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.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

TechTip: Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Adobe After Effects can look pretty "messy" at times. If you've got a 3d composition with plenty of layers and nulls and cameras and lights and masks, you'll find that your composition view can get pretty... uhhh... well, "dense" would be a kind way of putting it! Even a single layer with a mask can make it difficult to objectively visualize your composition.

Fortunately, there are some quick ways to cut through the trees to see the forest, none of which (alas) involve chain saws and rollicking Coureurs-de-Bois tuneage. Take a look at THIS short tutorial (QT, .MP4, h264, 6:34, 11.8 megs) to see how it's done.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

HDRI: Oh My!

I'm in the midst of my first 3d project utilizing the VRay rendering platform out of 3dsMax, including the use of HDRI textures for lighting and reflection. The preliminary results thus far are rather stunning. The big downside, of course, is that the files are rendering like it's 1992 :( Whoops! Time for that new quad-core machine :)

THIS (QT, h264, 5 sec., 3.7 megs) is a very short materials test with a simple glassy texture making use of HDRI lighting and reflections, and refractions. I was helped along by following the simple and excellent VRay tutorials at Aversis (where, incidentally, you can also download some HDRI imagery to play with). Take a gander also at vray-materials.de where you can review and freely download tons of remarkable (and system-humbling) materials.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

TechTip: Multi-layer Parameter Manipulation

Let's say you've got a bazillion 3d layers in your After Effects composition, and you want to, say, turn shadow casting 'on' for all the layers. Time to tell the boss you'll be working late, then start opening up twirly's for each and every layer. My wrist hurts just thinking about it!

Fortunately, there is a better way. Take a look at THIS little tutorial (QT .mp4, h264, 4:55, 8.8 megs) and discover a quick, flexible little workflow that not only allows you to quickly (and repetitively) change parameters on any number of layers, but that is nearly fast enough for you to 'toggle back and forth' as you work.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Marking Music

You'll often find yourself with client-supplied music tracks, and of course it's good to have your animations 'work' with the beats. But how can you 'visualize' these beats so you can make informed decisions about where to lay down the keyframes?

Take a look at THIS short tutorial (QT, h264, 3:06, 5.7 megs) explaining one way to quickly give yourself some visual clues to help you with your workflow.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Walkin' in 3d

A client brought me a nice challenge recently: create an opening based upon nothing more than the client-supplied logo. Free reign on the creative! We bounced some ideas back and forth and finally decided to make the logo speak (or rather 'walk') for itself.

The spot was to be executed in After Effects. The trick is, how does one create an entire world in the "flat" AE 3d space? And once that was solved, how then to give all of the letters some personality as they range around the set? And to compound the issues, how does one animate everything whilst keeping an eye on client-side changes that might necessitate whole-sale changes to the movements on scores of layers?

First, take a look at the finished spot HERE (QT, h264, :37, 8.4 mb) Then take a look at THIS project walk-through which gives you an overview of what I did to pull it all together.