T-Shirt Contest Closed.

The T-shirt contest is now closed and the winners will be notified this week and announced shortly after. Thanks to everyone who participated, we see a lot that we like.

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Video Copilot News

Our Series One Tutorial DVD features 20 minutes of never before seen footage and free bonus features is now available and I have put together a free project file with similar particle effects as seen in the promo video.

Download AE Project File
Please note: The project file has been created with AE 7 Professional and uses the CC effects that come with After Effects, if you can’t find yours, please contact Adobe.

The new free tutorial featuring Sam and Tahna experiencing a pretty bad day, will highlight many powerful compositing techniques as well as expand on some interesting new features in AE CS3. The final video will be out this week after it passes the MPAA. The free tutorial will be online Tuesday, June 3rd.

Our exciting New Training DVD is available in our Online Store for only $49.95. This DVD features 21 tutorials and over 5 hours of Advanced Training that will show you how to integrate After Effects with 3D. This training covers all steps necessary for creating the Slow Motion Bullet in Cinema 4D, Blender and 3Ds Max.

Read Product Information

Watch Promo in Higher Resolution

Once we completed “The Bullet” training DVD, we went to work on the promo video featuring a 3D shattering text effect. This promo has generated a lot of excitement and I wanted to explain the basics of what was needed. Let me just say, it wasn’t easy.

The text was created in 3Ds Max and fractured into pieces. These pieces were then linked to a particle system, where each piece was represented by one particle. The system was setup with gravity and a floor plane deflector. A collision event triggered the particles ‘explosion’ and the pieces went flying. I used Action Movie Essentials for the fiery explosion along with Trapcode’s Horizon for the Sky Background in AE.

The setup for this effect took many, many hours to complete as well as several unsuccessful tests. A tutorial specifically on this title is not currently planned but I will experiment with the possibility of a tutorial if it can fit our normal tutorial platform. In the mean time a more detailed breakdown will be released along with images and my experiences with this shot.

I’ve been experimenting with this Fold-Out Animation where After Effects Layers are linked together to form a fluid animation as layers animate sequentially. As you can imagine some interesting expressions will be used to make it easy and robust.

I’m excited to be able to contribute more to the Blog and the tutorial section as we build up this amazing community. We encourage everyone to join in and take part in these blog discussions, we would love to hear from everyone. Finally, I want to thank everyone again for there support on this latest DVD release. You guys and gals make this place happen!

Free Tutorial Coming Soon

We recently released a new DVD called “The Bullet”, an Advanced Training series for integrating 3D with After Effects, I think there is a banner around here somewhere. Your response to this DVD and it’s content has been great, and we aren’t slowing down one bit. This new high quality tutorial is dedicated to our faithful supporters who keep this site running strong.

On to it, I’m pleased to introduce the newest and probably best looking member of the of the Video Copilot team besides Tino, in her starring role. Welcome the very talented Tahna to our exciting community.

In this upcoming tutorial, Sam finds himself between a rock and hard place but will Tahna be able to save him? Let me be the first to say…
I doubt it.

Additional details will be officially leaked later in the week along with the final video and then join us Tuesday June 3rd 2008 when we launch this unprecedented free tutorial on VideoCopilot.net

As always be sure to check out our newest DVDs and bundles from the Online Store and we’ll keep making exciting new tutorials.


Good morning everyone! I am very proud to release The Bullet a new training DVD for AE & 3D Integration. This promo was a lot of work but certainly a lot of fun too. I’ll try to get an HD version out this week.

Watch The Bullet Promo

We have also released our Special Edition Tutorial DVD so you can bring Video Copilot with you anywhere.

Watch Series One Promo

Sam has signed a lot of cards and they are going to be sent out over the next week.

We are not delaying the download for The Bullet Product, as soon as your order is approved you will gain access to download. Although if you can bear to wait for the DVD it will help our server out.

If you need help with an order please contact support@videocopilot.net we will be standing by to help you. We won’t be checking the blog as much so please send us an email so we can help you. Also please note the Series One DVD is available on DVD only, if you need special download arrangement we can make limited exceptions, contact support for details.


It hurts me to say this… not that much though. But the Promos are taking a little longer than expected. All I can say is that the products are still launching on or before May 20th 2008 along with the promos. Here is a quick screenshot for the Bullet promo video. I wish I had more to show… well I do but I can’t, I would get fired.

A Grand Release

On May 20th we have a great special effects DVD arriving, The Bullet, but we are also releasing the long in-the-making Series One DVD. This DVD contains a 20 minute Q & A with myself and Sam Loya in addition to a pretty funny out-takes reel. There are also a few extras and the free tutorials from 1-65 in full resolution and iPod ready quicktime movies. Now you can take a little Video Copilot anywhere.

We had planned to offer 2 DVD’s, a standard one and a special edition one, ultimately we decided to just produce the special edition one that includes the Basic Training and the Presets too. The DVD will be going for $24.95, those of you asking for a donate button, here it is. We will probably be including this in a bundle with the new training DVD as well.
And for the highly alert ones out there, we know that most of the tutorials are online for free but this DVD has much more great stuff that you can’t beat for 25 bucks.

Official product info will also be online. This DVD is for the fans and people who travel, or have lousy internet. We’ll make a series 2 after another 50 tutorials if Sam doesn’t move on to bigger things by then…

Finally, I’m working on a new tutorial that is very cool. And if you know me, I never exaggerate. EVER!

The Bullet is Really Moving!

We are almost wrapped on this new DVD and we are quite proud of it

This new DVD will take you from your favorite 3D program to After Effects and back, including compositing multi-pass renders and importing camera data.

On the AE side we will be covering advanced compositing techniques including color correction, particle effects and 3d displacement mapping. Most of all we will be covering workflow management and exploring the best ways to manage assets and media. No more, saving everything to the desktop.

The official information about the product and promo video will be around later this week, we spent all our time on the product so that’s why the promo isn’t out yet.

DVD or Download?

UPDATE: I think we have reached a more specific solution. The DVD & Download will be available to purchase on May 20th, we will simply delay the downloadable files until the morning of the 22nd which should make a big difference. Sam will still be signing Cards for 1 week or so.

After the 22nd, customers can choose a DVD, digital download or download the product while waiting for their DVD as usual.

With the very exciting launch of our new Training DVD “The Bullet” on the horizon, we have been considering the best method for delivery. As many of you know, most of our products are available on DVD and they can also be downloaded, however we are going to try something new this time around.

The new training product will be available on DVD only for the initial launch, we will then launch the availability of a full downloadable version shortly thereafter. (It is not clear at this time when but as soon as we can we will. Less than a week.)

What it comes down to is bandwidth and the overall speed of our site, we have had some heavy server loads in the past on launch days that make the site difficult to maneuver. So by offering this product as DVD for the first week or so will hopefully alleviate the initial bottleneck of downloaders.

As a bonus for the initial DVD launch, (or downside depending on how you see it) Sam Loya is going to include a personally signed Video Copilot card that will be included with every order. I asked him and he said “Sure, why not.” What a guy. Sam is seriously your biggest fan

Give Sam a Little Credit…

Our latest Short-Cuts episode featured a inside look at the cover art for an upcoming DVD. Featured on the cover was a slightly photoshopped version of Sam, however some kind-hearted people suggested that he was looking much younger because of the work. I thought I would post this ‘before and after’ and let you decide…

Although the photoshoot was much more recent than that film shoot, I guess the new diet is working.

SHORT-CUTS Episode 02: 3D Sparks Title

In this new (not-so-short) Short-Cuts Episode we’ll take a look at creating sparks in AE with CC Particle World and uncover some hidden features as well. This tutorial uses the new Per-Charachter 3D in AE CS3.

Be sure to stay tuned to the end for a sneak preview.

Watch Tutorial

More on Bump Mapping

Bricks with bump mapping in AE

Same Bricks with no bump mapping

Bump Mapping is an effective way to add surface-dimension to still images and textures by allowing light to interact with the contours of the surface. Usually this is done in a 3D program but a similar technique can be imitated in After Effects, as shown in the latest Short_Cuts Tutorial.

The above example shows how bump mapping can have a dramatic effect on a still image, but sometimes a separate bump map is needed to simulate the proper depth. I created a new bump map by manipulating the original image to look like the one on the right. The white area designates “extrusion” while the black stays unchanged.

This new image is then selected by the Glass filter to be used as the “Bump Map” layer. After playing with the settings, the bricks now appears to extrude slightly. The actual settings can be seen by clicking on the screen shot.

QUICK TIP: The bump map doesn’t have to be a descendant of the original image. Think of the possibilities…

Also be sure to play with the material options to mimic the properties of the surface. In this case, dull bricks don’t have as much specular hot spots.

Now if you have already built bump maps to use in your 3D program, then you know how fun it is to make custom bump maps from images. Unfortunately, simply inverting an image is never good enough because the necessary depth information is not always black or white.

SHORT-CUTS Episode 01: Bump Maps

Our first Short-Cuts episode is online. Now there is an outlet for all the little things that would otherwise get buried in my backyard.

In this new Short-Cut tutorial, I’ll cover a cool tip for generating bump mapping with 3D light as well as utilizing 3D position with 2D effects.

This one ran a little long but in the future expect 1-5 minute videos with short tips and tricks.

Watch Now

Blender Render & Update

Here is a quick render from Blender of an earlier bullet test. (This example is a little long but it was more of a texture test.) I can safely say that it takes about the same time to create this as it does to build it in 3D max, once you get the hang of things…

Not too bad for a free program.

Just came back from the midnight showing of Iron Man, the May second plans are still on but just a later in the day.

Free 3D, does it Blend?

As many of you may know, we have a new Advanced training DVD coming out this month. I will be teaching the 3D bullet techniques in 3D max, Cinema 4D and Blender, so everyone can take a shot at this effect.

The first 2 programs cost a few peanuts, however Blender 3D is 100% free and available on all platforms.

I spent the last few days ‘learning” this software; at first it seemed grim, everything was very different than I expected. But I carried on…

A few days later, I was on top of the mountain! I got the hang of it…

I am very impressed with what I was able to do with a truly free program. I incorporated my HDRI imagery, fine-tuned textures, modeled the 3D bullet and even exporting the 3D camera to After Effects was a piece of cake.

What this means is that even if you have never used a 3D program before or don’t own one of the big expensive ones, this DVD will show you everything you need to know. And for you Cinema 4D and Max users, you’ll learn everything and more.

Check out some of the new features of Blender that are coming soon and download a free copy today.

For me, I won’t be switching over exclusively but it’s nice to know this tool is available and it certainly makes great visual effects available to everyone.