After college in the late 80’s, I started as a shooter, and then went into post as a CMX/GVG online editor. After the job ended, I wanted to get back to shooting. hoping to become a DP. I got into the stagehand’s union in San Francisco as an electrician. Eventually, in 1997, I sustained a pretty serious injury on the feature, “What Dreams May Come.” Permanent and stationary, it was time to head back to the world of post-production.
Coming off the injury, I needed vocational rehab, as my skills were outdated. I went to Video Symphony, an Avid certified training center. It was off to Burbank to learn the Media Composer and supporting software.
At Video Symphony, I became fascinated with video effects and compositing, studying under instructors like Lugh Powers, Wes Sewell (now doing VFX for Ridley Scott), and Mike Sale. While there, I was told that I should learn something about After Effects. “What’s After Effects?” I asked my instructor, James Rankin. I soon found out! I managed to place a 33-layer text animation in my final project. The After Effects 3.1 comp took 3 days to render! From that point on, I became an integrationist; an editor that could use Media Composer, Illustrator, Photoshop, and After Effects “in concert.”
Some career highlights related to After Effects
In 2001, I started teaching After Effects and Apple Final Cut Pro at BAVC. Word somehow got out to a post-production supervisor at Pixar that I could use After Effects. I was called in to do previz work on a “fish movie,” scanning giant drawings, cutting them up in Photoshop, and animating scenes in After Effects 4.1. The movie was eventually called, “Finding Nemo.” (A scene I animated in After Effects for is to the right.)
During some down time, I wrote a book about effects for Final Cut Pro with a chapter about After Effects integration. After Effects has always been part of the toolset!
I got asked to work on another Pixar feature doing previz with the nebulous name, “Robots on a Garbage Planet.” I again did previz, but with a totally different pipeline. No more scanning! Artists drew into Photoshop using a Cintiq display. The Photoshop files would then be delivered over the intranet to be animated. Previz was much more challenging for me as cameras, lights and 3D layers were now used. I got up to speed quickly. Being able to operate sophisticated plug-ins like Trapcode Particular was necessary to satisfy the demands of the post supe. The movie, of course, was WALL•E. Robots on a garbage planet, no doubt!
Later, I worked at Apple on Final Cut Studio twice, once was as an internal beta tester for Motion 4. I was given complex After Effects comps to try and recreate in Motion. Not always easy! It was quite a stress test for Motion, as well. I was the co-founder of SF Cutters, a popular FCP users group, and had frequent demos of After Effects with the likes of Matt Silverman, Steve Holmes, and Mark Christiansen. Then, in 2010, I became the Sr. Content and Community Lead for After Effects, Premiere Pro, and AME at Adobe. Since 2010, I’ve written help documentation, a blog, ran community events, helped users on the forums and social media and more.
I feel honored to be working with the After Effects team. They’re truly some of the smartest and coolest people I’ve ever worked with.
Congratulations After Effects team!