Slugline

Simple, elegant screenwriting.

Needables
  • Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4KBODY 16.05MP Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera with 4K Cinematic Video (Body Only)
    Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4KBODY 16.05MP Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera with 4K Cinematic Video (Body Only)
    Panasonic
  • TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
    TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
    TASCAM
  • The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (Peachpit)
    The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (Peachpit)
    by Stu Maschwitz

Entries in Adobe After Effects (82)

Wednesday
Mar122014

Red Giant Universe

From the Red Giant blog:

Red Giant Universe is a community that gives members access to fast and powerful free tools for editing, filmmaking, visual effects and motion design.

Every tool in the Universe library of effects and transitions is GPU-accelerated, both Mac and Windows compatible, and works across multiple host applications including: After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X and Motion. The Universe library of tools is continuously growing—new effects and transitions are added regularly, and existing tools are updated often, based on user feedback.

A free subscription gets you access to tons of effects. A paid subscription ($10 per month, or $99 per year) gets you more. Don’t like subscriptions? Buy a perpetual license for $399.

How can Red Giant promise to keep Universe growing so quickly? Because they built Supernova, an internal development tool that’s like a 3D printer for plug-ins:

If you want to be a part of this today, you can sign up for the public beta.

Inverse-disclaimer: Universe doesn’t fall within my Creative Director duties at Red Giant. I don’t have anything to do with it (yet). I’m just a huge fan. And speaking of being a huge fan, the directing/producing team of Seth Worley and Aharon Rabinowitz did such a rockin’ job on both this video and the teaser.

Monday
Nov252013

Thanksgiving Sale at the Prolost Store

I love Thanksgiving, because a) food, and b) my family is the good kind of crazy.

So take advantage of my good spirits and save 30% on everything at the Prolost Store! Even the free stuff.

Just use the coupon code CANBERRY when you check out. The sale lasts through Monday, because it makes me laugh when people say “cyber.”

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday
Oct022013

Creative Cloud? Give Me a Cloud That Can Cook

I’ve got some time on my hands. Twenty-five hours and seven minutes, to be exact.

I’m working on a new short film that I can’t wait to share with you. But I have to wait, because it’s rendering. This thousands-of-frames-long Adobe After Effects project is rendering really, really fast. But also really, really slow. And so I’m waiting for it to finish rendering on one blazing fast (but agonizingly slow) computer.

When I wrote about the After Effects ray-tracing renderer (which this project doesn’t use, by the way), I think I buried perhaps the most important point way at the bottom:

Along with CS6, Adobe unveiled Creative Cloud, which includes subscription pricing for the Creative Suite applications. But is that really what After Effects power-users need from “the cloud?” What if that subscription also gave me access to a cloud-based render farm that is constantly Backblaze-syncing with my work directories and is ready to instantaneously render my 1,000-frame animation on 1,000 virtual machines at the push of a button?

Then what if Adobe removed the button?

It used to be my dream that After Effects would speculatively render my work in the background, using every ounce of my computer’s processing power. Now I want the same thing, but with Adobe supplying the processors. That would be worth a subscription fee.

The “big iron” days are over. Simplicity is the new powerful. Fast is the new good. The computer is the new hardest working guy in the room. Except it’s no longer in the room.

What I want from my Creative Cloud subscription is access to an infinite render farm that I only pay for when I need it. Adobe needs to productize what my friends at Atomic Fiction have built for themselves—an infinitely scalable, virtual render farm—that they’ve never seen with their own eyes.

What I meant by “removing the button” is that Creative Cloud should be like Tony Stark’s Jarvis. “I rendered those 3,000 frames for you sir, would you like to take a look?” This isn’t new technology I’m talking about—it’s simply smart use of existing technology. Which, by the way, is actually what Adobe’s good at.

I’m not a Creative Cloud hater, and quite frankly I find the backlash against it tiresome and paranoid. But Adobe did themselves no favors by launching their cloud initiative first as a new way of paying, without simultaneously offering new functionality made possible only by a massively distributed architecture.

Want to win the hearts, minds, and wallets of your customers Adobe? Make Creative Cloud not just mandatory, but indispensable. And maybe give it a British accent.

I’ll be waiting.

Monday
Sep022013

Prolost Boardo

Some people procrastinate writing by shopping for notebooks, or perfecting their Markdown preview CSS. Some procrastinate their work by cleaning their desk, and some procrastinate cleaning their desk by working.

I procrastinate storyboarding a new video I’m working on by creating iPad templates and After Effects presets designed to make storyboarding easier.

If you read my post on storyboarding on the iPad, you may remember that my app of choice was Penultimate. I lovingly created storyboard templates for it and defended its clean simplicity. Penultimate makes it easy to sketch out, edit, and rearrange a series of boards using a custom template, and export the results to a PDF.

There was one feature that I wished for however: the option to export to individual, numbered PNG files. If all you want to do with a storyboard is print or share it, a PDF is perfect. But if you want to take the frames and create something else with them, it’s much better to have them as individual files.

For example, you might want to bring them into Storyboard Composer HD, where, right on your iPad, you can sequence them into a timed-out animatic, or board-o-matic. complete with camera moves and sound.

Or you may want to edit this board-o-matic on your computer. Usually I use NLE software such as Adobe Premiere for this kind of thing, but the power this solution offers comes with a price: doing some things is less simple than in a dedicated app such as Storyboard Composer.

It occurred to me that I could use After Effects to automate some of the most common board-o-matic tasks. Although After Effects is not a great environment for creative editorial, it is an excellent platform for automating some kinds of motion and imaging tasks.

But first I needed to solve my problem of getting individual PNG files of my storyboards. I began investigating tools for ripping images out of PDFs, and simultaneously I continued my gentle harassment of Penultimate’s creator, Ben Zotto. The app allows a single page to be exported as a PNG, so, I reasoned, there’s a certain consistency in offering this option for multi-page exports.

You may recall that Ben and I blogged back and forth about how users should best make feature requests of developers. It was a bit of a love-fest, and I deeply admired Ben’s commitment to a simple, clean, user experience.

In May of 2012, Penultimate was acquired by Evernote, and is now free. It’s still great, but I’m no longer using Penultimate for storyboarding on the iPad.

A Little Less Less

Back when I first posted about storyboarding, many readers suggested alternatives to Penultimate. There is no shortage of busy, complex, feature-crowded notebook apps in the App Store. Most of the suggested apps made my head hurt with their cluttered UIs. But a few folks suggested that I look at Noteshelf ($5.99 on the App Store).

It’s hard to imagine that Noteshelf didn’t draw inspiration from Penultimate in its design and feature set. It’s a note-taking and drawing app that works on the model of multi-page notebooks that can be lined with various virtual “papers,” including ones you create yourself.

Most importantly for my storyboarding workflow: your drawings can be exported with, or—crucially, without, the paper template embedded, in various formats, to various destinations, including numbered PNG files to Dropbox.

But Noteshelf is not just a me-too app. It’s sturdy, attractive, well thought-out, and not without restraint. And there are a few things about it that I like better than Penultimate. Its “ink” overlaps more realistically. It features highlighter “markers” that are great for shading storyboards. And it works much better in landscape orientation.

Templates

Like Penultimate, Noteshelf allows you to create custom paper templates. But instead of helpfully packaging them up in a unique file type that can be one-tap installed like Penultimate, Noteshelf simply offers the option to import any image from your iPad’s Photo Library.

Quirks aside, Noteshelf offers almost everything I want from an iPad storyboarding sketchbook, and few things I don’t. I can quickly bang out a bunch of questionably-legible cinematic chicken-scratches and export them to my laptop. So what do I do with them then?

Prolost Boardo for After Effects

Prolost Boardo is a set of three Animation Presets for Adobe After Effects that automate the process of creating an animated storyboard, or board-o-matic.

Easily create animated camera moves, including cross-dissolves, camera shake, and cycling animations, all without using any keyframes.

The video shows you how it works, but it’s deceptively simple. There’s some complex math going on under the hood to make these virtual camera moves smooth, realistic, and predictable. Anyone who’s ever tried to animate 2D artwork in an NLE can tell you how frustrating it can be.

Boardo, on the other hand, makes it so easy that you might use it just for fun.

Boardo works with any kind of storyboards, wherever you create them (and includes instructions on customizing the settings for whatever format you like), but it defaults to work with frames drawn in Noteshelf using one of two templates. You can download them here.

This is is the most powerful and complex tool I’ve created for the Prolost Store, and I really think you’re going to like it. Prolost Boardo is available now for $24.99.