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January 22, 2013 /Ae & Me /

Ae & Buddy Gheen

Buddy_GheenMy name is Buddy Gheen and I am a Visual Effect Artist/Lead Compositor at Look Effects L.A. I am originally from Houston, Texas where art and music was always a way of life. By 19 I was working as the in-house artist at a local silk screening t-shirt shop and also in a band. The band got picked up and brought me to Los Angeles, but after losing a major label deal on Interscope Records, it was time to enter the workforce again. I got my start in the industry at E=mc², Inc. (1997-2004) by redesigning the company logo to get hired. Thus began my career in Adobe Photoshop and After Effects in TV and film, as we were a full-service facility that offered everything from 24 frame/motion graphics to visual effects.

I started using After Effects around 1997/1998 when we expanded our services to provide visual effects at E=mc². So I’ve been using the software for 14 to 15 years. I can pretty much say that After Effects has been my career. Although I use and have used a host of programs both 2D and 3D, After Effects has been THE program I use most. In my niche of the market it is simply the best tool for the job. After Effects has allowed me the freedom to be more creative as an individual artist in a shorter amount of time. And in my business, time is always in short supply!


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I received a Primetime Emmy Award Honor in 2000-2001 for compositing work on Frank Herbert’s Dune and was nominated for an Emmy this past year for a tornado we did in an episode of BONES. I have done many, many shots for film and television using After Effects but possibly the most familiar would be the transformation scene in Black Swan. After Effects has allowed me to let my work be seen by millions of people around the world and that’s pretty cool!

After using After Effects for so long it gets tough to say this feature or that is my favorite. I think first for me is the intuitiveness and ease of use. As an artist, I always wonder why so many programs in the industry are so convoluted and counter intuitive to someone simply being able to sit down and actually create something usable in a reasonable amount of time without having to get a major degree before you can simply be expressive and artistic? Another thing I like about After Effects is the support group it has from being around so long. There is a great user base and some very, very talented individuals out there that have created many plugins, scripts, Expressions etc. These advances have helped make After Effects so expansive and user friendly for everything from mundane tasks to the highly complex. They’ve also shaped After Effects into the program it is today as Adobe has attained and bundled some of these features into new versions over the years. A great example of this is Mocha. That being said I still love the Liquify and Puppet Tool!

There have been many major upgrades since I started using After Effects, and it continues to evolve. My list of the best enhancements has to start with floating point color space. For years I had to hear about that from users of other packages. But the recent upgrades for memory use and the addition of 3D are HUGE as well. Other favorites include the Roto Brush tool, bundling Mocha, Auto Stabilizer, robust text tool, and Expressions and third-party plugins like Particular. After Effects for me has become comparable to Flame; as an individual you can just about do anything these days!

Lately, I’ve seen some great stuff done with the Newton Physics Engineright inside After Effects. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities for After Effects artists. But then again, I think my Black Swan transformation was pretty sweet too!

Last week Imagineer Systems announced that it was recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences with a Scientific and Technical Award for mocha and its Planar Tracking technology, which is the technology behind the Black Swan transformation.

Ae & Me