>Feature Requesteritis: Adobe Comes to Town

>Today, I made the kind folks from Adobe endure a two hour meeting about our wishes for future versions of their video and imaging products. Both Steven Warner-Swirsky, Director Engineering of the Digital Video Group, and Bruce Bullis who’s responsible for the APIs of their video products, were most kind to come visit us in Stockholm. Thanks to Fredrik Johannesson for setting up the meeting!

In return, we much too quickly demonstrated what might be the world’s first use of Flash for realtime data-driven broadcast election graphics in fullscreen. In two weeks we’ll know if we can see the death of yet another broadcast dinosaur, or if the bleeding edge of realtime graphics became too sharp. :-)
I’ll try to post an interview from behind the scenes of the development of the software and the system, plus some photos from the election night live show. I’ll unfortunately be manning a realtime graphics system from the dinosaur, but I have high hopes for the future development of Flash as a broadcast system.

On top of my wishlists for AE was better support for import and export of 3D data and renders (I want my cameras, nulls, lights and render passes), 16-bit float modes like Shake, GUI-plugins like radio buttons so I can create easier-to-use Animation Presets with choosable options (unlike this one that consists of several presets,) plus integration of the entire feature set of Nucleo Pro right into the AE box. Oh, and throw in a script recorder so that I could easily create the foundations for a script that could then be tweaked.

>Being Stuck on One Side of the Fence

>In the early 90′s I was an Apple zealot, hanging out at BBS:es where the finer details of ResEdit and System 6 were discussed. Since then, I’ve left the cult of Mac and have never looked back. But now, the recent Mac Pros have awakened a craving for a dual-boot machine where all the options can be available again — if, and only if, it wasn’t for all my licenses…

I can’t be the only one who suddenly feels trapped by my license investments, can I? So many of my programs exist on both platforms, but I only have licenses for Windows. Buying extra licenses for OS X just to avoid rebooting, or running these apps via virtualization doesn’t seem like real options. Who can I blame for being stuck only in Win land, but the vendors that force me to choose only one platform?

I’d gladly give up printed manuals, boxes and physical media if I could only use Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, After Effects, ImageModeler and all my AE plugins, regardless of OS.

–Jonas

>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 4×52 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

>720p50 Support in Final Cut Pro

>Using both HD-SDI and P2 workflows, here’s how to capture and edit output from DVCPRO-HD cameras, such as the lovely HVX200. Thanks to Björn Adamski and André Aulich for sharing, and to HD for Indies for the tip!

Panasonic AG-HVX200: 720p25/50 P2-workflow with Final Cut Pro

720p50 Capturing & Editing in Final Cut Pro

>A Must Read: Now Available for Pre-orders

>I’m a big fan of Stu Maschwitz’ writing, both on his ProLost blog and in his chapter in Mark Christiansen’s excellent Adobe After Effects 7.0 Studio Techniques.

This quote from the new book says it all:

Even as I sit in my director’s chair on a big commercial, designing a shot with a 30-foot techno crane, I can’t help but ponder how one might build such a thing out of PVC pipe and zip ties.

The DV Rebel’s Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap

>Mac Pro: Not Yet For Windows XP

>If you’re considering why NOT to get a Mac Pro to run Windows XP cheaper than on a Dell, here’s the answer: you won’t get any HDD speeds to write home about.

Thanks to Mike at HD for Indies for the link.

Why the Mac Pro shouldn’t (yet) be your next Windows workstation

>2nd Term of fxphd to begin shortly

>If this promo for the second term of the great online learning site fxphd doesn’t wet your appetite, I don’t know what will.

If only I could stop blogging, perhaps I could finish the classes I took the first term but haven’t still had time to go through!

>Extract 3D Data from Video

>I’ve recently bought ImageModeler to use on an upcoming project for modelling a 17th century ship from an existing 5 m long model. But if I’m unlucky, the film won’t be green-lighted until this cool demo of extracting 3D geometry from a video is ready for prime-time. :-/

>AE: Render in the Background, Work in the Foreground

>UPDATE: There are now excellent scripts for After Effects 7.0 and later that will let you setup and start a background render from a palette inside AE, so use Lloyd Alvarez’s script BG Render instead of the technique described below!

Want to continue working in After Effects while rendering in the background? Here’s how to start a second instance of the program that can render without affecting the performance, even if you’re working on a lowly single-processor workstation. Once you get the hang of this technique, you’ll never be able to blame your long coffee breaks on rendering.

Update: Wow, I just realized this looks like a really complicated procedure, but trust me, it’s dead simple to do (just not to describe correctly.) Give it a try, you’ll never want to go back!

Preparations for Windows XP:
1. Right-click on the After Effects 7.0 icon in the Start menu and choose Properties…
2. Make sure that the entire path in the Target: field is enclosed by quotes and then at the very end add ” -m” (that’s a space followed by a minus sign and an m.) On a standard installation on an English system the path should now read:
“C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects 7.0\Support Files\AfterFX.exe” -m
Note: If you have a non-English system, the program might be installed in a slightly different folder, which is why it’s safer to just add quotes around the original path and then add the space and the -m.

Preparations for Mac OS X:
1. Locate the After Effects app file (on a standard installation you should find it at Applications/Adobe After Effects 7.0) and duplicate it (Cmd-D), so that you have two identical icons. If you rename the app something like AE 7.0 Second Instance you’ll be able to tell the two instances apart.

Workflow:

  • Step 1. Start After Effects via the Windows Start Menu icon you have modified, or on OS X via your duplicated icon.
  • Step 2. Open your project and set up your render(s) in the Render Queue, but before you hit the Render button, save the project with Ctrl-S (Cmd-S on OS X.)
  • Step 3. Go ahead and start the render(s).
  • Step 4. Now it’s time to make sure that the rendering doesn’t suck up the resources that you need to continue working. We do this by telling your operating system to not prioritize the rendering program.
    On Windows XP you hit Ctrl-Shift-Esc to bring up the Task Manager and under the tab Processes right-click on the AfterFX.exe and set the priority the Below Normal.

    On OS X it’s a bit more complicated, since you can’t just point and click like you can on Windows (the irony, the irony…)
    A. Start a Terminal window, type top and hit the Enter key.
    B. Look at the row listing After Effe and memorize the four-digit PID number in the first column.
    C. Type q to get back to the command prompt.
    D. Type renice +20 XXXX where the X:es should be replaced by the PID number you just tried to remember.
    E. Exit Terminal.

  • Step 5. Start a second instance of After Effects, on Windows XP via the same icon, on OS X via your duplicated app.
  • Step 6. When the new instance has been started, load the same project into it with Ctrl-Alt-Shift-P (Cmd-Opt-Shift-P on OS X.)
  • Step 7. To avoid saving over the project that is already rendering in the background, immediately choose Increment and Save from the File menu (Ctrl-Alt-Shift-S on Windows XP, Cmd-Opt-Shift-S on OS X.)

Now you can work on your project while it (or another project) is rendering in the background. Since you lowered the priority of the program that is rendering, you shouldn’t notice any performance degradation. The operation system will only let it use CPU cycles that would otherwise have been wasted doing nothing. The beauty of this technique is that it even works on single-CPU and single-core machines, even though rendering will of course be even faster the more processors you have.

The only drawback is that you don’t want to change stuff in your Preferences or save new Workspaces while running two instances, since both will fight over who can write to the preference file.

This is basically a crude way of doing what the excellent and highly recommended Nucleo software does automatically. Even better is the Nucleo Pro plugin that will use spare CPU cycles to either render stuff in the Render Queue or even fill up your previews while you can continue to work.

Thanks to Chris Prosser at Adobe, here’s a challenge for someone with the skills to write a .term file for automating this in OS X.
A. Start Terminal and navigate into the directory with the application Adobe After Effects 7.0
B. Type ./Adobe\ After\ Effects\ 7.0.app/Contents/MacOS/Adobe\ After\ Effects\ 7.0&
C. Get the PID number
D. Enter the command renice +20 PID (replacing PID with the actual PID number.)
E. Press up arrow on the keyboard twice to get the command listed under point B again and press Enter.
F. Voilà, you will have a second instance with a lowered priority.

UPDATE: There are now excellent scripts for After Effects 7.0 and later that will let you setup and start a background render from a palette inside AE, so use Lloyd Alvarez’s script BG Render instead of the technique described above!

>Photoshop 9.0.2 Available

>The updates for Photoshop CS2 9.0 and 9.0.1 became available via Adobe Updater today. You can’t download them via the web yet, so get them from within Photoshop via Help -> Updates…

Here’s the main fixes (from the read me files.)

Windows XP:
- Menus now respond correctly after a single click.
- Undo/Redo work properly when multiple documents are open.
- Photoshop no longer produces a program error when encountering unsupported file
types through the Acrobat Touch-up workflow.
- Supported files that incorrectly produced an “unsupported color space” message now
open as expected.
- TIFF files with layer data greater than 2GB in size now open correctly.

Mac OS X:
- Photoshop no longer crashes when encountering unsupported file types through the
Acrobat Touch-up workflow.
- Supported files that incorrectly produced an “unsupported color space” message now
open as expected.
- TIFF files with layer data greater than 2GB in size now open correctly.
- A printing issue that could cause banding when using ink jet printers with Mac OS X
10.4 has been resolved.

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