October 30, 2009

Unplugged 12: interview with Nick Campbell (Greyscale Gorilla)

Motionworks' Unplugged 12 features an interview with Nick Campbell (the Greyscale Gorilla):

"Relatively new to the online training scene, Nick Campbell has quickly established himself in the After Effects world, with his popular site Greyscale Gorilla. In this episode of Unplugged we discuss how Nick got started in the industry, his view on the benefits of university, and the challenges in his early freelance career. We also discuss our similarities in tutorial style, developing design skills on the job and of course Cinema 4D, plus plenty more."

Today: an After Effects team call-in hour


"Michael Coleman, the After Effects product manager, has just invited people to call in and talk with the After Effects team this afternoon. Here's his post."

A Graphic History of Newspaper Circulation Over the Last Two Decades

via Recovering Journalist's When Presses Roll Less, Execs Spin More (see also Twitter feed subscription numbers of the "biggies")...

A Graphic History of Newspaper Circulation Over the Last Two Decades by The Awl, which also noted How Are Newspapers Reporting on Newspaper Circulation?

Update: Advancing the Story posted on Jesse James Garrett’s “12 Things I’ve Learned about Online News.” Garrett coined the term Ajax; here's an excerpt:

'The Online News Association convention in San Francisco included a session titled, “Design Solutions from News Experts.” While panelists from the New York Times revealed a glimpse into new features coming to the newspaper’s Web site, Adaptive Path president Jesse James Garrett offered practical advice from his company’s work on Web redesigns for CNN, PBS and NPR. During the session, one person tweeted that Garrett’s speech got him thinking of a news site as something like a “dashboard” and less like a “publication.”'

October 26, 2009

After Effects workflow at The New York Times

Zach Wise posted some notes on the After Effects Workflow at The New York Times. The workflow generally consists of a conversation, then on to script, storyboard (template included), and rough draft.

Unplugged 11: interview with Eran Stern

Motionworks' Unplugged 11 features an interview Eran Stern:

"Based in Israel, Eran Stern is well-known in the After Effects world, thanks largely to his tutorials and podcasts for Creative Cow. In this episode of Unplugged learn how Eran balances his focus between a worldwide audience and his growing Hebrew-speaking fan base. Eran also gives his thoughts on the ever-growing quantity of online training and chats about the ACE (Adobe Certified Expert) exam for After Effects, of which he is the author."

October 23, 2009

Some new presets, scripts, and tutorials

Eran Stern has some freebie AE projects, including a magnifier device built with shape layers and expressions and a cube intro where you replace the text, cube face, and logo.
There's also some new preset, scripts, and tutorials posted on motion graphics eXchange offering better deinterlacing, TV noise, and nesting cameras using expressions.

For more, see the AEP post AE presets & projects round-up.

October 22, 2009

Intro to Programmatic Animations in AE

After Effects Product Manager Michael Coleman MAX 2009 presentation, An Introduction to Programmatic Animations in After Effects, is now online.

"You'll learn how to use JavaScript-based expressions to link the behavior of any property on any layer to that of any other property, either simply or by writing more complex code. Next, we'll explore some of the ways you can use scripting to streamline workflows..."

Green light for After Effects on Windows 7

Michael Coleman, product manager for Adobe After Effects green lights AE on Windows 7, which was released today. For more details, see Thinking of running After Effects on Windows 7? All signs point to yes.

Update: John Nack notes the Adobe Windows 7 FAQ.

Harry Frank interviewed by Satya Meka

AETuts has the text of an interview with Harry Frank by Satya Meka:

"I had the pleasure of meeting Harry Frank, the founder of Graymachine a resourceful website filled with various tutorials and many articles related to the industry. He is a popular freelancer and a veteran in Motion Graphics and is extremely popular for his training series “After Effects Expressions” and his training series on Trapcode products."        -- Continue Reading

October 21, 2009

Effects A-Z: Bevel with Topher Welsh

Motionworks' sorta weekly tour of built-in AE filters continues onto the Bevel filters, with guest host Topher Welsh demonstrating Bevel Alpha and Bevel Edges.

Chris & Trish Meyer have a similar series on Lynda.com, except it is running though filters by Effect category (as in the Effect Menu). Chad Perkins had a similar treatment in his Lynda.com 2008 series After Effects CS3 Effects.

Offered for your consideration: Codec Wars 2009

While QuickTime X (more here) may just take time to unfold, as it did during the initial transition from OS 9, QuickTime as we've known it could end. It's odd to say since Mac users enjoy the benefits of many codecs and formats that can be used without a hitch.

It's pretty confusing when you step just beyond the world of Apple, and not just because of the gamma problems posed by QuickTime. Since there's no 64-bit version of QuickTime, import/export of QT files haven't been available in the 64-bit Windows versions of Nuke, Eyeon Fusion, or Syntheyes. On the Mac, Apple does provide technology that passes 64-bit Quicktime requests to a 32-bit server process, but it's slow and codec-limited. It's really an industry problem, not just an Apple problem -- but one made apparent by the dependence on QuickTime, as noted last year by Mark Christiansen in Why QuickTime is the US Dollar of Digital Video. Some remain optimistic, like Philip Hodgetts in Why is QuickTime X like OS X? and John Siracusa in his Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: the Ars Technica review (QuickTime is dealt with on page 6 and page 16 of like 23).

On the distribution front, Adobe Flash video versus HTML 5 video is developing news. Apple is embedding video with HTML 5 style; see, via MacRumors, Apple goes live with HTML5 video. For background on HTML 5 video, see the latest overview from Mark Pilgrim and an AEP post from July, HTTP video: reports on Firefox and Apple. Meanwhile Microsoft seems content to block DivX from Windows 7, and only Google knows if the VP6+ codecs gained by gobbling On2 can compete with MPEG-4.

On the post production side, one might have hoped that Adobe would be a cross-platform savior and buy Cineform to trump Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD and solve millions of small time intermediate codec headaches from compression, bit depth, and color. Unfortunately there's no one decoder ring to rule them all, and not likely to be in a competitive environment despite the whining, but there's not even an updated OneRiver Media Codec Resource Site. There are some good discussions though, like Codec Wars 2009: Lossless and virtually lossless codecs (eg, ProRes and Bitjazz, which lets you author on Windows) and various threads on REDUser.net.

Blu-ray Templates for Final Cut Studio

FCP World announced FCP World Blu-ray Templates for Final Cut Studio, a collection of 60 Blu-ray Templates for Final Cut Studio 2009 designed by Kevin Monahan, author of Motion Graphics and Effects in Final Cut Pro.

Monahan says, "Final Cut Studio 2009 ships with a total of 5 templates. That’s not nearly enough! I’ve designed 60 new templates that give video makers a lot more options for creating a Blu-ray or AVCHD disc. These are fully animated, high-quality looping backgrounds, not just stills. Also, I’ve designed many of the templates with Motion content, so that users could create, say, a title sequence or lower-third, that could match a particular template.

The templates work with FCP 7 and Motion 4 through the 'Share' protocol, while Compressor 3.5 accesses them via 'Job Actions.' The templates are localized for Chinese, French, German, Japanese and Spanish."

Multi-camera synchronization tutorial

It's a bit older, but Paolo Ciccone's Multi-camera synchronization tutorial is still useful:

"Sometimes you need to shoot with two or more cameras and that introduces the need to synchronize them. Some high-end cameras have genlock capability but what happens if you your cameras don’t have it or you work with a mix of different cameras? Slating is always a good idea but there is an easy way to have immediate synch in your NLE, this first tutorial shows you how."

Getting proper clapper can be awkward in many circumstances. Making a little movie with the Timecode filter in AE (for alternatives see AE Help), as Paolo recommends, is easy enough that you can get most camera people to shoot at a laptop playing this movie. And when using Premiere Pro, you can change the Timeline from timecode (video frames) to audio units (audio samples). This is a nice feature of Premiere because you can scrub to synchronize in 41,000 or 48,000 audio samples as opposed to 24 or 30 video samples.

I'm Not Bruce noted (along with other things good to remember) that Syncing Multipclips 1/100th of a Frame at a Time is possible in Final Cut, so better scrubbing is not just in Premiere Pro. In FCP, you can scrub in the audio Viewer with the Shift key down to help with precise tasks.

New Frontier in Video Search: Facial and Scene Recognition Metadata

Beet.TV notes A New Frontier in Video Search: Facial and Scene Recognition Converted to Metadata: "A Research Triangle, North Carolina company called DigitalSmiths has developed a technology to recognize faces and scenes and convert that information for publishers to index content."

For background on video metadata and search, including companies doing automated recognition, see the AEP post Adobe: 'The future of video is searchable'. Here's the Beet.TV interview:

October 20, 2009

Harry Frank's 5 Favorite Expressions

Harry Frank posted My 5 Favorite Expressions: Intertial Bounce, Autofade, Snap Zoom In/Out, Y Axis Jitter, toComp. He explained them and made them available as FFX presets for AE CS3:

"I realize that expressions can be daunting, and some would rather copy and past useful code rather than learn the language. That’s cool with me. Therefore, I’d like to share with you my 5 favorite expressions. These are expressions I use in just about every project, and I consider them to be incredible workflow enhancements."

CS5 After Effects & Premiere: 64-bit only

In a post at ProVideoCoalition, Simon Hayhurst, Adobe's Sr. Director of Product Management for Dynamic Media, confirmed that After Effects & Premiere will be 64-bit only in CS5. See The Future is 64-bit at PVC [note: Autodesk discreet smoke is 64-bit already] and the FAQ at the CS4 Production Premium page. From the FAQ:

"Adobe continues to prioritize 64-bit support based on the potential user benefits and the complexity of the code transition. At this time, After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro are the only products that we are announcing will be 64-bit only in the next major release."

There's a bit more on this from AE Product Manager Michael Coleman in The future of After Effects is 64-bit native. At this point 64-bit might be a problem only for some people on Windows, but there's plenty of time to upgrade before CS5 (next Spring, assuming the usual release cycle).

Well, that's not quite right, since all your old plug-ins -- on Mac and Windows -- have to be 64-bit too, unless there's some emulation. As Frank Wylie remarked on the AE-List , "Looks like some late nights for the after market plug in folks!"

Update: Dav's Techtable there's more on PremierePro in It's Official: The future of Adobe video is 64 bit

October 18, 2009

Unplugged 10: interview with Aharon Rabinowitz

Motionworks interview Unplugged 10 features Aharon Rabinowitz:

"Aharon Rabinowitz is widely recognized in the world of motion graphics but how much do you actually know about him? In this up-close and funny chat, we discuss how Aharon started in the industry and his years working with Creative Cow and now Red Giant Software. Aharon also speaks openly about the online tutorial phenomenon, copying tutorials Read more…"

SF Cutters Oct 20: FCP & Smoke, GenArts, Blu Ray Templates

The SF Cutters are meeting Oct 20th at the Delancey Street Screening Room on The Embarcadero in San Francisco, not far from the ballpark. The agenda includes a look at Final Cut Pro to Autodesk Smoke Finishing, GenArts Sapphire Plugins with Todd Prives of GenArts (& essay contest), & Kevin Monahan's Blu Ray Templates. Meeting details are on Eventbrite; this one has a fee.

Update: "Here’s the GenArts Sapphire Essay requirements:

* state why you want the Sapphire GenArts plugins, your plan for using them
* one page essay -- you may write it ahead of time and bring it with you; do Not send it in an email, it must be handed in in person
* you must be present to win, one essay per person
* includes name and contact info: phone with area code, and email
* legible -- either printed out or readable handwriting
* We will select the top winner, and the runner up at random from the qualifying essays turned in on Oct 20th, winner(s) must be present, and be in attendance for the SF Cutters’ Tues Oct 20th meeting.
* We will also give away a one month’s rental certificate to a runner up."

Also, SFMograph is meeting, at Adobe on October 22.

October 17, 2009

Broadcast Skype: Look Ma, No Truck

Via andydickinson.net...

More broadcasters are willing to use Skype in tight spots, and (no surprise) finding that a nice camera improves the image. Here's an excerpt from KGMB9 in Hawaii:

"As Hurricane Felicia headed towards the Hawaiian Islands (The Big Island and Maui in particular) in these past 72 hours, all of the local news stations had to make some smart decisions. Who would go to what island and how would the video be relayed back to the news rooms here on Oahu. Shipping the live trucks was no longer an option for anyone. And flying our video back on cargo flights had the risk of being held because of the weather. So what to do?

On August 11th at 5:00 am from the property of the Maui Seaside Hotel all four Honolulu TV stations broadcast their reporters live from Maui …. via Skype."

See also similar reports by Al Tompkins at Poynter and Broadcasting & Cable, and the AEP roundup of live web video resources from April, Overview of live video over the internet.

Update: Lost Remote posted Skype outage good reminder for TV newsrooms in December 2010.

October 16, 2009

Effects A-Z: Beam with John Dickinson

Motionworks' sorta weekly tour of built-in AE filters continues with the Beam filter, explained nicely by host John Dickinson.

He even managed to avoid much discussion of a lightsaber effect with the Beam filter, once so popular that it drew birds of a feather into its orbit -- Andrew Kramer (2006) and Mark Christiansen (but with alternative methods noted).

AE filters coming: Holomatrix & Optical Flares

It's not fresh news but both Aharon Rabinowitz and Andrew Kramer are close to releases of new After Effects filters. Holomatrix is a new set of tools designed by Rabinowitz and AE scripting guru Dan Ebberts, to be published by Red Giant Software. The plug-in creates "the look of holographic imagery, digital signage, bad TV signals, and ghostly apparitions."

Meanwhile, Andrew Kramer unveiled some features of the forthcoming AE filter Optical Flares in the most recent Video Copilot VP6 "podcast." The new filter will challenge the ancient but widely-used Knoll Light Factory (seemingly on life support at Red Giant). The humorously disjointed communique also showed a "Fight Enhancement Tip" in AE (paint in a punch impact) and parts of an upcoming bar graph tutorial.

October 14, 2009

Tutorial Gap October

Topher Welsh rounds up some missing After Effects tutorials in his latest update survey, 176 Mograph & VFX Tutorials. There's a lot of 3D and Motion tutorials in there and maybe even a kitchen sink.

Techie tidbits skipped over here include Motionworks' After Effects: Rotoscoping fields and Greyscale Gorilla's How to Remove Banding Artifacts in After Effects, as well as some preset, scripts, and tuts posted on motion graphics eXchange.

Effective Information Visualization

via Information Aesthetics... In this 5-minute Ignite talk, interaction designer Matthias Shapiro surveys data visualization techniques that can be used to sort out the information explosion (supporting info is on his blog).

See also, How Might We Visualize Data in More Effective and Inspiring Ways? at Good magazine, Jeffery Veen's talk on Designing for Big Data, and AEP's 37+ data-visualization blogs.

October 13, 2009

SqueezeMe.tv feeds mograph news

Uh oh... looks like uni (it's really orange, but even then AEP is more unagi hand roll).

There's now a mograph counterpart for CrispyFeeds (but not the Forums). Justin McClure has launched a new motion graphics news resource website called SqueezeMe.tv:

"A one-stop jumping point for the current motion graphics happenings around the web, Squeezeme.tv pulls the most up to date information from all the most important places on the web related to motion graphics. It's also a great resource for eye candy with many links directly to wonderfully designed and animated videos on youTube, Vimeo and many others. So if you're a motion graphics person or just looking for some great inspiration, stop on by."

Update: Similar sites like Techmeme are still edited by humans...

Effects A-Z: Audio Spectrum with Maltaannon

Motionworks' sorta weekly tour of built-in AE filters continues with Audio Spectrum, explained by Maltaannon, who in a previous episode presented Audio Waveform. See also Satya Meka's recent tutorial The Best Sound You’ll Ever See!

Chris & Trish Meyer have a similar series on Lynda.com, except it is running though filters by Effect category (as in the Effect Menu). Chad Perkins had a similar treatment in his Lynda.com 2008 series After Effects CS3 Effects.

October 12, 2009

The Underutilized Power Of The Video Demo

Advice from a TechCrunch writer on communicating product information with concise video intros is in a recent post, The Underutilized Power Of The Video Demo To Explain...

The comments on this article go farther and discuss strategy and examples, like videos by Say It Visually! and Common Craft, who explained Google Docs in 2007:

Update:In a related vein for visualization see The New Mediators.

October 11, 2009

Unplugged 9: interview with Mark Coleran

Motionworks interview Unplugged 9 features Mark Coleran:

"Mark Coleran is widely recognised in the motion graphics industry for his outstanding on-screen graphic design and production for numerous feature films including The Island, The Bourne Ultimatum and Alien Vs Predator. In this candid discussion Mark gives a revealing, behind-the-scenes insight into how he broke into the world of on-screen graphics..."

See previous AEP posts on Mark Coleran for more interviews and info.

October 7, 2009

Submerged: VCP camera mapping techniques

Videocopilot has a new tutorial, Submerged, in which you animate a camera through one set of 3D surfaces to more below and combine camera mapping techniques with real textures.

Let's hope some pundit -- or pandit -- compares the recent AE filter from Digieffects Camera Mapper (replacing DepthCue; here's 2 tutorials) and various techniques from Mark Christiansen (scripts are in his book), another (actually tuts #37, 38, 39) from Andrew Kramer, Light Transmission video tutorials by Trish and Chris Meyer (PDF excerpt on Artbeats), and the use of Photoshop's Vanishing Point in AE. And maybe include talk of Panoramas in After Effects too.

October 6, 2009

Adobe Max 2009 sessions + Flash Physics

Adobe.TV has an Adobe Max 2009 Design channel for all sessions related to designers and a MAX 2009 Develop channel for sessions for developers. There's some AE-related sessions of course, like presos by Troy Church on Flash and by Michael Coleman on expressions.

Sessions may take a day to show up -- look out for the sneak peaks of Physics in Flash Pro (compatible with kinematics) and copy/paste animation and keyframes from Flash to an HTML canvas.

Final Cut is catching up to Premiere (sorta)

Michael Wohl, who was on the teams that created Premiere, KeyGrip, and Final Cut, demonstarates some of the key features of Final Cut Pro 7 in What You NEED to Know About FCP 7 (part 1) at MacVideo.

Among the many features that Final Cut has borrowed from Premiere are new additions like timeline zooms around the timemarker and a shortcut for direct manipulation of the speed of a clip in the timeline. Of course, Premiere stills lags behind on features like codecs and reliability on larger complex projects (despite a big installed base).

Also, check out the reviews of The new Final Cut Studio and Avid Media Composer 2009 by Oliver Peters at DigitalFilms.

Nielsen: designing commercial messages for Twitter

Capria.TV noted Jakob Nielsen's tips on designing commercial messages for Twitter, Twitter Postings: Iterative Design,

"Leave it to Jakob Nielsen to bring iterative design best practices to tweets. For those of you who use Twitter for commecial ends, as opposed to merely sharing moment by moment minutiae, this Useit article might be of interest. A few pointers on scheduling tweets are also given."

Twitter seems appropriate for Nielsen's style; for designs with graphics, other approaches, by Steve Krug for example, seem to lead to pleasant results.

Update: themediamogul notes "Great article on CEO's using Twitter," CEOs' Take on Twitter.

October 5, 2009

New AE scripts: SpellCheck & Chameleon (Kuler color themes)

SpellCheck is a new AE script from Michael Cardeiro on AEScripts.com, which "goes through the currently selected composition, and any precomp contained within and checks every text layer for proper spelling."

Another new script on AE Scripts is Chameleon from Mathias Möhl. Chameleon lets you work with color themes from Adobe kuler in 3 ways:
  • "Load color themes in After Effects either from color themes downloaded at the kuler website or via cut and paste from the kuler desktop application
  • Apply any loaded color theme to your comp with just one click
  • Dynamically link any color property within your comp to a color theme color. Once you load a new color theme, all linked color properties in your comp update accordingly."
Note: the tutorial for this script is on AE Ttuts, Making Your Color Scheme a Whole Lot Kuler!

Update: See the previous AEP post Palettes and Reusing Colors on his blog. Also, Mathias reminds us:

"If you work with kuler, the following tools might also be useful for you. The script Swatch you want from Jeff Almasol allows to load a single ase file in After Effects and Maltaannon has published an AE project file that allows to import color themes from Kuler desktop to After Effects. Both approaches are more lightweight and basic than Chameleon since they just allows you to pick the colors from the loaded theme manually."

Flash CS5 to build native iPhone apps

John Nack summarizes the announcement and links to more in Use Flash to build native iPhone apps.

There a video showing off some of this on Adobe Labs -- and some Techmeme clusters for the wrinkles.

Digieffects re-releases Aged Film

Digieffects is re-releasing a new Aged Film, a la carte for $29. Aged Film is filter that creates an aged "old movie look," and lets you control grain, dust, scratches, frame jitter, color, control source blend and more, all rendered in 16bpc.

For even more control, Digieffects is offering bundle deals with Red Giant Software's Magic Bullet Looks and Magic Bullet Quick Looks.

There's already 2 tutorials available.

Update: see VideoHive for a Digieffects Aged Film & CameraMapper Review and Giveaway!

October 4, 2009

AE Apprentice #10: the Render Queue

Chris and Trish Meyer have released After Effects Apprentice Video Tutorial #10 onto PVC. This is the last one in the series from the book.

This short video 'tutorial goes over the procedure of rendering a movie from After Effects, including how to use the Render Queue. Topics covered include auto-naming versus manually naming rendered files, a good tour of the Render Settings and Output Module options (including recommended settings), and using Render Settings and Output Module templates. We cover interlacing, alpha channels, the underused Stretch and Crop sections of the Output Module dialog, how to set up batch rendering, and how to recover from an aborted render. Even if you’ve been using After Effects for a long time, we suspect there will be some “so that’s how they do that” moments throughout.'

Unplugged 8: Peder Norrby of Trapcode

Motionworks interview Unplugged 8 features Peder Norrby of Trapcode:

"...Peder reveals how this passion lead him to create arguably the most popular plug-ins for Adobe After Effects in the world today, including Shine, Particular and Form. Peder also reveals where the ideas for many of these plug-ins evolved and speaks honestly about his influence on the motion graphics industry today and the pressures that come with success."

One piece that surprised Peder was made with Trapcode Form by Wes Kandel, and later explained in War! Or How to Create a 3D Particle Generated Video Display. War is one of the many cool animations found in the Trapcode Gallery:

War from Wesley Kandel on Vimeo.

'Video Updates' from Videocopilot

Andrew Kramer is now hosting some "video updates," and in the second of the series he talks about a new Canon camera and adds an AE tip on covering a wipe transition with an element in the video. That's a technique that Kevin Monahan has been teaching in Final Cut for awhile and which is now easier because of the new Alpha Transition effect in FCP 7.

You can check out latest Videocopilot download at Video Update: Canon 7D, AE Tips & Leeches, and note the simple but effective lighting demonstrated by Kramer by switching his overhead light on (go to 8:45 of the video). You might also look at Strobist tips to improve webcam's picture quality (and sound proofing tips from Chris Meyer) posted earlier in Lifehacker webcam tips.

Update: GeniusDV reminds us that you have to download the Alpha Transition in Using the New Alpha Transitions in Final Cut Pro 7 (there's several hundred MB of other stuff too).

October 3, 2009

Creating a 3D Shot from 2D Source with mocha

Imagineer Systems, creators of tracking tools like mochaAE, announced the winner of its 2009 video tutorial contest: Chris Heuer of Freefall FX. "Chris’ winning tutorial - which tapped into the groundbreaking 3D restoration of Murnau’s Nosferatu as the setting for his tutorial -- demonstrates innovative and alternative uses for mocha, Imagineer’s award-winning 2D planar tracking tool."

The winning tutorial is available for viewing and download at Imagineer Systems; several tutorials for mochaAE are available too. Here's part one of Chris Heuer's tutorial, courtesy of Toolfarm:

PVC Review: Post-Production Management with ShotRunner

Over on PVC, Mark Christiansen is profiling two online post-production management tool alternatives to manipulating Basecamp templates that are in beta and already used in production environments, Shotgun and ShotRunner. His first review is Online Post-Production Management with ShotRunner.

Those apps and a few alternatives were mentioned briefly here in May in Shotgun, Shotrunner + more production scheduling & collaboration. Introductory movies are available for most of these solutions aimed at review & approval and management.