After Effects Lately 2013.02.21

Here's some of the last few weeks or so of assorted After Effects tutorials, tips, and scripts & plug-ins new and old.

The 3rd edition of the book After Effects Apprentice, by Chris and Trish Meyer, was released in the Fall, and the video training version of the last chapter has recently been released on as a mini course, After Effects Apprentice 16: Creating a Medical Opening Title. Chris and Trish have posted sample lessons here on PVC, Creating Wiggly Lines (faux vital signs displays) and Roughing Out a Camera Move. Here's an earlier sample, on controlling audio levels in After Effects:


Mark Christiansen explores Why is the VFX business failing at its moment of greatest success? and Why is the VFX business failing? Questions for Scott Ross, in which the Digital Domain founder and former ILM boss runs it down in “very simple, real terms.” And Scott Squires added Oh, the mess we’re in! and Risk and subsidies. Also, Variety notes that Studio ills give vfx biz chills (High-profile bankruptcies reveal blockbusters' fragile underpinnings) and The Hollywood Reporter sees that L.A.'s Visual Effects Community Fears Grim Future, despite contributions essential to the modern movie business.

Meanwhile, a Red Shark is pushing for more new blood in a 3-part series, Getting a job in the VFX (Visual Effects) industry, without noting downsides in humor pieces like Cracked's The 5 Miserable VFX Jobs That Make Movies Possible. Here's the Down In Front podcast #54 Is the VFX Industry Imploding? and something from a post by VFX Soldier, both of which put a damper on birthday parties. has bought Video2brain, the multi-language training company. Hopefully this will not result in fewer training titles for the Adobe video apps! Kara Swisher of All Things D spoke with Lynda:


Brandon Johnston shows how to Fake Light Leaks in After Effects. For more, see Lens wacking, free lensing, and light leaks, a mini-roundup that links to various free and low cost footage.


VFX Bro has a free Tilt Shift AE project template. For more on this effect, see Tilt-shift photography meme and others at AE Portal archive, Evans Abrams' run of tilt-shift tutorials How to Fake Tilt Shift Photography, Richard Bird's Living in “Toytown” – Recreating The Tilt-Shift Effect in AE, and Martin Ainsworth's Lite Bite for After Effects: The Tilt Shift Effect. Here's the VFX Bro intro:


Element 3D Essential Training with Chad Perkins is additional training for the Video Copilot effects plug-in for AE. It may be designed for those not sold on this major addition to AE. Chad TIP: if your imported model shows up black (invisible), just apply any material.

Using ambient occlusion (AO) is one of several free samples from this class:

Lee Lanier has new training modules on, VFX Techniques: Tracking Objects onto a Face and VFX Techniques: Crowd Replication with After Effects. Below is a sample from the crowd replication course, on creating a projection light, which has an odd angle that is not so noticable in the final comp of the crowd. For similar stuff, see Volumetric lighting in After Effects: A survey. You can now easily add spotlights, point lights, or stage lighting to simulate visible light with Trapcode Lux, whose feature set hopefully someday will ship with AE, as in modern compositing apps with integrated 3D environments.


In a republished tutorial, James Whiffin explores 5 Basic Ways To Populate Mass Groups Within After Effects, with movies for each way: Simple Masking (garbage matting), Rotoscoping, Difference Matting, Chroma Keying, and Camera Technique. This is also sometimes done with particle-type plug-ins in AE (eg, Card Dance) for crowds in a distance. See also Golaem Crowd for Maya and Massive Software, and AE tutorials by Mike Goedecke, Harry Frank, and Andrew Kramer. There was also an FxGuide class on similar work in AE and Premiere by Gareth Edwards, based on his work for the BBC drama Attila the Hun.


Composite An Impressive Transforming Car From A Still Image, by Musat Adrian Bogdan, simulates a car transformation from a still photo of one model into a another model exported from 3ds Max.




A new training line was introduced, Toolfarm University, with Toolfarm University After Effects and CINEMA 4D – 3D Tracker Training. In this 2-hour training, “Mike Hjörleifsson explains the ins-and-outs of 3D Motion Tracking in Adobe After Effects and Maxon CINEMA 4D. Specifically covered is roundtripping between the two programs.”


BakersTuts posted After Effects Tutorial: Futuristic 3D Text with Trapcode Form. You can find vaguely reminiscent ones made using Form and with the built-in Vegas in 3D Text in After Effects: An updated survey of methods.


James Whiffin posted An In-Depth Look At Working With Motion Vectors, looking at their limitations and how to solve problems when in Maya and Mental Ray, and then compositing in After Effects or Nuke. This is a 3-part tutorial; here's the module on AE:


Advanced Spill Suppression Methods, by Daniel Broadway, “shows how to use sophisticated channel operations to achieve a more accurate spill suppression result than is attainable with AE’s default plug-ins.” Daniel surveys the common methods, then discusses advanced techniques using the Channel Mixer effect (the “best” was mentioned by Darby Edelen a few months ago, “Green Limited by the Average of Red and Blue”). See also CMG Hidden Gems: Chapter 27 – Keying by Trish and Chris Meyer and Advanced Soft Keying by Andrew Kramer on green spill suppression & more. Todd Kopriva says “Check out the Refine Matte effect for the motion blur color decontamination.” More generally see Compositing Fundamentals – Overview of Selections by Dave Scotland and After Effects CS6 Visual Effects and Compositing Studio Techniques by Mark Christiansen.


BartW discussed Best practices of applying 8-bit effects in Premiere Pro in an article at Creative Impatience.

Brent Pierce discussed Creating a “Ken Burns” Pan and Zoom Effect in Premiere Pro in a recent article. Using Position and Scale is fine in many instances, but in the Adobe world this sort of pan & scan is more consistent with Anchor Point and Scale animation, in order to avoid drift and overshoot. Also useful is remembering ease keyframes and Fit To Frame complications. For for better results, see especially Chris and Trish Meyer's articles on Pan & Scan at Artbeats and More Motion, Less Control (on adding a human touch) at PVC, as well as The Ken Burns Effect — and beyond by Rich Young.


In Depth: Motion Stabilization Options, Part 2 of 2 by Michele Yamazaki looks at CoreMelt Lock & Load, Imagineer mocha, CHV MotionTracker-collection (FxScript), and proDad Mercalli Pro. Part 1 looked at General Tips and Warp Stabilizer in After Effects and Premiere Pro. There's more in AE Help (a major section there), in CMG Hidden Gems: Chapter 29 – Motion Stabilization by Chris and Trish Meyer, and in Warp Stabilizer for object removal (using Synthesize Edges as content-aware fill in After Effects). Here's Jeff Foster on the Warp Stabilizer in After Effects 5.5, from his compositing course, and Todd Kopriva on Premiere CS6:


Adobe Premiere Pro: Applying Audio Effects to Multiple Tracks is an article by Clay Asbury that shows you how to use the audio submix feature in Premiere Pro to apply audio effects to multiple tracks at once. See also the Andrew Devis explanation in Premiere Pro CS6 Techniques: 85 Audio 15: The Submix.


Also noteworthy are recent recommendations for resources helpful for a FCP7/X/MC6.5 editor looking to learn Premiere, made by Jim Feeley and Andy Edwards on FCP-L (and beyond). Hopefully Adobe will continue to implement UI feature requests from the very experienced users of other software.

Oddy enough, all the gymnastics to find the proper name of your CUDA card don't matter, at least on Windows. To enable a non-supported card just delete the preference list (“cuda_supported_cards.txt”) from the Premiere folder. According to Jeff Bellune, “with no list to check against, all CUDA-capable cards are enabled.” 

The trick doesn't work with AE though, so for more on that, see Video Cards for After Effects CS6 on how to unlock After Effects CS6 to use almost any NVIDIA graphics card for using the new ray-traced 3D rendering engine. Benchmarking CUDA performance in After Effects CS6 by Danny Princz has a list of Mac results (updated chart only).

On the AE-List, Joe Stern noted Free Windows Video Encoder Supports 10-bit ProRes And Other Pro Formats. The batch utility Cinec, from Cinemartin, does a variety of other things too. and most likely leverages the command line tool FFMEG, which not long ago added additional codec support. In another report, Robert Kjettrup reports better results with AnotherGUI, different FFMEG frontend for Windows, which apparently works better outside of the Program Files directories. Yet another option is PRHelper for PC, a low-cost encoder for Apple ProRes on Windows PCs.

Please note that these roundups are for quick review and comparison. There is almost always vital information from the originating authors at the links provided-and often free presets, projects, or stock footage too.


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Rich Young

Rich Young is a long-time After Effects user from the San Francisco Bay Area. His After Effects and Premiere Pro round-ups provide viewers with an easy-to-digest summary of developments. He also supplies info and links for tutorials that allow users to do things in After Effects they thought were possible but weren’t sure.

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