Archive for May, 2007

"Fotomation" with Speaking Pictures

Those of you who follow the film festival scene might already be familiar with this excellent science fiction short film from Speaking Pictures. Filmmaker Jerome Oliver wrote and directed Missing Pages, the story of a professor who invents a time machine and touches off a war. The 24-minute "amended" version of Missing Pages is now available via Speaking Pictures or iTunes.

What makes this piece particularly unique and visually stunning is that the story is created entirely with 40,000 pictures from a digital camera. The still images were processed and animated using Adobe After Effects and Adobe Photoshop using a technique the director calls "fotomation". To get a glimpse of the creative process behind Missing Pages, check out Toolfarm’s interview with Jerome Oliver last year.

Despite being based in still photography, Missing Pages makes you think about about motion and dynamics and it raises questions about the classic persistence of motion film theory. It’s definitely somewhere between photography, motion graphics, graphic novel, and filmmaking.

Speed Rendering with After Effects CS3

One of the most exciting developments in computer hardware is multi-core processors. It’s almost like having several computers in one. I don’t really know how it works, but hey, it sounds faster and I know faster is good.

Of course, it helps if your software is optimized for multi-core computers and that’s exactly what the After Effects team has been up to for the CS3 release. When you use After Effects CS3 on a multi-processor computer, you now have the option to render multiple frames simultaneously on multiple processors. This applies to RAM previews and Render Queue rendering.

Even though After Effects has a long history of rendering single frames across multiple CPUs, some operations don’t lend themselves to being spread out like this. The new option opens the door to new levels of performance, right in time for the great new hardware available today. Anyone that stopped by the Adobe booth at NAB got a chance to take a look at this feature running on the latest iron from Apple and HP.

The folks over at downloaded the After Effects CS3 public preview and put it through it’s paces. This is a great site for you Mac performance junkies out there. They really know there stuff which is why we’re honored to have them call After Effects CS3 "an application that, by itself, can justify the purchase of an 8-core Mac". Based on our own internal tests, I can say that their results are consistent with ours.

While I’m at it, I should mention that After Effects CS3 can also take advantage of larger amounts of RAM for additional performance improvements. And for our Mac customers, CS3 is also universal binary, so this is quite a release in the performance department.

We like to live by the notion that every hour we save you is an hour of creativity unleashed on the world. Or an hour of sleep. That’s good, too. Enjoy.

Frame One

On an otherwise forgettable day, a small thing happened. A co-worker stopped by my desk and gave me a new piece of software. “Hey, I heard you know about multimedia. Take a look at this software. Tell me what you think”, he said.

The word ‘multimedia’ should date the conversation like red Reebok pumps and fanny packs. It was 1993 and I was working as a designer in the creative services department at Aldus. Revolutionary publishing wasn’t a blog or even a web page. It was a CD-ROM that came in the mail.

I installed the software and played with it all day and nearly all night. When my co-worker returned, I told him I wasn’t giving it back. Sorry. It’s mine. The software was CoSA After Effects 1.0 and I was hooked.

The next day I found out that Aldus would be aquiring CoSA and soon I became co-workers, friends, and literally neighbors with the team that created this amazing software.

The experience was powerful enough that my career pivoted around these events. I left Adobe (which had aquired Aldus) to take on a career in visual effects & motion graphics. In 1999, I returned to Adobe to be the user interface designer for After Effects and the lead user experience designer for the Adobe Production Studio.

I now find myself lucky enough to be the product manager for After Effects. And you know, I think I might just have the coolest job in the world. I’ve created this blog to reach out with news, tips, and thoughts on After Effects and related topics. To the community of After Effects users, I hope you’ll enjoy what I have to share here. Feel free to drop me a line and contribute your thoughts and suggestions. My name is Michael Coleman and my email address is mcoleman {at}

They say all big things start small. To that I would add: Every movie begins on frame one.

Welcome to Keyframes.