Back Online and News

Well it’s no secret, I’ve been busier than a beaver in a chopstick factory but the good news is one of my projects is almost complete. Monday is a holiday and I think I’ll spend some time editing a few tutorials and get some things moving around here.

Something I learned: I’m doing a concert stage scene with a rock band and instead of compositing in AE, I matched the color in AE and brought in to 3D max for compositing. This way It will interact with the atmosphere effects and blend with the lighting correctly without as much work.

Until then, remember everyday is an opportunity to learn cool stuff! Like Hockey-Basketball!

Useful Tools

In addition to After Effects there are other great tools I found myself using frequently on this latest project:

Trapcode Horizon
This great little After Effects plug-in makes it easy to add environments to 3D scenes and saves a ton of time. I use it almost as much as Particular.

Probably the best tool for creating realistic blur for individual layers or by using a depth matte.

HDR Shop
This program is hard to describe but I use it to create spherical environment from digital still images to create 3d Environments and backgrounds. Learn as much as you can on this subject it is great.

Nodal Ninja
This tool makes shooting still images for panoramic easy and consistent. Be sure to check it out all the helpful resources within.


Here are some screens of the stuff I’m working on. Some of it is abstract futuristic and the other is part of an action sequence. Wish I could show more…

High Resolution


I’ve been meaning to post some new stuff lately but I’ve been smashed working on a couple of projects… One aspect involves emulating the look of a first-person-shooter like Call of Duty… What I did was started playing! I ran through the action inside the game and screen captured the video. Then using 3D tracking software I was able to extract the camera movement and bring it in to my 3D game world. Admittedly, I’ll have to slow down the movement since it will seem strange to people who are not as good as me *yawn*

The boujou stuff is still on the way and will be the first thing out when this is all over, just need to edit and compress the videos. I’ll try to sneak another shortcuts episode in later this week if I can find the time. In the mean time, if you hit the HOME key in After Effects it will bring you back to the beginning of the comp. NICE!

Interesting Video Technology

Not really sure what to say about this video but it’s pretty cool. The video discusses specialized methods & technology for enhancing altering video.

Check it out

Compositing Practice

One of the things I like to do is take something that exists in the real world and try to recreate it digitally. In this example, I extracted the helicopter on the right and replaced it with my helicopter. The key was matching the lighting, color, blur, and grain of the original shot. What is really great about this technique is having a reference for what things are supposed to look like. Then when you are working on a 100% CG shot you will have the proper chops… I mean skills to get it done. These kind of excercises will give you that real world experience needed to become a great compositor.

3D Helicopter

UPDATE 2: For no reason here is a snow version. The actual scene takes place on a busy freeway…

Watch Snow Version

UPDATE: I can’t publish anything from the actual project but here is a quick animated version. The turn is a little hard but the comp is at 30fps instead of 24.

Watch Video.

I’ve been pretty consumed lately with a fun project for a client and thought I would share a still frame. Basically it is an action sequence with this attack helicopter, millions of particles and debris.

I actually remember my first helicopter sequence that I made for a personal project at least 7 years ago… Basically there was a missile fired at a car and to avoid impact the driver (myself) rolled down the 2 back windows and the missile passed right through as destruction was averted. I should look for that video and see how it compares today It’s Probably way better.

Goes to show you that experiments and testing can be a great way to grow your understanding and skills. So, when that big project comes along you will have SOME actual experience. You never know what things you may learn along the way.

Art of the Title

Here is a great site where you can watch intro title sequences for feature films. Get ready to be inspired!

Be sure to check out our forum for other inspirational links or post some of our own.

New Tutorial: 3D Shadows

In this new tutorial you’ll learn a quick way to cast 3D shadows onto live action footage. This method is sometimes referred to as: Matte Shadow, which will be a subject in the future as it also pertains to 3D animation composting. Free tutorials can also be discussed in our new online forum.

Watch Tutorial

Hello New Website!

Welcome to the new Video Copilot Version 4. Probably the most impressive update so far and now the new site is more organized and scalable for the future additions. We’ve added great new features that should make your experience more enjoyable. Thanks for making this all possible you guys are awesome!


10. Wider Screen Interface
With the average screen size 1280 X 1024, it’s about time we fill it

9. Integrated RSS Feeds
Stay up to date by subscibing to our blog RSS and Tutorials Feed

8. Dedicated Tutorial Server
Tutorial playback speeds should be greatly improved

7. Better Support and FAQs
Get answers to easy questions

6. Better Organized Content and Resources
With the new sub-navigation, it’s easier to get what you need

5. Super Search
Top left search will give you a dynamic real-time search. Try it.

4. Rollover Video Thumbnails
See a sample video for each tutorials before watching

3. New Forum
Now we can all share information and ideas with ease