Steve Kilisky's Dynamic Media Blog

August 3, 2007

Adobe Design Achievement Awards Showcase

The Adobe Design Achievement Awards (ADAA) recognizing the achievement of students, were held yesterday in San Francisco. I was especially interested in the animation, motion graphics, and live action categories.

I remember the first time I attended the ADAA at least 5 or 6 years ago (maybe more). I think it was the first or second year that animation and motion graphics were added as a categories. The submissions back then were interesting and showed the potential of the finalists, but you could sense a gap between the overall caliber of work done by the students compared to designers already established in the industry. It was more a reflection on the state of the technology (computer and software), than the talent of the students or the quality of their education.

When I look at this year's submissions, the gap has disappeared. The only difference between the student projects and commercial work is how they were compensated for their efforts.

The winning entries along with runner ups and honorable mentions can be seen here. It must have been tough for the judges to make their decisions. All of the pieces I viewed were extremely well done from a creative, narrative, and technical perspective.

I have a soft spot in my heart for film titles, so I was personally drawn to Michael Robinson's "Alternate Endings" submission.

Congratulations to all of the entrants. I'm in awe of how you use our tools to tell stories and express your creativity.

2:44 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

January 3, 2007

Before and After

Invisible effects are almost by definition under appreciated. How can you admire something you can't see. An email from Grant Lovering at RESIN reminded me why I like to watch "Before & After" shots. RESIN just posted a very nice reel of Before/After shots. If you have a reel of Before and After shots you'd like to share, please post a comment with a link.

Also, while your visiting the RESIN web site check out a great 3D from 2D example created in After Effects.

1:54 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

December 22, 2006

Creamy Orange - Extreme 3D

Here's another example of 3D gone wild in After Effects. Creamyorange created Carnival as an experiment to see how 3D AE could be. The piece was created using After Effects, Photoshop, and Illustrator, plus Digital Anarchy's 3D Assistants.

Mind blowing is all I can say...

P.S. Nick: we'll look into that rendering bug.

1:37 PM | Permalink | No Comments

December 21, 2006

AE or 3D?

I written quite a bit about using AE to create a 3Desque look with 2D elements using AE's 3D compositing capabilities. A while back Chris Zwar posted a link to an amazing animation (be patient it takes a long time to load) he created that took creating 3D from 2D to a new level. When I watched it I had a hard time figuring out was done in AE and what was done in a 3D app, so I emailed him to ask about how he created it.

Here's what he had to say:

" In terms of what was AE 3D- the answer is practically everything. The curtains drawing back at the beginning were a piece of stock footage but everything else was done inside AE. Even the curtains which don't draw back are solids with fractal noise. The bouncing balls were CC spheres (with expressions to squash and bounce them appropriately), the "gun" at the end was a CC cylinder, the wooden blocks which form the rings and the "Challenge" pattern were just 3D solids arranged by expressions, etc etc. The "sets" were a combination of free textures downloaded from Mayang's texture site (first for a Google search on "free textures") and lots of dingbats. Much of it is actually very crude but disguised by dark shadows, depth-of-field and Knoll Lens Flares. I did most of it on my G5 iMac and the render times averaged about 4 minutes per frame, although I  think most of that came down to the Knoll plug-in and multiple light-sources. The entire project was done for the UK production company "Cheerful Scout", and was designed to be screened at the French Museum of Carnivale Art. I'm a huge fan of expressions, and expressions hold everything together. Wherever possible, elements bounce (just a scale expression) to the music, which I split into 3 layers (bass, mids and highs) before converting to keyframes. ...The waiters, for example, were a few small solids with stroked masks held together by parenting, and animated with a pendulum expression. I spent ages trying to come up with a driven-pendulum expression in which the arms would realistically receive power from the body's movements, and the hands from the arms etc, but could never get it to work properly. So in the end I just used a normal pendulum (not driven) and tweaked the settings manually. But I had fun trying - I probably spent most of a Saturday just watching yellow solids bounce around as they moved from right to left while swearing at my "physics for programmers" book... apart from the curtains being drawn apart at the opening, the entire thing was completed inside After Effects. FWIW I don't even own Photoshop.

I hope you'll agree that Chris is extremely talented and is pushing the envelope using After Effects. Thanks for sharing this Chris!

BTW, if you visit his Web site, be sure to check out some cool sample projects he has shared and links to some articles he's written.

4:43 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

November 16, 2006

One from the Vaults: Haiku Setting

Two posts in one day; what's gotten into me? As my friend Mike Goedecke from Belief once told me "creativity (or was it inspiration) comes at all times of the day" (which must be why he doesn't sleep too much). Anyway, more on Belief in a future post.

Just after I hit the publish button on my last post, I recalled the first AE typography animation I saw that mesmerized me. It was a piece called Haiku Setting by Richard Lainhart. Richard created this in the AE4 timeframe (back when text was an effect).

I liked it then and still like it now. It's one of the earliest  and a great example of Particle Playground (the most challenging [but rewarding once you do] effect in AE to master) using text as particles. If you are a mere mortal like me then Trapcode Particular might be just the ticket.

5:04 PM | Permalink

Look What I Found on YouTube

I usually only go to YouTube when someone tells me about something I might find interesting or funny. But today I had one of those "ah-ha" moments and said to myself "self, I wonder if people are sharing their motion graphics work on YouTube?"

So I did a search on "motion graphics after effects" and was pleasantly surprised to see how many videos were tagged with these keywords. So how do I decide which one to watch first.

I sorted by ratings and there are quite a few 4 and 4.5 star ratings (but no 5 stars). One video caught my eye. It was rated 4 stars, had over 4,000 ratings, 543,000 views, 1750 comments, and was favorited almost 4,000 times. The piece I am referring to is called Float

Kudos on both the idea and execution. The creator is Steven Watkins and from his Web site was done as part of a university research project (which re-affirms my belief that the best projects don't involve clients, which makes me realize I probably owe an apology to every AE user that's had me as a client).

I've posted many times about my admiration of 3D from 2D motion graphics. I am also an admirer of beautiful examples of typography animation. And this is one I really like.

I look forward to seeing episodes two and three of this project.

4:33 PM | Permalink

November 15, 2006

Chauncy Gardener Syndrome

I like to watch. Motion graphics that is. So I was pysched to discover XPLSV.tv  this morning. I'd describe the site as a social networking (had to work that buzz word into my blog) site for motionographers. You can watch, review, rate, and connect with others. Plus (at least for the moment) it is ad-free.

Back to watching...

8:33 AM | Permalink | Comments [4]

November 4, 2006

Talkin Turkey

There are so many outstanding After Effects users that I always struggle whenever I decide to write a blog entry about one. The fact that November is Turkey month here in the U.S. and this motion graphics design company is based in Istanbul, made it seem appropriate to write about Imago and highlight their work.

I especially was impressed with the piece called Demographix which was generated mathematically in AE using expressions and scripting. Very nice.

1:54 PM | Permalink | No Comments

November 3, 2006

Pimp My Ride

Now that I have your attention...

I've been so focused on seeking out resources for AE users on the far reaches of the Web, that I haven't been paying close attention to what was happening in my own backyard.

The backyard I'm referring to is adobe.com. Until about 6 months ago Adobe.com was lacking in terms of resources and sources of inspiration relative to After Effects and digital video in general. There have been a few noble attempts over the years (shout out to Joe Shepter in particular), but overall we were lacking in this area.

However, things have changed. If you haven't checked out the Customer Stories section in a while, give it another shot. The most recent addition is a story on Premiere, Photoshop, and After Effects usage in Superman Returns.

In addition the Adobe Design Center is full of excellent resources for all creative disciplines.

The Gallery section reinforced my belief that the motion graphics being created in Flash & AE while created using very different methods are getting harder and harder to tell apart.

Kudos to Jen deHaan, Luann Seymour, and the rest of the team for making the Design Center blossom and no longer be something I have to apologize to customers about.

P.S. If you peruse Jen's blog you might even find an interesting tidbit or two about After Effects.

12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

September 22, 2006

Callin all Motionographers

About 6 months ago I discovered Justin Cone's Tween blog. Not only was it an excellent resource and source of inspiration for motion graphics designers, I really enjoyed Justin's writing style and sense of humor.

I got back from my sabbatical and discovered that Tween has evolved into Motionographer, which has now replaced Yahoo Sports as my daily morning read as I eat my bowl of oatmeal and blueberries (super foods to go along with a super read).

Thanks Justin and the rest of the contributors for creating this site.

6:00 PM | Permalink | No Comments

June 5, 2006

Blog Envy

When I entered the Blogosphere, I remember several folks giving me advice that the key to a successful blog was to post regularly. My naive goal was to post every day. That was before I realized that: a) I really don't have something of interest to say every day in a blog, b) that keeping up while traveling is harder than I thought it would be, and c) the blogging software we have to use here at Adobe is well to be polite not particularly user friendly.

I recently discovered 2 users out there creating blogs that I hoped mine would be more like. As the saying sorta goes, those who can do, those who can't link to others who can:

General Specialist is a relatively new blog by Jonas Hummelstrand a VFX Supervisor in Sweden who uses AE.

Motion Graphics and Such is another new blog by Alan Shisko a long time AE user.

Both are now on my reading list.

9:25 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

May 8, 2006

Leftchannel & RJD2

A colleague emailed me a link to 1976, a music video created by Leftchannel for RJD2. Great stuff (music and the video)! Check out the other pieces on their reel as well.

I don't know about Cleveland, but Columbus rocks (sorry Mott...).

7:34 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

March 30, 2006

Jamie Caliri

In previous entries, I've mentioned how much I like the collage style of motion graphics. I also really am captivated by stop motion animation, especially of flat artwork.

I was introduced to the work of Jamie Caliri when I rented the Lemony Snicket's DVD and was amazed away by the end titles.

I recognized Jamie's work more recently on a United Airlines commercial. There is a great making of video on the web site as well.

Ko Maruyama, interviewed Jamie on Digitalproducer and not that it matters to y'all ,but it was felt nice to know that Jamie uses After Effects to help express his ideas.

6:27 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

March 3, 2006

It's Jerry Time

I'm not a very good artist, but collage was the one art form that I didn't manage to suck at and I've always been drawn to collages, ransom notes, and motion graphics that have a collage look to them. If you like this type of animation, check out It's Jerry Time. The animation is created using After Effects by Orrin Zucker who is also the person behind the TVFX series of royalty free stock footage.

P.S. I found the episodes funny as well!

6:12 PM | Permalink | No Comments

February 10, 2006

Found Voices and Images

In 1981 Brian Eno collaborated with David Byrne to record one of my desert island "must-haves" My Life in the Bush of Ghosts . The album was monumental for me for two reasons: 1) it was my introduction to world beats, and 2) it was the first album I heard that incorporated "found voices".

I was fascinated by the concept of taking recordings of voices from radio broadcasts and other recordings and "re-mixing" them into new songs unlike anything I had ever heard at the time. 25 years later the album stands the test of time and sound as fresh as it did then and given the broad use of sampling can be viewed as a source of inspiration for many recordings that are so commonplace today.

So hear I go again rambling off-topic. What's the connection? Well, I was cleaning out my bookmarks file this weekend and visited the Big Idea section of Getty's Web site and viewed the videos using imagery from Getty's library, and I associated it as being a visual equivalent of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. I was intrigued by the way the artists combined the imagery to create stories, and see/hear them talk about how they approached the project.

The Next Big Idea is underway. I am looking forward to seeing stories using found imagery evolves over time.

2:16 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

January 27, 2006

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.

12:02 PM | Permalink | No Comments

January 23, 2006

Inspiration #1

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.

9:27 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]