After Effects timeline for Memory Sphere 2022

Memories of 2021

It is that time of year where I cherry pick my favourite personal images to turn into our annual video, to reminisce and celebrate our memories of 2021. It’s a highlight reel, if you like. The hard part is choosing the photos to include. I leave out way more than I put in. If I used them all, the video would be an hour long. I aim to keep it down to around a dozen, and choose those that tell stories.

I went over the top on the romance this year with my choice of music. I make no apologies for that.

One of my all time favourite songs is ‘As The World Falls Down’ from Labyrinth. That’s this year’s backing track. Fans of the movie will remember the dream sequence where masked dancers waltz inside snow globe universes. I aimed for a similar feel, swirling dreamily and dancing with the music.

Boring Tech Stuff

For the technically minded, photos were edited in Lightroom, exported as JPG, then imported to After Effects as 3D layers. I made each one a point on the surface of an imaginary globe, parenting them all to a central null so I only needed to animate around one point. Tricky to set up the initial placement and transforms so each image faced the right way, which when animated lands where it should, all in sync to the music. But after doing this for a few years now I’ve got the hang of adding and moving layers to accommodate different image counts and music tracks.

The AE project drops into Premiere Pro for finishing, and I go for a meal while the video renders. The motion is complex, with lots of 3D tracks to map. Every frame challenges the computer. I export at 1080p to cut render time and it still takes longer than I would like: I need an upgrade. Hmm. Maybe next year I could rebuild this in Unreal and render in real-time using the game engine. Hmm… there’s a thought. I digress. Uploaded to Youtube, and here is the finished result.

Romantic Gushy Stuff

For the non-technically minded think of this simply as an annual labour of love. A bank against the bad times which surely come to us all as years pass and life takes its inevitable toll. Things happen. These globes will remind us what we mean to each other, what we have done together, where we have been. And how much we have grown, both as a couple and as individuals. I’m not the man I was. Neither is she. 🙂 Together and separately, we’re better.

I started this post being unapologetic for the romance. I close it by saying that as crazy as this world is, and as weird as it ever may become, we will face it together with smiles and hugs. Until we no longer can.

Even when our brains get addled or poor health strikes us down and confines us to our rooms we and our loved ones will have these memory globes. And when comes the day one of us leaves this earth the other can look back on a solid video library of loving memories through the years. It’s our legacy, I like to think, to keep us warm.

I try to up the stakes each year. I feel a road trip coming up in 2022, finances permitting. Donations welcome. Possibly the Maritimes. Or Muskoka. We like Muskoka. Or the local beach, if necessary. Doesn’t matter, really. We will make it work. And we will have more memories to share.

These are our memories of 2021. We loved doing them. And we loved. And still love. Each other.

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