Offline Woes

AE-FCP

I’ve run into this problem a lot. Here’s the setup:

I’ll pull selects in Final Cut Pro, reveal the clip in the Finder and import it into After Effects to work with. When I go back to Final Cut Pro, the clip will be offline for a brief moment before showing up again. What’s worse is if I’ve rendered that clip somewhere in a timeline, that render will be gone.

I finally decided to dig into this to find out what was going on. It turns out it’s a simple thing, really. When you load a clip into After Effects CS4, it appends XMP metadata to the file. Final Cut Pro then sees the updated file and takes a moment to relink what it thinks is new media. So there you go.

Moral of the story: be careful when working directly with FCP media files in After Effects.

iPhone Apps for Designers/Post Production

I’m not afraid to admit that I’m slightly addicted to my iPhone. It’s a really useful piece of tech, not just for communication, but for my work as well. Here’s a list of apps I use almost daily for my motion design & post production work :

WhatTheFontWhat The Font (Free, iTunes Link)
Take a picture of a sign, layout, billboard, or pretty much anything and upload it to What The Font. It operates much like the website and can be a lifesaver. Though it can be tricky to get matches back unless you have a 3G S, as the fixed focus camera on the original and 3G iPhones makes it tricky to get a decent picture.

Colorscliqcliq Colors ($2.99, iTunes Link)
Choosing the right colors for a project is important and inspiration can come from anywhere at any time. Chose your own colors (up to 16) or use a photo as the basis for the palette. You can work in RGB, HSB, Gray or CMYK (for you print designers). When you’re done you can name & rate your palette, or even send it in an email. The email is especially thorough, providing ACO, ASE, Office Open XML Color Theme, bitmap, plaintext, and CSV file formats, along with a preview.

ColorSlideColorSlide (Free, iTunes Link)
Speaking of color palettes, you’re probably familiar with Adobe Kuler. ColorSlide is basically an iPhone front-end allowing you to search, browse, and bookmark the palettes. Unfortunately, there’s no way to sign in with your Kuler account, though you can email links.

ColourMill Colour (Free, iTunes Link)
A great little photo adjustment app by The Mill. Allows you to chose from predefined looks or adjust lift/gamma/gain (both luminance & separate RGB) and saturation on your own.

PSMobilePS Mobile (Free, iTunes Link)
From Adobe themselves. Crop, adjust exposure/saturation/tint, apply filters and save & upload your completed image to photoshop.com. I admit I don’t use this too often, but it’s handy to have.

AnimTimerAnimation Timer ($4.99, iTunes Link)
Tap out timing for your animation. It’s similar to the “lap” feature on stopwatches, though instead of fractions of a second, you get frames, 35mm footage or timecode. It’s handy for timing everything from edits to complex character animation.

EditCalcEditCalc ($0.99, iTunes Link)
A simple timecode calculator. Works in 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 59.94, and 60 fps. You can also work in varying film footages, from 16mm 1perf all the way up to 70mm 5perf.

DataCalcAJA DataCalc (Free, iTunes Link)
Recently released, this app will calculate storage for varying frame sizes/rates and codecs, and closely mirrors their Mac & Windows calculators in function. You can work in days/hours/min/sec or timecode. What I really like about the app is you can chose between working in KB (1000 bytes), KiB (1024 bytes) or even Bits, which is handy if you’re working in Snow Leopard. One complaint is that they don’t offer 720p24 as a preset, though you can use custom setups, so it’s not that big of a deal. When you’re all done you can mail a summary of your calculation; useful if you’re on set and need to let your assistant know what’s coming.

iBlueSkyiBlueSky ($9.99, iTunes Link)
If you’re not familiar with mind mapping, you might not care much about this app. But it’s hands-down the best app for this purpose. What I really like is that I can email my maps as OPML files (along with other formats) and open it up with OmniOutliner on my Mac.

PocketVFXPocket VFX ($0.99, iTunes Link)
This is just for fun. Framestore (vfx credits include Avatar, The Dark Knight, The Golden Compass, and Where the Wild Things Are) has released an app of their own. You, too can have Framestore’s power in your own pocket!

Have other favorite design/post apps? Share them in the coments.

VFX Breakdown: Sweater

Last week I was working on a retail spot where we needed a product that wasn’t shot on-figure. But we did have a shot of a similar product. It just needed a little work. This is what I mean by “a little:”

I’m pretty pleased with the end result. It was a fun task to work on, though I hope I don’t have to do it too often…

AE Mini Tip: Color Control Layer

If you’ve worked on commercial project, you know there’s only one constant: change… especially at the last minute. One of the things that seems to frequently change is color choice. If you have a complicated AE animation and many layers that use the same colors, this can be a royal pain. You can reduce this pain if, from the beginning, you set up a color control layer.

[Note: this really only works well if you’re working on vector animations with single-color objects.]

First, set up an adjustment layer and add the “Color Color” effect found under “Expression Controls.” Do this for as many colors as you want.

ColorControl

I recommend naming the controls for the layers you will be coloring rather than the color itself.

Then, apply the “Fill” effect under “Generate.” Here, you can option-click (alt-click on PC) and drag the pick-whip (that little spiral button) to the color control in your color control layer.

layer

Now, when the client comes back to you with the comment “The trees should be purple,” you won’t be cursing under your breath (as much).

Ramen – Not Just Cheap Noodles

goldengate
I just found out about Ramen, an open-source, node-based compositing application today. It looks promising, if for no reason other than to get node-based workflows in the hands of more people.

I’ll have to give this a try tonight when I get home… Maybe. The only way to get the software is to download the source and compile it yourself. I’m pretty sure that means I’ll be messing around with installing dependencies for a while before I ever get to try it out.

If and when I get around to compiling, installing, and playing with this, I’ll post a review.

(via @Kashaan & @BoundaryVFX)

Mograph Workflow for NY Times

With so many newspapers seeing decline in their physical circulation, it’s nice to see a paper like the New York Times embracing the flexibility of content that the Internet can offer.

Recently, their After Effects workflow was posted on digitalartwork.net. It’s a little rough and they fully admit they’re new to the mograph game, but it’s always interesting to see how someone else works.

Now if only other papers would realize Internet distribution offers more than digital copies of their print.

Here’s the New Your Times’ demo reel:

Produce Before You Consume

The problem is, your mind starts filling up with new information, and there’s only so much you can learn in a day before your mind is exhausted.

This is something I admitedly struggle with on a daily basis. Being in a creative industry, I need to create… and not even just for work. I really need to do my own projects to both stay sharp and have an outlet. But it’s all too easy to just sit back and consume, whether it be Facebook & Twitter, stories in my feed reader, TV, or even something helpful like tutorials.

Carlos Pero at Web Producer has a great write up of why it’s important to create something before consuming something.

(via @MakeCoolShit)