Behind the Scenes: HUD

There have been a few questions about the lighting setup for the recent HUD Tutorial so I thought I would write a quick break down of our shoot. I didn’t have any actual set photos so I recreated it with a graph, complete with 1 eyeball.

Basic Setup:
The camera is setup at eye level inside a dark room to ensure the background stays black. A diffused, low-power light sits underneath the cam looking towards the subject’s face while another light points down from behind to illuminate small highlights. View Result

That’s about it. Oh and don’t forget to press record.


In this tutorial we will be creating a Futuristic Heads Up Display inspired by the film Iron Man. This 30 minute tutorial includes building self-animating components in 3D space and reactive lighting.

Watch Tutorial

Just a friendly reminder to check out our high quality DVD’s. We appreciate the support and we promise to keep making exciting new tutorials! Also a reminder that all of our products work with After Effects 6.5-CS4 for those planning on upgrading.

Free Pizza (aep)

Now that I have your attention, there is no pizza. I’m sorry. What I do have is an artistic text treatment created in After Effects. Just download the project and change the text in the “Edit TITLE” pre-comp to your favorite slogan and the “OUTPUT” comp will update with a stylized fire look.

It’s not photo realistic but it’s a fun, procedural treatment for making even boring stuff seem fun!

Download Project for AE CS3

PS, sorry no earlier AE versions, the time machine is in the shop.

Launch Imminent

Still finalizing some details for the tutorial but it should be online before Wednesday. I”d also take this opportunity to let you know I’ll be in New York for AENY on March 26th 2009. Check out for more info in the coming weeks. Should be tons of fun and I’d really love to meet some of you guys first hand. Girls too, don’t be shy

Aharon Rabinowitz is one of the guys heading up AENY along with Jim Geduldick and Dennis Radeke. You might check out Aharon’s new website at he has links to all his AE tutorials including the stuff he’s doing for Red Giant TV.

While I’m plugging friends websites, an old friend of mine, Cal Johnson sent me a nice training DVD for Adobe Premiere Pro and you know how much I love free stuff. If any Television manufactures are reading, please email me.

Anyways, the DVD covers Premiere Pro 2.0 but virtually all the tips and tricks apply to CS3 and CS4. What’s cool about the DVD is that he covers the ‘why’ you do things, not just ‘how’. I’m sure many of you are well-versed in Premiere but if you are looking for a good Premiere training, this might be a good option. Cal, you can thank me later buddy Here’s his site.

One more plug for good measure, Eran Stern does some tutorials over at Creative Cow and he also has a DVD for AE found here.

All this plugging has got me tired, I think I’ll drink a cold refreshing Pepsi. Maybe Pepsi could sponsor me or something…

Sequence Activated

I finally got around to reshooting Sam for the upcoming HUD Tutorial, now that all this Sure Target business is over. I’m polishing out a few details and I’ll be releasing the tutorial this week. Get your VCR’s ready, it’s going to be a good one. If you don’t have a VCR, don’t worry it’s not that good. No wait! It’s good.

NEW TUTORIAL: Presets & More

In this new tutorial we’ll examine some of the new features of Sure Target 1.5 and using it with the updated 3D falloff preset. New features include, auto-rotate, auto-ease and unlimited targets by simply duplicating the last target in the effects control.

Important Notes: Sure Target 1.5 must be used with 3D layers. Make sure they are 3D before applying or using the preset. For the auto-rotate feature to work, you need to adjust the rotation of the 3D layer and not the orientation. This tutorial covers all of this and more.

If you downloaded the presets package yesterday, be sure to download them again because we made some changes to a few of the default settings that were causing some errors.

Watch Tutorial

Download All Presets

Presets Updated

It was a long day but I rebuilt the SureTarget preset with the help of our developer Patrick and the code is now simple and elegant. More importantly however, it allowed me to add some cool new features.

The Sure Target preset now has a built in Auto-Rotation feature that captures the rotation of the targets and adjusts the Null accordingly, just as it moves from one to the other. This should save a lot of time animating the rotation for each target. We also included a build in Ease checkbox for automatically making smooth movement between targets.

The 3D Falloff Preset has also been updated to work with the Sure Target tool.

Finally, I converted ALL of the presets on Video Copilot to work with the English, Spanish, Italian, German, & French versions of After Effects! It wasn’t easy but I did it.

A demo tutorial will be out later to show you all of this in detail. Please discuss bugs and problems on the forum so we can fix em. For those who want to test out before then, the auto-rotate is based on the rotation of the 3D layers not the orientation. Be sure to change the rotation manually and not with the rotation tool.

As always please do visit the products page and check out our amazing DVDs. We have several great tools for enhancing your visual and sound performance. Your support makes this all possible.
Check them out!

More Targets?

The new animation preset Sure Target has 10 built-in targets but what if you need more? Like eleven or even twelve? Well actually you can have as many as you want with this simple solution.

The Solution:
Here’s how it works, just setup your scene as described in the tutorial with a 3D NULL object, a camera and the Sure Target Preset. With this setup, you have 10 targets ready to go.

To add 10 more, simply add another 3D NULL object and apply the Sure Target tool. Now, to link these to the first NULL (so the movement isn’t interrupted), set the 10th Target of the first NULL to use second NULL as it’s target. So whatever is designated in the second NULL will be used once the first NULL is keyframed to 10. Just be sure to start animating the second NULL after the first one reaches 10.

With this method you can add as many as you want by setting the last target of each Sure Target NULL to a new NULL containing yet another set of Sure Targets.

Another Idea:
One thing to note is that “Targets” do not have to be still, you can have 3D layers that actually animate and the preset will follow the layers movement when it is reached. You could even use an additional Sure Target NULLs in the middle of the animation like for target 3 which might be helpful for organizing complicated projects. For example, the master NULL could work as chapters 1-10 and added copies of Sure Target would be used to animated the titles for the individual chapters. This one can hurt your mind unless you have worked on a massive project like this which is never fun.

Finally, some people have experimented with the 3D Falloff preset and found that it doesn’t work with Sure Target. The reason is because the Falloff preset references the Camera and the Sure Target uses a NULL. I love the experimenting, it is really a great part of the community. I’m working on an update that should allow this feature to work. Until then.

NEW TUTORIAL: Energetic Titles

In this EXTRA LONG tutorial you’ll learn to animate the camera using the new Sure Target preset as well as create an impressive 3D title design.

The Sure Target preset is available inside the project file and includes versions for English, French & German. If you know how translate expressions and save presets in another language, please send us the file; we’d love to share it with the community.

Tutorial based on sample video seen here:
View Sample Video

Watch Tutorial

SURE TARGET Sample Video

Here is a promo video for Sure TARGET! More of a demonstration…

View Sample Video

As you can see the camera performs dynamic movements with pixel-perfect-precision! Sure TARGET makes animating the camera from place to place simple and effective so that you can focus on getting the look right and not fiddling around with keys.

You may also be interested to know that this entire promo was created inside of After Effects, including the “3D” text which I’ll be sure to demonstrate in the upcoming tutorial.

Although this preset will help you animate the camera, you still have to come up with good ideas and designs… If I could make a plug-in for that… I could finally afford to get a NEW tooth brush and maybe some toothpaste.

For best video quality, we recommend VLC media player to avoid washed out colors.

Video Copilot Products Make it Happen!

Of course projects like this, especially the more complicated presets, are possible by the support of this energetic community. So be sure to check out some of our great DVDs and keep this site strong.

New Features

The new animation preset will now include a built in wiggle function for adding smooth random movement to the camera in addition to precise camera control. I’ve also added more locations for each target for a total of 10 (instead of 7). The name of the preset is SureTARGET and a video sample will be online Tuesday afternoon with the tutorial coming out this week. There is more happening but I’ll let that unfold as the week goes on. Talk soon.

Production Shots

Only a few days of the new year and we already completed a big promotional video for an awesome client, just in time for CES. The shoot on Friday went really well, we had our shot list and everyone was on time. Unfortunately there wasn’t a folding chair with my name on it but what can you do.

We decided to shoot at 3K, 16×9 so we could get the 47 fps to use for slow motion in post. What happened to the extra frame per second is anyone’s guess… The lighting was excellent and that RED really does make nice images.

Post Production:
We processed about 15 minutes (at 47fps) of 3K footage in roughly 7 hours which isn’t too bad if you know what to expect but also enough time to watch Titanic two times and cook a roast. It seems Adobe and Red have a new plug-in for native Red footage support but it is only for CS4 and I imagine it would be pretty CPU intensive.

Using RED’s software, I exported to QuickTime with the Pro Res codec at half resolution since you can’t down-res an image sequence and full resolution 3K would have been overkill for a 720p project.

Once in After Effects the keying was incredible, especially if you know the hassles of DV or HDV compression. After a month or so I may be able to show you what we came up with. I also used my animation preset for some of the camera moves too, you’ll be able to get your hands on it soon enough!

Spread the word! G4 Style

Seems Video Copilot was recently featured in a cool segment on animation over at the G4 network. Needless to say it put a big smile on our faces.

Check it out!