Interview: Pojemotion Burning the Midnight Yule Log


We caught up with the busy, super talented, and energetic animator and illustrator Lisa Poje to find out the story behind her Yule Log 2.0 entry, “The Midnight Yule Log”. 

cg+news: We love watching the Yule Log entries. It’s fun and fascinating to see the scope of imaginative ideas. How did you come up with the concept for “Midnight Yule Log”?

lisa poje: Well…no planning actually went into it. I illustrated a campfire as part of #illustratedAdvent on Twitter. I just opened up Photoshop and started painting. 

When I posted it to Twitter, I was surprised to see how much ‘love’ it was getting. I mean, it was just a simple little fire, a two-hour sketch.

cg+news: Okay… so you didn’t plan it but somehow it evolved into an animated short. How did that come about?

lisa poje: Chris Kelly from Oddfellows tweeted me asking when I was going to ‘make it move’. I thought, “hmmm, that sounds like an inspired idea” …so I started to animate my illustration. About an hour later I got an email from Chris inviting me to animate my campfire to be included in their Yule Log 2.0 project.

cg+news: Wow! Sounds like he had a plan in mind.

lisa poje: Could be. I was so excited I was actually jumping up and down! 

I remember looking at last year’s Yule Logs and thinking, “Hey, I really want to do one of those”, but having absolutely no clue how to go about doing it. So, getting invited was like Christmas – if Christmas was a log – kinda. 

cg+news: Funny. So what happened next?

lisa poje: Now I was even more inspired to animate this silly little fire. I worked on it for six hours straight and then emailed it to Chris the next day. I think he was surprised at how fast I got it done. I may have been a little bit excited.

cg+news: Six hours isn’t a lot of time in terms of animation. Can you share some insight on how you did it? 

lisa poje: Here goes the quick and dirty.


In After Effects I animated each individual flame using shape layers, keyframing the path shape to deform the flame.

Then I added a scale wiggle on the Y-axis to add more movement. I did this for each of the colors of flames. So many keyframes! So many.

I added a posterize time effect on the flames as well to get more jerky movements. 

poje_screen_02For the shadows on the logs I animated masks on solids and then added posterize time to that as well. I added a few finishing touches, such as glows, cast shadows, and texture, and then it was done!


cg+news: Nice! And I understand you did a mash up version too. 

lisa poje: A few days after I submitted my Yule Log 2.0 animation I decided to make it fit the theme of my studio‘s holiday party – which was “Frozen” themed (shocking, right?) – so we could play it in the suites throughout the night.

I had already made an ice cave animation for our party invitation a few weeks before all of this. I married the yule log animation and my ice cave background and made it more of a nighttime feel.

That’s it.


cg+news: It works… fire and ice.

You’re awesome Lisa! Thanks for letting us in on your process and sharing your time.

lisa poje: Ah, thank you! So much love!

About Lisa Poje

Lisa Poje started out as a traditional artist and then she discovered computers and an incredible invention – the ‘undo button’. Her quest is to ‘animate against the evil forces’ by creating incorporeal pieces of art from pixels that float about the cyberspace-time vortex, and to have a good time doing it. And her aim is true. She’s an archer (seriously), sword fighter (again, seriously), and a super talented motion designer, animator, and illustrator.

Lisa was featured as one of Phoenix New Times’ 100 Phoenix Creatives for 2014. She’s been active in the community for many years. In 2012 Lisa was a finalist in the Made with After Effects Awards for her animated short Squanderpus. Then, in 2013, Lisa was selected as a challenger in motion‘s annual FACEOFF: The After Effects Challenge with her kickass all-girl team “Deathstar”.

She can be found online tweeting and dribbling with her fantastic online community of illustrators and animators.

About Yule Log 2.0

Yule Log 2.0 was started in 2013 by Daniel Savage. Sixty-six artists from all different disciplines were invited to reimagine the WPIX-11 Yule Log. Fifty-three unique films were made. Something Savage partnered with digital agency Wondersauce, to create a web experience allowing users to play all logs on endless loop. Within one month of launching, over 1 million logs were ‘burned’. 

This year over 80 artists made 70 unique films.

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