AE Preset – Turbulent Wipe

Last week I posted on Twitter about an effects stack for a less boring linear wipe. Enough people asked for a preset, so you’ll find the base preset at the bottom of the post. But first, let’s go through this stack. Keep in mind this is intended to be applied to a solid and used as a matte.

Linear Wipe

01-WipeThis is the basic Linear Wipe effect we know and either love or hate. The only main difference here is adding the feather (which can be adjusted to suit your needs).

Shift Channels

02-ShiftChannelsThe Shift Channels effect is used to move the alpha channel to the luminance by applying it to the red, green, and blue channels. This is needed to get our fractal noise onto the transition since it works in RGB, and not the alpha channel.

Invert

03-InvertThe Invert effect is just here to make our wipe work in the correct direction for a reveal.

Turbulent Displace

04-TurbulentDisplaceThe Turbulent Displace effect is what gives us a nice, irregular, crawling edge on our wipe. The complexity is increased to 2.0 to give some more smaller details on the edge. Feel free to play with this, or animate Evolution to get an even more animated wipe.

Turbulent Noise

05-TurbulentNoiseLastly we have Turbulent Noise. This is what applies the noise on the edge of our wipe. You can play with different fractal and noise types, but you might need to roll Contrast back down to 100 to see the noises correctly.

Evolution is controlled by an expression which increases from to 360° as the Transition Completion on the Linear Wipe effect goes from 0% to 100%. This is very subtle, but it allows the noise to change as the wipe completes.

The last thing to note on this effect is setting Blending Mode to Overlay. This just places the noise on the gradient, and not on the black and white portions of the matte.

What’s Not In the Preset

There were a few extra effects in the Twitter post not included in the preset. This is because the further refine the look of the wipe, but aren’t necessary to the basic setup. These are CC Vector Blur (added a more wispy noise), Noise HLS (remove some smoothness from the previous effect), and Curves (crank up contrast a bit more).

Download Preset

Okay, with all that said, here is the preset. Like I said earlier, it’s intended to be applied to a solid and used as a luma matte. Have fun!

conigs_TurbulentWipe.ffx

Reactable

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Thank Eric H for this one. The reactable is a a different kind of instrument. It is essentially a synthesizer, but instead of using a keyboard it has a tabletop surface that reacts to specific objects placed on it. You really have to see it in action to understand what I mean.

More info after the jump.

Eric sent me a link to coverage of Bjork at the Coachella Music Festival. Supposedly this was one of the first times they/she used the reactable for a public performance. (Supposedly they also used at for the SNL performance the week before, but I didn’t see it in the video.) A site called Trend Hunter is crediting Bjork with introducing the instrument as well.

The reactable looks like an incredible instrument. It is simply used by placing object on the table that react and control each other based on their proximity and orientation. Think of it as patching various components on a rack and twisting knobs. All of this is determined by a video camera underneath the table, meaning the object themselves are passive. there are no electronics inside of them.

What is even more interesting to me, though, is how the relationship between objects is displayed. A projector also sits underneath the table and shows oscillating waves and patterns moving between the objects. Overall it looks like a very intuitive, fun instrument and I wish I could get my hands on it!

AIGA Design Archives

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Another link I discovered while at Digikitten.

If you’re not familliar with it, AIGA is a professional association for design. Designers can exchange/share ideas, critique work, and discuss the direction of design and its education and practice.

The AIGA Design Archives (site requires Flash) offers a backlog of some of the best design in the past 10 years. For inspiration or interest, it’s a fun site to browse.

The Time Fountain

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The original headline was going to be “If I Could Turn Back Time,” but I hate Cher.

Nate True has created a very interesting DIY project called The Time Fountain. The premise is simple: fluorescent dyed water through a pump with UV strobe lights. The result is a fountain that appears to have drops of water suspended in air. The really great part is that you can “interact” with the drops. You have to see the video to really understand what I’m talking about.

Precision 690 vs. Mac Pro

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On Monday, August 7th, Steve Jobs announced the release of the Mac Pro, one of the latest Macs to be transitioned to the Intel chips. During this announcement, he also stated that the standard configuration of the Mac Pro (2x 2.66GHz Intel Xeon “Woodcrest”) is $1,000 cheaper than a similarly specced out Dell. I’ve heard a few ramblings about that figure not being correct, so I decided to find out for myself.

Before I start, there’s a little disclaimer: I’ve been an official “Mac Fanboy” for a long, long time. I grew up on an Apple IIe and I think our first Mac at home was the LCII with System 6. However, I’ve always been one to admit that Macs were a bit more expensive than a similarly equipped “PC.” But now that Apple has made the transition to Intel chips, it’s been much easier to compare.

First of all, I had to find a Dell that was comparable. To do that, I hit Dell’s website. Once there, though, it was a bit tricky to figure out which workstation I should use for the comparison. This was made especially difficult because of the generic “Xeon” chip name. According to Wikipedia, the first Xeon chip was a Pentium II Xeon. They’ve been using that meme ever since. Eventually I settled down on the Precision 690. It also helped to look at this picture:

DSC_0435

However, I wasn’t satisfied with those specs. Afterall, the graphics cards are different. So here’s what I finally settled on for the specs:

Mac Pro Dell Precision 690
Processors: 2x Dual Core Intel Xeon “Woodcrest” Processors, 2.66GHz, 4MB L2/chip, 1.33GHz, 64-bit dual bus 2x Dual Core Intel Xeon 5150 Processors, 2.66GHz, 4MB L2/chip, 1.33GHz, 64-bit dual bus
OS: Mac OSX Tiger (10.4) Windows XP Pro
RAM: 1GB DDR2 SDRAM @ 667MHz 1GB DDR2 SDRAM @ 667MHz
Storage: 250GB SATA, 3.0Gb/s, 7200RPM, 8MB cache 250GB SATA, 3.0Gb/s, 7200RPM, 8MB cache
Optical Drive: 16x Dual Layer Superdrive 48xCDRW and 16xDVD+/-RW
Graphics: 512MB nVidia Quatro FX 4500 512MB nVidia Quatro FX 4500
Total Cost: $4,149 $5,213

There you are. $1,054 cheaper. I didn’t do any trickery. Here’s what I did:

On Dell’s site, I went to Desktops:Medium/large business, Precision, Precision 690, 750W w/ Windows XP Pro. Here, I had to do a little customizing. I had to choose both processors (the 5150 is presumably the same processor as the Mac Pro, since according to Apple, they use the 5100 series processor). I changed the RAM to 1GB @ 667MHz instead of 533MHz. The graphics card was the most difficult one. The only card the Dell and Mac Pro have in common is the Quatro FX 5500. Then I had to bump up the boot HD to a 250GB SATA from the 80GB SATA. Up the optical drive. And finally remove the monitor they try to include.

On the Mac Pro end, I just upped the graphics card to the Quatro FX 5500.

So everything’s pretty much the same. What could be different? Mainly the motherboard. I have no idea what Dell and Apple put in their systems. Also, the optical drive could be different. I’m sure they are from different vendors, but I’m not so sure the Dell has the dual layer burner. Someone more familiar with Dell’s might know better.

So there it is. A nearly direct price comparison between a Mac and a “PC.” Are there other comparison’s out there? Sure. But this is my comparison. There may be many like it, but this is mine.

For those interested, here are the PDFs of the Precision 690 and the Mac Pro (both after customizing in their respective stores).

Edit: Macworld recently did their own comparison However, when configuring the Dell, the kept the monitor and failed to give the computers the same graphics card.

LibraryThing

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So while looking for a decent description of The Horse and His Boy, I came across an interesting site called LibraryThing. I haven’t delved too far into it, but it looks like Del.icio.us for books. You can arrange a “shelf” of books (as the call it), tag them with descriptors, see similar books, and find what others who read that book have also read.

It looks like the site launched in August 2005 and has since become the 100th largest library. Might be worth checking out.

Number 3

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So, it’s official. As of February 21, I am the uncle of a third beautiful baby girl. Grace Annette was born just after 3:00pm on that Tuesday at 6lbs. 11oz. and 20.5 inches. Taking after my brother, she is very, very blonde. (And cute, though I think that comes from her mother more than the father 😉

And my brother and his wife also asked Emily and I to be the Godparents of Grace! Now we have two little Goddaughters to spoil! (Along with Sydney, of course.)