Endless Streets

Born out of a curiosity in learning more about Animation in After Effects, Endless Streets are sets of looping videos (or cinemagraphs) of specific car models paired with music that I'm enjoying at the moment. As I discovered parts of the creation process can be streamlined and scaled, I'm using it as an opportunity to learn more about organic growth on YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels.

Artwork is generated using Midjourney AI. The result is often taken after running several iterations on a prompt to ensure the details of the car model are accurate and the scene has minimal elements that will make the motion look inauthentic.

Porsche illustration generated with Midjourney

The generated artwork is loaded into Adobe Photoshop and in Photoshop we use Generative Fill to extend the scene out further so we have more usable bleed area to create the animation. Generative Fill is also used to correct smaller imperfections and inaccuracies in the AI-generated art.

Expanded the artwork using Adobe Photoshop's Generative Fill

The expanded image is then masked out into individual environment layers of Sky, Skyline (or Mountain line), and Road. We use Generative Fill to fill out the rest of each layer. For example, the sky layer is turned into all sky and the skyline layer is turned into all buildings etc. The car is split into Car Body, Car Shadow, Front Wheel, Rear Wheel, and Rim. Each layer is placed into a standard 2000x2000 artboard so they can easily be batch exported and imported into an After Effects template.

Photoshop processing template to create standardized image assets

A pre-generated After Effects template can now be opened which has looping animations pre-built using placeholder 2000x2000 assets. Since we have exported new artwork into the placeholder images, our new artwork now has the base animations. We can add additional bespoke elements such as wind lines, street lines and smoke to make our animation look more bespoke to the artwork and less like a canned template.

Pre-animated After Effects boilerplate with 2000x2000 image assets

The completed video loop is a 10-second video file sized at a 9:16 aspect ratio for Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts.

The completed video loop

The video file is uploaded manually on a mobile device to each Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts so we can use the music selection interface and use licensed music without copyright strikes.

Using this process we are able to rapidly generate new looping shorts in just about an hour. We can very quickly produce new videos for different car models in different environments.

Published YouTube Shorts of other car illustrations

What's Next?

Using the templates and process I am uploading one new video per day on the Endless Streets accounts. My goal is to learn more about YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels. With minor adjustments per video to things like the video length, the car model, the brightness/colors, the music, and varying amount of motion within the loops, I'm able to extract learnings about what could make for successful Shorts/Reels content. I am also continuing to iterate on the templates and process to get production of each video down to under an hour. The goal is to get it to as close to completely automated so Endless Streets can be an easy to manage and consistent content-producing publishing channel.