February 28, 2010

Jobs: 'No worries. FCP is alive and well.'

Following up on the Twitter on Apple layoffs of 40 of the Pro Apps team, Mac Soda reports an iPhone message from a Steve Jobs:

"No worries. FCP is alive and well."

That's good news, but not surprising since the jobs cuts apparently weren't in Cupertino! Mac Soda's previous post on The State of Final Cut wasn't convincing about "timming the fat" -- "40 people weren’t doing a good job." But who knows, maybe the boosters will find their way back into the outback of the infinite loop.

For something ridiculous, see Apple's Influence on Visual Arts is Rotting to the Core from Jason Perlow on ZD Net.

700+ pictograms, 60 free fonts, 30 vector packs

From maltaannon and others on Twitter:
For more, see the "Popular" posts of Smashing Magazine, which has made a cottage industry of these sorts of collections. One example is The Ultimate Collection Of Free Vector Packs.

Heller’s animated appraisal of Olympic pictograms

Via Motionographer is Steven Heller’s Olympic Icons: an Animated Appraisal at The New York Times website:

See also The Graphic Design Olympics (2004) by Michael Bierut at Design Observer, and another short comparison of various Olympic icons. Interesting recent work includes pictograms developed for the 2008 Summer Olympics in China by a former Adobe guy; see The Graphic Language of Min Wang.

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. "Modern Hieroglyphs" in Design, Writing, & Research by Lupton and Miller (excerpt pdf) makes a really cool use of pictograms in explaining pictograms in design and history.

Update: Slate has 6-part series on The Secret Language of Signs, which includes why signs are better now than they've ever been, why the signs in Penn Station are so confusing, how smarter signs could make London easier to navigate, and the international war over the exit sign.

See also How and When to Use Pictograms from Pixel Resort.

February 25, 2010

Noise reduction in AE

In this After Effects tutorial, you'll see how Adobe evangelist Jason Levine uses Neat Video, a noise reduction filter, to clean up noise in footage.

It would have been nice to see how AE's built-in Remove Grain filter performed on the demo footage (it performs far better than a Median filter). Other options include RE:Vision Effects DE:Noise, which uses sensitive spatial filtering along with time-based optical flow methods, and Digital Anarchy Beauty Box and Revision FX SmoothKit and DE:Noise.

BCC Reptilian: free for a limited time

For a limited time, Eye Scream Factory and Boris FX have teamed up to offer a free fully-licensed version of BCC Reptilian, one of the filters included in the Boris Continuum Materials Unit (pictured).

"BCC Reptilian is designed to simulate the look of scaly or spotted animal skin; by adjusting the colors, textures, and lighting, you can create an amazing variety of effects." There's also a written tutorial on this filter.

February 24, 2010

New tour of Magic Bullet Mojo

Stu Maschwitz narrates a new lip-smackin' good tour of Magic Bullet Mojo (the old one is here). Mojo is a filter that acts like a magic button to give you a blockbuster-type film look often used to add "a subtle coloring effect to warm up actors’ skin tones while backgrounds and shadows get a cool blue treatment." For background see the AEP post on a discussion of examples of Blockbuster Film Look and the related Stu Maschwitz note.

See also Prolost's Memory Colors, which considers color correction of unevenly roasted coffee beans and the optical illusion called the Same Color Illusion.

Intro To Magic Bullet Mojo from Red Giant Software on Vimeo.

February 22, 2010

Customizing text presets in After Effects

Motionworks has a new After Effects tutorial, After Effects: Creating magic from presets – part 1:

"In this two-part tutorial learn how to take basic Adobe After Effects presets and customise them to create your own unique looks. This section focusses on giving a simple text preset a touch-of-class, with a clear explanation of Text Animator Groups, Animator Properties and Range Selectors. Turning a simple typewriter look into something much more special. "

There's more in AEP's AE presets & projects round-up and in AE Help. Here's a Focal Press overview of presets from Chris Meyer:

Update: part 2 of the Motionworks tutorial is up, plus AE Help has more in Examples and resources for text animation.

Update: Rhys-works has an expressions tutorial that creates a typewriter style effect and Example: Create a write-on animation in AE Help shows something similar.

Chinese hackers used same back door as US govt 'wiretaps' + Cyberwar Hype

Following up on Clouds over Google in China? is this, via bldgblog -- Bruce Schneier's editorial on CNN, U.S. enables Chinese hacking of Google:

"In order to comply with government search warrants on user data, Google created a backdoor access system into Gmail accounts. This feature is what the Chinese hackers exploited to gain access.

Google's system isn't unique. Democratic governments around the world -- in Sweden, Canada and the UK, for example -- are rushing to pass laws giving their police new powers of Internet surveillance, in many cases requiring communications system providers to redesign products and services they sell.

Many are also passing data retention laws, forcing companies to retain information on their customers. In the U.S., the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act required phone companies to facilitate FBI eavesdropping, and since 2001, the National Security Agency has built substantial eavesdropping systems with the help of those phone companies.

Systems like these invite misuse: criminal appropriation, government abuse and stretching by everyone possible to apply to situations that are applicable only by the most tortuous logic. The FBI illegally wiretapped the phones of Americans, often falsely invoking terrorism emergencies, 3,500 times between 2002 and 2006 without a warrant. Internet surveillance and control will be no different."


Update: there's more from Wired in 2 articles. First see Cyberwar Hype Intended to Destroy the Open Internet for a reminder about claims from self-interested government contractors like The Carlyle Group.

Then there's ‘Google’ Hackers Had Ability to Alter Source Code,

"A white paper released by security firm McAfee during this week’s RSA security conference in San Francisco provides a couple of new details about the Operation Aurora attacks (.pdf) that affected 34 U.S. companies, including Google and Adobe, beginning last July. McAfee helped Adobe investigate the attack on its system and provided information to Google about malware used in the attacks. [...]

As previously reported, the attackers gained initial access by conducting a spear-phishing attack against specific targets within the company. The targets received an e-mail or instant message that appeared to come from someone they knew and trusted. The communication contained a link to a website hosted in Taiwan that downloaded and executed a malicious JavaScript, with a zero-day exploit that attacked a vulnerability in the user’s Internet Explorer browser.

A binary disguised as a JPEG file then downloaded to the user’s system and opened a backdoor onto the computer and set up a connection to the attackers’ command-and-control servers, also hosted in Taiwan.

From that initial access point, the attackers obtained access to the source-code management system or burrowed deeper into the corporate network to gain a persistent hold."

February 18, 2010

Photoshop 20th anniversary parties

Adobe has a press release on February 18 activities related to Photoshop's 20th anniversary, like these:
Also, check out The Evolution of the Photoshop Splash Screen at PhotshopNews. No doubt, John Nack will have more too; for now see his 2008 posts Happy birthday, Photoshop and Lightroom & Now showing: The original Photoshop icons.

For actual tips see Lynda.com's Photoshop Top 40 Countdown with Deke McClelland, and Russell Brown, Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider, Deke.com, Julieanne Kost, etc. Here's 2 recent tutorials from Deke and Lynda:

Note: According to CoSA, January was the 17th anniversary of the release of After Effects 1.0.

February 17, 2010

Improving performance in After Effects: Caps Lock & beyond

Todd Kopriva notes tips for improving performance in After Effects in today's post, Hooray for empiricism. Brad Chmielewski tests a couple of performance tips.

The test of the tip on Caps Lock rendering performance is in movie form (embedded below too) at Chmielewski's website Digital Hitchhiker, which is listed in the SqueezeMe.tv feeds. He says that Caps Lock is faster even than closing the Comp and Timeline panels.

Update: in 2003 Stephen Schleicher did some similar tests, and "it looks like completely closing the Comp and Timeline Windows actually improves the speed of the Render. Myth now becomes fact."

Using Caps Lock When Rendering In After Effects from Brad Chmielewski on Vimeo.

Fly around CC Sphered layer in After Effects

This post was updated on Pro Video Coalition, as:
Fly around CC Sphere layer in After Effects

The earlier post just discussed an expression on motion graphics eXchange by Filip Vandueren in Ultimate CC Sphere/Light/Comp Camera linker.

February 16, 2010

CC Particle World project(s) from the usual suspect

Andrew Kramer again shows an example of nice work with CC Particle World (the pict doesn't do the animation and environment justice):

"Well here is a test I did using CC Particle World linked to a 3D NULL! I used several copies featuring different settings to serve as the smoke particles and the light debris. I think CC Particle World has great potential to create amazing particles but it may take a little more work when compared to Particular."

He gives you a CS3 After Effects project, but sadly without the lovely environment in the render. Here are some handy examples and After Effect tutorials from earlier AEP posts (gee they're almost all from Video Copilot):

Transforming the Magazine Experience with WIRED

Adobe TV is hosting the video below from Adobe's XD Inspire RIA magazine, Transforming the Magazine Experience with WIRED:

"Built on Adobe AIR and developed with Condé Nast, the tablet prototype we showed during TED... Adobe and WIRED magazine introduce a new digital magazine concept that provides an immersive, interactive content experience for readers and innovative possibilities for advertisers...

There's more at the blog Adobe Digital Publishing. Other demos can be found in the recent AEP post Video in magazines of the future + Apple's Tabula Rasa.

Update: see also iPad e-Books Have No Part in Adobe’s Story from jkOnTheRun.

GenArts buys Tinderbox plug-ins from The Foundry

Fxguide and Xconomy|Boston look at the new strategic alliance between GenArts & The Foundry. Here's an excerpt from Fxguide's GenArts Buys Tinder plugins from the Foundry:

"The details of the deal are not published but as the Tinder Plug-ins are profitable they would have to be purchased at a multiple to the discounted cashflow they would generate, so for example if they generate a million dollars a year then the price would be some multiple of that discounted for inflation and allowing for the cost of getting that money from GenArts investors. This can be something approaching 5 to 10 times price to earnings. This means we will be well into this decade before the Tinder Sparks pay for themselves - assuming no new costs and that they continue to sell at present levels. For GenArts to make any money - and for their investors to see a profit, Hays must have a plan. Only three options seem viable:

* broaden the market to areas the Foundry never engaged such as the nearly 1.5 million legal FCP users
* increase the price (and risk selling less),
* find some way of making more of the technology (out guru the Foundry's Gurus)"

February 15, 2010

After Effects Expressions / Illusions

Stephen daimyo2k has a 6-part After Effects tutorial, Expressions / Illusions, on Youtube that many among other things creates a simple optical illusion without keyframes from a radial ray element created with the Polar Coordinates filter. In a cruder manner, you could instead use the Venetian Blinds transition to get some stripes, compify, and then use Polar Coordinates.

Related tutorials (mostly using Shape layers) can be found under the tag radial ray.

Here's part 6 (via):

Microsoft augmented-reality maps with live video

At TED 2007 Blaise Aguera y Arcas of Microsoft showed Photosynth and Seadragon creating amazing multidimensional spaces with zoom and navigation features; see Multidimensional photos. Since then he's moved to the Bing Maps team and has now presented new stuff like real 3D perspective and one-ups Google Streetview with geotagged Flickr photo integration, indoor imagery, and embedded live streaming video (via).

February 13, 2010

Unplugged 21: Paul Babb & Cinema 4D

Motionworks' Unplugged 21 features an interview with Paul Babb, CEO of Maxon USA:

"Paul Babb is the popular and charismatic CEO of Maxon USA. In this Cinema 4D–focused episode of Unplugged we talk about Paul’s early days [& bits on Electric Image], including a time in film and on the stage; then dive head–first into Cinema 4D and MoGraph and what makes it just the hottest 3D software out there right now."

How To Report The News

Via the Twitterverse is Charlie Brooker, a British Jon Stewart-type who looks at TV, on How To Report The News

February 12, 2010

log2lin and lin2log in Photoshop

Brendan Bolles of fnord software posted log2lin and lin2log in Photoshop; here's an excerpt:

"For the record, you're not crazy if your have a 32-bit linear workflow but want to paint in log space. For one thing, many of Photoshop's tools aren't available in 32-bit (hello, Curves?!?). And some of the tools that are in 32-bit have not been appropriately tweaked for linear (I'm looking at you, Levels). Finally, if you have some film preview profiles, Photoshop can't use them in 32-bit mode like After Effects can.

So by painting in Log, you 1) reclaim some of your favorite tools, 2) can use film preview profiles, and 3) can still paint overbrights because 100% white in log space maps to 13.52 in linear. But be careful! Realize that layers will composite in Log space differently than in linear space, especially if you have soft feathered edges or use transfer modes such as Screen. If you flatten your layers before converting to 32-bit this won't be a problem, but if you need the layers to be separate, make sure you test everything first."

Stereoscopic 3D resources for After Effects

In a thread on the Adobe forums, Troy Church of Adobe collected some After Effects tutorials for stereoscopic 3D (via Todd Kopriva):
See also Rick Gerard's response in that thread.

A few more resources can be found in previous AEP posts:

For background see Fxguide's The Art of Digital 3D Stereoscopic Film, and check out Twitter streams like steroclub and hashtag #stereoscopic. A pretty cool pre-vis tool with 3D for filmmakers is FrameForge Previz Studio.

Adobe started a resource page for Stereoscopic 3D in the Production Premium suite; see also AEP posts Realtime 3D stereoscopic editing in Premiere CS5 and DSLR and 3D stereoscopic resources for Premiere. The catalog of AEP news notes for AE and Premiere is organized under the tag

Update: Gizmodo has some nice intros on 3D; here's a picture from one:

Update 2: Later, Gizmodo has more The Movie Studios’ Big 3D Scam.

Update 3
: the dust-up continues at the LA Times in Fight over 3-D screens heats up with high-pressure tactics.

Update 4: Gadget Stereoscopic Preview is a new plug-in for After Effects CS 5 (Windows-only) that provides real-time 3D preview on a capable 3D display (NVIDIA® 3D Vision; Over/Under render on a 3D TV).

Also, Post magazine December 2010 has an overview Outlook on 3D Stereo which includes comments by Jim Geduldick of Final Cut User and AENY.

Update 5: Be sure to see the FAQ by Amir Stone, Understanding Stereoscopic 3D in After Effects, and stereoscopic 3D in After Effects CS5.5 by Todd Kopriva and AE Help updates.

Lone Twitter: Apple lays off 40 of Final Cut team

Only one report so far (not double counting):

"Apple laid off 40 of my old Final Cut team yesterday, lots of good people, despite high profits."

By the way, Pete Warden, who once released free AE filters, was featured on ReadWriteWeb a few days ago in The Man Who Looked Into Facebook's Soul.

Update: The post isn't wrong -- it just reported a Twitter item. And while it doesn't mean that Final Cut is doomed, it is interesting that Pro App teams in LA and Austin seems to have been cut confidently before NAB. Then again Adobe laid off about 600 workers in 2008 and another 680 in 2009 (about 9% of its workforce each time).

By the way Pete Warden's filters haven't worked in recent versions of AE (they were released before he worked at Apple), but they are open source so someone can build on them.

FX industry troubles: Lee Stranahan, Scott Ross + editing

Recently 2 news stories on the FX industry in China and California attracted wide attention (see VFX offshoring unpleasantness), and were followed by an Open Letter To James Cameron: Fairness For Visual Effects Artists by Lee Stranahan in the Huffington Post.

Today Fxguide posted background info and an interview with Stranahan in fxpodcast: An Open Letter to James Cameron.

If you like this, be sure to check out the December 2009 Fxpodcast with industry pioneer Scott Ross on history and the future of the visual effects business as outsourcing away from the USA accelerates.

Update: even editors are worried about outsourcing now, with remote collaboration tools available like iChat Theater in Final Cut Pro 7 or Fuze.

Update 2: on 03/05/2010 Mark Christiansen asks, Is a Visual Effects Guild to Materialize this Decade? Fxguide has a few more items in Visual Effects link roundup.

Transcriptize: CS4 transcriptions to Media Composer, Excel, and Final Cut

Assisted Editing has a new product it seems to make Adobe speech transcriptions more useful for users of other software. Transcriptize takes transcriptions from Adobe CS4 Production Premium to Media Composer, Excel and Final Cut Pro.

48 After Effects tutorials + 70 for Cinema 4D

Following up his recent post at his VisualFXtuts, Topher Welsh collects a few not mentioned here in his latest roundup of After Effects tutorials at AEtuts, 48 After Effects Tutorials From The Reaches of the Interwebs.

Also, the Programming Blog collects 70 Ultimate Cinema 4D Tutorials & Techniques.

February 11, 2010

Basic Footage Coloring And Object Removal

If you have footage that's old and faded or in black & white, and you want to colorize it and take some junk out, take a look at the After Effects tutorial Basic Footage Coloring And Object Removal by Jay H. at AEtuts.

3D printing technology applied to stop-motion

The Art of the Title Sequence has a look and interview about 3D printing technology applied to classic stop-motion, Het Klokhuis (+ Johnny Kelly interview), via Dale Bradshaw:

'“Het Klokhuis” (The Apple Core) ... is Holland’s oldest youth television show, covering everything from the history of dinosaurs to how an iPhone is made. It is a hybrid of hand crafted frame-by-frame animation and cleanly rendered apples with sprouting science experiments encapsulated like the seed of an idea about to be discovered.'

Nvidia demos Mercury Playback Engine

Nvidia has some newer "real world use cases" of Adobe's future Mercury Playback Engine, with silent demos of keying, color correction, picture-in-picture, compositing, and encoding.

Any one needing power playback and encoding should consider supported cards GeForce GTX 285 (~ $300), the Quadro FX 4800, 5800, or the Quadro CX if they are upgrading machines now.

'Satellite truck in a backpack' by Livestream

Lagging a bit here, but mobile live video services from UStream, Qik, and Skype are joined by Livestream. Via NYT Lens then Engadget, Red Ferret explains :
"They’re calling it a satellite truck in a backpack, and at $2500 a month rental ($1500 a month on the annual plan) it could just revolutionise the whole news and local event reporting business in a big way. The monthly fee covers 30 hours of streaming including data fees, so small operators suddenly have a way to compete with the big shot news reporting outfits at a price that’s a game changer. Amazing tech. US only at the moment alas.
Just hook your Firewire DV camera up to the backpack, which contains 6 load balanced 3G/EVDO SIM card modems [over three carriers - AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint], press the record button and you’re live to the world from anywhere there’s a 3G cell phone signal. The box contains the encoder and battery, and you can attach an external battery to give up to 3 hours of continuous recording at a time. The video is HD, 1 Mbps, H.264, so your viewers will not be disappointed with the image quality either."

Update: There are a few other implementations, one by AVIWest, and another release of LivePro by Kyte.

Comments from the latter article note that they'll all have to compete with 4G and the iPhone during the failing of traditional media, and "TWIT did this at CES a month ago using a home-built setup with the same basic configuration (multiple synchronous 3G cards)."

February 10, 2010

After Effects Facebook + Twitter now owned by AE team

via Michael Coleman, the After Effects Facebook page is now actually run by the AE team -- and apparently there's an AdobeAE Twitter page too.

Update: here's some buzz on the downsides of social networks,

After Effects: Extended Vignette Techniques

Chris and Trish Meyer continue their Lynda.com After Effects tutorials with Extended Vignette Techniques, which shows "multiple approaches to guiding the viewer’s focus" -- as well as tips on masking, creating shape layers, editing gradients, painting in After Effects, lighting in 3D, motion stabilization, using filters like CC Circle, etc.

For other After Effects tutorials see the previous AEP post Custom effects & vignettes in After Effects. Here's a sample from Chris:

Rotoscoping tips

Via Joost van der Hoeven is 6 great rotoscoping tips from Imagineer Systems by TheBlackbox.org:
  1. There is no such thing as a perfect matte. Rotoscoping is an art form that takes into account the background image, the movement of the object, and the new elements to be composited in the background.
  2. Try to start your shape at its most complex point in time, where it will need the most control points.
  3. Break a complex shape into multiple simple shapes. If you are rotoscoping a humanoid form and an arm becomes visible, consider rotoscoping the arm as its own element, rather than adding extra points on the body that will serve no purpose when the arm is obscured.
  4. Imagine you are the animator who created the shot. What would your dope sheet look like? No matter the medium, whether CG, live action or otherwise, most movements are rarely linear. They normally move in arcs; they normally accelerate in and out of stopped positions. Try and understand the mechanics behind how things are moving in your shot. This will help you to minimize keyframes.
  5. Watch and study the shot before you start working. Where are the changes in directions? These will normally have keyframes. Where are the starts and stops? Are there camera moves that can be stabilized to make your work easier?
  6. Don’t be afraid to trash your work and start over. Beginning roto artists often make the mistake of trying to fix a flawed approach by adding more and more keyframes. Experienced roto artists learn to quickly identify an inferior approach and are unashamed to trash their work and start over, often many, many times. It is very difficult to get a good matte without a conscious effort to keep the keyframes to a minimum.
Rotoscoping, roto for short, has been more fully explained by Matt Silverman of Commotion Complete fame in The Art of Roto at Fxguide [updated 2011] and by Commotion's creator and ILM alumni Scott Squires in blog posts and movies at his Effects Corner blog. More recently, Fxguide's The Art of Wire Removal covered some of the same ground.

And from the same talent pool is a handy summary of tips in Confessions of a Roto Artist: Three Rules For Better Mattes (PDF) by Scott Stewart (now a movie director), who did the roto tape for the out-of-print Masters of Visual Effects:

While still missing key features, there's plenty of rotoscoping done in AE, and many good After Effects tutorials. Sean Kennedy takes you through Rotoscoping Tools in After Effects, and Pete O'Connell (now found under Nuke) has a tutorial movie Rotoscoping in AE and a DVD, Advanced Rotoscoping Techniques for Adobe After Effects, at Creative Cow. Also, there are several tutorials involving rotoscoping with Imagineer Mocha & Mocha Shape, some noted in AEP's More mocha tracking & roto, as well as several by Mathias Möhl using his AE script MochaImport. Digital Tutors has a course for CS4 too, Rotoscoping Techniques in After Effects.

Todd Kopriva has a few more tips (from Pete O'Connell) in his Rotoscoping in After Effects and in After Effects Help. And of course there were previous posts here at AEP, tagged .

Update: The Art of Roto: 2011 by Mike Seymour at Fxguide is a super update to previous surveys of rotoscoping. It includes an interview with Scott Squires, who created Commotion (a desktop roto/paint/com tool) while at ILM.

Fxguide's 'Art of' Tracking, Keying, Roto, Optical Flow, HDR, 3D Stereo, & more

Fxguide's 'Art of' series is still pretty good. Here's what's easily found in the series:
Covering some of the same ground is "classic" VFX training resurrected for now on Vimeo, the out-of-print Masters of Visual Effects.

February 9, 2010

Butterfly animation in After Effects

Aetuts+ has a sneak peek of a new After Effects tutorial, Create An Astonishing Butterfly Animation, in their pay library, which you can take for a spin for $9 a month for access to the entire network of tutorials.

Tutorials for creating and animating just one 3D butterfly in AE include the Animating a Butterfly text by Marek Doszla (with expressions and time remapping) and a 2-part video tutorial by J. Shuh at Layers magazine, Animated Butterfly in After Effects.

Update: Harry Frank also did butterflies as a project to teach something about expressions in this free sample tutorial of his inexpensive training set After Effects Expressions.

Michael Pollan on 'Food Rules'

On Monday, Democracy Now hosted Michael Pollan on Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual,

'the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, discusses the link between healthcare and diet, the dangers of processed foods, the power of the meat industry lobby, the “nutritional-industrial complex,” the impact industrial agriculture has on global warming, and his sixty-four rules for eating. “The markets are full of what I call edible food-like substances that you have to avoid,” says Michael Pollan. “So a lot of the rules are to help you, you know, navigate that now very treacherous landscape of the American supermarket.” Today we air an excerpt of the Oscar-nominated documentary Food, Inc. and then spend the rest of the show with Michael Pollan.'

The interview starts near 9:30.

February 8, 2010

Adding motion blur to video or 3D renders

In a way similar vein as creating slow motion with still frames using AE Time Warp or RE:Vision Effects Twixtor Pro (as shown by Eran Stern recently), you can add motion blur to video or 3D renders with AE's CC Force Motion Blur or Time Warp filters or with ReelSmart Motion Blur. Both of the latter 2 filters use motion estimation for better results, as noted in After Effects Help:
This post was updated on PVC in October 2011; see Adding motion blur in After Effects.

3D smoke trails with Particular and Optical Flares

In a new After Effects tutorial from Vieo Copilot, Smoke Trails, Andrew Kramer uses Trapcode Particular and a single smoke picture to create smoke trails with 3D turbulence. Andrew also add bright lights with Video Copilot's hot new filter Optical Flares.

Create 3D coin & animate stacking in After Effects

MaxAfter has an After Effects tutorial and project that creates 3D coins in After Effects and animates stacking them on top of each other.

Loop AE layers with one click

The Loopmaker is a new script at AE Scripts that "loops any layers, footage or comps with one click. The script will loop any amount of selected layers from the furthest in-point and the last out-point by pre-composing and doing a dissolving loop. It will then apply an expression to the looped comp so that it can be stretched infinitely from either the in or the out-point. There is an option to use the Blend effect instead of using opacity to make the dissolve."

AE Help shows a few other ways to loop footage and other items; other resources include the script pt_AutoExpress and a tutorial from Motionworks: Looping a Precomp.

February 7, 2010

Create3DShapes: improved After Effects script

AE Scripts has a new version of Create3DShapes that allows you to distribute layers as a box, sphere, cylinder, pyramid, or ellipsoid (e.g. rugby ball, with controllable x,y,z-radius) -- as well as a MengerSponge (pictured) and 3DFallingDominoes. This version has a gain in speed using precomputed arrangements and can create a giant sphere with up to 1000 layers in seconds.

AE expressions and interpolation methods

Chris and Trish Meyer posted the 2nd of a 12-part series, Deeper Modes of Expression, based on an extra in their book, Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects. The second installment is Deeper Modes of Expression, Part 2: Interpolation Methods Chris Meyer (replacement for a calculator).

February 6, 2010

Sneak peek: Future Photoshop masking technology

John Nack has a Sneak peek: Future Photoshop masking technology, which shows off some new selection technology that offers better edge detection and masking results in less time--even with tricky images like hair.

Some related stuff was mentioned by Chris & Trish Meyer yesterday, and by various authors (including an AEP sampling) last year when SIGGRAPH 2009 papers & projects went online.

Motion graphics created with programming

Smashing Magazine has a nice feature on Beautiful Motion Graphics Created With Programming : Showcase, Tools and Tutorials.

February 5, 2010

Video of San Francisco Final Cut SuperMeet

Via The Editblog, there's Live feed of San Francisco Final Cut SuperMeet mentioned here last week. Update: the recording is available too, as are some oldies on MacVideo.

Live TV : Ustream

Adobe Repoussé & more from Adobe Community Summit

Noted previously only from rumors, Chris and Trish Meyer report from inside Adobe’s head, at least the kosher parts, from the recent Adobe Community Leaders Summit.

The overview discusses several things known about After Effects and video in CS5: 64-bit OS and 64-bit plug-ins required, Adobe Mercury Playback Engine, Adobe Story and metadata, Flash Catalyst, but also something new -- Adobe Repoussé and maybe other already sneak-peeked technologies that seem destined for Photoshop.

Update: Feb 16, Sources offer peek at Adobe Creative Suite 5 for Mac.

Visual Language for Designers

Vizworld noted a review by Jessica Palmer at Bioephemera of the book Visual Language for Designers: Principles for Creating Graphics that People Understand by Connie Malamed.

See also Malamud's blog, an extension of the book, Understanding Graphics — Design For The Human Mind.