Chris Zwar

AE Anecdotes | Chris Zwar rss

Chris was born a geek, and was lucky enough to own a Commodore 64 at a time when the number of students at his primary school who owned a computer could be counted on one hand. Upgrading to an Amiga with the onset of the desktop video revolution, Chris began experimenting with digital graphics and animation in his bedroom, and incorporating them into his high-school video productions.

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Hues on first - easy and fast colour correction


Written by Chris Zwar  |  June 4, 2015

Colour correction is one of the most important aspects of compositing and visual fx.  This quick tip will show you the best way to begin colour correcting different layers in a composition - just by pointing your mouse.

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Automatic versioning in After Effects


Written by Chris Zwar  |  May 1, 2015

No-one likes boring and repetitive work, so this After Effects tutorial demonstrates how to create many different versions of the same animation with only one click.  If you have to produce 100 name straps for a conference, or 500 lower thirds for a broadcaster, then this will show you how to do all of the tedious work automatically.  Just design your "main" composition and different versions can be generated with a single click.

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Motion Graphics for Business - Part 2: Beyond Hollywood

The videos that influenced videos
Written by Chris Zwar  |  February 5, 2015

This is part 2 of a series that looks at trends in corporate motion graphics.  Part 1 looked at the Hollywood films which became landmarks in motion graphics design, in Part 2 we look beyond feature films.

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Motion Graphics for Business - Part 1: Inspirational Films

20 years of films that have inspired motion graphics for the corporate market
Written by Chris Zwar  |  January 5, 2015
The New Year is traditionally a time for lists, and as many of the articles I published during 2014 reflected on the last 20 years of desktop video, I thought I’d wrap up the year with a list of films that have made a significant impact on motion graphics during that...
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The case of the white t-shirt

An assortment of analogies to help understand the video production business
Written by Chris Zwar  |  November 25, 2014
In an earlier article I said that when I began my career, I found business issues more difficult to understand than any software or hardware matters.  This article elaborates on some of those issues, and presents several different analogies to help...
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Growing pains - the desktop video identity crisis

The agony and the angst of beginning a new career with new technology
Written by Chris Zwar  |  November 12, 2014
Some of the most confusing aspects of a job have nothing to do with hardware problems or software upgrades.  Everyone using After Effects knows that Video Copilot produce great tutorials, but none of them tell you how to deal with a co-worker who has bad body odor, or what to do if a client hasn’t paid your invoice. Since the...
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Z-Depth from 3D After Effects layers

How to generate a z-depth pass from 3D layers in After Effects, without 3rd party plugins
Written by Chris Zwar  |  September 20, 2014
I recently posted a video tutorial that demonstrates how to generate a z-depth map from Particular, and then use it to composite multiple layers of Particular together.  This technique opens up a whole range of creative possibilities, and allows extremely complex scenes...
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Z-Depth compositing with Particular - Part 2

Create z-depth maps in Particular and composite multiple layers together
Written by Chris Zwar  |  September 2, 2014
Trapcode’s Particular is probably the most popular 3rd party plugin for After Effects, and amongst its many powerful features is the ability to read a z-depth map.  What it doesn’t have, however, is an obvious way to render out its own z-depth map - but by manually adjusting some of the settings we can generate one in Particular and...
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Z-Depth compositing with Particular - Part 1

Create z-depth maps in Particular and composite multiple layers together
Written by Chris Zwar  |  September 2, 2014
Trapcode’s Particular is probably the most popular 3rd party plugin for After Effects, and amongst its many powerful features is the ability to read a z-depth map.  What it doesn’t have, however, is an obvious way to render out its own z-depth map -...
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After Effects and Alexa - The Expurgated Version

Log C in After Effects in 3 minutes...
Written by Chris Zwar  |  August 11, 2014
OK so you've got some Arri Alexa footage in Log C format, and it looks funny in After Effects.  You don't have time to sit through my 2-part, 40 minute video on the best way to deal with Alexa footage in After Effects, you just want to know the basic details NOW! So here's...
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After Effects and Alexa - Part 2

Working with Arri Log C footage in After Effects
Written by Chris Zwar  |  August 11, 2014
The Arri Alexa is a hugely popular digital camera, but it records footage in a proprietary Arri colourspace called Log C.  While there are many ways of working with Log C footage in After Effects, none of them are immediately obvious – and if you’re new to log colourspaces then it can be a bit of a shock to import a footage file and...
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After Effects and Alexa - Part 1

Working with Arri Log C footage in After Effects
Written by Chris Zwar  |  August 10, 2014
The Arri Alexa is a hugely popular digital camera, but it records footage in a proprietary Arri colourspace called Log C.  While there are many ways of working with Log C footage in After Effects, none of them are immediately obvious – and if you’re new to log colourspaces then it can be a bit of a shock to import a footage file and...
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Inventing the non-linear edit suite

How five different products were created from five different philosophies
Written by Chris Zwar  |  July 14, 2014
If you're developing a groundbreaking new product, where do you start?  The desktop video revolution was driven by the emergence of non-linear editing systems running on home computers, but adapting them for video production was a gradual process.  The products that were being developed and launched at the start of the 1990s were very...
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The Desktop Video Revolution - Part 3

How desktop technology revolutionised video production - 2013
Written by Chris Zwar  |  June 10, 2014
The video production industry has radically changed over the past 20 years, a period of time that can be called "the desktop video revolution".  As desktop computers evolved to become faster and cheaper, they gradually displaced the traditionally expensive "black boxes" that had governed video productions over the previous...
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The Desktop Video Revolution - Part 2

How desktop technology revolutionised video production - 1997
Written by Chris Zwar  |  June 10, 2014
The video production industry has radically changed over the past 20 years, a period of time that can be called "the desktop video revolution".  As desktop computers evolved to become faster and cheaper, they gradually displaced the traditionally expensive "black boxes" that had governed video productions over the previous...
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The Desktop Video Revolution - Part 1

How desktop technology revolutionised video production
Written by Chris Zwar  |  June 10, 2014
The video production industry has radically changed over the past 20 years, a period of time that can be called "the desktop video revolution".  As desktop computers evolved to become faster and cheaper, they gradually displaced the traditionally expensive "black boxes" that had governed video productions over the previous...
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Wriggle it - just a little bit

Creating a hand drawn stop motion look in After Effects
Written by Chris Zwar  |  May 28, 2014
Hand drawn and stop motion animations have a very distinct look.  Every frame is slightly different, and when played back at full speed those small differences can add visible character and warmth to the end result - think of the Red Bull ads that have run for...
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Animating the Hand of God

When your hand-drawn animation is literally hand drawn
Written by Chris Zwar  |  May 23, 2014
In the film & TV industry, voice-over narration is sometimes referred to as "the voice of god".  So when I was stuck thinking of a way to describe images that are drawn on by an invisible animator, it seemed fitting to refer to the style as "the hand of god". Having motion graphics revealed, manipulated, and basically being...
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Inside the After Effects camera

A technical overview for scripters and expressioneers
Written by Chris Zwar  |  May 19, 2014
One of the most powerful features of After Effects is the ability to work with 3D layers and a virtual camera.  While it is simple to add a camera to a composition and animate it, greater creative control over the end result can be achieved with a basic technical understanding of how cameras work, and what the various settings...
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Creating a watercolour wipe in After Effects - Part 2

Deconstructing a complex transition
Written by Chris Zwar  |  August 15, 2013
Over 3 years ago, in a rare moment when I had some spare time, I attempted to create an After Effects project that revealed an image as if it were a watercolour painting.  I posted the result on my website and since then it has proved...
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Creating a watercolour wipe in After Effects - Part 1

Deconstructing a complex transition
Written by Chris Zwar  |  August 15, 2013
Over 3 years ago, in a rare moment when I had some spare time, I attempted to create an After Effects project that revealed an image as if it were a watercolour painting.  I posted the result on my website and since then it has proved...
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Vegas Visits Vivid - Part 2

Animating over 10,000 neon lights in After Effects for the Sydney Vivid Festival
Written by Chris Zwar  |  July 3, 2013
Earlier this year, Sydney design company Spinifex headlined the Vivid Festival with a striking building projection on the iconic Sydney Opera House.  Attracting huge crowds and critical acclaim, the fifteen...
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Vegas Visits Vivid - Part 1

Animating over 10,000 neon lights in After Effects for the Sydney Vivid Festival
Written by Chris Zwar  |  July 3, 2013
Earlier this year, Sydney design company Spinifex headlined the Vivid Festival with a striking building projection on the iconic Sydney Opera House.  Attracting huge crowds and critical acclaim, the fifteen...
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Waving a flag in After Effects

Looking at a real-life project that creates a 3D flag effect using standard After Effects plugins
Written by Chris Zwar  |  June 30, 2013
This video tutorial takes an old project, originally created in After Effects CS3, and explains all of the stages involved to create the final result.  It doesn't just explain HOW to do it, but it explains WHY everything has been done the way it is. Although there are dedicated 3rd party plugins that can make flag animations easier...
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After Effects - Leftover Plugins (part 2)

13 plugins and effects you probably forgot you had
Written by Chris Zwar  |  June 18, 2013
In amongst the 400+ plugins that come with a native installation of After Effects are a few rough gems.  These are plugins that are useful and valueable tools but are too often neglected, or forgotten completely. In part 2 we examine the following plugins: remove colour matting channel...
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After Effects - Leftover Plugins (part 1)

13 plugins and effects you probably forgot you had
Written by Chris Zwar  |  June 18, 2013
Have you ever checked to see how many plugins you've got?  You might be surprised to know it's almost certainly well over 400, and it only takes a few purchases to clock up the 500 mark. While some plugins get used every day, others sit in the dark, dusty corners of your hard drive in some forgotten submenu and never get any love...
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The Zwarchives - Oldies but goodies

After Effects video tutorials from 2009 - 2012
Written by Chris Zwar  |  June 17, 2013
Welcome to After Effects Anecdotes, the new home for all of my presentations for the ProVideo Coalition. As an After Effects specialist with over 15 years of industry experience, I aim to produce video tutorials that look at all aspects of production and include insights into areas such as pitching, workflow, project organisation and...
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Create and animate 3D cogs in After Effects - Part 2

Build upon what you learned in Part 1 by taking advantage of the extrusion and ray-tracing features in After Effects CS6.
Written by Chris Zwar  |  September 3, 2012
Thanks to the new 3D capabilities of After Effects CS6, you can create and animate 3D cogs and gears inside of After Effects without the need for a true 3D program. Part 1 demonstrates...
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Create and animate 3D cogs in After Effects - Part 1

This quick video tutorial shows you how to create your own cogs inside of After Effects, and demonstrates a simple technique to ensure they animate together seamlessly.
Written by Chris Zwar  |  September 3, 2012
Sometimes jobs turn out to be more complicated than you expect them to.  Animating cogs and gears can be like that - it sounds like a nice idea, it's easy enough to arrange some stock photos of cogs together on a storyboard, but as soon as you try to animate them then things can turn pear shaped.  This quick video tutorial shows you...
Blackmagic Design attracted a huge amount of attention with their plans to release a digital camera. John Brawley, an Australian cinematographer, has been helping Blackmagic with the development by using the camera in real-world production environments to give them professional feedback. In this four-part video interview, we chat about the art...
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Blackmagic's camera - The dark art of digital cinematography (part4)

An exclusive four-part video interview with John Brawley, the professional cinematographer who's been helping Blackmagic Design with their upcoming 'Blackmagic Cinema Camera'. In the 4th and final part, John talks about post-production with the camera, and the implications of working with 12 bit RAW images.
Written by Chris Zwar  |  August 9, 2012
Blackmagic Design attracted a huge amount of attention with their plans to release a digital camera. John Brawley, an Australian cinematographer, has been helping Blackmagic with the development by using the camera in real-world production environments to...
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Blackmagic's camera - The dark art of digital cinematography (part3)

An exclusive four-part video interview with John Brawley, the professional cinematographer who's been helping Blackmagic Design with their upcoming 'Blackmagic Cinema Camera'. In part 3, John talks specifically about the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, covering everything you've ever wanted to know.
Written by Chris Zwar  |  August 9, 2012
Blackmagic Design attracted a huge amount of attention with their plans to release a digital camera. John Brawley, an Australian cinematographer, has been helping Blackmagic with the development by using the camera in real-world production environments to give them professional feedback. In this four-part video interview, we chat about the art...
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Blackmagic's camera - The dark art of digital cinematography (part2)

An exclusive four-part video interview with John Brawley, the professional cinematographer who's been helping Blackmagic Design with their upcoming 'Blackmagic Cinema Camera'. In part 2, John talks about digital cinematography and his experience with digital cameras in general.
Written by Chris Zwar  |  August 9, 2012
Blackmagic Design attracted a huge amount of attention with their plans to release a digital camera. John Brawley, an Australian cinematographer, has been helping Blackmagic with...
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An A to Z of Building Projections - Part 2

A behind the scenes look at two different building projection projects, including the largest building projection ever staged - the massive Alfa Bank show in Russia.
Written by Chris Zwar  |  April 13, 2012
This two-part video presentation looks behind the scenes at two different building projection projects - a small scale production for New Year's Eve in Melbourne, Australia, and a large scale event for the Alfa Bank in Russia - the largest building projection ever staged to date. In part 2 we take a detailed look at the After Effects workflow...
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An A to Z of Building Projections - Part 1

A behind the scenes look at two different building projection projects, including the largest building projection ever staged - the massive Alfa Bank show in Russia. If you've ever wondered how these events are created then this is the video series for you...
Written by Chris Zwar  |  April 3, 2012
If you have any interest in motion graphics at all, you'll have noticed the increasing popularity of building projections all around the world. This two-part presentation gives a behind the scenes look into two different building projection projects - a small scale production for New Year's Eve in Melbourne, Australia, and a large scale...
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After Effects Leftovers - Part 5

Reheating old features you forgot you had...
Written by Chris Zwar  |  October 21, 2010
This 5-part series looks at a selection of features that were in After Effects before CS5 but have been often overlooked. A total of 40 tips, tricks, workflow suggestions and general reminders are given covering topics including layout, masking, rendering and even using the interface. Part 5 wraps up the series by looking at presets and...
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After Effects Leftovers - Part 4

Reheating old features you forgot you had...
Written by Chris Zwar  |  October 21, 2010
This 5-part series looks at a selection of features that were in After Effects before CS5 but have been often overlooked. A total of 40 tips, tricks, workflow suggestions and general reminders are given covering topics including layout, masking, rendering and even using the interface. Part 4 is a mixed bag of tricks including cropping...
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After Effects Leftovers - Part 3

Reheating old features you forgot you had...
Written by Chris Zwar  |  October 21, 2010
This 5-part series looks at a selection of features that were in After Effects before CS5 but have been often overlooked. A total of 40 tips, tricks, workflow suggestions and general reminders are given covering topics including layout, masking, rendering and even using the interface. Part 3 looks at using the After Effects interface.
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After Effects Leftovers - Part 2

Reheating old features you forgot you had...
Written by Chris Zwar  |  October 21, 2010
This 5-part series looks at a selection of features that were in After Effects before CS5 but have been often overlooked. A total of 40 tips, tricks, workflow suggestions and general reminders are given covering topics including layout, masking, rendering and even using the interface. Part 2 looks at masking and...
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After Effects Leftovers - Part 1

Reheating old features you forgot you had...
Written by Chris Zwar  |  October 21, 2010

This 5-part series looks at a selection of features that were in After Effects before CS5 but have been often overlooked. A total of 40 tips, tricks, workflow suggestions and general reminders are given covering topics including layout, masking, painting, rendering and even using the interface.

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The Centrica Carnivale part 3

The final of the three-part video series on advanced 3D animation using After Effects
Written by Chris Zwar  |  August 22, 2009
  In part 2 we looked at the creation and animation of the "racing waiters" scene... one award done but five more to go! In the final of the three-part series we look at all the other scenes in the animation and then conclude with a few notes on...
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The Centrica Carnivale part 2

Part two of the three-part series looking at advanced 3D animation using After Effects
Written by Chris Zwar  |  August 22, 2009
  In Part 1 we looked at the initial client brief, the pitch animation, and ended up creating some flashing lights in After Effects. In Part 2 we dive right into advanced 3D - beginning with an examination of the "magic star", then a comprehensive...
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Introducing the Centrica Carnivale

A 3-part video tutorial looking at advanced 3D animation in After Effects
Written by Chris Zwar  |  August 22, 2009
  3D or AE? How about 3D using AE! At the beginning of 2006 I created a conference opener for Centrica that looked like it had been made with a 3D animation package, however practically everything was...