FXPHD.com Oct 2008 Term

I’ve really enjoyed my time at fxphd.com. It is by far the best training I’ve found. The show you the techniques to using the tools to pull off work on real world projects. You usually get high quality footage to work with and to create your own versions of the the project.

I’m really excited about the new semester.
AFX202: After Effects Project A-Z
AFX 222: After Effects Broadcast Design
VFX101: Intro to Compositing with Ron Brinkmann
DCT101: Digital Color Theory
C4D203: Cinema4D and AE in Production II
FCP213: FCP Techniques and Creative Editing

Now just to figure out which classes look best for me. If you decide to join, do me a favor and use my username: dave.smith as a referring member. I can pick up a free class to make this decision easier.


September 30, 2008. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Sermon Intro Video: Answering The Stress & Strain of Life

Here’s the intro video for this week. It’s shorter than the following weeks will be. We have some other footage to mix in. But I’m pleased with how the media for this week have turned out. I created the graphics, a worship background and an intro video that all have the same style and feel.

The graphics were treated in photoshop and then everything was animated in After Effects. I scored the sound in SoundTrackPro.

September 29, 2008. Tags: , , , . Video. 2 comments.

What I’m Listening To

Ok, Pace Hartfield shared this at his blog, he’s works at Fellowship Church in Grapevine. I don’t know his title but he works on creating the creative worship experience. He’s a great guy I had a chance to meet at Echo.

Anyway he posted this video from their service. And I can’t get the song out of my head!

The visuals of during the song were very cool. The painting was on the fringe of being almost uncofortable for me. But the song and Dex’s voice rock. After hearing this I’m looking forward to what’s coming out on their album “Closer To The Start“.

September 26, 2008. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Worship Background: Answers for the Stress and Strain of Life

So I’ve been wanting to create worship backgrounds that tie into the theme of the message. Don’t want them to be too obvious with a logo on the screen. But I was looking for something to echo the style and color palette. So here’s my first go at it:

Here’s what I did.
1) Created a composition in Photoshop that had my background and each paint blob on it’s own layer.
2) Brought the PSD file into AE.
3) Created a comp in AE that was 3 times wider than.
4) Used motion tile on the background
5) Arranged the paint splatters around the comp.
6) I used ink drops from Andrew Kramer’s Riot Gear as luma mattes to animate the paint splats on.
7) I then nested the comp into a 4:3 comp and animated the comp from left to right.
8) Arranged it so the beginning and end frame matched.

I got inspired and used a technique from Brad at ChurchMediaDeisn.tv. It was episode 9 he talked about creating loops.

September 25, 2008. Tags: , , , . Video. 3 comments.

Sermon Graphics: Answers For The Stress And Strain of Life

Man I hate long sermon titles. I like short descriptive titles that paint a word picture or play of a metaphor or analogy. But that would be too easy. So now that our last sermon series wrapped up it’s time to kick off a new series. I started off with a foundation from Kyle Key at Creativemyk.com. I used Grunge Serifa as my font. I ran the graphics through Illustrator’s LiveTrace feature, then stylized them in photoshop. The waterbrush in the background is from BittBox.com. That’s the what I did. Here’s how it came out:

Answers for the stress and strain of life

Answers for the stress and strain of life

Any feedback?

September 24, 2008. Tags: , , , , , . Graphic Design. 1 comment.

Dallas After Effects User Group

Our next meeting is going to be this Thursday, Sept 25. We’re meeting at 7pm at BBGun Interactive. See all the details online: http://web.mac.com/pxlguy/iWeb/DallasAEUG/HOME/HOME.html

-Adam Oas will be teaching about using Photoshop CS3 to create 2.5D comps in AE. This is a very cool technique that is often overlooked.

-I’ll be teaching about using gray scale matching to get your foreground and background plates to match. This is a very simple technique that uses the level effect. So simple that if you’re color blind you can get pretty close.

Drop me a line if you’re going to come.

September 23, 2008. Tags: , , . Personal Growth, Video. Leave a comment.

Digital Signage: Up Close And Personal

Here’s a quick digital signage piece I put together this week for an upcoming class. There is no audio because our digital signage system doesn’t use audio.

I repurposed some content from an old video that was used at a special service. I then stylized it differently giving it more of an archived film look. I used the Camera plug-in I’m testing from DigiEffects. This compressed version makes it hard to see the detail in the dust, grain and scratches. I’m also not wild about the text transition. Needed an more organic and slower wipe. Overall I’m happy with it for the 30 minutes or so I spent on it.

September 19, 2008. Tags: , , . Video. 3 comments.

What I’m Reading: In The Blink Of An Eye

I just finished reading In The Blink Of An Eye by Walter Murch. Walter Murch edited The Conversation, American Graffiti, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather II and III and that was just the first few movies listed on the back of the book. The book is a collection of essays based on several lectures the author had given.

I really enjoyed to book for a few reasons:
– I realize when it comes to editing, I’ve focused on how to edit instead of why. In other words I’ve focused on the mechanics of the program and editing techniques. This book gave me a fresh perspective on the basic question, “Why edit?”
– I’m always fascinated when an artist can articulate the thought process behind their creative decisions. So many artists seem to create out of an intuition but don’t take the time to analyze the what and why behind their decisions.
– I started editing in 2000 on a Adobe Premiere system. I’ve never worked on a linear editor and have never worked with film. The perspective the author brought from learning to edit on film to being the first to win an Oscar for editing on a film that was cut digitally (it was The English Patient if you’re wondering) was unique.

So what stood out to me in this book? The two biggest things:
– Two approaches to film making, sculpting with clay or stone. When you work with clay you are adding a little here and there to your piece. Working with stone you are removing a little here and there. Both valid art forms.
-The Rule of 6 to define a good edit. An ideal cut satisfies the following criteria, but weight is given to the criteria listed first: 1) The emotion of the moment 2) Advances the story 3) Right or interesting rhythm 4) “Eye-Trace” or what the audience is focused on flows 5) 2-D plane of screen/ stage lines etc… 6) 3-d space of screen/ actors are in proper spatial relationship with each other.

I’m looking forward to my next narrative piece to edit. I want to see how these ideas can make me a better editor.

Anyone have other book suggestions?

September 17, 2008. Tags: , . Personal Growth, Video. 2 comments.

Color Correction and Grading

I’ve been on a color correction and grading kick. It started awhile ago when I started learning Color Finesse in After Effects. It was then fueled after reading The DV Rebel’s Guide by Stu Maschwitz. It was then was kicked up by some great opportunities to pick up Magic Bullet Looks and Magic Bullet Colorista. Probably two of my most used plug-ins. I’ve started learning Apple’s Color over the last week.

I’m by no means a professional colorist. I don’t have the setup or the eyes for it. But I am amazed at the ability to enhance an otherwise mundane shot.

I haven’t decided on my ideal way as each path has it’s own advantages and disadvantages. Here’s my thought process so far:

Final Cut Pro
– I do like the fact that Final Cut has built in scopes that work well for me.
– I don’t like the built in color correction tools in FCP. They don’t work in a way that I like to work.
– Built in filter’s don’t layer well for primary and secondary corrections.
– Difficult UI/ controls for masking
– Lack of tracker for animating masks
– Don’t like the UI FCP uses for filters. Too many times I’ve not had the proper clip loaded in the viewer.

After Effects
– I like the way AE deals with effects. Select the clip and the effect palette is updated.
– Handles grading in layers better. First optimize the layer, then to match it to surrounding clips, then to stylize the clip. This can be done with effects on the layer, adjustment layers and nesting
– There are no scopes included in AE. I know of Test Gear but haven’t bought it.
– Color Finesse that is included seems to a good job of correcting footage, but not designed for grading.

Magic Bullet Colorista
– Simple yet powerful interface
– Layers well
– Built in masking for secondary corrections. Mask can be applied to a tracker in AE
– Automatic Duck will translate the settings from FCP to AE
– I don’t like how the interface lays out in FCP. It’s more FCP putting the effects controls and keyframe timeline in the same window.

Magic Bullet Looks
– Very cool for grading footage. IE giving it stylized …um… “Looks”
– It is a render hog
– I don’t know if there is anything that you can don in Looks that you couldn’t do in AE. But you get scopes and lots of canned presets
– Has scopes in it’s interface.
– Did I say it’s a render hog? But when you think about it you could be applying a dozen or more effects on each clip

Apple’s Color
– I have to say it’s my favorite toolset for doing primary and secondary color correction.
– Probably the most powerful tool set especially when it comes to secondary color correction
– Tracker for animating masks.
– Downside is the workflow. It doesn’t take motion projects, titles or stills, you have to render those types of files out of FCP first before sending the project to Color.

I can’t say that I’ve made up my mind in which workflow I like better. I’m thinking it’s going to be:
– Edit in FCP
– Composite in AE. Use AE to color correct my elements so the match
– Back to FCP.
– Send to Soundtrack for scoring
– Send to color for final correction and grading.

Man this is getting more complicated. I have a project coming up in the next few weeks that I’ll get to test these workflows on.

September 16, 2008. Tags: , , , , , . Video. 4 comments.

More Social Networking

So after talking about the benefits of networking in my last post, I’ve been persuaded to finally get onto facebook. I don’t know why it took me so long. I know myspace turned me off from the get go from the horrible design of the site. I just couldn’t bring myself to use it or get involved with it.

So being new to the facebook scene, how are you guys using facebook either personally or professionally? Is it beneficial or a waste of time?

There are probably a lot of Dave Smith’s on Facebook. Here’s my page.

September 11, 2008. Tags: , , . Tech Stuff. 3 comments.

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