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Creating A Social Network

September 3, 2013

Whoa. Ambitious title there. To the reader’s disappointment, this post won’t discuss creating an entire online social network of half a billion subscribers; instead, we’ll talk about creating a photorealistic copy completely inside of Adobe After Effects, at four times the resolution of your internet browser, totally customizable for your cinematic needs (and copyright evasion).

I’ve made the AE project file available for download right here but please note that the photos of real people/media used below will not be included in the project file until the entire short film project is made available for download. Check out a sample page below.


Here’s a sample from the project file; all of this was created inside of Adobe After Effects.

Now, a few notes about the project file: I apologize for the mess of layers in the comps. It’s a natural byproduct when attempting to create web graphics in a program that is not too well suited to do so. The bulk of the design was creating using basic solids, ramps, and masks inside of AE. The bonus, however, is full control of the many elements that make a page.

Now, in an attempt at organization, I’ve color coded (or precomped) layers that are grouped together on the page. For example, the element containing photos in Rick’s profile (pictured above on the left) is going to appear as one composition on the main timeline of the page. To find all four main pages I created (two profiles, one of a general news feed, and one of the messages page), simply open up the folder titled “PAGES FULL” in the project tab.

This is more or less what I’ve been working on in the last week for our short film, Sierra Leone. In the beginning of the short, the main character uses Facebook to find information about what his girlfriend has been up to. Since we were dealing with fictional characters, as well as a fictional event that happens in the film’s world, we could not just screen-capture Facebook as it currently is. We needed to build Facebook from the ground up to fully control all of the elements that appear on the screen, as well as quadruple the resolution for a crisper, cleaner, more cinematic image (and close-ups of text).


100% zoom at 720p. Holds its resolution this close.

This way, we are able to present exactly what we need to the viewer, while retaining the Facebook experience, and avoiding unintentional use of any logos or property that could be used against the film. Pretty nifty if you ask me. Now that the Facebook elements have been created, we are now going to move ahead into creating the rough edit. More on that in the next blog post as we continue to cover the making of the short film under the working title “Sierra Leone.” That’s it for today, here’s a quick behind-the-scenes clip on the set of the shooting day last week (note our script supervisor and audio guy were currently out). Stay tuned!


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