Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category
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Eyes Wide Open at Blind
By Sarah Wise
Published on Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

We probably don’t need to introduce the award winning company Blind to anyone in the production industry. Their cutting-edge campaigns for brands such as Xbox, Showtime, and recording artists including Gnarls Barkley, and Justin Timberlake have given them a reputation for producing consistently compelling and creative concepts.

The Ravonettes are also a band with a reputation for strong concepts and called on Blind to produce the video for their track ‘Heart of Stone’. The video, which is set in a fantastic illustrated world, portrays the epic journey of a heartbroken man rambling across a unique and beautifully stylized landscape.

We were delighted to discover that Trapcode Shine and Particular played a part in shaping this remarkable and emotional piece of work and we asked Blind to elaborate on their use. Lawrence Wyatt, Lead compositor for Heart Of Stone told us:

“With a richly stylized world and concept it was important that we give it a sense of atmospheric detail and for me that comes from attention to natural light and its interaction with objects and characters in the scene. Using Trapcode Shine we were able create light-ray effects giving the exterior shots a warm and hazy atmosphere. These rays also helped to better marry separate elements together like the 3d sets, cg characters, and matte painted back-plates all of which shared and interacted with these lighting effects. We used Trapcode Particular for two different elements. One was for creating small random gnats around vegetation and the other was for creating water pouring out of massive tubes. Really simple technique of exaggerating motion blur and speed to get the scale right. Although we used a lot of stock footage effects, Trapcode Particular really came in handy in helping fill in the gaps and make custom effects for specific shots.”

You can check out the full story here along with the storyboard and other fascinating insights as to how this stunning piece of work took shape.

Related Links:

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A Great Looking Forecast
By Sarah Wise
Published on Monday, May 16th, 2011

Darren Gardner is a freelance motion designer and the graphic design producer for WHNS FOX Carolina in Greenville, South Carolina. He handles graphics, and visual effects for television commercials and promotions. Among his broad and varied portfolio of work, we noticed an impressive piece of lighting effects for FOX Carolina.

‘The Right Station for Weather’ was created using Trapcode Particular, Starglow and Knoll Light Factory and we recently caught up with Darren Gardner for some more details.

“I designed The Right Station for Weather promotional spot for WHNS FOX Carolina’s weather team coverage. I used Knoll Light Factory’s EZ plug-in presets to create the necessary luminance and glimmer of a convincing enough sun to sell the effect of a pleasant, sunny day turned dark and stormy. Trapcode Particular was instrumental in the completion of the storm clouds and rain. To create the moving clouds, I designed a custom sprite using random still frame time sampling of stock smoke elements gathered from Videocopilot’s Action Essentials 2 collection. The rainy neighborhood scene was designed from a stock photo element modified and brought to life using the Trapcode Particular and Starglow plug-ins among others. An off-camera lens flare generated by Knoll Light Factory EZ was used to add depth and help cement the final composite.”

We predict a sunny outlook for Darren and his fabulous work!

You can see Darren’s other great graphic design, web ads and other motion visuals on his company site

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Visual Effects for a Sucky Teen Film
By Aharon Rabinowitz
Published on Thursday, May 12th, 2011

In a previous blog post we talked about the film, “My Sucky Teen Romance,” directed by 18-year-old Emily Hagins, and how we got to be a part of the process. In this Blog entry, we’ll explore the visual effects of the film. Brian Behm was the VFX supervisor, and he broke down several of the VFX shots he worked on, in the film. In his words:


Arm Reflection Removal

We discovered (after the fact) that the aviator glasses our evil vampire was wearing were reflecting the sound guys arm in some of the shots. We had to figure out a way to remove them while not making them completely black. Using the keyer in Colorista II’s secondary correction, I was able to take the sound guys arm color and bring it back to a color that more closely matched the nearby areas in the reflection. Then, I manually tracked the lens area of his glasses and used them as a track matte on a solid that brought the overall levels on his glasses down. Then the shot was handed over to our colorist.

You can see in the video how the color pass wasn’t able to eliminate the reflection but with the darkening and Colorista II pass we were able to mostly eliminate it.


Pimple Removal

During re-shoots or lead actress got a pimple at the edge of her nose that wasn’t there during principal photography. Using the wire/rig remover that comes with Key Correct I was able to blend it away. One of the key distinctions between the wire/rig removal filter that comes with After Effects and the one built into Key Correct is the ability to feather out the edges of the two point line the rig creates. This made blending away the pimple much easier since it was in a conspicuous place and I needed it to be seamless.



Emily’s movie takes place amidst a group of high school kids who go off to a science fiction convention for the weekend. We wanted to create a title sequence that allowed us to get into the kids heads a bit, conveying some of the energy that’s there and hinting at some of the things we might see throughout the rest of the movie. We mined public domain horror movies for imagery they might have seen growing up and created looping 8-bit animated pieces that we composited together in Final Cut. The secondary color corrector built into Colorista II came in really handy. Using the hue dial I could dial in what I actually wanted the color to be after I applied my blend mode.

Over the course of the opening sequence there are close to 100 instances of Colorista applied. Each cut would have a Colorista II instance on both the background and text layer so that we could dial in the specific color of each while keeping our blend modes the way they needed to be so that we could get the layer interaction that we wanted to get.

If you look closely in some of the animated loops you’ll see that I was able to use some of Harry Frank’s Video Rock pieces to help create my 8-bit kaleidoscopes.


Vampire Vision

After a first screening of an early draft of the film, it was suggested to Emily, the director, that we should somehow show what the heightened senses of a hungry vampire might look like. She came up with the idea that when a vampire senses blood they can home in on artery and actually ‘see’ it. I took our original clip into Mocha and set up a track that followed along with the camera movement and then using transfer modes in After Effects and an anatomical image purchased from an on-line stock agency created a see-through look.

To create the veins we used multiple instances of Trapcode 3D stroke and bevel filters. Because 3D stroke generates its lines from masks, I was able to animate my bezier paths over time to create the illusion of blood pulsing. After the first draft, we decided that since vampires eyes ‘go red’ in our universe when they’re ready to feed that that should be carried over to the shot as well. We took our first effects pass and dropped it into a new composition and created a duplicate layer. On the duplicate layer we went into Magic Bullet Looks and created a pretty extreme look with soft focus on the edges, accentuated blacks and diffusion. We then faded between the original and the final to make it seem like his vision was ramping up.


Vince’s Death

Click Me

Vince’s death had been shot practically on set but I was presented with a request to change the tip of our practical stake to a sharp stake and make it look like it was actually going into Vince’s body. Using various pieces of stock blood footage I was able to create a rather grizzly death look, but Colorista II again, helped me get to the point where I felt everything was blending together. If you look at the image to the left (click it for an enlarged view) you’ll see that the blood coming out of our practical appliance is multi-toned.

Using Colorista II’s color keyer, I took all of the reds in the blood and lowered the brightness and midtones until they blended more evenly.

Additional applications of Colorista to each of the blood layers that we composited together and a final adjustment layer to blend all of the blood together with one more instance of Colorista got the shot to where I wanted it to be.

On working with Red Giant, Emily (the director) had this to say:

“Red Giant was instrumental to to completion of MY SUCKY TEEN ROMANCE. They donated software that we used to pay our visual effects team, which helped us during crunch time before we premiered at SXSW. Between the personal contact with the company and the professionalism of the products, I would recommend Red Giant software to productions of any scale.”


Red Giant Gets Involved in a Sucky Teen Romance
By Aharon Rabinowitz
Published on Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Eighteen-year-old Emily Hagins is no stranger to filmmaking. It’s not a hobby she picked up recently. She’s been directing since the age of 9, and is on record as the youngest director to ever complete a feature-length film. In fact, there is an award-winning documentary (Zombie Girl: The Movie) that followed her in creating her film, Pathogen, at the age of 12:

So with her own documentary, a rich IMDB page, and biographical Wikipedia entry to boot, what more could a girl ask for? Well, as it turns out, help finishing her latest and most ambitious film:

Two years ago, at the age of 16, Emily wrote and began directing her labor of love “My Sucky Teen Romance,” a feature length vampire comedy that has all the makings of a professional film, but which came up short on funding for the post production side of things. Her deadline of March 1st, for the film festival SXSW, was rapidly approaching, and she did not have the resources to get it done – at least not with the visual effects that matched her creative vision.

After her film poster was entered in our Red Giant Movie Poster Contest (it won, by the way), we found her pitch for the film on Vimeo:

I don’t know what you were doing at the age of 16, but I can tell you that whatever I was doing, it wasn’t that important. By the time Emily turned 18, she had already worked on independent films doing:

  • Camera work
  • Lighting
  • Color Correction
  • Sound Design/Editing
  • Post Production
  • Script Supervision
  • Assistant Directing

We got in touch with Emily and spoke to her and some of her team, and we were convinced – she was driven, talented, and wise beyond her years.  More importantly, she and her team had already done most of the work – there was just a little left to go. We knew we had to help. We immediately offered her software to use as incentive/payment to get VFX artists to join her production – and it worked!

On working with Red Giant, VFX Supervisor,  Brian Behm had this to say:

“Red Giant stepped in and gave me the opportunity to pay additional compositors with software. If I hadn’t had the extra help in the crunch time before our festival debut we wouldn’t have been able to finish the project as strongly as we did. I’m grateful for Red Giant’s assistance.”

Here are a few more interesting facts:

  • The film was Written from August 2009 – Spring 2010
  • Production + Post Production: Summer 2010 – February 2011
  • Filmed over 20 Days
  • Relatively young crew – many from the University of Texas
  • Her AD was 14
  • 2 Production Designers: one was 17 and one had  many years of professional experience
  • Filmed on a 7D (Magic Bullet Grinder was used a lot)
  • Film’s Producer, Paul Gandersman, is 26, with a BFA in Film and TV
  • Emily is Final Cut Certified

FWIW – They got the film done, on-time, and looking great. I watched it – It was a ton of fun. If you’re like me and you hate angsty teen vampire films, I am pretty sure you’ll love this. At the very least, you’ll appreciate the incredible work that went it this project.

We’ll return to My Sucky Teen Romance in another blog post, where Brian will share examples and breakdowns of his visual effects work on the film, using tools like Magic Bullet Colorista II and more.

In the mean time, check out Emily’s site @


iLove our new app family
By Debbie Rich
Published on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

A few weeks ago, we added two new iPhone/iPad apps to our mobile app family. Like a true family gathering, we’ve had warm responses and (virtual) hugs all around. Here are some of our favorite quotes and images.

Noir tells a cinematic story with your photo. Transform your iPhone/iPad photos with beautiful, dramatic lighting and instant results.

“The results are pretty stunning and look to be able to transform boring everyday shots into moody movie masterpieces.” — The Next Web, Matthew Panzarino, read more

“I’ve already fallen in love with Noir – a universal app for giving your photos a cinematic look by converting the image to black and white or a tinted monochrome and adding dramatic lighting.” — TUAW, Chris White, read more

“Noir itself as a great application for black and white treatments, offering a large degree of control and faultless ergonomics.” — l’iphoneographie, read French or English translation

We started a new Flickr group that is already bursting with Noir awesomeness, like the image shown below. Check it out.

Photo ‘On the tarmac’ by HumanGobo:

Movie Looks gives your iPhone movies an Instant Hollywood effect. Turn your family into movie stars with glamorous color effects inspired by popular films.

“The effects are great. I usually get this kind of color on AfterEffects or Final Cut Pro. Now I can do ‘Magic Bullet Looks’ thingy on my iPhone.” — Apple in Our Everyday Life, read tutorial

“This awesome YouTube video goes through all of the Movie Looks presets and his results look gorgeous.” — YouTube, Carmbrecht, user channel

Tree with Movie Looks preset effects,

Plastic Bullet is an iPhone app with infinite possibilities. Put the fun, spontaneity and surprise of plastic-fantastic toy cameras with organic colors, vignettes, blurs, glows and light leaks.

“I then imported the picture to the Plastic Bullet app, which applied random vignetting and color shifts. It’s one of my favorite apps, because each time the image is processed, a unique, non-reproducible photo is generated.” — The Bay Citizen, John Curley, read more

“Plastic Bullet for iPhone is one of those apps that can really bring a smile to your face… If you’d like a very simple app that creates some really nice shots Plastic Bullet is easily worth it.” — iOS Photo Apps blog, read more

Flowers with random effects from Plastic Bullet,


Nick Symons is Above Average for 48 hours
By Debbie Rich
Published on Monday, May 2nd, 2011

A film in only 48 hours?
That was the challenge taken by filmmaker Nick Symons when he entered the recent Sci Fi London 48 Hour Film Challenge 2011. Contest organizers sent participants a randomly generated film title, some dialogue and a prop list. All that each filmmaker had to do was write, shoot and edit a complete five minute film… in 48 hours.

Nick is an experienced compositor and animator who works for Double Negative Visual Effects in London. He picked up the filmmaker gauntlet using Red Giant’s Magic Bullet Mojo, and talked to us afterward about his two day experience making Above Average for the Sci Fi challenge.

Above Average from filmmaker Nick Symons

Nick said, “I knew when I decided to enter the challenge, I would need a super-fast pipeline, with absolutely no surprises. The film was shot on a hacked Panasonic GH1, with only one vintage prime lens, a Kiron 28mm F2. Like any indie film maker, I wanted the most cinematic image I could get, and for me it’s the grade of a film which really elevates an image into this realm. As the narrative of this film is quite dark and lonely, I knew I wanted a fairly desaturated image.

“Colorista and Looks are a pleasure to work with, but I found the quickest solution to get the job done in a matter of hours and looking fantastic was Magic Bullet Mojo. The toolset is streamlined, but still gives you loads of flexibility. I was really quite astonished at just how quickly it gave me a nice result while keeping skin tones. Even on wider shots where I wasn’t concerned about preserving the skin tones, I was able to get a great look quickly with only a few controls. Hats off to Red Giant, Mojo really is a fantastic and unique product.

“I hope you all enjoy the film, and I would certainly recommend to all you film makers to have a go at a 48 hour film challenge. It’s a great exercise and with the help of a brilliant cast and crew, it’s surprising at what you can do in a weekend.”
We think Nick’s entry was well worth the lack of sleep!


Ahoy! Talk like a Disney pirate with Psunami
By Debbie Rich
Published on Friday, April 29th, 2011

I really mean ‘design like a pirate’, but that is a rarely explained talent of sea marauders and conversely, we all know about this famous day.

Another pirate fact that has recently emerged is how Red Giant Psunami was used in a sexy video teaser for Hayden-Harnett bags called Pirates Everywhere!. This fashion video was created by filmmaker Stephen Dirkes and his production company Obscure Object Films, in collaboration with photographer Tal Shpantzer. The new fashion bags are part of Hayden-Harnett’s Disney Signature collection and influenced by the popular Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

“Pirates Everywhere!” Opening Title Animation

Stephen wrote in his company blog, “Posting about “Psunami” the video effects plug-in I used to create a 3d ocean for the titles because its both Prefab and Pretty Fabulous!… A super simple 3d animated ocean generator that I found really useful because its both very simple to start something and yet gives you quite a few parameters to work with… “Psunami” is the go to plug in that offers tremendous bang-for-the-buck and goes beyond being just a quick fix.””

You can read Stephen’s step-by-step use of Psunami on his blog page and learn more about Obscure Objects Film here. Of course, if you are in need of some booty for Talk Like a Pirate Day, Hayden-Harnett bags is ready for your shopping needs. Arrr!


Christopher Smith Uses Magic Bullet in ‘Suicide Kids’
By Aharon Rabinowitz
Published on Thursday, April 28th, 2011
We recently asked you to help us find some of the best Magic Bullet Looks videos out there, but we’re always on the lookout too. Here’s a some great stuff we discovered:

Using Magic Bullet Colorista II and Magic Bullet Looks, NY-based Christopher Smith created the powerful and dramatic film ’Suicide Kids’. His reel above shows a great use of Colorista, and Christopher himself said,

“I’m a big fan of Red Giant Software – used Colorista and Magic Bullet nearly exclusively to color correct ‘Suicide Kids’, as well as for most other shorts and music videos I’ve worked on in the last couple years. Really incredible how easily and extensively you can manipulate color with those plugins!

Check out more of Christopher’s work at:
Using Colorista II and Magic Bullet Suite, NY-based Christopher Smith created the powerful and dramatic film ’Suicide Kids’. His reel above shows a great use of Colorista, and Christopher himself said,


Chris West – Particle Man
By Aharon Rabinowitz
Published on Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

It was inevitable that someone would create a Trapcode Particular Reel and put it to They Might Be Giant’s song Particle man (They are my favorite band, btw), but even without the soundtrack, this Particular Reel from Chris West is awesome.

We asked Chris what possessed him to make a reel highlighting just his Trapcode Particular work, and he said:

“I’ve wanted to put together a Particular reel for the past several months due to a high volume of producers asking  for examples of projects I’ve worked on using Particular. I was finally pushed to cut the reel when a friend of mine put my Particular skills in question. I challenged to him to a Particle battle and served him the next day with my reel.

I’ve been using particular for several years now. The first few times I used it for some sparkles and fairy dust effects. I then started to realized how powerful and robust Particular was.  From adding simple dust and atmosphere into a scene to wild vfx Particular has seemingly endless possibilities. Particular is an essential for any serious After Effects artist.

That’s some serious love for Particular, and some seriously cool work to boot.

Think you can top that? Post links to your best Trapcode Particular work in the comments below, and we may feature it here in the blog!


Photos from the NAB show (now that we’ve recovered)
By Debbie Rich
Published on Monday, April 25th, 2011

The NAB 2011 show was April 11-14 in Ye Ol’ Vegas. It’s the biggest annual US-based show for broadcast artists and their vendors. If you’ve been paying attention lately to digital media news, people have been posting their videos and photos and opinions. For instance, Studio Daily’s blogger Scott Simon did a great South Hall round-up and Stu Maschwitz, our Magic Bullet Creative Director, covered Apple’s big FCP X announcement in his ProLost blog.

Aside from seeing new technology, I asked people at Red Giant what they love about NAB. (This potentially sounds like a Coca-Cola commercial, but bear with me.) Here are post-NAB thoughts and Red Giant booth photos from some of my favorite coworkers. Interestingly, our photos all seem to be taken with iPhones. Guess everyone was completely taken with the launch of our two new mobile apps, Movie Looks and Noir, and forgot to grab those DSLRs. Oops.

Left to right, Aharon Rabinowitz, Harry Frank, Andrew Cheyne, John Kerr and Micah Sharp:

From Aharon Rabinowitz, our Director of Community and All Bets Are off boy wonder, shown first from left, “The reason I go out is to meet the people who use our products. By putting faces to the amazing work I see on-line every day, It recharges my love for what I do.”

A big Red Giant shout-out goes to Harry Frank, our inhouse motion designer of Gray Machine fame, shown second from left. Harry came to NAB four days after he had a baby — well, you know what I mean — so he is this year’s Trade Show Rockstar. Look for his adorable new son in Red Giant promos to come.

From Andrew Little, Red Giant Cofounder and enabler of the booth, “This was the busiest and most  energized NAB in 5 years. My head is still spinning. It’s still the best place to meet potential partners, generate some new product buzz, meet our customers, and have fun.”

Andrew being interviewed by… someone important:

From Beth Manning, our Sales Manager and booth coordinator extraordinaire, “NAB is always an exciting week for Red Giant. It’s a great opportunity to show our new technologies. We get to see old friends and customers as well as meet folks new to Red Giant. Folks come to our booth with praises, ideas and complaints and we like to hear them all!”

And for me, Debbie Rich, our tech writer and today’s blogger, NAB is an annual creative pilgrimage, kind of like going to Burning Man. I make my way to the desert, see a lot of cool art and technology, meet up with people I really like but only see once a year, have some drinks, and stand around figuring out what party to go to next. It’s awesome. See you next year!

Beth with Simon Walker, our QuickTip Guru and booth, ummm, babe:


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