November 08, 2009

Free Project file download

Here is a free project made in After Effects CS4. Its a countdown on a spinning box. Download it, use it tweak it, learn from it. Makes use of some cool After Effects tricks so if you have been looking to do some motion graphics here is a good project file to help you out.

October 12, 2009

The Film Makers Guide

Hi sorry for the lack of posts but I have been busy with tons of projects. However since now I write for VFXschool along with my buddy here Jason. We thought it would be cool to put out a short guide on getting started with film making. It's a real quick over view of basic things you should know heading out to a shoot. I cover lighting, audio, and cameras as well as a cool post strategy to keep things organized and I finish it off with a quick guide on color correcting and grading.
Hope you enjoy it and find it useful.



I wanted to make something clear about lighting. In the guide I stated that most of the lighting is done in post. After reading it again today i thought some people might get confused. I had implied is that the final polishing is done in post.So you always want to light on set how the image should come out. However, you want to have minimal contrast. To do that shoot with a flat gamma and always lighten up your shadows with a bounce card. If you are doing a three point lighting, your fill light should lighten your shadows. When u have a custom set up or you shoot out doors, add a bounce card on the shadow side so that you shadows aren't completely dark. That way you always have that extra bit of data to work with. Use this tip especially when you shoot DV.

September 24, 2009

Most useful tutorials

Now a days you have your pick from tons of people making tutorials. But the problem is that almost none of them are good. Its hard to get some one to nail down the basics and even more importantly teach them in a manner that is easy to understand. Creative cow is one of the very very few places that makes tutorials that are so well made they have become a staple in the online Mograph and VFX community. They host some of the best and most useful tutorial you can ever hope to find on the web. If you are a AE user your owe it to your self to watch all of these tutorials.

Go learn something.
The best Creative cow tuts so far:

July 10, 2009

Destroy AE CS4

DESTROY AE distortion generator for After Effects CS4

Ladies and gentlemen what i present to you know is the all new-fully re-vamped preset for creating digital and analog artifacts and distortion. I had a small job a few weeks ago that called for me working on a short 10 sec. shot of a handheld camera falling down, obviously the they wanted the camera to distort freeze up an snap to black. So I did some searching and found Digieffects distort plug-in. Once i saw what it did, i realized that instead of spending money i could just create the effects my self. Glad to say that after some tinkering i came up with some presets that allowed be to create the effects. However to get a very custom preset i used keyframes. Obviously those can't be saved as presets. So instead using my little knowledge of expressions I added some controls and. Also since my footage was rendering very slowly i managed for this release to do away with tons of effects and tons of layers thanks to some friends, google and my good friend CC composite. Now you can enjoy dropping in the preset on any footage and voila. In fact i would go as far as to say that its a perfect substitute for Digieffect's plug-in. The one thing lacking is a time effect. Which I worked around by using TIMESHUFFLER by polygonstudio ( Enjoy.


May 08, 2009

Music video preset.

Need to make a handheld shakey "tryn" to focus effect? but don't want the sharp jitters of a real handheld? Shoot your actor or artist with your cam on a tripod. Bring it into after effects and use Shaker to give some life to your footage. I made it with the intention of using it o music videos, which is what i will be working on, however after playing around with it i discoverde that its useful for a dreamy confused feel if you duplicate the footage and ofset it 5-10 pixels off, so IDK it's useful for many other things experiment with it, im sure you guys will finde it useful for other things. And its all free, just give me or this blog a small bit of credit, we appreciate it.

About me: Im a local LA music producer, mixer and sound engineer, graphic designer both in art and commercial applications, Filmmaker, visual effects artist, digital composer, motionographer, photographer and cinematographer, director, screenwriter. I have a background in Art and digital media as well as science, phiosophy and math. Im an avid boxer and i Love art music and movies.

Aight so thats me expect more post to come.


New Streak and film burn pack!

Wuts up. This is a small pack i put together of streaks, flares and film burns i made for certaint projects.. They have come in very helpful hope you enjoy them...  If you are having trouble, or don't know how to usethem. There is a PDF along with the pack. Basically you set them to a transfer mode: either "add", "screen" or "color dodge." Now if you want more control. You can use Knoll Unmult to remove the black matte. I also created the MotionPRO pack but unlike that i didn't make an alpha channel since i never realy intended to use them withone. Ok have fun with them. And let me know what you think right in the comment section. Peace!


Get Ready!

Been busy working on lots of cool projects.. But don't think i forgot about the blog.. I will soon be posting a LOT of useful tips and get ready for a back to back to back post of nothing but pure awesome downloads should all be up today... My friend Tony who is a compositor and visual effects artist is a student in the LA area. We met in a GD class a while back and he has been helping ever since. So i thought it would only be appropriate to share with you some awesome stuff he has helped me make. I would like to thank him for all of the product designs and logos he has made. and his presets he has over at Lately he has been producing music, but has kindly granted me the right to distribute his presets and design elemenets and templates accross my various sites. I will be in NY for some time. So i wont have to much to post about. But Tony said he would be more than happy to share his knowledge with us all so expect post by him in the very near future. Also If you havent already check out Tophers site right there on the right ( He has futured our free products and is Good friends with Tony, and has even featured his Presets on his site. So make sure you check it out.

April 21, 2009

TRACK THIS! free track markers

So i'm starting to see a lot of people getting into green screening and 3d tracking and all of that good stuff. I'm glad to see people doing more and more advanced stuff, so to help you guys out i got in touch with a friend and created these tracking markers. What makes these so special is that we literally dedicated a long time in to figuring out what makes a good tracking marker. Through trial and error we found out that these markers should help you track much better (especially if your using point trackers) They are desigend to be easy to track even with perspective. So far they work better then most alternatives. And now you don't have to buy expensive tracking markers, when these free markers will do the trick.

Download tracker template here:

Free Motion editors toolkit

Hey everyone, im back again here on VFXschool and this time i have a great little gift for all of you begining motion graphics artists. I call it Motion Pro toolkit.. and its a pretty small pack about 330mb download, but you get tons of high quality textures, Animated backgrounds, Lowerthirds, brushes, some Letter fonts (both customizable PSD and PNG), plus every Lower third comes with its alpha video so it's easy to use, just drop both videos on a time line (ontop of your footage) and set the track matte to alpha, voila! instant lower thirds... Now this is not going to cover all of your needs, If you are a proffesional i suggest looking into GoMedia or Digital Juice's packs, but those cost a pretty penny. This however is geared more for a beginer motion editor that will sometimes need a quick background or Lowerthirds or a quick texture to get the job done. Anyways, enjoy and leave some feed back if you liked it. If you do, perhaps ill fire up the old Hard drive and put together another little pack. Which by the way is not so little. You acctually get a very decent number of things at a reasonable 330mb zip file. 

March 10, 2009

Camera and film gear

Ok so you got a budget and you need some gear right? ok lets make this quick and easy:

You need 3 major things:

1. Light
2. Camera
3. Mic


Lighting is a huge part of movies and if you get that wrong your movie is worthless. Now if you have money i would invest in a Arri light kit or go with KinoFlo. I love KinoFlo. But say you are on a budget. Easy! buy 6 dollar clamp lights and use different bulbs in them. Or search for cheap light stands, they are every where.. because it doesn't matter how you hold up a light bulb, as long as the bulb is good and you're lighting your subject, the audience can't tel if you are using 5,000 KinoFlo lights.
One thing to note is to get both regular bulbs and Day light balanced bulbs. Plus some tinted bulbs, Or buy gels to place over the bulbs. Experimenting with lighting is crucial you never know what looks good until you try it. Remember florescent are hard to mount on stands but run much cooler, and in a hot crowded set, that's a good thing.


Ok here is where you invest. If you are a beginner get a Canon HV30 and you will never look back. Ok now that that's out of the way if you are serious about making movies HD or SD is the least of your worries. Whatever you get make sure you have three crucial things:

1. A 3 sensor chip! This is a must. sub $3,000 cameras are bad, and the last thing you want is a very bad camera, save your self time and money buy a 3ccd sensor camera. It's more expensive but has greater color replication and over-all better image.

2. Manual settings, Skip the auto stuff... Go for manual zoom and focus and exposure control, don't buy anything from best buy or wal-mart go to for all your needs.

3. Buy a medium in which you will be best at. You have P2 cards, memory cards, Dv tape and HDV and everything in between. Each has their up's and downs. If you want high quality stuff P2 cards can record true high definition. However DV tape when lit well looks as good as anything else.

I suggest Canon or Sony line of cameras, but i also hear very good things from Panasonic's pro cameras..


This is easy the best audio bar none comes from a good quality mic strapped to a boom pole with a blimp and a mic muff. Nothing fancy as long as the mic is good. You can get great audio from a shotgun mic from about 120 bucks and up. Don't fret nowadays cameras can record excellent sound. But if you are going all out a field recorder is what you want. Which will run you a pretty penny. But if you are serious about film making its a good investment. I mean come on! there is no excuse! get a broom pole a mic and a long XLR cable and bam! boom pole! easy.. No need to attach a shotgun mic to your cam. Ataching a shotgun mic to the cam not only yields weak audio, but also sound from handeling tha camera and noise from the camera it's self. Plus you hve to have close up shots to get decent sound. Unlike with a boom pole, which can follow the subjects around. However to make the boom pole work you need to keep it about a foot away from the actors face and about a foot and a half up (out of the camera view). Oh and don't use the on board audio for God's sake..

Ok so everybody wan'ts a Red camera or a SI MK camera. I know, but listen when will you need 2k or 4k resolution? Most indy films go straight to DVD or blue-ray. Even for a screening on a movie theater HD is just fine for most competitions. Face it You won't need anything past HD resolution. And if you do then you probably wouldn't be reading this anyways. That also goes for HD. Yes its the future but if you are starting out, SD is more than sufficient. Besides you must also think about your computer and what it can handle. So think logically before you mortgage your house, is a Red overkill when you are making youtube videos? if you say no, then you are my hero :p more power to you then..

Troubleshoot After Effects: FOR (full on reset)

After Effects giving you trouble? OK don't panic im here to help. by following this list i have solved just about every single problem after effects has given me.

Ok so a project is giving you problems what do you do?

1. Shut off all the plug ins you are using (click on the FX button next to any plug-in)

2.Enable caps lock to disable the preview finder.

3.Click on Edit>purge>all

4.Create a new folder and make a new save of the project there. Move (copy) ALL of your media assets to that folder. 

5.Clear computer: Clean registry (Abaxo is free), Defragment HD
    If you have: Windows XP, Me, or 2000 then you should download Dial-a-Fix, it's free and             works wonders, there is a vista version in the works.

6.Restart Computer

7.Run After Effects, Download all the latest updates.

8. Open the "new" Project you saved earlier, while holding down shift (This will force AE to Close the comp viewers)

9.Your Project should be working fine now 

If your project isn't working here is the more complete list:

1a. Check to see if you just installed a new plug-in, if so remove it and check if it works now.

2b. If 1a didn't work check and make sure you have the latest:
       Apple quick time player and other codecs, if you don't download FFDShow (google it) and              VLC player.

3b. If you still have problems Slam you CD in the drive and re-install the software. This should solve about 99% of problems.

4b. If that still doesn't work download the CS3 or CS4 clean script from Adobe @ 
     Follow the instructions and remove your software and reinstall it again.

If all of this didn't work (which it should) either you have problems with driver issues and/or plug-ins (check your mediacore folder some times those plug-ins give you trouble), or your OS is screwy in which case a nice re-instaling of OS is in order. Or your hardware is failing (probably Ram or HD) 

Failing all of this, if you did, then you have reached the limits of human potencial. The Gods of visual effects have frowned on you. The only thing left to do is leave the room quietly and later cry in the shower  :p  ..  perhaps collecting stamps is more of your area?

February 14, 2009

Session 4: Matte Painting

Learn how to create a proffesional looking matte painting.  For use in After Effects. Software used is photoshop cs4. However the basics color correcting and perspective alignment can be applied to any program. I highly recommend you read this tutorial and many other on matte painting if you are going to be doing alot of visual effects. Its one of the harder concepts to grasp since it doesn't involve alot of technical work but rather more intuative modification of things. It's really up to you, the more time and detail you put in the better it will be. Anyways have fun :) .... And happy valentines day.. wait, yes its 1 am, ok happy valentines day!

And remeber to check back offten for more good stuff. Support VFXschool simply by commenting and being a part of the community, plus check out all of the other websites on the side, for more visual effects goodness.


January 01, 2009

Session 3: Advanced color grading

Hey everybody!
Here is a brand new session. A lot of people seem to have trouble getting a good cinematic feel out of their footage. Thats because color grading is so important yet not to many people understand it. Here i teach you how to stabilize and level off your footage and then polish it of using some more advanced color grading techniques. This is a good read! very easy to get.

Download PDF:


If you need to do some pretty advanced color correction, but are a bit sad that AE doesn't have a cool 3 way color corrector like Avid or other programs? And you you also need a free way of doing things?  Well to day is you lucky day! Stu Maschwitz over at ProLost has built a very good 
3 way color corrector preset (OH and it's FREE) that uses expressions to harness the built in power of AE built in color correctors.

vfx Session 2: Cinematography

Become the master of your film, learn the basics of cinematography and some advanced stuff as well. If you are a Indy film maker or you will be working on set just helping out, you should know how cinematography works and how to properly shoot a film.

This is a very good tutorial and its in a easy to read short format that gives you the essentials with no fluff in the middle.

Highly recommended!

Read vfx session 2: Cinematography

Cinematography PDF

Happy New year!

Happy 2009, hope it brings all of you good luck, health, and of course a good paying job at ILM.
I want to take this opportunity to thank and wish the following people a very good 2009 year:

Shout out to Andrew Kramer and the Videocopilot community, you guys have really become a staple in the VFX community, when ever any topic comes up whether at FXPHD forums or VFXtalk forums or even indymogul... someone always says, check i herd someone figured it out... and as a proud VCP member i wish the site and AK all the best this up coming year.

I also want to wish every body at Creativecow a happy new years and of course at all of the amazingly talented people at, that site should saved onto historical records as the single greatest site for design. The community there is so lively and talented. 

And lastly A big shout out to the PSDtuts community and now AEtuts, and for good measure just throw in the whole damn network, please do check them out because they have done an incredible job during the last year in teaching designers new tricks and tips.

Good luck and peace out!