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.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Zaxwerks Releases Layer/Grid Warp

Zaxwerks today officially released their Layer Warp and Grid Warp plugin pack. This is a nice little tool that I covered in this post last week, and more info can now be found at the Zaxwerks website here. It's retailing for USD$199, and is available immediately as a download.

AE CS3 Beta, Discussion and Help

You can now help build After effects by downloading and participating in the After Effects (and Premiere Pro) beta program. Go here to download the application(s).

As a long-time beta tester for various applications, I should point out that you might want to 'play' with them a bit before you start using them in a production environment. Remember: these are 'Beta' programs, which means that there are bugs to be found and squashed! You could also go to the official discussion forums and see what people are saying, and whether there is a general consensus with regards to the overall stability of the application.

Along those lines, remember that (as with all After Effects program files) you can't go 'back': any project that you create in CS3 can NOT be opened in AE7 or earlier!

And once you've got it installed, visit the online help (this link is for After Effects) to view all the new features.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Reels Resource

I get my inspiration from a lot of places, but when I'm stuck and need some motion graphics mojo to pay me a visit, my first stop is always the reels forum at mograph.net. There you'll find links to the industry powerhouses, as well as some tasty and obscure artists that the forum members have dug up.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Take Me Out to the Ball Game... again and again and again...

The Toronto Blue Jays played their first game of the season today (5-3 Jays! Whoo!), and I created the graphics package for "Your World This Week", a weekly update show on Rogers. Here's what the player intro looks like... one of 43! (Quicktime, h.264, 3.2 megs)

This brings up workflow questions. How should one organize all the various and sundry elements so that the package can be assembled quickly, accurately and effectively? There are a ton of little time-saving tips 'n tricks that you can employ, and this video here will walk you through some of the issues that you may confront in the course of the production of a multi-item package.

3d and Adobe

Whoa! Two posts in one day! Someone slow me down!

Upon finishing my previous post covering Zaxwerks' upcoming warp plugin for After Effects, I got to thinking about Adobe and 3d applications. The gist of it is this: Adobe has applications that create content for pretty much every conceivable medium, but they do not have a 3d application (After Effects notwithstanding, and Dimensions RIP). Why might this be, I wonder?

If you're a user of the Adobe Creative Suite, you've probably taken advantage of the very powerful opportunities offered by Dynamic Linking... You can create a clip in After Effects and have it linked directly to a Premiere Pro video project. Change the AE project, and it's updated in PPro. Oh, that I could have this capability between After Effects and a 3d application!

Granted, there are ways to see that the twain shall meet: Maxon Cinema 4d seems to be makingC4d/AE interoperability a priority and the most recent Max2AE release from Boomerlabs takes it even further, allowing you to go from After Effects to 3dsMax, and back again if you wish (I'll be covering this capability in a blog entry very soon). You've got 3d file formats such as RLA/RPF that contains 3d data that After Effects can (usually imperfectly) use to match up world spaces, and you can import Maya camera data in After Effects.

Is it a case of there not being a suitable 'mature' application on the market, ready to be purchased and brought into the Adobe fold? Why does Autodesk have not one, but TWO 3d apps (3dsMax and Maya)? Is Adobe waiting for Apple to create/buy an application before they decide to play catch-up? Or perhaps Google is threatening to make it all moot by releasing a web-based application as good or better than all the others?

3d Warp & Distort in After Effects

After Effects is often referred to as being a "2.5 d" program. The reasoning behind this is because the application has had a 3d workspace since AE5, but all AE layers are 'flat', like little pieces of paper floating in space. To be specific, the native application hasn't been able to extrude or deform in the 3d worldspace.

Enter Zaxwerks, one of my favourite plugin companies. Many of you are already aware of 3d Invigorator and ProAnimator from Zaxwerks, both of which effectively address the "extrusion" limitations inherent to After Effects. And now (or rather, 'soon'), you'll be able to "deform" in AE, too. Still in beta, I've had the opportunity to play around with two new plugins soon to be released by Zaxwerks, "3d Layer Warp" and "3d Grid Warp".

Now a few of you old-timers might remember a plugin for After Effects called "Freeform". It's kind of hard to determine whether it's still a viable product, but posts on the COW Freeform board seem to suggest that it does work in AE7 and is still being sold. Zaxwerks takes the concept of warping in After Effects much further.

Click HERE for a Quicktime tutorial offering a look at the basics of Layer Warp and Grid Warp.

The pluses are pretty obvious: Warp and distort directly in After Effects. Use comp cameras & lights. Use precomps as your warp sources. I've identified two areas that will hopefully be addressed soon: 1) Intersections with AE 3d space. I'm anticipating that this is not an intractable issue, and that eventually a workaround can be developed. The fact that it is possible to create third party renderers offers some hope. 2) Sliders, sliders and more sliders! The GUI elements available to plugin developers are pretty slim, so you either have to use 'em as-is, or develop your own external GUI (like Zaxwerks did for Invigorator/ ProAnimator). I'm hoping that future releases of 3d Layer Warp will include some sort of gestural/ interactive warping capabilites, much like Freeform's control points and tangents offered.

I had the chance to use Layer Warp in this project a little while ago, and one sharp-eyed reader sent me a note asking, "how did you manage to warp the photos"? Now you all know :)