couple times) , I turned to the internet to troubleshoot.
Still quite amazed about scanners detecting $ and how it's done. I've tried test scanning from about 1/3 to 1/8 portion of the bill before giving up, any less probably wouldn't do me any good anyhow.

Plan B
Though it's nice to have super high-res images (for possible future use) from scans, camera shots with Photoshop worked with what I wanted to do.
Distortion from the photos weren't super obvious.

Since I was creating a "money world," it seemed reasonable to let most, if not all, elements come from the bills or at least have a similar hatch.

While cutting up some segments for my reel, I went back to clean up and made some minor changes:
layers positioning, new camera pan and zoom, new (higher resolution) poker cards, color correction, mesh warp.
A comparison screenshot:
comparison screenshot

Final Thoughts
Looking back at this piece and my other work from the same time... playing it back in my memory looked a lot cooler.
Watching the piece now makes me understand why my teachers told me my work was "interesting but not there yet" when I thought it was done. Though the only followup feedback was "it needs more finesse," I never quite knew what, where, and how.
Funny how I can answer my own question now. For my past me: everywhere.
I guess it's a good thing that feel this way now, (possibly) proving that I grew a little bit and gained a little more experience.

...or maybe just stepping away from something temporarily actually works really well.

Either way, when I do reopen this AE file, I'm totally considering adding Jefferson's (two dollar) and Grant's ($50) face in there...


Send me back up plz...