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.

August 26th, 2008 @ 3:17 am
Trapcode Horizon is definitly a must buy.
August 26th, 2008 @ 3:24 am
Wow thanks alot :)
August 26th, 2008 @ 3:34 am
Thanks a lot Andrew !

By the way, you forgot to make the link to

See ya !
August 26th, 2008 @ 3:34 am
Thanx Kramer! U r a very nice guy!!!
Greetings from Brazil!
August 26th, 2008 @ 3:35 am
Trapcode plug-in is EXCELLENT!

Cheers again Mr Kramer
August 26th, 2008 @ 3:42 am
thnks fr d link kramer
August 26th, 2008 @ 3:42 am
Thanks for all info Andrew, I just Woke up to finish one of my project. I'm always faster this time of night and I think you are kinda same if I pay attention to the time you posted.
btw this is my first time posting comment here, so thank you for all you did for us. I know you are too busy to reading all this comments but thanks anyway...

KAMRAN a Persian guy who came to Hollywood to win an Oscar ;-)
August 26th, 2008 @ 3:46 am
Thank you Andrew .. all links are worthful :)
I would like to paste a link, useful for all VFX designer.

must check :)
August 26th, 2008 @ 3:50 am
Thanx for the links i will check them out
Curtis H
August 26th, 2008 @ 4:27 am
Lenscare is nice but it lacks 32 bit float support. Is there a bokeh blur type plug-in out there that does use floating point? I'd kill for one. Messing with specular passes and mattes just to get a less accurate and time consuming result is not my preference. Any suggestions?
August 26th, 2008 @ 5:55 am
hope your getting some advertising dollars for the mentions ;-p
August 26th, 2008 @ 6:15 am
If anyone has a mac and would like to convert images to HDRI....there is a program called Photomatix. OR you could always run a windows emulator and use hdrshop


August 26th, 2008 @ 6:33 am
Thanks Andrew! greats links...
August 26th, 2008 @ 7:04 am
Thanks for sharing with us Andrew.

August 26th, 2008 @ 7:06 am
Thanks a lot for sharing Andrew
August 26th, 2008 @ 7:34 am
Where do you get your maps for Horizon? Or do you make them? And how? Think that'd be a great Short Cut...
August 26th, 2008 @ 7:37 am
hum...horizon sounds cool
August 26th, 2008 @ 7:58 am
Andrew when the next tut i check every day man cum on put tut on site man ;)
August 26th, 2008 @ 8:11 am
im checking the horizon question...the page doesnt load at not sure if it is a problem here or there but when i type at night time it says page not found..
August 26th, 2008 @ 8:14 am
Awesome! andrew
i think your next tutorial name is about "smoke trail"
you use Trapcode Horizon to finish it. that's my guess
haha! hope you give us more info about the helicopter project
August 26th, 2008 @ 8:50 am
A shortcuts video on Trapcode Horizon would be awesome!
August 26th, 2008 @ 9:15 am

Very interesting tools. When will we see how you are using them?
August 26th, 2008 @ 9:16 am
The radiohead video at the trapcode site is great.
August 26th, 2008 @ 9:28 am
all those things are great but why do they have to cost money :(
August 26th, 2008 @ 9:32 am
thanks for the great info on the plugins!!
August 26th, 2008 @ 9:51 am
Thanks alot for the Hdri site I have been looking for it for along time. You guys have one of the best sites out there keep up the AE tuts they are so informative. I have learned so much just off your site. Could I send A couple of projects i've done to you guys to critique it would mean alot.

Benjamin Eshagpoor
August 26th, 2008 @ 10:20 am

Thanks for these!! I bought Horizon, and I've been dying to create my own spherical maps and the one tutorial I found online about doing it in Photoshop was a little too confusing, so I'm going to look into HDR Shop!!

Oh captain, my captain!!

August 26th, 2008 @ 10:42 am
Thank you for sharing!
August 26th, 2008 @ 11:02 am
Why are you so nice to us?? Is it because you know we can't afford all these fun toys? =p
August 26th, 2008 @ 11:28 am
shortcut tutorial about trapcode horizon?
is this some kind of joke? on the official site they explain Horizon.
Nikan Ansari
August 26th, 2008 @ 11:43 am
I have Horizon thanks for showing me the Frischluft stuff never looked into them
Josh Johnson
August 26th, 2008 @ 12:15 pm
Very cool produts. I'm sure I will splurge for horizon soon. HDR shop is great I shot my first HDRI photo on a chrome sphere few weeks ago and used HDR shop and photoshop to assemble and unwrap it.

Then used it in C4D for my lighting. Very cool stuff and not as hard as you may think.
August 26th, 2008 @ 12:39 pm
Horizon is a must in my book. Thanks for all the other information you always supply.
August 26th, 2008 @ 1:39 pm
ooH thanks for the tips, Hdr shop looks sweet.
Karim Dehbi
August 26th, 2008 @ 3:16 pm
great tools
unfortunately these tools cost a lot of money (for amateur/students at least)

check out this site: for some cheap tools
actually there's only one you have to pay for (about 10 USD) but the remaining ones are free
and there are some really powerful ones like a plugin to have fully functionally 3D letters in Aex

check it out!!:)
Eduardo Torres
August 26th, 2008 @ 3:17 pm
Has anyone tried products? They support AE but the prices seems to be to high.
August 26th, 2008 @ 7:08 pm
August 26th, 2008 @ 10:24 pm
thanks a lot for sharing, AK. Useful!
August 27th, 2008 @ 12:22 am
I bought a Nodal Ninja 3 recently and had a few problems with fitting my camera to the head. Bill at Nodal Ninja has been great - no, beyond great - in getting me up to speed and out shooting panos. If you're in the market for a pano head Nodal Ninja is the way to go!

As for creating straight HDR images: Dynamic Photo HDR is good : as is Photomatix:

Like everyone else - I'd love to see you demonstrate any of these tools.

August 27th, 2008 @ 2:14 am
has anyone found a tutorial where you can make spherical maps in HDRshop?
Jason Sayer
August 27th, 2008 @ 2:15 am
Andrew do you think you could do some tut's on horizon

Pretty Please
August 27th, 2008 @ 3:10 am
the best advice i can give to you people who are looking for tuts on horizon is
1. watch the Horizon Intro tutorial on the trapcode site then
2. start playing around with it yourself, film, create something, you will learn at your own pace and on the plus side you will remember the utilistaion of the plug-in a lot better.
August 27th, 2008 @ 3:27 am
Surely you are perfect.
just wana say Thanks For What you have done.
August 27th, 2008 @ 6:35 am
Thank's for the info Andrew! Lenscare, that what I looking for.
August 27th, 2008 @ 8:25 am
besides Nodal Ninja there also is Panosaurus for about 75$ which can also take multi-row panorama shots , for photo enthusiasts and semi-pro ppl its stable and good enough - I use RealViz Stitcher to get sperical, cubic or rectangular panoramic shots with my Lumix DMC FZ-50.
August 27th, 2008 @ 11:38 am
i remember i use to write down all the plugins i seen in andrews effects list during his tuts then id go out and get most of them .
john drach
August 27th, 2008 @ 11:53 am
Brain Hungry!
Want tutorial!
August 27th, 2008 @ 5:31 pm
Wow, that Horizon one is the bomb!

Thanks for all you do, Mr. Kramer, sir!
August 27th, 2008 @ 9:13 pm
Hey guys how's it going.
I got an inquiry for you all, including you Andrew if you're reading this: I'm looking to purchase a new computer to edit my HD footage without any lag or slow rendering that I experience with my dell inspiron. I have a sony hdr11 and i really enjoy it but it takes forever to render my footage and edit it.

Soooo, my question is this: What computer should i get to edit my footage? I'm trying to move over to apple because it seems more user friendly. I'm looking to spend 2k-4k.

help anyone?!?!
August 27th, 2008 @ 11:49 pm
Hi Andrew
Thanks for the tools
But don't you want to make a new tutorial
since your website forum starts , i think tutorials are going to be dead !
Is there any new tuts ?
Thanks again ;)
August 28th, 2008 @ 1:02 am
tutorials, tutorials...... brainssss..... tutorials....
August 28th, 2008 @ 7:31 am
hey your website has crashed and this is the only page i can get to.

just thought i'd let you know. hope everything's alright.
August 28th, 2008 @ 8:28 am
Yep, I have the same trouble as derek this is the only page that is working....

Hope you can fix it soon!
August 28th, 2008 @ 8:38 am
Sorry about what i'm going to said:

OMG! Videocopilot is down! Medic! MEDIC!!
August 28th, 2008 @ 9:26 am
O Dam, the site's down. Shit!
Plz fix it ASAP. Go Go Go!

I hope some BIG updates are coming..... hehehehe

August 28th, 2008 @ 9:51 am
Site down!

i remember the site like it was yesterday. All those beautiful bubbles and shiny titles

Oh how I miss it
August 28th, 2008 @ 11:17 am
i personaly think that some of you guys are just overreacting. Mr.andrew, gives alot to us as soon as he has some time. so be grateful for that. but some of you just want more and more and more. stop wining and just wait, when the guy has done his important work he will think about the site also. there is one guy on the forum that posted a post with the title "is that it?" thats so not nice you know. he should be happy what andrew gave us.

just my feelings
August 28th, 2008 @ 1:15 pm
woo! sites back :D
August 28th, 2008 @ 1:24 pm
I made an after effects keyboard shortcut map that anyone can print out and since this site pretty much taught me after effects i thought i would share it.
September 2nd, 2008 @ 3:56 pm
Thanks for sharing andrew
this topic is waaaay useful
September 3rd, 2008 @ 3:13 pm
Thank you.
November 19th, 2008 @ 10:41 pm
Andrew; as for HRDshop, could you use the HRD batch process on a sequence of images from broken up video and then string them back together to create a HDR-video effect? Possibly you did this on the meteor video? Looks kindof like it's been processed into HDR.
March 30th, 2009 @ 7:20 am
Could you please make a tutorial were u use Horison, i bought it, but don't know how it's working... sad.. could you please make any tutorial were you use it, so i can learn to use it? :D
December 14th, 2010 @ 10:07 am
Thanks for the list! I'll have to try Horizon.
Before Posting
We're trying to encourage more thoughtful commenting.  Please take a moment to write a meaningful response to this post.
* Name
* Email (will not be published)
* field is required