Archive for December, 2006

Mark Christiansen’s New Blog

When asked to recommend an After Effects book, I’m quick to reach for Adobe After Effects 7.0 Studio Techniques by Mark Christiansen. Mark has a really in depth knowledge of After Effects and is a master at explaining difficult concepts in an in-depth, but approachable manner. So, I was excited to see that he has started a blog called flowseeker.

Mark writes…

This space will contain thoughts on matters relating to my book – digital cinema and visual effects compositing in particular – as well as whatever other miscellany takes hold. Paradoxically, it’s the way that writing these monologues/blogs puts people more in touch with other people that compels me to do it. By all means, especially if you liked the book, let me know what you want to hear more about. …

I’m really looking forward to following what Mark has to say. I’m sure it will be insightful, just like his book.

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Help me beta test a Sequencing Utility for Final Cut Pro

Have you ever had a bunch of Quicktime movies or Image files that you needed to lay out in Final Cut Pro? Maybe you’re making an element tape for delivery to a client, or prepping a bunch of lower thirds and titles for your program.

I find myself doing this kind of thing all of the time, and they all follow a certain set of rules. Something like, each element should be at 5 second intervals with a minimum of 5 seconds between each element, rinse and repeat. If you’re like me, you grab all of your elements throw them in a timeline and do the Carpal tunnel inducing dance of the up/down arrows. There has to be an easier way right?

Well, with Final Cut XML, there really is an easier way. Element Drop is a super simple drag and drop application that lays out a Final Cut timeline of Quicktime movies or Images. Drag and drop a bunch of elements on the application and Final Cut Pro is launched and each element is layed out in a timeline based on user preferences. Chapter Markers can be included for super easy approval DVD’s (Tutorial to come).

Element Drop Drag and Drop Interface
Element Drop Preferences
Final Cut Timeline

There are a lot features like Auto-filled Slates, Automated Log Generation and Timeline Database Integration that I can see adding, and I’d love to hear feedback on features as well as bugs. Element Drop only works in OS X 10.4 (Tiger) and above and should work with Final Cut 4.5 and above. The application uses Spotlight metadata to identify files, so in this version you will need to drop elements from indexed volumes, I’m considering using file extensions to identify files as a fail safe in future versions.

UPDATE 01.15.2007

Thanks for all the initial feedback it’s been very helpful. There turned out to be a couple of show stopper bugs related to sorting, drop frame calculations and file discovery that I am currently working out. I’ve updated the expired beta, but at this point it is more of a tech demo of the direction I’d like to see the utility follow than a useful tool. Feel free to download it and report bugs and features. I’m also working on a detailed bug list so you can see limitations.

UPDATE 01.22.2007

beta 3 Fixed file sorting problem, this makes the beta usable again. Still working on drop frame calculations and more robust file discovery.

UPDATE 02.06.2007

beta 4 Modernized interface with focus ring feedback. Need to fix: drop frame calculations and file discovery by extensions.

.zip archive of Element Drop

Please send beta feedback and bugs to dale(at)creative-workflow-hacks(dot)com.

The third beta of Element Drop will expire in 30 days

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After Effects Background Render Script from Lloyd Alvarez

Lloyd Alvarez recently released his BG Renderer script for After Effects 7 which will work with both Mac and Windows. BG Renderer is a handy script for managing background rendering tasks including launching multiple instances if you have multiple CPU’s. Lloyd’s put a lot of work into this script and it shows.

If you’re looking for commercial software to get more bang for your rendering buck, take a look at Nucleo and Nucleo Pro from GridIron software.

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Great After Effects Scripts

As I take a chance to catch my breath after a bunch of big projects, I’ve been taking a look around to see what’s happening with other folks. While I was doing research I ran across the scripts, expressions and experiments at nabscripts is written in french so although I’ve noticed it in the past, it’s on my blogroll and nab is a regular poster at aenhancers, I haven’t dug into his (her?) site as much as I might normally.

Well, recently I ran across his collected scripts in english, and I must say they are a really nice set of scripts. I particularly like the auto orient camera script and createCylinder script. There are also a ton of utility scripts for making your every day life easier. The script collection section is also available in the original french. Nice work all around.

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