After Effects Add-Ons

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Being one of the longest industry standard post production applications in the world, you would think After Effects would have every function to make your life as an artist easier. With the ability to create vector shapes, rotoscope, track in 2D/3D, and more, it is a pretty comprehensive application. However, on its own it can only do so much. That is why there is a community of developers who have created add-ons for After Effects to make the user experience more bearable than before. These add-ons can make animating multiple layers more efficient, the creation of a folder structure at the project, and other features. I’m going to highlight three of these add-ons.

Mister Horse Previewer

 

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This After Effects plugin is something that should have been in the program from the get go. With this plugin, you can view imported footage, images, and music in a separate panel and see the first frame of compositions. I can’t count how many times I wish I could quickly preview an asset without having to go through much hassle. Ever since I purchased this plugin, I feel more at ease when importing assets into After Effects knowing I can see them on their own without having to open the layer panel view them. You can purchase this plugin for $21 at Videohive.

True Comp Duplicator

 

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This is a script I’ve been using for the last two years and it has been an invaluable asset to my workflow. If you are a heavy After Effects user, you will know how much of a pain it can be to create duplicates of a composition which contain multiple precompositions. It’s not as simple as duplicating it from the project panel, unfortunately. What this script does is create a complete duplicate of a comp hierarchy, including sub-comps.  If a comp is used multiple times, the comp only gets duplicated once and all remaining references point to the first duplicate.  If the comps are arranged in a special folder hierarchy in the project panel, that folder hierarchy is preserved or duplicated (depending on user preference) for the duplicated comps.

Based on the tutorial provided by Lloyd Alvarez, this script is very in-depth and can is definitely a timesaver. The best part is that you can pay your own price to get this plugin.

Text Box Script

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This free script from Motion Boutique creates a rectangular box around a text layer. A modern look for infographics and other motion graphics involves text being inside of a box. This script helps speed up the process of creating shape layers around the length of your text. I’ve used this script on a few projects myself and it has been a blessing to use. All I have to do is create my separate text layers, plug in my parameters for the script, and voila! I have a text box graphic. Grab this script now and see where it fits in your workflow.

Sound Effects

3rd Party Plugin Offerings

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One of the many things that led me to post production were the tools I would have available to craft and weave the final product. In particular, I was enamored with the 3rd party plugins and compositing software that were available for NLEs. Over the last seven years, I’ve had the opportunity to play with quite a few plugins from various developers, and have noticed how their form of delivery may be different from one another. I’ll examine a few developers whose delivery of plugins is unique to the user experience, and offer my opinions and critiques as well.

Boris FX/Red Giant

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Boris FX offers a variety of cross platform products from Continuum Complete, Final Effects, RED, and more. Continuum is offered as either a complete set or a la carte. Within this set, editors and artists have access to a plethora of effects that handle a multitude of areas in post production, such as: color correction, motion graphics, and visual effects creation. I’ve been using this set myself for over four years and it’s one I’ve come to rely on quite a bit. About two years ago, Boris FX decided to break up the Continuum suite into 16 separate units so that customers could pick and choose, as opposed to paying for a full suite of plugins.

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In my opinion, I think this was a smart move as I’m sure not a lot of professionals are willing to shell out $1,000 or more for a suite of plugins when only a select few will get used. If I only want to use the Continuum transitions, I can pay $200 and save $800 in the process, which can be put towards other endeavors. As cheap as the units are to purchase, there is a nice comfort in having the complete Continnum suite. If a dire project situation should arise, it could be easily fixed by using a rarely used plugin, rather than going through the process of purchasing another unit just for the sake of one project. I believe having options within the Continuum Complete suite definitely makes it flexible for the customer. Red Giant, on the other hand, is also unique in their approach to plugin offerings.

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From what I’ve observed, it’s cheaper to buy a suite and install what you need, as opposed to buying a la carte. I’m not sure why that is the case with Red Giant products, but it seems to get the job done. This approach has allowed them to become a popular developer in the industry. One of their new additions, Universe, uses the subscription model, where users can sign up for a free or premium membership. With either membership, the user has access to a variety of free plugins, as well as premium grade plugins, which you get if you sign up for a premium membership. In my experience, this approach has been pleasant because Red Giant keeps users in the loop with the option of voting on upcoming plugins, as well as giving them more free plugins with each update. In my opinion, I feel this will have some influence on how plugin developers offer their products.

FxFactory

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The developers at Noise Industries offer groundbreaking and revolutionary plugins that maximize a users creative ambitions, as well as minimizing the need to think to far outside the box. With their FxFactory application, users are presented with a catalogue of plugins that they can choose from. This is similar to how iTunes catalogues their music and video options.

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Personally, I like this approach to plugin offerings because I can pick from a catalogue of developers to test, or purchase, what I need at anytime and have immediate access within seconds. If I need transitions for FCPX, I can chose from Luca Visual FX, Idustrial Revolution, or SugarFX to gain some incredible and creative options. If I need lower thirds, I can download some from Stupid Raisins. Overall, having a catalogue of options from various developers definitely makes the user experience much more pleasant.

After seeing how companies like Boris FX, Red Giant, and the developers amongst FxFactory offer their plugins, it’s great to know that there are unique options that users can choose from. If you want a suite of products for a particular function of post production, Red Giant offers great money saving suites. If you want more of an a la carte option from a suite, you can choose from the units in the Continuum Complete set. If you want a catalogue of plugins you can download within seconds, FxFactory is incredible for that. Choose that which offers you the best bang for your buck.

Sound Effects

Red Giant Universe

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As a plugin enthusiast, I have always been a fan of the offerings of Red Giant Software. They have industry standard plugins in color correction, particles, lens flares, motion graphics, workflow tools, and much more. Another great thing is that the people behind the products are working veterans themselves; such as Aharon Rabinowitz, Harry Frank, Seth Worley, Simon Walker, and Stu Maschwitz. The tutorials they provide are top notch as well as the promos they create. With NAB around the corner, Red Giant is releasing new products under a subscription based model called Universe. Check out the trailer below to learn more.

Universe is a subscription based community where users will have access to free and premium plugins. These plugins are power-based on the GPU of your computer, and offer near-real time quality. They operate from a tool known as Supernova. According to plugin developer Alex4D, Supernova is a development system that uses a javascript-like scripting language to access the Red Giant Universe Library; a collection of image processing libraries whose code is combined together to make cross-platform Universe plugins. Learn more about Supernova below.

While the concept of a subscription model may sound familiar as with the Adobe Creative Cloud, the folks at Red Giant software put a lot of thought and care into how this community would work so it would be something that everyone can partake in. As of this writing, Red Giant is offering a public beta and will probably change things in the coming weeks. There are four plans that are currently on their site. You can sign up for a free membership, which lasts forever, and gives you access to 31 free plugins and more. The next membership is a monthly plan of $10 a month which gives you access to 31 free plugins, 8 premium plugins, and more. The third membership is a yearly plan of $99 annually. It contains the same features of the monthly plan, but at a discounted rate. So instead of paying $120 over a one year period, you pay $99 upfront for the year. You can also choose to pay $399 for a lifetime subscription plan where you never have to worry about monthly or annual fees.

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The plugin offerings are quite incredible on both the free and the premium side. One premium plugin that stood out to me was the revamped HoloMatrix. This was created by Aharon Rabinowitz to reduce the steps it takes to create holograms. Originally, it worked more as an After Effects script with presets available to change the look. Now, it functions fully as a plugin, but is much more responsive. Take a look at the tutorial below how HoloMatrix works now.

One of the free plugin categories that stood out to me were the glows. I’ve played with many third party glow plugins, and while they each have their strengths and weaknesses, I found these glows to be very responsive to parameter change and easy to process, thanks in part to Supernova programming. Overall, I’m extremely excited for Red Giant Universe. I believe it will definitely be a game changer in the plugin industry and will set the bar for how plugins are created and delivered to the masses. I really appreciate the fact that Red Giant took the cloud concept and made it work for everyone. It’s also cool that they offer a strong array of free plugins under the lifetime free membership option, which I’ll be using quite often. I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.

Royalty Free Music

Coremelt Complete Review

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Coremelt is a company that is headed by visual effects veteran Roger Bolton. They create plugins for Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, and After Effects. The main suite of plugins is known as Coremelt Complete. Within this suite of plugins is a collection of easy to use and intuitive tools for motion artists and all types of editors. Coremelt Complete is composed of eight categories: Gadget Essential Utilities, Pigment, Luminous Glows and Blurs, Shatter Grunge and Stylized, Delta V Grunge Transitions, TRX Filmic Transitions, ImageFlow FX, and Vee You. Each category is a toolkit that addresses miscellaneous post production needs, such as motion graphics, color grading, visual effects, and more. I’m going to provide a brief summary of some of the categories with plugins I use often in my workflow.

Luminous Glows and Blurs

These set of plugins allow you to add a variety of glows, blurs, mattes, and miscellaneous stylized effects to your footage. Some of my favorite effects are Core Glow, Plasma Ribbon, and RGB Trails. These are some of my go-to effects when I need a quick boost in style, and don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to create them from scratch.

Core Glow allows you to set separate colors for the inner and outer glow in order to create a “hot core” style of glow. It has a variety of parameters which allows the user to create a unique look of their own.

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Plasma Ribbon creates a flowing fluid stream of light with many controls for the type of twisting, colors, style of ribbon, and speed you want. This is ideal for use as a motion graphics elements like titles and lower thirds.

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RGB Trails creates ghost-like trails behind movement in the image with different lengths in each color channel. Think of it as a repeater/echo effect but across the red, green, and blue channels as opposed to the video itself.

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Delta V Grunge Transitions

This set of 30 transitions are motion graphic, stylized, and grunge based. They are meant to enhance and add that additional pop to your workflow. My go-to transitions are Channel Change, Random Crop, and Random Cloud.

Channel Change is a transition that applies a static and interference pattern to simulate changing channels on an old-school TV set. This transition works best when its duration last between 6-8 frames.

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Random Crop is a transition that crops your source clip down to a random size, then the target clip grows back from a random size to full screen. I’ve used this transition quite a bit in my edits. I find it to be modern and stylized all at the same time.

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Random Cloud is a transition that pulls out, revealing a cloud of random arrangements of source and target clips before zooming back to target. You have the ability to control many of the parameters: diagonal, horizontal, and vertical.

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ImageFlow FX

These are a set of predetermined photo and video animations that can be used for DVD menu backgrounds, motion graphics promos, documentary photo montage, titles sequences, and many more uses. With over 30 plugins to choose from, you will have limitless possibilities for using multiple pieces of media at once in your project. My favorites are Filmstrip, Card Flow, and Layers to Camera.

Filmstrip is a generator that creates a scrolling film strip of images in the folder, or from your timeline. You have the ability to position the film strip in 3D space using the built in controls. One drawback is that it’s not infinitely long, so modify with caution. I’ve utilized this generator when I wanted to show a scroll of client logos and other miscellaneous objects.

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Card Flow recreates the animation of the popular iTunes “Cover Flow” effect with frames, masks, and random crop options.

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Layers to Camera gives your images or videos the 3D animation as if the images were flowing toward the camera with a controllable depth blur effect, as well as adjustable random x, y, and z position. This is one of my favorite generators to use when I don’t want to create this from scratch in After Effects and need something quickly.

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Overall, Coremelt Complete is a Swiss army knife of effects that can take your projects to the next level. I can honestly say they are among my top five favorite third party plugin suite, and I depend on them regularly. You can try it out for 14 days yourself and see how awesome it is. I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.

 

Fun Effects with Radio Waves

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One of the things I love about using After Effects is that just when you thought you mastered it, it still shows more than you can imagine. As a user of the product for several years, I’ve picked up tips and tricks from various AE gurus in the business while also making discoveries myself. I’ve also had a chance to play with the numerous plugins that are available that make the post production process run much smoother. What still surprises me about After Effects, is what you can do with the filters that are native to the program. One in particular is the Radio Waves filter. At first glance, you wouldn’t think it does more than generate concentric shapes. With further experimentation and combining other plugins, Radio Waves can create elements on its own without the need to purchase additional plugins. Thanks to After Effects guru Chad Perkins, I’ve seen that Radio Waves is most known for mograph users of After Effects. Below, I summarize a few examples things you can create with Radio Waves.

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Light Ribbons

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Courtesy of a tutorial from How to Cheat with After Effects, Chad Perkins shows us how to make light ribbons with Radio Waves. This was achieved by first adding an expression to the Producer Point then adjusting the frequency of the waves to about 500. He kept the lifespan down to about three to four seconds and changed the settings in the Stroke Parameter. With the addition of the Glow Filter and a background with the Ramp Filter, he was able to come up with a cool light ribbon element. In most cases, folks would turn to Trapcode plugins, Particular, or Form to create this effect. But with some experimentation, you can create this cool background element/overlay and use it on projects.

Grid Tracker

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I learned this effect from the Making it Great series on the Motionworks site. This is achieved by creating a square composition and applying Radio Waves to a solid the same size as the composition. By manipulating the settings to create a pulsating circle over one second, you can precompose this solid and have it follow the animation of the Grid Filter. I set up the Grid filter to follow stops at multiple points on the world map. When it stops, I place an instance of the Radio Waves precomposition to indicate a marked location. With these two effects working together, you are able to create tracker animation for a weather video, or a heads up display.

Glowing Streaks

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Figuring out how to create this effect was a combination of studying After Effects templates and a bit of trial and error. This is an effect I would turn to Particular for, but knowing I can create it with Radio Waves makes for a great alternative. Especially when I need it 2D. This is achieved by animating a solid that is 100 x 100 in a streak-like manner. I would create two instances of Radio Waves on 1080p solids in a 1440 x 1020 composition. Then, I would create an expression on their producer points that would follow the animated solid from earlier. By manipulating Radio Waves with non-additive masks and the color parameter, I would get a nice particle streak. Add an adjustment layer with the Glow filter in that composition, and I would complete the base of streak. In a 1080p composition, I would duplicate instances of the streak elements sequence until I got this look from this video below.

If that explanation seemed a bit much to take in, I’ve provided the project for CS5.5 and CS6, as well as render of four glow streaks for those of you who don’t have After Effects here.

Overall, Radio Waves possesses more capability than meets the eye. These are just three examples, but I believe with further experimentation it can do great things. AETuts has some great tutorials which push the limits of Radio Waves.

I’m the NLE Ninja with Audio Micro asking you to stay creative.

Sound Effects

Sliding Page Transition in Premiere Pro

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One of the many things that amazes and intrigues me are the animations that you can find in commonly used devices. Everything from your smartphone, computer and gaming system provide unique ways of navigating their respective interfaces. One of the animations I enjoy seeing on my iPhone is the new page animation when using Safari. The current page you are on will scale down, shift to the left and a new page will come in and take over the screen. I’m going to show you how to create that animation in Premiere. A transition like this exists within the FxFactory collection so check that out if you want to add that to your arsenal.

In Premiere Pro, I have a 1080p timeline with 2 clips on top of each other

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I’m going to set up the animation for the clip on Track 2. Let’s move 15 frames into the clip. Next, set a keyframe for scale at 100. Move 10 frames forward and change the value to 75 on the scale parameter.

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Before we move it offscreen to the left, let’s scale and position our clip on Track 1. I’ll scale it down to 75 as well and position it so there is a small gap between the clips.

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Let’s animate our clip on Track 2 offscreen to the left. I’ll set a keyframe for position about 5 frames from my last scale keyframe at its default value. Move 10 frames forward and position the clip until only a small piece remains on screen.

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Go back to the first position keyframe. Highlight the clip on Track 1. Set a keyframe for position at its current value. Move 10 frames forward and change the value to its default position.

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Move 10 frames forward. Set a keyframe for scale at its current value of 75. Move 10 frames forward change the scale back to 100.

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I’ll add a Solid Composite filter to both clips. For the clip on Track 2, change the blending mode to multiply. Set a keyframe for opacity at 45 where the last scale keyframe is at. Move back 5 frames and set another keyframe with a value of 0. Copy the filter. Move to the clip on Track 1. Paste the Solid Composite filter. Delete the keyframes for opacity leaving it with a value of 45.

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This next step is crucial to sell the animation. Move the playhead 3 frames forward from the last position keyframe on Track 2. Make an edit. Place the clip on Track 1 on Track 2 and the clip on Track 2 on Track 1.

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With the playhead at the edit point, set a keyframe for opacity in the Solid Composite filter. Move 5 frames forward and change the value to 0.

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One thing before we proceed. Change all keyframes you set to Auto Bezier to get a smoother animation.

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The final piece of the puzzle is a gradient background. Highlight your clips and move them one track up. Create a gradient background in the Title Tool or use a gradient from Photoshop. Place the gradient on Track 1 and make sure it’s the length of your clips.

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This is what the final result looks like.

That’s how you make this over and under transition in Premiere Pro. As I said before, this is based on a transition from Noise Industries which is available for Premiere Pro CS6 on Mac. Try this out and see if you can take it a step further. I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.