Video Update: What’s Up!

I thought I would try something new today so I recorded a video update. Not to be confused with the inevitable “Video Copilot Show”, I’ve recorded this short video update to talk about some of the things that are happening at Video Copilot. I’d like to keep these short and casual but it might be a nice way to talk about things that are difficult to put in words.

Bad news: I have to start wearing shirts and possibly shaving regularly.

Let’s see where this goes…

New Product Preview: Optical Flares

UPDATE: Product Now Available!

Mysterious things have been brewing behind the scenes at Video Copilot.
Dark things. Well actually bright things.

Drum roll please… I’m very excited to announce our new plug-in Optical Flares. We are still very much in development but I wanted to give you a small taste of what to expect. Optical Flares is a next-generation plug-in for creating realistic lens flares and reinvent the look of digital lens flares beyond perfect geometric shapes to natural organic light.

This plug-in already has over 50,000 lines of code but I want to show you 1 small feature.

Watch Preview Video

I know there are many questions but please hold on to your questions since we will be releasing more information next month that should help clarify what this is all about. We don’t have a release date yet but it will be sometime after October, possibly November. The price will be $139.95 but I’d rather talk about that when I show you all of the amazing features!

Daughter number two is here!

Well my other top secret project is out This morning my wife and I greeted our new daughter Emily Jordan Kramer at 12:12 am. Weighing in at 6 pounds 11 ounces she is sweet and healthy. I’ll keep you posted.

Wow, I’ve never seen so many comments! Thanks everyone for your kind words, I’ll try to get a picture up soon. I’m at the office today for a bit and I’m going to try and squeeze in a tutorial too. All the Best!

Free Grunge Projects!

Here are a few grunge projects based on the Ancient Titles tutorials for your using-pleasure. I’ve also included 3 high-resolution textures and discovered a great free font called: Humanst521!

Download Project AE CS3

Sample Pic

NOTE: To view blog posts that contain project files or free downloads, just click on the “Project Files” tab at the top.

You might also check out this free project from an earlier post.

Back Open :) Thanks Everyone!

So we decided to move in the new place early and everything went smooth. Still have to unload some boxes but it already feels comfortable. We are back up and running! I’ll be sure to post some pics for anyone interested. Just need to take a nap first!

PS: I hope everyone is recovering from their minor “heart-attacks”, I know the last headline was a bit cruel, but you know me

Video Copilot Closing it’s Doors…

Video Copilot started over 4 years ago in my bedroom and transitioned into a 1-room office suite. After a few years of we have decided to close our doors… for about 20 minutes

So that we can reopen at a new location more suited for creative freedom.

As much as I dislike moving, I’m looking forward to the new office and studio space. It’s no ILM but there are a few offices and a nice space for filming and even a greenscreen. We’ll be moving this weekend and start at the new location on Monday.

The truth is, Video Copilot has grown to over 30% in the last 3 months and we have no intention of going anywhere! Besides there is still soda in the fridge.

Not to mention a few extra copies of the most amazing collection ever made:
Action Essentials 2

But what if your worst fear came true?

Pan & Scan* Update

Chances are, if you hear sound through anything other than the speaker inside of your desktop tower, you probably have at least stereo sound. That’s good.

You might notice that when you watch Gone in 60 Seconds, some car sounds travel from one speaker to the next as it passes by. This is called the end of Nicholas Cage’s career but also the sound mixing technique is called panning.

In a continuing effort to waste your time I have devised a preset that will automatically PAN a sound or music based on a layers screen space position. I’m still working out a few bugs but I’ll post the presets when I can. My mind has been thinking about expressions a lot lately and I might have some more experiments to post as well. Until then.

Watch the Super-Chopper


Here are the settings used for this comp. You can control the low & high output so that the audio doesn’t cut out completely. I probably wouldn’t mix my audio in AE but this was a fun experiment indeed. With a little more work it could be setup like the 3D falloff preset to fade the audio as the object travels away in Z space. Right now it is screen space (2d).

What is a Compositor?

What isn’t a compositor might be a better question to ask but let’s keep this article on point. In short a compositor is responsible for fusing together elements such as live action footage, 3d animation, stock footage and other sources into a single picture. Sometimes the goal is photo-realism for a motion picture and other times the goal is to exaggerate the world for a TV spot.

A good comparison might be the job of a weldor. Wikipedia has a curious description that I found particularly useful:

“Welders typically have to have good dexterity and attention to detail, as well as some technical knowledge about the materials being joined and best practices in the field.”

In order to complete some shots, a compositor might take on other responsibilities such as modeling and rendering a 3D object or element. Similarly, a weldor might need to fabricate a special tool or object needed for a custom vehicle manipulation.

When a weldor is combining various parts of a bicycle frame, it is important that the parts are fused together properly or the bicycle might just fall apart. Much like a visual effects shot that is not sound, you may see it fall apart on screen.

Knowing the tools and understanding the related jobs of this industry might just answer questions you didn’t know you had. Never stop learning and developing new techniques.

Wikipedia also has a note regarding weldors:

“Welders are also often exposed to dangerous gases and particulate matter.”

But I won’t get into that.

Unplugged Interview: Part II

John over at Motionworks just posted part 2 of our interview where we talk about some interesting challenges and the future of Video Copilot.

Watch Interview

Working through the night…

I’m just finishing some fx for a client that are taking a little longer than expected but things are looking good now. I’ve got some fun tips and info I’ll be posting on the blog in a slightly new format for short screen recorded tips. I’m also getting the rest of my project elements together for an exciting look at bar graphs in After Effects. (Trust me it’s more fun than it sounds)

Banner Submissions Open

We are collecting your banner design submissions to be featured at the top of Video Copilot! Is that a good thing? I don’t know.

Start Here

BTW: This is not a contest but depending on how everything goes we may consider some challenges in the future. Your reward for the trouble is knowledge and maybe bragging rights to small kittens! We’ll check them out and publish them on the site from time to time, we’re probably not going to announce ones we publish, so keep your eyes open.

Also, the font I commonly use is called Century Gothic, not required but I like it.

Deadline for this round: This Friday, sept 11, 2009

Video Interview: May 2008

Back in 2008 when we made it to tutorial # 65 a DVD was produced to let people take the tutorials with them. As a bonus we produced this unual interview based on questions from the community. Most of the answers just lead to more questions… but we had some fun.

Once we get to 100 Tutorials, we’ll have to make a Series II DVD with some more special features… we’ll see!

Series One

Dynamic Bar Graphs

If you have ever made a Bar Graph, you know they can be a bit tedious to manage especially when your statistics change and require adjusting all of the bars! (And they will) Well, if that made sense to you, I feel your pain. For everyone else the picture will get much clearer when I take you through a practical use of expressions involving Time-Remapping. I will be using a bar graph chart as the example but these expressions are versatile and will likely give you ideas for your own projects.

One of the key benefits here is that I have rendered out my 3D Bar scene (that was designed for this tutorial) and it took about 5 hours but inside of After Effects I can control each bar individually eliminating the need to perform additional 3D rendering to adjust the bars.

Harry J Frank has a cool little tutorial from back in the day (AE 6.5) for building your very own pie graph in After Effects.

I know expressions can be a little tricky so I want to make this tutorial easy for everyone, stay tuned.

Watch Sample Video HD
Set Image On JPG
Set Image Off JPG

My Video Interview with John Dickinson

In a high-tech Skype interview, I had the pleasure of sitting down (remotely) with John Dickinson of MotionWorks to talk about Video Copilot and some fun stories from the past few years.

Looking back was fun for me and also reminded that I should also thank everyone here for your dedication and support, none of this would be possible without you. Here is to all the exciting things of the future!

Watch Video Interview Part 1

Part II should be out next week or so, I’ll let everyone know!

100 Years of Special FX

I never thought I would be linking to College Humor but they posted a pretty cool montage of some of the most iconic visual effects from the last 100 years.

Watch Video

When did you first gain an interest in the world of visual effects? Was it a movie or even a TV show? For me seeing some behind the scenes work on James Cameron’s Terminator 2 was brain-busting. The scene when robert patrick passes through the jail doors always rattled my processor. I also credit the first Matrix movie because it was rather exciting watching how they did some of the amazing shots on set.