November 26, 2008

Building a Cube World in AE

Over on Creative Cow, Carl Larsen has a nice 3-part tutorial on Building a Cube World.

He shows you how to create a 360-degree camera-aware environment in After Effects without the use of third-party plug-ins (using a panoramic photo), how to build a title sequence within the environment, and how to track a lens flare onto the surface of that 360-degree environment.

Interactive Video Object Manipulation

Prolost posted this, but it's good to blog more about it, according to the image scientist and host Dan Goldman, who is part of Adobe's Advanced Technology Group. Adding sexy features like this stuff would benefit everyone -- as would improving app speed and stability.

Interactive Video Object Manipulation from Dan Goldman on Vimeo.

Enhancement requests for AE CS4 scripting guide

Todd Kopriva is collecting enhancement requests and comments on a forthcoming After Effects scripting guide for CS4. He's asking those concerned to look at the CS3 scripting guide if they'd like clarifications or additions.

NewBlue Video Essentials filters for After Effects

NewBlue has 9 filter sets and one of them, Video Essentials, is for Adobe After Effects 7.0 and higher. NewBlue Video Essentials features a set of 10 video effects: Color Fixer Plus, Crop Borders, Detail Enhancer, Flash Remover, Pixelator, Sharpen, Soft Focus, Tint, Touch Up, and Video Tuneup.

It's unclear how essential this package is for AE users, though inside NLEs that might be different. Oddly, NewBlue notes that Adobe products are currently for Windows only, and Adobe After Effects and Apple Motion are not compatible with transition packages.

Earlier this year NewBlue offered its Cartoonr filters for free, and it's still free.

November 25, 2008

Processing 1.0 launched

Processing 1.0 has been launched, and promises breakthroughs in workflow efficiency for the creative process across work in print, Web, interactive, film, video and mobile:

"Processing is a programming language, development environment, and online community that since 2001 has promoted software literacy within the visual arts. Initially created to serve as a software sketchbook and to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context, Processing quickly developed into a tool for creating finished professional work as well.

Processing is a free, open source alternative to proprietary software tools with expensive licenses, making it accessible to schools and individual students. Its open source status encourages the community participation and collaboration that is vital to Processing's growth. Contributors share programs, contribute code, answer questions in the discussion forum, and build libraries to extend the possibilities of the software. The Processing community has written over seventy libraries to facilitate computer vision, data visualization, music, networking, and electronics."

For more on projects using Processing, check out a previous note on a Robert Hodgin talk on Flocking with 3D Perlin noise, and Processing Blogs and Create Digital Motion.

November 24, 2008

Red Giant to offer free downloads in January

Studio Daily's "The Plug-in Post" November newsletter (sign-up) is out with stories on Automatic Duck and a Q&A with Red Giant's Sean Safreed. Oh yeah, and the RED update might a few more weeks late. Among the other news tidbits is this:

"Red Giant to Offer Free Downloads this January! When Red Giant acquired Digital Anarchy’s video plug-ins, the company planned to release a handful of the acquired tools for free. Check back next month for details on where to download new versions of Microcosm, Color Theory and PlasmaFX."

AE Mac/Windows benchmark smackdown

Kevin Schmitt is back on Creative Mac having re-run benchmarks to see which OS runs AE better with The Great After Effects Mac/Windows Smackdown: CS4 Edition. There's a some twists to running benchmarks and multi-processing in AE that may pop up in coverage of this, but really the problem is that Apple makes insanely great changes to its OS and hardware a bit often. Here's Kevin's conclusions:

"Cripes, the Mac OS X version of After Effects is absolutely smoked again, and the results are slightly worse than last time in places. Either Adobe isn't tuning After Effects on the Mac at all, or tuning the buhjeezus out of the Windows versions. Hell, even single process rendering on Vista generally spanks multiple processes on Leopard, for the love of Pete.

Vista pwnage aside, it's interesting to see how enabling multiprocessing on either platform doesn't necessarily translate to better performance. The time savings bear themselves out on longer renders, but it isn't always a slam dunk to soak up all your system resources by enabling multiprocessing. If your system is beefy enough, it may be a better bet to give AE a single process and then work on something else while the render happens.

In any event, it's clear from these tests that Vista x64 offers significant "pound-for-pound" time savings for your After Effects renders. We're still in disappointing territory for Mac users, to be sure, but I'm actually surprised this time. I figured the situation would be much improved this time around, and, well, not so much. We'll just have to see how the CS5/Snow Leopard/Windows 7 comparison goes."

November 22, 2008

Motionworks redesigned

Motionworks is back and looks nice. They've leveraged the old content in categories with room to grow.

The 3D motion tag cloud for Word Press is cool.

November 21, 2008

Premiere CS 4.01 imports FCP projects & exports OMF, AAF

Besides directly editing RED files (or not), the new release of Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 (version 4.0.1) enables users to import Final Cut Pro projects via XML interchange, export to Open Media Framework (OMF), and import and export projects in Advanced Authoring Format (AAF). To find out more check out Premiere Pro CS4 4.0.1 Help is live.

This is from From FCP to Premiere to ProTools to After Effects at Mikes Jones Digital Basin:
"...its the last of the triumvirate of exchange options this update delivers that really is a bit of a head turner... Adobe Premiere Pro now has the ability to import and open Final Cut Pro projects....!

Yep, that's right. A project cut in FCP can now be opened directly in Premiere Pro using FCP's XML format.
Having just done the test myself I can attest to it working perfectly. In fact I took a 5 minute project with 4 streams of video and 6 streams of audio from FCP, exported an XML project file, took my hard drive over from my Mac to my Window's based workstation and imported that FCP project into Premiere and it opened in seconds flawlessly."

Update: I missed Scot Simmons' comments at Studio Daily, Adobe fires another shot across Apple’s bow. Unfortunately the shot fell a bit short since Apple shipped their RED solution (see FCP User's notes on the Pro Apps update) and Adobe didn'. Later at The Editblog, Scott was Kicking the tires on the “native” RED Quicktimes and Kicking the tires of the Premiere Pro CS4 XML import.

Update 2: Dav's Tech Table has more details and a YouTube overview of the CS4.01 update:

CS4 & the nVidia CX movies

This is the 1st comment on this $2000 nVidia card that I've seen from someone at Adobe, from DAV's TechTable, CS4 Production Premium & the nVidia CX.

For more on nVidia & Adobe, check out the movies at nVidia's Adobe pages, which previously were only on YouTube.

Update: Nvidia adds marketing ideas with a web page called Adobe Speaks Visual (even though several GeForce cards cause problems with Adobe apps that are using the GPU more and more).

November 19, 2008

Pre-Pixel Bender Droste effect music video

The video done below could now be done easier with the free Droste Effect Pixel Bender filter that works in AE CS4. The "Droste Effect" features recursive images (like feedback) like the cover art of Ummagumma by Pink Floyd.

Adland has the story behind OneInThree's creation of a "Droste effect" video for the band "Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants" (shown below):

"Mathmap was designed to apply the effect to single images so OneInThree developed a proprietary method to be able to run batches of images through the program, unfortunately the batch limit was 40 frames before the application would crash... After 1080 computer hours, over 400 crashes and 2 terabytes of data, spread across 7 hard drives, the final compositing could be done. The 'Drosted' images were brought into After Effects, re-conformed and animated to zoom in time to the beat. The transitions were then hand animated and the stills added into the mix before OneInThree headed back to The Mill, for a DCP and sound lay."

Also, Frank Beltrán has posted the Making of Droste Videoclip "Clap your brains off," which was also done by hand.

RED & prosumer end of the spectrum

Mark Christiansen, author of After Effects Studio Techniques (review), clarifies in 10 (+1) Reasons Revisited: is Scarlet Still Even a Prosumer Product?

More RED and DSLR updates are available from Prolost, Camera Log by Adam Wilt ("Right now, a RED ONE in the hand is worth two Epics/Scarlets rendered in a remote mountain stronghold"), and other resources through PVC and CrispyFeeds.

November 18, 2008

Editing video news stories

News Videographer has several interesting posts on editing video and the construction of news stories.

Here's part of one post:

"Deborah Potter writes this week about’s idea that web video can come in different levels of storytelling sophistication.
  • Tier 1 - a short, single shot interview or video of a scene that stands alone. It’s typically no longer than two minutes long and if it’s not embedded with a story, you need to surround it with text to explain what’s going on. Rhodes pointed to a video on the site titled, Meet Britain’s Baby Penguin, as an example that generated an amazing number of hits.
  • Tier 2 - what Rhodes calls a vignette, this includes two-to-four b-roll shots and an interview and generally runs no longer than three minutes. This is similar to a television news package.
  • Tier 3 - these are longer narratives produced in explanatory or documentary style. Rhodes says these look just like TV documentaires with the same high quality video and production values. Good examples can be found in the work of Travis Fox such as his piece A Fragile Renaissance about the changes occuring in Medellin, Columbia.

Another reference from News Videographer is The Edit Foundry, a new NPPA blog by Shawn Montano, which has an interesting series of posts:

Also, The New York Times has setting the bar for the transition happening for newspapers. Check out this summary video of the presidential election which includes motion graphics, interactivity, photos, and archival footage from the past two years: “2008 Election - Choosing a President.”

Apparently some print executives are still coming around. At a recent Society of Editors conference ‘Video Visionary’ Michael Rosenblum told senior-management/executives what they should do (via Andy Dickinson).

Michael Rosenblum @ Society of Editors 08 from Paul Bradshaw on Vimeo.

Configurator on Adobe Labs

Previously announced by John Nack, Adobe Labs posted a prerelease of Adobe Configurator, an AIR app which enables Legos-like creation of custom panels for Photoshop CS4. John Nack's got an SD-sized QuickTime movie that's better than this YouTube one (which is missing the last minute):

Update: John Nack has more in Configurator is live!

Cineon Converter for Photoshop (free)

Brendan Bolles of fnord software has released a free Cineon Converter for Photoshop:

"This free plug-in fills a missing link in the Photoshop film production pipeline. It applies Kodak's standard log2lin transfer function to a log Photoshop layer, such as one you might get from opening a Cineon file. This is the same operation found in Nuke, Shake, Fusion, and the After Effects Cineon Converter."

New Cycore filters for After Effects

Cycore released two new effect packages for AE, CFX Path Tools and CFX Sphere Utilities, which both support float and are available for After Effects CS4, CS3 and 7.0 on Mac (Universal Binaries) and Windows. Demo movies and filters are now available.

CFX Path Tools contain two plug-ins utilizing After Effects mask paths. Wiggle Stroke wiggles and repeats a stroke based on a mask path in near infinite ways. Rakka is a tool for handling multiple repetitions of a layer that can be animated along a mask path and has multiple controls for designing flow and characteristics. It is truly amazing what can be created from just an ellipse or straight line mask path.

CFX Sphere Utilities is a set of four plug-ins designed to deal with spherical maps (equirectangular maps) commonly used to texture 3D spheres or as 3D environments. Animating layers and drawing lines on spherical maps are a breeze when Sphere Utilities handles the spherical transformations required. The coordinate system can be turned, twisted or aligned to an AE 3D camera, using Remap."

free 'Droste Effect' Pixel Bender filter

subblue (Tom Beddard) just ported over the Mathmap v10 Droste Effect filter to Adobe's Pixel Bender Toolkit (see also subblue's flickr page). The filters can be used in After Effects and Photoshop CS4 (and in some cases Flash 10):

"The real creative possibilities open up with After Effects when animating the parameters with a video input! You can download the script here where there are also installation instructions and a quick start guide."

As noted earlier, there are animations available (not from AE) at Leiden University's Escher and the Droste effect; see the frames below from an animation from A logarithmic image transformation by Jos Leys.

November 17, 2008

Digieffects releases Simulate: Camera filters

Digieffects announced a new After Effects filter set, Simulate: Camera, which includes 3 filters:

  • Archive simulates film/video degradation, contamination, and projection inconsistency to recreate "historical" looks.
  • Overexpose adds a sense of dynamics to otherwise stable and predictable footage. Using the effect in a practical way can result in a feeling of a sort of “focus-hunt” and “iris-hunt” that happens with consumer camcorders when they are constantly trying to adjust to changing composition. Combining DE_Overexpose with DE_Destabilize holds wholesale possibilities for taking a solid, steady shot and making it look hand-held and amateurish.
  • Destabilize is a camera shake effect that can be used for more conceptual effects involving separate color channel alpha compositing and color channel separation.
The Digieffects custom user interface includes the Randomizer to adjust multiple parameters quickly and Presets that can be saved for later use or moved between supported host applications.

Motion for After Effects Users

Wind Up Toy notes that you can rename a Motion project extension from .motn to .mov and import that into AE, a kludgy way to have the ability to redit your Motion file.

This tip is from MacBreak Studio's Motion for After Effects Users. Hosts Alex Lindsay and Mark Spencer note that the Motion project would be smaller than a movie file but is rendered live on the Mac.

Update: Mark Spencer talks about The Top Ten Things After Effects Users Love and Hate about Motion.

Thermo is Flash Catalyst

Adobe is rebranding groups of related technologies as "Flash Platform" for Adobe Max. Also unveiled was Flash Catalyst, code named Thermo.

Adobe says Flash Catalyst is "a professional interaction design tool for rapidly creating application interfaces and interactive content without coding. Flash Catalyst enables artwork created in Adobe Creative Suite 4 to be imported with full fidelity and quickly converted into dynamic components such as buttons, scrollbars, input fields and more. Finished projects can be published directly to Flash Player or AIR. When combined with the next version of Flex Builder ["Gumbo"], Adobe Flash Catalyst enables design and development to be done in parallel. This workflow supports iterative development and delivers higher quality results with faster time to market. A preview release of Adobe Flash Catalyst will be available for MAX 2008 attendees. A public beta version is expected to be available on Adobe Labs in early 2009."

It's not clear if this tool could be used instead of Flash itself since there's no appearance of SWF export functions or if it can work with digital video. For now there are demo movies on Adobe Labs, and last year's Edge movie:

Pixel Bender filters in Photoshop, AE, & Flash

Adobe posted new Pixel Bender releases for the Adobe MAX conference. The Pixel Bender Toolkit is newer than the one that shipped with CS4. Among other updates is the Pixel Bender Plug-in for Photoshop Cs4, which comes with a Gallery of 12 filters.

According to Kevin Goldsmith, the Pixel Bender Plug-in for Photoshop Cs4 "supports both Pixel Bender kernels [.pbk, "shaders" in Flash] and Graphs [.pgb, networks of kernels] and is accelerated for both GPUs and multi-core CPUs. You can now use the same Pixel Bender filter in Photoshop, After Effects and Flash!" Except the more complicated "Graphs" have to be assembled separately for the Flash Player, which also doesn't use the GPU.

Pixel Bender seems like a developer-only affair so far, although experiments by Pixelero and Mr.doob mentioned earlier in Spilling the beans on Pixel Bender, and ones by Frank Reitberger (promises the ‘Droste effect’) and Subblue (Guilloché Pattern Generator and Harmonograph) are enticing. In the near future Flash-based RIAs should benefit, and maybe there'll be some nice free float filters oriented to AE users. It's too bad Conduit for Flash Pixel Bender will be limited to Flash in it's initial release, although you can still roll your own with Conduit Suite.

Update: John Nack adds details in Pixel Bender arrives in Photoshop.

November 16, 2008

Metadata in After Effects & CS4

XMP (Adobe, Wikipedia) data in CS4 can be used in a variety of ways: in media capture, search, and with Speech transcriptions for edit and animation timing in Premiere and After Effects (AdobeTV demo video). Also, Layers Markers shared among video apps can be converted to Cue Points to trigger events in Flash (video). A metadata workflow overview by Mark Christiansen is on Adobe.TV.

In After Effects, speech metadata can help with syncing video and audio elements since speech metadata imports with layer markers with the transcription as labels. The preference for this feature is off by default (via); the toggle is under Preferences > Media & Disk Cache > Create Layer Markers from Footage XMP Metadata.

Depending on your success with a speech transcription in Premiere, in AE you might not even need to scrub with audio (CTL/COM +drag) to refine marker placement, as you would after using the asterisk key (*) on the numeric keypad during a RAM preview.

After Effects Help LiveDocs has additional details, for example:

"When you render and export a composition, you can write XMP metadata to the output file that includes all of the XMP metadata from the sources for that composition. This includes all of the composition markers and layer markers in the composition, all of the XMP metadata from the source files on which the layers in the composition are based, comments from the Comments columns in the Timeline panel and Project panel, and the project-level XMP metadata for the project in which the composition is contained. XMP metadata from nested compositions is recursively processed and included in the output.

[...] In addition to storing XMP metadata in After Effects project (.aep, .aepx) files and source documents used by Adobe applications (for example, .psd), After Effects can write XMP metadata directly into the files for many container formats [like MP4] ."

Of course this aspect of metadata piques the interest Flash developers like Brooks Andrus (Yes, the h.264 Specification is Freely Available), who shares some screencams from looking at MP4 files inside the Flex Debugger in The XMP Revolution is Here:

"...using XMP extends beyond standard file info and saving a video file’s editing history. Case in point, Premiere Pro CS4 has a killer 'speech to text' transcription feature. The transcription text is stored as XMP within the video file. This allows Premiere and other tools to accurately search for this data within a file (powers the search feature inside of Premiere and Bridge). As a special bonus, Flash Player 10 provides the same data in its onXMPData callback."

Quantum of Multi-touch + titles

Another wave of multi-touch memes has hit with the latest Bond thriller Quantum of Solace, CNN elections graphics, and Windows 7. The multi-touch UI, and movie titles, were done by MK12 Studios (mentioned at Fxguide). There's even a critique of the Bond UI by a consultant at Microsoft Surface, and Make magazine weighs in with Quantum of Solace - The Do-it-yourself version.

g-speak from Oblong Industries is another entry into the the Minority Report game, via Brooks Andrus:

Update: Chris Meyer notes an article and an interview with Ben Radatz of MK12, Art of the Title: Quantum of Solace.

November 15, 2008

ASND: the CS4 non-destructive audio format

Paul Ellis mentioned the ASND format in a recent post on Inside Sound, an Adobe audio blog:

'The Adobe Sound Document (ASND), which is pronounced “a-sound”, was introduced in Soundbooth CS4 to address the “Oops Factor” in the world of audio editing. When you save your edits to an audio file using the ASND format, effects and volume changes are saved in a non-destructive way so that you can open the file later and tweak these settings. Additionally, the ASND format supports the notion of Snapshots. Similar to Snapshots in Photoshop, this gives you the ability to save multiple versions of your edits and allows you to easily switch between them. By default, Soundbooth will ask if you want to save the original document in the ASND package so you can always retrieve the untouched file you started with.'

Also, I like the New Soundbooth Feature: Match Volume that I'd missed from using Audition. Match Volume matches your files to a specified dB volume or to matches them all to the level of one of the selected files. CS4 Soundbooth features are summarized in this video:

November 14, 2008

AE Help clarification & survey

Todd Kopriva, the After Effects documentation lead, has a lot to say in a little more explanation about Community Help. The Community Help "search index includes our own Help documents, Technical Support documents, and tutorials, as well as content created by the larger community..."

Whether or not you think Help is great or blows chunks because of shortcomings in local HTML help or the use of the F1 key, Todd requests that specific feedback be submitted to this survey. You can also submit feedback to Community Help (then click Give us feedback). If you do give feedback it would be good to distinguish between the Help content, the search utility, the "Help and Support" portal page design, etc.

I'd like to see more information design to help people find the easy answers. Lists and forums offer answers and recurring problems are easily solved, but the answer are often hard to find. There’s a massive amount of help already out there, so it would be cool if there was a database with task-based keywords that better matched groups of solutions to problems. Results could include solutions that use built-in tools and others that provide better and/or faster solutions provided by 3rd party plug-ins and by various tutorials. The current Help is a step in this direction, but the search results are sometimes unwieldy.

YouTube gets HD & quality confusion

Update 12-05-08: YouTube added "watch in HD" for 720p movies.

It seems YouTube does HD at 1280 x 720 now, so you don't have to use Javascript to tile 4 Youtube videos like Mr. Doob (who's also a Pixel Bender). Yesterday there was an interesting Techmeme blog swarm originating from a post on YouTube quality; here's an excerpt:

"I got an email from a YouTube engineer who tells me that format 18 isn't even the highest quality you can get. Check out Dancing Matt in format 22, aka 720p. Furthermore, some videos don't have a format 18 version (if the uploaded movie doesn't have sufficient quality, for instance)."

Sometimes "high quality" is HD H.264 in stereo ("&fmt=22"), or smaller (480x360, 4:3 frame aspect ratio) in H.264 stereo ("&fmt=18") or H.263 mono ("&fmt=06"). Format 22 is not always 1280x720 -- the tag is ignored if there's no HD movie uploaded, as with David Kalb vs LeBron James - Horse (HIGH QUALITY), where format 22 seems like format 06.

YouTube advice is scarce and haphazardly released. Upload advice is simply 640x480, 30 fps, MP4 with a 1 GB limit, though other sizes & formats are allowed. It seems that you should upload the highest resolution possible because YouTube saves the original upload to spin off better copies later apparently.

Download helpers, like KeepVid, Video Download Helper, GreaseMonkey scripts, Better You Tube, Safari's Activity window, etc., seemed to be a bit inconsistent in reading "normal" and the various high quality download options -- or I got confused looking at the metadata for YouTube files read by K-Multimedia Player, VLC, and Media Info (Win & Mac, via Brian Gary's YouTube Encoding: Locked & Reloaded).

Looking at Kottke's movies... it seems there are 4 formats on YouTube this morning for the Where the Hell is Matt? (2008), which has a 16:9 frame aspect ratio. Other formats for videos uploaded at different resolutions, like the download of David Kalb vs LeBron James, fall into the definitions a bit different:

normal quality
(320 x 240 @ 250 Kbps, H.263 video, audio mono 22.5 KHz)
file size = 11,295 KB
320x180, H.263, 344 kbps
MP3, mono, 16 bit, 22 KHz

high quality "&fmt=06"
(320 x 240, H.263 video, mono 16/44.1 at 96 Kbps)
file size = 33,587 KB
480 x 270, H.263, 30 fps, 1024 kbps (total file)
MP3, 96 kbps, mono, 16 bit, 44 KHz

high quality "&fmt=18"
(480 x 360, H.264 video 512 Kbps, stereo 16/44.1 at 128 Kbps)
file size = 20,784 KB
480 x 270, H.264 (3GPP), 29.97 fps, 632 kbps (total file)
AAC LC, 125 kbps, VBR, stereo, 16 bit, 44 KHz
(VLC says the file is mp4a, 29.970029, 44.1)

high quality "&fmt=22"
(1280 x 720, H.264 video, 16/44.1 KHz stereo)
file size = 75,320 KB
1280 x 720, H.264 (3GPP), 30 fps, 2296 kbps (total file)
AAC LC, 232 kbps, VBR, stereo, 16 bit, 44 KHz

high quality "&fmt=18" *B
David Kalb vs LeBron James - Horse (HIGH QUALITY)
file size = 34,691 KB
480 x 270, H.264 (3GPP), 29.966 fps, 629 kbps (total file)
AAC LC, 125 kbps, VBR, stereo, 16 bit, 44 KHz

high quality "&fmt=22" *B
David Kalb vs LeBron James - Horse (HIGH QUALITY)
file size = 18,098 KB
320 x 180, H.263 (Sorenson), 29.966 fps, 328 kbps (total file)
mono, 16 bit/22.050 KHz
flvsource : cdbp

NewTeeVee Live with ‘Fred’ & more

NewTeeVee Live sessions are being posted, and there's live streaming too.

They hosted Lucas ‘Fred’ Cruikshank a 15-year-old innovator who has attracted tens of millions of views and corporate support (see an earlier post Viral videos: not just by amateurs):

Cruikshank, who has a Mac laptop and a blackberry, says one secret is to launch videos on Thursday around the time that kids get out of school. The buzz will pick up on Friday during school hours and on Saturday the show will often get the most views.

November 13, 2008

Producing H.264 Video

Streaming Media has posted all presentations from their recent conferences, with video and PDF handouts. Here's Jan Ozer giving an overview of H.264 (PDF). Missing background can be found in articles by Ozer and Andy Beach.

Hulu type quality isn't easy to achieve; for nice Flash compression examples, look at the work of Fabio Sonnati.

Update: EDN's Brian Dipert had insights into Hulu tech earlier this year; see:
NAB 2008: Is Full-Screen Hulu Jerky For You, Too?
H.264 Blues: Why Isn't Starbuck Smooth?
H.264 and Hulu: Day Two, Additional Data

Update 2: Geeky Mac people can cobble together similar Open Source tools as on Windows, including x264, with the help of Diego's Rants.

Adobe's Office 2.0 Mashup

Genesis is Adobe's code name of a collaborative mashup client project, based on Adobe AIR and focused on the needs of knowledge workers in "the enterprise." It seems like Genesis will push out the directions taken by,, and Adobe Buzzword in creating personal, shareable, and collaborative workspaces and visualizations for business projects. Here's the Adobe Genesis Unveiling at the recent Office 2.0 conference.

Inside the Fortress of Solitude (aka Crystal Palace)

John Nack noted a National Geographic feature, video, and photo gallery of Mexico's Cave of Crystals. The video explains more about the cave and the picture below (the people are in red).

November 12, 2008

Compressor for network renders and Vimeo HD

Final Cut Producer posted a couple of tutorials for Apple Compressor. One covers network rendering via Ethernet for 2 computers; the other one is hosted and explains HD Video Encoding for Vimeo using Compressor. YouTube of course doesn't do HD.

How to Encode Faster in Compressor with Apple Qmaster from Andy Coon on Vimeo.

HD Video Encoding for Vimeo using Compressor from Ed McNichol on Vimeo.

November 11, 2008

Help PDF mo' beta for locals

AE's local HTML Help was probably finished earlier than LiveDocs Help on the web, so it may not be as up-to-date as other options. If you're using AE Help offline, you'll be accessing older local Help files, so you might instead download the more accurate and complete version available as a PDF. Since the Adobe products all shipped together, the same may apply to other the products. Each product is set up the same way: the product Support and Live Help pages have links to the most recent PDF.

AE Help PDFs (and Community Help pages) are also available in localized or translated versions for German, French, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, and Korean; for details, see Todd Kopriva's After Effects CS4 Help is live in several more languages.

Update (01/02/09): Todd Kopriva says that currently the AE Help PDF is updated "About once per month; each time the HTML version of Help on the Web is updated. I've added nearly 20 pages since October, in addition to dozens of corrections and tweaks."

November 10, 2008

Macworld FCPUG SuperMeet 2009

Join lafcpug, BOSFCPUG, SF Cutters and FCP User Groups from around the world in San Francisco for "the largest gathering of FCP users and Gurus on the Planet" during Macworld 2009:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009
7PM - 10PM
(doors open at 5PM for mini FCP trade show)
at the Mission Bay Conference Center / UCSF

Tickets are $10.99 per person or $15.00 at the door, and always sell out. Ticket will include 2 raffle entries. The agenda is "SuperSecret" as always, but there will be presentations by Apple, JVC, Blackmagic Design, and much more.

Last year's presentations by industry icons can be viewed at

November 5, 2008

Free the Airwaves

PrepShootPost explains "White Space" spectrum win in "WHITE SPACES" COULD BE OUR SPACES:

"We all know about the DTV transition, here in the US, in Feb. 2009. That's when our analog TV's will go black and all terrestrial video signals will be digitally broadcast. The thing is, those digital signals take up less space of the broadcast spectrum, about 70 percent less. These sections of the broadcast spectrum, previously crowded by terrestrial analog signals, will sit empty.

Since these "White Spaces" share the same spectrum as DTV, they aren't really "clean" enough for the FCC to sell for broadcasting licenses. They are kinda like the spaces between DTV signals, not really useful for broadcasters, just empty space. There was once another part of the spectrum that engineers called useless, they even nicknamed it "The Junk Band". It was the space filled with powerline and microwave oven emissions.

No one ever thought that anyone could do anything useful with it. This was the 2.4ghz to 5ghz range, and in 1985 the FCC said, "OK, you engineers, industrial tech folks and medical people, do whatever you want to with that useless junk band."*
And then boom, a decade later the "junk band" became "WiFi", and you know that story. This is why this idea of a free and open, and otherwise marginally useful slice of the spectrum is so exciting. Imagine WiFi but instead of covering a 50 foot radius, it covers hundreds of miles.

Where ever you can get a TV signal you can get seriously high-speed wireless internet."

Read the rest at PrepShootPost.

Bruce Johnson at PVC also writes about this in Any News on November 4th?, as does TechCrunch and, most importantly, Larry Page of Google.

November 4, 2008

What's the Frequency, Kenneth?

Someone quoted this from Richard Linklater's movie Slacker, "Withdrawing in disgust is not the same thing as apathy."

Oblique strategies are fine, though every once in awhile it's good to visit a parallel universe and read the famous soliloquy from William Shakespeare's Hamlet. It's from Act III, Scene I, here rendered by Kenneth Branagh:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. - Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.

AEScripts updates Throttle and BG Renderer

Lloyd Alvarez, a freelance After Effects artist in New York City, has posted CS4 updates to a few of his scripts at After Effects Scripts. These include:

Throttle works with the new multi-processing throttle system that manages how many CPU’s are to be left free for other applications. Throttle also adds UI for a little known text preference that allows you to set the quality of the Toggle Pixel Aspect (PAR) Correction button in the Comp Panel.

BG Renderer is a script that runs as an embedable panel that is saved as part of your workspace. It allows you to render your Render Queue items in the background while you can continue working. It supports multiprocessing (2gb per core is recommended to use this feature) and control of the memory and ram cache independently of the main app.

Update: One cool thing at I hadn't noticed is this:
Get new scripts via email !

Update 2: I haven't tried these other recent interesting scripts, Expressions and external documents by Harry Franks (which includes a QT tutorial) and David Torno's Handheld Camera Script.

November 2, 2008

Red Giant Warp: shadow, reflection, corner pin

Red Giant Warp is shipping. Warp is 3 plug-ins that give you control over shadows, reflections and corner point warps:

"The Shadow tool renders realistic shadows for text or subjects shot on greenscreen, while the Reflection tool creates perfect mirror-like reflections. The advanced Corner Pin tool includes features for working with warped images, importing tracking data from Mocha for After Effects, and adding secondary transforms and motion blur, to heighten realism in any scene."
The Corner Pin filter should take care of all the problems that Stu Maschwitz and others have with the one built into AE; for more, see Mocha for After Effects +Corner Pin thread.

Update: Eran Stern has a tutorial on using the RG filter with Mocha.

New Features in After Effects CS4: Part 4

Motionworks has another video in its CS4 tour, New Features in After Effects CS4: Part 4,

CS4 introduces us to 3 new effects: Cartoon, Bilateral Blur and Turbulent Noise. Bilateral Blur and Turbulent Noise are very similar to the existing Smart Blur and Fractal Noise effects. In this tutorial, we’ll take a quick look at these new effects and see what makes them different.

CS4 product trials are almost ready; you can be notified by Adobe when they're ready. The same gotcha for video is that Adobe trial software doesn't contain the license for some codecs.