Archive for the ‘Trapcode’ Category
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Odds in Favor of Trapcode
By Aharon Rabinowitz
Published on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

With over fifteen years of postproduction experience to his credit, Compositor, Motion Graphics and Visual Effects Artist, Owain Street has lent his creative expertise to numerous commercials and title sequences for broadcast TV.

Since 2000, as a Designer and After Effects artist at, one of the UK’s most recognized post production and VFX houses, Owain has produced some stunning visual work using Trapcode Form and Particular. One commercial that really stood out for us is a 30 sec commercial for (an online bet comparison site). We asked Owain to tell us a bit more about the project.

Owain said, “The brief was to try to create a dynamic feeling sports sequence, communicate the idea of “odds” and clearly brand the commercial. I played around with a couple of ideas and then tried out using Trapcode Particular to re-create sports footage with odds and numbers. The client loved the concept & feel of the effect and ran with it”.

“One feature in Particular that made ‘Oddschecker’ possible, was the ability to use layers as particle emitters. Once I had mattes for the live action, I could use Particular to “describe” those live action elements as hundreds of particles. Also, the ability to use custom particles was essential – the sports people needed to be displayed as “odds” like 5/1 or whatever. In fact it was the ability to be able to do these two things that led to my initial concept of turning the sports people into odds in the first place. This is one of the great things about Particular – it allows the creation of a wide variety of effects. It feels like a design tool – a long way from a plug-in that has “one look”, its flexibility is one of its big strengths. As well as the ‘Oddschecker’ effect I have created snow, smoke, fairy dust and energy streams among other things and I’m sure there will be more to follow!”

Another commercial that we had to mention is one of a series made for De Montfort University. Each of the six 10 second commercials used Trapcode Particular and Form to some degree but this particular one is stands out from the others as it was created entirely with 3D Stroke.

It’s such an elegant piece of work we asked Owain why he chose Trapcode. He told us, “For me as a motion graphics designer / VFX artist Trapcode software is a fantastic addition to my tool set. They look great, they are relatively easy to use (3D stroke / Shine / Starglow), but in the case of Particular and Form have a lot more going on when you take the time to explore the various settings. For example, as well as the flexibility of Particular as I mentioned earlier I used Form in the De Montfort “Philippa” sequence to generate the “topography” she casts her hand over. This was done using greyscale images that I had created in Illustrator to drive the Fractal Strength parameter in specific areas of the Form image, all I then needed to do was keyframe the displacement amount, to animate the topography rising up from a flat surface to create the appearance of hills. It is this kind of looking “under-the-hood” that can lead to really nice, controllable effects.

You can check out the other 4 equally impressive commercials HERE.

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New QuickTip asks “Why Be Normal?”
By Aharon Rabinowitz
Published on Friday, July 8th, 2011

Why be normal? Because it looks cool! That’s why, fool!

Red Giant QuickTip #46: Creating Normal Maps with Trapcode Form

In this demonstration, Harry Frank shows how to add light and reflections to Trapcode Form by using a custom particle generated from a 3D Normal Pass in conjunction with Stefan Minning’s Normality plug-in.

Watch the turorial HERE.

Download the project here:​Explore/​PresetDetail.aspx?PresetId=1835

For more information on Normality, visit​software/​normality/​


In a Tight Spot for the Coyotes
By Sarah Wise
Published on Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Promotions for sports need to be fast and one company that is keeping the pace is Flock of Pixels out of Phoenix, AZ.

Justin Katz established Flock of Pixels in 2008. Starting out in the business as a motion designer, he was soon taking on larger and larger roles and now is a talented Director, Animator, Producer and Art Director. At Flock of Pixels he is often asked to create broadcast quality spots with extremely limited time and budgets for television and web. It just so happened that one of their recent spots was for the Phoenix Coyotes NHL team and we were excited to find that this dynamic piece of editing used Trapcode Particular and Magic Bullet Colorista II, so we got in touch with Justin to tell us more.

“We had a script and hard drive full of photos delivered to us at 5:30pm on a Friday and were asked to have a full cut for sound design by Monday” Justin told us. “There wasn’t even a creative direction in place – they literally said “work your magic.” “Since the entire spot would be comprised of only still images we needed other elements to help bring further dimension to the Coyotes spot. I decided to approach the project so it would feel like everything was happening during a very brief moment in time by bringing the stills to life in ultra slow-mo.

“Since everything had to be done very fast, yet be consistent throughout, Particular was used for its speed and to help sell the effect of the super slow-motion photo-animation. In addition to the flakes of ice coming off of the skates, I layered elements of defocused dust/ice/confetti particles (made with Particular) at various depths to add dimension to the scenes and more interest. Most of the particles are the ‘cloudlet’ shapes (including the ice and dust) with the confetti being one of the few custom particles.

“We also used Colorista II to color balance and match each photo for a high contrast look/feel and to keep everything looking like they were shot at the same time.”

“I’ve been using Particular since around 2005 and it’s one of my go to tools – especially on very tight production schedules. It’s fast, gets the job done and lets you see results immediately. I had considered using stock elements for these effects, but in the end it was actually faster for me to create them with Particular than to search stock sites for the proper footage and then composite them in. This was also my first time trying to emulate super slow-motion with Particular – it’s physics time factor settings came in super handy.”

As with everything we do we wished we had more time on this project, but as my friend says “Things are never done, just due.”

You can see Flock of Pixels 2011 Showreel here:

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Say “I Do!” to Wedding Presets for Trapcode Suite 10
By Jennifer Aust
Published on Friday, June 24th, 2011

Harry Frank’s Weddings for Trapcode Suite 10

50 Elegant Compositions for Wedding Videos

Say, “I do!” to this new wedding production Guru Preset Pack by Harry Frank. Give your event videos an elegant mix of traditional and contemporary animated design elements. Wedding bells, rings, butterflies and rose petals create the perfect mood for your client’s special day. Beautiful backgrounds, lower thirds, title pages, transitions and full screen type animations give you many options to highlight and enhance the wonderful memories. Mix and match to create hundreds of combinations that will save time and add value to your production, all before the honeymoon is over.

  • Read about Wedding Guru Pack (before the honeymoon is over)
  • Watch samples of all 50 presets (and live happily ever after)

Work fast & creatively with these helpful features:

  • 50 beautiful projects use Particular 2.0 and Trapcode Shine 1.5
  • 7 elegant design packages with 15 additional particle wipe transitions
  • Each design package includes a background, lower third, video frame, transition, and full screen title (all at 720P resolution)
  • Supports After Effects CS4, CS5, CS5.5

Looping Backgrounds for Trapcode Suite

55 Backgrounds for Broadcast & Corporate Video

Can’t get enough of Harry Frank & Trapcode? Check out his popular Looping Backgrounds for Trapcode Suite 2010. Work with speed and flexibility using a wide variety of textural designs that include glitz, swirls, maps, bokeh, fractal shapes, grids and lines.

Read about all 55 presets

Watch samples of all 55 presets


Need for Speed
By Sarah Wise
Published on Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

COOKIE is UK motion designer, director & VFX artist James Andrew Cook, a senior motion designer for award-winning advertising agency Empire Design in London. Having worked with design, film and advertising agencies for over 15 years, he has built up an impressive portfolio.

His most recent work was on the movie trailer and TV adverts for ‘Senna,’ which won the 2011 World Cinema Documentary Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. ‘Senna’ tells the story of the late Formula 1 driver, Ayrton Senna, through archival footage of his life, on and off the racetrack. Trapcode Particular helped shape a fast-paced sequence that perfectly complemented a film devoted to speed.

“I’ve been using Trapcode plugins – my favourite is Particular – on practically a daily basis since I first discovered them back in 2004”, James told us. ”From subtle touches – drifting dust to add realism to a project, for example – to dramatic effects like bursts of light and sparks, I’ve always found that Trapcode plug-ins enable me to create new and exciting visual pieces.”

Check out more of James Andrew Cook’s work at:


Broken Antler
By Sarah Wise
Published on Friday, May 27th, 2011

Often when I come across creative artists there are elements of their work that immediately stand out. They may be great colourists, stunning animators, or incredible editors for example. But when I came across Broken Antler recently, every aspect of the work just blew me away.
UK based ‘Broken Antler’ is freelance motion director, designer Ben Adam. With a clutch of awards and some very prestigious clients (Jaguar, Land-Rover, Sony, PlayStation, Bentley and Vodafone to name but a few) to his credit, I was excited to find out that Ben was a big Trapcode fan.
Ben was recently asked to create the visual effects on a series of films for IBM, along with a conference-opening spectacle. Each film was shot in a different location, then light streams, explosions and fast moving text were added which give the whole production an incredibly elegant flow. We asked Ben to tell us a bit more about his use of Trapcode Particular.
“Trapcode rocks! I find myself using Trapcode more and more with each project and the more I use it the more I discover I can do. I find that it can help take quite a staid subject and help bring it to life. This was definitely the case with IBM. I worked closely with the director and producer at Glover Films and fellow designer Paul Trewartha to create the exploding lights and light streams that would interact with the films. The idea was to visualise the data streams that the films were talking about and also link it to the logo, which used nine coloured lines of dots to illustrate nine different sections of the business. It was the dots and colours in the logo that gave way to the inspiration of having these lights exploding in the shot. Like thoughts being ignited by inspiration or data being used.”

You can see more work from Broken Antler HERE.
But you’re probably still wondering what the name is all about. Apparently ‘that’s a long story that requires a pint and a packet of dry roasted.’ But it does actually involve an antler!


Trapcode Suite makes Game-Winning Sports Graphics
By Debbie Rich
Published on Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Be the MVP with these game-winning motion graphics

Create stunning High Definition sports motion graphics in seconds with 25 unique templates spread across 5 action-packed broadcast quality themes. Sports Graphics pack brings the fidelity and immersion of 3D motion graphics to your own sports broadcasts. You can easily insert your own logos, pictures, videos and text. Change the color scheme and tweak the Trapcode Suite effects to complement the rest of your package.

Grand slam & slam-dunk features

This package contains 25 unique templates that were designed to appeal to a wide variety of sports broadcasters. The After Effects projects feature Trapcode Suite effects that are fully editable.

  • Quickly insert your own text, logos, color scheme, photos and videos for instant animation.
  • Each template was created in 1080p at 30FPS, and have alpha channel transparency during transitions for easy compositing.
  • Cinema 4D was heavily utilized for premade elements, giving this pack a high fidelity edge which rivals current professional sports graphics.
  • The templates also feature Knoll Light Factory lighting effects, and ship with both live and rendered versions of the effects.
  • BONUS: Includes 20 Magic Bullet Looks presets for sports film color treatments. (Requires Magic Bullet Looks, Quick Looks or PhotoLooks.)


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.

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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.”


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