Monday, 27 April 2009

Tips for Using Masks in AE

Extracts from the book Adobe After Effects 7 Studio Techniques

- In case the layer's been rotated in 3D space, it's best to draw masks in Layer window instead of Composition. Just double click on the layer.

- To make a shape perfectly symmetrical, hold down Shift when drawing it.

- To draw a shape from the centre (instead of the corner), hold down CTRL when drawing it.

- Double-click the mask icon in the tools panel and a mask is automatically created that matches the width and heigth of your composition.

- Activate the Free Transform option for the mask by double clicking on a point in the shape. You can then resize, rotate and scale the whole mask.

- Hit M and you activate the Mask Shape option in the timeline. Hit MM and reveal all the options of a selected mask (or all masks in a selected layer). Hit F and reveal only the Feather option.

- Click on a point in the mask with the Pen tool active to delete it.

- Click on a line in the mask with the Pen tool active to add a new point.

- Alt-click on a point in the mask and you create a Beziere Curve handles for smooth shapes. If you want to break the Bezier handle, just click on it with a pen tool - you can then adjust handles in paralell.

- Deselect a mask by hiting F2 or Ctrl+Shift+A.

- Martin

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Rejected Submission

I did this video for the site, intending to submit a complex tutorial there. Unfortunately, it was rejected, because a new version of Trapcode Particular (which is heavily used in this animation) is currently on its way to stores and there's no interest in the old version anymore. least I'm posting it here.

- Martin

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

More Photoshoping

I think I've found myself a new toy. It's called graphic design...

- Martin

Sunday, 19 April 2009


I think I was too blinded by After Effects and I didn't see the true power of Photoshop. Not anymore.



- Martin

Saturday, 18 April 2009

MK Design

After a quick Adobe Photoshop tour I realized there's something about graphical design that I really like. For some Photoshop fundamentals visit 3DBuzz that offers not only loads of awesome (and free) 3D tutorials, but also a PS basic course. You'll find it there in the Misc Training section (after registering). For some fancy PS effects, visit Photoshop Cafe.

- Martin

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Updated Showreel

While some of the shots in the original showreel I posted sometime ago were a bit too old and did not really represent my current FX skills, I decided to post here an updated version. With the never before seen footage from Threads of Destiny. Enjoy.

Martin Klekner Showreel 2009 from CamperCz on Vimeo.

And I also must post a beautiful AUDI commercial I found yesterday on Great idea, superb execution, beatiful motion graphics.

- Martin

Saturday, 11 April 2009

A Bit of Theoretic Knowledge


Extracts from the book Adobe After Effects 7 Studio Techniques

Every 2D compositor knows them - selections are key to our work. They basically specify what can and what can not be seen in a composition and thereby allowing to blend more layers into one image / video. There are several ways this can be done in After Effects.

a) Pull a matte: We basically create the invisible part of a layer ourselves. There are many ways to do that and you can find almost all of them in the Effects&Presets window -> Keying. From color keying, contrast keying, difference keying to all sorts of advanced methods, the result is always the same - you extract from the layer what you want (e.g. an actor) and make the rest transparent.

b) Use an Alpha Channel: Ever wondered what the Alpha channel is for? Well, it is basically defines the transparency of a layer. If you hit the Alpha channel view in a Composition window, you can see that some parts of the layer are white (visible) and some are black (transparent)...or, as it is in most cases, you can see just a pure white color. That's because the layer doesn't include the alpha channel (typical for camera videos where transparency isn't specified). Alpha Channel often comes only with CG videos, where the author already created it. You can create Alpha Channel in AAE also - just hit the Output Modules in Render dialog and set rendering option to RGB+Alpha.

c) Draw a Mask: The worst, but often a painfully necessary choice. If your actor goes off the greenscreen, if you don't have any Alpha Channel and no way to key things out, it's all there is left. Draw masks around the shapes you want to preserve thus making them visible while deleting anything around them. It is quite easy for a still shot...but it's outright hell if you need to rotoscope a mask that contains more than a few points (= anything more than 4-6 is A LOT) in a video longer than a few seconds. Believe me, I did it already and I've hated it every since.

d) Use a Blending Mode: Blending Modes ( define ways your layer is implemented in a composition. Different Blending Modes cause different effects and unless you know exactly what every single one of them does, you'll probably need to experiment a little (e.g. different types of transparency with Screen, Add, Ligten, Darken, Color Burn etc. modes).

There are of course tons of possible combinations as well as some special methods using effects (Curves, Levels, Generated or Simulated come with the Alpha channel included).

- Martin

Wednesday, 8 April 2009


A short video I've made for our school project. We were supposed to characterize ourselves in one minute. And...this is me. Always focusing on the wrong things, I guess :-D.

- Martin

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Peek at Threads of Destiny

As promised, I post here an image from Threads of Destiny. This is one of the first shots I've composited, featuring three main actors.



- Martin

Friday, 3 April 2009

Adobe After Effects Tips #6

Working with time, Motion Blur

Extracts from the book Adobe After Effects 7 Studio Techniques

- In the Time Stretch tab (Right-click on a layer -> Time -> Time Stretch) you can make the layer run slower (more than 100% in the Stretch Factor dialog) or faster (less than 100%).

- You can reverse a layers time by hiting Ctrl+Alt+R or typing -100% in Time Stretch tab. You can enable Time Remaping by hiting Ctrl+Alt+T. You can also freeze a layer (showing only the freezed frame all the time) by choosing Layer > Time > Freeze Frame command.

- When you make a video slower, the motion appears jerky, it's because some frame are duplicated (e.g. when you make it 50%, every second frame is duplicated - it's just not there, for the camera shot on a certain frame rate and it doesn't have more frames to show). A basic solution is to activate Frame Blending (Right-click -> Frame blanding). You have to options there, Frame Mix and Pixel Magic. Frame Mix basically blurs two frames together. However, the option you want to choose is Pixel Magic - it creates unique frames scanning its pixels and warping them together. You can also find the Frame Blending icon in your timeline Columns.

- You can also make it faster or slower (= stretch it) to a specific point. Just go to a frame you want to stretch it around and then in the Time Stretch tab choose Current Frame.

- You can set an exact amount of motion blur in your composition. Go to Composition Settings -> Advanced and choose your numbers in Shutter Angle (how long the shutter is open, higher number will make more blur) and Shutter Phase (when the blur starts, 0 means it starts when the object starts moving, if you add bigger number, the blur occurs some time after the start of animation).

- A formula for calculating Shutter speed properly is following: shutter speed = 1 / frame rate * (360 / shutter angle).

- Setting Shutter Phase to 50% is useful when motion tracking - the image is less blured.

This was the last part of my After Effects tips focusing on workflow. I hope it helped at least a bit.

- Martin

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Adobe After Effects Tips #5

Animation Methods, Graph Editor, More Shortcuts

Extracts from the book Adobe After Effects 7 Studio Techniques

- Hold down SHIFT when animating (moving objects, adjusting a value etc.) and the value will be changed at ten times the normal amount of change. (When animating objects it's 10 instead of 1).

- Hold down CTRL + ALT to change a value at one tenth the normal amount.

- Select the Show Audio Waveforms option in Graph Editor options menu (the eye icon in the bottom) to show Audio Wave in the Graph Editor. You can do the same this with expressions. I found it quite useful when compositing a video into music.

- You can flop a layer horizontaly just by selecting the Layer, hiting S for Scale, unchecking the Constrain Proportions (the little icon to the left from the 100% value) and write -100% for the horizontal value (the first one). You can also flip it verticaly. Just - to the second value.

- Hit a keyframe and press F9 - you add Easy Ease Bezier Interpolation to the animation curve. Hit Shift + F9 and you add Easy Into the Keyframe animation (bezier into the frame, sharp edge out). Ctrl+Shift+F9 adds Easy Out of the Keyframe (the other way around).

- To reset the Keyframe from Easy Ease to linear, just Ctrl click it.

- In the Graph Editor, the Y values indicate the speed of an animation, while the X values represent the time.

- Hold keyframes are useful to stop video at a certain point in time. Just Right-click a certain keyframe and click Toggle Hold Keyframe (Ctrl + Alt + H).

- If you want a certain effect options to be visible even when you start working with different composition, just hit the small Lock icon on the top of the Effect Controls tab.

- With a layer selected, hit U to reveal all the keyframe data this layer contains. Hit U again to hide them.

- Hit UU with all the layers selected and you see all the transforms made in the project. Great tool!

- Hit E to see all the layer's applied effects.

- You can set a keyframe for any Transform value (Position, Anchor Point, Scale, Rotation, Opacity) by hiting Alt + Shift + propertie's shortcut (P, A, S, R, T).

- Deselect keyframes by hiting Shift + F2.

- Wit a set of keyframes selected Alt-Drag on the corner ones to lenghten or shorten the animation.

- You can adjust Anchor Point without changing the animation (for when you move it after you've animated a position, it changes the animation also). Just Alt-drag it and your animation remains the same, even though

- Martin