After Effects CS5 is coming, and Audio tips for AE

28 03 2010

Hi there, long time no see.

Time really flies. It just feels like yesterday when CS4 sounded fresh and new. Not that I’m obsessed or anything, but I’ve been really using After Effects for a few years now, and it seems to have taken over from Final Cut Pro as my software of choice. I think this is because many of my projects have turned from ‘straight’ videos into detailed post production composites.

I can’t shed any light on what is new in the program, but am as keen to find out as you are. There are lots of fake youtube videos going about, don’t be fooled by them.

I for one hope that they make the audio better. It is a continued bugbear of mine. For those in the same boat as me, here’s a few ‘top tips’ for working with audio in AE.

  • If you scrub through your timeline holding the Apple/Command Key (on a Mac) or I’d assume Ctrl on a PC then it allows you to hear the audio as you are scrubbing. I often find this invaluable when matching animation to music, and it completely saved my life when working with audio in After Effects.
  • Forget that the space bar exists. You’ll only hear the audio on playback if you press the 0 key on the side keypad instead.

There’s a great combo with the next 2 tips

  • Pressing the fullstop/period key on the side keypad will playback the audio from the point that you’re at in the timeline.
  • Pressing the * key on (you’ve guessed it) the side keypad will put a marker on the timeline during playback. This is great for beat matching and timing to audio cues. Once you’ve stopped playback they’ll appear on the layer you had selected.

Just making that from the top of my head, so I’ve probably missed lots out. Let me know if you’ve got any more. Thanks and I hope to see you more often.

Also – Nick Campbell (Greyscale Gorilla) talks about stuff on


Video Joiners

29 10 2009

Series of 3 small images?

Video Joiners are an ongoing audiovisual series, where I am experimenting with multi-screen composite images. These have been inspired by the early photographic joiners by David Hockney, where a number of polaroid photos of a space were laid out in a grid. Inspired by this work, and of panoramic photos I had taken as a child, I was intrigued to see what would happen if I added the elements of time and movement.


It initially felt a little sacreligious, as Hockney had intrinsically developed the technique to incorporate time and movement with a series of images taken at different times being seen together.

But I was keen to see what would happen with and developed the concept of a video joiner for a commission at the Cast restaurant and bar at the Nottingham Playhouse. Curated by Casciani Evans Wood, this piece was my first joiner.

Cast Joiner

Quicktime X – Oh dear.

11 09 2009


Now I’m sure somehow it is an improvement, but I can’t see it. Quicktime x has installed as a part of snow leopard on my macpro. Now snow leopard is great – much quicker, and more stable (don’t believe the ‘mac never crashes’ crowd – System 7/8 was amazingly stable, but that was 10 years ago). Only designed as an ‘under the hood’ update, the idea was to keep as much as possible the same as leopard.

But having used Quicktime X for a few days, I was sorely missing quicktime 7. The pro version allowed great flexibility and is in constant use by me. It was an amazing piece of software, and just worked so well. So what do Apple do? They simplify it and take away all the features that made it great. D-oh.

But the reason why I’m writing this post is that

1. If people complain about this rubbish update, then they might address the problem, and

2.  I have discovered that you can get Quicktime Pro 7 back. Hooray.

If you want to get quicktime 7 back, you will find it in Applications>Utilities.

If you want video files to open natively in this then – ‘get info’ on any video file (holding command(Apple)& I). Then you can set ‘open with’ to other, navigate to Quicktime 7 in Applications>Utilities. Then click ‘change all’ to ensure all filetypes like this open in QT7.

Now I like change, but it should be for the better, not dumbing down an already simple application.

Oooh, rant over.

Canon 7D – Could this be what we have been waiting for?

1 09 2009


Drool. Canon’s official release of the 7D is upon us. This looks like it’ll be the DSLR camera that digital filmmakers on a budget are looking for, if the camera lives up to the hype.

The main point that I’ve been looking for is below.

The EOS 7D also captures Full HD video at 30p (29.97 fps), 24p (23.976 fps) and 25p with an array of manual controls, including manual exposure during movie shooting and ISO speed selection.

Also in the press release – It will shoot up to 60 progressive frames per second at 1280 x 720 resolution. Great for slow motion effects. Advanced movie mode with manual exposure control and selectable frame rates: 1920 x 1080 (Full HD): 30p (29.97) / 24p (23.976) / 25p, 1280 x 720 (HD): 60p (59.94) / 50p, 640 x 480 (SD): 60p (59.94) / 50p.

As readers of the blog will know, I’ve been waiting for 25p functionality and its absence in Canon’s otherwise astounding 5D mkII was the main issue with buying a camera like this.

I’m keen to see the low light performance of this camera, and to see how it compares to the 5D mkII. Now the ball is in Nikon’s court to come out with the update to the D700 before this potentially wipes the floor with them.

I’m sure someone else will get around to it before me, but I’ll put together a side by side comparison to check specs.

Read the press release below.

A Whole New Class of EOS.

With a host of brand new features designed to enhance every facet of the photographic process, from still images to video, the new EOS 7D represents a whole new class of camera.

Made to be the tool of choice for serious photographers and semi-professionals, the EOS 7D features an all-new 18.0 Megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor and Dual DIGIC 4 Image Processors, capturing tremendous images at up to ISO 12800 and speeds of up to 8 fps. The EOS 7D has a new all cross-type 19-point AF system with improved AI Servo AF subject tracking and user-selectable AF area selection modes for sharp focus no matter the situation. The EOS 7D’s Intelligent Viewfinder, an entirely newly-designed technology, provides 100% coverage and displays user-selected AF modes as well as a spot metering circle and on demand grid lines. New iFCL Metering with 63-zone dual-layer metering system uses both focus and color information to provide accurate exposure even in difficult lighting. The EOS 7D also captures Full HD video at 30p (29.97 fps), 24p (23.976 fps) and 25p with an array of manual controls, including manual exposure during movie shooting and ISO speed selection. The EOS 7D features a magnesium alloy body that is dust- and weather-resistant and shutter durability of up to 150,000 cycles. Compatible with over 60 EF and EF-S lenses as well as with EOS System accessories, the creative opportunities – not just with stills but also with video – are beyond amazement.

Update 1 –

Now the bad news –

UK Pricing is £1700  US Pricing is $1700

A real kick in the preverbal considering the 5D mkII is –

UK Pricing is £1900  US Pricing is $2900

This had better come down. We’re not idiots.

A quick currency conversion shows that $1700 = £1051.

It maybe time for that trip to the states.

Update 2 –


This site allows you to show/download side by side comparisons. No videos, but I have looked at the still life 12800 and thought the noise on the 7D was better than the more expensive/larger sensor 5DmkII

Most of the videos that are available at the moment are rather bad, but hopefully someone will do a straight comparison when the camera is commercially available.

Watch this!!!

24 06 2009

Picture 8

Please watch, rate and comment on this little short produced by some of my students for the Virgin Media Shorts film competition, by clicking on the picture above.

They have worked very hard in a very short amount of time to pull this off and deserve praise for their effort and achievement, especially considering this was all done at the busiest time of year for their course, and one of them was also directing a major TV show as well.

You need to register with virgin media shorts, but it only takes a short while. Please help us bring it up the charts. I’m not sure what VirginMedia did to it, but when uploaded, it is difficult to see the faces in some shots, and it’s quite jumpy. But this is not the case on the original.

Title: The White Devil Running time: 02’20”

Synopsis – Spaghetti Western/Horror short. Sheriff Nero is on the hunt for the Diavolo Bianco, a fugitive gunman. He is wanted on charges of murder: dead or alive. 5 weeks ago my tutor suggested we enter this Virgin competition. So we did and here’s what we made. Every stage of production was meticulously planned and executed. A dedicated work ethos was an essential ingredient to the project. We all had a good laugh and few beers though, despite on the day of the shoot it pissing down. The Hereford & Hell crew has worked successfully together previously and is assembled from talent residing in both Nottingham and Bristol. We are a tight, hard working and passionate group of film fanatics led by Hereford & Hell co-founders Cassidy Kirk and Matt Harradine. Crew: Cassidy Kirk Matt Harradine Trent Pyro Emily Bashford Louisa Vernon Josh Sibson

Canon 5D mkII Firmware released

2 06 2009

logo Canon released their firmware update yesterday. Yummie. Now all I can say is come on Nikon. Nikon are looking to release the D300s soon if are right

What Hybrid DSLR camera to buy?!!

31 05 2009


I’m looking to buy a new camera, so I thought I’d put a list together with some pros and cons. Don’t think I’ll be buying for a few months yet, still saving the pennies. A friend has just got a Canon 5D mkII. I’m desperate to get my hands on it for a try, to see if It’ll make my mind up

Over the last 6 months there’s been a stalled revolution which was the release of HD video capable DSLR stills cameras with the potential to blow away more expensive video cameras. First the Nikon D90, which despite being initially impressive, proved to be a bit of a damp squip, with a fair amount of artifacting and problems when panning the camera. This was followed by the Canon 5D mkII which was seriously impressive, full 1080p and a really crisp image with none of the problems associated with the D90.

But the Canon 5D mkII looks like it was a rushed release. Due to Nikon releasing the D90, Canon seem to have brought forward the date on the 5D mkII to steal it’s thunder. It surely did. But when I say it was a rushed release, I don’t mean that they got it all wrong, quite the opposite. The camera actually is now a serious threat to their video camera sales. Apparently they didn’t talk to the video division, just put a great video mode on a DSLR.

However, it was still seriously limited, with no real control over the settings, frame rate etc. This has had many filmmakers gnashing their teeth, seeing something so near, but so far away. My problem is that as I live in the UK, I use the PAL TV system. This operates at 25 frames per second, or 25P. The camera will only shoot in 30P which is (almost) NTSC, the US and  Japan standard.

In the meantime…

Red, famed for its Red one camera has scrapped working on its Scarlett ‘budget’ camera. This looks to be replaced by a DSLR type body. “We have changed everything about Scarlet because the market has changed and we have discovered a lot of things in the process. We have a new vision. Wipe you minds of the past announced Scarlet. Forget the design and forget the price. It is all different now. We think you will be surprised.” The price on this one is probably out of my price range, expect £4000 at a guess, and also Red have previously released their cameras, then had a long wait for people to actually get their hands on one. But if you can handle the wait it will surely be revolutionary.

Panasonic releases the GH1 – Panasonic sort of gets it right. Its new camera is 4 thirds, a newish system which has a lack of lenses available, but due to the smaller size, seems to mount industry lenses easier. Many people think this is a really great camera, but I’m holding out for a while to wait and see.

Recently Canon have released info about a future firmware upgrade which will address many of the problems over the manual controls. but there is still the problem over the framerate.

Here’s the contenders. I’ve decided to put these in order of personal interest.


Nikon D300s Approx £1300 without lens- Still a rumor, but a big rumor that there will be an update to the D300. As this would be Nikon’s chance to make a serious fight with Canon for the DSLR/Filmmaker market, lets hope that they go all the way with the video instead of the specs listed here at



Canon 5D mkII Approx £2100 without lens – Now this just produces superb images, untouched so far by the others available at the time of writing. Checkout for info on the recent firmware update or the hopeful resolution of the 24/25p problem



Panasonic GH1 – £1300 with lens – This looks very interesting – Full 1080p, interchangeable lenses. Full manual controls. Watch this space. I’m really interested to see comparison videos


I’d prefer Nikon over Canon, as they seem the better buy in the long run. Their cameras seem better, and their lens system is backwards compatible – meaning that you can keep your older lenses when you upgrade the camera.