August 31, 2009

Snow Leopard, AE, QT, and Quartz Composer 4 [updated]

Adobe guys are tracking After Effects and Snow Leopard, the 10.6 version of Mac OS X. Besides upgrading to AE 9.02 for multiprocessing, there's not much up. For Photoshop & other products, John Nack is a good source of information.

As a precaution, deactivating AE (or any CS4 app if you have a bundle) might be a good idea since you could avoid dealing with customer service if there's a problem with the OS install.

[update: it turns out that Snow Leopard requires 9.0.2, and you do lose an activation credit so deactivating is advised]

Only time will tell if the QuickTime gamma issue is really solved with current versions of the QT players and other software and old files, etc. While it doesn't get too specific, there's even a Compatibility Wiki by Wikidot for many Mac apps.

Update: CDM has an initial but in-depth review of something new in Snow Leopard -- Mac OS X 10.6: Quartz Composer 4.0 Hands-On Review, New Features.

Update: See the Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: the Ars Technica review by John Siracusa -- QuickTime is dealt with on page 6 and page 16 of like 23 (via johnmontfx).

Chris Meyer has more in Snow Leopard: Hopes, Misunderstandings, and Gotchas, as does Studio Daily in What exactly is this QuickTime X thing anyway?

Information Visualization Manifesto [updated]

Manuel Lima posted an Information Visualization Manifesto at his blog at Visual Complexity and it's already generated an interesting discussion.

While acknowledging a middle ground for discovery and beauty, Lima draws a distinction between information visualization and information art, which is more often vernacular eye-candy. Here are Lima's 10 directions for any project in this realm:
  • Form Follows Function (not data)
  • Start with a Question
  • Interactivity is Key
  • Cite your Source
  • The power of Narrative
  • Do not glorify Aesthetics
  • Look for Relevancy
  • Embrace Time
  • Aspire for Knowledge
  • Avoid gratuitous visualizations
More on Lima's work can be found in an illustrated video interview by, the presentation at IxDA Interaction'09 (slides), and in a forthcoming video from TEDGlobal 2009. A previous post How to Lie with Video Data noted how sometimes it's not only forecasters that forget that a model is not reality.

Update: BBH Labs has some thoughts in From Art to Apps: Data Visualisation finds a purpose and “Do not glorify aesthetics”: a manifesto for Data Visualisation? See also summary of the TED re-presentation ‘Network Visualization in an Age of Interconnectedness’ – Manuel Lima Talks at BBH by Joe Fry.

Update 2: Lima takes another look at a few loose ends from his particular viewpoint and notes a Wired reference, and Robert Kosara of ( looks for a new term, Not Visualization, but Visual Analysis.

Update 3: Cool Infographics notes a mash-up of Lima's main site,
"Bestario has created reMap, an interactive portal to view all of the infographics posted on, and it's amazing. They've created semantic connection between the different infographics using tags tat allow for an incredible browsing experience."

August 30, 2009

Custom render sounds in After Effects

Update: details often change in new versions of AE, so see Change After Effects CS5 render sounds, from the next year.

You can turn off or customize the sounds made by renders in the Render Que in After Effects. You can replace the render-complete sounds on Windows by adding files named "rnd_okay.wav" and "rnd_fail.wav" to this folder in Windows XP and Vista:

C:\Documents and Settings\[user_name]\Application Data\Adobe\After Effects\9.0.
C:\Users\[user_name]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\After Effects\9.0

You can also turn off render chimes by setting "Play sound when render finishes" to "0" in "Adobe After Effects 9.0 Prefs" file (in the same location as above for Windows, or for Mac in Users/[user_name]/Library/Preferences/Adobe/After Effects/).

On Windows Vista (one copy anyway), getting the "Happy-Happy-Joy-Joy" sound (Lynda Weinman's phrase for the original successful render sound) to return after render doesn't seem to work by changing the "Adobe After Effects 9.0 Prefs" file to "Play classic render chime" to "1".

This info is in AE Help, but it doesn't have info on how to replace sounds on the Mac. Information on the web seems based on old methods for Mac OS 7 to 9, which involved mucking around in Mac a resource fork editor like ResKnife.

August 29, 2009

Motion 3D shadows and the reflection gap

Apple Motion 4 has several refinements including shadows and reflections, demoed on Apple's website.'s free Final Cut Studio overview also looked at creating shadows, reflections, and specular highlights.

Recently on MacBreak Video, Mark Spencer looked a bit closer at shadows and reflections in Motion 4. Will Adobe respond to Apple, especially in the reflection gap, or will it be left to user kluges like extrusions? In the meantime, see Built-in reflections in AE for Chris and Trish Meyer's formula and tips for creating "faux" reflections in After Effects without 3rd party tools like RGS Warp or Zaxwerks Reflector.

Update: a Motion extra from Oliver Peters, "I'd recommend that you DO install the Motion content. The biggest content chunk will be the audio files for STP and those can be easily installed on an external drive or not at all. If you don't install the Motion content, some of the text behaviors will not show up in the pulldown menu."

Recreating a Lexus commercial

motion graphics eXchange noted a 3-part video tutorial (QT downloads) posted by JMDesign, After Effects Lexus Tutorial by Barbecue. In the tutorial, Ruediger of Barbecue Design shows you how they created parts of a commercial for Lexus Toyota Hybrid Drive using After Effects and Trapcode Particular. There's also discussion of an AE script by Paul Tuersley to make a panorama (or alternatively Trapcode Horizon), and how to integrate the particles into the environment of a 3D scene in After Effects. Here's the original video:

Note: JMDesign also posted some found AE projects from an idea too good to die in Trapcode People Resurrected.

Update: see a later AEP roundup, Panoramas in After Effects.

Nuke & the 'Iron Man' HUD + 'Iron Man 2'

Dav Rauch from The Orphanage walks through their Nuke work on the HUD sequence from Iron Man in movies below from The Foundry's Youtube Channels (via 5tu).

Other reports and interviews on the same subject from Fxguide and Adobe --as well as a tutorial project by Video Copilot -- can be found in these previous posts.

Update: Iron Man 2 UI & motion graphics, both stills and short movies can be found at Perception:
"Using a combination of the Adobe Creative Suite of products and Maxon's Cinema 4D for 3D animation, Perception put out full 2k renders for what would ultimately be a film output for IMAX presentations and normal theatrical release. All working on the Macintosh platform, Perception's team of designers, compositors, animators and rotoscope artists worked tirelessly to deliver the entire package."

Update: In fxguidetv #099 Jan 07, 2011, Marshall Krasser details ILM's work on Iron Man 2 using Nuke.

August 28, 2009

Stylized tunnel using AE Shape, Cylinder, & Color Link

Color Link by Eran Stern is the latest tutorial in the Creative Cow After Effects podcast. Eran shows you how to create a colorful disco-styled tunnel using a Shape layer, CC Cylinder, and matching the look to video using the Color Link effect.

Scene Re-Lighting: Normality tutorial [updated]

Last month, Stephan Minning posted a multi-part tutorial on the new version of his donationware AE filter Normality 3, and a few weeks ago Maltaannon issued his own filter and tutorial for 3D pass texture replacements as noted in Youveelizer filter for UV mapping in After Effects.

Now, using a normal map with Normality, Video Copilot covers a lot of ground showing you how to use After Effects lights for possible relighting and reflection/refraction effects in a new tutorial (with project) Scene Re-Lighting.

A simple demonstration of how you can create your own maps is Normal Map Photography by Ryan Clark.

Update: Video Copilot explicates resources mentioned here and beyond in the useful Guide to Normals. Also see How to Bake a Flawless Normal Map in 3ds Max at CGTuts.

Update 2: for something not completely different see How to use UV Passes in 2D by Kert Gartner.

How to use UV Passes in 2D from Kert Gartner on Vimeo.

Tutorial Gap Friday

Topher Welsh's generic roundups fill some gaps; here's his latest collection of AE and 3D tutorials added late Thursday: 72 Tutorials For Ya!

Of the ones not mentioned here previously, AETuts' Create Harry Potter Titles by Robert Holtby is not complicated, but you do get a Harry Potter font and see how to use a Bevel and Emboss Layer Style to make text seem like 3D, etc.

August 27, 2009

A fireside chat with the After Effects team

Huh? See Michael Coleman's post Have a fireside chat with the After Effects team for details!

If you don't get through there's always the Feature Request/Bug Report, discussed recently by Todd Kopriva in feature requests, bug reports, and crash reports.

Understanding 2D and 3D Layer Order In After Effects

Greyscale Gorilla tries to "make sense of how layer order effects visibility in After Effects when using 2D and 3D layers. There is also a tip on how to force a 3D element into place by using 2D layers."

Understanding 2D and 3D Layer Order In After Effects from Nick Campbell on Vimeo.

August 26, 2009

Video Copilot 98: Particle World explosion

Video Copilot posted a particle explosion tutorial that uses only tools built into After Effects. It builds "several particle systems linked to a single control layer for precision animation with the standard Particle World system." A Pixel Polly filter shatter is also used.

Stereo3D Toolbox: Mac filter for AE & FCS [updated]

Stereo3D Toolbox from Tim Dashwood is a new FxPlug filter designed to work with After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Final Cut Express. It requires Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) and a supported graphics card.

Built upon technology from FxFactory, Stereo3D Toolbox lets you output "media to a wide range of Stereoscopic 3D formats (side by side, over/under, checkerboard, interlace, anaglyph) as well as manage the demuxing of side by side, interlace and over/under formatting. Comprehensive compositing features and capabilities include keyframeable x, y, z axis convergence, individual left/right eye scale, color correction, selective flip/flop, reframing and 'auto scale' compensation."

They have several tutorials up already; this one that demonstrates how Cineform Neo3D works and how to add Stereo3D Toolbox to Neo3D muxed clips:

Update: Fxguide.TV (#64) talks with Enrique Criado on the different aspects, both technical and narrative, of stereoscopic production.

August 25, 2009

Building an Airport Scene with MochaImport [updated]

Mathias Möhl has 2 tutorials on Red Giant TV, showing how to building an airport scene and rotoscope a car (Part 1: Backplate & Part 2: Compositing). He uses his own script MochaImport, and RGS filters, so you get a discount on Magic Bullet Looks and Red Giant Warp.

You can watch the tutorials on iTunes or at RGTV, but here's a brief on the script:

Mocha Import explained in 3 Minutes from Mathias Möhl on Vimeo.
Update: Mathias briefly clarified the strengths of approaches to tracking in AE in comments on his blog:
I personally use Mocha + MochaImport now for almost all tracking tasks, since tracking is more easy, robust and acurate with Mocha than with the buildin AE tracker. However, if you want to avoid the overhead in the workflow (switching to a separate application for tracking, importing the footage there and so on) and track in directly in AE, both TrackerViz and Tracker2Mask are your best friends.
use *MochaImport*
for all kinds of tracking tasks you want to do with Mocha, including corner pinning, stabilization tasks, rotoscoping tasks (as I will show in the second part of the creative Cow tut) and for compositing of moving stuff (with the stabilize precomp and RG undistort precomp functions). For rotoscoping, the mocha Shape plugin is a good alternative.

use *Tracker2Mask*
for just one specific task: tracker-assisted rotoscoping. Before you start keyframing masks for hours, track a few points and let Tracker2Mask assist you in the keyframing process. Use it in combination with KeyTweak.

use Nab's *TrackerViz*
if you need the buildin AE tracker for anything else than rotoscoping. In particular handy is the function to average tracks which makes out of a bunch of good but not perfect tracks one rock-solid track.

use *KeyTweak*
to correct drifting tracks (if the drifting was not eliminated by averaging with TrackerViz) and to continue tracks of points that leave the screen (see my Postcard Tutorial for details).

Update 2: in his post, Mocha and Perspective Distortion, Mathias clarified some confusion:
"Both my Mocha Import explained in 3 Minutes video and my tutorial on Red Giant TV have caused some confusion concerning the question whether Mocha can track perspective distortion and in what cases Red Giant Warp is needed in addition. So here are the facts:

(1) Mocha AE can track perspective distortion, even without Red Giant Warp. This happens if you enable the shear and perspective options.
(2) If you tracked perspective distortion with Mocha, it only ends up in After Effects if you use the corner pin data from MochaAE and not the transform data.
Now, if you want to use the MochaImport script to create a stabilized precomp, you have two options: Either you do it with transform data, or you do it with Red Giant Warp and corner pin data. Hence, point (2) implies that
(3) If you want to create a stabilized precomp with MochaImport, you only get the perspective distortion with Red Giant Warp .
(4) If you just want to do a corner pin or want to use the Mocha Shape plugin, you get perspective distortion and don't need Red Giant Warp.

Take home message:
If you track with shear/perspective enabled, don't use the transform data to get the track into After Effects.

One question is left, I guess:
What if you have to use transform data for your task and have a clip with perspective distortion (e.g. if you want a stabilized precomp but don't have RG warp)?
Then do the track whithout shear and perspective enabled. The resulting track will not be as good as with shear and perspective enabled, but at least no shear/perspective information is thrown away during the export to transform data. Hence you will get in total a better result (but don't expect miracles - with shear/perspective enabled and corner pin data or the shape plugin the results will be much better)."

Create your own Simple Cropping After Effects filter [updated]

Create your own After Effects filter? Well actually it would be a Pixel Bender plug-in for CS4, and you can just download it from Maltaannon's Introduction to Pixel Bender tutorial page.

Apparently, you can also do Bicubic resampling with Pixel Bender, which is something that AE lacks (except with 3rd party filters). This demo version needs work to be useful in AE though.

Update: Maltaannon has a bit more on Sept 4 in Pixel Bender and aeUIControls.

August 24, 2009

August 22, 2009

Puppetji: animated by the unseen

Here's a "socksang" by the sometimes fickle Puppetji, before his enlightenment over the paradox of Paper or Plastic?:

August 20, 2009

Motionworks Effects A-Z: Arithmetic

Motionworks' sorta weekly tour of built-in AE filters continues with the Arithmetic filter; see Effects A-Z: Arithmetic with guest Harry Frank of Graymachine.

Chad Perkins has a similar treatment on This effect goes back to the earliest days of After Effects when Photoshop didn't have layers & dinosaurs ruled with the Calculations command, when transfer modes were anyone's game, and VideoFusion seemed easier.

August 19, 2009

Tutorial on 3D animation in After Effects

Chris Zwar has 3-part video tutorial looking at advanced 3D animation in After Effects on PVC, dubbed The Centrica Carnivale. This isn't a detailed step-by-step tutorial, but a series that "looks at all aspects of the project -- from the initial client brief through to final delivery and gives insight into the 'real life' stages of an After Effects project."

Chris posted an AE demo project on his website: 3D in After Effects – A demonstration.

'Best' Science Visualization Videos of 2009

Wired Magazine gathered 10 of this year’s best scientific visualizations as judged by The Department of Energy in June. See Best Science Visualization Videos of 2009.

Collaboration: new buzzword in advertising, production, & online video

Beet.TV alludes to New Tools Enable Video Collaboration:

"Collaboration is the new watchword in the advertising, production and online video businesses, Daisy Whitney reports in this week's New Media Minute. She explains how agencies, production houses and creators are turning to tools from Adobe, Wiredrive, and Facebook to craft new projects, including 'Mass Animation' in which animators from around the world contributed shots for the upcoming short film Live Music.

Daisy is also starting a contest for video creators to have their work featured in her show."

Update: Compare this story to the earlier The PEN story: another YouTube Dilemma, and The Carrot on the Stick which noted Motionographer's Mass Animation=Mass Exploitation?

Compressor’s BluRay Disc Open XML template format + free Swish Pan FCP transition [updated]

Andy Mees noted that Compressor’s BluRay Disc Open XML template format revealed... by Apple in a PDF guide to Compressor 3.5 in the Final Cut Studio 2009 bundle. For background see Jan Ozer on Blu-ray Creation with the New Apple Final Cut Studio at Millimeter, and Burn Blu-ray playable standard DVD-R discs on a Mac SuperDrive by Ken Stone.

Andy also has a free Swish Pan transition as well as other filters and resources for Final Cut.

Update: via lafcpug, Apple has released free add-ons for the new Final Cut Studio, Compressor Droplets, Color Looks (90 of them!), and 700 MB of Alpha Transitions.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II in the real world

If you're interested in the idea of a shooting video with a DSLR camera but follow the developments sporadically, Oliver Peters has a meaty illustrated overview of one camera in Canon EOS 5D Mark II in the real world.

His other recent posts have provided good coverage of FCP plug-ins and more.

Unplugged 5: interview with Brian Maffitt

Motionworks interview Unplugged 5 features Brian Maffitt, co-founder of Total Training and Atomic Power Corporation. Maffitt's Atomic Power filters Shatter, Foam, Vegas, Colorama, Radio Waves, Wave World, Card Dance, Caustics, Psunami, etc. were mostly absorbed into After Effects.

Update: Unplugged 5: Brian Maffitt (Part 2) is out Aug 23.

August 18, 2009

The Adobe Shortcut App

The Adobe Shortcut App is a new AIR application that's a database of all of the keyboard shortcuts for all of CS4, all in one handy place.

Todd Kopriva reminds some of us that "To see all of the shortcuts, be sure to click All Categories. The default Essentials view just shows a small subset"! Todd thinks that "the information appears to be identical to that in the Keyboard shortcuts section of After Effects Help." For information on editing keyboard shortcuts and scripts (and scriptable AE commands without shortcuts), see the KeyEd Up script by Jeff Almasol.

August 17, 2009

RubikCube & more new at AEScripts

AEScripts is regularly adding new scripts -- this time 7 more scripts from NAB Scripts. Here's the demo of RubikCube:

August 14, 2009

Stereoscopic 3D Workflow scripts

via Sébastien Périer on Twitter are stereoscopy scripts for After Effects by Chris Keller. Posted at AEnhancers and Creative Cow these scripts:
  • Automatically generate the right view for a scene (using a very flexible camera rig). This relieves you from doing your compositing work twice.
  • Create anaglyph, side-by-side or interleaved previews of your 3D scenes, do global mastering like convergence adjustments and color grading and render the final left and right view separately
  • Perform elaborate preparation (that is, alignment) and editing of stereo footage
There's more info that comes with the scripts and video tutorials posted on Vimeo 1/2: and Youtube; here's a sample:

Effects A-Z: the Angle Control filter

Motionworks' sorta weekly tour of built-in AE filters continues with guest presenter Maltaannon who explains some techniques for using the Angle Control effect with basic expressions. See Effects A-Z: Angle Control.

August 13, 2009

Julie & Julia, Foodie & Cook

Via Rick Bayless on Twitter, is a thoughtful look at Michael Pollan's July 29 piece in the NYT Magazine by Michael Ruhlman, Julie & Julia, Foodie & Cook. Here's an excerpt (emphasis added):

"It was the cooking of food that allowed our bodies to absorb more nutrients and our brains to get big. It allowed culture to form and even social arrangements such as dinnertime where we all ate what one of us spent time cooking; it probably even resulted in marriage (a kind of primitive protection racket, in Wrangham’s words). We’re really the only animal that does it, that cooks. That alone says a lot."

The rest of Ruhlman's blog, Notes From the Food World, is also quite good.

Here's a sampling of pundits Pollan & Schlosser, Vandana Shiva, and Paul Roberts on the future of food:

Veggie tamales from Top Chef Masters

Michael Natkin of the AE team Twittered about a veggie recreation by Cooking in Color of the Corn Tamales with Chile-Braised Beans and Glazed Mushrooms by Rick Bayless for Bravo's show Top Chef Masters.

You can read about chef Bayless' own experience of this dish and episode at his blog Root4Rick. Michael Chiarello's blog is not so active, but he's done well with the food:

Holmes Artbeats AE podcast, "Eight" Movie Title

Steve Holmes is back with another Artbeats AE podcast, "Eight" Movie Title Effects, in which he joins After Effects with Artbeats stock footage to create a detailed textured movie title sequence.

Update: in Comments Topher Welsh noted that this was an older tutorial. It seems that it was actually the 1st video tutorial on Artbeats, far before the podcast started.

Particle Halftones + AE filters & scripts

Note: this post mentioned work by David Van Brink, Todd Kopriva's AE region of interest feature on him, as well as his free Omino After Effects Suite. Content was updated on PVC...


A halftone is an image or printing technique that "simulates continuous tone through the use of dots varying either in size, in shape or in spacing." In the Illustrator and Photoshop worlds, there's long lists of halftone filters, swatches, and compositing techniques used for printing and newsprint, comic, retro, and other effects. But the fun of After Effects is animation, and some techniques may not be immediately apparent without built-in filters.

There's something new and some things old in Halftone techniques for After Effects at Pro Video Coalition.

August 12, 2009

FCP ShrinkRay: free Mac tilt-shift effect

CrumplePop and Toolfarm and are making CrumplePop ShrinkRay, a Mac-only "tilt-shift miniaturization" effect for Final Cut, free through August 19, 2009. CrumplePop effects seem to be based on Master Templates (FCP 6+); you drag and drop a template onto your timeline, fiddle with a few controls, and the template does the rest.

Resources for doing tilt-shift effects in After Effects were mention in these previous posts. Here's the demo:

AEScripts adds more

AEScripts is expanding, but you have to follow on Twitter to track new scripts. Recently added is Ease and Wizz, "a super duper keyframe assistant to make your animation prettier" and 10 more scripts from NAB Scripts, including the famous TrackerViz, a free script to work with tracking data, plus Create 3D Shapes, AutoOrient Camera, and others.

Sometimes the explanations are too brief but there's often video demos and tutorials for these After Effects scripts (for example for Immigration); here's the video demo of AutoOrient Camera:

"BAD TV" Distortion: free Mac-only AE filter

Satya Meka has a free New AE Plugin: "BAD TV" Distortion. It's a Mac-only Core Image filter ported using Effect Builder AE. Windows users can request a Pixel Bender port (already in development) or try out RGB Sine Distortion by Synja Dev Blog. Here's sample render of bad TV from Satya:

Update: ProJuice has a tutorial, Bad TV, on how to manipulate the settings in the default Bad TV Effect in Final Cut Pro and create an original rolling analogue TV effect.

Bitweiser Light: free Pixel Bender filter for overerexposed footage

Maltaannon has a new free Pixel Bender filter, Bitweiser Light, to help deal with problems with overerexposed footage. There more at Maltaannon, who's welcoming comments; the video demo is at Maltaannon, banished here for autoplaying.

August 11, 2009

Align 3D layers perfectly in AE

Greyscale Gorilla follows up May's Pixel-Perfect Camera Move Transitions with How To align 3D layers perfectly in After Effects. The video is below but be sure to check out the lively comments for more tips and scripts:

"Sometimes, when making 3D shapes in after effects, you just can’t get two layers to line up properly. Here is a trick I learned [Alpha Add] to make sure your edges always look like they are perfect."

How To Get Rid of edge seams in After Effects from Nick Campbell on Vimeo.

Tutorial Gap Tuesday + 41 on AETuts

Topher Welsh's generic roundups fill some gaps; here's his latest collection of AE and 3D tutorials added late Monday: Huge Monday Roundup of ALL Sorts.

Todd Kopriva recommended Dave Scotland's tutorials (his Flying Gallery tutorial using Trapcode Particular is pictured but linked here), and there's more to hunt for in the roundup -- and in Topher's recent sampling of 3D options in After Effects.

Update: Topher might have added a few more in AETuts' 41 After Effects Tutorials from Elsewhere.

SF Cutters Aug 18: FCS3, Matrox, monitor-scope

The SF Cutters are meeting August 18 in San Bruno at the SFO Airport Business Center. The agenda includes a look at Final Cut Studio 3, Matrox solutions for video, and Ted Langdell with a 'How-to' on the use a waveform monitor and vector scope with FCP and Color.

Lens Flare on 3D Lights?

Andrew Kramer posted several suggestions answering a question on a recent tutorial in Lens Flare on 3D Lights? Answers include:

1) an expression on the Flare Center (thisComp.layer("Light name").toComp([0,0,0]);) mentioned in a 2008 VCP tutorial on bump maps

2) a Dan Ebberts "3D Lens Flare" case study

3) an anamorphic lens flare project.

See the options at Lens Flare on 3D Lights?

August 10, 2009

Crash report love letters

Noted around the Interpipes is a series of think pieces to possible humans on the AE team, semi-anonymously from The FutureStack. While this might be a 'fix' for voyeurs like me lacking After Effects action on the Dear Adobe complaint site, apparently Crash Reports are read by humans, who may even want to reach you if you have continual problems. Here's a sample of the FutureStack reports, which are amusing ephemera if you're not sorting through thousands of others.

Adobe integrated some new technology into After Effects CS4, the Adobe Crash Reporter, which helped ID bugs for recent AE software updates. Paul Uusitalo, an After Effects quality engineer, described the details in a guest post on Todd Kopriva's Region of interest blog.

Later, Michael Coleman explained customer privacy and the Adobe Crash Reporter:

"Adobe is not monitoring your activity. After Effects detects the crash and we don't know anything about it until you send the report to Adobe. The report originates on your computer. If you choose to submit a report (and we very much appreciate if you would) only non-personally-identifiable information is sent to Adobe. This includes information such as which part of the software encountered an issue."

How to Light Wrap [now @PVC]

This page has been updated and moved to Pro Video Coalition, How to Light Wrap.

Mountains Out of Molehills: Patterns in the Group Mind

Information Is Beautiful graphed out a timeline of global media scare stories in Mountains Out of Molehills, and fleshed out other comparisons of issue attention in Patterns in the Group Mind -- here 'violent video games' are pondered regularly near Christmas and the Columbine anniversary.

[update: Apparently Y2K, SARS, Violent video games, bird flu, vaccines and swine flu have dwarfed other search terms -- but the comparison doesn't use "September 11" or other popular terms, so it's a McChart.]

Related AEP posts include Meme tracking and the News Cycle and The "Issue-Attention Cycle".

The PEN story: another YouTube Dilemma

A Filmbot RT Twitter notes The PEN story controversy, which was discussed by PDN in Did Olympus Steal Idea for Viral Ad About EP-1 Camera? (UPDATED) and Gizmodo in Olympus Stop Motion E-P1 Ad Concept Is Clever (Also, Stolen).

This topic ("great artists steal") was discussed with many examples at Creative Review in May; see The YouTube Dilemma for creatives.

Also of note is an open blog ‘you thought we wouldn’t notice’ that's dedicated to pointing out these things (via El Gordo).

Free custom Particle World-based project

Even if you know that the built-in CC Particle World filter allows you to use images as a custom or "Textured" particles, you may want to look at Video Copilot's latest free After Effects project.

To see a fuller scope of what Particle World can do, download the CycoreFX Particle World Demo. It's a poor man's version of Brian Maffitt's old demo in that you have to render each Comp separately and read along with the PDF.

3dfilter: new 3D model search engine

VizWorld notes a new Online 3D Model Search Engine3dfilter. If you sort according to price you can see what's available for free in various categories.

August 9, 2009

Effects A to Z: Alpha Levels

Motionworks' sorta weekly tour of built-in AE filters continues with the Alpha Levels filter; see Effects A to Z – Alpha Levels with guest Topher Welsh.

Chris & Trish Meyer have a similar series on, except it is running though filters by Effect category (as in the Effect Menu).

August 8, 2009

Koblin & Lima on visualization

CaT: Creativity and Technology conferences are tightly-edited gatherings of creatives and marketeers for discussions of furthering creativity through technology. On Ad Age's Creativity/AdCritic, they've posted several movies from recent presentations, including one by Google Creative Labs' Aaron Koblin on "some of his most stunning projects," and another talk by Processing co-founder Ben Fry and Carlos Ulloa, creator of Papervision3D. (via

Also fun is the weekly Creativity Top 5 spots.

And while his talk at TEDGlobal 2009 isn't up yet, you can look at an illustrated video interview by of Manuel Lima of Visual Complexity.

August 6, 2009

Effects A to Z weekly: Advanced Lightning

Motionworks' weekly tour of built-in AE filters continues to Advanced Lightning; see Effects A to Z – Advanced Lightning with guest Eran Stern.

Creating a Tracked Head Wound

Mathias Mohl has a new video tutorial on AETuts, Creating a Tracked Head Wound:

"In this tutorial Mathias shows that corner pin tracking can do much more than just replacing some pictures on a wall. We are going to compose a wound on a moving head and use the Mocha tracker in combination with his script MochaImport. Trust me, this is so much easier then creating a real head wound!"

Creating a wound with make-up might be easier for some -- see Indy Mogul for techniques. Mathis' scripts MochaImport, KeyTweak, and Tracker2Mask were mentioned previously in AEP posts Mocha Tutorials by Mathias Möhl and AE scripts MochaImport & Final Cut 2 After Effects.

August 5, 2009

Youveelizer filter for UV mapping in After Effects

Maltaannon released his Youveelizer plug-in for UV mapping in After Effects. It sells for about $30. In addition, there's a tutorial to learn how to improve your your 3D workflow in AE:

'From this day forward you are able to take your 3D render and replace textures or even add reflections and environment. In a nutshell all you need to do is to apply the Youveelizer to a layer with a UV render pass to apply a texture to a rendered 3d object, or to a Normal render pass to add reflections. All 3d objects should be rendered out from a 3d application such as 3d Studio Max, Maxon Cinema 4D, or any other 3d package capable of rendering UV and Normal render passes. However it’s sometimes difficult to render out a nice UV pass. A solution to that problem may be simply applying a texture that simulates a good UV map. That’s why I’ve included a nice 2000×2000 pixels “uvmap_texture.tif” in the product package.'

See also the article by Lutz Albrecht on Adobe Developer Connection, Integrating 3D applications with After Effects – Part 1: Working with UV data. More background and links are in the AE Help doc Importing and using 3D files from other application. Other options for re-lighting were discussed in the AEP post Normality 3 video tutorial.

Update: Among comments on ambient occlusion, mackdadd noted...
"RE:Vision's Re:Map also does this sort of thing [UV mapping & more], although I haven't watched Maltannon's tutorial yet to see if they work the same way. Always good to have more (and cheaper!) options!"

Update 2: Creative Workflow Hacks notes Pixel Bender UV mapping projects AE: Projecting a Movie Onto a Complex Surface and 3D Normal Mapping with Pixel Bender. See also Smart Normal goes Pixel Bender, "a lightweight normalmapper supporting condensed and sobel-filters."

Update 3: Motionworks' Unplugged 4 is an interview with "Jerzy Drozda Jr, the quirky host of"

Update 4: see also How to use UV Passes in 2D by Kert Gartner.

How to use UV Passes in 2D from Kert Gartner on Vimeo.

August 4, 2009

Unplugged 3: Zax Dow

Motionworks posted another in a series of informal chats with various plug-in developers, designers, and others. Unplugged 3: Zaxwerks is an interview with veteran developers Zax Dow on the origins of Zaxwerks and the 3D Invigorator, ProAnimator, and new 3D Serpentine plug-ins. As an Electric Image evangelist, Zax was a frequent visitor to Macworld and user group meetings at Entasis (old parent of Toolfarm) in San Francisco.

Two tutorials for changing Source Text and numbers

VideoHive has a new video tutorial by Topher Welsh , AE Quicktips #5 Changing Source Text. Topher discusses using a single layer to animate a variety of Text Layer messages by changing the Source Text parameter, and hiding the Hold keyframe changes in motion blur.

Meanwhile over at Red Giant in Look Ma! No 3rd-party plug-ins!, Aharon Rabinowitz skips the Hold keyframes to share workarounds for using numeric Text (for game scores and other digital readouts). You can do what he's doing with just the Numbers filter, but a door is opened to other purposes as the tutorial uses a Null, a Slider Control, and 2 expressions by Dan Ebberts:

1. (Not sure why it was needed) Round to the nearest whole number:
s = thisComp.layer(”Null 1″).effect(”Slider Control”)(”Slider”);

2. Layer marker triggers addition to current value:
s = effect(”Slider Control”)(”Slider”);
n = 0;
if (marker.numKeys > 0){
n = marker.nearestKey(time).index;
if (marker.key(n).time > time){
s + n

Update: in another approach Colin Brady helps you in Overcoming limitations of the Numbers effect in After Effects.

August 3, 2009

Steve Holmes' Artbeats podcasts summarized

Steve Holmes Artbeats podcasts and made a list of the episodes with notes about what skill each episode shows well. It's a good idea that reinforces the message.

RollingShutter AE filter released

RollingShutter is the new plug-in for After Effects and Nuke from The Foundry that tackles image-distortion problems experienced by users of CMOS cameras. It's even on the VPN for Fxphd members. Here's the video introduction:

The Foundry adds:

"As parts of the image are recorded at different times, fast-moving objects, or objects that pass quickly through frame during camera whip-pans, become distorted with diagonal skews. Other typical distortions include image wobbles created when cameras are held-held, and exposure problems with flashing or strobing lights.

Along with being ungainly and unwanted, these image distortions also increase the difficulty of 3D tracking during VFX post production, as the tracking points themselves can be equally affected or not deliver accurate results. Using Local Motion Estimation technology, we can individually correct parts of the image that are moving relative to the camera, even if they are moving in different directions or at different speeds."

Update: Prolost looks at the Rolling Shutter plug-in, and gives the Maschwitz opinion on 30p to 24p conversions.

AE Apprentice Video Tutorial #8: tracker-stabilizer

Chris and Trish Meyer have released After Effects Apprentice Video Tutorial #8 onto PVC.

In this short video they "help you get started with setting up the motion tracker and stabilizer built into After Effects. Although this video uses AE CS4, the tracker’s controls have been largely unchanged over the last several versions, so this will also be of use to those using other recent vintages of AE. The tracker in AE is much-maligned (and AE CS4 now comes bundled with mocha for After Effects as an alternative), but once you know the secrets of how the track points work and how to set its options, it works fine for a large variety of shots."