July 31, 2008

Red R3D support soon in AE & Pr CS3

Yesterday's news... on the RED forum by Jim Jannard, founder and backer of the RED Digital Cinema:

"Within a week, RED R3D files will open natively in CS3 Premiere Pro and After Effects."

This effort is led by RED and it's not known how the current Premiere width limit of 4096 pixels will be handled before the next Adobe release. Some CS4 apps are already on Adobe Labs, so the next versions of AE & Pr are not that far off.

If you're in San Francisco on August 5, the Digital Cinema Society Northern California Chapter examines workflows for both the Sony XDCAM EX and RED One Cameras. Adobe will present their native XDCAM EX (and presumably RED) editing workflow using Production Premium software and give the latest details on their Cinema DNG initiative. Other featured presenters include Adam Wilt and Art Adams who will share some of their findings after rigorous tests of these cameras and workflows.

The group plans to meet at Adobe in San Francisco; send the required RSVP to Trudi@DigitalCinemaSociety.org.

July 29, 2008

The Plug-In Post: newsletter on filters is out

The Plug-In Post from Studio Monthly is out with news that Red Giant Software has made an acquisition and has "some news about Digital Anarchy Psunami and Toon It!, as well as PlasmaFX, Color Theory and Microcosm Codec. Those last three (coming later this fall) will be available for free."

The Plug-In Post seems to be recollected news from Studio Daily with additional interviews and late breaking news. The newsletter as such doesn't seem to be at Studio Daily, so you have to subscribe; click here on August 4 to get details on the Red Giant news.

Update: Separately, Video Copilot hinted that a new plug-in called “QuickMatte” will be free, along with a new tutorial set coming soon. See Free Plug-in Development for more.

Update 2: Digital Anarchy Sells Video Plugins (letter from Jim)

SF Cutters Meeting Thurs. July 31

The SF Cutters are meeting on Thursday July 31th, 2008 at Adobe in San Francisco, CA.
Tickets are on sale online only and you must have a ticket to enter!

Refreshments and raffle are included; guests lined up include:

Kevan O'Brien of Adobe Systems on workflow and Blu-Ray

Charles Meyer of Apple on FCP workflow

Dr. Sassi educator and animator and Betsy Kopmar educator and animator both cover Cinema 4D

FCP, Adobe, & Vegas

Maybe concerned that pro apps don't seem to be a priority at Apple, a recent thread on FinalCutPro-L asked What's Adobe up to? The consensus seemed to be that they were close, except that Final Cut was stable with a lot of clips while actually editing for TV, docs, and movies while Premiere was not stable.

Also of note was that while SONY Vegas was also a bit stagnant in development it had a few features that the other apps should ape -- like audio, background rendering, and especially "Takes" as explained by Timothy Duncan in a branched thread.

July 28, 2008

Cartofictions: Maps, the Imaginary and GeoSocial Engineering

via Create Digital Motion is Julian Oliver's keynote from Inclusiva-net (Madrid 2008), Cartofictions: Maps, the Imaginary and GeoSocial Engineering,

"In this lecture Julian shows a darker side of map-making, covering various reality-distorting effects innate to the graphic language of cartography and how they can be easily exploited for gain..." This lecture is a bit slow and limited by a Eurocentric bias but does cover early world maps and Google Earth, so it might work while multi-tasking. Oblique background info is at Julian Oliver : The Art of Gardening.

July 23, 2008

Spellcheck in titler: a feature request

Even though it means less fun and won't stop Fox News from abusing graphics, spell checkers in titling software is a good idea. Background on this one is at Crooks and Liars' FOX News Hilarity: Producers Misspell ‘Education’ During Segment on… Education.

Of course spelling improvements won't help the quality of news gathering upon which the society depends. It'll be interesting to see the shakeout from financial meltdowns; for example the San Francisco Chronicle, even though dependent on wire services for years, is now losing $1 million a week according to Chris Hedges in Bad Days for Newsrooms—and Democracy.

Update: See the Democracy Now segment "Newspapers Suffer Spate of Layoffs, Decline in Circulation, Ad Revenue, Stock Price: A Roundtable Discussion on the State of the Industry," although news people should admit they've been late to the party in responding to things like Craigslist.org and alternative story forms for news writing.

And some print people would fight to the death over serial commas, while losing their ass over other ventures and make-work.

July 22, 2008

Real World Video Compression: book review

Real World Video Compression is a new book from Peachpit Press that provides a handy comprehensive overview of trends, tools, and workflows for video compression today. Author Andy Beach starts the book with a look at audio, video, and compression basics that need to be known to independently deliver great video to the web, TV, and mobile and set-top devices. Current file formats, codecs, and players are surveyed nicely, with a concise but deep explanation of interframe and intraframe compression.

Before you get ahead of yourself Beach makes sure you keep in mind best practices for developing a workflow to deliver to a particular format. Optimal output requires good input, so Beach also devotes time explaining preprocessing steps, which include not only levels and color correction but also noise reduction, cropping, scaling, deinterlacing, and aspect ratio correction.

The last two thirds of the book surveys the strengths and weaknesses of a range of compression tools and details some recipes for producing content for various platforms. Many compression tools are mentioned at various points but 6 are given detailed treatment: Adobe Media Encoder (AME), Apple Compressor and QuickTime Pro, Microsoft Expression Encoder, Sorensen Squeeze, and Telestream Episode Pro. Since the book is well-organized, readers can quickly scan for the good, bad, and bottom line of each major application.

A unique feature of the book is interviews with professional compressionists, which are interspersed throughout. Along with bonus tips in these interviews you'll find tool preferences -- and that a surprising number of these professionals use low end apps like Visual Hub and MPEG Streamclip.

The last part of the book covers recipes for compression for DVD, the Web, and mobile (iPod and phones) and set-top devices. Valuable overviews of each niche are provided -- but rapidly evolving codecs, tools, and bandwidth capacities and a wide scope spreads content a bit thin in places. No one is giving away the store here, like providing information on data rate sweet spots in codecs or optimal parameters for VBR MPEG-4 encoding in mainstream apps. Well you do get details on encoding with x264 for the open source app Handbrake, which could with tweaking could help you push Flash H.264 to the limit. By the way there's also a QT/Mac version of x264 that you can use instead of Apple's version.

Also not deeply covered was optimizing for YouTube (a moving target), and more importantly analysis of which apps have better encoding implemented for which codecs or which custom codecs perform best. That's a tall order, though you can find pieces of the puzzle in anecdotal info on user forums like Creative Cow's Compression Techniques or in occasional articles like Jan Ozer's recent Cracking the H.264 Codec.

In all, Real World Video Compression is a comprehensive up-to-date view of video encoding, tools, and delivery platforms. A sample chapter, Preprocessing: How Real Movie Magic is Made, is at the Peachpit Press book page. Plus the author is offering extra specifics and updates through his blog, which is also called Real World Video Compression.

Still camera lies in 24p HD

In Panasonic is My Hero, Prolost notes Pixel Density (explained with pictures) instead of megapixels in still camera (LX3) that also does 24p video at 1280x720.

free again: BCC Rays Cartoon filter

This time the offer comes from Toolfarm... like last month, Boris FX is offering a free light version of the Rays Cartoon filter from Boris plug-in from Continuum Complete 5, plus a tutorial. Rays Cartoon creates light out of the user-defined "cartoon edges" of an image, which might be faster than using other tricks. BCC Rays Cartoon is available for Adobe CS3, Apple Final Cut Studio 2, and Avid for a limited time.

July 18, 2008

MotionGrabber: AE tracking filter public alpha

Maltaannon (as Polygon Studio) is previewing a new After Effects filter, MotionGrabber (Windows-only for now), that he's been working on with Avidion Media:

"It is meant to help you with uncommon motion tracking tasks that are hard or even impossible to handle with After Effects build in pixel tracker. I welcome you to download this plugin and give it a try. MotionGrabber 0.0.1 is a early prerelease that was tested only with After Effects CS3..."

Go to Maltaannon for more info and the download.

July 15, 2008

Rules of Web Video Advertising

Camcorder.info gives you "The Seven Rules of Effective Video Advertising," which riffs off of a Mashable post, "How to Easily and Inexpensively Create Eye-Popping Video Ads." This is noteworthy since the Mashable author, CEO of auto-clip-art video admaker Jivox, claims:

"Online video advertising is growing at a faster rate than any other type of interactive marketing. And that’s because video advertising works, generating twice the clickthrough rate of banner ads, according to eMarketer. That level of effectiveness is why spending on online video advertising will surge from under $1B in 2007 to over $5B in 2011."

Of course this projection assumes, among other things, that Europe and Asia won't insist on being paid back for the Iraq war, and our own elite hasn't robbed us blind and want to deflate all vestiges of a bubble to get out clean with the loot. Plus, it also depends on how much is bled out through energy payments and if, as Kottke notes, people stopped looking at ads like they did in The Simpsons 'Treehouse of Horror.'

Advanced Beauty gives it a whirl

Via Motionographer, which has a few more tidbits, is Advanced Beauty. The related sites in the top tabs are cool too.

Bold or impudent, Advanced Beauty is a tough name to live up to, but at least another promising source for odd movies. Unfortunately, there's almost no background information on the movies -- that's why there's Motionographer, Feed/Stash, and Create Digital Motion:

"Advanced Beauty is an ongoing exploration of digital artworks born and influenced by sound, an ever-growing collaboration between programmers, artists, musicians, animators and architects. The first collection is a series of audio-reactive 'video sound sculptures'. Inspired by synasthesia, the rare, sensory experience of seeing sound or tasting colours, these videos are physical manifestations of sound, sculpted by volume, pitch or structure of the soundtrack.

The films embrace unusual video making processes, the visual programming language Processing, high-end audio analysis and fluid dynamic simulations alongside intuitive responses in traditional cell animation. Each artist was given the same set of parameters to work within; to start, finish and exist within a white space, creating a seamless coherence, all sculptures sharing the same white environment."


The BBC and Major League Baseball have been busy with several interesting updates to integrate audio, video, and web.

According to John Dowdell, "They're doing so with near-realtime streams, in multiple formats, to a wide range of devices and services...Even if you don't like American baseball, please do check out an archived game at mlb.com/gameday. What they're doing in realtime data-collection and interactive data-representation [reconstructing pitches, etc.] is really very innovative." ...read more at jd/adobe.

After Effects Online Resource Roundup

AE Portal has updated its overview of AE resources organized by categories like Blogs, News, Podcasts, Tutorials, Plug-ins, Expressions, Scripting & Flash, Online Forums and Lists, Inspiration & Sharing, and User Groups. See After Effects Online Resource Roundup for details.

July 14, 2008

Advanced Extrusion with Shatter

Rick Gerard at AE Tips and Tricks has a video tutorial on using the built-in After Effects filter Shatter to extrude text. For now the link has a typo, so in the link replace the "c" with a "d."

It's not a complicated procedure but I don't remember seeing a tutorial on this since Brian Maffitt originally released the filter. There are several as it turns out though, like Roland's Adding Z-Depth to your Logo at Creative Cow, at Adobe Exchange by G. Chen, at Video Copilot, and Maltaannon.

Update: on the AE-List Roland Kahlenberg added, "If you're using Shatter you'll want to apply the effect on a Solid that is twice as large as your final output. Then scale it down accordingly. The scaling down reduces the aliasing issues which may become obvious on certain types of geometry."

Update 2: There's detail and other more references on the Shatter filter in AE Help.

Look over there! OJ's riding a shark!

Very funny minuscule post at Eschaton:

"It is only day 2 of the Washington Post's 12-part series on Chandra Levy.

Look over there! OJ's riding a shark!"

D.C. is under mucho surveillance, so the visuals to solve this case were probably recorded along with all the e-mails and phone calls of literally everyone. But let's not think too hard, especially about Glen Greenwald columns.

'House of Cards' built from data

Note: see also a later post, Maltaannon's House of Form.

 Be patient when you visit the Google Code site/viewer for a piece of Radiohead's new video RA DIOHEA_D / HOU SE OF_C ARDS. The video was visualized from the app Processing with data sets "shot" with lasers (narrow wavelength lights). Google has the video, a data set with which you can manipulate interactive video, a how-it-was-made video, and a complete set of links (credits here). The music and background videos below from YouTube come via Stereogum.

Update: Create Digital Motion mentions a few precursors in style, and Motionographer notes an interview with video director James Frost on Creativity Online. By the way, Frost says he was inspired by 'Flight Patterns' visualizations of Aaron Koblin, who uses AE.

Motionographer also notes MOMA’s recent exhibit, Design and the Elastic Mind, which looks at "design translations of disruptive scientific and technological innovations, and reflects on how the figure of the designer is changing from form giver to fundamental interpreter." Perhaps some artists are catching up to thinkers on technology like Lewis Mumford, Jacques Ellul, and Langdon Winner. Although there is a sort of internal mass culture conversation on technology, like with Radioheads's OK Computer and the 1st movie in The Matrix series, we still can't seem to broach religious topics without freaking out with denial or Manichean dualism.

July 13, 2008

Why QuickTime is the US Dollar of Digital Video

Mark Christiansen expounds on the why in QuickTime is the US Dollar of Digital Video.

You really do have to wonder if Apple fired all the QA employees or what. And things may evolve but with the transition to Snow Leopard and the iPhoney-QuickTime X, it seems like the bumpy ride won't end too soon. It's an opening that Microsoft is unlikely to fill and Adobe is just getting going with Flash MPEG-4 and CinemaDNG.

By the way, the Windows stripper utility for the QT gamma tag is around.

July 11, 2008

Roto [+apps] on iPhone

In news from Matt Silverman, Scott Squires of ILM and Commotion fame (see his Effects Corner blog) is not back with a roto tool for the iPhone, but his Squiggles paint app might be fun for some or useful in a squeeze.

Update: see the comments from Scott (click on title link). Plus The Edit Blog has some ideas for iPhone apps, and both Self Reliant Film and John Nack have lists of ones that might be useful now.

Update 2: FreshDV notes a comment from The Edit Blog post in Controlling Your NLE with Your iPhone: " Here’s a neat hat-trick you can perform with your iPhone, 3G model not required. Using remote control software VNSea or TouchPad, you can perform basic key-driven editing operations on the Final Cut Pro timeline from across the room." more...

Free templates for TV news-style lower thirds

These might come in handy... Video Copilot has some free templates for TV news-style lower thirds.

This post has been expanded and updated, see Free lower thirds and tutorials: Leverage Photoshop, Premiere, and After Effects at PVC.

July 9, 2008

International Street Art

A graffiti resource, THE OVERSPRAY MAGAZINE FISHBOWL, was mentioned byAE-List. It seems like a fitting repose from videos like Hilter as director/producer (I worked for a guy like that) or Hitler Plans Burning Man (he'd build the scariest art car ever if he lived in San Francisco).

Update: Overspray is gone, but other cool sites include FatCap, "the graffiti & street-art resource" and Graffiti Archaeology.

July 7, 2008

AE smoke filter(s) in alpha

"a friend who is working on a Smoke and Fire plugin. This will not be the usual fake stuff. So maybe you are intersted in giving him some good feedback to help him turn this into a great plugin."

Apparently the filter is Windows-only and requires NVIDIA CUDA-enabled graphics for now, which will exclude some good feedback. The developer, Jaswet.com, has set up a small forum and two example renders: IncenseTest.wmv and IncenseTest2.wmv.

Update: On the AE-List, Ko Maruyama mentioned that DigitalAnarchy was re-developing similar fluid-dynamics tools from SpeedSix (shown at NAB).

July 4, 2008

Magnetic Movie

Via netribution is Magnetic Movie, a Semiconductor (Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt) visualization of magnetic fields shot at the NASA Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley.

Magnetic Movie from Semiconductor on Vimeo.