General Specialist

2008-10-09

Learn VFX from the Masters of the Universe


The world's best supervisors including John Knoll, Scott Squires, John Dykstra, Pablo Helman, Dennis Murren, Mike Fink, Ken Ralson and Kim Libreri are part of a course in the new term at fxphd.com. Imagine learning stuff from the people behind such milestones as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Wars I to VI, Wargames, Back to the Future, The Abyss, Indiana Jones, Terminator 2 & 3, The Matrix, Pirates of the Caribbean and many more of the films that have shaped the last decades.


You already know how much I can recommend fxphd, and the new term is even better than the last one. Make sure you look at the overview movie.

Here's a complete list of available courses. The term starts on October 13 2008, but you can join later and have access to all the classes you've signed up for.

I've been swamped with work, so I still have a couple of courses left from the last term to watch (a tip: convert the classes so you can watch them on a portable media player of your choice; I watch classes in bed while waiting for the kids to fall asleep.)

This new term I'll be taking the DIT course, the new RED course and either Mark Christiansen's AE course or Tim Clapham's AE+C4D course. I wish I had time to dig into the Fusion course as well, but we'll see how it goes.


Oh, if you enter humlan in the Referring Member field on the signup page, I'll get an extra class, which would be really nice. Thanks in advance!

- Jonas

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2008-07-22

Even More Great VFX Courses

I've been on a long vacation, so I haven't had a chance to write about the new term. I won't bore regular readers who already know how much I can recommend fxphd.

Here's a complete list of available courses. The term started on July 14 2008, but you can join later and have access to all the classes you've signed up for.

If you want to know more about fxphd, take a look at the fxphd Tour Movie. There's also a great FAQ.

I think I'll choose AFX302 - After Effects Masters, C4D202 - Cinema4D and After Effects in Production and DRK301 - VFX and Indie Films.

Oh, if you enter humlan in the Referring Member field on the signup page, I'll get an extra class, which would be really nice. Thanks in advance!

- Jonas

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2008-05-11

Phun and Typography 2.0

Not enough distractions? Here's a couple of ways to seriously kill your productivity:


Phun: Real-time Physics Sandbox




FontStruct: Online Typography Editor


And when you're done, make sure you watch Animator vs. Animation part 1
and Animator vs. Animation part 2.
- Jonas

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2008-04-12

What happens in Vegas doesn't stay there

Stuck at home? Me too...

Here's how to keep tabs on NAB. I'll keep on updating the links as we go...




Basically, if you want the latest as it happens, get a Twitter.com account and follow the people below!
If you are actually at NAB, the nice people at fxguide.com has written an fxguided Tour: Getting the Most Out of NAB

Oh, if someone could please record this key-note, I'd be a happy camper.

What sites did I miss? Write a comment and I'll add them...

- Jonas (also on Twitter since today)

Image by Clinton Steeds

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2008-04-09

Don't Miss the New Term at fxphd.com

Regular readers know I'm a big fan of fxphd.com and that you can't get any more current and professional training even for ten times the price. I've been a member from the start, and the things I've picked up from the past seven terms come in useful every day in my work.

I'm hoping to shoot a documentary in the fall, and can with confidence say "I really think we should rent a Red One for this shoot" based on that I know I have both fxphd's training and forum discussions to lean on for figuring out the workflow. Priceless...

Last term Tim Clapham held a great course on motion graphics in After Effects, and this term he's in charge of a Cinema 4D course. And the creator of 250 HD effects shots in 5 months holds an After Effects course.

I really enjoyed the Photography for VFX course last term which is repeated this term, and I am happy to see a SynthEyes course that I will definitely take.

Here's a complete list of available courses. The term starts on April 14 2008, but you can join later and have access to all the classes you've signed up for.

If you want to know more about fxphd, take a look at the fxphd Tour Movie. There's also a great FAQ and the Orientation Week movie (torrent link) that covers all the upcoming classes.

Oh, if you enter humlan in the Referring Member field on the signup page, I'll get an extra class, which would be really nice. Thanks in advance!

- Jonas

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2008-01-11

30 Courses to Die For

I've been meaning to post about great training resources for my beloved After Effects, but here's something even better; training for the entire video / animation / graphics / broadcasting / film business.

Regular readers know how I'm a big fan of fxphd.com and that you can't get any more current and professional training even for ten times the price of one term. I've been a member from the start, and believe me; you won't get as much value for your money anywhere else!

You have 30 courses to choose from, ranging from motion graphics in AE with Tim Clapham and typography with Frank Jonen, to RED production and 3D tracking.

Here's a complete list of available courses. The term starts on January 14, 2008, but you can join later and have access to all the classes you've signed up for.

If you want to know more about fxphd, take a look at the fxphd Tour Movie and the Orientation Week movie (torrent link) that covers all the upcoming classes. There's also a great FAQ.

Oh, if you enter humlan in the Referring Member field on the signup page, I'll get an extra class, which would be really nice. Thanks in advance!

- Jonas

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2008-01-10

Choosing a Professional Mic

I'm no audio guy, but I am a geek fanboy, so I just couldn't resist the temptation to link this thorough review on how to choose a mic. It even has has sound samples and cool looking graphs for all the tested mics. Respect!



- Jonas

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2007-10-02

Best VFX, Graphics and Animation Training Starts New Term

So you think you already know everything you need to do your work? Think again...

fxphd.com has been a big success and when it now enters the fifth term of training, there's even more cutting-edge courses for anyone in the video / animation / graphics / broadcasting / film business. I've been a member from the start, and believe me; you won't get as much value for your money anywhere else!

As an example: last term we got an hours worth of vfx breakdown of the Pirates of the Caribbean by the legendary John Knoll himself. Priceless...

You can join anytime during the term (it starts on October 8th) and this time around you can get both advanced courses by After Effects gurus such as Mark Christiansen (blog / book) and Stu Maschwitz (blog / book) as well as exclusive training in the RED production and workflow.
Here's a complete list of available courses.

If you want to know more about fxphd, take a look at the fxphd Tour Movie

UPDATE: Here's a torrent link to the brand new Orientation Week movie that covers all the upcoming classes.

Oh, if you enter humlan in the Referring Member field on the signup page, I'll get an extra class, which would be really nice. Thanks in advance!

One last tip: don't miss the HD versions of the excellent fxguidetv from the same guys that bring you fxphd!

- Jonas

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2007-04-18

OpenEXR in After Effects CS3: Open Source Plugin Imports/Exports All Channels in Float

This brings tears to my eyes; a free plugin that will let you import, rearrange and use all the available channels in OpenEXR files into After Effects CS3 float projects. Brendan Bolles has kindly provided the world with a beta version of a set of four 32 bpc-aware plugins, complete with a sample project and a 49-channel OpenEXR image.



As always; read the installation instructions, you need to disable AE's own format plugin, and then drop the four new ones into the same folder.

On OS X you need to rename the default OpenEXR plugin so it has this character in the beginning of the file name: ¬
The path to the plugins folder on OS X is:
/Applications/Adobe After Effects CS3/Plug-ins/Format/

On Windows XP and Windows Vista, the path to the correct folder is:
%PROGRAM_FILES%\Adobe\Adobe After Effects CS3\Support Files\Plug-ins\Format\
where you rename the OpenEXR.aex file to (OpenEXR.aex)

Make sure you send a Brendan a thank-you-email (and bug reports) to the address included in the readme file!

Update: Sadly, many 3D packages can't render multichannel OpenEXRs, at least not without modification. It isn't possible in Cinema4D R10.102, which will output every channel as a separate file. If you want this feature to be added, let the developers know: Cinema 4D Feature Request form

Houdini, Blender, Lightwave and 3ds max (both via mental ray and the standalone renderer Brazil r/s) can render to multi-channel OpenEXRs. With some mr wrangling they can apparently be produced with mental ray from Maya and XSI, as well.

- Jonas

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2007-04-16

Public Beta of After Effects and Premiere Pro Available Now

The rumors leaked a couple of weeks ago, but the public betas of After Effects CS3 and Premiere Pro CS3 are now available, beginning today, for both Windows and OS X.



The normally bundled third-party effects (Keylight, Cycore Effects, and Color Finesse) are not included in the preview. Also, a very important note (apart from that this is still beta software that might cause you do loose work and files) is that as usual the project files saved in the CS3 version will not open in After Effects 7.0.1 or any prior versions.



Here's the release notes for After Effects CS3. Discuss and ask questions in the new Adobe After Effects CS3 Forum, but please look at the list of new features first.



Please note that Adobe recommends that you uninstall the Photoshop CS3 Beta and Soundbooth Beta 1 and Beta 2 prior to installing the After Effects CS3 beta. Uninstalling After Effects CS3 Professional Preview will disable the Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta, uninstall Adobe Bridge, and disable Adobe Device Central. Running the Adobe Photoshop CS3 beta installer in repair mode will fix these problems.

You must request a new serial number by entering a valid and legitimate serial number for After Effects 7.0 Standard or Professional (full, upgrade, and education), Adobe Production Studio Standard and Premium (full, upgrade, and education), Adobe Video Bundle (full, upgrade, and education) or Adobe Web Bundle (full, upgrade, and education).

The Premiere Pro CS3 public beta version doesn't require a previous serial number, but it has some limitations in functionality, such as lack of HDV capture and editing (which will be included in the final version, of course.)

The list of new features for Premiere Pro CS3 isn't too long this time, since most of the focus has been on releasing a brand new Mac Intel version (the system requirements for OS X is a multi-core or multiple-CPU Intel Mac, so older PPC hardware is not supported.)
There's a forum for the Premiere Pro CS3 version as well.

- Jonas

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2007-04-13

The Best Graphics Training Available Enters Term 4

If you only give yourself one thing this year, here's my advice: sign up for the new term of fxphd, the highest-level graphics training available online. Term 4 is just about to start (even though you can sign up later) with a bunch of interesting classes lined up. Not only do you get great classes, you also get real-world footage to work with (like 1080P motion control passes of miniatures shot by the DoP of "Superman Returns") that you can use on your showreel.



I've been a member since term 1, and even though I haven't been able to follow all the classes (the day only has 24 hours) my collection of classes is safely backup up on several drives, as I plan on keeping them for reference for a long time. I've even put them all on my iPod so I can learn something new every day.

Trust me, this is the best $300 you'll ever spend!



Complete Term Course Listing
  • AFX221 - After Effects Design and More
  • BKD204 - Background Fundamentals
  • DRW201 - Character Drawing and Development
  • FCP211 - Intermediate Final Cut Pro II
  • FLM101 - Introduction to Flame
  • FLM201 - Introduction to Expressions
  • MAX101 - 3DS Max for Compositors
  • MAX201 - Advanced Rendering and Mental Ray
  • MYA203 - Intermediate Maya III
  • PNT201 - Matte Painting Production Techniques
  • PSD203 - Photoshop CS3
  • SHK101 - Introduction to Shake
  • SHK201 - Intermediate Shake I
  • RTO201 - Rotoscoping Techniques
  • TOX101 - Introduction to Toxik I
  • TOX102 - Introduction to Toxik II
When you sign up, please enter "humlan" in your sign-up form under "Referring Member," which will give me access to an extra class (hmm, should I take the "Silhouette Roto" class or the "Matte Painting" class?)




fxphd tour movie

Podcast that discusses the different classes

- Jonas

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2006-12-14

Photoshop CS3 Public Beta Now Available for Download

Within the next 24 hours the public beta of Photoshop CS3 will be posted to Adobe Labs.
All you need to run it is a valid serial number for Photoshop CS2.

More links:

Photoshop CS3 forums

Photoshop Product Manager John Nack's blog with links to videos and tips

Photoshop CS3 Beta One-on-One Preview with Deke McClelland at Lynda.com

The ten hottest features in the public beta according to NAPP

CS3 in action video

Official FAQ about the public beta (PDF)

Adobe Press release


Here's just some of the improvements, but I'm sure others will chime in as soon as the download is posted...


Better Selections
I love how the new super-cool Quick Selection Tool let's you just paint of the relevant parts of what you want to select. Together with the Refine Edge dialog you can very quickly make complex selections that previously had to be hand-painted when the Magic Wand couldn't cope anymore.


Better Cloning
You can now get an overlay of your clone source to help you align everything better, plus transform to cloning.


Non-destructive Filters
Now you don't have to do your photo editing in After Effects anymore, since Photoshop CS3 makes it possible to apply Smart Filters, which will let you tweak parameters and turn filters on and off. Third-party filters will have to be updated to be able to be applied non-destructively.


- Jonas

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2006-09-29

Mention "Mac Pro" to get a Discount: Dell Desperate?

I've been trying to compare the prices of the Mac Pro and a similarly configured Dell Precision, but since Dell won't let you choose their top-of-the-line processors from their webshop, I was forced to call Dell to get a quote.

I got a very friendly salesperson on the line and I happened to mention that I was choosing between a Mac Pro and a Dell. She was eager to help me, and within an hour she had emailed me an offer. As Dell forces you to get a Quadro graphics card for their high-end workstations, the prices didn't exactly match up, making a price comparison difficult.

When she later called me to try to finish the deal, I was reluctant since I thought the price was to high. The salesrep then told me she had already knocked off over $1.000 from the list price, since the standard prices were "ridiculous." When I still turned down her offer, she perplexed me by saying:
Well Jonas, how much do you want to pay? Give me an offer for the machine!

So after knocking off over 20% from the list price, she still had more to give? I'm not sure if Dell is finding the Apple competition feirce, or if they are coming close to ending a fiscal period, but only two weeks earlier I managed to get over 25% discount on two lovely 24-inch monitors by calling them and asking for a lower price instead of accepting their Internet price.

- Jonas


P.S. Sorry about the missing Flash-to-broadcast interview, I've been crazy-busy.

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2006-09-23

Read This and Never Turn Back: How to Subscribe via RSS

I'm constantly amazed how many smart people are still surfing the web in the same way they did five years ago.

I used to do the same; keeping a bunch of bookmarks to sites I knew where full of good stuff and regularly clicking my way through them to look for new info. That's until I finally got tired of trying to manage these bookmarks on several computers and having to visit sites that were never updated.

At last I discovered RSS, being able to subscribe to exciting stuff that is automatically delivered to my virtual doorstep once anything new is published.

Looking at my logs for this humble blog, it seems like very few of you are using any kind of news reader. I've been thinking about writing up a tutorial on RSS for beginners, but of course someone has already done it. Here's the Oprah Winfrey explanation:
RSS the Oprah Way: "Ready for Some Stories"

- Jonas

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2006-09-12

Mac Pro with 8 Cores, Plus Benchmarks under Windows XP

For anyone thinking about getting a Mac Pro to run both OS X and Windows XP, check out Anandtech's follow-up article on the Mac Pro with a solution to the low harddrive performance under Windows XP, plus info on how to optimally upgrade your RAM.

They've also replaced the current dual-core CPUs with new, unreleased, quad-core CPUs, bringing the total count up to 8 cores on one machine, so the upgrade path looks promising!

- Jonas

Photo by spullara

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2006-09-07

Get Poser 5 for Free (No Lunch Required)

If you hurry up you can get a full version of Poser 5 just for registering. Poser may get a bad rap from seasoned 3D pros, but you can't compare Poser's quick models to spending 500+ hours of modeling and rigging on a single character.

So hide your pride (just like ILM allegedly did when they put Poser figures in the background of at least one Star Wars film.)

Get Poser 5 for Free



- Jonas

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2006-08-31

World Premiere: The Planet

The PlanetTomorrow will mark the world premiere of my first work for the big screen, even though my contribution the The Planet is quite small. No use hoping for an IMDB bio, I guess...

I've used approximately 56 GB of satellite images to create 30+ animations for the 90 minute film, delivered in 1080p25 at 16-bit. To set the fly-overs apart from the now ubiquitous Google Earth look, I've also added clouds, haze and most importantly reflections in water and roofs. All-in-all I've delivered around 250 GB animations for the film, and over the next few weeks I'll produce even more animations to be used in the 4x52 minute episodes for TV.

The Planet

There's actually three of my geo-animations in the trailer (Windows Media or Real [Crappy] Player formats].

Brochure (PDF)

More info (in Swedish) on the TV series

Update: links fixed and you can see all four parts, with English speaker, online!
See the entire part 1 online (52 min. Windows Media or Real [Crappy] Player formats].

See the entire part 2 online (52 min. Windows Media or Real [Crappy] Player formats].

See the entire part 3 online (52 min. Windows Media or Real [Crappy] Player formats].

See the entire part 4 online (52 min. Windows Media or Real [Crappy] Player formats].

--Jonas

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