I took some photos of the cover and inner/outer sleeves (with my iPhone – gone are the days when this kind of thing needed a rostrum camera) and onto the computer and we tried to decipher this Prefab Sprout album cover, is it long exposure photography, are these radio waves, both together somehow? How am I going to make this a Motion Graphics masterpiece?

Either way, it didn’t much matter I needed to break it apart, it was too dense that any effects or filters in Photoshop or After Effects were pointless even trying. This was going to have to be done the old fashioned way.

And then how to animate? The simplest solution would be to just do some drifts and moves of the cover, but that seemed a bit boring so instead I thought the best approach was to recreate as much of the artwork as possible so I could play with the elements, and besides, by this point I’d been listening to the album, aside from a bit of Hot Dog/Jumping Frog/Albuquerque I didn’t know much Prefab Sprout, but this album was great and I wanted to do it justice.

Motion Graphics: Paddy McAloon Prefab Sprout
Spot the Designers foot!
Motion Graphics Paddy McAloon Prefab Sprout

With newsnight, time is of the essence. It would have been fun to play with some Trapcode settings to recreate glowing lines or some 3D paths in Cinema4D coming towards the camera, but with no idea exactly how long I’d have (and the ever present fear of having to handover some half baked (and not working) concepts to another designer on another day) and a transmission deadline looming I opted (as ever) for some simple and dirty Motion Graphics.

On closer inspection most of the lines were repeated several times so I identified a few that I could trace and repeat and drew them in Illustrator before importing into After Effects. I offset all the timings, and added a bit of whizzbang (code for using effects to add some Motion Graphics magic: glow, blur, echo and trim paths), morphing it with the original photo, with some zooms and moves to disguise the joins between the two. For the album cover I added some text flying in (recreating the Prefab Sprout/I Trawl The Megahertz font, almost) and for Paddy’s face I zoomed him away as the lines came in, just because it looked nice.


After it went out we were contacted by Sony Music who were promoting the release and wanted to know how I’d made this as they wanted to do something similar in Motion Graphics for the album publicity and couldn’t work out how to do it…