January 31, 2006
Adobe Production Studio Roadshow
Next week, we will be kicking off a worldwide roadshow for the Adobe Production Studio. If you want to see the products up close and in person, visit the events page on adobe.com for details on dates and locations
You can also sign-up to be notified if a future roadshow is scheduled for the vicinity where you live.
We'll be visiting: SF, LA, NYC, Atlanta, Chicago, Orlando, London, Stockholm, Rome, Hamburg, Paris, Madrid, Milan, Vienna, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, and Tokyo plus at least 10 additional cities.
I'll be participating in Chicago, Atlanta, and Orlando; so if you happen to attend one of these events, please introduce yourself. If you have a reel of your AE work, I'd love a copy to share with the team back in Seattle.
January 28, 2006
Online communities don't let geography be a barrier to communication and it certainly is convenient to converse with someone without having to worry about hygiene, or deal with traffic and parking. But for me, nothing beats having a conversation in person with someone who shares a mutual interest. If you happen to live in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto, Chicago, Dallas , Detroit , Atlanta or New York ; these motion graphics user groups meet on a regular basis.
If there is a motion graphics or vfx user group that meets where you live, let me know and I'll add you to the Webroll.
January 27, 2006
What you want; when and where you want it
A colleague here forwarded a link to an article about how web sites delivering video are now beginning to offer 3 flavors Windows/Mac (which in of itself has multiple flavors), iPod and Sony PSP. While that tidbit is an interesting leading indicator of how we consume video, what I felt was as interesting was the reference about Steven Soderbergh's new film Bubble. The film will be simultaneously released on film, HD, and DVD. I can't recall that ever happening before. I'm still digesting what it all means, but the first question that popped into my head was "what if books were released in print, film, TV, and DVD simultaneously?" Maybe even a chapter at a time?
Center of the Universe
Seattle is not generally known as the center of anything (except maybe coffee and grunge music). However, a little known fact (unless you live here) is that the center of the universe is here in Seattle.
There is also a lot of cool motion graphics being created in Seattle as well. One of my favs and an early adopter of After Effects is Digital Kitchen, who recently completed work for the Sundance Film Festival.
If you go to the Sundance site, be sure to check out The Short Films section.
January 26, 2006
Templates, The Sequel
Another source of templates worth evaluating are broadcastGEMS.
The After Effects series, ships with AE 6.5 project files, which provides more customization options than simply buying animated background QuickTime movies.
A Template Tale
As some of you may have noticed, my blog and several others kinda of exploded for a day and lost all sense of style and formatting (although it was easy reading on my aging eyes). If you bear with me, I think its worth sharing part of the behind the scenes story of what happened.
This blog is my first foray into Web publishing. Before starting this blog, all I new about HTML was what the acronym stood for, and I never even heard of CSS. After 1 week, I now know 2 things: how to embed urls, and how to use the "strong" tag. So essentially I still know nothing. There are great web tutorials, but who has time to read them and remember what they show you how to do.
When I started my blog, I noticed that several other Adobe blogs had different and what I thought was better formatting. I wanted to have a Blogroll (another new term for me) of links on the right side of my blog and wouldn't it be cool if readers to my blog could easily see a list of recent comments?
[Please don't stop reading yet. There is a relationship to After Effects in a few paragraphs down, or skip ahead and cut to the chase if you are thinking blah blah blah...]
Problem was, I had no idea how to modify/format my blog to look like John Nack's blog for example. What I needed was a template and sure enough a template existed, and other than the exploding font size glitch, I was able to achieve the desired formatting w/o having to learn how to create it from scratch. Which leads me to the new presets and templates that ship with After Effects 7.0
For many new or occasional users, having prebuilt presets allows them to get up and running quickly an easily. When we introduced the text presets in AE 6.5 we thought experienced users would not utilize them, but we were pleasantly surprised to hear from longtime AE users how presets were useful as building blocks, examples to deconstruct, or in some case quick ways to satisfy clients on a shoestring budget.
In After Effects 7.0 we expanded the presets that ship with the application to go beyond text animations and included a variety of animated backgrounds, elements, animations, and behaviors (expression-based presets). We also included project based templates to be used for motion menus in conjunction with Encore DVD, and a sampling of other templates that while not intended to be used as is, are designed to be able to be customized to meet various user needs.
While there is still room for improvement, our goal is to provide high quality content that users can incorporate into their work but are also fully customizable. With After Effects 7.0 I believe we have taken a good first step at letting non AE zenmasters tap into the power of After Effects.
January 25, 2006
In addition to the listing of 3rd party plug-ins on the Adobe Web site, The plug-in finder at Toolfarm lets you search for plug-ins by category and usage. While you're there, they also have a Forum, Tutorials, and Resources section that is worthwhile bookmarking as well.
Another plug-in resource just getting off the ground (not much info on the site yet), is The Plug-in Pavillion.
January 24, 2006
As I'm creating this entry, I am second guessing my decision to create a category called "Deep Thoughts". How presumptive of me to assume that entries I make here are deep. Maybe "Sometimes Deep Thoughts" would be better until someone equates my prose with the musings of George Gilder, Paul Saffo, or maybe Hunter S. Thompson, which is highly unlikely.
But back to the subject at hand. Last week on the plane to MGLA (more specifically sitting on the tarmac waiting several hours for Alaska Airlines maintenance to verify the delamination of a cockpit window was within tolerance; it was not), I was reading the latest issue of RES and to my pleasant surprise I noticed a spread ad for the Adobe Production Studio.
Over the years, I've seen a few Adobe ads for our video products, and this one was the best one so far. But as much as I liked it, I couldn't help but notice that it violated one of David Ogilvy's "golden rules"; reverse type is too hard to read. It made me reflect on other "rules" I had imprinted in my brain such as never wear a striped shirt with plaid pants. In fact never wear plaid pants at all unless you are on a golf course or maybe a gathering of the clans in which case you'd probably be wearing a kilt.
But I digress (and now you might see why I regret calling this category deep thoughts). Closer to home, I remember being told in college never edit a video with a jumpcut (thanks to Herbert Zettl). I agonized over projects I had to edit where I didn't have b-roll to cover a jumpcut (now there is a solid rule: you can never have too much b-roll), only to see the no jumpcut rule go out the window by people who hadn't been indoctrinated in the rules of Professor Zettl, who happened to have authored the textbook used in his class.
From that day on, I realized that rules are meant to be broken and some of the most interesting motion graphics today are done by artists redefining the rules.
Speaking of rules, I welcome comments and believe it is important to share both kudos and constructive criticism, but the one rule I have is that if you submit a comment, please use your real name (or handle if you must), but you need to include a valid email address. Commenting in anonymity goes against the spirit of this blog.
Have you broken a golden rule of motion graphics or vfx? Or do you have a golden rule that has served you well (keep it on topic please). Share your thoughts here and inspire others to follow your lead.
January 23, 2006
This weekend I was trying to decide how to kick off the inspiration section of my blog. There are so many talented After Effects users out there, where to begin?
I thought I'd kick things off by showcasing the work of Mark Coleran.
I first met Mark at After Effects West in 2001. After Effects West was organized by Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin of Lynda.com. Mark gave a presentation on how he used AE to create on-screen motion graphics for feature films. It was the first time I had seen AE used extensively for this application and Mark's work was truly inspirational, especially considering that he was doing this all in the days before expressions.
Check out his current reel. It includes work he did for The Island & Mr. and Mrs. Smith to name just a few of his credits.
The Plug-in Ecosystem
One of my goals is to use this blog to share info about the large and growing number of plug-ins available for After Effects. There are so many that I want to cover, that it is hard to decide where to begin. So I thought I'd start off by sharing some thoughts on why I believe plug-ins are critical to the success of After Effects
Since the release of the first set of plug-ins for After Effects called Final Effects developed by our good friends at Cycore circa 1994-5, plug-in developers and the plug-ins they create have been instrumental in their contributions to the success of After Effects.
Plug-ins extend/enhance the capabilities AE, allow users to customize AE for specific workflows that we don't address, and in some cases fill gaps in our feature set, thus freeing our users from having to rely solely on the AE development team to add new features to After Effects.
Similar to responding to user requests for new features, we allocate a portion of each cycle to incorporate API feature requests from our plug-in developers that allow them to add new capabilities to their existing plug-ins or create new types of plug-ins.
So before I begin a series of entries about various plug-ins, I want to take a moment to publicly thank all of our plug-in developers for choosing to invest and build a business around After Effects, and to thank all of our users for investing in the amazing plug-ins these companies produce.
January 22, 2006
After Effects 7.0 Pro Tryouts Available
I was just notified that the AE tryouts are now available. It looks like the ftp site hasn't been wired up to the tryout link off the AE product page, but I expect that to happen tomorrow.
The tryouts are fully functional for 30 days after installation.
Expressions and Scripting Made Easy(ier)
Expressions and Scripting (Scripting is only in AE Pro) are two very powerful features in After Effects. Some AE users (including myself) shy away from digging into expressions (maybe due to unpleasant flashbacks I have about high school trigonometry). Or maybe you are into expressions and scripting, but want an alternative to the materials than what come with AE. If you fall into either of these camps, or havemade a new years resolution to explore these capabilities in greater depth, several AE users have created online resources to help make this almost eazy peazy (certainly easier than losing 50 lbs., at least for me).
This site is Dan Ebberts' in-depth exploration of both expressions and scripting. Dan is amazing. Not only does he have a deep understanding of expressions but he is extremely generous about sharing his knowledge and helping answer user questions on the Creative COW AE forum. as well as the AE Mailing list and probably other forums as well. Thanks, Dan!
Hungry for more (or looking for a resolution for 2007), then the scripting fundamentals section at redefinery is just the ticket. This site is hosted by Jeff Almasol. While you're there, check out his sample scripts.
Last but not least, AE Enhancers is a web site to share scripts, expressions, and presets; as well as discuss these topics on forums. You can also find some tutorials here as well.
That's all for now. Time to settle in front of the other screen in my house and watch the Seattle Seahawks hopefully scrap their way into the Super Bowl.
January 21, 2006
P.S. With this post, I figured out just enough about html to embed links more efficiently. Next up is adding color (woohoo). Who knows, pretty soon I might be able create scripts in AE7's new integrated script editor.
January 20, 2006
I am a voracious reader, especially when it comes to trade magazines related to this industry. 10 years ago trade pubs were my primary source of information to keep tabs on competitors, but also as a source of info to educate myself about the latest technologies and trends.
I don't profess to know much about the magazine publishing industry, but I can't help but notice three trends that must be having some sort of impact. First, similar to mainstream magazines, as our industry matures, the trade magazines have fragmented with magazines dedicated to a wide range of special interests (digital cinema and extreme sports to name just two).
At the same time, because of the immediacy of the Web, monthly magazines are challenged to be able to provide news in a timely fashion. As an example, Creative COW and Digital Media NET both had reviews of After Effects 7.0 within hours after the official Adobe announcement.
The last trend is a little more ominous. Unlike general magazines, trade pubs do not derive much revenue from subscriptions. Maybe it is just me, but it seems like each month many of the magazines I enjoy reading are getting thinner and thinner. This is not a complete surprise given the general industry trend that is shifting advertising dollars from print to the Web.
So where am I going with this? Today I received the latest issue of one of the magazines that I have been reading for over 15 years; Film & Video. The letter from the editor informed readers that this would be the last issue in print and that they would be "moving online" http://www.studiodaily.com/filmandvideo/ While many magzines have an online presence; I am intrigued and admire Film & Video's decision to let go of their print legacy and focus on taking advantage of the immediacy, personalization, and richness (video reports) that the Web offers.
Is this a sign of the times?
Podcasts - Take 1
The way we communicate with each other is evolving at an amazing pace. I remember when I first connected to Compuserve on a 2800 Kb modem (hope I'm not dating myself, I was very young!). The feeling of euphoria I experienced then is much the same way I feel now as I become involved with blogs and podcasts. I'm still a newbie when it comes to these communication mediums but my interest in podcasts makes me take pause to consider how podcasts renewed my interest in "radio".
I thought I'd share with you a few of the podcasts that I've discovered that talk about topics related to motion graphics and professional video in general. If you have other favorite related podcasts, please post a comment. Now that I have my iPod wired into my car, I enjoy listening to them as I cross the 520 Bridge over Lake Washington heading to the Adobe office in Seattle, as well as to pass the time on those long plane flights that have become my "alternate" commute vehicle [When will a domestic airline get with the times and offer in-flight WiFi?].
Here is what I'm listening to:
Philip Hodgetts introduced me to the concept of Internet radio. He was podcasting on the old dvguys.com web site before podcasting existed as a term. Today he is the inspiration (and perspiration) behind the Digital Production Buzz podcast http://digitalproductionbuzz.com/. Besides giving air time to marketing folks like myself, I like listening to the interviews about the various projects people in the industry are working on. Plus while I don't alway agree with Philip, I find his perspectives thought provoking.
When I think of online communities for digital media professionals, Ron & Kathlyn Lindeboom are the first people that come to mind. Going back to the days of the Media100 WWUG and today with the Creative COW http://forums.creativecow.net/cgi-bin/new_view_posts.cgi?forumid=2and its offspring Creative Calf http://creativecalf.creativecow.net/cgi-bin/new_view_posts.cgi?forumid=2, the COW is one of the best places to connect with other users of digital media software. Recently they have expanded the community into the world of podcasts. I enjoy listening to both their main podcast http://cowcast.creativecow.net/ and for all AE, all the time (including video podcasts) Aharon Rabinowitz hosts the AE podcast at http://www.creativecow.net/aepodcast/.
Last but not least (for this entry on podcasts) isTotal Training's video podcasts http://www.totaltraining.net/gurulounge/hosted by Brian Maffitt. While just in its infancy, Brian is a true zenmaster when it comes to AE and he is joined by a set of experts who share their tips and tricks using software for digital media production.
More to come in future entries...
After Effects 7.0 Tutorials
It is amazing to see how many tutorials have been created already for After Effects 7.0. Thanks to all of our users who invested time creating these to help support this release. Here is a list of the tutorials I am aware of at the moment. Let me know if you know of others:
John Dickinson on Creative COW
AE7 User Interface Tour
Stephen Schleicher on Animation Artist
In addition a selection of new tutorials have been added to the Adobe Resource Center (search on After Effects).
Excellent After Effects Mailing List
Many moons ago, a passionate AE user from Sweden started an After Effects mailing list. The AE-List is a great example of a community of AE users sharing their views, AE tricks, plus providing feedback to the AE team.
For info on how to subscribe to the mailing list or to search the archive of over 100K previous posts, visit:http://www.media-motion.tv/thelists.html.
I'll share info about other great online resources (such as CreativeCOW http://forums.creativecow.net/cgi-bin/new_view_posts.cgi?forumid=2 in future entries.
If you know of a great online resource for After Effects, let us know.
Video of After Effects 7.0 Demo @ MGLA
On Tuesday Dave Simons, Michael Coleman, and myself gave an in-depth demo of what's new in After Effects 7.0 at MGLA http://www.mgla.org in L.A. [more on MGLA in another post to come].
Thanks to the great folks at Pixel Corps http://www.pixelcorps.com and DV Magazine, videos of the demo (for online or iPod viewing) are available at http://www.dv.com NOTE: DV.com is working through some QuickTime issues at the moment so if the download doesn't work, try a little later as they are working to resolve the issues.
In addition to the AE demo, Giles Baker our Sr. PM for Premiere Pro and Encore DVD gave the SRO crowd an in-depth look at the Production Studio and Premiere Pro 2.0, as well as brief looks at the new versions of Encore DVD 2.0 and Audition 2.0. These videos are also available on the DV.com web site. Highlights from Giles' presentation were: Dynamic Link, Clip Notes, Multicam, and the Frequency Space editing tools in Audition.
January 19, 2006
Welcome to my Blog
Greetings. This is my first blog post and I'm excited to be able to establish a dialog with other people interested in After Effects as well as the general topics of motion graphics and visual effects. I thought I'd kick things off with a brief bio and my goals for this blog.
Bio: I've been in video and computer graphics for a while (anyone remember the Cubicomp Picturemaker?). After Cubicomp, I worked on DDR's and character generators at Abekas. It's hard to believe today that $60K in 1989 got you a DDR that could record 25 seconds (30 in PAL) of uncompressed video. I joined Adobe in 1995 and am the product manager for Adobe After Effects.
I have always been amazed by the strong sense of community among After Effects users going all the way back to the AOL COSA forum, and want to use this blog as a way to contribute to the community.
I plan to share my views on news related to After Effects and motion graphics and visual effects, plus share info about resources to learn more about AE. I'll also pass along info about cool sites our users create to showcase their work or share their knowledge.
I welcome feedback on things you like about this blog and suggestions on how to improve it.