Category Archives: Entertainment

Filmmaker that you should know

images-24With projects taking up all of your time, we know how easy it is to miss some breaking news or cool features. These are some of the biggest stories from August 2015.

1. Fusion 8 Beta Released

Hot off the release of DaVinci Resolve 12 Beta, Blackmagic Design has already made Fusion 8 available for download.Fusion 8 is a compositing software for VFX artists to create motion design and 3D animation.

Prior versions of Fusion have been used on features like Thor, The Amazing Spiderman 2, and The Hunger Games. It was also used on television series like Breaking Bad, Adventure Time, Downton Abbey, and Battlestar Galactica.

The public beta is available for FREE! More on Fusion 8 over at No Film School.

2. The Future for Adobe

Adobe’s Sr. Director of Product Management for Video, Bill Roberts, gave an interview to Video & Filmmaker about the future of Adobe. You’ll see how Adobe discovered that filmmakers use Creative Cloud more than any other industry users.

We found that video professionals are the most voracious users of Creative Cloud, using more tools and services across a range of disciplines to complete their work. For example, it’s not uncommon to have a logo from Illustrator CC and image from Photoshop CC combined in an After Effects CC comp and dynamically linked to a Premiere Pro timeline.

You can read the entire interview over at Video & Filmmaker.

3. Why CG Sucks (Except It Doesn’t)

One of the most popular videos shared this past month came from RocketJump Film School. Freddy Wong and crew tackled the always controversial use of CG in films.

4. Columbia Pictures Takes Down Unrelated Videos, and Their Own Trailer, With a Bogus DMCA Claim

Vimeo received DMCA notices on behalf of Columbia by Entura International for the film Pixels. The filing was incredibly broad, including any use of the term “Pixels” in the title. Unrelated films like Pantone Pixels were taken down, as well as the original short film, Pixels, the movie is based on. The claims have since been rescinded, but it did open a huge debate on DMCA practices. The DMCA notice also had the films own trailer removed. You can read more about this mess at Geek.

5. SmallHD 500 Series Causes Problems With Digital Bolex D16

Digital Bolex has announced multiple reports of D16 users experiencing problems with SmallHD 501 and 502 monitors. The monitors were causing the internal SSD to dismount or freeze, which caused problems with recording and playback.

The issue was tied to a new data standard in the HDMI signal. The D16 did not recognize the signal, and a firmware patch will be released on 8/31/15. Read more about the issue at No Film School.

6. 10 Astounding VFX Innovations from ILM

A look at the incredible VFX work of Industrial Light and Magic. This breakdown includes effects like building virtual cities and creating movie monsters. Be sure to watch the behind the scenes look at the ILM Virtual Reality Lab, where they are pushing the boundaries of VR filmmaking. They’ve even used the technology to create pre-production sets for Star Wars: Rogue One. Read about the 10 innovations at RocketStock. Speaking of Star Wars…

7. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Will Take Over Every Imax for a Month

For four weeks, all IMAX theaters will only play Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. The exclusive deal will keep cinema goers from seeing The Revenant and In the Heart of the Sea on IMAX until January 2016. You can read more from The Hollywood Reporter.

8. Netflix Users Avoid 130 Hours of Commercials a Year

By calculating the streaming time on Netflix and average time ads are aired, it was determined that Netflix saves subscribers from 130 hours of advertisements a year. This was determined by factoring the average streaming time of 1.5 hours on Netflix and the average hour of television, which includes 15 minutes and 30 seconds of ads. Read more about this at Exstreamist.

After Effects Apprentice

After Effects CC comes bundled with the 3D application CINEMA 4D Lite. But many new users are intimidated by 3D space. After Effects Apprentice offers three training courses just for C4D beginners. In this installment, After Effects expert Chris Meyer shows you how to create, extrude, and animate 3D text in C4D Lite, and believably composite it over a 2D background inside After Effects. The tutorials cover creating 3D text from scratch, animating with effectors, texture mapping and lighting the text, working with 3D cameras, and rendering. Chris also shows a workflow for extruding Illustrator artwork for animation.

The first course in the series, After Effects Apprentice 17, includes an overview of the C4D Lite user interface, as well as important setup information you need to know whenever you use live C4D layers in After Effects. We recommend you watch it first if you have no prior experience with C4D.

Topics include:

  • Extruding 3D text and Illustrator artwork
  • Beveling letters
  • Creating animations using the Fracture object and plain effector
  • Texturing and lighting
  • Adding a camera move in After Effects
  • Using multipass renders
  • Simulating glass-like effect distortions
  • Improving render quality

Social Tech Infographics Tips

After Effects Breakdowns is for artists who want to better understand advanced techniques, design concepts, and approaches to complex motion graphics projects. The infographics-driven video in this installment, designed for the nonprofit organization Com.unity, explains how social tech is designed to solve large-scale social problems, such as obesity, accessibility, and car accidents. Watch Eran Stern reverse engineer the finished project using his favorite tools: After Effects and a few third-party plugins (Animation Composer, Particular, and Newton).

Eran shows how to decode a client brief, perform storyboarding in Illustrator, and then transition the design to After Effects for animation. Along the way, he weaves in tips, shortcuts, and professional techniques that will amaze both veteran After Effects users and new motion graphics artists.

Topics include:

  • Analyzing a client brief
  • Designing a storyboard with Illustrator
  • Automating animations with Animation Composer
  • Creating custom particles with Particular
  • Crashing simulations using Newton

Get a glimpse behind the scenes of a real-world commercial made with After Effects. This course is for artists who are familiar with After Effects and want to better understand advanced techniques, design concepts, and approaches to complex projects.

The featured product is the N-trig pen, a digital pen that “draws the line from idea to technology.” You will reverse engineer the finished project to understand the practical steps and creative decisions the filmmakers made along the way.

Eran Stern shows how to decode a client brief, present design concepts for signoff, create previsualizations and animatics, and then transition the design to After Effects. Many of the effects, such as dust layers, streaks of light, and geometric lines, are achieved using some of Eran’s favorite third-party plugins (Particular, Form, and Plexus). The lessons are full of practical examples for broadcast television as well as online distribution. Along the way, Eran weaves in tips, shortcuts, and professional techniques that will amaze both veteran After Effects users and new motion graphics artists.

After Effects Techniques Tips

Learn looping animation techniques for motion graphics and web design using Adobe After Effects. Owen Lowery shows you how to create a “never-ending” animated loop comprised of multiple nested looped elements and render the results as an animated GIF. Along the way, you’ll learn how to work with AE expressions, loop footage with Time Remap, and use effects such as Echo and Offset to create background loops. At the end of the project, you’ll render the results as versatile animated GIFs, using Photoshop and the third-party AE Scripts plugin.

Topics include:

  • Working with loop expressions
  • Looping mash and shape paths
  • Combining expressions
  • Looping footage with Time Remap
  • Looping with effects
  • Rendering loops as animated GIFs

Learn how to create a looping animation for motion graphics and web design using Adobe Photoshop. Owen Lowery shows how to create animated loops in a variety of styles (including a hand-drawn look) and export them as different file types, suitable for web or video. Along the way, you’ll learn how to set up a Photoshop workspace specifically for animation, animate layers in the Timeline, use onion skinning, and add color and texture to your animation. The results are exported as versatile animated GIFs and as video that can be used in other motion graphics programs such as After Effects.

Topics include:

  • Working with the Photoshop Timeline panel and video layers
  • Animating frame by frame in Photoshop
  • Exporting animation and other media types to animated GIFs
  • Preparing After Effects animation loops for Photoshop

Better in filmmaker tips

Technology can only progress so far. It will get better but not at this astounding pace we’ve seen in the last 5 years. Now we are entering a perfect storm of social propaganda that threatens to enslave us in a never ending [camera] consumer cycle and it has nothing to do making films or making films better.

For 95% of video applications, what is currently available on the market and affordable to most people is “good enough”.  For the remainder 5% of projects there are a myriad of options available for rent. And yet I keep reading comments like “I’ve been asking for a camera that does x, y, z” or “This camera is crap because it can’t do 60p” or “Z Camera company is finally listening to their customers.”

Bullshit. No camera is holding you back.

You are holding yourself back.

The digital revolution has ushered in an era of artistic freedom. But freedom is scary. Freedom means we have to take responsibility for our success and our failure. This freedom also means your audience now has the same tools as you and you no longer belong to a special class with privileged access.  Freedom requires you to compete, which means you have to be good. You have to bring something unique to the table. That’s downright terrifying.

The reaction is to build up imaginary walls – Walls to separate you as a REAL Filmmaker from the hobbyist. Walls that reinforce your superiority over the riff raff.

And this is exactly what’s happening with camera discussions and flame wars. And the camera manufacturers love it.


I am a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist. I have no moral issue with companies making money. They build the tools I use to tell my stories and without that exchange for profit I would not be able to do what I want to do. It’s not a zero-sum game where they win and we lose – it’s a win-win. Filmmakers and Manufacturers have different objectives and our relationship is mutually beneficial.

The problem emerges when we as filmmakers lose sight of our objective (to tell stories) and play into imaginary walls vanity and class. The camera manufacturers have product to sell and once everybody has a camera, they need to convince us to buy another one to keep the revenue coming in. That’s when they appeal to our need for vanity, helping us build up our imaginary walls. The result is a constant state of dissatisfaction for sole purpose of selling cameras to replace the perfectly functional cameras we already own.

“I want it now. Give it to me now, or I will scream and scream until I am sick!!!!”

That hissy-fit quote above came from Philip Bloom’s run down on the new Sony F5 and F55 cameras. In context of the article it is clear he is being facetious. The F5 and F55 are studio grade cameras made for professional productions and he’s playing on the juvenile attitude for comedic effect.

But the childish sentiment is not uncommon in the online arena where aspiring (and inexperienced) filmmakers are trying desperately to crawl up the social ladder.

If Hollywood is about the manufacturing of dreams, then the industry of filmmaking is the wide glossy-eyed pursuit of those dreams. As filmmakers, we’re all looking for the golden ticket in.

For some, the camera has become that golden ticket. The camera has become a symbol of filmmaker’s status than a tool of creation. Higher end cameras are perceived as a luxury item catering to the filmmaker who has a “refined taste” or “great eye”.

It is more than just brand loyalty. With the product life cycle of cameras getting shorter and shorter (about 2-3 years before the community deems them “obsolete” even though they’ll function much longer) maintaining the imaginary walls as a filmmaker means you must have access to the latest camera offerings. You can’t be seen with last year’s model. But the cost of cinema-level cameras keeps wanna-be-filmmakers from “buying-in” to the prestigious class.

And it’s here where the dangers of the camera flame wars rears their ugly head. Ownership and Experience are not prerequisites to discussion anymore, all you need to at least waft a scent of filmmaking authority is sound like you know something.


It happens like clockwork. Every time a new camera is announced, even before official press releases are sent out, blogs get filled up with comments from people either in eager excitement or trashing the camera. These debates almost always devolve into flame wars – any discussion on the grey areas quickly posterized into black and white ironically by people who shout the loudest for 12-bit color space.

Almost all “camera news” prior to a release is pure speculation. In the fast paced socially connected online world, information is a valued commodity and being perceived as “first” with any sort of news is key, even if that news is wishful thinking and/or completely made up.

Speculation is so prominent that a cottage industry has sprung up around it. There are sites that contain the word “rumors” for almost every hotly anticipated brand.

Of course fanboys eat it up. Fanboys have identified themselves as lords of the brand and superior to the ignorant masses. Having information on any new camera (even if it’s not their preferred brand) gives them a sense of authority that they can lull over their fellow internet commenter. Being able to say, “This camera sucks, you should wait until my favorite company releases their new camera” makes them feel as though they are speaking with a voice of experience even though that experience does not come from actually making films or making anything useful to society.

But what value to REAL filmmaker does speculation have? – Absolutely nothing.

What serious filmmaker is going to base a hefty buying decision on what amounts to nothing more than gossip?

Why should an aspiring filmmakers put off producing a film in order to wait for a new camera to arrive that’s only talked about by people that have never seen it and never used it? Speculation may be “fun” but it’s taking your energy away from what really matters.


Filmmaking begins with a camera, that fact cannot be skirted around. The Camera defines the art form, but the camera is not defining element of a film.

Having the same type of camera that was used on The Hobbit for example does not mean you have the same screenwriters, the same visionary director, celebrity actors, story rights, production designers, locations, lighting specialists, prop designers, stunt coordinators, editors, digital artists, location managers, producers, office staff, marketing representatives and distribution deals that are the REAL reason The Hobbitwill be successful.

It’s belabored point and so tiresomely cliche: A camera will not make you a better filmmaker. It will not make a great movie.

Thanks to technology, the camera is starting to become the least important element on a set: trumped by things like a fantastic story and extraordinarily talented cast and crew.

After Effect Compositing in a Cell Phone

The mobile app market is saturated. If you can show clients or investors how the app works—before any time or money has been invested into a lengthy development cycle—it can help speed up approval and funding.

Here, Andy Needham shows how to take the app mockup created in the companion course, After Effects: Creating a Mobile App Interface, and composite it into live-action footage of a smartphone. The final product is an animated promo video that helps visualize how the app will be used on a real device. Andy also covers storyboarding, tracking, keying, color correction, and a few audio tips. By the end of the course, you’ll have more experience with the screen replacement workflow in After Effects and have a web-ready deliverable ready to share with the world.

Topics include:

  • Planning with a storyboard
  • Filming the phone
  • Importing the live-action footage in After Effects
  • Retiming the animation
  • Tracking the shot in mocha AE
  • Keying the screen with Keylight
  • Adding an animated logo
  • Rendering the shot
  • Color correcting the composite

The Phonotrope Analog Techniques Tips

Learn how to create looping animations using analog elements that can be filmed with a camera and then refined in programs like After Effects. The “phonotrope” technique shown in this course uses the rotations of a record player to create the illusion of motion. Owen Lowery provides instructions on creating paper animation loops by hand, then going back and forth from the computer to plan and execute a more advanced animation using After Effects and Photoshop.

You’ll get hands on and color, cut, paste, and draw and, along the way, learn about the logistics of player speeds, frames, video capture, and lighting. In the final chapter, you’ll get tips and inspiration for taking your phonotrope to the next level with transparency and mixed media.

Topics include:

  • Introducing the phonotrope
  • Understanding frame and speed settings
  • Experimenting with drawing and play dough
  • Using Illustrator and Photoshop to plan a phonotrope guide
  • Preparing After Effects for a phonotrope animation
  • Shooting, lighting, and editing animation footage

Fix Film It in Post

Whenever you hear “don’t worry—we’ll fix it in post,” a red light should go off in your head. Those who say it on set often don’t solve the problems; the burden will fall on you, the editor. Luckily, many issues can be solved at the post-production stage, and this course teaches you how. Premiere Pro guru Eran Stern touches on topics such as white balance, relighting, flicker and banding problems, shaky footage, cosmetic skin issues, video noise, color matching, and even common audio problems. The techniques shown rely on collaboration with After Effects as well as third-party plugins that augment Premiere Pro.

Topics include:

  • Fixing white balance problems
  • Stabilizing shaky shots
  • Fixing bad pixels
  • Handling noise, grain, and banding
  • Minimizing flicker and exposure issues
  • Removing camera flashes
  • Fixing skin problems
  • Relighting a shot
  • Performing lens corrections
  • Fixing audio in post
Skill LevelIntermediate
2h 25m



Integrating Type into Video

Discover new ways to combine text and video in After Effects and create more visually stunning scenes. This course, the second volume of Eran Stern’s Integrating Type into Video series, features four unique type treatments that integrate text directly with the action on screen. Watch and learn how to explode text, create liquid text, map text to moving objects, and animate type in Z space.

Along the way, Eran demos a handful of advanced techniques, from tracking, rotoscoping, and particles to distortion and camera effects. After watching this course, you’ll be able to create impressive promos, trailers, and openers that will stand out from the rest.

Topics include:

  • Dandelion type: exploding text into dozens of seeds
  • Time remapping
  • Tracking text
  • Rotoscoping with Roto Brush
  • Floating type: creating a liquid text simulation
  • Designing with shape layers
  • Creating water effects with caustics
  • Perspective type: attaching type to moving guitar neck
  • Planner tracking with mocha AE
  • Pasting tracing data
  • Matching focus
  • Hot spot type: adding motion graphics to a runner’s steps
  • Camera tracking
  • Adding titles
  • Creating a pulse effect

Creative Cloud Updates Tips

Adobe After Effects CC 2015 brings significant breakthroughs in performance and shared workflows—and in this course, master user Chris Meyer will show you how to put them to work in real-world situations. After Effects has been rewired underneath the hood to be more responsive, including a new preview scheme optimized for those with an editing background. Creative Cloud Libraries were also introduced in the CC 2015 release, as well as face tracking technology thanks to Adobe Character Animator, which is now bundled with the program. With over 20 years experience using After Effects, Chris Meyer demonstrates these and other changes using real-world examples, including how to work around the inevitable shortcomings and gotchas.

Check back often for updates. New chapters will be added each time Adobe releases a major After Effects update.

Topics include:

  • Preview options
  • Editing a project without stopping preview playback
  • Navigating the CC Libraries workflows
  • Moving animations from Adobe Character Animator to After Effects
  • Using expressions to dynamically measure facial dimensions
  • Setting up layers in CINEWARE and CINEMA 4D Lite