Sunday, November 28, 2004

broadcastGEMs announces new product

broadcastGEMs (Graphic Elements in Motion) is pleased to announce a new product to complement their DV Series. The AE Pro Series is delivered on DVD and includes Adobe After Effects project files.

Product Specs

- 20 Rendered, Customizable Animated Backgrounds
- 30+ Rendered, Customizable Animated Elements [2D and 3D - includes 20 Seamless Tiles (Still Images) and a Number of Vector Objects]
- 40+ AEPs
- Includes Numerous Elements created using Standard Version Plug-ins
- Includes 6 Expression Controlled Elements (designed and created by Dan Ebberts and Roland Kahlenberg)
a) Faux Par Reflection
b) Sniper Target System
c) BrushWipeFx
d) Lower 3rd Creation Engine
e) Circular Matte Creation Engine
f) Seamless Texture Animator
- Includes 15 TexTures (in FFX Format) as Animation Presets. A small number of these TexTures will be emailed to users as part of the registration incentive process.
- Includes HTML documentation for easy reference of each AEP. No 'finished' backgrounds are supplied. This will prevent the likelyhood that no two 'finished' backgrounds are identical.

Questions? Send an email to

Technical Specs

- All supplied clips are rendered at double-frame rate (59.94fps for NTSC and 50fps for PAL) and at square-pixel aspect ratio (720x540 for NTSC and 768x576 for PAL)
- All supplied clips are rendered to Targa Sequences.
- Compatible with Adobe After Effects version 5.5 (Standard Version)
- NTSC & PAL versions are included in a single package.

Product Availability:

broadcastGEMs Volume01 AE Pro Series is set to be released in the 1st
week of December 2004. Download a Zipped PDF (product brochure)

Sales Call

An Early-Bird Sales Call is on Right Now! Place your orders by midnight (EDT) November 30, 2004 and save $US40 on the suggested retail price of US$229. Normal Shipping charges are applicable. To place your early-bird order, send an email to with the words "I want my AE Pro GEMs" in the subject line. In the body of your email, provide us with your address and the type of credit card you will be using for the order. We will get back to you and request for more pertinent payment information when the product is ready for shipping.

About broadcastGEMs

broadcastGEMs was founded in July 2004. The company specializes in creating high-quality, customizable, royalty-free animated backdrops for the broadcast industry. Founded by Roland Kahlenberg, an Adobe
After Effects Certified Expert & Instructor, Roland is also a host at's Adobe After Effects Forum. broadcastGEMs' products are created by experienced producers and designers. This ensures that each product has a high usability score.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Interview with After Effects User and VFX Legend Doug Chiang

Roving reporter Matt Schirado sent me this great link - Pros with Macs - An Interview With Doug Chiang: The Man Behind Robota. Mr. Chiang has worked on films like Forrest Gump, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Mennace, Terminator 2 and The Polar Express.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - The Movie

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - The Movie will be out next summer and some really cool concept artwork arrived last week. They're currently busy with post-production.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is one of my favorite books of all time. It's filled with great advice: "A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta... wet it for use in hand-to-hand combat... wrap it around your head to ward off noxious fumes... any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the Galaxy, rough it... win through, and still know where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with."

Press Release: Top Graphics Artist makes Curious gFx his Software of Choice

Curious gFx"To date, I haven't come across a single shot that I couldn't finish using Curious gFx and, in time, I think it could be the standard paint/roto tool for the industry"

USA - NOVEMBER 2004: Special effects artist Greg Shimp, whose credits include all three Matrix movies, has become a firm advocate of Curious Software's new 16-bit paint and roto tool, Curious gFx Pro+, thanks to its ability to deliver consistently great results.

Over the last 12 months, Shimp has used the software on a number of major film projects including Ladykillers and Catwoman. His knowledge and expertise with Curious gFx Pro has recently landed him a position at CIS Hollywood, a Los-Angeles based visual effects company, which is currently looking at the possibility of implementing the software as a non-SGI alternative to Matador.

Launched in 2002, Curious Software's Curious gFx was specifically designed to meet the needs of the television, post-production and film industries. It includes a powerful paint engine for moving images, a sophisticated new roto-matte system and a range of features for wire and rig removal or content restoration. The software also offers the intuitive ease-of-use familiar to users of other Curious products such as Curious World Maps.

Continue reading press releaseGreg Shimp first came across Curious gFx when he was working on the Matrix sequels at San Francisco-based visual effects specialist, ESC.

"At first I didn't have the chance to delve into it because of time constraints on finishing the Matrix sequels," he explains. "But once they were completed I had the perfect opportunity to see what Curious gFx was capable of when our other software fell short on an extremely difficult paint shot for Ladykillers. I needed a PC software that allowed me to have subpixel accuracy when lining up a second layer to paint from. Despite the difficulties inherent in getting to know any new software, I was able to complete the task within deadline using Curious gFx. That success on such a difficult shot inspired me to continue experimenting by using the software on all types of shots."

Although Curious Software's founders have a long and impressive track record in creating special effects software for the film industry, the company itself is viewed as a relative newcomer and is best known for its innovative broadcast mapping software, Curious World Maps. With the launch of Curious gfx, the Curious team were keen to work closely with the industry to ensure that the new software offered exactly what end users wanted.

Greg Shimp says this ability to incorporate end user feedback was one of the main reasons why he was so impressed by the Curious Software team.

"I was impressed that somebody was finally attempting to develop a stand-alone paint/roto software and that they were eager to seek my input on how to improve it," he says. "It's great to have a new software dedicated to just doing paint/roto work, with a development team implementing suggestions for improvement quite quickly in updated versions. This is a major advantage because these days most paint/roto softwares are no longer being supported for added improvements."

Shimp's enthusiasm for Curious gFx eventually resulted in Circle S purchasing the software when he was hired to work from home on Catwoman. Because of budget constraints he was only allowed one piece of software, so he chose Curious gFx.

He explains: "I liked what I saw in Curious, especially with the immediate upgrades utilizing suggestions for improvement, and I felt fairly confidant about my chances on completing work in a timely manner using gFx. Thankfully, my instincts were correct. I was able to finish 30 mid to difficult bungee chord removal shots in just under three months for Catwoman and I was very pleased with the results I achieved."

Shimp adds that everything he has produced using Curious gFx has worked easily in other software as rendered out images.

"It's a decent piece of software, although, like most developing software it has it's annoying little bugs that need to be ironed out," he says. "Yet, there is a team at the ready to help eliminate all those problems and that makes all the difference. To date, I have not come across a single shot that I could not finish using Curious and, in time, I think it could be the standard paint/roto tool for the industry."

Greg Shimp is currently using Curious gFx on two new movies that are being graphically enhanced by CIS Hollywood.

"I'm using it for everything from simple roto and tracking marker removal to difficult wire/rig removals and complex roto of multiple moving people in one shot," he says.

About Curious Software

Curious Software is an innovative software company with a great pedigree. Founded in May 1999, Curious Software's aim is to make the highest quality professional information graphics available to everyone creating content for the television, post-production, Internet and corporate graphics industries. Curious Software products provide all the tools required to create stunning animations and presentations in easy-to-use and affordable packages. Our series of professional products are all based on a generic multi-ayered animation engine, designed to accelerate the creation of the highest quality graphics.

For more information about Curious gFx Pro please visit the Toolfarm gFx Pro page


You may have noticed the little change below each post on the Toolfarm home page and the Inspiration page. The comments have been there, but now they are much more prominent. I switched the comment tracking system when I moved the content from the AE FreeMart, so unfortunately, the old comments are gone. That leaves ample room for new comments!

We would love to know your thoughts and feelings on tutorials, products, articles and anything we post. As they say in Mexico: Mi granja de la herramienta es tu granja de la herramienta (My Toolfarm is your Toolfarm).

There is a lot of new content on the Inspiration page, so if you haven't been there in a while, I encourage to check it out (my current favorite: What Barry Thinks.)

Monday, November 22, 2004

I (Heart) Huckabees Effects

Cinefex Weekly Update had an article a couple of weeks ago on the effects from the film I (Heart) Huckabees. All of the effects were done by three men on G5s with Adobe After Effects. They go into quite a bit of detail and have some nice images from the film.

If you scroll down the page, there's a bit on some upcoming films. More proof that there are no new ideas in Hollywood - another King Kong remake and Sarah Michelle Gellar in a supernatural thriller. I was kind of happy to see that Disney will be making a new "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe". Love that one.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Review: Trapcode Particular

Toolfarm Rating: (5/5)

Trapcode Particular is an incredible plug-in for After Effects that gives the artist the ability to create realistic fire and smoke, as well as awe-inspiring organic "stuff".

Awe-inspiring? Yep. That's what I said. Feast your eyes on the samples over to the right. Go on. Glance over there. We'll wait. Click any of the images to view a short movie. Wow!

This plug-in has been out for a while, and those of you who already own it, I'm sure will agree, Particular is phat! I've recently used it quite a bit on projects, most notably, my School of Fish tutorial. The tutorial demonstrates how to make several fish that move individually, but together, as in a school. Although you probably don't have much use for animating sea bass, Particular makes Hollywood caliber explosions, sci-fi starfields, blizzardy snow, abstract dancing lines, glowing spheres and just about anything else you can think of that might be in groups.

Read the rest of the review and see more samplesAfter dabbling with the plug-in for few hours, I was hooked. This plug-in has comprehensive settings for every detail of the particle, which you would expect from any particle generator. What sets Particular apart from the crowd is the exceptional preview window, which lets you see what the settings look like without rendering. You can spin and turn your particles around in 3D space to view every angle.

Another great feature is the Animation Presets, which works like Favorites. Trapcode spent loads of time creating dazzling samples for you. When I first started using Particular, I was a bit overwhelmed by having so many options in Particular. The Animation Presets menu allowed me to jump in with two feet, find something similar to what I wanted and then tweaked them until I was content. Evened for the seasoned Particular user, setting up an effect from scratch could be laborous, but the preset menu allows one to choose something similar and modify the settings. It's really an efficiency tool in disguise.

The built-in help is superb. It's thourough and easy to understand. I am not the type to ever look at a manual or help section. I prefer to drive myself insane trying to figure things out on my own. I did look up the Aux System settings because I really didn't have a clue of what they did. Five minutes of reading through the built-in help and I was ready to go.

I did run into one thing that I wanted to do with the plug-in, but could not, and that is to create an enclosed area with a mask that would contain the particles. This can be done with Particle Playground, After Effects' built-in particle generator. Particle Playground works in 2D and Particular works in 3D, so I can see how difficult it would be to create a three dimensional mask. Maybe in future versions....

Overall, Trapcode Particular is freakin' awesome. I can't think of one other plug-in that is so versatile and makes me look so good, and that's really what it's all about, isn't it. Making your stuff look really good.

Trapcode Particular is available for download only. Toolfarm bundles Particular with other cool Trapcode products, too. The Trapcode 3D Pack includes Trapcode 3D Stroke, Particular, and Lux plug-ins. The Trapcode Suite 2004 bundle is the bomb - all 6 Trapcode plug-ins ( Shine, Starglow, 3D Stroke, Sound Keys, Lux and Particular). Trapcode consistently puts out must-have plug-ins, so believe me, I am not just blowing smoke (although I could with Particular - okay, bad joke).

Adobe digital video and audio primers

Adobe digital video and audio primers is a terrific resource that Adobe has added to their site. Learn about analog, ditigal and virtually every format. Learn about DVD, compression and streaming media as well. Intrigued? Check it out.

Porting between Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects

Porting between Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects is another repeat on the site, but it's come up again with my students' projects.

Old Film Look

old filmDémbélé Ismael of Institut National Polytechnique FHB, Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire), West Africa, shows you a simple method of achieving that "Old Film" look without third-party plug-ins.

You can achieve a variety of amazing film looks with Magic Bullet Suite SD and DifiEffects Cinelook, for example, which is a great product, but if you're without funds and need a simple and quick old film look in a pinch, check out this tutorial.

yU + co Opens ABC's Desperate Housewives

yU + co Opens ABCs "Desperate Housewives". A few weeks ago someone asked me about this open and if I'd seen it. It's Carnivale meets Monty Python's Flying Circus. There is a Quicktime and a nice article.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Art of Roto

Art of Roto by Matt Silverman, who is a successful visual effects artist and software developer. The article came out this summer and I believe I linked to it but from a different site. If I did, it's worth a repeat.

Are you charging enough or too much?

How to Determine Your Freelance Rate. I have students who were telling me what they're charging and they're either being severely cheated out of a dollar or they're undercutting the competition. I think it's a bit of both.

The art college where I teach supplies freelance rates at the front desk. Many students don't know about this. If you're wondering what the freelance rates are in your town, a local college may be of help.

What Makes a Good Show Reel?

FX Guide has 10 tips on making a successful show reel. Good advice.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

LA Motion User Group Meeting Meeting, Nov 13

The next meeting will feature an "Ask the Pros" panel with new special guests, including Philip Hodgetts from Intelligent Assistance and Josh Mellicker from DV Creators They will also be presenting some Motion tips & tricks and have more giveaways and show specials.

TIME: 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
EVENT FEE: FREE - The meeting is open to all for free, but we do ask that you pre-register here (no need to register if you have registered with them for a previous event).

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Cycore HD

Cycore HD was re-written from the ground up, the original Final Effects Complete plug-ins package brought back by Cycore FX and now available in 16-bit, non-square-pixel support and optimized for OSX and Windows XP.

Download the demo today and take it for a test drive.

Motion Graphics Los Angeles (MGLA) are demoing it at their next meeting. From their site: "One of the best things about the After Effects 6.5 upgrade is that it comes with a copy of Cycore FX (essentially a revamped edition of Final Effects Complete) for free. However, there are a few things missing, such as 16-bit and non-square-pixel support Cycore FX HD answers those questions, plus significantly enhances the particle system plug-ins and adds three new effects." Plus, they're giving away a copy.

So, what's so great about these Cycore HD plug-ins, you ask?

Cycore FX HD contains the same filters as the original FEC (Metacreation era), plus new addtions, and the additions/improvments over Cycore FX (bundled).

New filters

- Environment
- Plastic
- WarpoMatic

Improvments in Cycore FX HD?

- All filters are 16-bit

CC Particle World improvements

- New Resistance control. Simulates how particles are influenced by resistance, coming from kinetic friction (air) or a substance's viscosity (water), as they move.
- New Particle Types. Textured Square, Textured Disc and Textured Faded Disc, featuring the ability to colorize particle texture with the standard particle color.
-New Texture control group with Texture Layer pop-up, Scatter control and Texture Time pop-up. The Texture Time control determines what frame(s) to use over the life span of particles when the selected source texture is a movie or a composition that contains animation.
- New Rotation Speed and Initial Rotation controls for particle types that have individual rotation. Rotation Speed determines the speed of particles? rotation and Initial Rotation adds randomness to particles? initial rotation angle at birth.
- New Volume Shade (approx.) control. Applies an approximate volume shading to the particles for an increased sense of 3D depth. This option is available for most animation systems and particles.
-New Transfer Mode Control. Determines the transfer mode used when particles overlap each other.

CC Particle Systems II improvements

- New Source Alpha Inheritance control. Enables to control particle generation from a logo or other source with an alpha channel. This feature in combination with Animation Presets renders the PS Classic and PS LE Classic filters obsolete. The functionality of these two filters will be maintained with motion blur, more accurate subpixel precision, 16 bit per channel, more particle types and animations and generally more extensive controls.
- New Transfer Mode Control. Determines the transfer mode used when particles overlap each other.


- Advanced 3D (AE has 3D layers)
- Alpha Map (AE has curves filter)

Removed. They're both obsolete now. AE has 3D layers and the Curves filter.

Merged filters

- Slant
- Slant Matte

They're now merged into one filter, CC Slant, with the functionallity of both filters.

New filters

- Radial Blur
- Radial Fast Blur
- Vector Blur
- Split 2 (this was a bonus if you registered FEC)

Differences between Cycore FX (bundled with AE 6.5) and Cycore FX HD

- Particle Systems
- Particle Systems LE

Removed. Functionallity of both this filters included in CC Particle Systems II.

The 'Pan Behind' Tool in Adobe After Effects

David Nagel explains the finer points of The 'Pan Behind' Tool in Adobe After Effects. Follow his technique to create a magnify effect.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

New Exclusive Toolfarm Tutorial - School of Fish!

School of Fish is a tutorial that explains how to create a complex oceanscape, complete with a realistic water texture, beams of sunlight plunging through the water and bubbles floating to the surface. Plus, create a small school of fish that move individually and are different sizes.

This tutorial uses some fantastic plug-ins from Trapcode - Particular and Shine. If you don't own these plug-ins, there are demos available.

FYI, Toolfarm sells bundles of the awesome Trapcode plug-ins as well as individual licenses. Some even come with training.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Cycore Effects HD Review with Quicktimes

Read the great review of Cycore Effects HD at CreativeMac. They're 16 bit and have 3 new effects: CC Environment, CC WarpoMatic and CC Plastic. Stephen Schleicher liked them a lot.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Press Release: Toolfarm Teams Up with Curious Software

Toolfarm Teams Up with Curious Software to distribute its widely acclaimed 16-bit paint and roto software Curious gFX Pro+.

Read the full press release.SAN FRANCISCO, CA Oct. 31, 2004 Toolfarm, the number one supplier of 3rd Party After Effects plug-ins and visual effects software has teamed up with Curious Software to provide it's customers with one of the most talked about 16-Bit Paint and Roto tools, Curious gFX Pro+.

Curious gFX Pro+ is a stand-alone application, and the new choice for 16-bit paint retouch, and rotoscoping among Film and Video Professionals. gFX includes the most powerful paint engine for moving images; the most sophisticated new roto-matte system; and a superb range of features for wire and rig removal or content restoration.

"With many of the large post houses having already adopted it, gFX Pro provides all of the tools necessary for painting and rotoscoping in an effects environment.", says Toolfarm VP of Sales and Marketing, Colin Sharp. We can now provide professional customers with the next generation visual effects tool.

Halid Hatic, President, Curious Software, adds, "Toolfarm has the depth of knowledge and market coverage to provide superior sales and support to Curious gFx Pro+ customers. We look forward with great pleasure to our ongoing association."

gFX Pro+ is offered at $1,995 and an upgrade version of the product for Pinnacle Commotion users is offered at $995. For more information on the limited time Commotion - promotion, please contact Toolfarm's sales department.

About Toolfarm Inc., based in San Francisco since 1999, is the leading third-party reseller of After Effects Plug-ins and visual effects tools. Known also for distribution, publishing, service and training, it has become the one-stop shop for Adobe After Effects Plug-ins as well as motion graphics tools. It is also the home of Support Farm; an online community of professional digital artists who help users achieve desired effects for a small fee.

About Curious gFX

Curious Software is an innovative software company with a great pedigree. Founded in May 1999, Curious Software's aim is to make the highest quality professional information graphics available to everyone creating content for the television, postproduction, Internet and corporate graphics industries. Curious Software products provide all the tools required to create stunning animations and presentations in easy-to-use and affordable packages. Our series of professional products are all based on a generic multilayered animation engine, designed to accelerate the creation of the highest quality graphics.

For more information about Curious Software and its products please visit