Welcome! My name is Alan Shisko, and I'm a freelance motion graphics artist working out of Toronto, Canada. I've been very lucky in my career to have had many inspiring teachers, and decided to start this blog to give back to the community that has enriched me both technically and aesthetically. Perhaps my words and images will inspire you to do the same! If you wish, take a minute to view my demo reel at Shisko.com, or view a comprehensive gallery of my past work Here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Retro 70's and 80's Logo Treatments

Kinda brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Be A Good Parent To A Camera

This post is in reply to a number of people who sent me notes asking how I did the camera animation in THIS project. At issue is "how do you do a smooth camera move down, around and in towards an object".

There are a number of ways you can animate a camera (and, indeed, any object) in After Effects. We all know about keyframes, and you can be clever and use expressions to shimmy things about. But unless you've come to motion graphics via a 3d application, you may or may not know about the benefits offered by something called 'parenting'. Nope, not as in "change that smelly nappy" parenting. Parenting as in "hook that camera up to a 'null'".

It takes a pretty big leap of logic to figure it all out. It's easy enough to say "When parented, the camera will do whatever it's attached to does". But there's more to it than that, because while the camera is parented, IT TOO can be keyframed.

Take a look at THIS tutorial (QT h.264, 14:44 duration, 19.7 mb) which explains the basics of camera parenting.

Figuring Fields

If you live in NTSC Land, you've probably got a bit of a love-hate thing going on with video fields in your footage. Yes, it can make your renders look 'smoother' (some might argue 'unnaturally smooth'), but one must admit that dealing with interlaced video footage in After Effects can be a bit of a hit 'n miss affair.

The problem lies in dealing with fields in video footage that you've digitized and imported into After Effects for further manipulation. In a general sense, you'll have to de-interlace this footage so that when you tranform it (ie. scale, move etc.) you don't end up with a - pardon the technical term- wacky strobing pile of goo.

Now it's easy enough to de-interlace in AE: just go to the 'Interpret Footage Dialog box' (Ctrl+F with a footage item selected in the Project Window). There you can change the interpretation, or verify how AE has chosen to 'auto interpret'. Yes, usually AE is right, but if you're dealing with footage of unknown provenance, you HAVE to know how to confirm the field order interpretation, or risk the messy consequences.

Fortunately, it's an easy (if somewhat obscure) thing to do in After Effects. Take a look at THIS little clip (QT h.264, 8.8 mb, 6:25 duration) to see how it all works.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

You Kern Do It!

Kerning. It may sound like the name of a German industrial town, but in fact it's an oft-overlooked aspect of graphic design that can give your work that extra bit of shine that clients are craving. And with the explosion of freeware fonts to be found underfoot everywhere, knowing how to fix a poorly-kerned typeface is a critical skill to have.

Most folks have heard tell of both Kerning and it's relative Tracking. I don't know how often I've heard people talking about letter spacing mention both- or either - interchangeably, but it must be pointed out that there is a significant difference between the two. Tracking refers to the space across a range of letters, while Kerning is the process of expanding or contracting space between specific letter pairs.

Mastering kerning in After Effects (and Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign etc.) doesn't just make your work look better. It also gives your visuality a workout at the same time by making you look at your typography in a much more critical manner.

Watch THIS video to see how kerning works in Adobe After Effects (14.5 MB, 14 minutes, Quicktime H.264) The information in this tutorial holds true for users of Photoshop and Illustrator as well.

Hot tip: you've all heard about how, when you're sitting with a client, you can raise your creative IQ a few notches by throwing in the term "Z-space" during a discussion. Watch the kerning tutorial, then ramp your cred up another notch by talking about "Pair-Kerning".