What a year it has been! We have been busy building the infrastructure of the site over the past year including changing hosts for faster delivery.

To end the year we thought we would create a video eCard and put together a tutorial on how it was put together.

Step 1: Storyboard a concept

The first thing before starting in Captivate is to have a idea of what you will be building. I usually start off with a sketch and gather ideas. A search of stock photos sites is a good way to get ideas and concepts that could be developed into an animation. Once you know what you want to accomplish sketch it in storyboard format.

Step 2: Design the layout

Set up the Captivate file:

I knew this was going to be a YouTube video, so I selected a new blank project with You Tube settings 1280 x 720.

Captivate new file dialogue
Captivate new file dialogue

Using smart shapes in Captivate allowed me to create the layout quickly. I wanted to have a flat design and the trees were created easily using a smart shapes triangle and the branches were created using the line tool. Once a tree was created it was grouped and then duplicated. Once duplicated I selected the new tree and changed the color in the properties panel. The ground is simply a rectangle with its color set to white. With all the elements created and arranged I  previewed to see how things are looking. I was satisfied with the results and the ability to layer smart shapes onto video. The snow fell behind all the trees, so I adjusted the opacity at varying levels on all trees to make it appear as though the snowflakes fell in front and behind.

Smart shapes
Smart shapes

Making it snow
In the past I had  created snow in After Effects for video slideshows, I thought bringing this over to Captivate would be a perfect fit for this project. I generated a 1280 x 72 snow in After Effects and exported the video. To add video select the Media icon on the menu bar, then video. Since the video would all be on one slide, I selected the Event Video option and used the file path to locate the video:

Import Video dialogue
Import Video dialogue

Once the video was added I removed the skin (play bars) by selecting “none” from the skin drop down menu in the Properties panel.  Once this was done I moved the video background to the bottom layer.

Step 3: Zoom out and show message

I thought it would be neat to zoom out, and show the message at the end and make it seem as though the scene was in a snow globe or ornament. To create this effect I created a background at 1280 x 720 Photoshop with a transparent circle on the aligned on the left side. I saved the PSD file and imported it into Captivate to the stage.

Once in Captivate I imported the image to stage and scaled it so that just the edges of the circle was visible. The problem with this is it made the image too big to show in the captivate window and Captivate would automatically scale to make it fit in the window distorting the image dimensions. This was not working out so I went back into Photoshop and cropped the circle background to be just the transparent symbol.

Cropped circle
Cropped circle

With the updated circle image adjusted the size so just the edges of the circle were showing. I  experimented with adding different effects in order to achieve the shrinking effect I was after, but none worked the way I needed. I ended up creating a custom effect to re-scale the circle correctly. Stay tuned for future tutorials where show you how to create your own custom effects.

Scene with scaled circle
Scene with scaled circle

To make the remaining screen I created a rectangle smart shape and attached a Left to Right effect to match the scaling of the circle.

Animating text

To create the effect of hand written font, I added the text “Wonderful” in a script font and rotated it for styling purposes. I created a smartshape rectangle and placed it over the text then used a left to right animation to reveal the text. This displays the letters one at a time to simulate the letters being written.

Reveal text animation
Reveal text animation

Finishing Touches
At this point the majority of the work is done and it just a matter of adjusting the timing.

Adding the audio, I wanted the audio to last 30 seconds so I brought it into Adobe Audition and cut off the beginning so there was 30 seconds play time.

With everything in place and looking good I published to video and selected the  You Tube Widescreen HD setting.

I found adding the audio and video slowed the playback on my computer. To make editing easier I simply deleted them off the timeline and made any necessary timing adjustments . Once completed I dragged a copy of the audio and video from the library.

This was a fun project, learned some new things and techniques. Let me know if you have found this helpful or interesting and I will pose more tutorials like this.