Please find for your review and (constructive) criticism an animated Christmas and Happy New Year Card which I created for the company BT I work for (I am a 3D artist only in my spare time). This is not meant as an advertisement, but as a christmas greeting card for our customers. So by any means it is not intended to advertise BT in this forum (hope posting is in line with forum guidelines).
The production was done in Blender with the following exceptions: The animated logo at the end is from company stock (I am not sure which software was used for this) and I used Magix Video Pro X4 for the combining of the takes and for adding music, sound exporting and remixing/take blending and for the text overlays. You can do that in Blender, but some finishing for animations in a professional vidprog is a lot more comfortable. But no aftereffects were added, all compositing etc. was done completely in Blender.
As I am quite new to Blender (intensively training myself up during the course of the last 12 months) I used the following trainings and tutorials: An advanced particle turorial from blenderdiplom.com was used for the particle trail. I found this as I had already modelled the BT Tower (London city landmark item and I initially had the idea to have some nice lighting animation as we did for the L2012 Olympics) and they had a tut that had the Berlin tower in and I thought this is exactly what I want to mirror (copy?), so complete credit for this idea is to them. The trail is a quite simple particle system, but the materials and lighting uses the particle info node to change the material mix from glossy/emitting to fading/emitting. I only had to change some of the settings and rearrange for render layer masking to enable a separate compositing of the trail afterwards and had to set up a more complex dynamic DOF to keep the Santa in focus.
They also had a very nice fireworks tutorial using the VDE which I relied on. So make sure you check their tutorials and site out. They have it in two languages, so also in English. The fireworks are done in Blender internal with particle systems and halo materials.
My wife then requested that the scene had to have a Santa Claus in it and I took some modelling guidance from AgenzasBrothers tutorials for that (and strict additional directions from my wife ;-). So the idea was born to actually have the particle trail as the exhaust pipe of the Santa vehicle - which gave the animation a completely new look.
I fronted it all with a landmark animation , the BT tower model is my doing and all I had to do is put it together.
If you like it and are interested, I will share some key learnings I found during the course of setting all up. The video is best viewed fullscreen on YT in 1080p.
Of course it is also intended to wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!