Camera Instancer Script!

Camera Instancer

The Camera Instancer script is now available from AEScripts.com! Get it now! Camera Instancer will create a camera that instances the active camera from another composition. You can then cut and paste this camera into any other composition. The modifications that you make to the active camera in the first composition will be duplicated in the second composition. Even if you change the active camera!

Check out the demo/tutorial below!

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Fixing 32bpc Aliasing in After Effects

Fixing 32 bpc Aliasing

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you guys. A lot of goings ons in the Graphics world as of late. To get back into the swing of things I’m posting this tutorial on Fixing 32bpc Aliasing. Working in 32bpc has its advantages as well as gotchas you’ve got to watch out for. Sometimes aliasing or jagginess can enter into your composition when using colors that go beyond 1.0 in the channel values. *Watch the tutorial below.

*I apologize in advance for the occasional sound issue.

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Duplicate with Connections Script Updated!

The Duplicate with Connections script has been updated and be downloaded at AEScripts + AEplugins. This update adds an option to use the property index instead of the property name. This can be useful in which multiple properties may have the same name and therefore can confuse the expressions engine. I understand this could be of help with those of you using expressions in Element.

In other news, I have to apologize for the lack of communication for a while. It’s been a busy few months at work and with a new baby at home! But I’ve got a video tutorial I am working on and an update for the Pixel Cloud plugin as well as a brand new plugin on the horizon!

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Pixel Cloud Relight Demo Coming!

The upcoming Pixel Cloud plugin for After Effects can be used to relight a source image affecting the diffuse and specular properties. Coming soon I’ll be posting a revealing demo of how easy it is to take a static image from a 3D package and use Pixel Cloud and After Effects’ own 3D lights to create a dynamic and believable composite with moving lights, shadows, and reflections. Here’s an end product of what it will look like!

3D model courtesy of Stanford 3D Model Repository

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What is Relighting?

What is Relighting for After Effects?

For After Effects and compositing in general, relighting is the process of changing the perceived shading of an already rendered 3D image. This includes the diffuse shading and specularity of the 3D image. One could drastically change the perceived position of the sun or whether an object is shiny or not. In other compositing packages this may also include cast shadows.

Relighting is actually a commonplace process in many node-based compositing packages like Nuke. Until recently, this was not possible within After Effects. The fact that After Effects had a 2GB memory limitation as well as limited support for 32bit footage certainly limited its capability to relight a shot.

32bit images can take up a lot of memory and processing power. Take your heaviest comp and turn on 32bit. Your comp may take up all your memory and most of the effects aren’t 32bit ready making your output simply 8bit images with a decimal point on the end. Imagine relighting a 4K video in CS4. You couldn’t and the process would still be very sluggish on CS5 but the possibility is there. And that’s what Pixel Cloud will do. Extend that potential. And make that opportunity available.

The truth is, After Effects was never meant for this type of compositing. Node-based solutions filled a market that AE simply could not. But CS5 and above is changing all that. 64bit and no memory limitation means that After Effects is just beginning to compete in a market of film-quality compositing and special effects. After Effects and Premiere can help open up a world that is filling with digital filmmakers. Technology just continues to become more powerful and even cheaper.

After Effects has a bit of ways to go in order to become a compositing standard. It could still be faster. It should have stronger tools for customizing workflow or at least more education on the scripting interface. And why not create a more node-like interface for the flowchart for the many users who come from a 3D background? But for the price, a regular production cycle, pages of tutorial information and legions of users, CS5 already is the de facto standard.

Passes

To light a scene, you basically need 3 bits of information from the 3D package. The position of the surface and the direction that the surface is pointing. Lastly you will need the camera information which was used to render the scene in the first place. This would be the camera position, direction and focal length. The light information is provided by the compositing program.

The position information is rendered into a position pass. Some people call it a “P” pass but I prefer position pass. The surface direction is provided by the normal pass. The position pass takes the x,y,z coordinates of the points being rendered and saves them in a 32bit image as r,g,b color information. The normal pass takes the vector coordinates of the normals of those points and saves them the same way. The images have to be 32bit as these images can handle floating point values greater than 255 and can even be negative. These values also have to be in the same coordinate system. In other words, if the position pass is in camera coordinates then the normal pass must also be in camera coordinates.

Given these 2 passes and the camera, the compositing program can then use a bit of trigonometry and some fancy mathematics to simulate what the lighting would be at those corresponding screen coordinates with any given light.

Why would you do all this when you could simply go back into your 3D software and re-render the scene? Because that could mean hours of rendering and since compositing is generally much faster than re-rendering, if you could just fix it during compositing why not try that? By rendering extra passes during the rendering stage you could end up saving yourself tons of time instead of wasting hours trying to make sure the sun’s highlights are on the right side or your character’s nose is shiny enough.

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Point Cloud at the Bi-Coastal User Group Presentations

Lloyd Alvarez of Aescripts + Aeplugins was to give a presentation at AENY last Thursday, Jan 27th. Unfortunately, it was canceled due to the snow storm in New York City. However, he was kind enough to do the presentation online! And even better, my Point Cloud plugin was part of the presentation!

I am currently working with Aescripts + Aeplugins to release this plugin in the near future. So look out for it! And check out his presentation which demos loads of fantastic plugins and scripts including the fantastic BGRenderer script and of course a sneak peak at my Point Cloud plugin! So check it out here.

UPDATE: The Point Cloud presentation begins at 37:30 so stick around for the whole presentation!

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Pixel Clouds in the Distance

Fantastic news! I am close to releasing my Point Cloud tool plugin for After Effects. This effect will allow you to displace your 2D pixels into 3D space and it reacts to the 3D camera like a 3D layer. What can this do for you? It can help you visualize your composites better, where to place your cards in terms of position and scale. Plus there are lots of other uses to discover! Take a look at movie to see what I mean.

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Plugin Demo for Pixel Cloud

Fantastic progress being done on the up and coming plugin for After Effects. I was recently able to stitch a video together to showcase what else this plugin can do besides compositing images from 3D packages. You can implement your own position pass as a displacement matte for a planar image. And it need not be 32 bit either. 8-bit does just fine.

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Hosted on AEScripts

Fantastic news! If you’re here, you’ve probably already known AEScripts for a while now. Well, AEScripts is now hosting my scripts on their site. AEScripts is a repository and marketplace of high-end scripts and plugins for After Effects. This is a fantastic opportunity to get these scripts out there. These scripts are distributed under a “Name your own price” model which means that you decide how valuable these scripts are for you! It makes these scripts available for you at the price that you want and it makes sharing the fruits of labor by developers and artists with others worthwhile.

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Recursive Scale Comp

A very helpful script for scaling the resolution of your project. Simply changing the size of your composition will not change the size of its contents. And if the layers inside the composition are nested compositions, changing the scale is simply stretching out a smaller image, definitely so if the scale amount goes above 100%. This script can fix those issues by maintaining the best image quality for your scaled project. And it does it all in one click.

Recursive Scale Comp

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Bake Parent Transform AE

It’s time to move out of the parent’s basement, to cut the umbilical cord, to leave the nest. When you’ve got parent layers driving the position, scale or rotation of a child layer, it can be somewhat problematic to get the same motion once the layer is unparented. This is especially true if the parent layer’s rotation is animated. Ideally, just leave the layer parented.┬áTry “baking” the parent transform into the unparented layer.

Read more “Bake Parent Transform AE”

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Lillies in a Virtual Field

Fooling around with a few techniques. I spent about an hour on this animation using a photo to create a particle based lilly field. It’s an interesting style. Probably more for graphics and non-figurative motion work. I originally was trying for a conceptual music video feel. The kaleido is a probably a little ridiculous but the glow is marvelous. Not finished and so not successful but you’ve got to try something different everyday.

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Duplicate with Connections AE


Make a copy of a layer and link all its properties to the original using expressions. This is useful for instances in which you need to duplicate an animated layer but you don’t want to spend all your time copying and pasting keyframes just to update it. For example, you may want to have a camera in a nested comp duplicating the movement and properties of a camera in a main comp. Note: using expressions can be taxing on the cpu so turn off the ones you don’t need.

Duplicate with Connections

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