Case Study


Latest Project:

July 4th Animation

I was tasked with creating a quick animation for Vitacost’s social media feed for the 4th of July holiday. Usually stock images are provided to animate, keeping the process fairly simple and fast paced. For this project I chose to incorporate 3D modeling and animation into the composition, making it a more unique project. Below you will see a breakdown of my process from start to finish

Something like these…

I was given four stock images and four different copy phrases to choose from. The goal was to align the look to Vitacost’s Instagram grid, keeping with the colors and tone. Below you can find the images provided to me.

The team’s choices were spinning pinwheels or floating balloons like the above. I found it pretty clear that they were favoring the pinwheel look, so I chose to move forward with that design.


I could have simply taken a different image like this one and Photoshopped it to parts, masking out the pinwheel as a layer and the stick as another, leaving a transparent background. After that I could have taken these layers into After Effects and made them animated. Pretty simple and easy, however, here are the problems I found in that method:

First, the stick would need to be altered and that is not a big deal, some copy/pasting in Photoshop can fix that pretty quickly. Second, and this is probably not too noticable to someone who is not a designer, but the shadows would be inconsistent.

After weighing these options, I decided that since I have been working more in 3D modeling I would attempt to make this a 3D scene to have full control and to make sure it looks as realistic as possible. Also, I am not a fan of using stock imagery when possible.


How to create a 3D model of a pinwheel

Now I could have put my brain power to much use and think back from all of the learning on how to model different types of surfaces in 3D, but I wanted to get this done super quickly because I’m fast.

So with the power of the internet, BOOM, I found a YouTube video for it.

This was a whole ten minutes to watch (I watched it twice) and of course there was no sound.

I created a pinwheel – The Technicals

I modeled the 3D mesh in Blender so that it is ready to animate and then duplicated it twice.

Then I unwrapped my UVs and added my textures/materials to the pinwheels

After creating my models, I set up my scene. I positioned the camera to where I wanted it focused, added lighting, and created a colored background plane with a subtle, almost paper-like, texture.

Animating the Scene

In order to animate my pinwheels I had to create empty geometry to parent the pieces of the pinwheel to. Once all the parts were connected correctly, I set my animation keyframes for how long I wanted my scene to be. I wanted it to be three seconds long and loop infinitely. By default Blender sets your animation keyframes with bezier curves, these cause the animation to start slow, ramp up speed and then slow down to end. I did not want this as it would not give me the desired effect of the pinwheels spinning infinitely in my loop.

Choosing the Font

I wanted a font that was classic looking. I knew that I did not want to animate the text as the only motion I wanted on the scene was the pinwheels moving. So I found a nice font that would work well and purchased the license to use it.

Rendering and Compositing

Once my animation was ready to go, I set up my rendering prefernces and rendered the scene. I did this on my Windows machine that runs a NVIDIA 2080 Super, so it took about 20 minutes. After that, I brought my rendered MP4 into After Effects. In After Effects, I adjusted the coloring, added the text and logo, adjusted the timing and added a posterized time effect.

I also made a different version size for IG stories without text for the copywriters to add custom text and stickers to.

After that I saved it out in the desired formats and shipped it out to the internet for use.

That’s all

Thanks for taking the time to check out my project!

I hope this gives you some insight into my processes and workflow. More to come soon.