After Effects CS4 Visual Effects and Compositing Studio Techniques

Cool it now, people, but soon After Effects CS4 Visual Effects and Compositing Studio Techniques will be on its way from the printer to warehouses and then out to the world. The title is certainly a mouthful: it went double-wide to make it easy for the casual searcher to find it when looking for an intermediate/advanced, practical book about compositing a realistic or fantastic shot. Admittedly designers have also benefited from this book; why, even Ron Brinkmann now includes “motion graphics” in his subtitle.

The main question among readers of this blog is likely, “What’s new?” Or more specifically, “I own version X of the book; do I really need to upgrade?” Version CS4, the fourth edition, brings:

• a brand new Expressions chapter written by the master of expressions himself, Dan Ebberts. This includes many new examples presented in an order which will make sense even to the expressions-phobic, but will also cater to veterans. Dan worked hard to pack a lot into a single chapter.
• a JavaScript for After Effects PDF guide (also from Dan) which fills in many gaps where Adobe’s own documentation advises you to use a third-party text (all of which are more focused on JavaScript for the web). Finally, a third-party JavaScript more info

guide tailored to After Effects.
• a Scripting PDF appendix (chapter really) by Jeff Almasol, master of all things scripting and member of the After Effects development team. Scripting is the gnarliest, most technical area of After Effects and yet Jeff is able to describe it in a clear and friendly manner, with examples which gradually increase from basic to more complex.
• exclusive scripts designed to do previously tricky setups described in the book, including light wrap and camera mapping, also courtesy Jeff Almasol.
• a radically revamped Section I, more clear and concise than in previous editions. This is an intermediate/advanced book, but I felt I was unnecessarily losing more novice readers with language and an approach that was not as approachable as it could be.
• new examples and refinements throughout, including clearer and more concise methodology for the fundamentals: keying, roto/paint, color, and most of all, tracking (now that MochaAE is included with After Effects)
• new outside contributions including a light saber scene and related info from Ryan vs. Dorkman, courtesy Michael Scott, a.k.a. Dorkman
• more HD examples on the disc

So while I agree with the assessment of many folks that version CS4 does not include many huge, game-changing features that render the information in a CS3 book obsolete, I took the opportunity to improve the book itself купить деревянную мебель.

I certainly hope you like it.

11 December 2008 | after effects | 8 Comments

Somebody leaked – so those of us who were previously under NDA can now talk about the Adobe CS4 apps. I’ve just posted a video at ProVideoCoalition to show one feature set I know people will be curious about – 3D models in Photoshop and After Effects.

I also have it in mind to talk about a MAJOR OEM agreement – Imagineer’s MochaAE now ships with After Effects, which is FANTASTIC news – planar tracking to augment a tired and slightly senile corner pin tracker – and my favorite little addition to After Effects, MiniFlow.

But for now I have to get back to it. Watch this space.

22 September 2008 | after effects, news | Comments Off on Adobe CS4 Embargo Lifted (and I posted a video)

This is so cool; my favorite productivity application, Things (as in Getting Things Done) now allows sync between the desktop app (still in beta) and the iPhone.

I was in the beta for the popular OmniFocus and then switched to Things when I found several, well, things about it I liked better. I found that I prefer the way it handles contexts vs. projects vs. what comes next.

I may post a more formal review later, but for now, if you’ve been looking for a to-do app that syncs, check it out.

20 August 2008 | new technology | Comments Off on Things for iPhone, Mac

The book is being revised.

There at least one major change to this one which I’ll share as we get closer to publication.

Meanwhile – I take requests – if there are sections of the book you think could be clearer (I already have my picks – in particular Section I) or other topics you’d like to see covered, let me know.

Also, if you have work that you’re proud of and you’d like it immortalized in a popular publication, send me a still; there are all kinds of cinematic images I can put to use.

16 August 2008 | after effects, news, training | Comments Off on New Edition of AE Studio Techniques Underway

Lloyd Alvarez has updated his BG Renderer script for After Effects CS3, and it now resides in its own panel, ready for use at any time. As I also just noticed, this new version seamlessly allows you to overlap processes; even if one render is already underway, another one will open, which was not the case by default with the previous script. You can get it from Lloyd’s site, which also includes a movie showing how to install and use it and a link to buy Lloyd a beer for his efforts.

This plug-in has been in heavy rotation at my studio, where it allows an artist to render in the background, locally, while continuing to work, and without the need for a copy of Nucleo Pro or the ability to set up a command-line render (which is what BG Renderer is actually doing for you). On a multiprocessor machine, if you un-check Use Multiprocessing and leave the priority Low, you can render in the background, gradually, and continue to work. Or you can crank it up to full render power, damn the consequences.

As Michael Bay would say, “Awesome!”

21 July 2008 | after effects, news | Comments Off on Buy Lloyd a Beer

In case you haven’t checked out the new offerings at, the O-Week overview is available, and this week and next you can sign up and freely audit the first 2 classes of any of the amazing courses.

I’ll be helping out with a class called “After Effects Masters” (afx302) that will feature the amazing UI work of Mark Coleran. I’m psyched!

16 July 2008 | after effects, news | Comments Off on fxPhd July08 Term

Well, for some perhaps. I’ve been working and – news flash – sharing office space with Kontent Films and they were prominently featured in our local San Francisco Chronicle, with several pictures of Mr. Prep Shoot Post, Eric Escobar.

Prouda these guys.

9 June 2008 | news | 1 Comment


This is brilliant and fantastic resource if you’re telling a visual story with elements of authority in it (and how many stories don’t have that?).

The choices are in some cases provocative, and if you’re anything like me it’s the ones you wouldn’t have clearly identified as authority-driven that will particularly resonate. The way that the images are composed also supports the authoritarian feel – there is, for example, the eerie Kubrick symmetry everywhere (you know, like showed up in There Will Be Blood).

25 May 2008 | Uncategorized | No Comments

It’s over a month old but I missed it when it appeared on my birthday, and maybe you did too. This one is a keeper.

Brad Bird on Innovation

25 May 2008 | Uncategorized | Comments Off on Brad Bird on Innovation

What is this thing? Let’s hear a real-world tale or two – or email me.

I love the concept.

18 May 2008 | new technology | Comments Off on The Assistant Editor




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