July 31, 2009

Motion 4 will load LiveType projects?

LiveType is not included with FCS3 but word of mouth says that its functions have been made part of Motion 4. Motion 4 will load LiveType projects, which is good for those who invested in the quirky app that others barely touched. While LiveType remains and launches after an FCS3 install, full functionality in the new suite is an unknown.

Apparently LiveType content appears in the Motion Library and the QuickTime component is also still included, so .ipr files in older sequences still work. LiveType features missing from Motion 4 were not confirmed yet in online e-mail lists and forums, or in the comprehensive documentation for the Pro Apps at Apple's Help Library.

Update: Mark Spencer posted some clarification on Cutter-Talk:

'Yes, you can import a LiveType project into Motion 4 - but you could do that in Motion 3, no new news there. Once there, if you want to make changes to it, you need to open it in LiveType. LiveFonts are available in Motion's Library in Motion 4 - just as they were in Motion 3.

Motion has a new text tool, the Adjust Glyph Tool, that allows for the individual manipulation of glyphs, much as you would do in LiveType - thus giving it more of LiveType's functionality, but not, IMHO, "making it's functions part of Motion 4".

Motion does not include any of LiveType's Textures, Objects, or text animation presets - although it does have plenty of its own content.'

On FinalCutPro-L, Philip Hodgetts mentioned that one missing feature is "about changing the color of the font independent of any shadow, ouline or glow. In Motion they change together, in LT they change independently."

Free After Effects plug-ins

AETuts posted a roundup of 19 Free After Effects Plugins by Topher Welsh, which lets you take a quick look of useful freebies.

Free offers come and go, and many filters are no longer offered (Swatch Buckler?) or don't work in the latest versions of AE. Here's a few others that also seem available, glancing through the AE Portal plug-in summary, but mileage does vary according to the platform and version of AE you're using:
A monetized copy of AE Portal plug-in listings is now available at Toolfarm's Plug-in Finder and Free Plug-ins page if you want to wade in the semi-updated freeness -- or you can look at Mylenium's recently updated free list.

Update: for new info regarding CS5 compatibility see Free After Effects plug-ins: an inconvenient truth.

Nucleo Pro 2 for After Effects CS4

Gridiron announced that Nucleo Pro 2 for After Effects CS4 will be available on August 4th. This version of rendering aid for AE is free for all Nucleo Pro 2 customers.

July 30, 2009

3D Light Casting with Andrew Kramer

Video Copilot has a new After Effects video tutorial by Andrew Kramer, 3D Light Casting, that uses only built-in AE filters.

"In this jam-packed tutorial we will build an energy ball that emits natural light onto the road’s surface. Plus, we will be utilizing ‘reverse-tracking’ to lock the 3D effects in-place, while maintaining the original camera movement in the exciting final shot."

Free SF lecture on drawing for animation & story telling

The last lecture in San Francisco State's free summer animation lecture series is Saturday, August 1, at 11:00am.

Drawn to the Animated Story by Billy Burger explores drawing for digital animation & story telling: "Animation is a team sport. And the game starts with drawing. Whether it's traditional 2D or cell animation, Flash, 3D-Maya or Stop Motion; character design, storyboards, layouts and key poses are all established with solid drawing."

RSVP to blockhus at sfsu.edu if you haven't already done so; the lecture will be held at the SFSU downtown campus.

SF State Downtown Campus
835 Market Street, 6th Floor
San Francisco, CA
(above Powell Street BART/Muni Station)

July 29, 2009

How to shoot for planar tracking & place tracking markers

Via AETuts, Hollywood Camera Work has posted 4 sample tutorials and (maybe) free green screen and tracking plates from Visual Effects for Directors, which was just reviewed by Mark Christiansen on PVC. Tutorials include How to place tracking markers and How to shoot for planar tracking. Here's the preview via Filmaking Central:



Also, Eric Alba posted pictures of his vfx tracking markers, including a free PDF template.

July 28, 2009

Word Bubble, Thought Bubble

Round about the cauldron go... our economic models bubble (ala Orson Welles' Macbeth). But let's not go there now.

Digital Anarchy is offering a free filter, Cartoon Bubble for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, that creates word bubbles. It works nicely in combination with Cartoon filters.

You could also create word bubbles from scratch in After Effects, and Pro Juice has a new tutorial to show you how. In Thought Bubble (After Effects), Nick from Pro Juice uses masking techniques, motion tracking and shadows, to create "a thought bubble that floats alongside Arlo's head helping him decide what to do."


Note: Pro Juice recently did another tutorial on a more common task in Witness Protection, where they take you through 3 different ways to obscure and render a character unidentifiable in an interview situation.

Tutorial Gap Tuesday

Since it's Topher Welsh's job to fill the gaps, here's his latest collection of AE and 3D tutorials: Monday Madness Roundup.


Items not mentioned here include (but are not limited to): Max After's Particular Bounce (pictured) and Topher's Tutorial Roundup: 52 Excellent Cinema 4D tutorials. See also AEP's cribbed roundup, Cinema 4D training resources.

July 27, 2009

Maltaannon's Shutter Streak

Maltaannon is back again quick as promised with Shutter Streak, to help you add a film look to your footage by creating a Shutter Streak effect as seen in Red Giant Software Magic Bullet Looks.

And of course there's an example project and video tutorial.

SIGGRAPH 2009 papers & projects online

Vizworld notes that there are ACM SIGGRAPH2009 Proceedings Online. These are the formal papers with downloadable resources. See previous AEP posts SIGGRAPH 2009 Technical Papers Video Preview and Seam carving, cloning, & cutouts for more from the projects themselves.

AEP posts never go viral but there are still about 90 projects that haven't been trumpeted, so an enterprising writer has plenty of fodder still -- check out the impressive list of 90 or more SIGGRAPH 2009 papers on the web by Ke-Sen Huang. Here's a preview of this years' papers:



BTW, SIGGRAPH 2009 is hosting an Information Aesthetics Showcase "in recognition of the increasingly prominent role that information visualization and data graphics are assuming in our digitally mediated culture."

July 25, 2009

Markers Leaks: trigger actions using AE layer markers

Eran Stern has a new Creative Cow AE podcast, Markers Leaks, an introduction to his new preset and Custom Effect which he uses to trigger actions using layer markers inside of Adobe After Effects.

Eran's methods and ones planned by Maltannon are similar to the more specific but limited examples in the Behaviors Presets in AE, which are discussed by Trish & Chris Meyer in Creating Motion Graphics (excerpt on Presets) and After Effects Apprentice.

Update: This video was added to Adobe TV,

July 24, 2009

5 Free Apps to create Motion Graphics

Satya Meka posted 5 Free/Open Source Apps to create Mind Blowing Motion Graphics to his gutsblow blog:

"there are many other applications that are professionally used and they produce mind blowing visuals. Some of them, might not be as easy to use as regular applications like After Effects/Motion, but there are many resources to get started. With the help of these applications, you can produce really unique and robust visuals. Along with the details of the Applications, I also included some of the famous works done by various artists using them."


Here's the first five; details and movies are at gutsblow:

1. Processing (like a fusion of AE and Flash)
2. Quartz Composer (more ease of use from Apple)
3. VVVV (realtime video synthesis for Windows, similar to Quartz Composer)
4. eMotion (force-based physics simulations)
5. Nodebox (similar to Processing but based on Python)

AE presets & projects round-up

AETuts has a roundup by Topher Welsh outlining 25 or so Presets/Project Files to Wet Your AE Whistle, which points in directions of many more presets. Topher also has a tag for posted tutorials with presets on VisualFxTuts.

A key point was made by one reference: "Some of the files have errors in them and you cannot open them up directly. The workaround is to import that After Effects project file into an existing project file."

Of course most tutorial authors offer free projects and presets, but there are a few additional resources for projects and presets:
  • XScriptorium has a searchable database of AE scripts, expressions, presets and projects
The presets built into AE can be an undiscovered country too, like the cool Behavior Preset 'Fade Out Over Layer Below' mentioned recently by Lee Stranahan. Behavior Presets in AE are specifically discussed by Trish & Chris Meyer in Creating Motion Graphics (excerpt on Presets) and After Effects Apprentice.

For a video tutorial on working with effects, Animation Presets, & Brainstorm, check out Chris Meyer's take on CS3 at the Adobe Video Workshop, and a newer intro in After Effects Apprentice Video Tutorial #2 (Taking advantage of the Effects & Presets panel). BTW, to prevent Presets or filters (or folders of them) from loading, you can add “~” or use parentheses () on both Mac & Windows.

Also, there's a tutorial by Ko Maruyama on creating previews for AE animation presets for Bridge: Previews for AE animation presets. And of course, there's presets mentioned in AEP posts labeled presets or Animation Preset.

Update: AEP Project is a website made for Adobe After Effects Japanese users that publishes projects, presets, resources, tutorials, and many another tips. AE.Info is a similar effort from Japan. For additional resources on presets see After Effects presets & templates burgeoning.

Update: John Dickinson of Motionworks has tutorial on (mostly text) presets; see After Effects: Creating magic from presets – part 1 and part 2.

After Effects for Beginners

Motionworks recently posted sage advice in Learning After Effects for Beginners, which collects some good resources to learn AE.

Another resource is Adobe itself, which provides some great free resources like After Effects Help and Support and Adobe.TV (see Timesavers and How To, for example).

Adobe.TV can be slow and difficult to use, but AE Help czar Todd Kopriva has an Adobe AE Help page Services, downloads, extras, and video tutorials, which organizes a master list of AE video tutorials (including ones from the CS3 era) from Adobe and partners into categories forming a comprehensive introductory "course." And this page is available in 6 languages!

Resources can be spread out across the web and hard to find quickly for a newcomer -- like good free video teasers from After Effects Apprentice by Chris & Trish Meyer that are tucked away in one of two PVC blogs and on Focal Press along with some other free content.

While still just a sampling, an overview of AE community resources before the Twitter craze can be found in AEP's own After Effects Online Resource Roundup and in the AEP News sidebars to the right.

Update: Mike Jones adds a few more basic links from book publishers, and "if you're craving a deeper consideration of the aesthetic and conceptual paradigms After Effects represents then I can thoroughly recommend Lev Manovich's essay After Effects and the Velvet Revolution" (who refers to a nice history of motion graphics by Matt Frantz).

July 23, 2009

Apple's Pro Apps web Help Library

Apple is providing web access to comprehensive documentation for the Pro Apps at Help Library. It seems similar to Adobe Help (formerly known as LiveDocs).

Update: Owen’s Photolog has some humor in How to Install Final Cut Studio 3.

Update 2: whoops, Owen was right -- "Rendering PAL material to ProRes 4444 in Color introduces a gamma shift."

Update 3: In Final Cut Pro 7: Create your own manual Alex Gollner explains how to convert the Final Cut Pro 7 html-based help system to a single document manual.

Update 4: Apple posted the FCS manuals in the Help Library under View as PDF.

The 'new' Final Cut Studio: v3 the Anticlimax

Apple released a "new" Final Cut Studio for $999 and new versions of Logic and Final Cut Server, and posted a bunch of movies to explain the updates. Motion does get reflections, shadows, and depth. Compressor 3.5 gets DVD and Blu-ray burning -- and there's lots of other nice touches.

Mike Curtis of HD4NDs and PVC has reviews on FCP 7, Motion 4, Color 1.5, etc at Macworld, and there's already free video tutorials.

Lynda.com has a free Final Cut Studio Overview containing 3 hours of video training by Damian Allen, and Ripple Training has 19 free tutorial movies on the new features. Also, Peachpit Press has free new samples for their popular FCS books.

Update: A quick way to get continuing updates on this release is to follow Final Cut User on the web and Twitter (Filmbot; follow Editblog too).

Update 2: Among the ProRes options is 4:4:4 12-bit plus alpha channel, which seems to be poised to finish of the Animation codec (except to those without access). There's a Apple ProRes Whitepaper (PDF) via FilmBot.

July 22, 2009

Working with DNG Camera Profiles

The Digital Negative or DNG is Adobe's royalty-free, open standard archival format for the RAW files generated by digital cameras. DNG helps ensure that photographers will be able to access their files in the future, as well as features like sharing visual styles across multiple cameras.

There's support for this file format among major players in imaging, and Adobe provides support in some apps along with a Profile Editor to create new styles or looks. A backgrounder, The DNG Profile Editor: What's it all about?, was posted last year on John Nack's blog. Just a month ago Adobe issued a new version of the spec, which was discussed at Digital Photography Review in DNG updated to allow RAW corrections and Unless otherwise specified: DNG gains lens corrections.

Moving images are a big of this future, and last year Adobe announced CinemaDNG with "plans to support the CinemaDNG format in future releases of After Effects and Premiere Pro." This year Adobe Lightroom Product Manager Tom Hogarty mentioned that Lightroom might get some kind of video support. Also, CinemaDNG got support from camera maker Ikonoskop, codec engineers Cineform, and Iridas, maker of color correction software (see the interview from NAB 2009). Having a non-modal 'AdobeCine' Develop Module in AE and Premiere should be nice, especially when complemented by tools from On Location or Color Finesse (which has its own Looks deep inside Plug-ins > Effects).

Nudging us into the future now is Julieanne Kost, who explains Working with DNG Camera Profiles on Adobe.TV (fullscreen):



"In this Episode, learn how to take advantage of the new Adobe Standard and Camera Matching DNG Camera Profiles in Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4. Discover how to best use and apply profiles by: customizing your default settings, synchronizing settings between images, and/or creating presets and applying them upon import — all that and more will be covered as we unlock the secrets of Camera Profiles." (via John Nack)

Update: There's now a CinemaDNG Importer for After Effects and Premiere to read CinemaDNG video streams in the form of MXF files and DNG file sequences. It supports After Effects CS4 and Premiere Pro CS4 on both Mac and Windows systems.

Video editing in After Effects

Via flowseeker is Sneaky Fast After Effects Editing, "a 10-minute tutorial that teaches you how to speed up video editing within Adobe After Effects CS3 or CS4."

It's at least a good review and there's probably one tip you didn't know.



There's more of this sort of stuff at Adobe.TV (in Timesavers and How To for example). On a more basic level is Motionworks' recent Learning After Effects for Beginners and AEP's own After Effects Online Resource Roundup.

Update: See also Lee's After Effects Tutorial: CTRL-D (+Shift),

Particular 2 'street tests' + 60 Particular 2 tutorials

Via Peder Norrby, below is the funny Testing out Particular 2, ON THE STREET! It's by Najork (Eric Epstein); sound design by Skeleton Suit; shot with a little Canon SD960; a Quicktime is at najork.net/partic2test.mov.

street tests from Najork on Vimeo.

Update: Peder posted a few more uses of Particular 2 in the Trapcode gallery. Counting up recent tutorials, there's links to:

Maltaannon's Spot Focus

Maltaannon is back again quick with Spot Focus, to "recreate the Edge Softness filter as seen in Red Giant Software’s amazing plugin – Magic Bullet Looks. Animate your focus area, change it’s width and softness, and save it as a preset for later use. Quick and easy."

And of course there's an example project and video tutorial.

Fire in After Effects round-up

This roundup was updated and moved to ProVideo Coalition as Creating Fire in After Effects: A roundup of tutorials and free projects.

Yes:
Fire created using Trapcode Particular by Ramiro Fernandez looks really nice, via @rymden.

July 21, 2009

Resizing Brush & Hardness in AE and PS

In After Effects, resizing a Paint Brush is fairly straightforward. Control-drag (Windows) or Command-drag (Mac OS) the brush in the Layer panel to adjust Size, and release the key and continue to drag to adjust Hardness. For more, see Forgotten AE Paint shortcuts here and Brushes and the Brushes panel in AE Help.

In Photoshop, shortcuts for paint tools can be a bit more involved, especially if you irregularly move between platforms. You can use the bracket keys [] to change Brush Size and add the Shift key to the mix to change the Brush Hardness. In Photoshop CS4, with a Paint Tool selected, you can get the Brushes preset picker with Control-click (Mac) or Right-click (Win).

Even better, to change Brush Size directly hold the Control + Option keys (Mac) or Right-click + Alt (Win) while clicking and dragging the mouse. To drag-resize Brush softness just add Command or Shift; on the Mac you use Control + Option + Command while drag-clicking, while on Windows it's Shift + Right-click + Alt.

A red overlay temporarily previews the Size and Hardness of the Brush; this color can be changed in Preferences > Cursors > Brush Preview. Julieanne Kost has covered other Brush shortcuts.

Mocha Tutorials by Mathias Möhl

Via Jack Tunnicliffe on the AE-List is a brief introduction from Mathias Möhl on the basics of his AE script MochaImport, which simplifies the work with Mocha for After Effects. You can get more info, tutorials, and scripts at AExtensions.

Mathias also has 2 scripts for tracking and masks that could be used in combination with the TrackerViz script; see KeyTweak and Tracker2Mask: scripts with tutorials. If you like his work, please give Mathias a donation or tip to keep this sort of work coming. Be prepared you adjust your volume.

Mocha Import explained in 3 Minutes from Mathias Möhl on Vimeo.

Tutorial Gap Tuesday: Particular 3D arrow

Since it's Topher Welsh's job to fill the gaps, here's his latest collection of AE and 3D tutorials: I’m Baaaaack!

Here's a sample that creates a 3D arrow using Trapcode Particular in After Effects (the project file is on Motion Graphics Exchange, although for me AE reports it's damaged):

AE 3D arrow Tutorial from Being Studios on Vimeo.

Creating a Crowd Scene with Particular 2

Red Giant TV has a new tutorial by Harry Frank that shows how to create a crowd scene with requisite dancing girl using Trapcode Particular 2. Episode 25: Creating a Crowd Scene with Particular 2 also has project files and an example video.

July 20, 2009

86 Digieffects filters for $99

Digieffects is selling it's first 3 sets of AE filter for $99 this week. That's 86 filters. There's a tryout and video overviews and tutorials if you want a quick look.

Maltaannon's Tilt Shift

Maltaannon posted a video tutorial and preset in Tilt Shift. The real genius behind his approach is creating a free Preset, teaching people to stretch their troubleshooting skills with a video walkthrough, and creating a commercial opportunity by linking the whole effort to a filter that does something similar (and more), Magic Bullet Looks.

More on tilt shift effects can be found in older AEP posts Tilt-shift photography meme and Fake the tilt-and-shift look using After Effects.

The Carrot is the Stick

In Mass Animation=Mass Exploitation?, Justin Cone of Motionographer discusses a "new age of distributed creativity":

"When Mass Animation announced their goal of creating a CG short film by 'crowd-sourcing' the animation to a global community of thousands of animators, I had two initial reactions: 1) They’ll never pull it off, and 2) They shouldn’t pull it off.
...
To executives, though, character animation is the most mechanical part of the process, the most easily produced. After all, animation has long been outsourced to India and China [sorta].
Perhaps there’s a way to do it for even cheaper.As long as animators are willing to toss themselves into the ring for $500 a try, it would appear so. The promise of being a 'Hollywood animator' is still too great for many to pass up."

Meanwhile Flippant News sees the absurdity of bottom feeder clients who look for editors in Looking for work.

July 19, 2009

Motionworks Unplugged 1: new RGS color filter

Motionworks is starting to post informal chats with various plug-in developers, designers, and others. The first episode, Unplugged 1: Red Giant Software, is a Skype video talk with Sean Safreed, the co-founder of Red Giant Software.

The discussion hits on features Trapcode Particular 2.0 -- don't skip Peder Norrby's tutorial 2 -- and hints at a new plug-in developed by Stu Maschwitz. It sounds like the the filter will use concepts found in the recent Maschwitz tutorial on RGTV, Creating a Summer Blockbuster Film Look.

July 18, 2009

Michael Jackson: So 10 days ago.

Michael Jackson, the self-anointed king of pop, was one of the biggest things on the Web. Peter Kafka on All Things Digital now notes that in Web Video Viewers Forget About Michael Jackson, at least the YouTube ones.

Kafka used the video views tracker on TubeMogul illustrate his argument. TubeMogul's analytics package brings statistics to both publishers and gawkers on 15 top video sharing sites; some services are free for non-commercial users.

Others like Silicon Alley Insider pronounced the Jackson meme dead on July 3. Jackson didn't even show up in the top 50 of Google Hot Trends of July 17. Here's Google's average worldwide traffic of "michael jackson" in the last 30 days:


Of course the major networks milked the story until fatigue set in, which spawned comments like This Just In: Michael Jackson, Still Dead. But another observed that Jackson’s demise allowed us "to interact with other people; to turn the news, to use the current jargon, into a ‘social object’." It's unfortunate for 800-1000 million who are slowly dying of hunger that they are social problem not a ‘social object’!

For a related perspective see the recent AEP post Meme tracking and the News Cycle.

Update: for a more serious look at the phenomena see The Man in the Mirror by Chris Hedges on Truthdig.

July 17, 2009

Time-Reverse Keyframes script

Lloyd Alvarez answered a call for help on the AE-List today and posted his Time-Reverse Keyframes script (temp location 2014) on AEscripts.com. The Time-Reverse Keyframes Keyframe Assistant, found under the Animation menu, doesn't have a shortcut so running it on numerous layers can be tedious. This script runs the Keyframe Assistant automatically and can be assigned a shortcut.

Rather than creating the shortcut by editing text preferences manually, Lloyd's FAQ recommends the keyboard shortcuts editor KeyEd Up by Jeff Almasol, mentioned previously in Modify shortcut keys in AE and Additional Scripts for After Effects CS4 (2014, at Adobe Addons).

To add a shortcut for a script in KeyEd Up, go to (category) General > Run Script and pick the number of the script you renamed as 01 [name], etc as shown by Sébastien Périer in instructions for KeyEd Up in his Top 10 list of After Effects workflow enhancing scripts.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Scripting and expressions can be intimidating, but using them isn't so much, especially with user community help. Lloyd Alvarez showed how scripts smooth workflows in his AENY presentation on AE scripting, while the Coleman and Ebberts videos on scripting talked (Flash) users through the basics. Chris & Trish Meyer's After Effects Apprentice Video Tutorial #5 provides a gentle introduction to expressions. An overview of the AE scripting scene can be found in the AEP roundup Expressions & Scripting Resources for After Effects.

Update: Lloyd added another script to his library, Add Parented Null to Selected Layers.

Earlier, Lloyd also explained How to install and run scripts:

Scripts Installation Tutorial for Adobe After Effects from Lloyd on Vimeo.
Update 2: Lloyd has another new script, Layer Marker Rename and Number.

8 Public Domain stock video resources

Videomaker noted Free Online Stock Video Footage | 9 Of The Best Public Domain Video Resources from WebTV Wire (one dropped out), and added their own compilation of free sound FX.

Also handy is the Google Image filter for usage rights under advanced search. Apparently though, Creative Commons has had its own search function for awhile according to a post at Google Operating System, which has a nice cache of articles on new features in Google Image search.

RollingShutter filter to be available for After Effects

Among a variety of other news from The Foundry, Millimeter reports that The Foundry’s fix for CMOS chip rolling shutter problems will result in RollingShutter, "a new product available on After Effects and Nuke. RollingShutter compensates for skewing in the scene, improving the look and enabling trackers to work on a wide range of affected footage."

There more on this in the extended post on the fix on The Foundry's blog. Here's an interview on the fix and filter beta posted by The Foundry on YouTube in May:

July 15, 2009

More Pixel Bender: RGB Distortion, Spill Replacer, Fractal Explorer

Some more possibly useful Pixel Bender filters popped up. RGB Sine Distortion from Synja Dev Blog reminds one of Wave Warp-like features that could be rolled into the recent the free Pixel Bender filters from Satya Meka, Separate RGB, and RGB Splitter PBK, from Maltaannon.

RGB Sine Distortion "basically diffracts the R G and B channels from an image and then runs them through a simple sine wave transposition. The end result is a cool effect that reminds me of an old school analog TV with bad reception and bad guns."

On another front, Cinegobs released his new Pixel Bender plug-in, CineGobs Spill Replacer Pixel Bender v. 1.0. It's more user friendly than his earlier CineGobs Spill Suppression. Instead of just updating the spill suppressor, features were added that you select another layer that you want to replace the spill with.

Also, via gutsblow, Tom Beddard's subblue of Droste Effect filter fame has released 2 Fractal Explorer plug-ins that will take you further faster than AE's built-in Fractal filter. Fractal Explorer "is a couple of Pixel Bender filters that will generate Mandelbrot and Julia set fractals to any power in real-time. The first filter is for standard fractal colouring whereas the second is optimised to use a technique called ‘orbit trapping’ to map an image into fractal space."

subblue also has a good page on Fractals and generative art resources, as well as other cool pattern generators for Flash. The Guilloché Pattern Generator would make a nice Pixel Bender filter too. Here's renderings from his Pixel Bender plug-ins (just toss them into the AE Plug-ins folder):

Julia flower orbit trap from subBlue on Vimeo.


Escher's Droste Effect train comparison from subBlue on Vimeo.

Update: Smart Normal goes Pixel Bender, and generates a normalmap using condensed(2x2) or sobel-edge(4x4).

Noise Reduction Workflow For Vocal & Voice-Over

Adobe's Jason Levine talks about Noise Reduction Workflow For Vocal & Voice-Over in part of an episode of Short and Suite, the Adobe.tv series that shows users how to use Production Premium with real post-production examples. Unfortunately this and other demos were done Adobe Audition 3, one of Adobe's elite apps, superior to the similar but hobbled app now included in the Adobe video suite.

Noise/Hum Removal in Adobe Audition 3 from Jason Levine on Vimeo.

Update: Ignore the whining and check out Jason's useful posts on issues like normalization and volume matching, etc.

Seeking participants for workflow studies

The AE team is seeking participants for some workflow observation studies. Todd Kopriva lists the requirements as no experience animating text or rotoscoping in After Effects, which counts out most people reading blogs on AE.

Other teams are doing the same; the Photoshop team is looking for a beginning Photoshop user who has version CS4 for a study in Converting to black & white in Photoshop.

Restore file association for ZIP files in Windows

This is a minor annoyance to Vista users -- less vexing than the now-blackened and disabled QuickTime controller bar which makes QT Movie NoteTaker useless.
If the file association for ZIP files in Windows Vista get changed, it's not straightword how to change them back to the built-in Microsoft functionality. This will restore .zip files to their original Windows Explorer associations, courtesy of VistaHeads:

Go to the Start Menu
Type "command" in the Search box
Then right click on "Command Prompt" shown on top
Select "Run as Administrator"
In the Command window, type (or right-click and paste):

assoc .zip=CompressedFolder

You could also use an automatic technique from Winhelponline in File association fixes for Windows Vista.

July 14, 2009

Palettes and Reusing Colors

Artbeats has a couple of new free tutorials on color in a continuing series by Chris & Trish Meyer. Color Palette shares "tips on how to get inspiration when choosing a color palette for any project."


Reusing Colors discusses how to reuse "the same colors multiple times within a project even when you are using different programs." This involves several tips, including some downloadable scripts and expressions for After Effects.

For more on color see Color memes and schemes and other posts tagged as color. Other related recent tutorials include Maschwitz on a Blockbuster Film Look and Maltaannon’s Kuler Workflow for AE.

Update: Jeff Almasol noted that the Swatch You Want script was updated to display larger swatches if there are 8 or fewer colors in the file. It's part of Additional Scripts for After Effects CS4 at Adobe, which "contains scripts for editing keyboard shortcuts (KeyEd Up), launching scripts (Launch Pad), create project folder hierarchies (Folder Setup), converting Adobe Swatch Exchange (.ase) files (Swatch You Want, kuler Shapes)... [etc.]"

'Droidmaker' free & other curios

Via Adam Wilt is a free (for now) PDF version of Droidmaker: George Lucas and the Digital Revolution, a history of early computer graphics and nonlinear editing. Droidmaker author Michael Rubin's presentations around the Bay Area upon the book's release were entertaining, and the book got the nod from Alvy Ray Smith, who with Ed Catmull co-founded Pixar.

Rubin has more on the same line, including early home movies of ILM from former ILMer and SFSU/MSP AE instructor Dave Berry (catch his life-affirming video Laugh if you can). Rubin also noted a web version of George Lucas: Maker of Films, a 1971 PBS piece with an interview of Lucas by film theorist Gene Youngblood, author of Expanded Cinema. There's additional background from source Binary Bonsai, who also noted the Raiders 125-page story conference transcript.



Youngblood's book itself is also available as a PDF download, if you're interested in expanded or synaesthetic cinema, an idea that includes visual music, experimental animation, and motion graphics. For more see the AEP post Visual music and motion graphics, which includes a 'making of' on Larry Cuba's computer graphics in the first Star Wars movie.

July 13, 2009

Meme tracking and the News Cycle

A new Cornell study, Meme-tracking and the Dynamics of the News Cycle, is discussed by the New York Times in Study Measures the Chatter of the News Cycle. This study is interesting on a few levels, since the Cornell project tracks "the quotes and phrases that appear most frequently over time across this entire online news spectrum. This makes it possible to see how different stories compete for news and blog coverage each day, and how certain stories persist while others fade quickly."



But so far the effort seems to be targeted to prove that blogs lag slightly behind mainstream media and other details which can safely be concluded from casual looks at Google Hot Trends, and aggregators like Techmeme, PopURLs, and Original Signal. Social problems and political hot potatoes are safely avoided, as are steps toward improved decision-making. For a neglected perspective, see the recent AEP post on Anthony Downs' "Issue-Attention Cycle."

The problem with news is that celebrity, impulse twit-ches, and emotion rules -- "if it bleeds, it leads" still applies. News mostly feeds us lurid filler. Recognized on a basic level since at least the time of Edward Bernays is that advertising and politics are propaganda. This can be seen in behavioral targeting, web tracking, and the careers of people like consultant Frank Luntz. For some background on "framing" for the social mind, see Douglas Rushkoff's PBS docs Merchants of Cool and The Persuaders. Right now the pitchman has a foot in the door, but there's more coming, like "social-networking TV," an electronic panopticon where you can "participate in your own manipulation," as EBN mused.

Still the Cornell study is worth a look, and we can expect more visualizations because you can download MemeTracker data. There's also a beginning of a discussion by Zachary M. Seward of the Neiman Journalism Lab, Chris Anderson, and Scott Rosenberg.

Here's an excerpt of the NYT article:

'The paper, “Meme-tracking and the Dynamics of the News Cycle,” was also written by Jure Leskovec, a postgraduate researcher at Cornell, who this summer will become an assistant professor at Stanford, and Lars Backstrom, a Ph.D. student at Cornell, who is going to work for Facebook. The team has set up interactive displays of their findings at memetracker.org.

Social scientists and media analysts have long examined news cycles, though focusing mainly on case studies instead of working with large Web data sets. And computer scientists have developed tools for clustering and tracking articles and blog posts, typically by subject or political leaning.

But the Cornell research, experts say, goes further in trying to track the phenomenon of news ideas rising and falling. “This is a landmark piece of work on the flow of news through the world,” said Eric Horvitz, a researcher at
Microsoft and president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. “And the study shows how Web-scale analytics can serve as powerful sociological laboratories.”

Sreenath Sreenivasan, a professor specializing in new media at the Columbia Journalism School, said the research was an ambitious effort to measure a social phenomenon that is not easily quantified. “To the extent this kind of approach could open the door to a new understanding of the news cycle, that is very interesting,” he said.'

July 12, 2009

Photoshop nuggets

John Nack has some cool re-Tweeted tips for PS, AI, etc. The zoomed-in rezoom is pretty fun:

  • Photoshop tip: Cmd-click the New Layer button to create layer behind current one. [Via Cristen Gillespie.]
  • Photoshop CS4 tip: While zoomed in, hold down H while clicking anywhere. Move the square elsewhere & release. Kapow! [Via @gpenston]
  • "Does CS4 strip lens metadata like CS3?" No. Save for Web now gives you choices. Select "All" to preserve lens data.
Also good for Photoshop tips is Julieanne Kost who has near daily quick tips and a large collection of video tutorials. Lately the Crop Tool Canvas reSize has been helpful.

Of course if there's time one might consult Russell Brown's very seriously professional tips and Deke McClelland, for example his The Essential Approach to Masking at Scott Kelby's "Guest Blog Wednesday."

July 10, 2009

A 3D Radio Waves plug-in for After Effects

Satya Meka has been rehabilitating the Radio Waves, a favorite old filter built into After Effects, with projects discussed earlier in The Secret Menu of Radio Waves in After Effects. Now he's working on 3D Radio Waves Plug-in for After Effects.


3D Radio Waves Plugin For After Effects from Satya Meka on Vimeo.

The filter will produce radio waves in 3D space with its own camera controls (see comments). The short demo video above is a raw demonstration. Mask and Image contour support is in development; it also has opacity and width settings like that of original radio waves. Each wave can rotate in XYZ with respect to the origin or any point and can produce polygons up to 20,000 sides compared to 128 sides of the original effect. And it's GPU-accelerated.

The downside is that it's Mac only! That's because it's a Core Image filter created in Quartz Composer and compiled using the Pixlock Effect Builder AE. Satya Meka is planning to release a private beta soon.

It's unfortunate that only Mac users have access to Apple Quartz Composer, FxFactory, Pixlock Effect Builder AE, and QC Integration FX, while Windows users have only disjointed features available in Pixel Bender, Conduit for Flash Pixel Bender, and other sundry image processing geekery end user tools. But who knows what will pop up.

SF Cutters: Tues July 21 at Delancey Street

The next SF Cutters meeting is Tuesday July 21 at the Delancey Street Screening Room in San Francisco, conveniently located near Brannan stop of the MUNI N and T lines, with free and paid parking along the street.

Due to increased costs the meeting is $15, and includes light refreshments, presentations, and a raffle ticket. Everyone has a fair chance of going home with a cool prize. The Raffle list is on the Eventbrite page and is being updated; signup online at july21.eventbrite.com.

Via Claudia Crask, speakers include:

Jesse Spencer FCP editor, on Multiple format edits in FCP - Working with Exotic Media
This is the second of lecture on Multiformat editing techniques... it will recap some info from the first lecture "Developing Strategies for Multiformat Editing" and will continue on to show easy diagnostic tricks you can use to evaluate Conversion options for multiformat editing.

Casey Bishop of Roland Systems, on field audio recording systems by Edirol
Casey will bring and demo some of the products in this line: R-4Pro, R-44, F-1, VC-50. Please take a look at Roland video products at www.edirol.com/video. Roland is co-sponsoring the Delancey St. Screening Room rental and refreshments.

Jason Hernandez the inventor of Eazydolly -- as mentioned by Stu Maschwitz on Twitter. It's a modified original version of a camera dolly and the movement reminds me of rails shots. You have to check this out. Highly portable, affordable and useful. And they will be giving one away!