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Thursday, August 20th, 2009 | Author:

Way back in 2006, working with After Effects 6.5 on an 800mhz G4 PowerMac, I completed a conference opener for Centrica that attracted a lot of attention. Although the video looked as though it had been created using a 3D animation package, almost everything was done inside After Effects:

I recently completed a 3-part video tutorial on how it was all done, and you can watch the series over at the ProVideo Coalition.
To celebrate the release of my first video tutorials for the ProVideo Coalition I’ve put together a small demonstration project that you can download here. For the best result you will need a copy of the Knoll Light Factory Spectacular plugin, but even if you don’t have a copy you will still be able to see how the scenes in the Centrica animation were put together, and you’ll be able to play around with the same files that I’ve used in the tutorials.

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Friday, February 13th, 2009 | Author:

Recently I had a small job which was really fun to work on.  Martin Scanlan, a London based writer/director, has written a fantastic feature film screenplay called “Complicated” and I was asked to create several potential posters to advertise it. Without giving too much away, one of the characters is a chaos mathematician and as a fan of fractals I incorporated a Mandelbrot Set into one of the designs.  As it’s the day before Valentines Day I’ve stripped down the original project…

…and here – just in time for Valentines Day – is a Valentines Day themed After Effects project just in case the special someone in your life is a real geek and you’re having trouble finding a suitably geeky card…

But be warned – this takes ages to render!

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Friday, February 13th, 2009 | Author:

Original article: Flying through a tunnel with After Effects

Tunnel effect using the Polar Coordinates filter

This article was written in July 2004 (AE v5.5) and demonstrates how a tunnel fly-through effect can be achieved by using the polar coordinates filter. I make it quite clear in the introduction that you cannot get a “Hollywood level” tunnel effect using only After Effects, because you can’t get twisty 3D geometry in AE.  So this tutorial was only ever intended to demonstrate a “quick and dirty” technique for faking it.

The tutorial is still relevant and the technique is still valid- none of the techniques or plugins used have dated and if I needed a tunnel effect today I might still use this process… but there are alternatives to consider.

In fact the basic trick demonstrated in the tutorial – using the polar coordinates filter – is so simple that the article’s substance comes from detailing additional procedures with fractal noise and reshape.

So really, there are three stages to this tutorial:

1) creating a texture for the tunnel with fractal noise

2) using the polar coordinates effect to create the tunnel

3) using the reshape effect to add twists and turns to the tunnel

The polar coordinates filter is one way to make a tunnel effect, and in July 2004 with AE version 5.5 it was the only feasible option without 3rd party plugins. But these days another option is to use the CC cylinder effect and align it so the camera is pointing down the middle of the cylinder – the CC Cylinder effect was included with After Effects from version 6.5 onwards. CC Cylinder creates a nicer looking tunnel than using polar coordinates but even using this approach the process of creating the fractal texture would be generally the same, and you’d still end up with a straight tunnel and so the reshape effect technique would still need to be used for bends.

I have tried creating a truly 3D tunnel in After Effects by arranging thousands of 2D circles with small offsets in their Z-space. It’s not difficult to do with expressions and you can try it yourself using the pattern generator project on the downloads page.  But although this can be done it’s really just an academic curiosity – you need thousands of layers to get a decent result and the render times go through the roof – especially with lights and shadows which are needed to give the illusion of depth. So you end up with a project that takes longer to render than a 3D application, doesn’t look as good, and can’t be controlled as easily.

Taking 3rd party plugins into consideration opens up several avenues for creating tunnels and I haven’t looked into them. Even Trapcode’s Particular could be used with circular particles to create a 3D tunnel.

But the original article was always intended to demonstrate a “quick and dirty” After Effects trick and with that in mind it is still relevant today.

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Wednesday, February 11th, 2009 | Author:

Original article: Creating cogs and gears in After Effects

Creative Cow tutorial - creating cogs and gears in AE

Creative Cow tutorial – creating cogs and gears in AE

This is a 5-part behemouth of a tutorial that I wrote a few weeks after finishing the morphing tutorial. I needed to animate some cogs for a corporate presentation and was faced with the problem of how to create cogs in After Effects. When I figured out a solution I was so pleased with myself I wrote these articles as a self-congratulatory exercise.

The original problem that I faced was – how do you get an image to follow a path without changing its size? I needed to have the teeth of a cog wrap around circles of different sizes, but without changing the size of the individual teeth. The solution I came up with was to use the Path Text plug-in, which allowed you to have text follow a mask shape, and use text to create the teeth instead of an image.   So the trick I devised was to build cogs and gears out of letters and punctuation marks…

Looking back this tutorial is dated in several ways but the most obvious is that the Path Text effect is now obsolete – replaced by Text Layers.  I think Text Layers were introduced with version 6.0, although it took so long for me to have the software upgrade approved by the accounts department that I eventually jumped straight from v5.5 to v6.5. The basic principle is still valid and so you could still use this process for creating cogs and gears but use Text Layers instead of the Path Text effect.

There is now a 3rd party plug-in available to distort an image along a path so you could make your cogs and gears that way – Rakka – but not everyone likes buying 3rd party plug-ins.

One thing that has always bugged me is that I rushed this tutorial out the door and the resulting cogs & gears don’t really look that good. If I had spent more time the end result would have been much better – the cogs & gears look flat (no texture) and the colours are garish (no colour grading) and so on…

… however the thing that has embarrased me even more is that I spend ages in part 4 describing how to use trigonometry to animate a piston, completely oblivious to the fact that Dan Ebberts had already posted a much more elegant tutorial on the same thing.  In fact the approach I use with trigonometry is actually incorrect and has a bug in the code, but since November 2002 only 1 person I’m aware of has discovered it and emailed me.

So to summarise:

– Path text is obsolete and you would use Text Layers instead

– The Cycore FX Rakka plug-in is an alternative approach to text

– The textures don’t look great and the colours need grading

– The trigonometry in part 4 of the tutorial is simply wrong, Dan has a better method.

Update!

With the release of After Effects CS6, it is now possible to use the same basic technique to create fully ray-traced 3D cogs inside of After Effects. This video tutorial at the ProVideo Coalition demonstrates the process…

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Wednesday, February 11th, 2009 | Author:

The Creative Cow website is an incredible resource and it has certainly grown since its launch. I have been proud to contribute several articles to the Creative Cow site over the years but as software and techniques change with time not all of those articles are still current. I thought it would be interesting to look at the articles I’ve written and make some observations about how they stand up today…

Original article: Morphing with AE.

Creative Cow morphing tutorial using the Reshape effect

This was the first article I had published on the Cow and I’ve often suspected it’s the most popular. It was written in October 2002 and I still get emails from people asking questions or simply thanking me for it.

Ironically, although it’s the oldest article it’s probably still the most relevant because none of the AE upgrades since version 5.5 have directly superceded the Reshape effect. If you want to do a simple morph then you could still follow the tutorial and get a decent result. However for anything more complicated I would almost certainly use the Liquify effect instead of Reshape – it offers much more control over the distortion process. The 3 basic stages of a morph effect outlined in the tutorial introduction would still apply, but by using Liquify instead of Reshape you can manually line up features like eyes and mouths as well as the overall outlines.

So in summary – the article is still relevant but for more control I would use the Liquify effect instead of Reshape.

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Thursday, February 05th, 2009 | Author:

Ever since I started using After Effects I’ve been annoyed at how the pre-compose function works. It’s always bugged me that when you pre-compose a layer the new composition is the duration of the original composition, not the individual layer.

Pre-compose - How it normally works

It bugged me a lot. Then I found a script on Dan Ebbert’s site which solved this quirk and introduced me to the world of scripting. I was absolutely thrilled by this discovery because it meant that a few lines of text could add new features to After Effects without the need to eagerly await the next version release, hope that your feature requests had been included, and then pay for the upgrade.

Although the script on Dan’s site was a great improvement there was one additional tweak I wanted to make: when I pre-compose a layer I sometimes want the layer to begin at the start of the new pre-composition and not maintain its original in-point. So I took Dan’s code, modified it slightly, and came up with a version that did exactly what I wanted.

You can download it here.

Pre-composing by using the script

You may be wondering why this is useful. So let me describe a typical working scenario:

A video production company is working on an fx-intensive project. They’ve pitched the concept, won the job, written the script, shot the images and an editor has come up with an approved edit. The next step is to start the graphics and fx work- which is your job. All the visual-fx in the project will be completed using After Effects. The editor exports the approved edit from Final Cut Pro as a single quicktime file because the production company is too tight to purchase Automatic Duck. You import the quicktime file into After Effects and run the brilliant Magnum edit detector script by Lloyd Alvarez. This automatically cuts the Quicktime file into individual shots. But if you were to build all of the graphics and fx into this one composition you’d end up with a monstrous creation that has thousands of layers! So you decide to pre-compose each fx shot into its own composition. Some of the shots will have additional elements in them that have been rendered out of a 3D program like Cinema 4D, and the 3D artist has rendered them out as TIFF sequences that all begin at 0. To make sure they line up properly it helps if each pre-composition in After Effects also begins at frame 0. This way if you need to alter shots or identify specific frames then the frame number in AE will be the same as the frame number in Cinema 4D. So this is where the script comes in handy… and also explains why it renames each pre-composition according to the original layer number.

Your finished timeline would look like this:

And your project window would look like this:

Other AE users have also generously modified the script to add different functionality they would prefer and you try them all over at the AE Enhancers web site.

If you’re not familiar with scripts then all you need to do is drop the downloaded .jsx file into the “Scripts” folder of the After Effects application folder. Next time you start After Effects it will appear in the list with the other scripts.

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Sunday, February 01st, 2009 | Author:

Printed images are made up of loads of dots and there are several 3rd party plug-ins around which simulate this effect. But what if you want to achieve a halftone effect using only standard AE plug-ins?

If we consider how halftone works then we can think of some solutions. Basically an image is divided up into a fine grid, usually of circles, and the size of each circle is proportional to the brightness of the image under it. In After Effects terms this sounds like how compound effects work – the scale of one layer is being controlled by the brightness of another layer. All we have to do is figure out which compound effect will do what we want.

My first thought was Particle Playground – often overlooked but still very powerful. We could set up Particle Playground to create a grid of circles using text bullet-points and then have a controlling layer – our source image – determine the size of each circle. This is exactly what we want and this approach would work perfectly…

…except that Particle Playground is slow. Really, incredibly, frustratingly slow. So it’s worth looking for a better alternative.

Another plug-in which will do what we want is Card Dance. Card Dance divides our source image into a grid of cards and then sets the size of each card according to luminance of another layer- exactly what we’re looking for. And Card Dance is much, much faster than Particle Playground.

So by separating our source image into primary colours, applying our halftone effect using Card Dance to each individual colour layer, and then combining them with small position offsets we can create a passable halftone effect:

Halftone effect using Card Dance

Halftone effect using Card Dance

Another advantage of using Card Dance is that it’s aware of the AE comp camera and can be used to create a 3D halftone effect. The layer itself isn’t a true 3D layer but behaves as though it is. This opens up a whole load of possibilities for interesting 3D halftone effects.

While Card Dance provides the finished halftone effect we also have several options for creating our grid of circles. It’s actually interesting to consider how many different ways there are to create a grid of circles in After Effects – including:

• Use the circle effect, then CC Repetile / Motion Tile

• Use a solid and CC Ball Action

• Use a solid and Brush Strokes (size 5,length 1, density & randomness 0)

• Use Particle Playground and a text grid of bullet points

But the one I went for is to use a Shape Layer, and then a repeater. This has the added advantage of allowing me to set up some simple expressions to drive the size, position and alignment of the circles.

There are a few other expressions in this project designed to help the end result look as good as possible. The slider which sets the size of the circles has a simple expression applied to ensure that they’re evenly spaced out horizontally – with no half-circles sticking out the side. Unfortunately I haven’t figured out how to ensure that the same limitation works vertically. If the DotSize you select gives you half a circle at the bottom of the screen then the finished result will look a bit odd, as the Card Dance effect doesn’t do half-cards.

The size of the circles is linked to the Card Dance effect so that the correct number of rows and columns is automatically set, and the colour layers are slightly offset to simulate the printing process. The offset is also linked with an expression to the size of the dot being used. This way you can adjust the size of the overall halftone effect with the one slider.

The paper background was created with fractal noise and you can find an article detailing the process here.

Here are two AE projects – one which creates an ordinary halftone effect on a flat layer and one which demonstrates a 3D camera move. There are options for a black & white image, RGB and CMYK colour space.

You can download the After Effects project here: halftonepatterns-withcardwipe.

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Sunday, February 01st, 2009 | Author:

According to my website statistics the original watercolour wipe project (further below) is incredibly popular. I’ve always found this intriguing as it’s a very simple project that only took a few minutes to put together. And although it’s useful as a teaching aide it doesn’t look especially great, and honestly it doesn’t look much like a watercolour.

So – as promised – here’s a revised and updated project which hopefully looks a lot nicer.

A watercolour style effect - revised and updated

A watercolour style effect – revised and updated

The project is driven by two basic compositions – one contains the image to be wiped on and the other contains a very basic gradient to control the direction of the wipe. You can easily import your own image to replace my holiday snap, and any greyscale gradient can be used to replace the simple ramp that I’ve used.

The difficult part is making the image look as though it’s part of the paper and not just superimposed on top of it. The next step is to adjust the matte patterns so that they also have some texture, otherwise the image simply looks like it’s fading up.

The paper in the project was created using only Fractal Noise in a separate project, and if you’re interested in the process then head over to the Cow.

You can download the updated project watercolourwash-revised.

UPDATE!

I have revised and tweaked this project yet again, and have created a 2-part video tutorial examining how everything works.  You can download the latest version of the watercolour wipe project (2013) here – and you can watch the video tutorial here.

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Wednesday, December 10th, 2008 | Author:

“Jekyll” is a 2007 BBC series starring James Nesbitt and Michelle Ryan, which updates the well known tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by adding modern technology and a conspiracy theory. The DVD authouring was handled by London company ‘Cheerful Scout’ who gave me the job of designing the DVD menus. The main menu of the DVD features a close-up of Hyde’s eye which was created in After Effects – and this post will demonstrate how it was done.

One thing I liked about the series was the low-key approach to visual effects. It must have been tempting for the Director to utilise a full arsenal of CGI technicians to depict the transformation between Jekyll and Hyde, but instead it was done in a much more refined manner – a simple close-up of the main character’s eye. The ‘Jekyll’ character – renamed ‘Dr. Jackman’ for the series – has perfectly normal, clear green eyes. The ‘Hyde’ character’s eye is brown and murky with disturbing bloodshot discolourations around the pupil. When the character transforms in the series we cut to a quick close-up of the eye as it opens and we can tell by the colouring what has just happened.

Still frames from the TV series

I decided that a suitable loop for the main menu would be a close-up of the eye as it blinks and transforms between the two different states. A selection of video clips from the show, along with the text for menu options, would appear as reflections in the eye.

Although I thought this was a fine concept I had to overcome several problems. If you watch the series you will never actually see the eye blink and transform as it does in the DVD menu. The show only ever features one eye at a time – and fairly quickly too. So I had two clips of an eye opening, one for Jekyll and one for Hyde, but they were separate shots and were never used together in the series. Each shot was less than a second long – about 20 frames – but using the main theme music as the sound bed for the menu meant I had to stretch these shots out for 40 seconds.

The next thing I realised was that the two eye shots didn’t line up. When the shots are edited next to each other the two eye’s position, size, shape and even skin tones are different. Because the series never showed the eye blink and transform from one to the other they didn’t have to line up perfectly, and if you consider how they would have been filmed (possibly even on different days with different actors) then you can’t really expect them to.

I wanted the menu options to be reflected in the eye but because of the way that DVDs work the text can’t move around. This meant I would need to adjust the size and position of the two eye shots so they matched – that way when the eyes blink and transform from one to the other the DVD menu text can stay in the same position.

Although we never saw the eye during the actual transformation in the series, I was clear on the type of effect I was after. I wanted the murky, discoloured patches of the eye to swirl around and flood into the white areas. In order to create this animation in a way that I could align it with the existing footage of the clear green eye, I would have to re-create the entire eye as a graphic element.

I started by building the swirly effect for the discoloured eye. Any time I’m trying to create an organic pattern or texture I think of fractal noise. I was confident that by using fractal noise, and other plug-ins that use the same underlying principles as fractal noise, I could create a realistic and effective eyeball entirely within After Effects.

The first step was to create a swirling matte which I would use to create an organic and flowing border for my fractal noise texture.

Just a solid with the ramp effect...

This was done with nothing more than a simple ramp, followed by the turbulent displace effect. The turbulent displace effect was set to loop seamlessly.

... with some Turbulent Displace, creating a seamless looping animated matte

Then I created a strip of fractal noise, also set to loop seamlessly, using this turbulent ramp as the matte.

Looping fractal noise with the track matte

In order to wrap this texture into a circle I would be using the Polar Coordinates filter, but the source layer needs to be a square in order for the result to be circular. So the animating strip of fractal texture is dropped into a large square composition.

Square pre-composition

The fractal strip is used twice, with a copy of the layer flipped upside down so we get a swirling border on both sides. I also used the offset filter and the CC wire-removal plug-in to make the texture tileable, so there is no visible seam. You can find more information on this technique over at the Creative Cow.

At this stage I’m working with a really big composition because I know that wrapping the layer into a circle will shrink it quite a bit and also crunch out a lot of the fine detail. My initial fractal strips were 3000 pixels wide, so this square precomposition is 3000 pixels square. Even though I was doing this at the start of 2007 I was using an old G4 Mac with AE v6.5 and the render times were pretty long!

Now that I had my texture set up in a square composition I could use the Polar Coordinates filter to wrap the texture into a circle. By animating the position of the fractal strip within the square composition I could make the texture move closer or further away from the centre. This way I could make the texture look as though it was swirling into the eyeball from nowhere, or out of nothing. Again- the Creative Cow article gives more details on this technique.

Finished manky texture, using Polar Coordinates

This circular texture will be used as the murky and discoloured elements of Hyde’s eye. I had already set up the fractal noise to loop seamlessly and next I rendered out 3 different versions using different random seeds for the fractal plug-ins, so I would have some variations and flexibility at the compositing stage.

So onto the next bit…

I said earlier that any time I think of organic textures, I think of fractal noise. So in order to create the appearance of loads of tiny blood vessels and capillaries on the eyeball I immediately thought of lightning. There are two lightning effects in AE, both of which use the principles of fractal noise (Perlin Noise) to generate effects which look like lightning. And lightning – being organic and fractal – looks a lot like blood capillaries, which are also organic and fractal.

Lightning

Fair enough- if you apply the Advanced Lightning effect to a black solid you do get something that looks a lot more like lightning than an eyeball, but the trick is to keep at it. It made sense to me.

Once I found the basic parameters which I thought worked well, I duplicated the effect and moved the position parameters around. Eventually I had 18 copies of the Advanced Lightning effect on one layer, radiating out from the centre of the solid – which is where the pupil will be. Then I duplicated the solid and flipped it, to double the total number of veins.

Lots of Advanced Lightning arranged in a circ

Having looked closely at a few eyes for reference (I recommend Google because people think you’re a bit weird if you stare into their eyes) I saw that I needed a mixture of dark blue and red blood veins, so once I had finished creating the blue composition I started again but changed the colour of the effect to red.

The actual eyeball would simply be created by using the CC Sphere effect which expects layers to have a ratio a 2:1. So these two blood vessel compositions (red and blue) were created at a resolution of 3000×1500, to give me flexibility and spare resolution later on. These veins don’t animate.

More Lightning, this time coloured red

Now that I had created my manky fractal texture and my red and blue blood vessels, the next step was to create the basic eyeball itself. Fractal noise was again used, along with CC toner, to create a gently mottled yellow texture that would form the base layer of the eye. Again this composition was created with a 2:1 ratio for the CC Sphere effect. The colours for the CC toner effect were just eye-droppered from the video footage of the eyes from the show.

Simple mottled yellow texture

The next thing I realised by looking closely at real-life eyes is that they’re not perfectly smooth like glass marbles- they have a watery texture that varies in thickness. So I once again used fractal noise to create a separate texture to use as a bump-map for the eye, to try and make it look less flat and fake.

Once I had the basic parameters set up for the CC Sphere plug-in I copied and pasted the effect to the other layers which would also use the CC Sphere effect – the red and blue blood vessels and the fractal texture I was using as a bump-map. All of these compositions had been created at the same size (3000×1500) so the CC Sphere effect could be cut and pasted. The manky circular texture was tinted and layered on top as well.

Building up the finished eye was a process of adding the layers, duplicating them if necessary, and then adjusting transfer-modes and colours to taste. I had my basic eyeball texture – the yellow/white base colour – and over that I had my red blood veins, my blue blood veins, and the three different variations of turbulent fractal noise that I began with, which were tinted various shades of red, brown and yellow. At the top I had an adjustment layer with the CC Glass effect, using the fractal bump-map texture as the source to create an impression of depth.

Basic mottled texture with the CC Sphere effect

'Bump map' - more Fractal Noise

Red blood veins overlaid onto the base texture

To help the textures blend into the pupil I masked out two brown solids with a raggard circle and experimented with feathers and transfer modes- these layers were flat and didn’t use the CC Sphere effect.

Simple mask as a base for the pupil

Although I was happy with the progress I was making at this stage I realised that I wouldn’t be able to generate a completely realistic pupil using only fractal noise. Fractal noise is great but it has limits… so I grabbed the company’s digital SLR and took a quick macro-photograph of the closest person’s eye. I imported the photo of the eye, roughly masked out the iris, and just used the extract filter to get the iris texture on a transparent background. I positioned the iris in a 2:1 composition so the CC Sphere effect could be applied and the iris would be in the correct position for the composite. I also added a rectangular specular reflection which adds depth and realism.

Photo of James' eye, masked and extracted

Now that I had all my bits together it was just a matter of tweaking colours and transfer modes to get the desired effect. I ended up with this:

All layers composited together

At this stage the fractal noise textures animate but in a slow and linear fashion. Using time-remapping and some keyframe-easing the circular fractal texture was adjusted to make it look like it was flooding into the eye.  I also adjusted the lighting and used a masked-solid to vignette the outer parts of the eyeball.

A sequence of shots from the series was edited together, imported and positioned in a 2:1 composition for the CC Sphere effect.

Video loop in position for the CC Sphere effect

The video footage was scaled, masked and feathered and then composited onto the eye to give the impression of a specular reflection.

The next step was to look at the two source clips I had of the eyes opening. These were both stabilised using AE’s motion tracker and time-remapped to stretch out the shots to several seconds long each- the original clips were less than 25 frames duration. Because the source footage only showed the eyes opening it was  necessary to use time-remapping to ‘ping-pong’ each shot so that it looked like the eye was opening and then closing again. Because the clips were stretched out so much they were de-grained using the ‘remove grain’ filter to stop the slow down being so obvious. Then the eyeball in the Hyde shot was masked out and the two shots were aligned, scaled and sequenced so they ‘blinked’ in a loop for the same duration as the theme music.

Eyeball is masked out, de-grained and stabilised

The animating eyeball could now be composited underneath, with levels adjustments and some shadows to help the overall effect.

Animating eyeball composite

The DVD menu options were created and given the flickering glow look used in the opening title sequence. Although they needed to be mostly flat and legible a small amount of curvature was applied by using the optics compensation effect.

Final result, with text, film grain and camera movement added

As the video footage had been de-grained and stabilised, the last step was to add a small amount of camera movement and to re-apply grain to the overall sequence. The menu was then rendered out and delivered to the DVD authours.

Here is a section of the finished menu:

When one of my co-workers described the end result as ‘mingin’ I took it as a compliment…

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Friday, November 28th, 2008 | Author:

How easy it is to work on any given project isn’t just a matter of how well you know After Effects. All sorts of factors can combine to make one job more or less demanding than the next. Designing the DVD menus for the ITV hit “Prehistoric Park” was probably the most demanding project I have ever worked on, and the extremely tight deadline I had was a significant factor in the job’s difficulty.

I had set up the Episode and Chapter select menus to resemble the security room which appeared in the series, and had a bank of TVs set up to display the various episodes or chapters for the viewer to choose from. Incidentally, this is all done in AE. There are no 3D applications involved here, just lots of cutouts arranged in 3D space. The TVs are each comprised of 4 solids arranged in 3D space – a photo of the front of a real monitor, and grey solids for the top and sides. You never see the back or the bottom so no need for anything there. Shadows and spotlights hide a multitude of rough sins!

Prehistoric Park - Episode Select Menu

Prehistoric Park - Episode Select Menu

But I digress..

I also had 2 computer screens as part of the set and although I had planned to design some sort of fake Prehistoric Park interface to go on them, I simply ran out of time. The deadline was approaching, it was past midnight and I just wanted to finish up and go home. There was no time for me to design something that would rival ‘Minority Report’. And because I had to let the various menu compositions render overnight there wasn’t much point in me working longer anyway, or the renders wouldn’t be done in time for the morning…

So I had to improvise. I screengrabbed the Mac I was working on, with After Effects open and me in the middle of working on the Prehistoric Park menus. Then I imported the still, dropped it into the composition to fill the laptop screen, finished up and went to bed. Problem solved in 30 seconds!

So if you look really carefully at the Episode and Chapter select menus in Prehistoric Park, you can actually see a screengrab of the After Effects project for the Prehistoric Park menus…

Remember what AE version 6.5 looked like?

Remember what AE version 6.5 looked like?

This wide shot shows the two laptop screens I needed to fill – the front one denotes which disc is being played, while the rear one will be used in the Chapter Select menu to navigate back to the Episode Select menu. When there’s a transition to play you can see the screen a bit more clearly…

DVD menu recursion...

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