March 31, 2010

SplatterType: splatter animations with just a few clicks

via @hashae, Quba Michalski has a new free After Effects tutorial (+preset & project), SplatterType:

"that will allow you to create amazing ink and paint splatter animations with just a few clicks. Much like my Alphabet Soup tutorial, SplatterType relies only on After Effects text animators and does not require any additional plugins (3rd or even 1st party). Robust set of controls make it highly customizable, while the expressions work in the background to do all the hard work for you."

I had to do a double-take on Quba's post dated April 1st, but he's in Istanbul.

SplatterType Tutorial and Preset Preview from Quba Michalski on Vimeo.

Mr. Mercury, blobby text + water drops

There was a question on the After Effects-List about how to go from liquid to your original image using the built-in CC Mr Mercury filter.
Here are a few of the responses:
  • Either create a fully covering blast of particles and fade to original or use Blobbylize instead, with Particle Systems II or such and fade in a solid alpha [from Jens @ Cycore]
  • try precomposing your sequence and then just reverse your precomped animation.
  • yes play it backwards. And do a crossfade. See the old case study... by Chris Meyer from 1998 [Chris and Trish have a ton of stuff buried at PVC]
  • if you animate the blob birth and death sizes from small to well past the slider range of 2 to something like 5.4 for death size, the blobs go to form the original image.
There's not much solid info on Mr. Mercury in AE Help or at Cycore, but Andrew Kramer has nice quick tutorial, Video Copilot tutorial 57. Water Drops.

Motion Theory expands tilt-shift for March Madness

Motion Theory social media outreach mentioned their work on March Madness ad spots that feature digital head replacement (for John Wooden) and a nice touch of a tilt-shift like effect to create miniatures (below).

Update: for more sports mograph, see Graphics Mafia, and for another miniatures treatment see Psyop Sprints to the End Zone.

Open Forum for Motion Design Standards of Practice

FXguide’s Jeff Heusser had some comments on the VFX Town Hall in VFX Town Hall – how did it go, what did it mean? and John Nack mentioned NYT coverage of the brutal market for pro photographers.

And now via Filmbot is The Open Forum for Motion Design Standards of Practice:

"an open, collaborative site aims at establishing standards of practice for employers and employees in the motion design industry, including freelance animators, designers, art directors, and visual effects artists.The site's goals include:
  • creating an organized repository of best practices for motion design employers and employees.
  • providing practical tips for freelancers and contract artists.
  • establishing and discussing ethical and professional standards for the motion design industry."
Motiongrapher had some background a few weeks ago in Freelance Standards of Practice.

Update: the Freelancers Union takes polls and exposes delinquent clients.

Motion estimated morphing time-remapping on stills

Lester Banks posted a cool technique from "The Great Zimm" on Vimeo. Untested here, it uses Pixel Motion on a short still sequence in After Effects, which yields some easy motion-estimated morphing time-remapping that was pretty smooth in the later examples that had very little motion. If things don't work the way you want, you may find more control using the Timewarp filter (Chris Meyer says you can check out additional details on this filter in The Foundry's Kronos documentation).

This recalls a recent method shown by Eran Stern that created a video with extreme slow motion using just a few still frames with Twixtor; see Extreme slow motion using still frames in AE. [update: Later in RE:Flex Still-to-Still Morphs in AE, Lori Freitag covers the basics of morphing between still images within After Effects using the RE:Flex Morph plug-in.]

Update: This technique might also be applied to smooth over jump cuts.

As noted in Morph to smooth a jump cut, Wes Plate uses RE:Flex (Motion Morph) to do this. Seamless smoothing over jump cuts can be quite complicated and may require animating and tracking masks of facial features (eyes as they blink, mouth, dimples, brow wrinkles, nostrils) as well as hair & clothing for the better part of a second on each side of an edit to guide the morph. There's actually a transition for this in Avid, Illusion FX> Fluid Morph, can work in some cases.

March 30, 2010

VFX TownHall leftovers for examination + VFX Union Panel/Chat Room

It's so over, making this post a bit repetitive, but hey...

Conditions can be tough for people working in advertising and visual effects as economic and technological pressures realign the industries. A flurry of stories last month (see FX industry troubles: Lee Stranahan, Scott Ross + editing), culminated in a VFX TownHall meeting last night.

If you missed it live, there's a Twitter potluck #VFXTownHall and audio of the event provided by VFx Haiku and to lighten the bandwidth burden by Fxguide. There's more to come, but for now some the glamor of VFX is discussed at Cracked in The 5 Miserable VFX Jobs That Make Movies Possible.

Update: via @alba #vfxtownhall sprouting corridors in every direction [Wednesday] tonight 7:30pm PST @dorkmanscott doing panel @ via @neonmarg

Update 2: Scott Squires, with VFX experience ranging from Close Encounters to Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, posted VFX TownHall Meeting thoughts [and later added more].

Update 3: Creative COW avoids the term outsourcing in the recently published Worldsourcing: A Prime Focus on Global VFX Collaboration by Mike Fink, which uses another term -- Collaboration:the new buzzword in advertising, production, & online video.

You might compare "collaboration" to the other views noted earlier in The PEN story: another YouTube Dilemma and The Carrot is the Stick which noted Motionographer's Mass Animation=Mass Exploitation?

March 29, 2010

Photoshop Top 40 tips + Auto-select

Here's an old Photoshop tip from Design O'Blog via @PhotshopPlus, Quick Tip #3 – Photoshop Auto-select (I also like the context menu to select), and more from Deke McClelland's weekly Photoshop Top 40 tips video series:

There are tons of other good resources; here's just a few: Russell Brown, Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider, Julieanne Kost (+ tips blog), PSDTuts, AdobeTV.

Update: it looks this one came out just in time before CS5 changes the plying field, The Ultimate Guide To Cloning In Photoshop.

Shatterize: AE Pixel Polly + expression tutorial

Video Copilot posted a new After Effects tutorial using CC Pixel Polly, (ships with AE), Shatterize:

"In this tutorial we will be creating a progressive shatter effect using the Pixel Poly plug-in and some simple expressions. This 20 minute tutorial is an expansion to the 3D Ball Dispersion technique for offsetting animated layers, to achieve a unique burn-away look."

Update: There's another project example of Pixel Polly by Ayato/Hindley, and another use by Andrew Kramer in Video Copilot #98: Particle World explosion.

Final Cut Studio 3 slower than FCS 2, CS5 faster than CS4

Rob Morgan’s Bare Feats Final Cut Studio shootout and secondchairvideo (via Douglas Parker) say that Final Cut Studio 3 Disappoints in Further Testing (with Leopard and Snow Leopard), while Adobe claims faster rendering AE & Premiere CS5 according to Michael Coleman in the Motionworks interview and @KarlSoule in Debunking Mercury Myths.

We'll have to wait at least until after April 12 to see if some brave soul will test both the Apple and Adobe suites. Of course, stability and features are another matter.

ArabicText: script for Arabic text flow in AE

UPDATE: Creative Cloud incorporates RTL text in the release of June 2016 (Arabic video; Hebrew demo).


UPDATETypewriter effects in After Effects at PVC (August 2013) updates the status of Right-to-Left writing systems like Arabic and Hebrew.

AE Scripts has another script for text manipulation in After Effects, ArabicText, by Salahuddin Taha. Arabic, Hebrew, and other texts are written from right to left, but AE flows letters from left to right in the Composition panel (oddly, the Layer Name stays correct).

TextReverser, from LLoyd Alvarez fixes the flow when the letters are standalone, but broke the letter back into individuals. Arabic is cursive and has medial letterforms, and needed another approach.

Later: There's now an Animation Preset, Typewriter-RTL, that "only works with 2 keyframes that reveal the text from beginning to end."

The Foundry: Kronos, 3D CameraTracker at NAB, +podcast

Fxguide has some extra detail on new After Effects plug-ins from The Foundry to be shown at NAB.

Kronos is for "hard core retiming" -- leveraging GPU and built on a newer foundation than the Timewarp version in AE CS4 -- and CameraTracker for 3D matchmoving (from ? Nuke X) directly inside After Effects.

There's more in Exclusive: Foundry NAB Preview at Fxguide, [updated] and in today's podcast, The Foundry: New "Blink" Tech for Plugins.

A few spirographs in After Effects

Spirographs in After Effects had it's 15-minutes of fame several years ago and lost in the mists of time around here anyway, except for tutorial/project posts from Chris Zwar, Ayato, and Michele Yamazaki (now only in her book).

... this post was updated on ProVideo Coalition as Spirographs in After Effects.

Note: code from comments by Jason Lee Peacock,

I've recently been looking into this topic myself, but within a 3D space (thanks to the modified code of Dan Ebberts) , having seen this via Quba Michalski .. Literally clueless to the math ( ) I just kept tweaking Dan's code until I got the result I was after..

r = 200; //radius of sphere
Theta = Math.PI*time*5*Math.sin(10)/2;
Phi = Math.PI*time*1/2;
theta = ease(time,Theta,Theta);
phi = ease(time,Phi,Phi);
sinPhi = Math.sin(phi);
x = r*Math.cos(theta)*sinPhi;
y = r*Math.sin(theta)*sinPhi;
z = r*Math.cos(phi);
center = thisComp.layer("Null: Center").position;
center + [x,y,z]

Another Photoshop CS5 sneak peek

Another Photoshop CS5 sneak peek was given at Photoshop World 2010 in Orlando last week, including examples of Content Aware Fill and Auto Lens Correction. A Youtube was posted by Photography Bay (via), plus an older one by Russell Brown:

March 28, 2010

Unplugged 22: AE's Michael Coleman

Motionworks' Unplugged 22 features an interview with Michael Coleman:

"Michael Coleman is the product manager for Adobe After Effects. In this interview, Michael discusses his background and how he juggled a university major in economics and a career in graphic and motion design. We also discuss the evolution of Adobe After Effects, and with the soon-to-be-released CS5 version of After Effects being 64-bit, Michael explains in detail, exactly what that means, and why it’s important."

Downloads for stereo 3D at Enhanced Dimensions

Andrew Murchie of Enhanced Dimensions has added another section aimed at After Effects users to the Stereoscopic 3D downloads section of the site, including support files for various S3D tutorials plus AE 3D scenes or objects free for use in non-commercial videos.

There is a dust-up over 3D hype, covered in The Movie Studios’ Big 3D Scam at Gizmodo, Michael Bay And James Cameron Skeptical Of 3D Conversions: "The Jury Is Out" at, and Fight over 3-D screens heats up with high-pressure tactics at the LA Times, but development continues at some level even for After Effects users.

For more, see some nice intros on Gizmodo (Giz Explains and How 3D Works) and an AEP roundup, Stereoscopic 3D resources for After Effects.

Update: 5tu tweeted about a more reasonably-priced iPhone stereo 3D calculator app than RealD Pro Stereo 3D Calc -- IOD calc, which calculates the inter-ocular distance needed for each camera setup based on measurements from set.

Also, Toolfarm noted a Cineform tutorial on Muxing 2D CineForm clips for 3D "for those getting started with 3D. This explains how to take separate Left and Right eye CineForm AVI or MOVs and multiplex them into a single CineForm 3D clip."

Update 2: another angle at NewTeeVee, Is Hollywood Overestimating the Appeal of 3-D?

Update 3: also, Samsung Issues 3-D TV Warning as 3D TV may cause physical and perceptual after effects -- and that's beyond the 5 Reasons 3D TV Won't Take Off noted by The Wrap.

March 26, 2010

More After Effects news this week

Here are some other bits not mentioned earlier, topped by a few posts from Todd Kopriva. Todd reminds us that if "you're thinking about making the move from After Effects CS3 to After Effects CS5, don't forget about this other great stuff that comes along" from CS4. He also said that on April 12 that he'd "be publishing the entire After Effects CS5 Help document, which will include detailed information about all of the new and changed features. I'll also be accumulating links to other people's feature summaries, reviews, and such on this blog."

Todd also says that "64-bit Windows 7, 64-bit Windows Vista, and Mac OS X 10.5 or higher are the operating systems that After Effects CS5 will run on. ...The design of Mac OS separated the kernel address space from the client (application) address space, which is why Apple can fully support running a 64-bit program on a 32-bit kernel. On Leopard, this is the only option; and it's the default on Snow Leopard." If you're getting a new computer, it might be good to invest in an approved CUDA graphics card that works with the Mercury Engine in Premiere (GeForce GTX 285 is the cheapest), especially if you use DSLR or RED video sources according to Karl Soule.

There's more:
  • from PVC: "The Adobe User Research team is conducting a series of usability studies at NAB in Las Vegas from April 12 to 14. If you plan to go to Las Vegas for the 2010 NAB show and are interested in participating in our usability study, please take a few minutes to respond to the online survey. In order to participate in this usability study, it is not necessary for you to be currently using Adobe’s creative software."

  • motion graphics eXchange noted an After Effects tutorial on how to create a believable sunrise matte painting by CGSwat, the Switch Accepts Lights/Shadows Script, and an expression for random rotation in specific angles.
  • There's a new free project download from Eran Stern – Cinematic Intro, a ready-made opener courtesy of
  • Spacescape is an Open Source tool for Windows that creates space skyboxes with stars and nebulas (via Lester Banks again). It seems like a decent idea for an After Effects filter.

March 25, 2010

Adjustment Lights in Trapcode Particular and Lux

The Red Giant QuickTip series continues with video #4- Adjustment Lights, in which Harry Frank shows you how to manage lights for Trapcode Particular and Lux, lighting other 3D layers and preventing emitter lights from effecting them.

By the way there's a list of Official Trapcode Suite training videos by Peder Norrby on Trapcode Sharelog.

Red Giant QuickTip #4 - Adjustment Lights from Red Giant Software on Vimeo.

Update: check out also Particular Shadow Mapping, a demo with project for version 2.

March 24, 2010

The Foundry: new After Effects plug-ins at NAB

The Foundry’s plug-in team is planning to demonstrate two brand new plug-ins for After Effects at NAB. Jim Geduldick (@Filmbot) of AENY will demonstrating them at the Foundry stand. There will also be FurnaceCore on Avid DS demonstrations at the Avid booth.

It's good to know that The Foundry will still be developing AE filters after the GenArts purchase of the Tinderbox plug-ins (RollingShutter AE wasn't included).

Update: Read about it in Exclusive: Foundry NAB Preview at Fxguide Mar 29, 2010.

March 23, 2010

CS5 announcement on April 12

The countdown to the launch of Adobe CS5 suites has begun (via #csbuzz). You can register for the event and look at sneak peeks at

Update: See also the very cool Sneak peek video of Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop via John Nack. Older sneak peeks were already noted on AEP along with other more academic technology explorations.

Update: Todd Kopriva reminds us that if "you're thinking about making the move from After Effects CS3 to After Effects CS5, don't forget about this other great stuff that comes along" from CS4.

Felt Tips tutorials: Chain Rendering + Keylight Stroke

Via Lester Banks is Felt Tips’ After Effects tutorial on Chain Rendering. Felt Tips has another one on how to stroke a bitmap using Keylight and solid composite.

Felt Tips' After Effects Quick Tips. #3. Chain Rendering from Felt Tips on Vimeo.

Felt Tips' After Effects Quick Tips. #1. Keylight Stroke from Felt Tips on Vimeo.

PhotoLooks: Magic Bullet for Photoshop

Red Giant Software has released Magic Bullet PhotoLooks and Knoll Light Factory for Photoshop.

With Magic Bullet PhotoLooks you get the same easy-to-use interface with the Quick Drawer preset library and the editable graphic image-processing chain as you do with Magic Bullet Looks in After Effects.

[Later, Jack Tunnicliffe added "More importantly you can load a huge image into PS that will fail in AE" and then designer Stu Maschwitz explained why.]

Beside the advanced UI, which is like a the parent to the Video Copilot Optical Flares interface, you can work in the standalone version and also share work with the other products. Here's Red Giant Quick Tip #2 - Sharing Looks Between Apps with Aharon Rabinowitz showing you how to share your Look presets among Photoshop, After Effects, and Final Cut Pro.

Update: Magic Bullet Looks was mentioned (spot exposure for skin tones and grad exposure to bring the exposure of the foreground or background up or down) in Into the Haiti earthquake zone – Khalid Mohtaseb covers the aftermath on 5DmkII at DSLR News Shooter.

Update 2: see also Red Giant Quick Tip #5 - From Candid Photo to Work of Art:

March 22, 2010

Grading with Color Wheels

Olivers Peters has results of his casual testing of Grading with Color Wheels in a variety of apps including Avid, Apple Color, Aperture, Magic Bullet Looks, Colorista, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Color Finesse. There's plenty in this article which may pique your curiosity to compare further. Oliver was interested in:

"how each treated the image when you used the color wheels. After I did a quick test, it was obvious that FCP and Avid don’t process the image in quite the same way, even when you push what appears to be the equivalent control in the same direction. So I decided to dig a bit deeper. [snip]

In my opinion, Synthetic Aperture Color Finesse produced the most pleasing results out of all of these video images. A version of Color Finesse is also available as a standalone grading application, which uses a similar workflow to Apple Color. In any case, it’s right inside Adobe After Effects [it ships on the install disc], though many editors aren’t even aware of the power they already own if they have the CS3 or CS4 bundle!"

Update: see also Controlling the Color Wheels in Final Cut and Apple's Color by Patrick Inhofer.

Next Adobe Lightroom dips toes in video waters

CNET reports that the Next Adobe Lightroom dips toes in video waters:

"A second beta of Lightroom 3 due Monday will get the ability to import and manage videos, according to what looks like a legitimate if prematurely posted Adobe news release at Digital Photography Now.

Adobe didn't respond to requests for comment. But according to the release, these features also look to be in the new version [of the public the beta]:

• Tethered shooting, a feature professionals like that lets photos be sent directly from the camera to a computer as they're shot. It works with Canon and Nikon cameras.
• A second crack at a reworked import process--a change from Lightroom 2 that forum commenters seemed either to loathe or like. Images also import and load faster.
• Fleshed-out noise reduction that's central to the Lightroom 3 promise of better image quality: instead of just offering chrominance noise reduction that deals with color variation, the new beta adds luminance noise reduction that deals with brightness variation."

Update: Julieanne Kost explains What's New in Lightroom 3 Beta beta 2 on AdobeTV, the 4th in the series on LR3. See more at Photoshop User (video) and at Lightroom Journal, which has tips and advice straight from the Lightroom team.

**Update 2: the Indianapolis FCP User Group has a 7-part series (!) by Rob Chinn on Aperture 3 - Video Asset Management: Tips, Tricks, & Resources.

Adobe Story to the iPad?

Sébastien Périer is asking for a port for Adobe Story to the iPad. That's the essence of the message but he does mention several pre-production tools on the iPhone if that's an area you haven't explored.

Meanwhile, Hand Held Hollywood says that Final Draft For IPad Looking For Beta Testers!

March 19, 2010

Blips on the AE radar this week

In an almost eerie quiet in the weeks before NAB and an anticipated announcement by Adobe (org + brand + buzz), there were still noteworthy blips on the radar not mentioned here recently. Here's a few:
Update: Todd Kopriva has a list of people helping out a lot lately as Top After Effects Community Help contributors.

Four techniques for combining fonts + type videos

Via @daleBradshaw is Four Ways to Mix Fonts from Ask H&FJ, which at base says "keep one thing consistent, and let one thing vary" before explaining their 4 approaches:
  1. Use a palette with wit -- use typefaces with complimentary moods to evoke an energetic air
  2. Use a palette with energy -- mix typefaces from the same historical period whose families have different features
  3. Use a palette with poise -- mix typefaces with similar line quality if they offer different textures
  4. Use a palette with dignity -- mix typefaces with similar proportions and give each a different role
Also, check out Choosing Fonts for Annual Reports again from Ask H&FJ.

To see stuff in motion, check out the new roundup on AETuts by Topher Welsh, 25 Amazing Typography Videos, and part of series of round-ups by Motion Design Love, Nice Type Tuesday 10.

UPDATE: in late 2014 featured Foundations of Typography: Choosing and Combining Typefaces with Ina Saltz.


Data Baby: generative graphics spot from IBM

AEScripts tweeted about a "cool generative graphics spot for IBM by Motion Theory." There more on these spots at Motion Theory and Motionographer, who links to a behind-the-scenes look Data Baby.

Update: took a quick look at IBM Data Anthem,

'James Frost, director of the popular music video clip “House of Cards” by Radiohead among others was approached by Ogilvy & Mather NY to direct the new spot...'

IBM Data Anthem from Benjamin Wiederkehr on Vimeo. +

Excerpts from NewTeeVee, Kaltura Launches, Publishes HTML5 Media Library:

Open source video platform provider Kaltura launched a new site called today that is meant to be an industry resource for HTML5 video-related issues. The site is supported by Mozilla, the Open Video Alliance and the Wikimedia Foundation. The launch coincides with the release of Kaltura’s HTML5 Media Library, which enables web site owners to embed videos in their sites through HTML5 without locking out users of older browsers that don’t support Flash-free web video just yet.

The unveiling of comes only one day after
the launch of another site promoting HTML5 video to end users., which was launched yesterday by the Participatory Culture Foundation with support from Kaltura and others also involved with, wants to get users to contribute more video to Wikipedia., on the other hand, seems much more geared toward professionals, offering business headlines as well as a link to a forum hosted by Kaltura’s open source video developer community at

Read more on NewTeeVee.

Broadcast Yourself: YouTube answers Viacom

As GoogleTV tries to get off the ground, YouTube has some interesting comments about a Viacom lawsuit:

'For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately "roughed up" the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko's to upload clips from computers that couldn't be traced to Viacom. And in an effort to promote its own shows, as a matter of company policy Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users. Executives as high up as the president of Comedy Central and the head of MTV Networks felt "very strongly" that clips from shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report should remain on YouTube.

Viacom's efforts to disguise its promotional use of YouTube worked so well that even its own employees could not keep track of everything it was posting or leaving up on the site. As a result, on countless occasions Viacom demanded the removal of clips that it had uploaded to YouTube, only to return later to sheepishly ask for their reinstatement. In fact, some of the very clips that Viacom is suing us over were actually uploaded by Viacom itself.'

Here's a TechMeme cluster for background.

TechDirt goes in deep with Analysis Of Google And Viacom's Arguments Over YouTube: A Lot Of He Said/She Said.

March 18, 2010

AERender, an AE render droplet for OS X

Lester Banks notes a AERender, an AE render droplet for OS X:

"With AE AE app from Andrew Hake, you can run multiple instances of After Effects on Mac OS X. The application simply automates the process Todd Kopriva noted which is to start After Effects from the command line with the -m switch, this command line trick will work on both mac and windows os’s."

AE Help covers the same ground and has a large number of additional tips to Improve performance. Andrew made a quick demo of AERender & AEae (both available in his labs section):

AEae & AERender - Demo from Andrew Hake on Vimeo.

March 16, 2010

898: the maximum number of scripts in AE CS4

On the After Effects Mail List, the AE team's Jeff Almasol noted that subfolders influence the maximum number of scripts in After Effects CS4:

"...check for a script that contains a subfolder of support script files. the older version of the script lloyd referenced had something like 1000 files in a subfolder, but an updated version seems to have fixed it (by enclosing the folder in parentheses). also follow aliases/shortcuts to other folders."

in a comment below, Jeff provides a hard limit for AE CS4 9.0.2 -- 898 on Windows and 897 on Mac. Jeff is also the author of Additional Scripts for After Effects CS4 which includes Launch Pad, which creates a docking panel to run other installed scripts.

March 15, 2010

Skydome: 3D environment script for After Effects

Skydome is a new script for After Effects by Ben Rollason that "creates a 3D environment for your After Effects compositions at the touch of a button. The environment then responds to your camera’s position, orientation, rotation and lens properties."

Get it at AEScripts; here's the introduction:

Hollywood's Teal & Orange Abyss

Lloyd Alvarez and 5tu just noted Teal and Orange - Hollywood, Please Stop the Madness by Todd Miro on his blog Into the Abyss.

Todd provides several visual examples, so apparently it's not all mojo from Stu Maschwitz's Blockbuster Film Look discussion:

Red Giant TV Episode 22: Creating a Summer Blockbuster Film Look from Stu Maschwitz on Vimeo.

No plug-in rolling shutter fix in After Effects

Lester Banks noted a rolling shutter fix in after effects, with no plugins by Mike Huetz, who has an After Effects tutorial and AEP using Nikon D90 footage (720, 24fps).

Plug-ins to fix rolling shutter problems (skew, wobble, and partial exposure caused C-MOSS sensors rolling shutters) include solutions by NewBlue Video Essentials III and by The Foundry [and later ProDAD Mercalli]. See the Prolost look at The Foundry Rolling Shutter plug-in, which also gives the Maschwitz opinion on 30p to 24p conversions. That opinion is now updated in a fresh post, Converting 30p to 24p..

Rolling Shutter Fix Tutorial from Mike Huetz on Vimeo.

March 10, 2010

Can You Legally Use H.264 for Professional Video?

In the context of the Flash - HTML5 controversy, Jan Ozer has been comparing the Ogg and h.264 codecs recently -- see Google Closes On2 acquision - Better check your wallet and Ogg, MPEG-LA and Submarine Patents -- and warns against the cost of encoding and storage for multiple codecs.

[Update: ReadWriteWeb summarizes some of Ozer's benchmarks in Does HTML5 Really Beat Flash? The Surprising Results of New Tests]

Now, Larry Jordan and Philip Hodgetts have dealt with a related issue -- Can You Legally Use H.264 for Professional Video?

You can listen to their discussion on Digital Production Buzz, of March 4 2010, plus Larry has provided a summary on his blog:

"Note: This is not legal advice - for that, see your lawyer. However, this is our understanding of the problem, with a link to learn more. A license fee for H.264 use is probably required for professional use if ALL the following conditions are all met:

1. The video program must be encoded using the H.264 codec. (Other codecs are not covered by this license agreement.)

2. You sell the program. (If no money changes hands, no license fee is required.)

3. The program is sold to the ultimate end user. (If you are compressing files for use by someone else, say, digital dailies, no license fee is due.)

4. These programs must be in excess of 12 minutes. (Shorter programs do not require a license fee.)

If required, the license fee is very small: $0.02 per disc sold or about 2% of gross revenue, whichever is smaller."

March 9, 2010

Zoom in and enhance

While most of us have seen Let's Enhance, a rerun of The Simpsons provides another algorithm for now:

An Alphabet Soup of Fake Text Particles

Lester Banks noted a new 65-minute After Effects tutorial by Quba Michalski, Tutorial: Alphabet Soup (Fake Text Particles). Quba says:

"Rather than using Trapcode Particular (which many of you may not have installed) or CC Particle World (which really could use an update to its coordinate system) the project fakes particle simulation through use of text animators. This quite lengthy tutorial is derived from another Video Bits project I created a while ago."

Alphabet Soup Tutorial Preview from Quba Michalski on Vimeo.

SF Cutters March 11: Red Giant sneak peek & more

SF Cutters -- brought to you originally by the Option key in Final Cut -- is having their 10th Anniversary meeting is this week on Thursday March 11th. The meeting is at Adobe is at 601 Townsend at 7th in San Francisco.

This meeting is free but please sign up for access and for better food planning. Here's the current agenda:
  • STUMP THE GURUS With Kevin Monahan, Jesse Spencer, Karl Soule, Sean Safreed
  • Karl Soule: Adobe Evangelist on The Making of AVATAR and Adobe Production Premium & a sneak peak of the new Mercury Playback Engine
  • Sean Safreed: Redgiant Software - More Grinder & Sneak Peaks of New Releases
  • Chris Fenwick: Slice Editorial - Organize your FCP Project - Save your sanity and Improve your Business
  • Raffle, which includes CS4 Adobe Production Premium, DigiEffects Mega Suite, NAB Post Production World Pass, and more!

3D Ball Dispersion with CC Ball Action

Andrew Kramer has a new After Effects tutorial on Video Copilot, 3D Ball Dispersion:

"In this tutorial we will learn a technique to offset the animation of the CC Ball Action effect to create a cool transition. This effect uses only built-in plug-in and offers creative flexibility for a variety of looks. The project file also includes a script for offsetting the layers by 1 frame to make the process easier. The tutorial is about 25 minutes but the time will fly by!"

The built-in CC Ball Action filter "transforms the source layer into an array of balls. You can rotate and twist the array around a specified axis and scatter the array in all directions." Ball Action is a very old filter that hasn't been upgraded beyond support for the AE comp camera, but using the Brighten Twist control makes things interesting beyond the basics described by the intro by Brian Maffitt from an old Total Training video at Toolfarm.

Other tutorials can be found around the net, including Jumbotrons in After Effects, Harry Frank's Rippling Circles, Sound Reacting 3D Waveform without 3rd Party Plugins from Satya Meka, and Give Your Type Some Ball Action from Adam at AETuts.

Exploring the Aux System in Trapcode Particular

Harry Frank has an After Effects tutorial on Red Giant TV exploring the Aux System in Trapcode Particular, Episode 38: Creating a Music to Light Effect:

"In this episode of Red Giant TV, Harry Frank shows you how to re-create the Music-to-Light effect (seen last season on Heroes), using Trapcode Particular 2. He'll also use Mojo to alter the color, and Knoll 3D Flare to add to the effect."

Episode 38: Creating a Music to Light Effect from Red Giant Software on Vimeo.

The 12 basic principles of animation for After Effects

AE Tuts Premium ($9 /month or less) is featuring an After Effects tutorial series by Bryan Clark on applying the Disney system of 12 Basic Principles of Animation. Here's a sample:

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." I'm just excited because I found a paperback version in a used bookstore for $4 this last weekend.

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.

Fuel Your Motionography finished a 3-part explanation in October with examples from recent works; see Principles of Animation for Motionographers – Part 3 of 3. Also, in the recent training series After Effects CS4 Beyond the Basics, Chad Perkins explores techniques for animation according to several of these principles.

March 8, 2010

Leap Into Hancock-Style Super Jump Effect

AE Tuts has a nicely done Leap Into Hancock-Style Super Jump Effect by Wren Weichman. You'll need an AETuts+ membership to add finishing touches to the project.

Expression arrays in After Effects

Chris and Trish Meyer posted the 3nd of a 12-part series, Deeper Modes of Expression, based on an extra in their book, Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects. The third installment is Deeper Modes of Expression, Part 3: Deeper Into Arrays, on how to translate values between parameters that have different dimensions.

AE performance tip: Don't overschedule your processors

Todd Kopriva performance tip: Don't overschedule your processors,

'This advice is similar in spirit to the advice given in a previous post, "Performance tip: Don't starve your software of RAM."

In many cases, performance is improved by using fewer than the maximum number of processors for Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously multiprocessing, even when you have enough RAM for all of the processors.

After Effects is a multithreaded application that can also use other forms of multiprocessing beyond just Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously multiprocessing, and it is possible for the processors to become "overscheduled" if these threads are competing for the same resources as the background processes used for rendering with Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously multiprocessing.' the rest at After Effects region of interest.