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, July 02, 2009

Hear Hear!

I'll be a guest on the Digital Production Buzz podcast this evening. It promises to be an interesting discussion, as there's almost nothing I like better than to talk shop :) If you come to this post after the podcast, you'll find that it's archived on the site.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New After Effects Toronto Group

Some of you may recall that I started up the MOGRATO (MOtion GRAphics TOronto) users' group some years ago... hmm... was it 1999? It was great fun, and we had some awesome meetings. However, work and life intervened, and I had to let it go after a good run.

It's always nice to get out of our dark little holes and have some quality face-to-face time with our colleagues, though, so it was nice to hear that an After Effects users' group was being formed. Take a gander at the web space HERE.

I'm not involved in AETO, but Chris & Russ asked whether I'd like to present at the inaugural meeting. Never one to turn down an opportunity to stumble through a demo on an underpowered laptop with one teensy little screen, I accepted.

So, tonight (Wednesday, April 22nd), I will be talking about two recent projects (here and here). Topics to be covered will include 'Creative uses for CC Sphere, including faux-3d space using expressions', and, if there's time, 'Parenting and expressions to create realistic, organic movement'.

Check out AETO.com for the meeting location. Hope to see you then!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mr. Roboto

I recently uploaded a fun little 'accessory' project to my stable of AEP's for sale at Revostock. It's what I call a 'motion widget', which is to say it's a project that you can use and adapt to solve any number of visual problems. It can be used for full-screen presentations, gallery sequences, a little lower third, maybe even a kind of 'thought bubble'. Take a look at the promo HERE.

I've used parenting to create a Robot Arm and combined it with some fancy-dancy expressions to create a flexible, easy-to-modify project. If you've never used parenting before, then this little tutorial is a great introduction to how you can use it to create interdependent 'arms' that convincingly mimic the movement of a robot. Take a look at THIS Quicktime tutorial (h264, 20.5 megs, 9:51)

If you'd like to get into it a little bit deeper, do consider purchasing the project from Revostock.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Own Me!

Things on the blog front haven't been very productive of late, and now I can tell you why. I've been hard at work putting together a series of After Effects projects that are now available for purchase.

This is a huge step beyond mere 'stock backgrounds'. These projects are sophisticated, professionally designed cutting-edge spots of the highest quality. And I have also taken great care to ensure that they are easily modifiable by you. Adding your own imagery and text is simple, and I use a lot of on-screen controls for modifying colours. You rarely- if ever- have to visit the effect control window.

Use them for broadcast intros, product promos, transitions, galleries, corporate productions or wedding and event videos. And of course they aren't just After Effects projects. They also serve as 'tutorials'. Dive into the projects, take them apart, discover all my little tips and tricks, then apply this knowledge to your own designs.

But fear not, I'm not abandoning my past. I'll be continuing to discuss my techniques both here on this blog and over at the PVC. I'm planning to continue adding projects to the Revostock collection fairly regularly, and would invite you to consider picking them up should you see a title that interests you.

View the full collection at Revostock here, and check back often!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Just came across this nifty little site... yourfonts.com. It let's you create a custom font based upon your own handwriting. It's quick, easy and (for a basic font without too many weird characters), free. I downloaded the image template, brought it into Photoshop, used my tablet to create the characters, uploaded the image et voila! "Big Al.ttf", a true type font that only a mother could love.

It would also be great for creating other design elements, say your own set of wingdings created in Illustrator, your signature, glyphs, custom characters and such. A great time-waster, to be sure.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tiling Strategies In The 21st Century

And I'm not talking kitchens! Seamlessly tileable images are an important part of motion graphics design. If you’re looking for a way to create your own using Adobe Photoshop, then this short video tutorial is for you. I cover two different methods for creating the tiles using two very different source images. I then show you how to quickly and easily use the images in Adobe After Effects. I've posted this one to the PVC blog, so click HERE to watch the tutorial.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Framing Keys

This little mini-tutorial covers some fairly rudimentary strategies when it comes to selecting keyframes, creating consistent acceleration/ deceleration profiles (eases) and moving layers (with their entire motion path) when keyframes already exist. Yep, it SOUNDS like After Effects 101 type stuff, but you may find that there are a couple of little tricks in here that even more experienced folks might not know about.

Take a look at the tutorial (Quicktime, h264, 4:44, 9 mb) HERE.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lookin' Great

Coming a bit late to this particular party, and I'm sure that many of you are already aware of this, but my colleague Maltaanon released the 'Making It Look Great 5' training package through John Dickinson's Motionworks site recently.

I'm in the midst of going through the tut's, and M does a really great job describing some very sophisticated techniques. This release differs somewhat from the earlier tutorials (including mine) in that he doesn't walk through the creation of one, massive project. It's divided up into 10 'micro tutorials' (although 'micro' might be a bit of a misnomer: some of the tut's are quite involved!)

I'm working through the 'Gyro' tut right now, and I've already learned about five new things. That's one of the great things about After Effects: no matter what your skill level, there is ALWAYS something new to learn or discover.

So, props to Maltaanon. This is a very worthy training package.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Back to it!

Yes, it's been awhile since my last post (I'll explain why shortly), but I'm now back to it!

There have been a number of changes in my life of late, both personally and professionally. I won't bore you with the juicy personal details, but as far as work goes, there's no denying that times have been challenging and, by all accounts, will remain so for the foreseeable future. I've been pretty lucky with clients in my freelancing business, but even so I have chosen to take steps to diversify my holdings and leverage my skills.

As you may already know, I was fortunate to have been asked by John Dickinson last year to create a training package for motionworks.com.au. I will also be posting to Pro Video Coalitions 'Motion Graphics & Viz FX' channel. And I've got one other project (or, more properly, several) that I will be announcing shortly.

So. Back to blogging. And I do have a request: coming up with ideas for relevant blog posts can be a little tricky. I have a number of posts in the wings, but please, do let me know what you'd like to see!