Mark Christiansen

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Mark Christiansen is the author of After Effects Studio Techniques (Adobe Press). He has created visual effects and animations for feature films including Pirates of the Caribbean 3, The Day After Tomorrow and films by Robert Rodriguez. Past corporate clients include Adobe, Cisco, Sun, Cadence, Seagate, Intel and Medtronic, and broadcast work has appeared on HBO and the History Channel. Mark's roles have included producing, directing, designing and effects supervision, and his solo work has appeared at film festivals including L.A. Shorts Fest. Long a Contributing Editor at DV Magazine during its heyday, Mark has been contracted as a marketing and technical writer on numerous occasions for Adobe Systems Inc. as well as related companies such as Red Giant Software. He has taught at fxPhd.com and Academy of Art University. His career began at LucasArts Entertainment and he is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Pomona College.

MOX and Open-Source Video

Noted developer launches Indiegogo campaign to create a universal video playback format
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  October 24, 2014
Earlier this week Brendan Bolles launched an Indiegogo campaign to support a six month development effort that would result in a new open-source video format called MOX. I had the opportunity to interview Brendan about the project, and the full transcript of the interview...

The VFX Business in 2014: an interview with Scott Ross, Part Two

As the last major VFX studio in Los Angeles leaves town, we look what could change current trends
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  June 9, 2014
At the close of last week, Sony Pictures Imageworks (SPI) announced it would be moving its headquarters from Los Angeles to Vancouver. While inevitable to many visual effects industry observers who understand the role of subsidies in moving VFX work away from California and the U.S., this certainly marks watershed moment, as none of the...

The VFX Business in 2014: an interview with Scott Ross, Part One

In which we look at where things are headed in the wake of recent events
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  May 30, 2014
A little over a year ago we ran an interview with Scott Ross regarding the state of the visual effects business on ProVideoCoalition. I was fortunate enough to catch up with Scott recently for a conversation about what, if...

Wait and CC

You know the basic storyline, even if the facts are still emerging. We decided it was time to revisit the topic.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  October 31, 2013
Earlier this year Adobe committed to a customer strategy that can accurately be described as bold. The Creative Cloud offering rather abruptly shifted the Adobe customer relationship to a subscription model, with access to most Adobe software possible only with payment of a monthly fee. We are...

Cinefex Magazine, the craft of visual effects, and you

A Kickstarter campaign bringing 30 years of effects history to the iPad
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  July 22, 2013
Readers of this post fortunate enough to have attended film school had the opportunity to study the masters of crafts from directing and cinematography to lighting and scene design. Look at the most influential work being done today, and you can't help but notice that it's dominated by a newer, but no less major creative force: visual...

How the Hackintosh Suddenly Caught Fire

Anarchy amid the abdication of Mac Pro
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 3, 2013
Yes, it literally caught fire. This is the story of one man’s experience assembling and running a Hackintosh. For anyone unaware of this illicit, but not yet forbidden alternative to the Mac Pro and alterative systems from Apple, it is a custom-built computer - one which would straightforwardly run Windows or Linux - with an...

VFX Workers Next Steps: Pi Day

International Town Hall Meetings (and a sea of green)
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  March 13, 2013
After a dramatic few weeks that have seen Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings for VFX Oscar winner Rhythm & Hues, VFX protests at the ceremony, along with a sea of green avatars on Twitter and Facebook, what had been proposed as walk-out for "Pi Day" is now a town hall meeting that will take place in three locations and allow your...

Lessons from the Southern Wild

How I found myself on the set of a Hollywood phenomenon
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  February 18, 2013
The text came in late one evening - who could be in New Orleans immediately for VFX supervision? The call was going around San Francisco, apparently because the film had received SF Film Commission backing which stipulated hiring local artisans, despite shooting along the Gulf of Mexico. The production had been working with a supervisor...

Shotgun production management software deals lower-cost subscription model


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  February 11, 2013
Chances are that you have no first-hand experience with Shotgun, Tank or Revolver (although if you live in Texas you will no doubt initially claim to be familiar). With 400 customers worldwise, Shotgun may count as a runaway success in the VFX business while hundreds, thousands (even billions) of other potential customers worldwide remain on...

Why is the VFX business failing? Questions for Scott Ross

Digital Domain founder and former ILM boss runs it down in “very simple, real terms.”
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  February 6, 2013
Q. Let’s begin with the questions I posed earlier this week. Is what is happening in VFX in 2013 any different than what is happening to any number of industries in western economies as a...

Why is the VFX business failing at its moment of greatest success?


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  February 5, 2013
In less than 3 weeks, something like a billion viewers worldwide will look on as Life of Pi wins the award for Best Visual Effects at the 85th edition of the Academy Awards. I don't mean to ruin the surprise for you, but you don't need

3D HFR and the Immersive Experience

Is Less More, or is More, in fact, More?
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  January 4, 2013
  There seems little doubt that display technology and the way we experience media today won't necessarily look the same throughout the 21st century, any more than Downton Abbey looks like Enter the Void, or a

Is After Effects for Editors?

Editors on many Hollywood productions are more valuable with After Effects skills. What's stopping them?
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  December 13, 2012
An article published last month on the Adobe Press site has sparked much discussion and a little controversy, so I think it's worth following up, starting with a...

rd: Studio Techniques available free at AEscripts.com


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  December 7, 2012
This week, Jeff Almasol (redefinery) released the set of After Effects Scripts that were previously available only as part of the content that ships with
After Effects Studio Techniques is unique from other books on After Effects in a couple of specific ways.It is a VFX compositing book, designed to teach you the art of making a single shot believable although it is made up of disparate elements. It is also uniquely focused on intermediate and advanced usage; from Chapter 1 it is assumed that...

Adobe Media Encoder - another hidden gem?


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  December 13, 2011
Suppose you wanted a perfectly useful workhorse of a video application to slip in completely under the radar and be as underutilized as possible. What would you do to kill its chances of being discovered? For starters, you would introduce an early version - the debut perhaps - that wasn't quite ready and was therefore...

After Effects Script of the Week: Add Parented Null to Each Selected Layer


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  October 31, 2011
Past (and future) scripts of the week involve custom UI's and detailed feature sets. We're a few months into this series and there are some huge ones I haven't even covered yet, because I also want to give weight to the ones that simply convert half a dozen steps into one.This week's SotW is a two-fer: Add Parented Null to Each...

Use Dynamic Link to bring Warp Stabilizer to Premiere Pro CS5.5

Editors can take advantage of advanced stabilization in Premiere Pro CS5.5
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  October 31, 2011
The Dynamic Link process to stabilize a Pr clip in AE begins in the Pr timeline.Warp Stabilizer was arguably the biggest addition to After Effects CS5.5. Once you understand how to use it, it's a tool that can change the way you shoot; if you find yourself without a tripod or any kind of stabilization with a...

After Effects Script of the Week: Tracker2Mask


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  October 21, 2011
Into every After Effects artist's life a little roto must fall. Although I was told there would be no roto when (name-drop alert!) I worked on Avatar, there came a point right at the end where I had to jump in on a several-hundred frame tracking shot in which foreground and background had to be separated.

After Effects Script of the Week: rd_MergeProjects


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  October 15, 2011
Wow, where did the week go? Before it's too late, I have a little gem to share, a script that I myself requested and Jeff Almasol built.If you do the right thing in After Effects of creating a folder structure in the Project panel to organize assets, you will find that you have a minimum of 3, and often more than a dozen individual...

After Effects Script of the Week: Get Sh*t Done


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  October 5, 2011
I'm into workflow efficiency. I've read David Allen's book and am a...

After Effects Script of the Week: pt Panorama


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  September 30, 2011
Thanks to Photoshop and the iPhone, creating a single, arbitrarily wide panoramic image made up of a series of still images, stitched together, has never been simpler. First you shoot the series of stills, being careful to leave overlap between each image as you pan in one direction. Then in Photoshop, the

After Effects Script of the Week: pt TextEdit


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  September 21, 2011
Motion graphics involves strange things sometimes, and in particular, text can animate here, there, anywhere, sometimes en masse. Not only is there no limit to the volume of text you might use in an After Effects animation, many designs are based around a kind of theme and repetition. There might be a single word or phrase that is...

After Effects Script of the Week: Change Render Locations


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  September 13, 2011
Change Render Locations is included with the regular After Effects installation - go ahead, look under File > Scripts, there it is - and it solves one tedious After Effects workflow issue, that you can't reassign multiple items in the Render Queue to a new render location.Before selecting the script, make sure any render...

After Effects Script of the Week: pt ExpressEdit


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  September 9, 2011
Expressions are among the most powerful additions you can make to your After Effects game. They are also fragile; set up 4 dozen staggered dependency layers to create a pattern form and then somehow delete the layer they point to, even for a moment, and all of the expressions are reset. And making a fix that applies to each of those...

After Effects Script of the Week: MochaImport


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  August 31, 2011

After Effects Script of the Week: KeyTweak


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  August 22, 2011
Note: This is an ongoing series that features one After Effects script a week. For an overview on scripts, check out the debut post.Just this morning, I found myself stuck. I had...

After Effects Script of the Week: pt EffectSearch


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  August 15, 2011
Note: this article is part of an ongoing series that features one After Effects script a week. For an overview on scripts, check out the debut post.The problem: You are up against...

After Effects Script of the Week: Immigration


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  August 11, 2011
Ask any veteran After Effects artist who uses scripts which ones should really be built right into the application and among the top handful for most artists will be Immigration. It provides an interface to work with image sequences, something that the...

Script of the Week: Shortcut Key Reference


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  August 1, 2011
This week's script of the week does not, by itself, replace any multiple-step tasks in After Effects for you, yet it may have the most power overall to make your workflow more efficient.In my book and...

Script of the Week: True Comp Duplicator


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  July 25, 2011
Note: this is the fourth in a series featuring one After Effects script a week, now appearing at the beginning of each week. For an overview on scripts, check out the debut post.

Script of the Week: 3D Extruder


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  July 18, 2011
Note: this is the third in a series featuring one After Effects script per week, now appearing at the beginning of each week. For an overview on scripts, check out the

Script of the Week: BG Renderer


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  July 8, 2011
If you're an After Effects power user who has gotten at all into scripts, you are most likely already familiar with BG Renderer, which really changed the game for scripts by providing an alternative to much more expensive solutions to any studio or individual in an After Effects render crunch.Lloyd Alvarez apparently first...

Introducing: After Effects Script of the Week


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  July 1, 2011
The most recent edition of After Effects Studio Techniques included a new sidebar category: scripts. Over the past several years since it was introduced in After Effects 6.0 , scripting in After Effects has gone from a hidden feature...

Red Giant's newest Plot Device: Magic Bullet Looks 2

New and upgraded component applications, one-click suite install, aggressive pricing
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  June 28, 2011
Red Giant Software today unveiled Magic Bullet Looks 2 in dramatic fashion, boosted by a fun, humorous trailer called
Incorporating 3D Footage into the After Effects CS5.5 Stereo Pipeline from ProVideo Coalition on Vimeo.Here's a 7...

Premiere Pro for DSLR in a few easy steps


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  May 9, 2011
Let's face it, a lot more editors, artists and animators have Premiere Pro loaded on the systems they use every day than are actually using it. And yet over the last few years-and in particular over the past year, since Adobe started demoing real-time playback of all kinds of files, including 4K RED .r3d source, in Premiere Pro on systems with...
ASSIMILATE today announced version 6 of SCRATCH for Mac and Windows, as well as SCRATCH Lab, a lower priced toolset aimed at rapid on-set and dailies work. Both will ship "during Q2" this year.SCRATCH 6 includes many updates, the biggest of which is availability for the Mac. Long among the most highly regarded color...

After Effects CS5.5 in Production


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 11, 2011
It's only been a year since After Effects CS5 was released, which brought the application to 64-bit and introduced Rotobrush. With the announcement today of After Effects CS5.5 we are looking at the most rapid upgrade since Adobe unified all of its applications into one dancing,kicking line of graphical chorus girls known as the...

ASSIMILATE SCRATCH first out of the gate with RED Epic HDRx support


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 9, 2011
ASSIMILATE sent a press release describing new support for footage from RED Epic at full 5k, including the new HDRx format that unlocks the dynamic range that is the signature of that camera. This presents a professional finishing tool as an alternative to RED's own software, which may unlock more possibilities to, for example, keyframe...

Foundry Releases CameraTracker and Kronos 5.0 Plug-ins for After Effects

CameraTracker enables 3D tracking without leaving After Effects. Kronos 5.0 brings updated retiming technology.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  August 11, 2010
The Foundry, makers of Nuke and the Furnace tools, today released two After Effects plug-ins, and they are two of the biggest additions to come to the application in some time.

Innovation and Cinema 4D Part Two: William Dudley on Virtual Sets

Part Two of an interview with the production designer of Peter Pan, featuring circular virtual scenery around a live play.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  July 29, 2010
In the second and final part of this interview, I chat with visionary production designer William Dudley about the usage of projection and computer generated spectacle in a live setting. (

Innovation and Cinema 4D Part One: William Dudley and Peter Pan 360°


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  July 28, 2010
The SIGGRAPH conference is a week in which groundbreaking, innovative and inspiring uses of computer graphics are celebrated. Curious about the variety of uses that are found for Cinema 4D these days, I profiled a couple of innovators whose stories fit this theme.The first of these is

Pixel Farm to Launch "Radical New Approach to Tracking" at SIGGRAPH


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  July 20, 2010
One normally doesn't put much stock in press releases, but sometimes you can read between the lines and see some substance behind the hype. At SIGGRAPH next week in Los Angeles, anyone involved in the process of combining 3D and live action footage will want to check out the latest upcoming release from Pixel Farm, makers of PF Track.

The Foundry unveils 3D Camera Tracker for After Effects


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 20, 2010
At NAB 2010, The Foundry revealed its work on a plug-in to bring 3D camera tracking directly into Adobe After Effects. Their Camera Tracker plug-in, currently in pre-beta, looks set to provide long-missing functionality to After Effects, and once it has been added, it will likely transform the type of work...

AJA KONA Product Line Goes Cross-Platform

Company Folds XENA Products Into KONA Line; Now Offers KONA Cards With Both Mac OS X and Windows Software
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  March 15, 2010
Grass Valley, CA (March 15, 2010)--AJA Video Systems, a leading manufacturer of professional video interface and conversion solutions, announced today that it is now offering its KONA line of capture cards with software for both Mac and Windows-based systems. The company is folding its XENA line of capture cards, designed for the...

Is a Visual Effects Guild to Materialize this Decade?

Stranahan's Open Letter one month later, on the eve of the Oscars
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  March 5, 2010
The decade of the twenty-teens is only a couple of months old - or hasn't started yet - but already, there has been something of a shot heard ‘round the world for VFX artists, particularly those located in the U.S. Lee...

AJA KONA 3 Only Qualified Video Card for Autodesk Smoke on the Mac


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  December 15, 2009
Grass Valley, CA (December 15, 2009)-AJA Video Systems, a leadingmanufacturer of professional video interface and conversion solutions,announced today that Autodesk has qualified the KONA 3 as the only digitalvideo I/O card approved to work with Autodesk Smoke editorial finishingsoftware running on Mac OS X Snow...

Smoke Gets On Your Mac


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  December 3, 2009
Last week, Autodesk offered a preview of its Smoke software on the Macintosh at the Inter BEE 2009 Conference in Tokyo, where the software was announced at a $14,995 price point - cheap for Smoke, very expensive for Mac-based studios...

Online Post-Production Management with ShotRunner

2 specialized alternatives to Basecamp are in late beta and already in use in production. Here's my experience using one of them
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  October 3, 2009
The days of cobbling together a database to track shots, assets and progress are numbered. Although nowadays it has become common for many post-production projects to be managed with Basecamp, it's an application hardly specialized to our industry.Two web based tools currently in late beta anticipate the needs of post production...

AEScripts.com revamped as a comprehensive script destination site

Immigration is the first shareware script ever, the rest are still freeware
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  August 4, 2009
Lloyd Alvarez, creator of aescripts.com as well as some of the most useful After Effects scripts available, released a new version of the site that may finally put an end to the need to google for the best available After Effects scripts. All of the scripts listed from the half dozen top current developers are freeware except for one -...

Training: Visual Effects for Directors


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  July 27, 2009
The past decade has seen visual effects pervade film and television production to the extent that it is rare to see a television commercial with no visual effects, even documentary-style dramatic programs are sweetened and cleaned up via compositing, and films outside the big-budget action movie genre often have vfx shot counts in the...

VLC Goes 1.0

Free open source QuickTime Player alternative, around for most of the decade, is finally out of beta.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  July 8, 2009
VLC, possibly the most versatile desktop video player in the world, was announced as version 1.0.0 (aka "GoldenEye" if you prefer Ian Fleming style nicknames). Its features are widespread, but among the most significant is that it is the only major alternative to QuickTime Player that allows you to step frame by frame through a video file, a...

Is Nuke the new Shake?


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  July 6, 2009
A series of press releases from The Foundry since NAB have marked major steps forward for Nuke as the emerging software leader for visual effects compositing. The latest of these is this morning's news that Weta Digital has invested in a Nuke site...

GridIron Flow Ships with Surprise Additions


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  June 29, 2009
GridIron Software this morning announced on a conference call that Flow, the one-of-a-kind visual file management, workflow and time tracking tool that has been in development for three...

Tip: Force an After Effects Render to Fail (and Save!) on a Mac


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 30, 2009
No doubt you already make liberal use of the After Effects Auto-Save feature, which incrementally stores sub-versions of your current saved project in set increments of time. By default, the last 5 20 minute increments are saved, with the oldest replaced by the newest, but you can freely change the interval and number of saves. Still, what...

Tip: Force an After Effects Render not to Fail

Had it with Out of Memory errors? Here's a hack to help in CS3 and CS4.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 29, 2009
If you've ever tried rendering a composition made up of one or more large images - say, a single huge matte painting or several layers of 4k footage - you have probably encountered the dreaded Out of Memory error causing your render to fail. What to do about this?Unfortunately, most of the strategies you can...

Convert RED Camera R3D Footage Losslessly, Painlessly, Confidently

Do it the way Autodesk recommends and don't fret about lost data
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 29, 2009
If you're a regular at this site you may recall 5 Tips to Maintain Sanity in RED Post.. The key point of that article was to assert that since you cannot write an R3D file, you must convert and it is best to do so early in order to...

NAB 2009 RED Reel Online


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 27, 2009
The RED reel that showed at NAB 2009 is now viewable online (right click to download it). There are even a couple of shots on there from a shoot I was on as fx supervisor. It's a gorgeous, cinematic reel and an entertaining viewing.

Tip: Use More than One Processor with Apple Compressor

If you're rendering with the defaults, you're doing it the slow way.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 27, 2009
Today's tip is prompted by a tweet that appeared last evening from Jim Geduldick of finalcutuser.com and AENY, the NYC...

Tip: Browse After Effects Scripts as if Looking for Plug-ins

Redefinery.com makes it easy to find what you need.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 26, 2009
The point of scripts in After Effects is to reduce tedious tasks, although the best of them effectively add functionality because what they allow you to do would never be worth the trouble to do manually. Therefore if you find yourself faced with a tedious task, it's not a bad idea to try and find a script that will help. Some sites...

Tip: Play Anything - YouTube included - in QuickTime Mac with Perian

Open-source tool makes QuickTime playback nearly universal - but only on a Mac.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 25, 2009
The QuickTime file format can be the cause of trouble in a production pipeline, with its moving-target gamma and all-or-nothing file integrity (if there's one corrupted frame in an .mov,...

NAB 2009 - The Foundry Demos 3 Upcoming Versions of Nuke


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 24, 2009
At a private demo on Wednesday, Matt Plec demonstrated several of the major new features that will be in Nuke 5.2 and 6, as well as the new NukeX. Here's what I learned.Version 5.2Nuke 5.2 has a few major features for a dot-release, including the first one listed here, which I wish were in...

Tip: Preview a Chapter of After Effects Studio Techniques, Gratis

A taste test of my book is available online.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 24, 2009
After Effects CS4 Visual Effects & Compositing Studio Techniques is quite a mouthful for a book title, which may explain why I often use the shorthand above. The book stands out for a couple of reasons: one is that it deals...

Tip: Measure Drive Performance for Video on a Mac with HD Speed Test

A real-world test of external drive performance for video playback is beta freeware.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 23, 2009
If you've ever searched for downloadable tools to benchmark drive performance on your Mac, you have probably ended up downloading free applications from Aja and Blackmagic. You may have realized that these applications don't offer an accurate portrait of how your drive will perform with your editing software, but until now they were the...

Tip: The Feature Most Missing Until After Effects CS4

Tap shift for Miniflow
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 22, 2009
Here's a tip that won't be news to any hardcore After Effects CS4 users, but lately I've encountered artists working in CS4 who don't know about it, and to me it's like not knowing that you can switch apps on a Mac with command + tab, just like alt + tab on Windows. It's possible someone out there even just received a bonus...

Tip: Monkey Extract Painlessly Converts R3D to QuickTime or Sequences

An alternative to Crimson Workflow for the less geeky.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 21, 2009
I have advocated that - in most cases - when working with R3D files you should convert them to another format instead of attempting to preserve the R3D as long as possible. How exactly to optimally adjust footage in REDAlert...

Tip: Shift Habits, Control Energy Use, Eject Waste

Get in the habit of one shortcut and save a lot of energy.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 20, 2009
It's unfortunate for those of us doing the processor-intensive work of video and computer graphics that we typically disable Energy Saver settings because they can thwart renders. You'd think that the system could tell the difference between an After Effects or Maya render that requires several minutes per frame and all the little pings...

Tip: Track a Mask in After Effects with TrackerViz

Average bad tracks instead of retrying for perfect ones, attach them to mask points
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 19, 2009
. It's Script Sunday, and today's script is so useful it made the cut and was included in the latest edition of After Effects Studio Techniques. TrackerViz was written by Charles Bordenave, the guy behind

Tip: Display Timecode or Frames in QuickTime Pro

Sometimes essential features hide right below your nose.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 18, 2009
What if QuickTime Player Pro gave you other options than that counter in seconds? Think of the options - you could specify a particular frame for feedback instead of saying "it's between 1:52 and 1:53." Search source timecode of footage to look for logged clips right there instead of firing up Final Cut. Refer to frame count numbers...

Tip: Warped Friday


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 17, 2009
You may have seen a couple of video tips to show a couple of ninja tricks with RG Corner Pin, one of the three plug-ins that makes up Red Giant's Warp plug-in set. If you encountered that post...

Incredible: Carousel

Philips Promotion Most Ambitious Frozen Time Shot Ever
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 16, 2009
You will wonder how they did this.

Tip: CS4 Update Actually Gets You All the Way from FCP to After Effects

It's implied by the new FCP > Premiere Pro feature; now I'm stating it.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 16, 2009

Tip: Render the Impossible via Proxies in After Effects

A tax day tip, because squandering machine time is definitely taxing.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 15, 2009
True story: I was animating a design that involved multiple "filmstrips" of HD video: 6 or 8 of them with a couple dozen HD clips each. I worked on it until past midnight for an early morning deadline only to realize it would never render in time; it wanted over 2 days to process all that 1080 footage. Then I remembered that I could...

Tip: Add "Missing" Finder Tools

Clipboard Sharing and Teleport sit in the menu bar to work between systems, while Pathfinder revolutionizes file browsing itself
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 14, 2009
Today's tip features two freeware and one shareware application that I've found super-helpful in a multi-Mac studio environment.ClipboardSharing is an oldie but still (at least for me) solid goodie - a menu bar utility that lets you send your clipboard (you...

Tip: Double-click to Open R3D in REDAlert with RedPortal

Handy, free, hard-to-find utility
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 14, 2009
A while back (late 2007 to be exact) Anders Holck posted a Mac helper app that lets you double click an R3D file to open it in REDAlert. The link was only ever posted on reduser and disappeared at some point after it was posted....

Tip: Split a Layer into a Grid in After Effects

Take your pick of a couple of free scripts to solve a tedious problem
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 12, 2009
Whenever you're confronted by a tedious task in After Effects - such as splitting a single layer into a grid of smaller images - I highly recommend checking whether there is already a script that can help you. In this particular case there are two.

Tip: Get QuickTime Looking Right Without Re-Rendering

Maximize quality, de-interlace, reset aspect and more
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 12, 2009
I have in the past been critical of QuickTime as the standard for professional review of digital video; nonetheless, that is its status, and since you and I will be posting QuickTime movies for...

Has the Demise of Film Been Hastened by the Impending Actors' Strike?

That's the assertion of DP Rodney Charters, and his explanation is intriguing.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 9, 2009
Episode 29 of the excellent Red Centre Podcast consists of an interview with L.A. based director of photography Rodney Charters, who makes the assertion that entertainment industry strikes have hastened the demise of film as a shooting medium."Out of 100 pilots...

Tip: Make use of 21st Century Copyright Laws to Secure Elements

Creative Commons has opened the door to better sharing - but play by the rules!
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 9, 2009
A few years ago I found myself in need of images for an earlier edition of my book that I did not have on hand, or have any way of shooting. I needed a winter scene but was 250 miles and 2 months away from one. I needed strongly lit footage to demonstrate color matching with extreme lighting; this I could have shot, but more than just...

Tip: Send After Effects 3D animation data to Cinema 4D (or Maya, Max, Lightwave...)

Thanks to this script and plug-in, cameras can go both ways
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 8, 2009
It has long been a feature of Cinema 4D that animation data, including camera animation settings, can be exported for use in After Effects. Which is fantastic, provided you do all of your camera animation for 3D/2D work in Cinema. If most of your camera animation is happening in After Effects, you would seem to be out of luck matching...

Tip: Apply Color Adjustments to RED QuickTimes

Working natively with those QuickTime files that link to an R3D and the color doesn't look quite right? Try these steps.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 7, 2009
As you probably know, when you transfer footage from a RED camera you get QuickTime movies along with the source R3D file, in the same folder. These QuickTimes are symbolic links only with no data of their own (mine show up as 4K in size); they merely provide a means for QuickTime-enabled apps to preview the R3D file at various...

Tip: Use iChat to McGyver Back to your Mac

Back to My Mac not working for you? Me neither. Until it's fixed, try this.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 6, 2009
I love the idea of Back to My Mac, including with a MobileMe account (there is also a Windows equivalent I haven't tried). Unfortunately, I have never gotten the green light on both ends of an attempt to link one Mac back to another.Networking two computers together hasn't been a big deal for 20 years or so, but...

Tip: Locate Missing Effects in After Effects CS4

Can't find that hidden effect? pt_EffectSearch to the rescue.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 5, 2009
So you've opened someone's After Effects project - or maybe even your own - and an error comes up that there are missing plug-ins. You get a list in the warning dialog, but it doesn't tell you where the missing plug-ins are (and if the list of missing is too long, you don't even get a complete list)....

Tip: Debug QuickTime Pro

Get your preferences set the way they probably should just be by default.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 4, 2009
Today's tip is a simple one. I even kinda hope you already know about it.QuickTime includes two preferences which are mistakenly (in my opinion) disabled by default.The first is Use high-quality video setting when available - toggle this on.The only reason that I know of not to check this is to get...

Tip: Create Cinematic Motion Blur in After Effects (and in life)


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 3, 2009
Quick: what's the difference between shutter speed and frame rate? You might be surprised that there are even a few camera operators don't even know the answer to that one. Frame rate is the number of frames per second that are shot (or displayed). Shutter speed is the amount of time that the frame is actually exposed to light, and...

April is Tip Month


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 2, 2009
My turn! In April I aim to post a tip a day, despite the distracting spring weather, my birthday, and NAB. If you also get distracted, celebrate your birthday or just forget to check in, I will also ping these daily from Flowseeker on Twitter.I'm doing this as a...

Tip: Render Faster & Smarter in After Effects with BG Renderer

This free script will add tons of value to your multiprocessor system
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 2, 2009
My only assumption with this tip is that you use Adobe After Effects CS4 (or even CS3) on a multi-processor machine, Mac or Windows. Beyond that:maybe you only have one main machine and often face the dilemma of wanting to render while continuing to workperhaps you monitor your system's...

5 Tips to Maintain Sanity in RED Post


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  March 19, 2009
Ascertain the target output format at the outset (if you control your own format destiny, skip to 2)Decide who, if anyone, controls the color intent at the outset (if no one has specified how the footage must look on set, skip to 3)Leave...

And the VFX Oscar goes to...


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  February 7, 2009
Perhaps in part due to the impending SAG strike and the 30 or so films that have been put on hold as a result, 2008 was a somewhat thin year for tentpole visual effects features; on the VFX Show podcast where I'm a co-host, we had weeks at a time, particularly...

The Orphanage Shuts Its Doors


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  February 5, 2009
As reported by Orphanage co-founder Stu Maschwitz on his blog, The Orphanage has indefinitely ceased operations. The San Francisco-based visual effects and animation company was founded a decade ago and was most recently the lead house on Frank Miller's film The Spirit, and in the past had been the lead house on films including The Host...

Red Giant Warp: Get more out of MochaAE


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  February 4, 2009
After Effects CS4 truly went from worst to first in one specific area: corner pin tracking. The old method of tracking and applying four individual points was so miserable I recall an entire class of my Academy of Art students unable to replace a billboard on the first try.CS4, however, includes MochaAE, the planar tracker that...

Autodesk to bring Toxik, Mudbox and ImageModeler to Mac


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  January 5, 2009
It is now official - from the website: "To coincide with the annual Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, Autodesk, Inc. announced today that it has expanded its portfolio of Macintosh 2D and 3D software tools for entertainment, multimedia and design professionals. The three new 2009 products for Mac OS X are

10 (+1) Reasons Revisited: is Scarlet Still Even a Prosumer Product?


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  November 18, 2008
Six months ago I posted an article here with 10 reasons (and a bonus speculation, which now seems way off) why Scarlet would "change the game in 2009." At that time, Scarlet was RED's "entry level" camera, explicitly...

Autodesk Acquires SoftImage


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  October 23, 2008
In yet another major acquisition in the 3D space, Autodesk announced today that it has acquired the SoftImage unit from Avid.This puts three of the most popular 3D animation packages - Maya, 3D Studio Max and now...

3D Objects from Photoshop in After Effects CS4

A short overview of what to expect with After Effects' implementation of Photoshop 3D
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  September 23, 2008

China, Spectacle, Fakery


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  August 13, 2008
If the 21st Century, as I think it very well may, becomes known as the era of Things Are Not As They Seem (if the acronym TANATS catches on, you heard it here first), maybe we'll look at one seemingly harmless moment in 2008 as a watershed.Perhaps you were one of the billions worldwide who witnessed...

Red Giant Acquires Digital Anarchyvi


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  August 4, 2008
from Final Cut User:San Francisco, CA, August 4, 2008 - Red Giant Software, with popular products Magic Bullet, Knoll Light Factory, and Trapcode, today announced that it has agreed to acquire the video plug-in...

Why QuickTime is the US Dollar of Digital Video

As the standard is devalued, the world undertakes a slow-motion search for an alternative. What can be done for QuickTime?
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  July 13, 2008
How bad are things for the US Dollar these days? So bad that, as reported by the BBC and mentioned recently on This Week in Tech, Gisele Bundchen no longer accepts modeling pay in dollars, nor apparently do many high-end boutiques in the capital...

Autodesk Acquires Realviz


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  May 7, 2008
From PR Newswire, Autodesk, Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSK) today announced that it has completed the acquisition of substantially all of the assets of REALVIZ S.A., the privately held developer of image-based content...

10 (+1) Reasons Scarlet Changes the Game in 2009


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  May 7, 2008
RED will not debut Scarlet, its entry-level camera, until early next year, which means that those who are already hype-weary with all things RED are already moving on to a different part of the site. Nontheless, there are solid reasons that Scarlet will change the entire landscape of low-budget digital video, assuming RED can get enough...

3D Display at NAB


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 22, 2008
Day One of NAB was 3D day in the Content Theater, and at the end of that day, I participated in a podcast discussion with Ron Brinkmann and Mike Seymour all about stereo imaging, which seems to have been a major official trend at NAB this year. At the end of the...

Apple: Does Denying a Rumor Only Validate It?


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 20, 2008
According to a highly reliable source, Apple emphatically denied in an NAB press meeting earlier this week any truth to the rumor that the Pro Apps are for sale.Now, even if Apple sold Final Cut Studio and its brethren, I hardly imagine the buyer (and who might that be? Avid?) would do much to mess with its success, at least in the...

NAB 2008 Super Session: A Million Dollar Look on a Thousand Dollar Budget

At the show ruled by suits and dilberts, the rebels get their turn
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  April 18, 2008
With big exhibitions like The NAB Show falling out of favor, and some disappearing altogether in the 21st century, NAB struck back...

Red Giant releases Primatte 4


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  March 13, 2008
Red Giant Software this morning released Primatte 4 for After Effects and Avid, as well as (now) Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro. This version also adds an automatic matte selection feature which Red Giant claims is useful with many well shot and lit, straightforward blue and green screens. Performance has been improved up to 3x on Windows in...

Here Comes Hulu


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  March 12, 2008
As I type this, Hulu is temporarily closed as it is prepared for public roll-out on Wednesday.What, you might ask if you're too busy creating images to watch them on a beta website, is Hulu? As best I can tell, it is an attempt by network television - specifically NBC, although other...

Creative License Renewed!


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  March 6, 2008
Now if only you could create something like this entirely with Adobe software.Or does the joker indeed get the last laugh?

Star Wars Main Title (as if by Saul Bass)


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  March 4, 2008
A friendly reminder: if you want...

Golden Compass: First Flop to win VFX Oscar in Nearly a Decade


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  February 26, 2008
Visual Effect Academy Awards™ are not much different from any other category in at least one respect: great performances in films that underperform at the box office tend to be overlooked. I and many others thought that Transformers had this year's visual effects Oscar™ all sewn up not only because the work was amazing - not just the...

The Foundry releases Nuke 5.0


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  February 26, 2008
Although nearly a decade old and tested in production on some of world's most recognized visual effects films, Nuke is the new kid on the block when compared with its older rivals, such as Shake (which will see no more upgrades from Apple) and After Effects, which just turned 15 last month. Version 5.0 is the first major release since...

Adobe's Magic 3D Lens


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  February 13, 2008

WGA Strike to End Next Week?


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  February 8, 2008
Although the striking writers haven't yet seen the deal, writers will receive terms tonight or tomorrow and vote next week. If Michael Eisner on CNBC is correct, "A deal has been made, and they'll be back to work very soon."We'll...

Recreating 1970's San Francisco: Contrasting Approaches

David Fincher and Gus Van Sant take contrasting approaches to recreating the oddest decade of a unique city.
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  February 4, 2008
Every day that I cycle from my home into the Presidio I pass through the intersection of Washington and Cherry streets, site of a murder that is the centerpiece of David Fincher's film Zodiac, a film that fabulously recreated the San Francisco of the 1970's. Last weekend I cruised Castro Street (not what you're thinking when you read...

Adobe Hacker Effects

Magnum and other great improvements growing through the cracks in After Effects
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  February 1, 2008
The After Effects development team is surprisingly small, especially given how much innovation has gone into each revision in the app's 15 year lifespan (as of this past month - Happy Birthday, After Effects!). Like a Hollywood feature executive they can only greenlight a handful of great ideas each year.That's what makes...

Flat Earth VFX


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  December 12, 2007
Some new (to me at least) and interesting info in this morning's seven and a half minute NPR story about the Rhythm & Hues studio in Mumbai that recently completed work on...

This Revolution Will (by definition) Be Televised


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  December 11, 2007
To paraphrase Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore, this writer's strike will end someday. Amid more and more speculation as to the irreperable damage being done to the Hollywood studio system is a major ray of hope for thousands of aspiring filmmakers - not just those outside the system currently, but even those striking writers - particularly...

Fun with Gamma, Quicktime and After Effects


Written by Mark Christiansen  |  October 31, 2007
Here's a scenario being replayed at studios around the globe: The decision is...

Mythbusting

Why isn't After Effects used more for feature film effects? And is the future of compositing software up for grabs?
Written by Mark Christiansen  |  May 3, 2007
This post is prompted by the following questions and comments from a reader:Was AE used for Davey Jones in Pirates 2? Is it capable of those kinds of effects or was that another program altogether? I don't expect to do anything that advanced in my movies yet but I love learning new things.