June 30, 2009

11 Inspirational Vimeo Groups for Motion Graphic Designs

For those whose use of Vimeo is haphazard like mine, Shinichiro Matsuda posted 11 Inspirational Vimeo Groups for Motion Graphic Designers.

Designflux: Devoted to Motion, the channel which posted the Koblin interview, also has some nice stuff -- as does Motionographer of course.

And previously, Filmlinker picked a few good filmmaking microgroups among the more than 28,000 channels found on Vimeo.

How to Lie with Video Data

Via Motionographer is a nicely illustrated video interview from etapes with data visualization designer Aaron Koblin, mentioned on AEP here previously. The video is worth going to etapes, the only place you can only see it for now.

Whiles many of us love visualizations, sometimes we forget that a model is not reality. If "do no evil" fails in practice, someday someone may write a documentary called How to Lie with Video Statistics, or maybe Lies, Damn Lies and Data Visualization. As a temporary counter weight to cynics armed with reams of biased analysis, here's Peter Donnelly on How juries are fooled by statistics from TED:

Update: not video but politicians are learning how to lie with infographics; see Political Chart Wars: Health-Care Reform Obfuscated by Infographics.  

Update: of course someone else already alluded to the famous book How to Lie with Statistics -- see How NOT to lie with visualization by Rogowitz, Treinish, and Bryson from Computers in Physics (1996). Plus, there's How To Lie With Charts by Gerald E. Jones -- and Lies, damned lies and statistics (about TEDTalks).


June 29, 2009

Freeform liquid tutorial

Mark Christiansen has another video tutorial on FreeForm AE, the 3D mesh warp filter from DigiEffects. This tutorial comes with After Effects project files and can be accessed through DigiEffects or Mettle.

The other tutorials were described and embedded at AEP's FreeForm AE tutorials. And it appears you when you buy FreeFormAE, you get Delirium for FREE now through 6/30. Oh here's the latest:

Gridiron Flow is out

First shown at Macworld January 2008, Gridiron Flow is out, and even does time tracking. There's more at Gridiron and John Nack.

Basic skills and good work

Imagination and passion are sometimes undervalued, especially by people like us who track After Effects filters and tutorials. Inspirational pieces can come from anyone, and even the highly skilled (think Picasso) don't use their entire toolset to dazzle you. You just need a dot and a line willing to bend a bit. This from Jr. Canest, a young college student, is a recent favorite:

CRAZY ENOUGH - Title Sequence from Jr.canest on Vimeo.

Update: the Mattrunks blog (in French) adds comments and a possible enhancement that fits the Jr. Canest project, CC Smear Experiment : After Effects CS4 Project (361).

Also, Grayscalegorilla had more (earlier than AEP as well):

"Jr Canest was nice enough to share some screenshots of his AE comp with us. Check out all those keyframes! That’s what it takes to get that level of animation. It’s not scripts, nor expressions, nor plugins. It’s raw keyframe talent."

June 28, 2009

Holomatrix: a new AE filter in development

Aharon Rabinowitz posted some details on his recent After Effects New York presentation, at least part of which could be posted soon:

  • Creating an Ocean Water Effect - using only tools found in After Effects CS3+ and no footage...
  • Trapcode Particular 2 [--> Available July 10th or sooner -ry]
  • New Plug-in Under Development: Last but not least, I showed a plug-in under development at Red Giant Software, called Holomatrix. This plug-in was designed by me and the amazing Dan Ebberts, who you may know as the expressions guru from Creative Cow. The plug-in creates the look of Holographic imagery, digital signage, Bad TV signals, and ghostly apparitions. It also works great with 3D elements for creating 3D holographic imagery and environments.

New AE training on Lynda.com

There seems to be new AE training on Lynda.com.

After Effects: Insight into Effects was created and produced by Trish and Chris Meyer. At least part of this seems to have been released a bit earlier, although the tutorials on the Channel filter group may be new. See the previous AEP post Insight into (Blur) Effects for a fuller description.

In the other dated-new title, After Effects CS4 Beyond the Basics, Chad Perkins takes 8 hours to explore techniques for working with motion graphic elements, animation, compositing, color correction, and much more. He provides tips for working more efficiently, using advanced effects, detailed masking and tracking techniques, and expressions. Integrating Photoshop into the After Effects workflow and The Principles of Animation are also highlighted.

Picasso's Light Graffiti from 1949 + Trek-Wars

Via the Wooster Collective is Picasso: Drawing With Light from LIFE magazine:

"LIFE photographer Gjon Mili visited Picasso in 1949. Mili showed the artist some of his photographs of ice skaters with tiny lights affixed to their skates jumping in the dark—and Picasso's mind began to race. The series of photographs that follows—Picasso’s light drawings—were made with a small flashlight in a dark room; the images vanished almost as soon as they were created."

You can find some background links for light painting or light graffiti in the previous AEP post Light graffiti in AE.

Also fun is Star Wars Vs. Star Trek (includes Light Painting) via a Twittered blog, Design You Trust:

Starwars V Startrek from LICHTFAKTOR on Vimeo.

Other recent Star Wars vs. Star Trek action was posted earlier in Favorite Movie: Star Trek vs. Star Wars and in Star Trek vs. Star Wars! The Great Lightsaber - Phaser Battle.

June 27, 2009

12 basic principles of animation

Wikipedia has a decent article on the 12 basic principles of animation, "a set of principles of animation introduced by the Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas in their 1981 book The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation. "

If you don't have John Lasseter's seminal 1987 SIGGRAPH paper based on The Illusion of Life, there's a decent scanned copy available: Principles of Traditional Animation Applied to 3D Computer Animation.

In the recent Lynda.com training series After Effects CS4 Beyond the Basics, Chad Perkins explores techniques for animation according to several of these principles.

Also, here's Adobe in San Francisco (the code from "Link" on Google Maps):

View Larger Map

Optical illusions + mind illusions

Discover Magaine's Bad Astronomy posted a fun optical illusion on simultaneous contrast in The blue and the green [via Brinkmann]. The responses to the post are also interesting.

There's more from the original author, Akiyoshi Kitaoka. Shown below, the spirals of light green or light blue are identical (R=0, G=255, B=151; scaling may change the content):

Also, as noted by Keith Lang in his blog UI&us, there are also implications for user interfaces -- and not only because of optical illusions, but also because of what might be called "mind illusions," which Daniel Goleman has made a career out of explaining. See Lang's The Art of Expectations, and the video below from TED:

"Keith Barry shows us how our brains can fool our bodies -- in a trick that works via podcast too. Then he involves the audience in some jaw-dropping (and even a bit dangerous) feats of brain magic."

Update: For briefs on illusions relating to the perception of time, see MindHacks and a Philip Zimbardo video on The Time Paradox. And, to remain on topic, click the picture to view the motion 'after effect' from Akiyoshi Kitaoka:

June 24, 2009

Red Giant ToonIt vs. After Effects CS4 Cartoon

In a video at Studio Daily, ToonIt vs. After Effects CS4 Cartoon, Red Giant’s Sean Safreed creates a custom cartoon look and briefly compares Red Giant ToonIt’s feature set to the bundled Cartoon filter inside AE CS4. Hopefully there will be more of this type of presentation that compares unique features of 3rd party products with free built-in capabilities, and maybe with a champion for native AE approaches who pushes limits in set-ups or preprocessing.

And how about a Particle World vs. Particular match? It wouldn't be a contest as much as a light on why Particular has become the favorite AE filter.

June 23, 2009

Blockbuster Film Look [updated]

Red Giant Software announced that Stu Maschwitz passed the audition and is the new Creative Director for Magic Bullet products. There's more in Got Me a Side Job at Prolost.

The payoff for the rest of us is cool tools and tutorials -- in the first one, Creating a Summer Blockbuster Film Look, Stu shows you how to get the Summer blockbuster look of flesh tones and complementary blue-teals as seen in Transformers 2, Terminator: Salvation, and The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3.

Update: It's not bad being late to Stu's posts since the threads are a part of the action. One person asked about color grading a frame containing people of different ethnicities/skin tones. Stu referenced an old post on the subject Hue are you?, which points to PrepShootPost's Skin Color conclusion: "We all line up on the same line on a vectorscope, this line is called the 'Flesh Tone Line' or FTL and its on most vectorscopes." Presumably, if a happy medium can't be found, the shot might be send into roto/matte or CC secondary surgery.

Update 2: see also another AEP post, "Correct" skin tones, and Painting HD Cameras pt. 2 - Skin Tones from HD Cinema.

Update 3: Paul Del Vecchio posted a color correction tutorial on skin tones using Apple Color.

Maestro Ali Akbar Khan passes on

The great Indian musician Ali Akbar Khan, famed teacher of the 25-string lute-like sarod, passed on last Thursday in Marin County, California, where he taught since 1967. Violinist Yehudi Menuhin once called him the greatest musician in the world, though his father's student Ravi Shankar became more popular. You can read obits at the SF Chronicle and New York Times.

His shows with the gracious drummer Zakir Hussain (son of Ravi Shankar drummer Alla Rakha) were particularly entertaining. You can treat much of this stuff as ambient music or pay attention as closely as you're able.

Digup’s Pick of the week

Video-based motion design review site Digup.tv has started a 'Pick of the week' series. Each week's video selection of "what’s hot in digital creation on the web" comes with blurbs and links. Here's the latest one:

June 22, 2009

MotionDSP video enhancement software

MotionDSP has shut down FixMyMovie.com (mentioned 2 years ago in AEP post Video enhancement for web movies) in favor of standalone software vReveal, $49 video enhancement software for Windows consumers. vReveal helps heal video that is shaky, dark, noisy, pixelated, or blurry. They have some demos that show stabilizing and basic tonal correction, and a 30-day trial version to see for yourself. It's hard to tell what can't be done in After Effects (even with the poor scaling in AE), but vReveal seems easy, and fast since it's CUDA-enabled.

MotionDSP says that their software "dramatically improves video from a wide range of sources -- from mobile phones to surveillance cameras." Better quality can be had in the more expensive & patented multi-frame video enhancement technology available in Ikena, their $7,000 video forensic solution. Background on MotionDSP can be found in last Saturday's The New York Times: Those Big Bright Eyes May Soon Be Brighter. (h/t to )

Lone wolf feature requests haven't led to improved videosyncracy enhancements inside AE & Premiere -- made here since before Algolith AE filters came and went -- but it might still be worth a try since Adobe has a powerful research unit.

Update: Filed under not sure what this means... On March 27th, 2009 MediaLooks posted that a QuickTime Source Filter [was] Licensed to MotionDSP:

"MotionDSP has licensed MediaLooks’ QuickTime Source DirectShow Filter for one of its products. MotionDSP is a privately held company backed by NVIDIA and In-Q-Tel, headquartered in San Mateo, California."

June 21, 2009

Ask MAKE: surplus TVs from the DTV switch

via Lifehacker is Ask MAKE: surplus TVs from the DTV switch. Make has several suggestions on how to use old analog TVs, including how to transform coat hangers and wood into your own HD antenna (and as a bonus how to make a "steadicam").

Maker Workshop - DTV Antenna & Steadicam on MAKE: television from make magazine on Vimeo.

June 20, 2009

A beginner’s guide to search engine optimization

Do-It-Yourself SEO Advice For SMBs, by David Mihm at Search Engine Land, provides some basic advice for small businesses on improving their search results, an integral part of online marketing and advertising. If you once paid $20,000 a year for Yellow Pages, you'll be glad to hear that Mihm says that the cost of taking control of your web presence is more like $30 - $200 per year. But be prepared for the labor costs in detangling the hype of the world of search engine optimization (SEO)!

Mihm has more advice on his blog and in his post Local Search Ranking Factors.

June 19, 2009

Round-up the usual tutorials

It's already been days since the last uber-round-up of AE tutorials appeared, so here's latest -- 77 Ultimate Round-Up of Adobe After Effects Tutorials, this time from another WordPress blog instantShift. The ultimate round-up still seems to be by FilmmakerIQ, which listed 1001 Adobe After Effects Tutorials.

And of course Topher Welsh follows soon after with a post today. Of note here are the recent intermediate level videos for AE from Greyscale Gorilla – "How to Work Faster in AE" and "How to Use Simple Shapes and Masks" (below).

Using Simple Shapes and Masks to Make an Entire Animation - How I made ConformNonConform from Nick Campbell on Vimeo.

Another good intermediate level video comes from Jeff Carrion at SuiteTake, via the EDITBLOG on PVC, "The Top-Ten Things I Wish I Knew About Final Cut Pro…Ten Years Ago:"

Update: The Top 10 Final Cut things to know, listed from SuiteTake,

10. Shift and option dragging
9. Quick Ken Burns effect [slideshows]
8. QuickTime vs Quicktime Conversion.
7. The Black and code button.
6. Option 1,2,3 for transition alignment
5. Esc, tab, spacebar to navigate windows
4. Apply normalization to audio in FCP
3. Disable dropped frames warning.
2. Disable rendering with caps lock.
1. Map your keyboard.

Of course the top 10 varies by person, and extends quickly to other matters beyond UI; for more advice see AEP's Better editing + shooting & music for useful lists of editing tips from Oliver Peters, Steve Hullfish, Chris Meyer, and Little Frog, and advice on more general issues from Hitchcock, Scorsese, Murch, and others.

Update 2: Topher's back with the latest in AE tutorials at AETUTS with 17 Exciting After Effects Tutorials from Around the Web. AETUTS isn't "tooting" its own horn but its native tutorials can also be exciting.

Web tools for FCP & Pro Apps workflow

Creative Workflow Hacks is back with a link to some workflow tools for FCP & Pro Apps (mostly). These tools were developed by Michael Cinquin and should work in any browser:

Howcast's how-to video $ challenge + Ikan

Howcast, a how-to video service akin to WonderHowTo and Instructables, is running a How-To Video Challenge through their Emerging Filmmakers Program. They're asking filmmakers, video artists, and DIYers to come up with fresh & original approachs to remake the how-to video, etc. for cash and notoriety. Here's a video blurb:

Update: Ikan is sponsoring a similar contest, the 1st “wish I had an Ikan” short film competition. Entries are due August 1st, so practice your product placement skills!

June 17, 2009

SIGGRAPH 2009 Technical Papers Video Preview

Here's a video preview of SIGGRAPH 2009 technical papers,via davidstripinis. Some of these selections were shown in full in the recent AEP post Seam carving, cloning, & cutouts. To see more, you can check out the impressive list of 90 or more SIGGRAPH 2009 papers on the web by Ke-Sen Huang.

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." For background, see AEP's Is Information Visualization the Next Frontier for Design?

June 16, 2009

sParticular: an AE script for Particular

If you're really that into Particular, Sébastien Périer has a new script in beta; see After Effects Script for Particular: sParticular. Particular is 3D-aware, but it does not interact with 3D layers. The new script sParticular will make your Particular particles intersect with 3D layers, as seen in the example above.

There's also a video tutorial to get alpha-beta users up to speed.

Update: this script and a tutorial can now be found at AE Scripts.

Trapcode Particular tops Toolfarm filter vote

In a landslide, 1500 AE fans voted Trapcode Particular as their favorite After Effects filter in a Toolfarm Plug-ins Survey.

Here's the Top 10 After Effects filter in the vote (in order of # of votes):
  1. Trapcode Particular
  2. Red Giant Magic Bullet Looks
  3. Trapcode Shine
  4. The Foundry Keylight
  5. Red Giant Knoll Light Factory
  6. Trapcode Form
  7. Video Copilot Twitch
  8. GenArts Sapphire
  9. Boris Continuum Complete
  10. Trapcode Starglow
Toolfarm is planning to make this Plug-in Survey an annual event and include more plug-ins in next year's poll. Will Level's make the grade?

For context, see the almost complete one-page overview of AE filters at AE Portal's plug-in summary.

June 14, 2009

Every little CS4 change to After Effects interface

There's a lot of different ways to come at After Effects, and a lot of feature details to miss. One feature that slipped through the cracks here is Layer > Transform > Center in View (Com/Ctrl +Home). If you use CTL+Shift +drag almost exclusively to snap layers to the center of the comp, it's easy to miss that this command uses the Anchor Point instead.

Beyond the big list of big CS4 features found in the New features in After Effects CS4 section of After Effects CS4 Help on the Web, you can read about every CS4 change to the UI in User interface changes from After Effects CS3 to After Effects CS4. Todd Kopriva's an unordered, approximately comprehensive list of new features in After Effects CS4 covers similar ground from a slightly different perspective.

June 13, 2009

Expanding masks & rounded buttons

Todd Kopriva notes use and accident in mask expansion and rounded corners: "For each point on the original mask path, imagine a circle radiating outward by the number of pixels by which you're expanding." ... ...more.

The "Issue-Attention Cycle"

Although Up and Down With Ecology: The "Issue-Attention Cycle" by Anthony Downs was written over 35 years ago (in The Public Interest, Summer 1972), the "issue-attention cycle" is perhaps even more problematic today.

[update] For an example, here's US Google searches for Boko Haram for a period in 2014, from "Forgetting Nigeria's girls" by Max Fisher on Vox:

It seems our society has an attention span problem, in addition to inavoidable cognitive bias like framing. Some scientists have even compared attitudes on some issues (and the issue attention cycle itself) to the Kübler-Ross model of the 5 stages of grief. There's also some similarity with the Hype Cycle (blog) and other models of technological innovation (which themselves can be the inverse of risk perception models).

Here's an excerpt and summary of Downs' 1972 framing of the "issue-attention cycle:"
"American public attention rarely remains sharply focused upon any one domestic issue for very long - even if it involves a continuing problem of crucial importance to society. Instead, a systematic 'issue-attention cycle' seems strongly to influence public attitudes and behavior concerning most key domestic problems. Each of these problems suddenly leaps into prominence, remains there for a short time, and then -- though still largely unresolved -- gradually fades from the center of public attention. A study of the way this cycle operates provides in-sights into whether public attention is likely to remain sufficiently focused upon any given issue to generate enough political pressure to cause effective change"
  1. Pre-problem : A problem exists, but only some experts and interest groups are alarmed. 
  2. Discovery and Enthusiasm : There is alarm and concern over a discovered environmental problem. People band together to support a solution and attack the problem. 
  3. Realization : The public starts to understand the cost and difficulty of making progress on the issue. 
  4. Decline in Interest : Because of this realization, there is a decline in public interest (and therefore media attention). 
  5. Post-problem : The issue isn’t resolved but there is less attention on it. However, the overall level of interest is higher than when the problem was discovered. This may result in small recurrences of interest.”

Problems posed by the issue-attention cycle have only intensified since 1972, and we're left with the recurring question of agenda: 'What Is to Be Done?'. Confucius has better advice than Lenin -- though it's far more personally challenging:
If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character. If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home. If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.

Update: A new Cornell study, Meme-tracking and the Dynamics of the News Cycle, discussed by the New York Times (Study Measures the Chatter of the News Cycle) is interesting, but so far seems to be targeted to something other than improved decision-making. Still it's worth a look; 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.'
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.'

Jure Leskovec of Stanford University explains his view of the internet news cycle (more data mining video), which at one point seemed to have a "heartbeat pattern" between established news sites and blogs. Please be aware that data miners did not prove that issue-attention cycle exist -- after all news and citation indices found in reference libraries provided the data before many of the newest data miners were born.

June 11, 2009

SF Cutters June 11 at Adobe

The SF Cutters are meeting tonight Thursday June 11 at Adobe in the Chaplin Auditorium, 601 Townsend in SF. Limited to 100 people, the meeting is from 6:30-9:30 pm; pre-registration is $15 and required. Guests include:
  • Jesse Spencer, editor
  • Sean Safreed of Red Giant Software
  • Karl Soule, Adobe Evangelist, on After Effects
There are over 33 raffle prizes, including ones from nVeil, dvKitchen, loader, MotionVFX, Natural Forces, Trapcode, Coremelt imageFlow, and OmniGraffle, plus some new books and training DVDs from Peachpit, Focal, Wiley, Class on Demand and Creative Cow. And Adobe will be giving away a CS4 Production Premium -- there will be a separate drawing and you will need to fill out a contact form.

June 10, 2009

Normality 3: free AE filter adds 32-bit & Mac support

Today Stefan Minning announced version 3 of his free Normality plug-in for After Effects, which now also features toon shading and support for 32-bit per channel & OS X. Normality uses 3D normal passes to adjust various lighting properties like diffuse and specular lighting, toon shading, reflections and refractions, and more in real-time directly in AE.
From the outside it's not quite clear how much is included from his other old AE filters Celulight and Floodgate. There's a similar free filter from Frischluft.com, NormaliZe (note: see Comments for some clarification).

Free lecture series on animation @ SFSU downtown

There's a free Summer Lecture Series on animation at the San Francisco State Downtown Campus. That's at 835 Market Street, 6th Floor, @ SF Center, Powell Street BART/Muni Station. RSVP to blockhus at sfsu.edu.

Saturday, June 13 (11:00am)
Storytelling through Lighting
with Lighting/Texturing I instructor Geri Smith (Dreamworks)
Light and shadow, color, contrast and composition create scenes that are lighthearted, suspenseful, dramatic, or serene. An audience senses a time and place and laughs along with a character. Through images from Dreamworks Animation's feature film Kung Fu Panda, we will explore cinematic lighting in its support of storytelling.

Saturday, July 11 (11:00am)
Cartoony vs. Realistic Character Rigging
with Modeling/Rigging II instructor Jin Kwon (Electronic Arts)
Rigging isn't just about placing joints and making controls. Learn how to bring life to a character with real production examples. We will explore different ways to approach rigging with a various types of characters: cartoony versus realistic and film versus game characters.

Saturday, August 1,
Drawn to the Animated Story
with Drawing for Digital Animation & Story Telling Workshop instructor Billy Burger
Animation is a team sport, and the game starts with drawing. Whether it's traditional cell animation, Flash, Maya or Stop Motion, drawing is the base for character design, storyboards, layouts, and key poses.

Coming to Theaters: Food

Coming to Theaters: Food is Peter Smith's roundup of recent documentaries on food in Good Magazine. Some of this was already belabored in AEP's recent 'The Future Of Food' on Hulu + 'Food, Inc.' previews.

June 9, 2009

Crime Avenue: PFHoe at Artbeats

Crime Avenue at Artbeats is Eran Stern's newest video tutorial. It mixes ordinary city aerials with computer generated objects and shows off the 3D tracking capabilities of Pixel Farm's PFHoe.

June 8, 2009

Fix for QuickTime renders that stop after 10-minutes

In January 2008 Jonas Hummelstrand recommended users to Avoid QuickTime 7.4 for Now and later noted QuickTime 7.4.1 Fixes Rendering Bug. Some people still experience bugs in QT similar that one, which may be due to errors in memory manager or permission flags, or other problems that may be difficult to reproduce on all systems.

Easy to forget in the excitement of upgrading is this workaround from Todd Kopriva's notes on the After Effects 9.02 update, and remember the end note:

"There's now a preference (in the Preferences text file) to control the interval checking done while rendering QuickTime movies through the render queue. By default, when using the render queue to render a QuickTime movie, After Effects flushes the rendered frames to disk every 10 minutes. This is done to preserve as much of a completed render as possible in case the application crashes unexpectedly. However, incompatibility with certain versions of QuickTime can cause the render to stop at this 10-minute mark. If this occurs, you can change the following new setting in the Adobe After Effects 9.0 Prefs (Mac OS) or Adobe After Effects 9.0 Prefs.txt (Windows) file to 0 to turn off this check:

["Misc Section"]
"Flush RQ Rendering Every X Seconds (0 = off)" = "0"

Note: Turning off this check (by setting to 0) will no longer preserve a portion of the completed render, but can allow the render to complete without stopping. Also, this setting will not appear in the preferences file until you render with this version of After Effects 9.0.2, but you can add it manually before launching After Effects."

Flash, FLV, and alpha channels: straight or premultiplied?

Todd Kopriva's After Effects region of interest features this guest post from Tim Kurkoski, an After Effects quality engineer, Flash, FLV, and alpha channels: straight or premultiplied?

The punchline is that Flash only supports alpha channels that are pre-multiplied with black.

P.E.R.F.E.C.T. compositing

Andrew Kramer has a mnemonic to keep in mind: P.E.R.F.E.C.T. compositing. You can get the meat in his post and read the funny (for various reasons) comments...
  • Perspective
  • Esthetics (aesthetics, like Wotate)
  • Randomize
  • Feathering & light wrap
  • Environment
  • Color
  • Timing
A mnemonic for After Effects transformation property shortcuts is PARTS (parts is parts). Even more quaint mnemonics for color include 'Roy G. Biv' and 'Buy RC cola & General Motors.'

June 7, 2009

PAR for the Course or nerdly predicament?

PAR for the Course: Working with the new pixel aspect ratios in CS4 by Chris Meyer is available to subscribers of the ProVideo Coalition's PVC Post Production Pipeline Newsletter. Others have to wait awhile. Here's an excerpt:

"Over the years, I have seen a lot of folklore and bad math employed to determine how to work with non-square pixels, resulting in a plethora of incorrect working practices. Therefore, in this article I'm going to spend a lot of time laying out the historical and mathematical basis for where these numbers came from. Hopefully this will provide you with a solid foundation on which you can build a new set of working practices. "

Subscribe here and be re-dorkulated!

Update: you can now be re-dorkulated without subscribing at PAR for the Course.

'The Future Of Food' on Hulu + 'Food, Inc.' previews

Food, Inc. is a film that looks inside America's corporate controlled food industry. It opens this June and features Michael Pollan, who spoke with Bill Moyers on security & food matters a few months ago, and other experts. The PBS show Now featured the director of Food, Inc. last Friday. It could be long if you're in a hurry, so the preview of Food, Inc. is also a fine lead-in to the main item of this post. (Note: free markets are not subsidized)

The feature documentary The Future Of Food is on Hulu for now. It "offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind [genetically] engineered foods that have quietly filled U.S. grocery store shelves for the past decade."

Update: See the note below Food, Inc. from Participant Media, founded by eBay's Jeff Skoll, and a short review from KQED blog Bay Area Bites Hungry for Change: FOOD, INC.

Also, Martin Sheen and others advocate for issues posed by this film for TakePart.com.

June 6, 2009

Is Information Visualization the Next Frontier for Design?

Even though AEP's metaroundup 37+ data-visualization blogs isn't very old, there's more than enough action to merit another look even if there's some overlap. Just noticed is The power of Personal Informatics from Johnny Holland Magazine, Good Magazine's now bulging infographic collection on Flickr (via Flowing Data), and Fast Company's Is Information Visualization the Next Frontier for Design?

PSFK, a news site with regular notes on visualization and infographics, has their own roundups like Data Visualization Tools, and refers to good resources and external roundups like Webdesigner Depot's exhaustive 50 Great Examples of Data Visualization.

Of course visualization is a big, if spare & silent, part of what Google is doing with Search Options, Hot Trends, etc. And while you've been able to visualize user activity live on Digg Labs for 2 years or so, they have expanded their offerings too. Mashable has covered some of this in roundups of visualization tools for social media: 16 Awesome Data Visualization Tools, Data Visualizations: 5 Beautiful Social Media Videos, and 6 Unique Twitter Visualizations.

Since some information is best conveyed in motion, Mashable also noted 7 Beautiful Data Visualizations (With Videos). Below is one example from Skyrails, a social network visualization system that can be used to visualize any data.

At one point the AE filter Useful Things from Profound Effects could help with data visualization, even with live data from the Internet (weather, etc.), but the technology was sold to SONY. Let's hope that Adobe's Office 2.0 Mashup isn't lost forever (unlikely given the momentum of Flash, Flex, and AIR) and that the AE team is interested in this area, even if it just means easy integration with Flash.

Update: Programmable Web News has categories for both visualization and mapping.

Update 2: 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."

Update 3: Keith Lang recommends Information Visualization, Second Edition: Perception for Design; you can read a mostly complete FREE sample of Information Visualization on Amazon.com.

Update 4: Check out InfoGraphic Designs: Overview, Examples and Best Practices.

Update 5: (July) see A pseudo-random collection of Information Visualization links from Generator X and Art Against Information: Case Studies in Data Practice on Fibre Culture, as well as blogs Ben Fry, Data is Nature, Jer Thorp's blprnt.com, Pete Search's Only Connect, and Robert Hodgin's Flight 404.

Update 6: (November) CNN noted the growth of visualization in A new way of looking at the world.

June 5, 2009

AETUTS: 15 international After Effects tutorial sites

Topher Welsh posted a cool selection of 15 Top International After Effects Tutorial Sites at AETUTS. Initial comments on the roundup added even more references. It seems like the first post of its kind and an idea to be copied!

Maybe because development slowed in the last couple of years, the Japanese / English tutorial site from Ayato Fujii ayato@web, one of the oldest and best AE tutorials sites, wasn't included. And given the interest in India for AE filters (see below), it's odd there aren't more obvious resources from that area (CG India for example doesn't post much on AE). By the way, the graphics are based on AEP post Hotspots for After Effects.

June 4, 2009

'Duik' IK tool script for AE now in English

DuDuf IK tools , an Inverse kinematics script for After Effects mentioned in April, is now available in English.

This comes via Sébastien Périer, who says that "Duik" is a "great script for IK animation inside AE... [and] The Website will soon be fully translated in English too."

'Unsafe' Areas in After Effects

Some of you may not like it but Chris Meyer is at it again with the video technicalities (glayven) in a new post, Unsafe Areas, which looks at correcting the safe area guides in After Effects CS4.

Chris discusses 4:3 Clean Aperture, the 16:9 center cut, HDTV display bezels (varies between 0% and 10%), etc. so you can understand why you'd want to “change the center cut numbers in the Grids & Guides preferences to 32.5% and 40%.”

Update: This issue already came up on the AE-List after a rejected submission to Disney by David Torno. Disney wants "16:9 centercut action safe needs to be 33% and centercut title safe need to be 40.5%." Chris Meyer added that "It sounds like Disney's guides are 0.5% inside what the math says, to be extra safe."

June 3, 2009

Pocket Projector for iPhone & iPod

Core77 notes the Optoma Pico Pocket Projector for iPhone/iPod, live at the Apple store:

Screen Actor's Guild vote on Internet profits

PrepShootPost has a nice post on the Screen Actor's Guild vote involving the protection of residuals, pay, and benefits for media released and monetized on the Internet. Here's a clip from the post Showtime gets it, let's hope SAG does too:

The issues and factions can get a bit confusing for outsiders; there's coverage but hardly definitive by Deadline Hollywood Daily (with a funny lite answer to Sheen), The Wrap, and Series and TV.

June 2, 2009

The return of the Set Matte filter

There's an update to this article on Pro Video Coalition, Set Matte: a 32-bpc node for After Effects, which unlike Track Matte lets you use one matte on multiple layers.

Many people don't seem to know the Set Matte effect plug-in exists, maybe because it officially exists only to provide compatibility with earlier projects. That seems to have changed since Set Matte was upgraded to support 32-bpc color depth in After Effects CS6...

XScriptorium tests revised site

Not long after the launching of the new website, After Effects Expressions Reference or AEER, XScriptorium is testing a revised interface at http://v2.xscriptorium.com. XScriptorium is an AE scripting resource launched in August 2008; the old site and the beta site are mirrored but both in play.

The new site will have a leaner feature set, except for expanding submission options. A Twitter account at http://twitter.com/xscriptorium will serve as another channel for feedback.

Both After Effects Expressions Reference and the XScriptorium attempt to organize the wealth of resources found at AE Enhancers (the main expression & scripting forum for AE) and a bevy of other websites mentioned in AEP roundup Expressions & Scripting Resources for After Effects.

Adobe Flash Catalyst in public beta

Via John Nack, Adobe Flash Catalyst is on Adobe Labs. It doesn't seem like it's designed for "the rest of us" even if it imports PSD, AI, and Fireworks PNG files and lets you assign behaviors. The world has changed since mTropolis and Adobe Director were popular, but many UI metaphors haven't.

There are several training resources to help learning though. Adobe provides 12 or so resources to start and links to more -- including over an hour of free training videos in Flash Catalyst Beta Preview by Mordy Golding at Lynda.com. Here's an intro from Adobe (fullscreen):

Update: Beet.TV spoke to Adobe marketeer Dave Gruber about this release,