August 30, 2008

Mobile video news reporting increasingly

Following reports of services like Qik, Livecast, and Flixwagon for broadcasting live video from mobile phones, Poynter Online reports that the Washington Post and Newsweek started posting live video reports via phone during the Democratic Convention.

A Post rep told Beet.TV, "We will be using cell phones equipped with a live streaming application from Comet Technologies," and built complete TV studios at the conventions for continuous coverage from reporters and blogging guests. also covers How Online Video Improves Journalism, a talk with the Washington Post's Travis Fox, a leader in online video storytelling. Blogs have been covering this beat, including Andy Dickinson and News Videographer.

Poynter's most e-mailed post right now is Video SLR Camera Coming From Nikon, which has also been covered by Prolost and others recently!

Update: adds advice in Camcorder Overkill for Print Reporters.

Update 2: From the YouTube Blog, "in partnership with the Pulitzer Center, YouTube presents Project: Report ( .com /projectreport), a journalism contest (made possible by Sony VAIO and Intel) for non-professional, aspiring journalists to tell stories that might not otherwise be covered by traditional media"

After Effects Tips + Search Help

Trish and Chris Meyer posted another in their series of After Effects Tips. They also mention and host a Firefox plug-in by Todd Kopriva of Adobe that targets the Adobe Community Help search to make searches more efficient.

August 28, 2008

ProRes QuickTime Decoder for Windows

Apple has posted a ProRes QuickTime Decoder for Windows, which requires Windows XP (SP2) or later and QuickTime version 7.5 or later.

General Specialist adds: "...for true cross-platform goodness you'll still be better off with the free (and in size and quality similar or better) Avid DNxHD codec that also supports an alpha channel." With that and other codecs you can also write not just decode files on Windows.

August 27, 2008

TrackerViz, a free script to work with tracking data

Update: the new home for TrackerViz is AE Scripts.

Via AE Freemart, AE Enhancers hosts TrackerViz, a free script from NAB Scripts that makes it easy to work with tracking data. Matt Silverman and Lloyd Alvarez are fans; you can animate masks using expressions and "average tracks together, correct drifting tracks, use averaged tracks to calculate rotation and scale, and it's the simplest, easiest way to apply tracking data to mask vertices EVER for After Effects!"

There's also Quicktime movies by Sean Kennedy explaining how to use TrackerViz. The first part quickly goes over the After Effects tracker to explain the settings you might want to adjust. The second part shows how TrackerViz can tweak, modify, and correct tracking data. The third part shows how to use the tracks to create an instant roto.

Update: Last year Sean Kennedy also discussed Using tracks to help roto, mimicking Planar tracking and Demoing ALL the options for roto tools for newbies.

Update: Check out KeyTweak and Tracker2Mask: scripts with tutorials based on comments below.

August 26, 2008

Broadcasting live video from phone

Broadcasting live video from a cellular phone seems like it'll hit big soon. Someone did live podcasting from a Flash conference last year with a Nokia device I think, but I lost the reference and froze perhaps in fear of being Scobilized.

Now the LA Times is reporting on investments in Qik, "a service which is championed by celebrity technology blogger Robert Scoble, has gained in popularity particularly as it adds new features such as integration with Twitter, YouTube, Mogulus, MySpace, Orkut and Qik is used by a wide array of users, called Qikkers, including both professional and citizen journalists." The video below is from Qik (on "jailbroken" iPhone support); Beet.TV has an interview with a Qik rep.

Similar services include the Silverlight-oriented Livecast (was Pocketcaster) and Flixwagon, which is covering Nokia and like Qik "jailbroken" iPhones.

Update: Poynter Online reports that the Washington Post and Newsweek started posting live video reports via phone during the Democratic Convention. A Post rep told Beet.TV, "We will be using cell phones equipped with a live streaming application from Comet Technologies," and built complete TV studios at the conventions for continuous coverage from reporters and blogging guests.

This should change with more smart phones, like iPhone 3.0.

Update: NewTeeVee adds another player to the list, Aylus Networks, in One to Watch: Aylus Mobile Video.

Motype text filter for Mac video

Motype is a new text animation plug-in by Yanobox, the latest company to deliver plug-ins for Final Cut Pro, Motion, Final Cut Express and After Effects based on FxFactory and Apple FxPlug.

It doesn't seem too different from what can can do starting with After Effects presets, but it does work in the other apps. Check the video for a quick look. You'd need to latest version of Final Cut Studio and OS X, and must have certain graphics cards. The Macbook, MacBook Air and Mac Mini are not supported.

Psychoacoustic masking and audio compression

Jay Rose of DV and PVC has a four-part series on psychoacoustics and compression now posted as Hearing What’s Not There, Living with (Data) Loss, Vacuum Packed, and QuickTime Quickies.

Jay summarized the series like this:
  • What’s going on inside your head when you hear things
  • How psychoacoustic compression algorithms work
  • How lossless compression shrinks an audio file without any changes… but only if you’ve got a powerful computer
  • A few non-intuitive tricks that can streamline how you and your clients exhange audio over QuickTime.
Not covered in the referenced article from Nature Neuroscience but also fascinating is the cocktail party effect, which Wikipedia describes as "the ability to focus one's listening attention on a single talker among a mixture of conversations and background noises, ignoring other conversations" (like a complicated band-pass filter).

Note: SoundHack "is a soundfile processing program for the Macintosh. It performs many utility and esoteric sound processing functions available nowhere else. These functions make SoundHack invaluable to computer musicians, sound effects designers, multimedia artists, webmasters and anyone else who enjoys working with sound." At one point, SoundHack was the choice for resampling for many multimedia journeymen and audio geeks, and has branched into plug-ins for Windows and Mac.

AE scripts to transfer 3D motion + tracker info

Barry Berman has free scripts for stereo photo buffs and to transfer 3D motion to and from After Effects, Maya, Nuke, SynthEyes and Electric Image. For MoCon V3.5.5 and 3DM Stereo V1.2 go to 3Dmation.

August 24, 2008

Atmospheric homes of elves and sprites revealed

Atmospheric homes of elves and sprites revealed says NewScientist, and they have video so it must be true. Glories, unlike the one at the left, are also visible behind and below if the Sun's angle is right in the front.

There's more in books like Seeing the Light: Optics in Nature, Photography, Color, Vision, and Holography, Color and Light in Nature, and Rainbows, Halos and Glories.

"Dear Adobe..." gripe site

John Nack discussed Dear Adobe, an alternative to Adobe's Feature Request/Bug Report and Apple's cone of silence.

Dear Adobe is "a site devoted to rants & raves (but mostly rants) directed at the Big Red A. You can 'Submit Your Gripe' and vote others' contributions up or down. Although much of this stuff is hard to hear (in part because some of it echoes what's said privately at Adobe), the site is a valuable exercise. It has driven lots of conversation here: I count 30+ emails from yesterday alone, and that was just among Photoshop team members."

QTGammaStripper for OS X PPC and Win32

Fuel International has free unsupported apps, both called QTGammaStripper, for OS X PPC and Win32 to strip QuickTime gamma tags. Look under the Software link.

The problem and other solutions were discussed in QuicktimeGammaStripper utility for Windows and elsewhere.

Maltaannon's ceLightWrap

In a video tutorial Maltaannon shows you how to do a "light wrap," that is, "make your keyed out footage blend better with the background by casting light on it from surrounding elements." He's also selling a "Custom Effect" for this called ceLightWrap (CS3) for 9.95 EUR (~ $14).

You can find similar approaches to producing a lightwrap in the several AE books, in a few plug-ins (like one now by Red Giant), and around the web.

UPDATE: at some point custom effects stopped being supported. There's more on light wraps in How to Light Wrap: Blending composite edges with and without 3rd party filters, now at PVC.

How to Light Wrap

Blending composite edges with and without 3rd party filters
- See more at:

How to Light Wrap

Blending composite edges with and without 3rd party filters
- See more at:

August 22, 2008

Location, location, 3D video

The AVE Video Fusion is a 3D video visualization system that "improves assessment and response in security and video surveillance for military and high value installations. Simply fly over buildings, sites, and cities and automatically manage cameras to observe activities."

It integrates multiple streams of video composited over 3D models along with map data and security sensors. Not as cool as if it were in After Effects or Flash -- this and more recent little brothers is more like Enemy of the State (video excerpt).

via Earth Blog, via Ogle Earth, via Diserto

3D point clouds in Photosynth

The Data Mining Blog, by a scientist at Microsoft's Live Labs, shows how Photosynth builds 3D data to align pictures taken from different angles. See also Microsoft releases image stitcher Photosynth and the next generation of 'photo tourism' in Microsoft tools meld 3D and photos.

Photosynth 1 from matthew hurst on Vimeo.

Blame it On Photoshop ...Videos are Next

Beet.TV has a video interview with Adobe consultant Hany Farid of Dartmouth College; see Blame it On Photoshop: Dartmouth Computer Scientist Finds Fake Photos...Videos are Next.

'Even the average layperson is using Photoshop..., and sales for Adobe Photoshop Elements rose 20 percent over the last year, the New York Times reported in a story Friday. ...Videos are still safe from mainstream tampering for the time being, however. "Doctored video is about where doctored photographs were ten years ago," Farid says. He is currently working on solutions to identify fake videos.'

For more see our Digital Tampering & Forensics, a profile on Farid on NOVA scienceNOW, and John Nack on Digital imaging goes to court.

SF Cutters August 28: FCP type, compression, Flash

SF Cutters, the first Final Cut Pro user group, is meeting Thursday, August 28, 2008 at Adobe in San Francisco, CA. You must pre-register to get in!

Guests include:

* Larry Jordan on Livetype & Final Cut Pro
* Andy Beach of Real World Video Compression
* Richard Galvan, author of Classroom in a Book for Flash and technical product manager for Flash, on Flash video.

Update: the next meeting in September looks intriguing, "Join SF Cutters with support from SF Mograph and Digital Cinema Society for our Sept 25 Extravaganza Meeting of the Year."

August 21, 2008

YouTube Hacks: Sort, Subscribe, Listen

Liz Gaines of NewTeeVee shares LifeHacker's Top 10 YouTube Hacks.

Also interesting is Read/Write Web's take on YouTube's new video uploading platform as noted in 10 Promising Web Platforms:

"By allowing website owners to combine an on-site video publishing option for their users with the huge number of people looking to discover new content on YouTube, the platform will create a mutually beneficial feedback loop that will breathe new life into both YouTube and the web at large. It's also got potential to show up all the other big platform plays we've seen to date."

Update: From the guy that did Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us' (6.3 million views), here's 'An anthropological introduction to YouTube,' presented at the Library of Congress, June 23rd 2008.

Future fiefdoms: psychological profiling on the Web

This really makes me... uhh?

CNET's Elinor Mills notes new research in Psychological profiling on the Web:

'Inspired by the site The dashboard looks at the stream for expressions of emotion in real time and uses colors to indicate different emotions. ...But our own comments about our mental state can also be very revealing, to friends and enemies alike, said Dhanjani. He foreshadowed his research on his blog last month and elaborated on it in several subsequent interviews with CNET News. ..."It's almost like it gives other people the power to play God and glean what's happening inside your head," Dhanjani said. "I can see implications for economics, business, and psychology."

And I thought behaviorally targeted ads were scary!'

See tags advertising and propaganda for more.

Cracking the H.264 Codecs

Jan Ozer has a couple of good articles on h.264:

Cracking the H.264 Codec looks at a few H.264 codecs available, each with different configurable parameters, but mostly encoding tools with different sets of compression options.

So Many H.264 Codecs, So Little Time compares H.264 files produced using codecs from Apple, Dicas, and MainConcept (the last is licensed by Adobe). Ozer didn't use Visual Hub (Mac, $23), which Andy Beach found to be faster and yield a bit better results at default settings than the other apps he tested in a recent comparison (later expanded and updated) at Real World Video Compression.

As mentioned earlier in Flash H.264 fast start, fees, MSU also compared H.264 codec quality (MainConcept beat other participants). You have to dig to find practicals, so if you're interested in quality Fabio Sonnati has pushed Flash to the limit with low data rates,

"I use a mix of Ffmpeg, x264, Mencoder and Nero AAC. Here some parameters used: 5 reference frames, 5 B-frames, authomatic B-Frames, B-pyramid enabled, adaptive macroblock type, advanced Trellis on, Subq=7, advanced exagon search, deblocking filter with custom alpha e beta parameter, three pass encoding..."

Also, Adobe engineer Tinic Uro's post and comments on H.264 has many interesting details on Flash and MP4.

On a side note, in Optimal frame dimensions for Flash video, Adobe is now saying that h.264 (encoding or playback) is optimized for 16x16 samples, rather than 4 or 8. Adobe also posted a Flash video bitrate calculator by Robert Reinhardt. Looking through papers on the web (H.264/MPEG-4 AVC from Wikipedia or IEEE Overview of the H.264/AVC is a start) it’s hard to tell if 16x16 is really best -- it seems to be rather how the encoder is implemented (in chroma sampling for example). Anyway if 16x16 is optimal, presets for the various Adobe applications should reflect this -- though they don't so far.

Update: in a new article (8/25/08) Ken Stone talks about how to get decent QuickTime H.264 movies from FCP for the Web and similar companion article (9/8/08) Compressor H.264 movies from FCP for the Web.

Jan Ozer also has a video tutorial that shows the new features in Rhozet's Carbon Coder 3.0, including the Carbon Administrator, which now contains the Queue Manager and the enhanced watch folder functions.

Microsoft releases image stitcher Photosynth

Microsoft Photosynth is officially out now -- and faster than the beta according to Digital Arts. Advances by the same researchers were recently presented at SIGGRAPH; there's a movie and discussion in the now-bloated post Microsoft tools meld 3D and photos.

Note that Firefox doesn't work on -- or update it was a server crash.

Update: Shutterspeed has some rah, rah video:

PhotoSynth- Learn how to do it

ShutterSpeed EP04 - The Photosynth Team

Update 2: Ars Technica posted Hands on: Microsoft Photosynth makes panoramas pop, with several experiments by David Chartier.

August 19, 2008

Extending the Storyworld

from PrepShootPost: "His advice, don't make a movie and then find an audience, instead, build assets on-line, create interactive experiences and cultivate an audience first. Essentially -- build a fan base (audience) and then give them lots of interesting ways to interact with your story."

August 18, 2008

DAV's TechTable previews Adobe RED workflow

As everyone knows by now, RED support is coming to Adobe apps. DAV's TechTable has some real details on the not quite yet public beta and some preview movies that discuss workflow.

Update: Oliver Peters and others give up the goods in a nice thread on FCP-L.

Adobe TV is expanding

Bob Donlon is back as the General Manager/Executive Producer of the expanding Adobe TV. His blog is now called Bob Donlon’s Adobe TV Blog, which has recently been noting news series like The Creatives and Flash in a Flash.

The Daily Show and their TiVos

Discrete Cosine noted a a nice post on The Daily Show and their TiVos on the the PVRBlog. In short, a creaky stack of TiVos and sneakernet to editing.

Mac Encoder Shootout

Andy Beach's blog Real World Video Compression (book review) posted Encoder Shootout - A Comparison of 4 Mac Compression Tools -- and the $23 app seemed to do well.

August 17, 2008

Lenscare v. camera defocus

'M dot Strange', who has a YouTube following that interested the New York Times (his FCPUG preso is on, briefly compares After Effects filters Frishluft Lenscare and TinderBox T-Lensblur Defocus with images of the original image in focus, defocused in camera, and the original after filter processed in Bokeh in After Effects.

Digital Designers Rediscover Their Hands

"...a little-noticed movement in the world of professional design and engineering: a renewed appreciation for manual labor, or innovating with the aid of human hands."

In Digital Designers Rediscover Their Hands, the New York Times says the DIY spirit of Make magazine and Ready Made magazine has spread to corporate seminars like the one at Adobe pictured here.

August 16, 2008

Fulldome, an AE filter

Yet another somewhat obscure After Effects filter surfaced recently: Fulldome, from the Navegar Foundation in Portugal, which seems similar to the Digistar 3 Virtual Projector Plug-in from Evans & Sutherland.

Already at version 2.0 in September 2007, Fulldome (Win/Mac) is a compositing plug-in for immersive environments. This tool converts the standard rectangular workspace to a spherical workspace, allowing the user to produce content for spherical screens, such as planetarium domes, which can occupy all 180ºx360º of the spectator field of view, or even the entire 360ºx360º. Various input and output master projections are available.

There seems to be a version for Cinema 4D too.

XScriptorium, an ambitious AE scripting resource

XScriptorium, an ambitious AE scripting resource, has launched. The Drupal-built site was intended to be more user-friendly than current sites like Motionscript , redefinery, the AE Enhancers scripting forum, After Effects Scripts, and AE LiveDocs.

The site has just launched so there are birth pangs like missing source credits, though there is a function to reward source authors. More advanced search would be welcome, in addition to the current listings and Tag Cloud.

The AE Scripts Galore roundup summarizes other resources for scripting and expressions in After Effects.

Update: Not sure if I missed it earlier, but Advanced Search is there!

AE CS4: no Mac PowerPC

Michael Coleman, product manager for Adobe After Effects, didn't share details on new features for AE CS4 but did mention that support for Mac PowerPC is being dropped and Adobe will no longer sell After Effects CS3 after they've shipped CS4.

Read more at Keyframes...

Red Giant talking heads

No revelations but if you want to see some of the people behind your favorite filters, has Micah Sharp's overview of Red Giant plug-ins and a video with Jim Tierney on the Red Giant Software acquisition of Digital Anarchy video plug-ins that also shows off the latest versions of Magic Bullet and Colorista.

Squiggles marches on [+iPhone app review sites]

Scott Squires of ILM and Commotion fame (see his Effects Corner blog) escaped Steve Jobs' kill switch and upgraded Squiggles, his paint app for the iPhone (mentioned earlier in Roto [+apps] on iPhone):

"Just to let people know version 1.1 is out now [with new video and images]. Still no roto but you can smooth paint, use cursor for precise placement of paint, full spectrum color selection, overlay layers (provided overlay images, may open this up in the future for user layers), text layers, color stamp brushes, eraser, cloning, realtime adjustments, distortions, etc... I may consider a more pro-photo app in the future."

Also, ReadWriteWeb posts about 4 Great iPhone App Review Sites and TechCrunch notes Great Review Site[s] For iPhone Apps.

Update: As noted earlier, 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.

August 15, 2008

Microsoft tools meld 3D and photos

Via Wikinomics and TechEBlog, Microsoft has more interesting tools in development: Photo Tourism assembles navigable 3d models from photos (U of Wasington research page) and Unwrap Mosaic (Microsoft page) can Reconstruct 3D Surface Models From Video.

Also on New Scientist

: Courtesy of Boing-Boing and Engadget, you might see another round of posts on Using Photographs to Enhance Videos of a Static Scene (video below). Mark Christiansen posted on this about a year ago with interesting details on the Adobe connection. The movies were mentioned on the web numerous times after that (after SIGGRAPH) last year, including here
in Enhanced photogrammetry and 2007 image processing projects.

As noted here earlier in Multidimensional photos, Blaise Aguera y Arcas demonstrated Microsoft's Seadragon and Photosynth at the TED in 2007.

Update 2: Adobe research was discussed here recently in Adobe Advanced Technology: more than limited color picker.

Update 3: Indie Mogul adds value with a few more movies explaining recent papers on graphics research:

Interactive Video Cutout from pro on Vimeo.

GradientShop: A novel approach to image and video processing from pro on Vimeo.

August 14, 2008

Flash video metadata coming soon

To follow various posts on audio transcription in Premiere and Soundbooth, Beet.TV has video of a talk by Adobe's Jim Guerard last month at Stanford: Flash Video Will Have Metadata In Workflow Soon, Senior Adobe Executive Says.

Earlier Beet.TV mentioned "announced collaboration between Google, Yahoo! and Adobe to search and index Flash files" (swf), and Adobe strategist Mark Randall said, Video Indexing is the Key to the Future of the Web.

August 13, 2008

Throttle: Idle Rendering

Lloyd Alvarez has posted another useful script, called Throttle:

'With the 8.0.2 update After Effects introduced 2 very important but not very well publicized or easy to modify preferences that are crucial to proper throttling of AE, so I updated Throttle to include these prefs to make them easy to access and modify. ...[the first is] important on multi-core machines that don’t have at least 2gb of ram per core.

... The second pref is the ability to let After Effects continue rendering the Comp frame while you switch away to another application. They call this “Allow Idle Rendering”. Both of these prefs are only accessible by manually opening the AE prefs file in a text editor and knowing how to look and change the pref. Throttle makes this easily accessible from within AE.'

Read more and download at AE Scripts.

Musings about audio metadata

In an August '08 EventDV article, The Moving Picture: Musings About Premiere Pro CS4, Jan Ozer talks up audio transcription. It's in Premiere and Soundbooth and maybe other Production Premium apps. Others seem to concur -- in an NAB tidbit, Beet.TV and an Adobe rep talked about how Video metadata is key to web future. And as noted here in NAB 2008 on Adobe TV, Hart Schafer did a demo of Production Premium CS4 showing off this impressive feature (better viewed at Adobe), which works a bit differently than Avid ScriptSync (see the Avid overviews).

This technology was reported earlier here; I got great results in Soundbooth with good recordings in American English with clear diction, and no speakers talking over each other. Beet.TV has been tracking this technology more broadly and reports that YouTube is doing transcription now too, along with Blinkx and others.

August 12, 2008

Scripts for controlling AE layers

Lloyd Alvarez has collection of scripts for After Effects at AE Scripts. Recently he's focussed on control over layers, and there's a new one for selections, Nth Layer Selector.

Of course Lloyd also offers his background render scripts for a few versions of AE; his BG Renderer CS 3, now an embedable panel, was released last year.

Plant plastics for photovoltaics

CNET's Green Tech is reporting that plant plastics based on cotton and castor beans can now serve as photovoltaics' protective coating. It's hoped this will be a more sustainable solution than DuPont's formula composed of polyvinyl fluoride.

The residual biomass in bioplastics might also provide a source of ethanol.

August 6, 2008

The Art of the Title Sequences

The Art of the Title Sequences is a blog [not run by oft present Imaginary Forces; see comment] that features various title sequences old & new, like Vertigo, Alien, Se7en, and most recently, The Mummy 3.

There's also what seems to be a larger collection of titles at Forget the film, watch the titles. Another site with a big collection of movie main titles is Movie Titles TV.

Update: Veerle's Blog posted stills and movies to several film titles in Inspiration series: Movie credits.

And Daniel Kutz at
another after effects blog adds a YouTube movie in 25 of the best title sequences part 2.

SFMOGRAPH meeting August 21

SFMOGRAPH is meeting Thursday, August 21, 2008 at Adobe in San Francisco with guest speakers Tim Palmer Senior Graphic Designer of Current TV and Dav Rauch of The Orphanage.
The evening is free but you must pre-register.

August 5, 2008

Macbreak: Studio, a new podcast on Mac video

Macbreak: Studio is a new podcast (iTunes) from Pixelcorps covering all Mac pro apps (Apple and otherwise):

"Join Steve Martin, Mark Spencer, Brian Gary, Alex Lindsay and friends as they reveal the ins and outs of video production on the Mac. From 3D to audio, video, and compression, learn from the experts how to add advanced techniques to your production workflow and a professional touch to your video content."

Macbreak: Dev is coming next week...

FxPlug effects run inside After Effects

Development was reported earlier via Trish & Chris Meyer, now this from FCPWorld:

"Noise Industries has retooled FXFactory to tap into Adobe After Effects CS3. This is great news that we can get the outstanding plug-ins from Noise Industries (and to others like CoreMelt) into this advanced compositing tool."

Requires Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.

August 4, 2008

Spare time for Fractal Noise

Chris and Trish Meyer have a new-ish tutorial on techniques for using the After Effects filter Fractal Noise to create seamless background textures. An earlier video by Aharon Rabinowitz of Creative Cow showed how to create seamlessly looping fractal background animations by using AE's Fractal Noise.

As a base to launch your own ideas Chris Zwar clearly explains how the filter really works in Fractal Noise - A New Look at an Old Friend on Creative Cow.

AE LiveDocs has more info and links to other techniques.

Update: info on noise can also be found in the Physics section of Trapcode Form's help and in Perlin Noise.

August 1, 2008

Creating the Jumbotron Look

Answering a popular question in his podcast tutorial Creating the Jumbotron Look, Creative Cow guy Aharon Rabinowitz "shows you how to create the look of a giant monitor, such as the kind you might see at a stadium or concert."