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Mid 2013 Quick Showreel

The mid 2013 quick showreel of content created by members of the WEWILLKILL collective. Featuring motion graphics, 3D animations, color correction, music composition, and sound design.

All elements were created on Apple computers with Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Maxon Cinema 4D, The Foundry Camera Tracker, Video Copilot Optical Flares, AVID Pro Tools, and Blip Interactive NanoStudio. 

Voice Over Microphone Blind Test

We put the Blue Microphones Spark up against the Neumann U87 AI in a blind test. 

This is a blind test comparing the Blue Microphones Spark against the Neumann U87 Ai. Can you tell which mic is which?  Results are posted below.

These are the results to the Blue Microphones Spark vs Neumann U87 Ai Blind Test.


Music Attribution

Dollar Theatre (Jalen Warshawsky) / CC BY 3.0

Seven Overlooked Updates Coming to After Effects

Adobe announces updates to After Effects and seven of the best are overlooked.

On April 3rd Adobe announced the new round of updates to their entire product line. The integration of Cinema4D Lite and After Effects via CINEWARE has grabbed the most press.  I voiced a few concerns about this integration in a previous post.

After analyzing the full list I've decided that there are seven After Effects updates that deserve recognition. Also there is one change that I'm not so happy about. All quotes below have been taken directly from this official Adobe blog.

01. Alpha Edge and Matte Tools

Refine Edge tool: The Refine Edge tool and the associated properties in the Roto Brush & Refine Edge effect provide the ability to improve an existing matte by creating partial transparency for areas of fine detail at the edges of a matte, such as for hair. These new features and their user interface elements are closely related to the Refine Edge features in Photoshop. To use the Refine Edge tool, you must already have an alpha channel defined for the layer. You are not restricted to using the Roto Brush tool to define the initial transparency for the layer; you can also use any other method, such as color keying or conventional rotoscoping by drawing masks.

I am psyched for these tools to finally come to After Effects. These features have been in Photoshop for several versions and I was hoping that they would be ported over. I've been doing a lot of keying lately and the new Matte tools cant get released soon enough.

02. Improved Handling of Footage and Elements

Automatic reloading of footage: Footage that has changed is automatically reloaded when After Effects is brought to the foreground (e.g., when switching back from another application, such as CINEMA 4D).

No more digging through the Project panel to find and manually reload an asset that was just updated. This will be immensely time saving when sitting with a client that likes to make constant minor changes to assets. The ability to reveal an asset's location in Finder/Explorer directly from the timeline will speed up work as well.

03. Improved Scaling

Bicubic scaling (and other sampling) for layers: You can choose between bicubic and bilinear sampling for selected layers, which determines how pixels are sampled for transformations such as scaling. The bicubic sampling in After Effects should perform better than the related option in Photoshop; the After Effects algorithm preserves over-range and under-range values more consistently and works better (with fewer quantization errors) at extreme scales.

After Effects's current scaling is very good, this added feature should make it superb. I'm curious how we will be able to turn this feature on or off for individual layers. Adobe is saying that bicubic scaling in After Effects will work better than in Photoshop. Will After Effects become the new go-to tool for scaling?

04. Layer Feature Snapping and Anchor Point Improvements

Snapping of layer features in the Composition panel: You can now snap layer features to one another while dragging in the Composition panel. Features that can be snapped to one another include the anchor point, the center of the layer, a layer corner, the layer handle at the midpoint of a layer edge, or any point on a mask path (not just mask vertices), the center of any 3D face, or the center of the 3D volume. You can also snap the anchor point of a layer to features of that same layer using the Pan Behind (Anchor Point) tool.

I'm excited about snapping finally coming to After Effects. I've spent way too many hours over the last 10+ years doing the math and typing in 3D position coordinates to ensure pixel perfect layer alignment. Manually building pixel perfect 3D shapes like boxes takes forever. I'm not at all sad to hear that this is going to end. Updating the Pan Behind tool sounds minor but will make a huge difference in practice.

05. Mini Flowchart Improvements

The tapping of the Shift key to open the Composition Mini-Flowchart has been replaced by pressing the Tab key.

The Mini-Flowchart was a nice feature, just not one I wanted to accidentally activate every 30 seconds. Moving the function to the Tab key will help significantly.

06. Improved Missing Frame Dialog

If you had missing frames in an image sequence, previous versions of After Effects would say something like this “After Effects warning: The sequence has 3 missing frames.” In the next version, the message is much more useful: “After Effects warning: Animal[1-6].psd is missing 3 frames (2, 4-5).” Also, there is now a preference, Report Missing Frames, that allows you to turn this warning off if it is annoying.

I never understood why this wasn't a feature from the start. I work with image sequence renders every day and occasionally one or two frames will disappear.  I will not miss going through a comp frame by frame to find the missing frames.

07. Improved Footage Import and Format Support

Import of DNxHD footage: You can now import DNxHD MXF OP1a and Op-Atom files, as well as QuickTime (.mov) files with DNxHD media without installing additional codecs. This includes use of an uncompressed alpha channel in DNxHD QuickTime files.

Speeding up image sequences and increasing the diversity of footage After Effects can handle is always good. I use EXR sequences a lot and having access to the 1.8 versions of OpenEXR and ProEXR will be great. It will also be nice to have more control over RED r3d files.

08. Removal of The Live Update Button

The Live Update button has been removed from the Timeline panel. You can still enable or disable Live Update functionality with the command in the Timeline panel menu and the keyboard shortcuts (Alt on Windows or Option on Mac OS).

I use the Live Update button all the time. It's a standard part of my workflow to lock a comp's Live Update to ON or OFF quickly without the need to hold down a keyboard shortcut button. As a result I'm not happy about it being removed. Nice to know that the keyboard shortcut has been maintained and I hope that Live Update will be ON by default.

Krystal Season 1

Krystal Season 1 Now Available on WEWILLKILL's YouTube

WWK is proud to announce the release of Season 01 of Krystal. All 16 episodes are available here: Krystal Season 01.

In mid 2012 we sat down and interviewed Hampden, Baltimore resident Krystal. She spoke to us for a full 70 minutes about herself, her neighborhood, her family, and life in general. We've taken the best moments and created 16 episodes that celebrate her unique off color view of the world.

Episode 01 is embedded below. All 16 episodes are available here: Krystal Season 01.

MAXON's Cineware Raises A Few Questions

Adobe Systems Inc. and MAXON Computer announce their new Live 3D Pipeline.

Adobe and MAXON announced the result of their recent business partnership before this year's NAB.  The Live 3D Pipeline was jointly announced. It looks poised to completely change how 3D content is created.

The core components are the new CINEWARE plugin for After Effects and the Cinema 4D Lite application. Both will ship with the new version of After Effects.

CINEWARE enables an artist to import native C4D files into After Effects, extract compositing passes and layers from the file and render the results with the native C4D renderer directly in After Effects. CINEWARE also supports true 3D navigation of C4D files in After Effects. The plugin pushes and pulls camera, light, null, and other data between the two software packages. It creates seamless live interaction. 

Cinema 4D Lite is a new version of C4D that will ship with every copy of After Effects. The inclusion of Cinema 4D Lite opens up the potential of 3D content creation to everyone with a copy of After Effects. If you already own another version of C4D it will be fully supported by the CINEWARE plugin.  

MAXON has created a series of tutorials demonstrating all the new features. There is a quick tour on their landing page. An FAQ about the new features is posted on Toolfarm. Motionworks has a quick feature tour video. Take some time to learn about the new features and workflow.

I'm excited about the new workflow's support for the extraction of compositing passes. Being able to create mattes for objects without any intermediate rendering is going to be a big headache preventer. The ability to extract passes like Reflection, Shadow, Ambient Occlusion, Normal, UVW, and Depth without having to render is going to be fantastic. These new developments leave 2 major questions.

Resources

I work on my mobile workstation every day. It is maxed out at 16GB of RAM. This is barely enough to allow After Effects to run effectively.

I'm imagining significantly lower performance once C4D's render engine is running at the same time.

When the Cinema 4D's render engine is backgrounded, how will it share a computer's RAM and CPU with After Effects? 

Anti-aliasing

C4D's Normal and UVW maps are notorious for their non existant anti-aliasing. There have been 2 approaches to dealing with this problem.

The first is to simply render your Normal & UVW maps at 4x resolution and scale them down.

The second is to render at regular resolution but pre-comp and slightly Box Blur the maps in After Effects.

Will the maps that CINEWARE extracts be correctly anti-aliased or will we still be working with chunky images?

RGB, Normals, and UVW comparison. Click to view full screen.

This new technology promises to completely revolutionize the way 3D content is incorporated into video. I can't wait for the new version of Adobe's software to come out so I can start using it.

Blackmagic Design Introduces New Affordable Camera

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera looks to be fantastic. It boasts a Super 16 sensor,  active micro four thirds lens mount that can be adapted for Super 16 lenses, 3.5 inch display, HDMI out,  standard mini jack microphone input, mini jack output, LANC control input , and power/charging through the same cord. It records 1080HD in DNG RAW or ProRes 422 formats to SD cards. In DNG it shoots a ultra wide dynamic range of 13 stops. Take a look at the specs for yourself. All for an amazing price of $995.

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera

There have already been complaints that it lacks a VU meter for audio levels. My prediction is that the majority of Pocket Cinema Cameras are going to end up in the hands of current DSLR owners who already record audio externally and will use the on camera audio for sync. I'm sure Blackmagic will address this omission with a software update. People will gripe about the MFT lens mount keeping them from using their current Canon/Nikon lenses. This will be pointless because there will be loads of lens adapters available from third party vendors moments after the camera hits the market. Don't forget Blackmagic themselves have already promised a Super 16 lens mount adapter for people with deep pockets and lens fetishes.

I'm excited to see a product like this on the market. Here at WWK we are constantly having to battle with the limitations inherent in current DSLR's compressed video formats. If the promise of high latitude 1080 HD footage is a reality I expect to see this camera dominate the market previously controlled by DSLRs. Blackmagic Design just fired a major shot at Nikon and Canon's money makers, it will be interesting to see how the big two respond.

Now if Blackmagic would just send us a camera to test…

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