Beautiful VFX

I just stumbled upon this spectacular reel of visual effects work for the film Stalingrad. The simulations of smoke and fire take it to another level.

What’s even more impressive is the amount of work that went into this video just to show all of the layers and work that went into. C’mon! Look at those camera swings!

While not quite as impressive, you ca check out our Advanced Training Series you might be able to see how some of this is possible combining Fume FX with 3Ds Max and compositing in After Effects.

See Tutorials

 

Tutorial: Lionsgate Studio Logo

I decided after all to put together a tutorial about the Lionsgate Studio Design and here it is!

In this tutorial we’ll take an in-depth look at building complex bevels with Element 3D and give your titles a shiny finish. We’ll also looking at Lens Flares, Render Settings and adding some nice Light Rays.

Watch Tutorial & Download project File

Original Design Credit:
The actual Lionsgate studio design was created by the talented folks at DevaStudios!
Check out their work!

Recreating Complex Bevels

After seeing the impressive Lionsgate title treatment I thought I would try to recreate the intricate bevel in Element 3D. While it is not exactly the same, I was able to use a single extrude object with 5 bevels layers. Here is the previous text tutorial that examines the extrude tool in Element 3D.

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Save 25% on All VC Products & Bundles

Almost Human Main Title

So…. I’ve been busy lately finishing up some intense work on the main title for the new FOX show Almost Human and tonight is the second episode of the series!

Working on this sequence was both fun and challenging but as always, it was great to part of another cool project!  We used After Effects along with 3DS Max and even some Element 3D to create many of the shots. Originally the title sequence was going to be shorter but it evolved into a longer montage about the show.  We ended up working on about 10 shots that were edited together with footage from the show to help tell the story.

I’ll try to create a more detailed video breakdown soon, but here are some still frames of some of my favorites.

This digital Iris was created by filming a real eye with a Canon 5DM3. Then I used several 3D layers to add depth to the vein network as the camera passes through into the Main Title.

This room was created in 3DS max with help from the Video Copilot modelling team via Stefan & Alex.  I compositied in After Effects with the Z-pass to add depth of field.  The shot included some really cool high-tech screens as well as detailed medical equipment from the future! Luckily we had a render farm because this shot took about 8 minutes per frame to render.


This gun model was created in 3Ds Max and imported into After Effects with Element 3D for precise animation & lighting.

This hand shot was rendered in entirely in Element 3D from a high quality hand model. The digital circuits were created in After Effects and mapped to the hand using a second copy of Element 3D on top of the original to give it a glowing effect.

Another E3D shot of the camera flying over the police badge.

Be sure to check out the show tonight!

New Tutorial Tip: Selective Glow FX

Have you ever needed to add a glow to a specific color? Like an explosion, or signal light without affecting the rest of the image.
In this short tutorial I’ll show you a fast technique that will allow you add a glow to a specific color only and avoid the color mixing that occurs when using traditional luminance based glows.

Key Features:

  • Ability to Refine and Color Correct Glow
  • Procedural Effect, auto-updates
  • Use Keying tools to refine color selection
  • Works on a single adjustment layer, no pre-composing!
  • Not just for JetStrike! Great technique for all projects!

Don’t forget I’m doing an After Effects presentation in Los Angeles tonight for DMALA! (Monday night) If you are around, please register and come by!
The Details

 

Digital Flight School!

Today we are proud to announce our new mini-site: Flight School!

This course is packed FREE visual effects training for JetStrike & After Effects! Sure we want you to buy our new model pack but these tutorials are also filled with useful tips for any project and we recommend watching just to see what is possible.

Right now we have 6 new tutorials and will be adding more along the way!

Current Lessons:
Missile Launch
Jet Contrails
Flight Control (Create your own Airline)
Decal Customization (Add grunge too!)
Realistic Camera Tips
Bonus Rendering Tips

Start Watching Now! 

Presenting at DMALA Again & and a Sonic Boom!

I’ll be presenting again at DMALA in Los Angeles on Monday, October 28. Starts 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM (PDT). I know there will be food and prizes like some great Video Copilot products! I’m looking forward to it and I hope guys and gals can come out!

Register Now, Limited Space available & the tickets go fast!

I also made this Sonic Boom video using our new product JetStrike based on some live action footage of super-sonic jets! There may be some debate about authenticity of my composite but I call this artistic expression, after all this is Visual Effects! Real, Hyper Real & sometimes just lazy!

New Tutorial: Advanced Spin FX

In this in-depth tutorial, we’ll create a dynamic spin animation inside of After Effects without any 3rd Party plug-ins. Whether you are a beginner or advanced user, this tutorial is packed full of helpful information and major tips, you must see!

Tutorial Topics:

  • Creating Spectral animations using audio waveforms
  • Use Force Motion blur to create unique noise patterns
  • Build Circular elements with various properties and animation
  • Create a perfect lighting array with Polar Coordinates
  • Pre-Render Design Elements for faster compositing
  • Layer Distribution & Alignment tips
  • Unique use of distortion and radial FX

Watch on Youtube

Watch in Tutorial Section

Download Project File (CS6)

Spectral Frequency

Getting back to After Effects experimentation, I’ve been developing more ideas related to the Spinning FX from earlier. In this case I’m using Audio and masks to create circular design patterns.

Big tutorial coming out tomorrow with all the exciting details!

I just love Geometry!

All the Jets in JetStrike!

JetStrike is now available and here is a list of all the Jets that are included in HD!  Almost every Jet includes multiple texture skins for unlimited variations & Decals!

Watch JetStrike Promo

JetStrike 3D Model Gallery:
Click Image to view in high resolution! Or visit the product page and start creating your own with the Sky Pack!

View Full Screen Model Gallery

 

JetStrike & Flight Kit Now Available!

Ignition! JetStrike & Flight Kit are now available!
Visit Product Page!

We have also created a few new bundles to help you save even more!
Visit Bundles Page

NOTE: JetStrike requires the free Element 3D 1.6.2 update. Be sure to download it before using new pack!

JetStrike Video Tour!

Watch on Youtube

Watch on Vimeo

Check out the new JetStrike demo video and see the new advanced Model Pack! You may be surprised at some unique capabilities.

UPDATE: Now Available!

Extra Video:
Heat Distortion Plug-in Demonstration

 

 

New Heat Distortion Plug-in Sneak Peek

Creating realistic heat distortion in After Effects can be tricky to control using displacement maps and fractal noise AND that is why we created our own dedicated Heat Distortion plug-in! Check out the video to see it in Action.

Watch on Vimeo

Watch on Youtube

This plug-in will be available exclusively with the Flight Kit collection that also include over 200+ Jet Sound FX, 360° Sky Maps (4K), Aerial Explosion Stock Footage!  The Flight Kit Pack goes perfectly with the soon to be released JetStrike Model pack available Tomorrow!

Flight Kit Product Features:

  • Over 200+ Aircraft Sound FX:  Like the ones from the JetStrike teaser!
  • 25 HDR Sky Maps. Full 360° maps at 4K Resolution with various cloud types and sunsets.
  • High Definition Aerial Explosions Stock Footage!
  • Plus an advanced Heat Distortion Plug-in by Video Copilot.

Flight Kit is available separately for $99.95

UPDATE: Now Available!

Announcing Flight Kit!

UPDATE: Now Available!
We’re only a few days away from the JetStrike Product launch but first I wanted tell you about another new product: FLIGHT KIT!

This new collection goes perfectly with JetStrike but includes many great tools that are useful for any project.

Flight Kit Features:

  • Over 200 Aircraft Sound FX:  Like the ones from the teaser! Great for Sound Design too.
  • 25 HDR Sky Maps. Full 360° maps at 4K Resolution with various cloud types and sunsets.
  • High Definition Aerial Explosions Stock Footage!
  • Plus an advanced Heat Distortion Plug-in by Video Copilot.

The Flight Kit essentially includes 4 separate products in one so you get the tools you need. Plus both JetStrike and Flight Kit will be available in the SKY PACK Bundle on October 8th.

Pricing and bundle information will be out soon but for those of you wondering about sound FX and the Heat Distortion, we didn’t mess around!

Aerial Photography with JetStrike

One of the things I learned while creating the JetStrike teaser (in only 3 days!) is the importance of aerial photography. Part of making Jets look powerful and life-sized is shooting them in a realistic way. Of course we can add a touch of Hollywood’s hyper realism but starting with a foundation based on real aerial photographer is critical. With less than a week away from the JetStrike release, I figured I should share my findings.

Here are a few tips that helped me stay grounded while in the air.  I also learned the plural for Aircraft is Aircraft. Dang-it!

01. Camera Type:
Generally the camera is at a safe distance inside another aircraft with a long zoom lens. This is important to avoid the perspective distortion you get from wide angle lenses but it also helps to avoid the miniaturization of the models.  For this I used an After Effects camera with a long zoom like 5,000-10,000 which is equivalent to a 100mm or 200mm.

02. Camera Physics:
When the camera is mounted in another aircraft, there are limits to how fast and how safe this aircraft can follow a subject. Understanding this helps to avoid creating unrealistic movements that would not be possible and unrealistic.

It is also safe to assume that there will be a certain amount camera correction. This is where the subject moves and the camera has to re-frame the subject. In After Effects, I added a small amount of wiggle to the anchor point of the camera like wiggle(.5,50). This helps give the shot a fluid levitation feeling since a real person would have a hard time fixating perfectly on the center of a Jet without some serious Gyro-Stabilization.

I also like to add a camera searching effect where the operator pans across the sky and stops on the subject with a small zoom. This helps establish the world and create a bigger scope to the shot. The idea is that the CG  environment doesn’t just end right outside of the frame. Even though it probably does.

03. Atmosphere & Speed:
To create more speed an movement I used Particular to generate some soft atmospheric clouds that simply fly past the jets. This is easy to setup with a directional emitter since in most cases the Jets are actually not moving but instead the camera is moving around the Jet and the background parallax is what gives the shot motion.

04. Lighting & Materials:
I like to setup the lighting similar to the real world, a far away parallel light for the primary source with an ambient light to simulate global illumination. I also add some secondary lights, like a blue or brown light to mimic the reflection of the sky or the mountains. Always think about what is inside and outside the frame.

We spent many hours setting up the shaders to work in a variety of different situations but to get shots to feel right it is important to adjust the shader settings for each scene. How does the specular highlight look on a real airplane? Is it too reflective? Too much contrast? Small tweaks to the shader make a big difference!

05. Camera Shake & Glow:

To give the shots a little bit more energy I also added a small amount frame jitter or high frequency camera shake using the wiggle expression on the position of the final frame.  Color Correction and glow also got a long way to give the shots a bit of haze or atmosphere.

06. Heat Distortion:
Usually you can use turbulent displacement to get a nice heat effect but I wasn’t really satisfied with how the effect looked when you isolated it  to just the afterburner.  Another option is setting up the displacement map effect with a fractal noise but this can be a bit of work.

So we built our own Heat Distortion Plug-in. More on that soon.

 

I even had a chance to go up in an aerial photography helicopter to see how it works first hand!