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Motion Graphics

After Effects Stacking Order Matters


Things can get tricky when you start to layer 2D and 3D layers in the same timeline. As a designer, you need to understand how After Effects interprets things so you can build your compositions correctly.
  • When working in 2D, the highest layer in the Timeline is in front of all the other layers. The lowest layer is behind them.
  • 3D layers are stacked based on their Z‑position value (assuming the camera is pointing at their fronts). This means that the object closest to the Active camera is in front of the other layers. This is true even if the layer is at the bottom of Timeline stacking order.
  • Track and Alpha mattes must always be immediately on top of the layer they are matting. This is true for both 2D and 3D layers.
  • Layer blend modes still follow the stacking order in the Timeline.
  • 2D layers mixed with 3D layers are ordered by their spot in the Timeline stack.
  • If two or more 3D layers have overlapping z‑position values, After Effects uses their Timeline stacking order to determine top position.

If you want to keep a logo bug or other element always on top of your 3D layers it's easy. Just place the element on the topmost layer in After Effects and don't enable the 3D switch. You can also do the same for a background layer that you want behind all your 3D layers. Just put a standard 2D layer at the very bottom of the timeline.

From the new Adobe Press book –
Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques


Master Photoshop Transparency

One of Photoshop’s greatest powers lies in its ability to preserve complex transparency. By employing masks, both in layers and embedded into the saved files as alpha channels, this transparency data can travel seamlessly into the nonlinear editing (NLE) or motion-graphics environment.

Want a free excerpt from the new edition of Photoshop for Video?

Learn about layer masks, alpha channels, and selections —


Teaching at Motion Conference in Santa Fe

I'm teaching a class at this year's Motion conference. The Terrific Trio: Combining Adobe After Effects, Illustrator, & Photoshop Extended

October 16, 2010 8:30 am at motion{u} :: santa fe

As a motion graphics designer, you'll use After Effects, Photoshop, or Illustrator to some degree in every project. But how do you decide which tool is best for the job and how can you use them together for the most efficient and effective workflow?

This workshop cuts to the chase and teaches advanced techniques for all three applications (no matter what your experience level is with each). You'll learn essential techniques including typography, repairing and retiming footage, stylizing footage, background design, and 3D objects.

Learn how to integrate After Effects, Photoshop, and Illustrator for an efficient and effective workflow. Topics include:
  • Pixels and Vectors: Mastering Resolution
  • Typography for the Screen
  • Repairing, Stylizing and Retiming Footage
  • Perfect Loops: Designing Backgrounds
  • Creating and Importing 3D Objects
  • Check Your Sources: Organizing Files for Animation
  • Mastering Transparency: Perfect Masks and Alpha Channels
  • DVD and BD Menu Design
  • Motion Control 3D
  • Virtual Sets with Panoramic Photos

Pre-register today –


I'll be at the IBC Conference

For all the European geeks... I'll be teaching at the IBC conference in Amsterdam September 11 & 12.

  • Producing HDSLR Video Shoots - Essential Planning for Successful Productions
  • Motion Control 3D: Adding Perspective and Movement to Photos
  • Photoshop for Video Professionals
  • Motion Graphics Workflow with Adobe Creative Suite
  • Transcoding and Editing Strategies for HDSLR Post Production

Hope to see you there!


Active Cameras Switching in After Effects

Many don't realize that they have the ability to add multiple cameras to a 3D composition. This makes experimentation easier as you can try out different camera moves without throwing the previous away. As you design, you can look through any camera you want with the 3D View Popup.
You can trim the layer handles for the camera to control when a camera becomes active.

The gotcha is that only the Active Camera will render. Which one's active? The answer is it depends:
  • If you have two overlapping cameras, the one on top of the layer stack takes precedence.
    • If you want to edit between cameras, you can adjust the in and out points in the timeline. Then sequence the camera layers so you can cut between them.

From the new Adobe Press book –
Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques


Lagoa Multiphysics 1.0 - Teaser Video


Free 3D Textures for Photoshop Extended

Want more free textures for Photoshop Extended? Be sure to check out the free ones posted by Adobe.


Render and Email in After Effects

After Effects supports scripts which can automate complex tasks. One of those scripts can actually render a file then email you upon completion. If you’re a tech geek, the gears in your head are already spinning. Just think, the leash has been cut! You are free to leave and relax while your machine churns away.

  1. Open up your General Preferences and be sure that the Allow Scripts to Write Files and Access Network box is checked.
  2. Add your files to the Render Queue like normal.
  3. Choose File > Run Script > render_and_email.jsx, you will now be prompted for your email settings.
  4. Enter server smtp address: such as, click OK
  5. Enter the reply to address: such as the email you want to use to send the message.
  6. If your server required log-in (most do), click YES and enter your ID and password. Click OK.
  7. Enter the recipients email address. Click OK
  8. An email with the subject AE Render complete will be sent when the queue is finished.

How cool is that?

If you have an iPhone... you can also checkout apps like
LogMeIn and iTeleport to actually view (and control) your screen from your mobile device. I've actually set up rendered files and sent them via YouSendIt to clients remotely.

Into AE? Be sure to check out two new books – 
Photoshop for Video (Fourth Edition) and Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques

Two Render Tips for AE

Here are two quick tips to give you more control when you need to stop or re-render an item in After Effects.

A Better Stop

Normally when you click Stop on an item in the render queue, it adds it to the bottom of the list and will pick up where it left off. That may be what you want, but often you intended to bust the render, tweak it, and re-render. To stop a render and re-queue it to begin at the beginning, hold down the Option (Alt) key when clicking Stop Render. This will avoid the pickup and add the item to be re-rendered from the start of the original output settings.

Need to Re-render?

For one reason or another, it always happens, the need to re-render. Perhaps a small tweak to a keyframe or a timing issue. Chances are while your animation may have needed refining, the render queue was perfect. Save yourself some time and Re-queue that animation.

  1. Select a previously rendered animation.
  2. Press Command + Shift + D (Control + Shift + D) to duplicate the render item with the same settings and output name. This will rewrite over the previous file to the exact same destination.
  3. Save your work, then click Render when ready to output.

Into AE? Be sure to check out two new books – 
Photoshop for Video (Fourth Edition) and Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques

Free Online Crash Course on Photoshop CS5

My presentation on Photoshop CS5 from Adobe's booth at NAB. A highly condensed presentation with lots of info.


You can see it here too –


I'm Coming to Europe to Teach!

I'll be speaking at this year's IBC conference in Amsterdam in September. –

"A 2-day training event in multiple tracks geared for production and post-production professionals in TV, video, film, motion graphics and new media. The conference features the latest advanced tips and techniques in producing, editing and delivering digital content.

Sessions are geared for intermediate to advanced TV, video, film and motion graphics attendees and are focused on digital video production techniques as well as post production using Apple, Avid and Adobe creative software tools.

Sessions are objective and are taught by FMC's world renowned team of Certified Instructors, power users and authors."

Here's the schedule –
Sign up here –

Hope to see some of you there.


Using the Cell Pattern Effect in After Effects

One of the easiest ways to create seamless backgrounds is to use effects within After Effects. The Cell Pattern effect generates a loopable pattern based on cellular noise algorithms. With 12 patterns to choose from and several controls over size, contrast, and speed, you'll find the effect very versatile

1. Choose a method from the Cell Pattern pop-up menu. Some patterns are sharp and angular while others are more organic. Experiment as you can change methods at any time.
Figure 7_6
Here are three of the twelve cell patterns. From left to right, Plates, Pillow, and Tubular.

2. Adjust the contrast of the effect to create the desire pattern. You can use the Invert checkbox to swap values of luminance. The Contrast/Sharpness slider modifies the overall detail level of the cells.

3. Modify the randomness of the cells with the Disperse slider. The lower the number, the more uniform the pattern. If you increase Disperse above 1.0, be sure to set the layer to Best quality.
Figure 7_7
Different Disperse values were used to modify the Cell Pattern. A value of 0 creates a uniform shape. Increasing the value to 0.50 adds more randomness. A greater value of 1.50 starts to create very irregular shapes.

4. Adjust the size and position with the Size and Disperse sliders.
The key to making an animated background is the Evolution option. As you animate evolution, the pattern will change over time. By default, revolutions are progressive, which means each cycle is an entirely unique value. There is a way though to create a seamless loop point.'

5. Under Evolution Options, check the box next to Cycle Evolution. This will ensure that a revolution for the Evolution slider makes the pattern repeat.

6. Add a keyframe near the start of the composition for Evolution for 0x and one at the end for a full number (such as 2 x). By using full rotations, you'll create a loopable pattern.
Figure 7_8
Using full rotations with the Cycle Evolution option enabled will create a loopable pattern.

Tip: Want a Different Looking Background? Randomize it
You can get a different pattern by changing the Random Seed slider. Do not keyframe this value; rather drag to choose a different starting pattern. You can also adjust the Size or Offset settings.

7. To create a richly layered background, blend multiple layers with the Cell Pattern effect applied. You can stylize the background with the Colorama effect and a vignette as well.
Figure 7_9
Stacking multiple instances of the Cell Pattern effect can create depth and visual interest.
Download the file here –

Be sure to check out the new book here –
Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques


Free Final Cut Pro/Motion/AE Plug-ins

I always like free stuff... especially
good free stuff.

Here's the link –


A great book on green screen

If you've been looking for a comprehensive guide on greenscreen this is it. Jeff covers everything from preproduction through shooting and post. Jeff's a great teacher who's passionate about his subject.

You can get a few samples of the book
here for free, but be sure to check out the whole thing.

  • See how to plan, set up, and execute your shots to reduce fixes in post
  • Choose the right keying process for your project
  • Master basic shooting setups and live broadcast keying
  • Understand proper lighting and how to match subjects to the background
  • Create a working storyboard and learn how to select and direct talent
  • Composite your footage and fix problem shots
  • Work creatively with virtual sets, motion tracking, and match moving
  • Master techniques that apply to all compositing software and plug-ins


My Photoshop World Schedule

Going to Photoshop World? Here's my class schedule if you'd like to say hi. Always happy to catch up and share techniques.

1:00 - 6:00 Creating Video With DSLR Cameras – Pre-conference

1:00 Peachpit Booth
4:00 Peachpit Booth

8:15 Creative Typography for Video
9:30 Photoshop for Video
6:00 After Effects & Flash

Last Chance to Save on Photoshop World


The last chance to save $100 on Photoshop World is tomorrow. The Early Bird offer is a great deal. I'll be teaching several classes, including a pre-conference session on DSLR Video as well several motion graphics classes. Here’s the link.

If you're new to Photoshop World, here's the Top 10 Reasons to Attend


Two Workshops in DC Area for SIGGRAPH

I'll be teaching two classes in the Washington, DC area for DC_SIGGRAPH and DC ACM. The workshops are part of their Spring 2010 Professional Development Seminars. These are hands-on workshops that include a textbook.

Understanding Adobe Photoshop
Thursday, March 18 (AM session)

Motion Graphics Toolbox with Adobe Creative Suite
Thursday, March 18 (PM session)

You can register early for a 10% discount (by February 28, 2010). Reference Code (please use when registering): 101

“DC ACM is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing opportunities for meaningful connections between the area’s academics, professionals, and policymakers in the computer science and information technology fields. The proceeds from the seminars support DC ACM activities such as computer science lectures for the general public and awards for junior and senior high school students at regional science fairs.”


Creating Motion Templates

Want to create your own Motion templates for use in Final Cut Pro? In this video lesson you’ll learn how to combine After Effects and Motion into a template project that can then be updated from within Final Cut Pro.

You can also visit the website in order to download sample files.

Free Pass to NAB or $100 Off Conference. – Expires Febraury 19

It's almost time for NAB – The National Association of Broadcasters Conference. If you want a free NAB pass for show floor or to save $100 on any conference — then here's a great offer. Thanks to Creative Cow, visit and enter code CC01 and save — good thru February 19.


How to Film the Impossible

I found a great series on YouTube... an old show called Horizon from the BBC. This episode is entitled "How to Film the Impossible" and features an in-depth look at Industrial Light and Magic.

Here is part one

The other parts are after the jump


Continuum Cartoon Look

I recently wrote a review for a new filter called Continuum Cartoon Look for Layers Magazine. Here it is.

Everywhere you turn, you’ll spot the “look”: video footage transformed to look like a cartoon. In a traditional workflow, the process involves rotoscoping. An artist literally traces animation frame by frame over the original source. The technique was invented by Max Fleischer around 1915, and has been used by animators on classic films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Cinderella, as well as modern movies such as Titan A.E. and Waking Life.

The process is very tedious, however, so many video pros and motion graphics artists have been on a quest for an easier solution. These days you’ll find several products on the market to transform your video footage to look like it’s a cartoon. Early options such as Studio Artist ($379; and market leaders like ToonIt ($399; have all seen heavy use.

While they’re not new to the plug-in market, Boris FX has released their own take on cartoon filters. The Boris Continuum Unit: Cartoon Look breaks out four filters from the larger plug-in package Continuum Complete. The set is only $199 (significantly less than competitors) and runs in several host applications including Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro, as well as Apple Final Cut Pro and Motion. The four filters for stylizing your footage include:


Using Premiere Pro to Organize Video for After Effects

Pasted Graphic
There are lots of reasons to use Premiere Pro (even if you’re a Final Cut Pro editor). One of the most compelling is to organize After Effects projects.

  1. Create a new Premiere Pro project and match its settings to your primary footage format.
    2 Import a folder of QuickTime movies into a Premiere Pro project. You can even import a Final Cut Pro XML file to bring a sequence in without needed to do anymore media management.
  2. Edit the clips as needed into sequences.
  3. After your clips are edited, just select them and press Command+C to copy them to your clipboard.
    5 Switch to an open After Effects project and press Command+V to paste the clips using Dynamic Link. The clips (with handles) will move from Premiere Pro to After Effects.

For more tips like this, check out the book
Video Made on a Mac.


Creating Lower-Third Graphics with Data Sets in Photoshop

Starting with Photoshop CS2, Adobe introduced a new feature called data sets. This allows you to create a set of data that applies variable text, variable visibility settings, or pixel replacement for art layers. This is a great feature for use with templates, especially those for lower-third titles.

By harnessing the power of data sets, you can dramatically speed up the production of repetitive graphics. In fact, by feeding in a text file, hundreds of lower-third graphics can be generated in a few clicks. The advantage of this method is that a producer or production assistant can gather all of the needed names and titles into a single text file (easily created with any word processor). This file can then be loaded to generate as many graphics as needed. While the process is a little tricky at first, it’s pretty easy to get the hang of.

Read the complete article over at Layer Magazine for free...


Photoshop World Schedule

Some Photoshop World news for you.

  • Early bird registration is $100 off (it expires February 26)
  • I am teaching a DSLR Video Pre-conference session
  • I am teaching 3 Motion Graphics classes
  • I will be showing pre-release copies of the new From Still to Motion book at Peachpit's booth
  • I hope to catch up with many of you at show.

"You've never seen a training camp like this! Photoshop World is the ONLY Photoshop and digital photography conference designed to put you at the top of your game with fast and furious classes from the world's leading experts. Photoshop World is where Photoshop users go to learn hard and play even harder!"


Creative COW NAB Party

Creative Cow's NAB Party Announced – Join Me & Dread Zeppelin on Monday Night. Details here.... tickets will be free - but limited. It's AWESOME!

"Well, it's official. Monday night, April 12, 2010, at the House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino finds Creative COW: YEAR 10 in full swing with a closing set by the legendary Dread Zeppelin. We are celebrating because 2010 marks the 10th year of Creative COW, and who better to welcome COW members to Las Vegas than a reggae-based band of killer musicians playing Led Zeppelin hooks with an Elvis impersonator leading the band?"

Here's the details.


Resize Video with After Effects

Do you ever need to size video for web or multimedia? Instead of wasting time processing those clips with your video compression software – use After Effects. You can get cleaner scaling and much faster processing times using AE.

To make things easier... I have made a template project to save you several steps. You can download it here.

Download it
here (it's my Birthday gift to you)

These templates are designed to convert an HD source to a variety of output formats.
  1. Select either the 1080 or 720 source folder.
    2 Locate the correct target format and open the template.
    3 Import a QuickTime movie of your HD source.
    4 Highlight the layer called Replace Me.
    5 Hold down the Option/Alt key and drag your replacement footage onto the solid layer to swap.
    6 Change the comps duration to match your footage layer’s length by choosing Sequence > Settings.
    7 Add to the Render Queue and render to taste.

Feel free to share this post and the link –


Capturing Video for After Effects

You can capture video for an After Effects project using Premiere Pro. Learn how to quickly switch applications to pull in new footage from tape. To download sample files, visit


Creating Transparent Video with Adobe After Effects CS4

Transparency plays a key role in the success of animation and interactivity. By embedding transparency into graphic elements, you can composite together different elements created at different times, allowing for true flexibility.

The alpha channel is the technology behind transparency in computer graphics. It first evolved in the late 1970s at the New York Institute of Technology and then continued to be refined at Lucasfilm and at Pixar. When you employ alpha channels embedded into footage layers, transparency data can travel seamlessly between After Effects and Flash.

You can create alpha channels in several ways. One common technique you can use for video footage is chroma key technology. By shooting elements against a blue or green screen, you can easily remove the background. This technology is hardly new, making its first appearance at RKO Radio Pictures in the 1930s. The popularity of chroma key technology has grown immensely, bringing the technology and tools within reach of most content creators.


Get the Book


Working with Type in After Effects

Looking for a quick overview on how to control text animation in After Effects? This video will get you up and running quickly. You can also visit the website in order to download sample files.

Developing a Raw File with Photoshop

In this video you’ll learn how to use the Camera Raw dialog in Photoshop to process your images. You can also visit the website in order to download sample files.

Three Free After Effects CS4 Tutorials

Here are a few free After Effects tutorials from Layers Magazine.


MGFest 09 Comes to DC
The Motion Graphics 09 Fest is coming to DC. It runs November 18-22

Here's the full schedule

Here are the educational workshops

Here are the social functions and screenings

This is a great chance to network with pros from both DC and abroad. Hope you all check it out...


Blu is Back with Another Great Video

This is just awesome... I love what these guys do with real art and timelapse.

a collaborative animation by Blu and David Ellis


New Versions of Adobe Software to be 64-Bit

Adobe has announced that the next version of the software will run on 64-bit Operating Systems only. It's not all the apps in their suite, but the apps that will most benefit.

"It’s common knowledge among post-production pros that 64-bit operating systems are the best choice for top-of-the-line performance, especially when producing HD or higher-resolution content. After 3 versions of simultaneous 64 bit and 32 bit support for After Effects and Premiere Pro, we wanted to let you know today that CS4 will be the last version of Adobe’s leading video applications to support 32 bit operating systems."

Simon Hayhurst – The Senior Director of Product Management for Dynamic Media

Check out the news here.

New Podcast Featured on iTunes


Our new podcast, Video Made on a Mac, is in the New and Notable section of iTunes.

Richard Harrington and Robbie Carman show you how to create professional video on the Mac. In this series, they share videos and project files using real world examples in Final Cut Studio and Adobe Creative Suite. From pre-production to post, and accomplishing it all within a tight schedule, this podcast series gives you a sample of what you can learn using their book, Video Made on the a Mac.

Be sure to visit the site to get the
free downloadable files or order the book. Be sure to use the code VMMBOOK at checkout to receive a discount.

The new podcast is brought to you by the fine folks at Peachpit Press.

Our New iPhone App Gets a Great Review

Terry White just wrote a great review of our new Understanding Photoshop Quick Fixes application. Terry offers a detailed review about the features and benefits of the app.

Here are a few excerpts:
  • "Rich tells you just what you need to know to get the task done!"
  • "This is a good app to have a Photoshop Video Tutorial Library with you at all times."

Check out the
complete review here.

You can also
get the applications here.


Notes from PowerPoint Live

As promised, here are my notes from the PowerPoint ive conference in Atlanta, GA.

  • Tweeting, Friending, and Linking: Everything you have always wanted to know about social networking, but had no idea how or whom to ask. | PDF
  • PowerPoint to Podcast: How to take advantage of this marriage of video and slide content | PDF
  • Social Slides: Integrating your work with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter | PDF
  • PowerPoint's Flash Point: Making the journey | PDF


New Book for After Effects and Flash Users

I have literally just sent the last changes to the last chapter in. The brand new book After Effects for Flash | Flash for After Effects is going to print. I am quite proud of the book and it explores some amazing things. The book is designed for Flash and After Effects users, and is meant to teach them how to use both programs together (along with Creative Suite 4). The book explores some pretty revolutionary things, but also has great primers to get new users up to speed fast (you can’t put a race car on your cover if the book doesn’t cover serious ground).

The official blurb
Adobe Creative Suite 4 brings together two powerful animation tools, each of which has its own specialized features and workflow. Learning to integrate Adobe After Effects and Adobe Flash Professional gives you more options for your animations and effects and the power to integrate video and motion graphics into a richer user experience. In this book, authors Richard Harrington and Marcus Geduld lead both types of users, those who are more familiar with either Flash or with After Effects, on using the programs together for maximum efficiency and creativity.

After walking you through the core features of both programs, the authors then explore advanced uses for each application. Each chapter focuses on a particular function of the program, teaching you how to create content for Flash with After Effects, enhance your projects using 3D environments, create professional-looking video with Adobe Media Encoder, and add interactivity, accessibility, and searchability to your video. You’ll also get hands-on experience using the project files on the accompanying DVD.

Within these easy-to-follow, step-by-step lessons, you’ll learn to:
  • Seamlessly exchange projects and assets between After Effects and Flash
  • Shoot green screen material correctly, work with Keylight, and utilize embedded alpha channels
  • Create dynamic text, vector-based animations, and “animated” video using the tools in Adobe Creative Suite 4
  • Work with 3D cameras and lights and create 3D environments
  • Convert Flash to broadcast and DVD standards with After Effects
  • Use Adobe Media Encoder for professional results
  • Create interactive controls and use cue points in your video
  • Optimize video for accessibility and use Adobe® Soundbooth® for video transcription
  • Use ActionScript in your projects for more innovative animations

Get your copy now.... it really has some fun projects and cool things in it.


The Future in Motion, A History of Tomorrow's Interfaces

Check this out... a colleague of mine speaking on a cool topic.

Watch Future in Motion, A History of Tomorrow's Interfaces, Mason Dixon, MGFest  |  View More Free Videos Online at

Free Photoshop and After Effects CS4 Tutorials

Book.aspx Book.aspx
The fine folks at Focal Press have decided to release two free updates. The popular books Photoshop for Video and Creating Motion Graphics both have free updates for the Creative Suite 4 release.

Even if you don’t have these two books (which I’d really suggest you check them out)... the CS4 updates are absolutely free.


Avoid Import Blues for After Effects

It’s very common to use Photoshop and Illustrator to prepare content for import into Adobe After Effects. Here are some practical tips to avoid problems when merging the software.

Import Tips

  • Double-Click in the AE Project Window
  • Shift-Click Multiple Items
  • Organize in Folder and Option+Drag (Alt+Drag) from Desktop
  • Keep file names less than 27 characters long


  • Assign unique names to each layer
  • Avoid using layer sets unless you want the layers to come in as a nested composition
  • If layers are not needed, reduce your render burden by importing as a flattened file such as a PICT, TIFF or TARGA
  • If you have applied an adjustment layer in Photoshop such as Levels, consider applying the effect directly to the individual layers in Photoshop instead


  • Be sure to use layers in Adobe Illustrator to split up elements
  • Change AI preferences to use AICB format (not PDF) for proper Copy/Paste

After Effects CS3 Shape Tools

Learn how to use the Shape Tools to create dynamic motion graphics elements. This tutorial was recorded as part of a session at the 2007 NY Post Production Conference (


Motion Graphics Meets John Lennon

I was over at YouTube posting a new tutorial.... came across a great clip that mixes multiple animation styles… this is VERY cool.  It’s nice to hear the man so off-the-cuff… yet wise.
“In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan, armed with a reel-to-reel tape deck, snuck into John Lennon’s hotel room in Toronto and convinced John to do an interview about peace. 38 years later, Jerry has produced a film about it. Using the original interview recording as the soundtrack, director Josh Raskin has woven a visual narrative which tenderly romances Lennon’s every word in a cascading flood of multipronged animation. Raskin marries the terrifyingly genius pen work of James Braithwaite with masterful digital illustration by Alex Kurina, resulting in a spell-binding vessel for Lennon’s boundless wit, and timeless message.”
Learn more about it
here (and yes… I missed this one somehow).


Adobe TV at NAB 2008 – Photoshop CS3 Extended for Video

Want 30 minutes of free training on Adobe Photoshop CS3? Adobe had me in their theater at NAB giving lessons. Here's a recording from one of the days so you can see what was taught.

If you want more free classes... visit the
Adobe TV site.


Adobe Demos Future Technology at NAB

Following up on my "Really Cool Adobe Announcements" post...

Adobe has actually posted their "secret" presentation from NAB. Hart Shafer talks about four cool things Adobe has up their sleeve.

SO need to watch this... trust me. BTW (for those of you waiting... they did show OnLocation for Mac in this demo).


More on the Puppet Tool – Hands on Files and Bonus Video

I promised these hands-on practice files about the Puppet Tool a while back. To make it up to you (my loyal viewers) I've included an extra sample.

To get the hands on files click here.

To get a bonus video tutorial -
click here.

(Thanks to the fine folks at the
New York Post Conference for letting me post this).


’Toon Your Video in Adobe CS3 Production Premium

Want to create a cartoon effect for your video? Be sure to check out this step-by-step tutorial I wrote for Layers Magazine.

“Sure, clients want it…that “cartoon look.” But let’s face it; good animation is hard to come by. Unless you have a gaggle of animators locked in your closet, you’ll need to get creative. Sure, you could break out the pencil and paper (or maybe even try shadow puppets), but we’re here to offer you a different solution. By harnessing the power of Adobe CS3 Production Premium, you can convert video frames into vector art into film-resolution movie files. Curious? It’s all possible with the power of the Production Premium.
Read on.”


Working with After Effects CS3? Check out the Puppet Tool

If you are using After Effects CS3... you have the Puppet Tool. This awesome technology lets you create animation from photos... be sure to check this out.



To get the hands on files
click here.


Speaking at NAB

Looking for some great training on post production, podcasting, or new media? I'll be speaking at several conferences located at this year's NAB conference.

Choose the training you need at NAB Show 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada:

Podcasting Summit    April 11 - 13
This is a can’t miss conference for podcasting professionals and anyone interested in diving into this evolving content delivery method.

New Media 2.0 - Creating and Delivering New Media to New Audiences    April 14 - 15
This new conference is designed for content creators looking to harness the power of the Internet for increased distribution and new audiences.

Post|Production World Conference    April 11 - 16
The largest event of its kind anywhere, this conference delivers high-level training on the latest production and post-production techniques and software.

Producer | Director Workshop    April 11 - 13
This new conference is designed for those content creators who are charged with managing and developing content. Learn new techniques for planning and managing successful video and new media projects.


Photoshop World 2008 in Orlando

The World's Best Instructors Coming To Orlando
Get instruction and inspiration from more than 40 of the most recognized and respected names in the industry.With more than 100 class sessions, and learning tracks dedicated to everything from photography and graphic art, to motion graphics and Web design, Photoshop World has something for you.
For a complete list of instructors, learning tracks, and class sessions, visit

psw-non-napp psw-napp-prices


Two New Discs on Color

I just wanted to let you know that our new training on Apple Color is shipping (Motion will be coming very soon as well).

Absolute Training for Final Cut Studio, Vol. 11
Introduction to Color
Join Apple Certified Trainer Jeff Greenberg as he takes you through the basic and intermediate features of Apple Color. As a leading presenter, trainer, and creator of multimedia content, Jeff guides viewers through the most important features in Apple Color. His presentation style empowers users to get up and running in Color immediately.

To Order

Absolute Training for Final Cut Studio, Vol. 12
Advanced Color
Join Apple Certified Trainer Jeff Greenberg as he takes you well beyond the basics in Advanced Color from VASST. This DVD is designed for users who want to take advantage of the high end features found in Apple Color. As a leading presenter, trainer, and creator of multimedia content, Jeff’s presentation style allows viewers master the advanced features in Color quickly and easily.

To Order

By both and save....


Photoshop World Schedule Announced

The new schedule for Photoshop World Conference & Expo is posted. Visit the updated website to see the offerings. The conference is to be held in Orlando, FL on April 2-4, 2008. Here’s the link. I'll be teaching a few classes on the show floor (which are free) as well as these great classes on using Photoshop for video and multimedia.

Motion Graphics Track:
  • Put Your Portfolio on DVD
  • Motion Control 3D
  • Typography in Motion


Photoshop for Video Chapter 14 Posted

The downloadable bonus chapter on Photoshop CS3 Extended is available to those who’ve purchased “Photoshop for Video.” You will need the password found in the back cover. This code is unique for each book, so be sure to register your code.

If you have your code ready, please visit and start to download. You'll find a full-length chapter plus all of the source media needed for the exercises. It’s a big download, so be sure to have a fast Internet connection handy.

For problems or suggestions concerning the site, please contact:
Technical Support.


A New Blog on Digital Video

If you'll be at the Podcast and New Media Expo show this weekend, consider checking out these free classes on the show floor. Podango is offering an “Unconference,” a featured program of the Podcast and New Media Expo (PNME) taking place September 28-30, at the Ontario Convention Center.

Podango, the online video and audio network that enables publishers and advertisers to “get heard” by today’s hard-to-reach, niche audiences, is heralding a wide range of topics and speakers. They include: new media pioneer Scott Bourne, host of The Apple Phone Show; Paige Heninger and Gretchen Vogelzang, hosts of MommyCast; as well as Jason Van Orden, David Lawrence and others. Speakers will share ideas for building and monetizing audiences in today’s niche-oriented, interest-driven new media marketplace.

Great Piece of Freeware for Producers/Directors/DPs

If you need to put together a storyboard, you have lots of options. But the process of laying out the pages and dealing with changes to shot order or selection can get tedious. Fortunately there is a free solution called Directors Boards which alleviates most of the challenges (no, it won't draw for you).

This great program is based on Filemaker, but doesn't need you to have the full program installed in order to run. You essentially load in information regarding the shots including the audio and video columns, shot number, and a thumbnail image. Directors Boards then allows you to organize the shots as well as create a sldieshow presentation or print out professional looking storyboards. The product is cross-platform and free... what more do you need? Well there is a more robust version called Directors Notebook, which we are putting through its paces and will have a detailed review soon.


Producing Video and Animation for Multiformat Delivery

If you'll be at the Podcast and New Media Expo show this weekend, consider checking out these free classes on the show floor. Podango is offering an “Unconference,” a featured program of the Podcast and New Media Expo (PNME) taking place September 28-30, at the Ontario Convention Center.

Podango, the online video and audio network that enables publishers and advertisers to “get heard” by today’s hard-to-reach, niche audiences, is heralding a wide range of topics and speakers. They include: new media pioneer Scott Bourne, host of The Apple Phone Show; Paige Heninger and Gretchen Vogelzang, hosts of MommyCast; as well as Jason Van Orden, David Lawrence and others. Speakers will share ideas for building and monetizing audiences in today’s niche-oriented, interest-driven new media marketplace.

Motion Graphics Resource Site

Interested in Motion Graphics? The check out the evolving MographWiki which has a nice collection of user contributed content and articles. Its a great place to browse for ideas and talent. There's a lot of useful things up here including:

Great After Effects Training and Resources


Looking for some After Effects training? One of my favorite resources is The Anvel run by Dean Velez. Besides a bunch of cool freebies and templates, Dean has a great subscription package of After Effects tutorials. Dean is a very experiences designer with a few Emmys under his belt.

He generously shares this knowledge with others. Dean's discs are great for ideas and I float them amongst the RHED Pixel staff so they can try out some new techniques.


Photoshop World Begins

If you'll be at the Podcast and New Media Expo show this weekend, consider checking out these free classes on the show floor. Podango is offering an “Unconference,” a featured program of the Podcast and New Media Expo (PNME) taking place September 28-30, at the Ontario Convention Center.

Podango, the online video and audio network that enables publishers and advertisers to “get heard” by today’s hard-to-reach, niche audiences, is heralding a wide range of topics and speakers. They include: new media pioneer Scott Bourne, host of The Apple Phone Show; Paige Heninger and Gretchen Vogelzang, hosts of MommyCast; as well as Jason Van Orden, David Lawrence and others. Speakers will share ideas for building and monetizing audiences in today’s niche-oriented, interest-driven new media marketplace.

Motion TIps (A Little Old – But Still Useful)


I present a slightly old (but still relevant) article on Apple Motion. Here are Ten things you should know about Apple Motion (thanks to

For example:

Not happy with the alpha channel you get when you cut a Motion project into a Final Cut Pro timeline? Well, your alpha may be off. Final Cut Pro sometimes misinterprets the alpha channel data, expecting you to have a straight alpha channel, when in fact you may have a premultiplied alpha.

1. Select the Imported Motion project file in your Browser.

2. Choose Modify > Alpha Type Black.

New Book on Final Cut Studio that I want to Read

I know both of the authors on this book and I am looking forward to reading it (as soon as I finish my own updates that is). But if you have no looming deadlines... I strongly suggest checking out this cool title.

Apple Pro Training Series: Motion Graphics and Effects in Final Cut Studio
“This practical book focuses on just the parts of Final Cut Studio that editors and designers need to create motion graphics in their daily work. Using footage from the BBC archives along with Motion, Final Cut Pro, and Live Type (all included in Final Cut Studio), you’ll build broadcast-quality titles, motion menus, show bumpers, and news opens. As with the other titles in the Apple Pro Training Series, each chapter in this Apple-authorized guide represents a complete lesson--with projects to complete and a review section to reinforce the lessons. Author and video editor/producers Mark Spencer and Jem Schofield begin by introducing the basics of creating an animated title sequence with Final Cut Pro. From there, you’ll learn everything from text animation, compositing, and keyframing to 3D set creation and camera animation. Step-by-step exercises and a DVD with project and media files will have you creating stunning motion graphics in no time.”

You can order it here

Photographer's Rights

I have personally experienced harassment first hand when it comes to urban photography. In DC, one routinely gets threatened or chased off in the spirit of 'national security.' So it was with great joy that I came across this entry over at Stu Maschwitz blog. I also found another helpful post at John Nack's prolific blog on the same topic.

You can find a
great PDF here that describes the rights of photographers (and videographers) within the U.S. Print this out and place it into your gear bag for the next time you get harassed.


Classes at the Consumer Electronics Show

Looking for some training in the latest digital media tools and trends? Then stop by the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. There are classes from January 8-10 with lots of great topics to catch up on. I've got classes on making great presentations using both PowerPoint and Keynote, as well as harnessing the power of online media with podcasting and rich media. Plus there’s that whole world's biggest trade show thing to attend. Hope to see some of you there.

Date Time Session Title
1/8/2007 9:00 AM Creating Dynamic Presentations with PowerPoint 2007
1/8/2007 2:30 PM Planning your Digital Video Project
1/9/2007 9:00 AM Creating Dynamic Presentations with Apple Keynote
1/9/2007 4:00 PM Using Rich Media to Attract Customers
1/10/2007 10:30 AM Blogging and Podcasting: What it Means to You (and Your Customers)
1/10/2007 2:30 PM Photos and Video on the Web: Putting your Digital Media Online
1/10/2007 4:00 PM Web Technology Demystified: Harnessing the Power of Flash Video, PDF


New Presentation Posted on Video Podcasting


I've edited together the highlights from a recent class on video podcasting. If you attended my class at Digital Media DC, then this is the advanced notes. If you couldn't attend, then this is the next best thing. If you open this file in iTunes you can see the slides change in sync with the audio. If the slides are not visible, click the Show Artwork button in the lower left corner then click the slide thumbnail to go full-screen. You can also see the slides if you put the file on an iPod with a screen. I hope you enjoy and find the presentation useful.


Take Our Monthly Survey – December 2006

It's that time again... we've launched our survey for the month of December. It's time for you to cast your vote and have your voice/click heard.

This time we want to know
which new tutorials to produce. Which Motion Graphics design skill do you want to see more training available? I'll produce both a for sale product and an exclusive sample for those who vote and comment. Be sure to leave a comment with your email address and I'll contact you next month with a free training module.

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Two Surveys are Better than One – Take Our Monthly Survey – November 2006

It's that time again... we've launched our survey for the month of November. It's time for you to cast your vote and have your voice/click heard.

This time we want to know which technology two things. First, What are your plans in regard to High Definition DVDs? Are you an early adopter. sitting on the fence, or just don't believe the "hype?" Our second question, when do you finally expect to see the Adobe Creative Suite CS3 finally shipping?



The Director’s Cut – Now Available

I've just posted an old article of mine that I really like. It’s called “The Director’s Cut – Digital Video and the Power of the Macintosh.” It’s a fun article that shares a bunch of ideas on pre-production, production, and post. It was originally published in MacDesign Magazine (now called Layers). The article is totally free and showcases a lot of products and techniques that we use to save time and money over at RHED Pixel. I hope you enjoy.


New Audio Tool from Adobe for AE and Flash Users

Continuing their new Labs idea, Adobe has a preview release of yet another new product. This time its Adobe Soundbooth which is an audio editing tool for those who don't need the power of Adobe Audition (or who find all the features just a little confusing.) The program is well suited for:
• Editing audio quickly.
• Cleaning up noisy audio.
• Visually identifying and removing unwanted sounds.
• Recording and polishing voiceovers.
• Adding effects and filters.

Download now before the current Soundbooth beta expires on February 28, 2007.

A great review of Soundbooth can be found on
Creative Cow.


I'm Hitting New York City (for NAB)

If you'll be in New York City this week, be sure to say hi. I'll be speaking at the NAB New York conference this week on a variety of topics. Classes aren't free (but the tradeshow is for advanced registration). You can also get a one-session free pass by stopping by the Future Media Concepts booth.

Here's my class schedule if you're coming to the conference.

Monday - October 23rd
10:00 - 1:00 Fast Start with Adobe Photoshop CS2
2:00 - 5:00 Fast Start with Adobe Photoshop CS2 for Video

Tuesday - October 24th
9:00 - 10:15 Automating Photoshop CS2 for a Video Workflow
12:30 - 1:30 When Multicam Shoots Go Right (and Wrong)

Wednesday - October 25th
1:45 - 3:00 HD Loops: Creative Looping Backgrounds
4:45 - 6:00 Interfaces in Motion – Bringing Web Pages to Life

Thursday - October 26th
9:00 - 10:15 Essential Color Correction Concepts
12:45 - 2:00 Motion Control 3D: How to Create Movement within a Photo
2:15 - 3:30 Word Play: Title Design Workshop


Greatest Technological Impact - Take Our Monthly Survey – October 2006


It's that time again... we've launched our survey for the month of October. It's time for you to cast your vote and have your voice/click heard.

This time we want to know which technology has had the greatest impact on your career/hobby. To clarify, we're talking hardware, software, or both. If you had to pick one (and only one) which would it be? Additionally, you have the option to vote for the ubiquitous ‘other’ but please be sure to identify it in the Comments section. Feel free to offer other opinions in the Comments feed as well.



Editor’s Retreat Offers Expanded Content

The Editor's Retreat has announced even more speakers and sessions.

  • The Evolving Role of the Editor
  • State of the Union by Avid, Apple, & Adobe
  • Power Tools - Photoshop Automation, Small Format Tips: iPods and Beyond
  • Color Grading Theory and Techniques
  • Business Track: Freelancers, Boutique Owners, Facility Managers
Speakers who've been added that we know and work with:

The Editors Retreat is an unparalleled industry event, exclusive to highly experienced editors of film, TV and video. To ensure that only the best of the best attend, participation is subject to an application and screening process by a committee of peers. Running for 5 days and 4 nights, the Retreat will only be open to approximately 75 qualified applicants.

The Retreat’s focus will be evenly split between high-end technical sessions and ‘the world behind the timeline’ – the creativity and the craft of the editor, and the business of creating a thriving editing career. Presenters include award-winning editors and icons from the editing world, alumni of previous FMC ‘Master Editor’ programs and known industry power users.


Going to Podcast & Portable Media Expo?


I'll be at the Podcast and Portable Media Expo next week in California. This two day event is all about podcasting and the such. If you plan to attend, I'd love to catch up. I'll be sure to bring back a report on all that I learn. I'll also be filing reports for Inside Media Networks and will add links as the stories go online. The event will be held September 29 & 30 in Ontario, California (not far from LA). Hope to see some of you there.


If You're an Experienced Video Editor... Check Out this Event

One of the most influential events I've ever attended was Avid's Master Editor Workshop series. But it appears that the workshop has gone the way of Umatic tape machines. The replacement? A new event called the Editors Retreat. This is truly a retreat, in that editors come to live together and learn (did I mention the living part happens in South Beach in January). The event runs for 5 days and 4 nights, and is open to approximately 75 qualified applicants. The Retreat’s focus focusses on high-end technical sessions and ‘the world behind the timeline’ – the creativity and the craft of the editor. Other classes delve into the business side as well. Its a great learning opportunity and worth checking out.


Missed SIGGRAPH? Want News?


If you couldn't make it to SIGGRAPH, be sure to check out these great video reports. Over at the Digital Production Buzz, you'll find several video podcasts with the newsmakers at SIGGRAPH. Additionally, you'll find additional podcasts from NAB and E3. You can subscribe to this occasional feed of video-of-interest here.


Final Results of the NLE Survey

The polls are now closed for our August survey.
We asked:
Which NLE do you prefer to use the most?


We set an all time record for responses. All said, 510 users weighed in... and the results were surprising.

1. Apple Final Cut Pro/Final Cut Express (36.27%)
2. Avid Nonlinear Editing Systems (
3. Sony Vegas (
4. Adobe Premiere Pro (
5. Media 100 (

Given the number of respondents, we have determined that the survey is accurate within +/- 4%... That means Final Cut Pros lead was slim, but it still took the top spot.


Going to Photoshop World? Then Take My Classes...

Hope to see some of you at Photoshop World in Las Vegas. If you plan to attend, I hope to see some of you there. Here's my teaching schedule for those who'd like to catch up.

Thursday – September 7
Do No Harm - Non-Destructive Color Correction
NAPP Expo Theatre – 03:30-04:30 pm

Help Desk Live
Various Times

Friday – September 8
Your Photoshop is in My After Effects
Motion Graphics Track – 09:30 -10:30 am

Podcasting for Educators
Peachpit Expo Theater – 12:00-12:40 pm

Photoshop in the Classroom
Peachpit Expo Theater – 2:00 - 2:40 pm

Typography in Motion
Motion Graphics Track – 4:00 - 5:00 pm

Motion Control 3D
Motion Graphics Track – 5:15 - 6:15 pm


Tutorial: Create Once, Distribute Anywhere

A brand new tutorial on building graphics for multiple video formats just went online. You'll find it on DV Magazines website in both online and print formats. Learn how to work in HD, but also create for multimedia, DVD, and Podcast distribution. This is useful in you need to generate multiple animations on a budget or deadline.

The tutorial uses Adobe After Effects, and is not version specific. If you'd like some extra resources, visit the
Magazine section as well.

UPDATE: For PC users looking for a 10-bit codec... you can either download the Blackmagic codecs or check out SheerVideo.


Spot the Fake

How good are your eyes? Sure in the good old days you could spot the fake dinosaurs and Spiderman was a stunt man in a suit for every shot, These days we are inundated with photorealistic CGI on TV and in cinema. Just how good are your senses? Head over to Autodesk (makers of 3D Studio Max and Maya) to take this quiz. I got 8 out of 10 on my first try... take a look and stretch your brain for two minutes. Thanks to Scott Simmons for the story.


3D Made Easier

While at the National Association of Broadcaster's show, I picked up a copy of Zaxwerks' ProAnimator. This product is both a program and a plug-in. It is useful for creating animated text or logos. You can import Adobe Illustrator files, 3D models, or type original text in using any system font. It's fast and easy and give impressive results.
For more info.
© 2010 Richard Harrington LLC