General Specialist

2006-06-29

More Free AE Projects from Dean Velez

One of the great benefits of working with After Effects is the number of people the freely share their knowledge, and one of the most generous is Dean Velez who frequently post batches of AE projects for free download.

Even if you don't have use for his latest Water Effects projects, they're an excellent learning tool when you disect them and see how you can combine effects and features to make something from nothing!

Free After Effects Projects from The Anvel

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2006-06-22

AE Presets: Smooth Vertical Scrolls for TV

UPDATE: The presets now come in both PAL and NTSC variants, and include a flicker-reducing filter that adjusts itself to the chosen speed.

Working at a TV station, I see so many jumpy titles that were created in After Effects. This comes from the fact that interlaced video gives a sort of venetian blinds effect to your content, making vertical scrolls flicker if you don't scroll at certain fixed speeds.

In version 6.5, it was easy to tell people to set two keyframes and then just move the last keyframe so that the pixels/sec velocity read-out was an even double of the framerate. This was a useful feature that was actually removed when the Graph Editor was introduced in version 7.0, since you can't see this value until you release the keyframe.

When I got the question the last time I couldn't find where to enter the value anymore, making me feel kinda stupid. In a vain attempt to look like I was on top of things, I came up with the simple and unsofisticated solution of three Animation Presets for the three common scrolling speeds.

The layer that you apply the preset to will start to scroll upwards from its original position as soon as it appears in the timeline. The nice thing is that you can just drag it around to set the starting position, without having to modify any code.

//Smooth SD vertical scrolls by Jonas Hummelstrand
// Version 1.3, http://generalspecialist.com/
// Can be applied to a non-square NTSC comps or to both square and
// non-square PAL comps.

// Change the value of "intPixelsPerSecond" below based on the speed you want:
// Normal scrolls are 100 for PAL and 119.88 for NTSC
// Fast scrolls are 200 for PAL and 239.76 for NTSC
// American Idol scroll speeds are 300 for PAL and 359.64 for NTSC

intPixelsPerSecond = 100;

y=position[1]-((time-inPoint)*intPixelsPerSecond);
[position[0],y]

Here's a ZIP file with the three PAL and three NTSC speeds pre-configured.

Thanks to Nathan Shipley for the error-correction.

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2006-06-21

VFX Reading List for the Summer

The holidays are soon upon us, so I thought I'd share my reading list for this summer.

Let's start with the most expensive one. From what I've understood it's a must read in the industry, so I've ordered The Art and Science of Digital Compositing by Ron Brinkmann, the Product Designer for Apple's Shake.


Here's another reference book that you're expected to be able to know inside out, Digital Compositing for Film and Video by Steve Wright.



Now for the new edition for AE 7.0 of a great book I ordered just two months ago (anyone interested in buying the 6.5 edition?) Adobe After Effects 7.0 Studio Techniques by Mark Christiansen.
This is really a must-read for anyone serious about professional AE work.


Here's two non-VFX books that I picked up after hearing Neil Gershenfeld in a podcast and reading his piece about home fabrication in Make: magazine.

FAB: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop--From Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication




When Things Start to Think




And finally some reading for the long, dark tea-time of the fall, since it won't be published until October 2006: The DV Rebel's Guide by the guru Stu Maschwitz.

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Subscribe to Adobe Support Docs

Thanks to commenter john b. for pointing out this great way of subscribing to support documents for your favorite Adobe apps.

Adobe RSS feeds

If you haven't jumped on the RSS train yet, your definately missing something, so create an account on Bloglines or Google Reader right now!

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2006-06-20

Terrestial 720p50 HDTV on a PC

To celebrate that Sweden hasn't lost a game to England in almost 40 years, here's a guide to watching the World Cup HDTV broadcasts on a Windows machine. The guide was written by my good collegue wizzerd*at*wizzerd*dot*com and is published here with his kind permission.



Background
Beginning on June 9th 2006, SVT and TV4 in Sweden will broadcast the World Cup in HD 720p via Satellite and Terrestrial (for select areas). To be able to watch these broadcasts you will need equipment that can decode the H.264 (MPEG4) stream.

Recently, several different software codecs for H.264 have become available for PC´s. There is a method (described below) to be able to watch the broadcasts with a PC that has a digital TV card (DVB-T).


IMPORTANT

  • This will only work if you have a good digital reception in Stockholm, Gotland, Västerås or Uppsala.
  • The hardware requirements are tough, you will need a lot of processor power if you want a smooth picture.
  • These instructions may also work if you have a Satellite card in your PC & a dish pointed at THOR, but we have not tested.
  • These instructions are just a guide, no guarantee or support is offered if you run into problems.

Requirements Hardware

As MPEG4 H.264 is highly compressed, it requires a lot of processor power to decode the stream in real time.

Minimum System
  • Pentium 4 - 3.0 Ghz Dual Core
  • Graphic card PCI Express with 256MB (Nvidia 6600 / ATI X1600XT or better)
  • Sound card that supports Dolby 5.1 (recommended, not required)
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Digital TV card (DVB-T). These cards have been tested and work:
    • Hauppauge Win-TV HVR1300 Hybrid DVB-T & Analog PCI
    • TerraTec Cinergy Hybrid T USB XS USB2.0
Software
Installation
  1. Install the TV Card.
  2. Install the H.264 codec (PowerDVD, CoreAVC, or other).
  3. Install DVBViewer Main.
  4. Unpack The DVBViewer public beta. You can either unpack into the DVBViewer main directory, or a separate directory.
  5. Unpack the DVBViewer Filter zip file into the DVBViewer/Filters directory.
  6. In Explorer, browse to the DVBViewer/Filters directory and double click on the Register_DVBSource.bat file.
  7. You should now get a message saying that PushSource.ax registered correctly.
The installation is now complete, all that is left is configure DVBViewer.

Configuration
Set up the TV card
  1. Run the beta version of DVBViewer.
  2. Choose Settings / Options.
  3. In the left column, select Hardware.
  4. Select each device in turn and make sure that Do not use is selected, except for the TV Card (DVB-T), where you select:
    • Tuner Type: Terrestrial (this probably works for Satellite, but we have not tested this.)
    • State: preferred
  5. Apply


Set up DirectX Options
Note: Deselect Auto and select devices where possible.


Extended

Scan for Channels

  1. Select Channel / Channel Scan.
  2. Select Terrestrisch ;o)
  3. Click on Scan Range.


Once the scanning is complete, just select the channel HD-kanalen under SVT & TV4.
Now just break out the popcorn and enjoy the World Cup in HDTV (720p).

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Cheap'Shake: Now $499


The price for Apple's Shake was just dropped from $2.999 to $499 for the new version 4.1.

At the same time there's rumors about this being the last version of Shake, something that gets a bit more substance from this sentence of the press-release:
Apple will no longer sell the Apple Maintenance Program for Shake.

After Effects 7.0 Hotfix 1 Available: But What Is It For?


I just found out there's a "Hotfix 1" available for After Effects 7.0. However, what problems the patch is supposed to fix is still unclear. There's no Read Me file, no postings on the Adobe blogs, nothing in the About After Effects... dialog, and nothing on the Support Page.

The Windows version of the patch seems to replace at least one DLL, but it's still the same build (7.0.0.244) as the shipping 7.0.

Preliminary testings (I'm home with three kids wanting to go to the park) indicate that the old problem of OpenGL previews ignoring frames in the buffer when scrubbing seems to have been fixed. If so, OpenGL previewing is finally usable again, hooray!

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2006-06-13

Showreel.org Finally Updated


Just as I had put my credit card back into my wallet, I realized that all the great online articles at showreel.org were a bit old, and that the next issue was supposed to have been published back in February.

After printing out every article for a analog weekend trip, I still felt it was worth every penny of the 20 dollars I paid for access.

Now I'm even happier since they weren't bust, only a bit slow. You can still find parts of the site that says that it will be a bi-monthly publication beginning in 2006, which seems to be a bit of an over-statement considering the first issue of 2006 was just published.

Check it out, some of the articles are for paying subscribers only, but there's a lot of interesting stuff on the new generation of cameras, such as the two part series HDV on the set of 24 [Part 1] and [Part 2]

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Create Your Own Photoshop Filters


For a hobby-scripter as myself, FilterForge seems like a great resource for creating not only seemlesly tiling textures, but it will output normal maps, bump maps and other types of useful textures for 3D creation. And it's node-based, supports 32-bit and HDRI and is totally procedural, meaning it can render to any resolution you want. How's that for a fully buzz-word compliant feature set?

I haven't had time to try it out yet (I'm way behind on my FX PHD classes and my workstation is busy churning out 2K, 16-bit satellite image fly-throughs around the clock.)

A temporally enhanced version for After Effects would be a nice feature for version 1.1, but for now it only supports Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Painter, Photo-Paint and Paint Shop Pro.

Post a comment if you create anything cool!

FilterForge Beta (Win only)

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2006-06-12

Quick Islamic 3D Move


I love it when people share techniques they come up with when playing around. Here's a neat little recipe for a kaleidoscopic effect with a 3D move in After Effects by Matthew Frederick Davis Hemming.

Organica Islam Tutorial

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HDTV: Behind the Scenes of the World Cup Broadcasts



I just saw the beautiful HD feed (720p/50) of the Soccer World Cup on a 60-inchish Pioneer plasma display. As we Swedes like to see the score and the time during the whole game, the Swedish broadcaster SVT has adds these on-air graphics via a viz|RT HD-system that started supporting 720p/50 just days before the broadcast.

Here's a sample of links to more info about the host broadcaster's and their 2.000 staff running minimum of 20 HD cameras per stadium:

Behind the Scenes Article

On-air graphics samples

Production presentations with camera positions, etcetera

New media production presentation

Read more at [dailywireless.org] and [Engadget]

At last, here's a document about SVT's High Definition Multi Format Test Set

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2006-06-09

Interval timer for Canon EOS 350D / Digital Rebel XT

There's a thread on the AE-list on the Digital Rebel XT / EOS 350D digital camera. As I'm working on a project of building my own interval timer I thought I'd post a picture of it on a breadboard.

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2006-06-08

"For some it feels like religion" anno 1995

Here's a fantastic promotional video for After Effects 3.0 that Michele Yamazaki at Toolfarm has posted.
Great to see faces of some of the gurus at my favorite mailing list AE-list sing the praises of features such as "time-remapping" and "unlimited number of effects."

Adobe After Effects 3.0 Reel

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2006-06-06

Primed and Ready: Learn the Basics of Digital Video

It never ceases to surprise me how many artists find that issues of resolutions, framerates and compression are complete mysteries. I spent five hours early this morning (on my day off) fixing renders that someone had managed to mess up, so in the interest of not having to do that again, here are three short primers from Adobe on stuff that we'll have a quiz on next week! :-)

Compression Primer sums up the basics of audio and video compression.

SD digital video primer: An introduction to DV production, post-production, and delivery sums up the basics of a standard definition workflow.

HD digital video primer: Understanding and using high-definition video sums up the basics of a high definition workflow.

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2006-06-03

4x4: Your Next Workstation?





AMD's planning to release a dual-processor, dual-core, quad-GPU system spec (hence the corny name) that not only seems ideal for graphics application, but it would also suggest that you should invest in power companies.

anandtech.com
PC Perspective

Photo by Capt Kim

2006-06-02

Read-up on the HVX200

Panasonic has released a guidebook on the lovely AG-HVX200 HD-camcorder. It's a great way to read more about the camera before you get your hands on one. There's also other related material, as well as an NTSC version of the guide, on the main site.

HVX200 Guidebook, PAL (direct link to PDF)

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2006-06-01

The Basics of Digital Video

I constantly try to explain the fundamentals of video to anyone who doesn't cover their ears, and I think I've found a soulmate. :-)
videogrunt is the video podcast that illustrates the basic terms and technologies of digital video
I haven't had time to watch any of the three episodes yet, but it sure looks promising.
mainpage

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