There are a multitude of techniques you can use to animate a photo in After Effects, but our favorite approach has to be utilizing a depth map.
This hasn’t always been easy. In the past, artists had to manually create a depth map by estimating and painting the greyscale images themselves. With the advances and accessibility of Machine Learning tools, a better approach is now readily available.
Photoshop is leading the charge with their Neural Filters. Here’s how to create a Depth Map in Photoshop.
Select your photo layer, go to Filter > Neural Filters > Depth Blur and toggle it on. Then select Output Depth Map Only and once it is done processing in the cloud, select Duplicate Layer and hit Okay
Now you can easily animate your image using your depth map and the displacement map plugin in After Effects!
Introducing your new favorite font, the Inferno Typekit! This tool is designed to help you create your own intense flaming title animations without any specialist editing knowledge required.
The characters from A-Z are free to download for all users. Pro members of the ProductionCrate community can access the full bundle of numbers, symbols and lowercase letters.
Each character is a separate video file, allowing you to combine them in any arrangement to create the fire text. This allows you to individually manage each letter, giving limitless animation potential.
The most impressive part is that these are all loopable fire video effects. So if your video is a 10-second commercial or an hour-long broadcast, this fire text can be repeated infinitely with perfect seamless transitions. All you need to do is duplicate the fire text and place it directly after the first, transforming them into one consistent animation.
Fire Text Tutorial
For this, we will be using Adobe After Effects. However, the process is incredibly simple and can easily be replicated in your own editing software, whether that’s Hitfilm, Premiere Pro or Sony Vegas. You’ll also need to download our Inferno Typekit here.
One advantage of using Adobe After Effects is that you can download and install our Typekit Script for Pro users. This tool automatically writes the correct text into your composition, however, you can easily drag and position each layer manually. You can run this script by navigating to File -> Scripts -> Run Script File -> TypeCrate.jsx.
Hit the ProductionCrate logo at the top to open your preferences. Here you can press “choose” to navigate to the folder where you have installed your fire Typekit.
You’re now free to type in the text you want to be generated, here I’ll type “Inferno” and press Generate.
It’s as easy as that!
From here we can stylise the effect. I’ll be adding some of our new ember VFX assets which are easily composited with a screen blend mode.
Another effective bundle of assets are the new mini smoke plume video effects which I will once again use a screen blend for. I’ll make a circular mask and feather it so that it appears that the flames are illuminating the smoke.
Adding plenty of glow effects before applying our final colour corrections to the contrast will complete the look of the shot. I used Crate’s Heat Radiation to create the final grading of the flames, as well as some sharpening to enhance the details in the flames.
If you’re interested in our other typekits, check them out here!
To prove the power of ProductionCrate assets, we put them to the test by creating a large-scale city destruction VFX shot.
ProductionCrate is a library of over 10,000+ professional video effects, stock footage, sound effects and 3D models. You’ll be happy to hear that a lot of these assets are free to download, while Pro users can access the entire library, including 4K assets.
We’re constantly updating our library with new and exciting creative content, such as our most recent bundle of 4K dust and smoke accents.
These have been built in with alpha-mattes using a Quicktime PNG codec so that you simply need to drag and drop this into your project. This, with the different file formats available for you to download, means our VFX assets are compatible with After Effects, Hitfilm, Premiere Pro and more.
Another brand new asset that we used in the shot is our 3D alien spaceship model. This is provided in OBJ format, the most widely supported file type, compatible with Blender, 3ds Max, Cinema4D, Element3D and more.
GraphicsCrate provided a huge level of control for the look of the environment. While video assets are good for explosions and lasers, static graphics can give us the power to add cracks, scorch marks and rubble to our scene.
Here’s the full list of assets we used in this video:
You can learn exactly how we built this shot by watching our latest tutorial, which covers several valuable compositing techniques that will improve your skills. Enjoy!
If you’re interested in some fantastic new sound effects for your cinematic trailers, take a look at them here.
After Effects scripts are a powerful way to automate and accomplish tasks that would have otherwise taken far longer.
For example, many popular scripts automate the way that you animate, automatically adjusting keyframes in an instant to save you valuable time and get better results.
If you haven’t tried any out yet, you can browse our library of exclusive scripts and plugins. Many of them are free to download, while Pro members of the ProductionCrate community can access the entire collection, as well as over 10,000 other creative assets.
Thankfully, installing these scripts is an incredibly easy process, and works the same on both Windows and Mac. We also ensure that our tools are compatible with the most recent versions of After Effects (CC 2018, CC 2019).
Our example today will be walking through the installation of our free Hologram generator script which has just launched!
1 – Extract the script to “/Adobe After Effects CC 2019/Support Files/Scripts”
If you don’t have any .zip file tools, you can use WinWar.
Using this software to open the .zip file that you download will allow you to then drag the files to a new location. Make sure that you extract all of the content from the zip file.
Our destination is usually found in the Program Files folder. In most cases the full directory is:
C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects CC 2019\Support Files\Scripts
But if you are using any other Adobe CC version, feel free to place it there instead.
2 – Create your After Effects composition
Most of our tools won’t work if there’s no footage for it to work on!
3 – Click File -> Scripts -> Run Script File
From here you can then navigate to the place you extracted the files to. Clicking on the “.jsx” file will then launch your chosen script.
There’ll always be the chance that something goes wrong. We’ve compiled a list of steps you can take to troubleshoot these issues
Take a moment to quickly look back in the zip folder, and check if all of the contents are also in the After Effects script folder. If it isn’t, simply drag it all over again!
Go through Edit -> Preferences -> General. A window will open with a bunch of checkboxes, where you can enable “Allow Scripts to Write Files and Access Network”.
Call for backup
If all else fails, you can ask on the forums, the comments below or contact us at Support@ProductionCrate.com, we’ll happily try our best to help out!
What do people mean when they say ‘cinematic’?
You’ve seen the videos suggesting harsh color-grading, or the tutorials that tell you to just throw on some aspect-ratio bars. The truth is, there is no simple one-step solution. Quality footage shot with dynamic range will allow you to create the exact look you want. There are the shooting-steps and then the post processing-steps, you have to work on both if you are going to improve your videos.
Today you’ll get to learn a bit about shooting with log. Alex and Alexsa from Crate’s Camera Corner will break down the basics for utilizing this powerful feature available on many consumer cameras.
The true definition of log can be a bit confusing, so let me try and summarize it. Log images look washed out and flat. Suffice it to say you will not like the look of footage shot with log. At least, not until you color it. Log footage is made to be extremely dynamic, storing color and luminosity with loads of depth, allowing you to truly hone in on whatever look you would like to achieve. Yes, that does mean log footage requires more work than you might be used to. If you’re shooting a vlog you probably won’t want to shoot with log, but if you’re shooting a film or client video then log may be right for you.
Alex and Alexsa shoot with Sony, so they use the S-Log2 setting. Different cameras will have different log formats. Shooting log does take practice, we don’t suggest you try it when the stakes are high. Instead shoot some test footage, or if you are a Pro User you can download this aerial clip shot with log and practice your coloring in post.
An important thing to note is that you need to nail your exposure if you’re shooting with log. It is less forgiving than out of the box picture profiles or standard color outputs. We only suggest you shoot log if you know how to get properly exposed shots and are willing to take the time in post production to hone in on your color.
Check out the first episode of Crate’s Camera Corner
Want to know more? Alex will show you his workflow and approach to coloring in Premiere Pro including how to build your own LUT to load onto your external monitor.
Want to know the top 5 Mistakes Videographers make on their websites? Check this article out
Adrian Jensen recently created this Pro VFX Course teaching you his techniques for rotoscoping in Adobe After Effects and Mocha AE. Here are some highlights from his course, Pro Users can view the entire roto-series here. If you’re rotoscoping to place video effects behind your subject or to integrate Motion Graphics into your project then this course is for you.
Rotoscope with Masking in After Effects
This is the most common technique for rotoscoping in After Effects. Some think it is antiquated, however we utilize it all the time.
When you’re using masks to roto in After Effects don’t try to use one mask. This may seem like the correct approach at first, but you’ll quick realize how complex and messy it will become. Instead, break up your subject(s) with multiple masks, this will speed up your workflow tremendously.
A lot of tutorials suggest a fixed number of frames to move before keyframing. Adrian suggests keyframing your masks at the point of most-motion as a better approach.
There are two different kinds of masks you can use, Adrian prefers the Auto-Bezier mask option.
Remember, you can double click your masks and rotate them, this will save time, especially for rigid body objects. You don’t have to move each mask point by point every time.
Color code your masks. This will help distinguish them from one another, and will help if your mask looks too similar to the subject you are trying to roto out.
Rotoscoping with Mocha AE
Adrian’s preferred method for rotoscoping is Mocha AE.
Mocha AE comes with After Effects and is a terrific tool for motion tracking and rotoscoping work.
You can track multiple masks (or ‘layers’) at one time with Mocha AE. Adrian still recommends multiple masks for your subject, instead of attempting one mask.
When using Mocha AE set your spline up and let it track all the way through before making any adjustments.
Lock your mask when you are done with it, you can turn off the Gear icon to disable processing.
Want to learn more? Visit Adrian’s Pro Rotoscoping Course and get your roto-game leveled up. Adrian covers masking, Mocha, the Roto Brush Tool and even techniques to avoid rotoscoping entirely.
Story: The Great Unseen Equalizer in VFX
There is an art to using VFX as an unseen tool. So much consideration goes into the curating of what you, the viewer, see at any given moment, that it is easy to forget about what you don’t see in a shot. But more often than not, what you don’t see is where the best and most impactful story moments lie.
In VFX, just because we can do anything and everything doesn’t always mean we should. So often audiences and media focus on what we can see and what is shown on screen in VFX. When The Avengers and Game of Thrones are the baseline for visual excellence, the bar is pretty high. Freeze frame any moment from those shows and the still image is a renaissance painting. (Unless there is Starbucks cup.)
But ultimately consideration for VFX emerges from a directorial, editorial story perspective. A visual should not exist simply for the sake of existing.
Curious about what are some of the ways to use VFX with restraint or purpose in more subtle and useful ways?
Back to the Basics and Classics
A sense of film history is the best tool you can use when figuring out your shot. Think back to a world of Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling; a world of storytelling where it is not so much what you show, but what you don’t and how that restraint can serve the better purpose of your story.
The Twilight Zone was created during the infancy of television, an episode conceived in 1960, almost 60 years ago. In Eye of the Beholder, the filmmakers obfuscate, misdirect, and use light and contrast as an unspoken character. The claustrophobic visual language creates a foreboding slow build, leading to a masterful, gasp worthy reveal.
Yet, you would think that since it’s almost 100 years old, it should be primitive in its filmmaking, with all that limitation of technology. Rather the opposite, Eye of the Beholder manages to pack a gut-punch allegory on Nazism and conformity, against the backdrop of a totalitarian state, using mostly shadows, concerted camera movement and actors backs to camera. Even with such heady topics, nothing in the production feels cheapened, nothing feels lost to age, it holds up remarkably well as a gem of perfection.
With just light and camera direction The Twilight Zone achieves masterful commentary about the perceived value of homogeny in beauty. What we, the viewer, don’t see informs the story just as much as what we are allowed to see. This gives so much weight to the double-blind reveal. What does her face look like? Is she a monster?! What do the doctors look like? Eye of the Beholder remains riveting and engaging television by any modern measure. If they can do that with so little, there’s nothing you can’t do.
Technically Difficult and Time Consuming? Yes, if it serves story.
Way back in 1948, Alfred Hitchcock audaciously sought to create a seemingly single take film. Rope was an amazing and difficult orchestration, with entire magazines of film taking up the length of each take. Hitchcock’s use of “the television technique” was unheard of and novel and considered by many “daring” for a mainstream director at the time.
This single take (“one shot”) approach popularized by Hitchcock has been adapted, paid homage to over and over since then, which only stands to show how clever the concept was in its infancy. From The X-Files to Birdman to Mr Robot, each new attempt at this concept acknowledges its roots and predecessors then ups the ante and reliance on VFX to create the seamless intended story effect. The most recent entry in this category may be to the 59 minute 3D shot in Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
Don’t be discouraged if something technically difficult requires testing, rehearsal, pre-vis and blocking. A deliberate approach harkens back to my thoughts on Mise en Place for production. When you are able to plan for VFX during production process versus an afterthought, you’re putting they story front and center.
Mr. Robot is unique and well known for capturing accurate technical details about computing and hacking, so it’s no surprise that an immense amount of technical preparation went into creation of the episode with a special focus on the shots and camera movement.
This breakdown video shows everything from general environment clean up, stitching, tracking and compositing of multiple takes. All this is required to create a seamless and invisible shot. Read more from the director of Mr. Robot’s eps3.4_runtime-err0r.r00.
Imagine if Alfred Hitchcock had the same kind of VFX capability. In Rope, Hitchcock wound up re-shooting the ending segments, because he was dissatisfied with the color of the sunset. Today, perhaps he would ask his team environment painters (Digital Matte Painters) to paint and adjust the background accordingly.
Use Constraints to Elevate Story
Figuring out how to “make it work” in filmmaking is a feature not a bug. Famously there is a story about a director that wanted to shut down an entire freeway for a large multi-car crash scene. With a logistical nightmare of permits, stunt men and traffic the Producer griped “Can’t we just make it a reverse shot in a telephone booth?”
Never has there been a more honest and funny acknowledgement of such constraints than in a movie sequel like the Phil Lord & Chris Miller‘s 22 Jump Street – in which, if you didn’t know, is an entire movie is based on the construct of what a sequel is, and what happens in sequels. It’s fun.
Police Captain Dickerson, played by Ice Cube, makes it crystal clear in this movie, there is no budget for a big police chase like last time. As a reminder, Jonah Hill’s character yells to turn the car “whichever way is cheaper!”
This is called “making it work.” With a wink and a nod, 22 Jump Street opts to make all the action happen off screen.
It’s a funny moment with loud off screen banging and crashing. If this were a large tent-pole movie perhaps there would be hundreds of interior shots of CG robots and equipment being destroyed in real time. As the cars exit the other side of the building, Channing Tatum’s character quips: “Wow, there was a lot of expensive stuff in there.” We’re all in on the joke now.
The next time you feel you have to “show it all” think about these examples of unseen story in VFX, remember your filmmaking roots, commit to the vision, see it through and make something awesome.
Check out this fantastic video showing off some great hidden VFX. Remember, Visual Effects are a tool, just like any other. Don’t be limited in how you utilize them.
David Fincher utilizes Visual Effects to achieve what he cannot in a real-life scenario.
You can download these HD bullet impact effect here
It’s been a while since we last added bullet impact effects to our FootageCrate VFX library, but this update has been worth the wait!
12 incredible new impact assets are a part of our latest collection, with 3 being completely free to download now. You can find the rest of our dust and debris elements here.
These action-packed VFX elements range from 1080p to 4K, meeting the professional standards that you need to make your compositing project stand out. Each is at a consistent 30 fps, and have been pre-keyed to maintain perfect transparency, making it easy to edit them into your shot. Alternatively, you may choose the greenscreen versions which can be downloaded by selecting the MP4 file from the dropdown list.
If you haven’t subscribed to our Youtube channel, we would like to introduce you to our show VFXperiments, where we breakdown the magic behind creating these incredible effects for our community. Our latest episode covers these exciting bullet impact effects!
So now that you’ve caught up with how awesome these effects are, let’s take a look at how we can use them.
The first step is to pick which asset best fits your shot. Is the bullet impacting the floor? Perhaps a wall? Whatever the case, the available variations will meet your needs.
Grab your footage, (in this case I’m using a photo from Pexels.com) and use a compositing software such as Adobe After Effects or Hitfilm and add the bullet impact into your project. If your footage is moving, you can use one of the built-in camera trackers immerse the effect into your video.
Luckily for us, adding these bullet impacts to your video is surprisingly easy thanks to its built-in alpha channel! All we need to do is color correct the layer to match the footage. This can be achieved by applying a tint effect and selecting the colors of the impacted surface as the color to blend into. Making it slightly brighter will then give it the atmospheric-glow that we see in the real world.
Adding some shading can also work wonders! Take a look at the bottom left dust burst for example, where half of the smoke has been covered in shadow. You can recreate this by duplicating the dust burst and having the lower layer darker than the one above. The top layer can then be masked so that only the area in sunlight is visible. This is one of the most effective ways to make your bullet-impact look lifelike!
You can use the tint effect for other scenarios too, with the video covering how to use these impact assets to create an alien sci-fi weapon effect. Additionally, you can tint the footage red to create an instant blood burst!
We’re excited to see what you can create with these bullet impact VFX – get started by downloading them today.
If you’re interested in our other huge collection of assets to fuel your creative projects, check out our tank VFX assets.
We started our Youtube Channel in 2009, 10 Years ago.
ProductionCrate’s subscriber count is just around 68,000 today. In the last 365 days we have grown by 44,369 subscribers, about 65% of our entire subscriber count. That’s about 9 years of little to no growth, and then an awesome turn of events.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know we are not a massive channel. We’re not quite at the 100,000 Subscribers mark, or anywhere close to the Gold Play Button’s 1 Million. But we are growing, and most of that growth has happened really fast. I’ve received a few requests asking ‘How do I grow my Youtube Channel?‘ and ‘How do I get More Youtube Subscribers?’ so I figured this was a good time to share what we have learned so far. Keep in mind, this is what worked for us, it won’t necessarily work for all creators!
Format is key. Trust the format.
This is my holy mantra. The words that bring me back anytime my brain goes off on a tangent or if I’m not sure of my next step. You need to develop a format for your channel, show, series, whatever. There is a very direct, very clear connection between our formatted series and our Youtube channel’s growth.
Some of you are familiar with the Saturday Morning Tutorials, a weekly tutorial series we have developed. The first episode went live Jun 8, 2018. Right about the time our subscriber count turned for the better. It was different from other tutorials we have made in one big way, it has a tight format.
By format, I mean a system of steps, rules, branding and consistency that keeps the entire series cohesive. We start each episode off with our title animation and the exact same Voice Over, then jump right into the narrative sketch. After is the Channel’s title animation and then we jump into the tutorial. The series always has the same two hosts, which allows for some ad-lib banter. It has an ongoing story with recurring characters, which connects episodes. We try to shoot with a regular schedule, shooting two sketches in a day and releasing them over the next two weeks, on the same day of each week, and the same time. The system allows us to create faster content but also helps us stay true to the overall concept of the series. If you want to learn more, check out this Making Of video.
In with the Good, Out with the Bad.
We didn’t start the series with an extremely tight format. Things evolve naturally, if something worked, we stuck with it. If it didn’t, it was scrapped and we tried something new. Don’t stick with something if it isn’t working, try a new angle or concept. Saturday Morning Tutorials didn’t start with a title animation or a conscious choice to maintain character arc, those are just things that seemed to work well, and so we made sure to maintain consistency with them in each episode. Things got progressively better and tighter, and our audience continued to grow. Now we are trying to apply this success to new series, like VFXperiments and Davesplanations, both shows with an active format but still loose enough that we can adapt them as they develop.
Play to your strengths.
Don’t try to mimic another channel’s personality. Adrian and I work together every day, we have developed our own banter and that translates well for the tutorials. Our rhythm works because it is us, if we were trying to mimic Bob Ross we would fail horribly.
You’ll never find success if you’re making content you don’t care about. Follow your interests, passions or curiosity. If you’re bored making your videos, anyone who watches them will be bored too. It will be nearly impossible to maintain consistency and you’ll dread having to edit each one. Don’t do it.
Your audio needs work. You can get better lighting. Your edit can be tighter, or maybe you can let that shot sit for longer. Your workflow is slow or maybe you’re using outdated techniques. Your work will never be perfect. Don’t get cemented in your ways. Keep learning, stay up to date on your equipment, and keep trying new things. If there is one glaring, obvious annoyance you feel about your work then change it. It is too easy to be complacent, you need to be active to grow.
Don’t Burn Out.
Some of our episodes are awesome. We went above and beyond, polishing every cut and fine tuning every scene. Other episodes are just so-so. The latter usually happens when we’re reaching a burn out point. Too much work, not enough passion. If your heart isn’t in it, it’s going to show. For us, we took some time off. We tried new shows, wrote new characters, and found the passion again. It won’t last forever, but that’s okay. We’d prefer to take a moment to fall in love with the work again instead of forcing ourselves to hate it.
Do you have any tips and tricks you use? Or any questions you would like to ask? Disagree with everything I have said or found a bit of value? Let me know if the comments below!