December 30, 2008

'What AE’s Still Missing'

Chris & Trish Meyer posted a great article: "What AE’s Still Missing where to find it from third-party vendors." They go pretty deep in offering options for improvements (including several of their own) regarding extrusions, reflections, volumetric lights, 3D warps, particle systems, text, color correction, animated mask points, and replication.

Not included are some obscure things, for example an alternative for volumetric lights by Peter Torpey, and some big issues like previewing & rendering, rotoscoping, nodes, etc.

If you have your own concerns, be sure to follow up their recommendation to submit feature requests, because with the AE team these requests really do influence new development for the next few versions.

Better editing + shooting & music

Useful lists of editing tips can be found in recent posts: 12 Tips for Better Film Editing by Oliver Peters and New Year’s Resolution List by Steve Hullfish.

More editing & filmmaking tips from Hitchcock, Scorsese, Murch, and others can be found in Hitchcock explains editing & the Kuleshov Effect and other posts on editing and editing tips.

Update: Little Frog in Hi-Def adds more advice -- but for production -- in "OH FOR PETE'S SAKE..."

Update: Chris Meyer has tips to adjusting music timing in Mangling Music Masterfully. See also Preparing for audio post – track management, roomtones, additional dialog, production by Woody Woodhall.

Get Avid to run with unsupported audio card

Frank Capria notes a Genius DV trick to enable editors to run Avid Media Composer on PCs with unsupported audio cards often found on legacy machines, which might be useful for logging on an older laptop or something. Genius DV found:

"A quick visit to your nearest Radio Shack may be your solution. The work around is to purchase a small usb audio device made by Gigaware. Specifically it's the 'Gigaware HeadPhone to Stereo USB Adapter with Microphone.' This device plug's into any USB socket and provides audio I/O functionality. If you can't find it at your local Radio Shack store, you can purchase it online for $20.00."

Another Mocha introduction

Terry White's Adobe Creative Suite Video Podcast hosts Steve Whatley's general explanation of the Mocha tracking plug-in that ships with After Effects CS4.

Several of the possible gotchas using Mocha, and other video tutorials, were discussed in an earlier post, Mocha for After Effects +Corner Pin thread.

December 29, 2008

Prolost on integrating FX review and DI

Stu Mashwitz begins to talk about his work on digital intermediates (eg, King Kong Post Production Diary .mov) for a recent film:

"We created, within The Orphanage's San Francisco offices, a secure mission-control for all the visual effects work on The Spirit. Based around a Nucoda Film Master grading station, The Bunker, as it came to be called, was where we performed the DI over the course of six months of visual effects shot production divided among ten facilities spanning the globe, integrating visual effects shot review and color correction into one seamless process."

Stu links to coverage of the process at VFX World; see "Getting into a New Spirit" by Tara Bennett.

Similar coverage can be found in "Production Style" by Barbara Robertson in the December Computer Graphics World.

Update: Fxguide posted The Spirit fxpodcast (mp3) if you want an audio substitute.

December 28, 2008

AE Error Code Database & 'Troubleshooting'

Mylenium’s After Effects Error Code Database has been updated with more obscure goodness. Some of the entries reflect tech notes at Adobe, but it's nice to have the errors listed in one place.

Also very handy is Troubleshooting After Effects (all versions) at General Specialist. See also the previous entry What do to when AE crashes, which was really relaying a request for using the Crash Reporter, which you wouldn't see with error dialogs but only if AE crashes. That said, AE is a remarkably stable and accurate application.

Update: Todd Kopriva added advice to Mylenium's plea for common sense on forums.

December 27, 2008

AE, Magic Bullet, & FCP in 'Benjamin Button'

Apple has coverage by Joe Cellini and and Oliver Peters looks at post-production of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button:

'This film received the benefit of other digital tools. According to Angus, “One of the scenes in the film is a fable told by Cate Blanchett. We were looking for ways to set this scene apart and decided to give it an old movie look, since it’s a movie-within-a-movie. To that aim, we settled on treating these shots with Magic Bullet Looks. The final version that appears in the film was processed through [Adobe] After Effects where we ‘baked in’ the effect. There are also a few other scenes throughout that received a little Magic Bullet love.”'

Also, 'Button' is on the cover of Cinefex #116.

Flippant News noted that posted a seven-part series of video vignettes with director Fincher and others.

Update: How Benjamin Button Got His Face | Video on

Winter with Vivaldi: "L'inverno" I

'The Four Seasons' itself is a subset of a larger work, 'The Contest between Harmony and Invention.' This performance was directed by Christopher Hogwood, with "original" instruments for the richer sound:

December 26, 2008

Import Premiere sequences in Encore

When working in Premiere Pro and sending a sequence to Encore with Dynamic Link, you are asked to create a new project in Encore each time. That's a limitation, but you do have better access from Encore.

Once you're in Encore, you can import any number of Premiere sequences from the menu File >Adobe Dynamic Link >Import Premiere Pro Sequence. Once in the import dialog box you can navigate to a Premiere project and see a list of sequences inside the project. You can make a multiple selection of sequences, or access the dialog box again later to import from any Premiere project.

This is a nice new feature, but the big advantage for a modest app like Encore is that its menus are Photoshop files, so they can be easily edited anytime, or sent elsewhere for revision. Plus you can work seamlessly with After Effects to make motion menus. Here's an AdobeTV video on some of benefits of working between AE, Premiere, and Encore (fullscreen at Adobe):

December 25, 2008

Your automatic arms

Here's a Worldmapper view of world arms exports; they also have a morph between different maps. The countries fat from the arms trade compose the UN Security Council, which sometimes seems like a protection racket:

And, bypassing the rattle and hum of U2, a meta-commentary on balance (featuring an aspirate H) by Laurie Anderson in 'O Kal El':

December 23, 2008

Looping and snow particle systems too

Red Giant has a new After Effects video tutorial, Creating a Looping Particle System (episode 3), that uses both Trapcode Particular and Starglow to create a looping, stylized holiday snowstorm. Host Aharon Rabinowitz already did a looping particles tutorial at Creative Cow (with built-in CC Particle System II), but this apparently goes deeper.

In the same vein, Motionworks has a free project Particular: Snowflakes, and in Layers TV: Episode 67 guest Jason Scrivner demonstrates for beginners how to create falling snow flakes with Particle Playground.

Fx Guide previews Adobe .r3d support

Fx Guide podcast red centre #024 talks about RED files in After Effects and Premiere for about 12 minutes starting at 22:30. John Montgomery likes the 1st step implementation and thinks it about comparable to using FCP proxies, and looks forward to improvements coming from Adobe's work with the RED gang and Assimilate.

The Ecofont uses up to 20% less ink

The Ecofont is a new Dutch sans-serif font with holes that uses up to 20% less ink. Based on Verdana, it's free to download and use. The results vary but the Ecofont works best when using font size 9 or 10, which has the look of draft quality.

The Ecofont is developed by SPRANQ, based on a hunch of Colin Willems, which ideas for other savings:

• End-users: print only when necessary, use a modern, efficient printer and use unbleached paper.
• Graphic designers: use modern color separation techniques to avoid unnecessary wastage in ink. In paper choice, take the environment into account.
• (Offset) printers: avoid modern laser techniques that make ink indivisible from the paper. Keep an eye on innovations, such as plant-based ink.
• Printer manufacturers: invest in environment-conscious innovation.

via The Guardian UK

December 18, 2008

What do to when AE crashes

After Effects region of interest guest Paul Uusitalo (After Effects quality engineer) says that After Effects and the Adobe Crash Reporter need your help.

If you've crashed you may have seen this dialog, which is more convenient than later sending a note to aebugs Instead of canceling, the AE team is asking for at least a short description of what you were doing at the time of the crash and an e-mail contact.

One CS4 bug that might come up on the Mac is a crash if you have the Script UI panel open when exiting AE. To fix this, undock or close the script-generated UI panel. Chris Meyer adds (update): "I found once I had crashed with them open, I always crashed even if I closed them in subsequent boots. I had to remove them, quit once successfully, reinstall them, then make sure I never quit again with them open."

You can also look at Mylenium's After Effects Error Code Database: Overview, Troubleshooting and Solutions, search the Adobe Knowledgebase (try "crash" in AE), and post on the Adobe Forums. Also, you're entitled to a certain number of free calls for "installation issues, basic usage questions, and troubleshooting unexpected behavior for documented features." There's also a chance the problem is on the user side, like bad RAM or something!

Update (Jan '09): Michael Coleman allays fears in Adobe Crash Reporter Privacy.

Blu-Ray's "bag of hurt"

Karl Soule of Adobe explains one reason why Blu-Ray replication cannot be done today from an Encore disc or disc image -- a $3500 licensing fee for the 1st title and $1500 thereafter. See What's Wrong with the Blu-Ray Market Today? Part 1: Duplication vs. Replication, and AACS.

The good news is that Encore work can be duplicated in mass "onto store-bought burnable BD-ROM media... and the content will still play in most (but not all) Blu-Ray players."

Update: Final Cut User has some additional observations and a State of the Technology overview of Blu-Ray.

Update (01/09): The NYT looks at CES and Blu-ray’s Fuzzy Future.

And on the FCP-L, Philip Hodgetts explains a bit more:

"I'd say it's not going to happen on OS X - playback or authoring - because the entire internal OS has to have encrypted memory paths throughout the computer. None of this is in OS X and none is (apparently) planned for Snow Leopard. This internal encrypted memory path is reportedly one of the reasons that Vista's performance was significantly slower than XP. It's not so much stubborness on the part of Job but rather a disinclination to 'pollute' the elegance of OS X.
... [and] if Blu-ray won the disc war, then downloads would succeed!"

Update (1/20/2009): CrunchGear gives Nine (questionable) reasons why Blu-ray will succeed.

64 bit computing and Premiere Pro CS4 4.0.1

The Genesis Project notes An article on 64 bit computing and Production Premium by Jan Ozer. In this 1st part of a series on the topic, Ozer says:

"I had two eight-core systems: the Windows workstation, a 2.83GHz HP xw6600 running Windows XP (32-bit version) with 3GB of RAM, and a 3.2GHz Mac running OS X version 10.5.5 with 8GB of RAM. Rendering out to Blu-ray compatible MPEG-2 took 68 minutes on the Windows workstation, 11 minutes on the Mac. ...

Faster performance and responsiveness, with full support for 64-bit computing platforms to accelerate compute-intensive postproduction tasks. Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 version 4.0.1 is architected to take advantage of the additional memory available in 64-bit systems."

Ozer also gives some background and includes a Q&A with Giles Baker, Adobe's Group Product Manager for Editing Workflows.

December 17, 2008

Tilt-shift photography meme

John Nack has been posting items about Tilt-shift photography for a couple of years, and the meme has been hitting strong lately with application of the technique in video. Tilt-shift photography's miniturized scale model look and stop-motion feel is right at the point of cliché -- there's even a new iPhone app that creates tilt-shift photos which was reported today at Wired.

Smashing Magazine's 50 Beautiful Examples Of Tilt-Shift Photography is the definitive survey of photos and video from a Flickr pool and elsewhere.

The New York Times has had a few items too, including a talking slideshow by Vincent Laforet (see picture at left), who has already moved on famously to DSLR video using the Canon 5D MKII. Others posting a stream of items on the trend include Wired and Boing Boing.

There's also a number of articles on Faking tilt-shift with Photoshop (the real thing even with a Lensbaby is not cheap). The basic approach is simple and can be done easily in After Effect or Premiere:
  • Select picture with somewhat elevated viewpoint
  • Blur outside focal area with filters like Lens Blur or Compound Blur with mask or gradient (you'll need a soft touch on your gradient)
  • Increase contrast & saturation, then maybe sharpen
  • Adjust frame rate for a stop-motion look
Here are some other articles that discuss their method:

01/06/09:adds a comment on the AE-List, "Trouble with a mask approach is that, while the blur looks good at the edge and the sharp area stays sharp, the intermediate blur is a cross-dissolved composite of blurred and non-blurred which looks "unnatural", especially at large blur amounts.

I prefer using the "Depth Map Layer" in Lens Blur, which uses a separate gradient layer to modulate the blur effect based on pixel value. You'll have to fiddle a bit with focal distance and iris radius, but you can get a convincing Tilt-shift with this approach.

Compound Blur can do the same thing and renders more quickly, but without the ability to repeat edge pixels, and the blur is a slightly-less natural gaussian style, rather than the more accurate lens blur. If you use a ramp to create your gradient, make sure to precompose the effect or the blur filters won't see it."

In the same thread, Trish Meyer added a tip for changing the frame rate: "you'll render faster by putting the original movie in a precomp, lowering the frame rate, and turning on the Preserve Frame Frame option in Comp Settings Advanced."

Update 2: see Michael Vitti on selective focus in Comments.

Update 3: It seems like the tilt-shift photgraphy and tilt-shift-faking pages at Wikipedia have improved. Also, Keith Loutit has a Vimeo channel with some good examples that shouldn't be overlooked; below is Helpless:

AETUTS, new tutorial site

Lloyd Alvarez of AE Scripts is doing tutorials on After Effects at a new website called AETUTS. They say:

"If you think you have the skills to create a screencast or text and image tutorial for AETUTS, it's easy to familiarize yourself with the guidelines and pitch your idea. We're hungry for user contributions and pay $150 USD for an accepted tutorial."

In the first tutorial, AETUTS editor Lloyd Alvarez shows you how to create a cinematic opening title effect.

In this tutorial AETUTS Editor Lloyd Alvarez shows you how to create a unique twist on the traditional fireworks display. The tutorial shows you how to create fireworks with Trapcode Particular, and how to reflect this effect over water.

In another tutorial, by Haley Saner, "you'll be creating elegant glowing lines using shape layers within after effects. We'll create a few basic arc layers and then stylize them by using the find edges effect, glows, and blending modes. I enjoy this technique and you can easily adapt this concept to many different shapes to create some stunning looks."

NIN dazzles with lasers, LEDs, particles & feedback

Create Digital Motion posts about a MomentFactory video on some of the technology behind Nine Inch Nails fascinating 'Lights In The Sky' tour. That post is riffing off of Wired's September 2008 NIN Dazzles With Lasers, LEDs and Stealth Screens, which is a meaty look behind the scenes at a show earlier this year in Oakland (with additional video).

December 16, 2008

3D Falloff preset free from VideoCopilot

VideoCopilot has a project and tutorial for using their free 3D Falloff preset that controls fading into the distance. It is a bit involved but you can avoid using a 3rd party filter, or expression (Dan Ebbert), and the tutorial shows you how to avoid the gotchas.

Update: another new Video Copilot tutorial is Spin Orb, which has a goodly bunch of basic tips inside.

Catalyst on Adobe EDGE

John Nack notes a new video on Adobe EDGE about Adobe Catalyst (codename Thermo). Thermo seems like it could be a front-end UI long needed (since mTropolis appeared anyway) for Flash and Director. Catalyst can do some of what's supported by the Flash Player, including 3D cards in space, but it's really designed for working with Flex. So while it's a good start it won't have some of the niceties of AE, Encore, Conduit, or even the dead "Flash-killer" Adobe LiveMotion.

A more in-depth but staid video from MAX 2008 on Adobe Catalyst is on the MAX channel of AdobeTV.

December 15, 2008

MAX channel on Adobe TV

Adobe TV added a MAX channel where some MAX 2008 (San Francisco) presentations can be viewed. There's a video on Flash, After Effect & InDesign, a Flash Video Roadmap, and a couple of videos on a new app named Adobe Catalyst ("Thermo"). While the presentations aren't oriented to the AE-centric, interactive, vectors, cross-media workflow, and cross-media advertising is increasingly important to everyone except those few exclusively in the pixel-pushing business.

December 14, 2008

After Effects Expressions by Marcus Geduld is a new book on expressions in AE from Focal Press. Focal describes the basic features:

"Foundation skills set you straight on the essentials and a practical guide to implementation shows you how to 'roll your own'--from the simple to the complex. Full color illustrations display the coding, and pickwhip techniques as well as sequential animations. Downloadable companion files include Quicktime movies of the demo animations, AE project files that permit you to examine the Expressions, and an extensive library of Expressions..."

Amazon lets you peek inside but only a tiny bit. You can see the author in action on at least 2 training videos; check out videos Making key frames loop in After Effects and The"wiggle"expression in After Effects.

Other AE Scripting Resources were surveyed in a previous post, Scripts Galore and as Panels in AE8.

Time for a Droste Effect demo in AE

Carl Larsen of Creative Cow has a video demonstration of the recursive Droste Effect, mentioned here in several posts in the last 3 months (embedded below).

Larsen's using the Pixel Bender filter for Photoshop and After Effects ported by subblue (Tom Beddard). The demo is worth seeing, just stay off the feed lot.

Part 5: New Features in After Effects CS4

Motionworks' New Features in After Effects CS4 video tour is up to part 5.

And as posted earlier, Dennis Radeke of Adobe broke from his regular beginners format to present movies outlining his Top 10 After Effects features and his Top 10 Premiere features.

Michael Pollan on Food, Energy, Climate, and Health

O'Reilly Radar posted about Michael Pollan on Food, Energy, Climate, and Health, mentioning a recent column by Nicholas Kristof, Obama’s ‘Secretary of Food’?, which discusses ideas on food by Michael Pollan.

Author Sara Winge also posts an interview with Pollan At Web 2.0 Summit last month, and asks: "can tech innovators and entrepreneurs create technology to make the food system more transparent and carbon-neutral, and figure out how to make money creating solar food production systems?"

There's a high quality version of the video on YouTube, and another Pollan talk with Bill Moyers.

December 13, 2008

More on Adobe's 'Infinite Images'

John Nack has posted on the 'Infinite Images' sneak peek mentioned here a few days ago (but without the video from MAX/Milan). He adds details on the Photosynth--like "system for exploring large collections of photos in a virtual 3D space," and a PDF at which contains presentation slides with embedded video (download to see the videos).

December 12, 2008

50 motion graphics tips +more

Computer Arts posted 50 motion graphics tips, which is a collection of pithy reminders by 4 broadcast designers.

Video Copilot had a few other AE Quick Tips last week.

Update: Video Copilot added a few more in Useful Tips for After Effects Junkies.

Update: Trish has posted two installments of After Effects Tips on CMG Keyframes: [1] [2].

December 11, 2008

AE CS4 Visual Effects and Compositing Studio Techniques

Mark Christiansen says that "soon After Effects CS4 Visual Effects and Compositing Studio Techniques will be on its way from the printer to warehouses and then out to the world." Apparently it's just in time for Christmas pre-orders on Amazon!

New stuff includes guidance from scripting gurus Dan Ebberts and Jeff Almasol (including light wrap and camera mapping), tracking in Mocha AE, and more.

Note: you can get a flavor of camera mapping but no script in a Peachpit excerpt from a previous version of the book.

CS4 Production Premium Road Show & eSeminars

Adobe is taking CS4 Production Premium on the road. The Adobe CS4 Production Premium Road Show & Partner Solutions Pavilion to is hitting 7 US cities in January and February. Register here.

Adobe is also hosting a CS4 eSeminar Series for Video Professionals, December 16, 2008 - February 27, 2009. Topics include: Work more with Production Premium, Make Video Searchable on the Web, Using Adobe OnLocation, Working with Tapeless Formats, Delivering Web-Based DVDs, Shoot & Edit Interviews, and Additional CS4 Topics in design, print, imaging, and the web.

Live online seminars are scheduled web simulcasts via Acrobat Connect Pro. Access details are provided if you register. To view previously recorded sessions, visit the OnDemand site.

Color Finesse tutorials

Among the many color correction tools in After Effects is Synthetic Aperture’s Color Finesse, which comes free with AE. Many do not like the modal interface that takes over the screen but Color Finesse does fill gaps in Adobe's tools, and a bit differently than Colorista and Magic Bullet.

Chris & Trish Meyer posted On Intro to Color Finesse about an article that tours the Color Finesse interface, and then walks through a sample correction using footage archived with the article.

Steve Hullfish, whose first book on color correction revolved around Color Finesse, also included Color Finesse in his video tutorial series on color correction recently on PVC. In Fix it in Color Finesse - or adapt it to Color, Steve shows how to balance and fix a dark image. An older overview video by Total Training is available through Toolfarm.

December 10, 2008

After Effects 9.0.1 update

The After Effects 9.0.1 update is available, and Todd Kopriva runs through the most important fixes and tweaks; the rest are in the ReadMe.

REDCODE installer for CS4 available

Studio Daily posted REDCODE Installer for Adobe CS4 finally available from RED.

DAV's TechTable offers extended notes and illustrated help in Native Red Camera Files & CS4! Premiere Pro C4 and After Effects CS4 workflow using the NEW Native RED R3D plug-in, which supercedes his earlier post New Red Camera Adobe Support. Here's a small version of Dave Helmley's supporting video, which can be viewed fullscreen at Adobe TV:

Update: Curiosity seekers can find more details in a RED User thread, and The Edit Blog is already Kicking the tires on R3D editing in Premiere Pro.

Update 2: There's also an Adobe workflow paper available; one version was posted by Dave Helmley. For consistent color appearance of R3D files between After Effects and Premiere Pro, you must assign the HDTV (Rec. 709) color profile when enabling Color Management. The workflow paper tells you how to make the R3D interpretations permanent with a quick revision to AE’s “interpretation rules.txt” file.

ATI emulates Nvidia for CS4 and codecs

Computerworld notes "ATI Stream," which is included in a new driver update for ATI Radeon HD 4000 series-based cards:

'To show its potential, ATI released free Avivo Video Converter software, which takes advantage of the Radeon HD 4000's graphics processors to let users convert video as much as 17 times faster at up to 720p quality, said Dave Nalasco, a technical expert at ATI, during a webcast today. The entire archived webcast is available online by clicking on "On Demand" and then "Live Show Wed Dec 10 2008."

Other software that takes advantage of ATI Stream includes Adobe Systems Inc.'s PhotoShop CS4, After Effects CS4, Flash 10 player and Acrobat Reader and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Vista, PowerPoint 2007, Expression Encoder and Silverlight player. Video-editing applications from CyberLink and ArcSoft are expected by March.'

It's a bit unclear now just what this means for Adobe apps; Premiere is not mentioned and there's been no chatter on compatibility.

ATI does say that the ATI Video Converter "accepts almost any video file format as a source, and outputs to many different file formats, including MPEG-1, MPEG-4/DivX, WMV and H.264/AVC. MPEG-2 and H.264/AVC benefit from ATI Stream acceleration with ATI Radeon HD 4800 and ATI Radeon HD 4600 Series GPUs."

Some of the strategy for countering nVidia is in the PDF ATI Stream Computing Update. nVidia's recent moves were discussed here earlier in CS4 & the nVidia CX movies.

Adobe 'Infinite Images' sneak peek

From Peter Elst, Adobe MAX 2008 Milan - Sneak Peeks session, via Rufus Deuchler (co-host of Adobe's Caffe Fibonacci, which is shot on a virtual set):

"If you remember last years 'content-aware scaling' demo by Shai Avidan (a feature that incidentally made it into Photoshop CS4), stay tuned until the end of the video to see some of the amazing things he’s working on at the moment."

'Infinite Images' creates a 3D virtual space from a collection of images (starts around 55 minutes). It seems similar to Microsoft stuff mentioned earlier in Microsoft tools meld 3D and photos and Microsoft releases image stitcher Photosynth. I also like the improved search intelligence with enriched metadata (at around 42 minutes) and new ideas in compositing (around 62 minutes). Aspects of the last section seemed similar to a sneak peek mentioned last Spring (pictured above, see 34:30) where the Magic Wand tool became the Holy Grail of compositing.

And if you're into it, there's Adobe MAX 2008 Milan - Keynote Day 2 at Action Script Hero.

Update: John Nack posted additional details and a PDF on his iDisk which contains additional video.

Transform your Canon point-and-shoot into a super camera

Among the hacks in Lifehacker's roundup Battle of the Hardware-Boosting Hacks is Turn Your Point-and-Shoot into a Super-Camera:

"If you're using a consumer grade point-and-shoot Canon digital camera, you've got hardware in hand that can support advanced features way beyond what shipped in the box. With the help of a free, open source project called
CHDK, you can get features like RAW shooting mode, live RGB histograms, [longer exposure times and faster shutter speeds,] motion-detection, time-lapse, and even games on your existing camera.

...CHDK can run small scripts that will allow your camera to perform a set of actions based on the conditions of the script.
Tons of scripts are available, and they provide functionality like motion-sensing photography (which reportedly works for lightning strikes) and unlimited interval time-lapse photography."

Prolost (6-22-09) notes the Magic Lantern firmware hack for the Canon 5D Mark II that enables: Onscreen audio meters, Zebra stripes, Crop marks, Manual audio level controls, Lower noise than stock firmware, etc.

December 9, 2008

Digieffects MegaSuite bundle/upgrade deal

Digieffects, one of the very early developers of After Effects filters, is offering their "MegaSuite" for $399 (regularly $799), today through Thursday, December 9 – 11, 2008. The MegaSuite bundle includes all Digieffects plug-ins – Delirium, Berserk, Aurorix, Damage, Simulate: Camera, Simulate: Illuma, and Buena Depth Cue.

Plus, there's an upgrade to the MegaSuite for only $199 (if you have just one set), and compatibility with Final Cut, Premiere, and other software for all packages except Depth Cue.

There there. I hear he only shoots JPEG.

"There, there. I hear he only shoots JPEG" says a minion in response to Hitler's rant about the Nikon D3x in a new parody (below). Hitler Downfall parodies, based on 2004's Oscar-nominated movie Downfall, started in Spanish in 2005 and went meta-viral. A limited search on YouTube shows 314.

This meme has found interest in the mainstream media like the Sydney Herald (YouTube Hitler parodies go viral) and later, and introspectively, in The New York Times (The Hitler Meme). Immoral war and torture are not themselves funny, as we know after recent US adventures overseas. Despite the cruelties and not just because many are "American" or younger -- people use Hitler to represent the petty tyrant inside each of us.

He's still "our Hitler" but not the one pushed by Goebbels in his "Our Hitler" speech or in the Nazi youth song "Our Hitler is our Lord" that proclaims a "brave new world"! Our Hitler is more like the one in the movie Hitler - ein Film aus Deutschland (pictured), where Hitler rises out of Richard Wagner's grave.

New Hitler Downfall parodies keep popping up in e-mails; here's a few interesting ones that show the breadth of the phenomena, which includes meta-parody:

Hitler rants about the Nikon D3x (hat tip to John Nack).

Hitler plans Burning Man from Boing-Boing last Spring

Hitler wants a united Eid (on Muslim religious differences)

Hitler Is A Meme Downfall parody

null - Watch more free videos

December 8, 2008

Artbeats video podcast for AE

Artbeats has recruited expert Steve Holmes of Energi Design for bi-weekly video podcasts on creatively using stock footage in After Effects. There are already 3 installments (offered in 2 sizes) on masking, layering, timing and displacement which you can download directly or in iTunes.

Fabio Sonnati on H.264 Transcoding

Streaming Media is carrying a summary of Fabio Sonnati's Adobe MAX/Milan session in Back to Basics: H.264 Transcoding for Flash. According to author Tim Siglin:

"his session used examples from Main Concept’s Reference encoding tool since this is the encoder used in Adobe Media Encoder CS4 as well as the Flash Media Encoding Server (which is a branded version of Rhozet Carbon Coder that itself uses the Main Concept H.264 encoder)."

"Use VP6 as a fall-back strategy," said Sonnati, "to cover 99% of the audience, since H.264 can be viewed by 90% of the audience (that have Flash Player 9 v3 or Flash Player 10)."

Check out the specifics in Back to Basics: H.264 Transcoding for Flash. Maybe Adobe will post the video of Max sessions as promised when the dust settles. Some of the details of Fabio's work were discussed here earlier, including compression examples by Fabio:
- Heima (720p) @ 500Kbit/s
- Heroes (720p) @ 500Kbit/s
- Heima (1080p) @ 1500Kbit/s

Image processing geekery

Just as subblue (Tom Beddard) ported over the Mathmap Droste Effect filter to Adobe's Pixel Bender Toolkit, maybe we'll benefit from other cross pollinations. According to Chris Parish, Pixel Bender is similar to Apple's Core Image (and so too is Conduit similar to Quartz Composer), and there's parallels not just to Processing, but to Mathmap and Mathematica.

Mathematica 7 added a suite of image processing and video functions to its visualization tools, which are discussed in the blog post The Incredible Convenience of Mathematica Image Processing, and in an introductory screencast and a specific screencast on image processing. Popular items like a lenticular 3D Periodic Table is just the tip of the iceberg -- Slashdot calls it the most expensive clone of Photoshop ever.

Also interesting is The MathMap Composer. MathMap is "a very generic image processing tool in the form of a GIMP plug-in (it can also be used as a command-line tool, though). This newest release sports a very exciting new feature, called “MathMap Composer”, which is similar in spirit to Quartz Composer for MacOS X, or, to pick a more well-known product, Yahoo! Pipes." Here’s a screencast presentation:

WSJ on the future of movie tech

The Wall Street Journal talks about the future of movies in "The Way We'll Watch:"

"Hollywood studios and tech companies are rolling out a host of innovations that will change the way we experience films at home and in theaters. They've already begun to serve up DVDs that let you chat with other people who are watching the same movie. They're also sprucing up theaters with crystal-clear screens and amenities like cozier seats and restaurant-quality food."

Here's their video of Paul Debevec on live 3D video (in-depth at

The WSJ is also interested in mobile video; see "Coming to Tiny Screens All Over the Place: Korea Offers Evidence Consumers Will View Video on Cellphones." Studio Daily has more specifically on 3D in film and video in 3D: Post Production, Advertising and the Future.

December 7, 2008

Free textures and the surface of reality

Making the Movie notes free texture resources and adds some textures of its own. More free textures can be found at David Torno's MacTex (see his recent Index post).

Ever popular Earth textures (various strings attached) can be found at JHT's Planetary Pixel Emporium (with C4D tutorials), Unearthed Outdoors True Marble-free version, and NASA's Blue Marble Next Generation. Tutorials for earth maps and textures were mentioned in a previous post, 3D Earths.

Of course there are now a ton of other free textures available on the web. One of the better resources that stepped beyond to layering was the Alcatraz-inspired "Surface of Reality" CDs from Alex Lindsay, which later morphed into the Surface Toolkit and expanded in several directions in the dvGarage Surfacing Series. The Grunge Tutorial by Harry Frank shows one way to use these type of textures in AE.

Basics for understanding the imitation of the surfaces of ephemeral reality can be found in "Digital materials and virtual weathering," Scientific American, February 2000 (PDF). Fun books on materials can be found at William Stout in San Francisco and Builders Booksource in Berkeley.

Update: Recycling an item on 3D surfaces from New Scientist:

Update: More than 60 Impressive Free High Resolution Textures and Backgrounds can be had though Photoshop Roadmaps.

720p: the web video gold standard

Many web video services are now serving HD 1280 x 720; we'll see how much it'll cost to stream millions more video from the cheap Christmas "flip" cameras at rates 7-10 times the original YT bandwidth. Facebook is also letting you embed on other sites now. YouTube hasn't acknowledged their HD (link/format "&fmt=22"), but they added a "watch in HD" link if the uploaded content was that size. Maybe they want to avoid Hollywood's reaction to seeing stuff in HD; see Big Buck Bunny.

Techvideoblog has a quick Online video sites HD quality comparison. He misses YouTube quality level "&fmt=06" mentioned here last month in YouTube gets HD & quality confusion, and there's tangerine in with the oranges, but I've never even visited referenced sites SmugMug or Sevenload.

Here’s an interview Robert Scoble did recently with Chris Putnam, a leader of Facebook’s video efforts, who discusses the move to a new codec and other aspects of the upgrade.

December 6, 2008

Red Giant TV Beta & blog

Red Giant TV is in public beta. They carry a ton of cool After Effects plugs-in, so it looks to be a great resource -- each episode comes with a video tutorial and example and project files. Background and news can be found in the new Red Room Blog.

Episode 01: Binary Transition Part 1 by host Aharon Rabinowitz shows you how to use Trapcode Form to create a transition where footage breaks into particles of "binary code," and re-forms as different footage.

Trapcode itself already has a ton of graphical resources to learn about some of its essential extensions to AE. And via AE Freemart, Harry Franks has an excerpt from his Class on Demand set explaining how to Create a Fluid Plasma Effect with Trapcode Particular.

Update: RGTV host Aharon throws a change-up in another post, Slowing Things Down (see the numbers clearly).

Update 2: later...
Binary Transition Tutorial, Part 2 - Now Available!

December 5, 2008

Look cool without breaking the bank

Look cool without breaking the bank with "The Plabt Abides" t-shirt designed by Stu Maschwitz. "Plabt" was an e-mail typo (b is next to n) that became a term of affection. It's not as quite fun as the snow cap with the AE electric tower though. Chris Meyer has a bit more.

December 3, 2008

Layoffs at Adobe

Adobe is trimming it's staff 10% or so. The earnings didn't seem too bad; the stock price rose on the news. There's a press release and initial reports at TUAW , j/d's twitter list, and Techmeme. "Yikes" was a comment that resonated here, even if favored teams are not effected.

Update: Mike Seymour at Fxguide does a quick survey of the landscape in melt down.

December 2, 2008

Free fire project for After Effects

Video CoPilot has a free fire project (CS3+) for download:

"Here is a little test I made using CC Particle World and some vector blur to make Fire. It’s not perfect but an interesting study. One of the key things I did was used a wiggle expression on the particle birthrate to give a variable emission pattern like something was burning inconsistently. It’s a little slow to render but it is very high resolution."

Update: Mathew Kelly shows you how to build your own with built-in filters:

After effects fire tutorial from Mathew Kelly on Vimeo.

The making of 'Fuel'

MacVideo.TV posted a video of the presentation from IBC 2008 on the making of Fuel. Darius Fisher, co-Producer of Fuel and Sundance Winner 2008 (and also worked on The Aviator), spoke about what tools and so forth went into making this feature-length documentary which challenges aspects of our oil-based economy and the cost this dependence has brought about. Here's the trailer for Fuel:

Sony CineAlta event @ Apple

The Digital Cinema Society Northern California Chapter will partner with MacFilmmakers to present a joint meeting covering the Sony CineAlta Camera Line, 6.30 pm - 9.30 pm on Wednesday December 17th, 2008.

The meeting will be held at Apple, on the main campus on Infinite Loop. Register here.

Presenters include Adam Wilt and Art Adams, who with the help of Leigh Blicher from San Francisco rental house VideoFax, will show off the new F35 CineAlta and cover such subjects as Sony S-Log and Hypergammas. They will also present footage, including a spec spot they recently shot with VideoFax's F35.

Representatives from Sony including Shahpour Nosrati-Fard will also give a presentation on the EX3 CineAlta and Bob Lofland will demo Sony Display products including the BVM L230 LCD HD Master Series Monitor which will be used to show off the F35 imagery. Representatives from VMI will also be present to answer questions. And of course there's a raffle.