When did you fall in love… with After Effects?

Do you remember you’re first date with After Effects?

In the year 2000 after reaching the limits of Final Cut Pro’s compositing and special effects toolset, I decided to see other people. That’s when After Effects came into the picture with her floating windows and layered timeline, we began spending many hours together. Some of the first stuff we did involved motion graphics, light rays, radio waves and many bad font choices.

The graphic above was part of a corporate video I did in February of 2003 for a tech company that loved high-tech catch phrases. I may try and dig up some even older work if I can find it. But, maybe it is better left forgotten

I imagine some of you started out as graphic designers and wanted to bring visuals to life or perhaps you were a video editor that wanted more control of graphics and FX… Do you remember when you first got into After Effects?

Chrono Trigger, Cool Scene with Action!

Here’s a great action scene by a talented filmmaker I found on youtube. The fx are cool and the action is well designed. Gotta love his style and sense of humor too. Enjoy!

And ya, I’m pretty sure he used Video Copilot’s Action Essentials 2 for a lot of the bullet hits and muzzle flashes but I must give the credit to the filmmakers for great compositing and integration.

Check out this other great movie scene.

Animating a Still

After looking at some amazing pictures of the recent Volcano I was inspired to bring one of them to life. I wanted to animate a still image to make it look it was video shot from a moving helicopter. I added some Optical Flares and subtle camera shake to give it a little more life. I also used the liquify filter to animate the smoke over time as it plumed out. There are also some small falling ash particles created with particular.

The flying parallax effect is a little tricky but I’ll see about making a quick tip or including it in the upcoming blog show.

Watch Sample Video

Stereo 3D

OK, we have a cool tutorial in the works and some fascinating behind the scenes action based on our recent short movie but after that I want to explore Stereo 3D production. I’ve been collaborating with an amazing team of stereo experts and got a chance to talk to some pros handling the stereo workflow on the upcoming film Tron and it’s been a fascinating journey. In 3D!!

It seems a fair amount of people understand the basics of Stereo 3D and how it works but once you get into the science, it is easy to over-simplify and destroy the illusion. Now I don’t know if Stereo 3D is here to stay, but hollywood is going to be busy with it for many years ahead and I want to share everything that I’ve been learning over the last few months through behind-the-scenes interviews, tests and tutorials.

The concept of Stereo 3D is simple, 2 cameras capture a scene at about eye-distance apart. Now the challenge of Stereo 3D is delivering the image from the left-side camera back to the viewers left-eye and the right-eye image to the right one.

In the past, stereo 3D suffered from a poor delivery method known as anaglyph, which is the 2-colored glasses that aren’t the most comfortable to wear and coupled with extreme inter-occular distances, pop-corn bags were quickly refilled. With new and upcoming technology, stereo 3D is more comfortable and immersive just like a snuggie.

Although the concept is simple, there is a brave new world dedicated to getting the best quality and most comfortable image using the proper camera rigs, setting a balanced interocular distance (2-cam distance), and keeping continuity of your convergence plane (like the Point-of-interest). But we’ll get into that stuff later

Good Stereo 3D is not about having everything popping out of the screen but instead think of it like a window into a world… like the villains from Superman 2.

Request: Although anaglyph is a rough method it is cheap, so please pick up a pair of Red/Cyan glasses if you would like to see the tests and demos we do in the weeks ahead.

What are your questions about Stereo 3D?

Plug-in Updates & Information

All Video Copilot products now support After Effects CS5 and free updates are available for Optical Flares and Twitch.

Important Information About CS5 and 64-bit:

  • Each Plug-in comes in 2 versions: one for After Effects CS5 (64-bit) and one for previous versions of After Effects such as AE 7, CS3 & CS4 (32-bit).
  • Please install the plug-in based on your version After Effects only. The 64-bit version is for After Effects CS5 only and NOT based on your Operating System.
  • So if you have AE CS4 installed on the 64-bit version of Windows 7, you still only need to install the 32-bit version of the plug-in because AE CS4 is still a 32-bit application.
  • Customers can reuse their current licenses with this update. Simply copy your license file from the previous directory into the new installation folder. If you have a new computer or need to request a new license please contact our support team.


Download Optical Flares 1.2.128 Update*
This update is for all customers, not just CS5. It includes several new features.
*We fixed a couple of bugs as well from 2 days ago.

Download Twitch CS5 Update
Order Email Required to download.

Optical Flares 1.2 Now Available!

The Optical Flares 1.2 update is now available and includes several new features for all Optical Flares customers:

  • Added 64-bit support for AE CS5
  • New “Unified Interface” with automatic scaling
  • Rearrange window panels
  • Full-Screen Mode
  • 16:9 Guides now visible
  • Show BG warning
  • No more slide-out panel (Yay!)

Watch Video Demonstration of New Interface

Download Optical Flares 1.2 (Order Email Required)

New Forum for Video Copilot Plug-ins:
Now there is a dedicated place to talk about Video Copilot plug-ins including features, questions, compatibility. Click Here

Free 12-Gauge Shell

Good news Thursday May 20th is my 4-year anniversary to my sweet wife so in celebration we’re giving away a free shotgun shell clip. No, we didn’t have a “shotgun-wedding” but we do shoot some of the extra toaster overs.

This high-resolution clip comes pre-keyed in 2-versions for fast or slow-motion; it also loops seamlessly. For help looping in AE Click Here.

I added the words “Elite Series” so that people would not question my shotgun shooting abilities.

Watch Sample Video (this version does not have alpha)

Download Free Clip (17 MBs)

Compositing Tips: Place animation over your footage and animate the rotation over time to give the shell more variation as it spins out. You might also try moving the pivot point closer to the metal so it rotates off-balance for realism.


If you like this clip be sure to check out our Action Stock Footage collection that features muzzle flashes, explosions and more spinning shells for .45 and .223 caliber brass.

More on Action Essentials 2

Color Matching 7D & Red

One thing that we did for our recent short was integrated footage shot with the Canon 7D and the Red camera. The Red footage was processed ‘flat’ so the image was not crushed until the final color treatment was established. The 7D footage however was setup at the default settings so there was already more contrast and a nice tone. There are some interesting tips for setting up your 7D with a flat look for those interested to get more color range out of the compressed footage.

Once you find the treatment you like the goal is to apply it to all of your shots so they look even and balanced but when your source material is not the same, the color treatments can be very different. Pay close attention to the color of the shadows and hilights with effects like Levels, Curves and Tint to control over-saturation.

I’ve included the HD plates for people that want to experiment or practice your own color timing.

Watch Color Comparison

Watch Complete Short

Then stay tuned for a tutorial based on the FX from the short as well as some fun behind the scenes entertainment.

‘Payment Plan’ Short Online Now

Turn up your speakers and get ready for the ‘Payment Plan’. Sam Loya is back again with an epic performance in super wide-screen.

Some people try to qualify their work by saying things like, “we only had $500 to make this” or “The cops came and we only had half the time to shoot”.

Well this film had a budget of 80 MILLION dollars and 6 years of filming. It was shot in 3D and we converted it to 2D so it could be watched on a normal monitor.

The goal however, was to make it look like it was shot in one evening…

Watch Short Film Now

Short Film Launching Today: “Payment Plan”

Earlier this month I mentioned this short film we created to demonstrate an effect for an upcoming tutorial… Well that film will be online later today.

There has been a lot of interesting guesses about what the effect will be… we’ll find out together. Be ready. It may just be the worst thing you have ever seen!!

Optical Flares 1.2 Almost Ready

Optical Flares 1.2 will be launching soon, this update features several new improvements including Full Screen mode and adjustable panels and windows. We’re just going through some more testing and it will be available soon. I know it’s taking a little longer than expected but the new features are nice.

This free update is for all versions including 32-bit and added support for AE CS5 in 64-bit.

See Full Screen Snap

VC Plug-in Updates for AE CS5 x64

UPDATE: Twitch ZIP file updated. Thanks.

Alright! So many of you have upgraded to After Effects CS5 for all the 64-bit amazingness and so we have been working to update our 32-bit plug-ins to work with the new version. Of course we will continue to develop and support the our 32-bit plug-ins as well.

Here is what you need to know for VC Tools:

All of our Stock Footage, Music and Sound FX products like Action Essentials II & Pro Scores are already compatible with AE CS5, there is no update required. The free video Copilot Presets will also work in CS5 as well.

For our paid plug-ins such as Optical Flares, Twitch, as well as our free tools, Sure Target and VC reflect, After Effects CS5 requires a 64-bit version to work.

Here is the download information:

VC Reflect 64-bit

Sure Target 2 64-bit

Twitch 1.1 64-bit (Requires email address, re-use your current license)

Optical Flares 64-bit:

While working on the 64-bit update for Optical Flares, we ran into a small hitch that was going to change the way pop-out windows would behave on OS X. So we decided move forward on a new feature that would solve this problem and give people with larger screens more space.

Basically the Optical flares update will now launch in Full-Screen mode, with resizeable control windows to take advantage of more screen space for editing and browsing presets. This update will be available for 64-bit and current 32-bit customers at no charge.

We apologize for the delay and we expect this to be available next week.

In Short…

We are currently in post production on a short film, purposely created to demonstrate an effect for an upcoming tutorial. Please stay tuned for the film premiere as well as exciting behind the scenes action.

What is this mystery effect? You’ll have to wait and see.