Reports | Technology

Jump Backs Animated Backgrounds

1 Nov , 2001  

Written by Peter Bohush | Posted by:

Make your own TV graphics in seconds with these great animated backdrops.

Have you ever wondered how TV networks almost immediately have really slick graphics identifying major news and sports stories? "America At War," "Focus on Your Money," "Storm Watch," etc. Creating these from scratch can be a lot of work — and expense. So they often start with an animated background and simply add text and music. Boom. Done.

Is it really that easy?

It can be with the right background graphics. Several companies produce stock graphics that can be used in a variety of ways. Some of these graphics are computer-generated, others are filmed footage, and still others are combinations of the two.

Jump Backs, from Digital Juice Inc., are a series of broadcast-quality CD-ROMs with beautiful, looping animations. These are classy graphics perfect for television, corporate, commercial and even wedding videos.

Each volume (there are currently eight) contains about 40 animations. Each animation is between 15 – 30 seconds in length, and all are designed to loop seamlessly.

The latest volume (number eight) contains a wide variety of backdrops, such as a countdown leader, a flowing American flag, flames, timepieces, lasers and more. Volume 5 contains sports-specific backgrounds, while Volume 4 is for wedding videos. The others contain a variety of high-impact animations.

On a Macintosh system, simply copy the animation QuickTime file to a hard disk and import it into a non-linear editing program, such as Final Cut Pro. Windows NLE users must complete an additional step of converting the animated JPEG files into an AVI movie sequence. But it’s still pretty straightforward. Jump Backs are also available on videotape.

Jump Backs can be imported or run in your NLE directly from the CD-ROM, but I found that the files, which can run above 60Mb, may bog down in playback off the CD-ROM. That’s why I suggest copying the ones you work with onto a hard drive.

The demonstration video provided by Digital Juice shows some creative ways to use the Jump Backs animations. Colors can be tweaked, the animations can be composited together and used either as full or partial backgrounds, and of course text or other graphical elements can be placed over the animations.

Creating just one of these animations from scratch could take days, plus more time to create a final composited image. But Jump Backs cuts that time tremendously. The graphic included in this article took about a half -hour from start to finish. And that included picking out a Jump Backs background, loading it into After Effects, making the text in Illustrator, compositing, rendering and compressing the final movie in Cleaner 5. Broadcast editors can skip many of these steps to theoretically make a great stinger in just minutes.

While the Jump Backs series contains more than 300 animated backdrops, I wish there were hundreds more. But the ability to tweak the animations in an NLE or compositing program gives editors and motion graphics artists the ability to create many dozens more versions of the standard animations.

Jump Backs are available online for $249 per volume. Current specials include Buy Two Get One Free and purchasing the whole 8-volume set for $999.