January 31, 2009

Lloyd Alvarez's AENY presentation on AE scripting

Jim Geduldick of AENY.ORG and Finalcutuser.com posted a presentation by Lloyd Alvarez on scripts in After Effects from the AENY meeting last week. There's more background and links to sites like AE Enhancers on the Vimeo page AENY presents Lloyd Alvarez's After Effects Scripting Presentation, and if you're logged into Vimeo you can download a 720p QuickTime version from the bottom right of the page.

Part of the discussion covers the same ground as a recent 80-minute AETUTS.com tutorial mentioned a few days ago in Text tutorials use free scripts and expressions. There's also a post on this on Lloyd's website AEscripts.com.

AENY presents Lloyd Alvarez's After Effects Scripting Presentation from AENY on Vimeo.

January 30, 2009

RGB to HSL (& more) Expressions in After Effects

Harry Frank has a video tutorial on Studio Daily: Control RGB to HSL Expressions in After Effects. This tutorial uses the Radio Waves filter to demonstrate the power of the rgbToHsl & hslToRgb expression terms.

Harry's most recent post on Graymachine collects his free tutorials that cover expressions:

The Foundry’s 2009 Nuke Roadmap

At the end of a Nuke master class in London, The Foundry divulged their short term plans for Nuke. Fxguide has the story in The Foundry’s 2009 Nuke Roadmap.

George Bush's biography of Muhammad, + Henry Stubbe

Reading American history can take you back further into other contexts... Two curious old out-of-print biographies of the Prophet Muhammad popped up on Google Books and elsewhere on the Internet more recently.

The Life of Mohammed: Founder of the Religion of Islam, and of the Empire of the Saracens is by Rev. George Bush (1796-1859), an actual relative of the infamous presidential family. This copy was scanned from Harvard Library and printed by J. & J. Harper in 1833.

I'd seen this book mentioned when flipping through a book by Fuad Sha'ban at City Lights Bookstore and later seen an actual old copy in Black Oak Books. It's partially sympathetic to Islam as a step away from paganism but at the same time calls Muhammad an imposter, which apparently was an issue in Egypt a few years ago. The context of the period, according to American Palestine by Stanford professor Hilton Obenzinger, is the view of America as a New Israel, a promised land chosen to do God's work on Earth, along with a "Holy Land Mania" of tourism to Palestine where natives were seen much the same as the natives of North America. If you visit the Stanford University quad and see the mural on the outside of the church, you might see California as a Promised Land!

Another even older book on the same subject has also been made available, and it's amazingly accurate on a number of levels for a book from 1670 or so (for example, on Christian history).

An Account of the Rise and Progress of Mahometanism: With the Life of Mahomet and a Vindication of Him and His Religion from the Calumnies of the Christians is by Henry Stubbe (1632-1676), a royal physician, classics scholar, and expert on chocolate. The copy you can download from Google was scanned from the UC Berkeley collection, prepared by Mahmud Khan Shairani from a manuscript from the Disney Catalogue, and published by Luzac (London) in 1911. There's another copy scanned from an Indian source on Archive.org.

Until more recently much of what was commonly known about Stubbe and his advocacy of Unitarianism or "Mahometan Christianity" was from British historian Christopher Hill, best known for his work on the English Revolution and period groups like the Diggers and Levellers, and the Quakers, Shakers, Ranters, and Seekers. A cool view of the relations between England and Islamic states in this period can be found in Turks, Moors, and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery (pictured left), when the views of Muslims were more nuanced than the later period of Rev. George Bush, the European Conquest, and colonialism.

Update: other similar free old books include
Ivan Ilych And Hadji Murad by Leo Tolstoy and The Crescent And The Rose Islam And England During The Renaissance by Samuel C. Chew.

Making your videos pop up in Google searches

News Videographer sifts out the gold in Making your videos pop up in Google searches.

A big part of this is metadata, whether it's embedded in the file in Adobe Bridge or added as tags in sharing services. There's more on this in "The Currency of Internet Video" from Gotuit, a company specializing in online video metadata management (of course), via Robin Good via Online Video Publishing who each add comments.

How to Tell a Multimedia Story

Ricochet by Chrys Wu, mentioned last week in 10 Golden Rules for Video Journalists, has more in the same vein this week. Check out his summaries How to Tell a Multimedia Story, Part 1 (The Interview) and How to Tell a Multimedia Story, Part 2 (The Pitch).

2009 Lists of Video Search & Video Sharing sites

Reel SEO, a website for online video marketing, has some handy lists of video Search engines & video Sharing sites updated for 2009.

Motion blur for Mocha corner pin data

On the AE-List, mocha corner pin data by Yan Masterson of Spot Post. The preset uses expressions to link a Directional Blur filter's angle to a corner pin.

"From Yan..... 'Mocha is such a great tracker, it was worth working out how to add motion blur in AE from the corner-pin data. So here's a link to an After Effects favourite that does just that with a directional blur. The expressions only deal with planar motion-blur, which is good enough for most shots (i.e.those that don't crash-zoom).'

A few notes on how to use it: Copy and paste your corner-pin tracking data from Mocha, and paste it onto your layer in AE as usual. This adds a corner-pin effect to your layer. Then apply this MB_for_Mocha favourite to the same layer. This adds a directional blur effect linked to the corner-pinning. All you need to do now is match the amount of blurring. Move on to a frame in the timeline where you have lots of movement. In the directional blur effect in the timeline, drag the 'Blur length' up until the amount of FG blur matches your BG shot (about 150 works for me). The 'Blur length' will pop back down to 0.3 or so - that's because it's calculating the blur based on the amount that you just gave it divided by the amount of movement for that particular frame.
Presto! Motion blur!'"

Ross adds, "Also note that a Red Giant's Warp and RE:Vision's Re:Map Planar can both use mocha track data for corner pinning with motion blur." And there's even a newer tutorial for using Red Giant Warp & mocha for After Effects by Eran Stern.

Other mocha tutorials were mentioned here. Background for the corner pin issue can be found in a previous post, Mocha for After Effects +Corner Pin thread.

'Action' - the producer's 'Entourage'

Awhile back friend recommended a TV show Action with Jay Mohr and loaned me his DVDs. I forgot about until it seeing a Spocko's Brain post today on a book on American hucksters. Action, originally slated for HBO but aired on Fox, is really a cartoony version of Entourage but from the point of view of a producer. Both shows have pretty good music, especially Entourage. Perhaps an Ari Goldman (HBO mashup), supposedly modeled on the producer brother of Rahm Emmanuel, was too much hero for both HBO and Fox.

The good news is that Action is currently on Hulu and Spike, which has some DVD extras.

Spam & Free To Air

Awhile back Smith-Micro introduced DTV4PC, and it still has a heavy e-mail spam strategy that promises to turn PCs into complete entertainment centers. As Vodyo (a blog about online TV) explained last year, the DTV4PC is $30 software that aggregates Free To Air (FTA) channels and packages access with a custom user interface and search function.

What's interesting is that FTA channels are already free to anyone with an internet connection or satellite dish. There's even a website that aggregates the online versions of these channels: World Wide Internet TV, wwiTV.com. It's a great way to check out marginal television from all over the world -- here's something from Europe for weathercasters who are bored with props like rubber duckies and umbrellas:

Something similar to wwiTV programming but just from the USA is AmericaFree.tv, which uses QuickTime streaming. And though everyone knows the best ones already, more options for both free and pay models are listed at the dateless and aged Daily IPTV articles A TV Guide For IPTV: 100 of the Best Internet TV Channels and IPTV Startups to Watch.

January 29, 2009

Screenify: Jumbotron screen Maltaannon-style

Maltaannon.com posted a portion of "Screenify," tutorial no. 4 from his Making It Look Great 5 training. The Screenify tutorial shows how to build a simple preset -- if you pay very close attention -- for creating the Jumbotron-style video screen. MILG5 includes various After Effects presets and Maltaannon CustomEffects CE LightWrap and CE Screenify, the latter of which creates a detailed Jumbotron-style video screen.

January 28, 2009

Futuristic HUDs everywhere soon

The Futuristic HUD could be the next After Effects tutorial project from Videocopilot used at default settings to fill reels across the internets.

For context, see previous posts on Ironman’s HUD and Mark Coleran on screen design, as well as the AE-specific advice in A Heads-Up on Using Reticles by Chris & Trish Meyer, which uses Artbeats Reticles.

Nvidia Quadro CX v. GeForce GTX 260 for CS4

Jan Ozer takes a test drive with the Nvidia Quadro CX and Adobe CS4 at Digital Content Producer. It's the test part of an earlier installment that explained why having a powerful graphics card wasn't that important in previous versions of CS products.

Ozer looks at how Nvidia's Quadro CX (around $2,000) can accelerate performance in Adobe CS 4 (Photoshop, After Effects, and Premiere Pro) and notes "that Adobe had certified Nvidia's GeForce GTX 260 for use with After Effects and Photoshop, and that this $300 card costs a fraction of the Quadro CX's retail price tag. So is the Quadro CX worth the significant investment and why?"

Update: High Definition for PC reviews The NVIDIA Quadro CX with Adobe’s CS4 Suite; it seems like a great buy if you're using the Cartoon filter extensively -- but there's more parts of the review coming.

'They Live' tops fictional-ads-in-sci-fi-movies list

They Live tops the fictional-ads-in-sci-fi-movies list on Den of Geek. They didn't have Idiocracy in their top 10 list though; I would for reasons mentioned here earlier in Idiocracy kool-aid -- red or blue?

Fun details can be found at Den of Geek. Here's a clip from They Live, and remember you got to be good looking cause he's so hard to see:

Den of Geek also has:

Top 50 movie special effects shots
The 24 worst special effects of all time
Drugged! The top 50 trip sequences in movies
Top 10 mindf* movies

January 27, 2009

Emitter control in Trapcode Particular +discount

Aharon Rabinowitz has a video on techniques to control emitter position in Trapcode Particular; for HD size, see Getting Better Control of Emitter Position in Trapcode Particular at Red Giant TV. Plus, at the end of the tutorial there's discussion of a discount on Particular that lasts for 7 days.

Episode 07: Getting Better Control of Emitter Position in Trapcode Particular from Red Giant Software on Vimeo.

Text tutorials use free scripts and expressions

AETUTS editor Lloyd Alvarez has a new 2-part tutorial, Cinematic Opening Title Redux, with over 80 minutes of training. Using built-in After Effects tools and several free scripts and expressions (listed on AETuts), Lloyd shows you how to harness a large amount of text and quickly format and animate it. I couldn't get Firefox (Windows) to play the videos fullscreen anywhere, but Safari worked.

Update: Graphics Mafia, "a place for those who create sports graphics," reminded me of something related that was noted earlier, Expressions and external documents by Harry Frank, a QT tutorial for automating lower thirds.

Our world may be a giant hologram

Our world may be a giant hologram -- according to an interesting article in New Scientist. Oddly the article makes no mention of physicist David Bohm or neuroscientist Karl Pribram, who made holographic theories famous off the ivory towers not that long ago.

Free CS4 chapter of 'Creating Motion Graphics'

Chris and Trish Meyer posted a free bonus chapter of their book Creating Motion Graphics that outlines the differences between AE CS3 and CS4. They include many examples and tutorials in the PDF; the accompanying project file available is free but assumes you have the disc that came with CMG4.

Focal Press has a list of other free tutorials by the dynamic duo from all their books.

January 23, 2009

Videocopilot video intros recent free presets

An Andrew Kramer video intros a bundled collection of some of the recent presets for After Effects from Videocopilot, including Sure Target, 3D Falloff, Easy Reflect, etc.

CMG video on Wiggle Transform

Chris and Trish Meyer have a new video tutorial on using the Wiggle Transform operator for Shape Layers, a new feature in After Effects CS4:

"When used by itself, it allows the user to automatically animate the anchor point, position, rotation, and scale of a layer without having to use expressions or animation presets; when used in conjunction with the Repeater shape layer operator, it enables the creation of writhing, pulsing, wiggling masses of shapes."

If you need the review, Chris and Trish added an older tutorial, The Shape of Things to Come: Shape Layers Introduction.

Psyop cutouts

This is from last summer, but still fun. The production & animation was by Psyop (Glossy interview); via Motionagrapher:

Produced By Pharrell - Santogold, Julian Casablancas, N.E.R.D.

January 21, 2009

Who is Pablo Ferro?

Motion Design has had several posts in the last year on the production of a feature-length animated documentary on movie title designer Pablo Ferro. Here's 2 clips on this doc to answer the question; more info and links are available at Motion Design.

10 Golden Rules for Video Journalists

As Advancing the Story reports on TV stations replacing two-person reporting teams with “multimedia journalists," Ricochet by Chrys Wu has 10 Golden Rules for Video Journalists from Travis Fox, a video producer for The Washington Post:
  • Get “X-roll.” X-roll is when you get your interviewee’s money quotes in their natural environment.
  • Shoot within 180 degrees around a subject. In other words, don’t walk around your subject when interviewing them.
  • Sequence your video with a variety of detail, tight, medium, wide shots as well as cut away shots. 50 percent of shots will be tight, 25 percent medium and 25 percent wide
  • Remember 80:20 ratio (80 percent should be b-roll and 20 percent should be interviews)
  • Get close to the subject when interviewing them for audio purposes
  • Stay quiet when shooting
  • If you do not get the shot, you do not have it.
  • Do not move the camera when shooting (unless you are an advanced videographer)
  • Hold every shot for 10 seconds
  • Wear headphones

How-to video on Canon 5D, plus cameras compared

Not quite extremely current, but background info can be had via the links:

pro•active•ly showed How To Use Video Mode on the Canon 5D MK II by Tyler Ginter, while Adam Wilt likes Zacuto’s Great Camera Shootout ‘08 from Steve Weiss, Zacuto USA.

Nuke intro for AE users

CreativeCow looks at the bottom line in an interesting article, Nuke - An Introduction for After Effects Users.

BTW, The Foundry provides a free Personal Learning Edition of this compositing powerhouse and basic training videos from FxPhD, which itself has tons more training.

Gmail to get HD video & it's not Flash

Google Operating System notes a CNET report in Upcoming Gmail Features: Contact Deduplicator, Better Video Chat. CNET spoke with Google which said to expect:

"video chat [that] is capable of HD... Gmail got video chat last year. However, instead of using Adobe's Flash to serve up the video, Google went with a small 2MB plug-in that had to be installed on your machine.

Jackson says the team had gone back and forth between doing the add-on and Flash, but in the end, what mattered was quality, which the plug-in delivered. Going forward, Jackson says the plug-in route will be able to provide even higher-quality video as people's connections improve, going to Video Graphics Array (640x480 pixels) all the way up to high definition."

Update: Mozilla is looking for more open alternatives (to h.264 licensing and proprietary developer tools), and willing to throw a very modest amount of cash at the problem to beef up the Theora codec; see Chris Blizzard's why open video?

Target Google search for AE automatically

Todd Kopriva mentioned an OpenSearch browser plug-in for After Effects in making After Effects Community Help searches even easier. It's basically the same as searching Adobe Community Help with After Effects as the chosen product, or slightly fancier searches with Google that were mentioned previously in Google Search Tricks.

I found getting the search filters automatically a bit inconsistent in Firefox, but eventually used Clear Private Data and got the AE one after getting one inadvertently for another Adobe product.

Motion: Comme Ci, Comme Ça

Translation: "Like This, Like That." After frustration in early attempts to use Apple's Motion, it could be easy to just ignore it even if there's still some feature-envy, especially with templates for very quick work, as well as the intuitive 3D interface. After seeing Oliver Peters' quick comments on Motion, a read of The Top Ten Things After Effects Users Love and Hate about Motion by Mark Spencer seemed appropriate.

Here's Oliver Peters comments from FinalCutPro-L:

"I'm in the camp that feels Motion is flakey at best and that AE is far better, but Motion is still worth learning. It rounds out many missing elements of FCP when used together with FCP. For example:

- better scaling than FCP

- only way to do proper 2.5 DVE work

- only way to do 3D DVE work, including with 3D lighting
- proper time remapping / speed ramps

- tracking

- functional green/blue screen keying

Give it another spin. I do find that it is very, very temperamental with some graphics cards. It also suffers from preference corruption that can give you some really weird results. And every now and then, you can create a project on one machine that simply will not open on another. Go figure."

Update: more on Apple Motion can be found at All About Motion, Motion Smarts, Creative Cow, and even Andrew Kramer's sole video on Motion that explains compositing with Motion's Comp sets/ Layer sets/ pre-Comp metaphor. Apple has overview movies for a nice feature tour.

January 20, 2009

GenArts acquires SpeedSix

GenArts, Inc., makers of the Sapphire 2 plug-in superset for After Effects, announced that it has acquired all the assets of SpeedSix Software Limited, which makes effect plug-ins for high-end post apps.

Details are hush-hush, but Fxguide has a story.

Hopefully Red Giant (which has acquired Digital Anarchy video plug-ins) or GenArts will port SpeedSix filters to AE. Here's a quote from Chris Meyer last year in New AE filters: FxFactory & DA FLUIDZ:

"Digital Anarchy has licensed technology from SpeedSix Software Limited and announced a new FLUIDZ effect set for Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro. FLUIDZ uses 2D fluid dynamic simulations to create fire, water, smoke, and vapor-based effects."

Canon 5D .mov files crushed +fix

Prolost has been looking at Canon 5D QuickTime .mov h.264 files in the last few posts and has some Crushing News: the crushed blacks associated with the 5D movies is a failure of the AVC decoders in NLEs.

The fix using Apple Color to access the full dynamic range was discussed elsewhere, including by Cineform, which has codecs of many flavors. Other sometimes expensive solutions have surfaced and include codec alternatives to the one in QT: Rhozet Carbon Coder and CoreAVC, although they may pose other problems. Supposedly, utilities like MPEGStreamClip and SUPER can be used but you'd still have to trick the app into not using QT to decode. Movie samples can be found in previous posts like DSLR HD movie samples.

This sort of news seems important because we'll be getting these files to work with and because photographers will now be doing video. That's fine as long as they use Photoshop for video as Russell Brown instructs them to, but more challenging in competition once they clue into After Effects and NLEs.

Update: Prolost reports Quicktime 7.6 Fixes 5D Movies, though the gamma shift and other problems may be lurking; see Prolost post comments as usual. Planet5d is following 5D news...

January 19, 2009

Scott McCloud on understanding comics

A TED talk by Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics (a deep comic book about comics). It's nice but short so he makes no comments about comics, graphic novels, and movies.

January 16, 2009

Remixing Colbert & Lessig

Along the lines of a yesterday's post on Copyright Criminals and RiP: A Remix Manifesto... Lawrence Lessig appeared on The Colbert Report last week. The seriously funny Colbert challenged remixers "not to remix" the segment to great dance beats. Lessig and a Comedy Central blog has The Inevitable Colbert/Lessig Remixes.

Here's Lessig on Colbert:

Here's a Lessig talk at TED:

Fair Use
is part of copyright law. Here's an explanation from The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education by Center for Social Media:

Update: Oddly, even using headlines and linking to articles is up in the air -- see Lawsuit over website links in spotlight, Copyright violation or fair use to be decided at The Boston Globe.

Update: WSJ talks about "transformative" vs. "just stealing" in Color This Area of the Law Gray.

Stints in The Onion, The Daily Show, & The Colbert Report

via Boing-Boing... The Sound of Young America interviews Ben Karlin, the lead writer and more for The Onion, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report. I like the idea that a "news" show should actually look at the statements of people making the news and use real clips to prove points.

The interview doesn't work here but you can watch it at Boing-Boing or CurrentTV. Truthiness can be embedded though; here's Stephen Colbert's Speech at the White House Correspondent's Dinner (2006):

Scrub in audio units in editors

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

In Premiere you can choose Show Audio Time Units from the wing menu of the Audio Mixer, Program Monitor, Source Monitor, or Timeline panel.

Update: You can scrub audio in AE, but you don't have the fine control as in Premiere or other NLEs. Nick Campbell explained aspects of The Correct Way To Use Audio in After Effects:

January 15, 2009

Copyright Criminals: a new documentary

Speaking of YouTube audio filtering... There's a new documentary being finished:

'Copyright Criminals: This Is a Sampling Sport examines the creative and commercial value of musical sampling, including the related debates over artistic expression, copyright law, and (of course) money.
This documentary traces the rise of hip-hop from the urban streets of New York to its current status as a multibillion-dollar industry. For more than thirty years, innovative hip-hop performers and producers have been re-using portions of previously recorded music in new, otherwise original compositions. When lawyers and record companies got involved, what was once referred to as a “borrowed melody” became a “copyright infringement.'
It's mostly a fine line even if Coldplay/Eno-type excesses seem clear; pay-to-play, or payola, is a game of finesse. Here's the trailer:

Update: Via Infinicine and Shooting People, here's a similar project from another musical genre, RiP: A Remix Manifesto (director's blog):

Update: note also Good Copy Bad Copy.

Free Monkees 'Head' amost gone

While YouTube audio still works... from the Monkees movie Head, which was written and produced by Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson. This clip, which was like a title sequence but without titles, is cut off so the surprise cut-away is missing. For more on the script of this sequence see Mirror / Ditty Diego Changes, which looks at the shooting script and notes changes plus techniques & set-ups, characters, and obscure cinematic references.

After Effects tip: Motionworks had 2 nice tips recently...
Cinema 4D: The Vibrate Tag shows how "the vibrate tag can be used to add automatic animation and save time when working in Cinema 4D." After Effects: Looking Through Lights shows "how you can look through a camera linked to a light and see exactly what the light is pointing at, making lighting your After Effects scene easier and more intuitive."

January 14, 2009

Premiere & CamStudio solution +screen capture

Filed under obscure Windows reference, via Mathias Mohl on the AE-List...

Premiere Pro doesn't interpret the alpha of the CamStudio 2.0 screen capture codec well. CamStudio is a free screen capture tool; the codec is a recent update. Joseph Labrecque has a solution beyond transcoding in After Effects -- the LZOCodec works with Premiere CS3 once you disable the alpha channel. The LZOCodec can be found at http://usuarios.lycos.es/lzocodec/.

By the way CamStudio seems to perform better than Microsoft's free Windows Media Encoder 9 and of course is far cheaper than Camtasia. Easy Video Capture, which can be found among his list of screen recorders for Windows.

On the Mac, it seems that Snapz Pro has competition from cheaper and more recent apps like iShowU, Screenflick, and Screenflow. Plus there's Mouseposé for cursors highlighting, overlays of keystrokes, etc., and a new Mac utility Layers, which captures windows as layers in a Photoshop file.

Update: A roundup of apps and browser tools can be found at Screen Capture Tools: 40+ Free Tools and Techniques.

Update 2: Here's another roundup of Window tools from April 2010 35 Irresistible Free and Commercial Screen Recording Tools.

Edit HDV footage of Nine Inch Nails shows

Not a NINi, but it's interesting (more background on PC World)... from Discrete Cosine:

'Trent Reznor has released (sorry, some "mysterious shadow group" has released) 400 gigs of raw HDV footage from three concerts on a recent [Nine Inch Nails] tour. They're available as torrents from this page, so you can cut your very own concert dvd. It even includes Final Cut project files.'

January 13, 2009

Protect options in Content Aware Scaling

Here's Russell Brown explaining how to protect details with Content-Aware Scale tool options. There's a QT version available too.

In addition to the original presentation of the research on content aware scaling (paper), there's another presentation from SIGGRAPH 2008 that's slanted toward video. Let's hope that some of this will appear in future implementations within After Effects, and maybe even some improved upscaling. Here's Improved Seam Carving for Video Retargeting:

Built-in reflections in AE

Chris and Trish Meyer have a formula and tips for creating "faux" reflections in After Effects on Artbeats.com; see Faux Reflections on PVC which may help to create reflections without 3rd party tools like RGS Warp or Zaxwerks Reflector.

Profound Effects ceased operations

Missed here in the shuffle last summer, apparently Profound Effects has ceased operations, so we'll have to say adieu or adios to these filters: Swim, Useful Things (sold to SONY earlier), Elastic Gasket for Avid, Reveal (free), Useful Assistants, Crop (free), CameraPOV, and Gak Pak.

Silhouette FX (by some of the same people) lives on, but without the AE filter.

January 12, 2009

Magic Bullet Quick Looks + RGS Datamator

Red Giant Magic Bullet Quick Looks is a disabled version of the fuller After Effects filter that gives you 100+ look presets for $1 each. You do get well-chosen presets (which you can correct further with other filters) and the power of the DeepColor RT engine for real-time playback of SD and HD (720p) projects, but perhaps also the compatibility issues with your system's graphics card.

Update: Red Giant Software also released Datamator, "a plug-in set for creating data-driven animations for news programs and corporate videos. Red Giant Datamator (formerly Digital Anarchy Data Animator) turns charts and graphs into" animations. Datamator "includes a set of eight plug-ins that make it easier for videographers to create graphs and charts directly in After Effects instead of using PowerPoint or re-creating graphics from scratch." Seems like a good addition, especially since the loss of Useful Things meta filter to SONY.

If you can't use Datamator, there are some more involved options; see the previous post Charts and graphs for tutorial links.

January 9, 2009

FxPhd January 09 term video

FxPhd.com January 09 Term Overview is better in video than in audio or just a text list. It’s a 30 minute overview of the new courses and some general insights into the curriculum; it can also be downloaded as QuickTime here.

Of course there's some AE, but also a chance at more since the 1st few weeks is all you can eat before you settle on a class.

fxphd.com January09 Term Overview from fxphd.com on Vimeo.

KeyTweak and Tracker2Mask: scripts with tutorials

An earlier post mentioned TrackerViz, a free script to work with tracking data that lets you 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!"

Now Mathias Möhl adds 2 scripts for tracking and masks, which can be used in combination with TrackerViz: KeyTweak and Tracker2Mask. There are also videos explaining them; here they have fullscreen controls, but you can get the HD versions if you watch at Vimeo.

Tracker2Mask allows for local modifications of masks and computes the movement of mask shapes based on the movement of track points so you won't need one track point for each mask point. An earlier tutorial explains the basics and shows how to animate speech bubbles. The 2nd tutorial shows how to rotoscope the shape of a moving car based on only four track points, though for simpler shapes often one track point is sufficient:

The other script by Mathias, KeyTweak, lets you quickly modify any keyframed property. You can modify a few keyframes by hand and KeyTweak will modify the keyframes in-between accordingly, to help modify drifting tracks, correct rotoscoping errors, or make non-uniform mask expansions. Like ones made using TrackerViz and Tracker2Mask. Here's the tutorial:

In a similar vein, recent videos by Aharon Rabinowitz might come in handy: Super Tight Junk Mattes (using Auto-Trace to refine garbage mattes) and RGTV Episode 4: Better Compositing Techniques (which leverages convenient Red Giant filters).

Update: Responding to a roto question Patrick Siemer and Chris Meyer mentioned these scripts later the same day on the AE-List, and pointed to further discussion and comparison on the AE Enhancers script forum; see Tracker2Mask: new tracker-assisted rotoscoping tool.

After Effects Apprentice video on CS4 interface

Chris & Trish Meyer have posted an introduction to the AE CS4 interface from the 2nd edition of After Effects Apprentice, a book designed for students and those who do not use AE full time like editors and web designers.

The DVD-ROM that comes with the new edition of the book includes an hour and a half of video tutorials that provide gentle introductions to major features inside After Effects, such as text and expressions.

January 8, 2009

Copy, remove, & everything else about markers

Composition markers and layer markers are used to to mark important times or to store comments and other metadata in a composition or layer. In Creative Suite they may go under different names and have different functions than the apps you know best, but markers and their metadata can be transferred between Adobe apps. For more on this, see Sharing markers with After Effects, Encore, and Flash in Adobe Premiere Help.

To learn more on markers in AE, see After Effects Help's Layer markers and composition markers, which explains in depth many aspects of using markers. Of special note is a subsection of that page that lists many scripts and utilities for working with markers.

Basic and useful among them are scripts by Jeff Almasol: Copy Markers and Remove Markers.

Also useful is a new feature in CS4, speech metadata, which imports with layer markers with the transcription as labels. The preference for this feature is off by default (via); the toggle is under Preferences > Media & Disk Cache > Create Layer Markers from Footage XMP Metadata. For additional info and video links, see the earlier post Metadata in After Effects & CS4.

Sumo Paint & free web image editors

Sumo Paint is a free image editor that works inside your web browser, without requiring a sign-up. It has many of Photoshop's main features organized in a familiar way and seems to offer somewhat better tools (with a recent upgrade) than most other free Flash-based image editors. (via Ko Maruyama)

Other options do offer a different mix of tools and focus though, so you might try these in a pinch too: Photoshop Express, Picnik (has API for external embedding), Fotoflexer, and Aviary Phoenix.

Update: In July 2009 ReadWriteWeb noted Free Alternatives to Photoshop With All the Bells, Whistles, Filters, & Layers. They didn't mention Gimp with GimpShop, but those haven't satisfied much anyway.

January 7, 2009

Real world lens flare tests

via Mylenium (and forums) is Claudio Miranda's real world lens flare tests, with some newer ones added. There's a lot going on beyond the basics with lighting, camera filters and lenses, etc. that lens flares can become obsessions to avoid, create, and recreate with shaders and filters like Knoll Light Factory.

Mostly tangential, check out "Father of the Lens Flare" podcast with John Knoll, "inventor of the digital lens flare, co-creator of Photoshop, 22-year Industrial Light Magic veteran, and modo user."

Update: via Prolost, see the SIGGRAPH 2011 paper, Physically-Based Real-Time Lens Flare Rendering; here's the video,

Physically-Based Real-Time Lens Flare Rendering (SIGGRAPH 2011 Paper) from Matthias Hullin on Vimeo.

January 5, 2009

Helvetica on PBS, and Objectified

From The World's Best Gadget Designers Speak in Objectified on Gizmodo:
"As he did for Helvetica's namesake typeface, Gary Hustwit gathered the world's top designers for his forthcoming documentary Objectified, telling the story of the magic behind the objects we use every day." continue at Gizmodo...

But wait, there's more: Helvetica (noted earlier in Type casting) has its US TV premiere on PBS' Independent Lens on Tuesday night (check your local viewings here) in an hour-long version. PBS has launched a fairly extensive mini-site with loads of info, clips, and other treats if you like that sort of thing.

And here's the trailer for Objectified:

Multicolr Search Lab

Idée has some cool technology, and Adobe uses something called Piximilar as the visual search engine in Photoshop Elements 6. It would be great to see some of this in CS products.

Try Idée’s Multicolr Search Lab. If you need an image that is within a range of colors, simply point and click to add and subtract colors, and a set of images is presented that match your criteria.

See the other cool interactive demos: Visual Search Lab, to combine tags with visual search to return unique combinations of images, and BYO Image Search Lab to upload your own images or point to one on the web to see what they resemble. (via SensoryMetrics)

10 Most Innovative Concert Visuals '08

via Create Digital Motion:

the 10 Most Innovative Concert Visuals '08 from the interesting Accent Feed comes with videos.

History of the internet in pictograms

The History of the internet is an animated documentary explaining the inventions from time-sharing to file-sharing, from Arpanet to Internet. The history is told with help of the PICOL icons, which are also a part of a student project by Melih Bilgil. Some icons are available for free on picol.org. (via Motiongrapher)

History of the Internet from PICOL on Vimeo.

The use of pictograms in history and in modern design is an established field of study, with major works by Henry Dreyfuss (Symbol Sourcebook), Otl Aicher, Otto Neurath, Paul Rand, Edward Tufte, and others.

A few sentences on the subject can only be inadequate. For more info, see Navigating Today’s Signs: An Interview with Mies Hora by Steven Heller and Critical Wayfinding by Ellen Lupton and J. Abbott Miller. Really cool uses of pictograms in explaining pictograms in design and history can be found in Design, Writing, & Research by Lupton and Miller (PDF).
Interesting recent work includes pictograms developed for the Summer Olympics in China by a former Adobe guy; see The Graphic Language of Min Wang (via).