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Templater for After Effects set to ship!

After much experimentation, development, refinement, and beta testing, Templater for Adobe After Effects is set to ship this Summer in 2014.  AE users can now pipe in Google Sheets data right into layers within their project compositions.  Pretty powerful stuff considering Google Sheets allows you to populate cells with data from various APIs.  There are so many more features I would want to implement for Templater, but packaging the software takes so much time.  There will be more to come!  Check out Templater's documentation to learn all about it.

Here's an excerpt from Templater's product page:

Templater turns the arduous task of customizing video content into an elegant workflow solution. Adobe After Effects users can automate this customization through a streamlined interface that transforms text, footage, and solid layers into dynamic elements. Templater’s engine is design aware, automatically adjusting dynamic elements to produce a finely crafted result just the way you like. It's brought to you by DataClay—a company focused on integrating big data with production workflow.

LUMIN8ME launched into beta

I am happy to announce the public beta launch of LUMIN8ME, a web application empowering users to easily create personalized videos based off of original video templates.  Current templates come in the form of animated electronic greetings making them ideal for sharing.  Videos can be shared to a group of emails, or to your social network.  I've included an example of one of our videos.  If you like what you see here, check out the LUMIN8ME website, and feel free to customize a video today!  The production of this particular template was a collaboration between myself, Sruli Broocker, and Marc Lumer. Sruli provided conceptual design and storyboarding as well as character animation, Marc provided art direction and production, while I handling compositing, camera animation, and effects design. I had an excellent time working on this project and hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

**UPDATE 04/04/14**  LUMIN8ME, LLC officially closed its web presence due to specific terms set forth in the Adobe After Effects End User License Agreement.  LUMIN8ME offered a web-based, video template hosting and rendering service built atop the Adobe After Effects motion graphics and compositing application.  As such, the terms outlined in the section titled "Server Use" (2.1.7), and specifically 2.1.7.1 and 2.1.7.2 as written in this official PDF, prevent such a service from coming into existence.  After much deliberation with Adobe's representatives it is clear that a web-based, video template hosting and rendering service, as once offered by LUMIN8ME, is not ready for the market.  Unfortunately, LUMIN8ME could not continue to support the necessary resources to keep a demonstration of its web application live.  I want to thank all the beta testers and supportive individuals who understood the vision of what LUMIN8ME set out to do.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch!

Sesame Street Wii Games in Stores!

In the summer of 2010 I worked with a great team of game designers, developers, and producers at Seamless Entertainment, Inc., a partner of Black Lantern Studios, Inc.  Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment was the publisher and licensed intellectual property from Sesame Workshop in order to produce Elmo's A-to-Zoo Adventure and Cookie's Counting Carnival in conjunction with Seamless.  I worked on the Nintendo Wii and PC versions of the titles.  I am credited on these titles as "Scripter".

My task was to write code that let other programmers control the game's interactive elements.  Essentially, I delivered application programming interfaces (APIs) to C++ programmers so they could manipulate animation within game logic.  I had to consider the limitations of the gaming platform and the ScaleForm GFx middleware when designing each mini-game’s technical architecture.

Using the Adobe Flash authoring environment, I tweaked timeline animations built by various artists. My work was performed in an agile development team, and in accordance with game design documents and Sesame Street IP licensing guidelines.  My participation started at the pre-alpha stage of development and stopped when the product shipped for manufacturing.

Visit my portfolio page that showcases more development screenshots and other details about my role in the development team.

Sesame Street: Elmo’s A-to-Zoo Adventure and Sesame Street: Cookie’s Counting Carnival software © 2010 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.  “Sesame Street" and all associated characters and elements © 2010 Sesame Workshop.  All rights reserved.  Wii and Nintendo DS are trademarks of Nintendo. © 2006 Nintendo.  All other trademarks and copyrights are the property of their respective owners.  All rights reserved.

Graveshift published in Computer Music Journal

It gives me great pleasure to announce that Graveshift is included in the Computer Music Journal DVD published by The MIT Press.  This is a project I completed in 2004 with Per Bloland, Kristen Glennon, and Barbara Javors.  I directed the video component, Per provided the soundtrack, and Kristen and Barbara handled choreography.  This work was a pleasure to make with such a talented and dedicated team of artists.

Head on over to my portfolio page showcasing Graveshift and other videos I have worked on.  Thanks for taking a look!

Completed Production of Dry Cell

It's been hectic around the studio so this bit of news is coming in late.  In early November, I wrapped up production on a music video that involved some very creative and talented people.  Dry Cell  was made for the  What Are You Looking At? commission fund headed by Amsterdam-based saxophonist Michael Straus.  I collaborated with composer J. Anthony Allen who wrote Dry Cell's music which incorporates live saxophone.  Macro photography was executed by Bret Zausmer, and videography of power grids was shot by Marcel Rodriguez.  I handled animation, rendering, some videography, and all post production.  It was a fun process and enjoyed working with everybody on this one.

The central concept for this video was kicking around my mind for quite some time.  Batteries have always intrigued me because as stand-alone objects they do nothing, but when placed into a specific context they serve as the "life blood" for electronic devices.  So much of our modern mobile life depends on these dry cells but they are hardly thought of as an integral part of our culture.  This is probably the case as they are almost always concealed and regarded only when they "run out of juice".  With this work I sought to re-imagine sources of electricity as sustenance organs for the machines we interact with everyday.

Tools used for post production and animation included Autodesk 3dsMax, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe AfterEffects, as well as GenArts Sapphire and Trapcode Sound Keys.  Thanks for taking a look and I hope you enjoy watching it!

Process for Stream of Consciousness Illustration

I took time out last month to break down my process for creating some of my illustration work.  This blog entry sheds new light on my methodology, and after writing I recommend all creative professionals review how they go about developing their ideas, concepts, and methods.  It can only improve future work.  The last section in the post discusses an approach to integrating the illustrations into an animation.  Check out the video here, then head on over to the blog entry for more information!  Thanks for reading.

foci Website Launched

The website for the new studio
I co-founded
, foci, is up and running.  Have a look at our
demo reel while visiting the site.

foci Slate Complete

This slate animation was a joint effort between myself and creative director Bret Zausmer.  Bret and I go way back which made this collaboration a pleasure to work on.  We decided to join forces to begin a new studio in Austin, Texas.  The studio name is foci and the website is on its way.  Stay tuned for more information regarding the website launch.

I designed the letterforms for foci's logo which are based on Olivetti's.  Check out this Olivetti poster to see the inspiration.  The animation came out of Autodesk Maya 2009.  I contributed modeling, animation, lighting and rendering.  Mental Images' mental ray  rendering engine was used to create the final imagery.  As a seasoned 3DSMax user, learning Maya was a learning hurdle, but proved fun none the less.

Presenting at MGFest09 Austin

I'll be presenting at MGFest09—Motion Graphics Festival 2009—in Austin this coming May.  I'm now fleshing out the details of my presentation--more on that soon.  The dates for the conference are May 11th through May 22nd.  This event is definitely a good thing for the Austin digital arts and design communities, and should be a must-go for anybody working or studying as a designer, filmmaker, editor, compositor, or producer.  Guaranteed to be an eye opener and a wonderful networking opportunity for all those interested in the motion graphics / digital arts scene in Austin.  Workshops will be hosted with some of the latest techniques being shared and discussed.  From my understanding, some enlightening panel discussions with experts in various fields related to mograph will also take place.  Don't miss this one!


Here is an excerpt from the MGFest09 website:

In its 6th year, MGFest stands as the premier US event showcasing creative motion picture design. The Motion Graphics Festival presents a year-long, regionally focused program of events focusing on motion design, sound design, and interactivity by hosting: art showcases, workshops, classes, panel discussions, studio tours, theater screenings and industry mixers.

Animated Impressionism Tutorial Posted

After learning some new techniques from Pierre Jasmin and Pete Litwinowicz of RE:VisionEffects, I wrote a new tutorial on my blog that shows how to animate impressionistic paint strokes based on any source footage imported into Adobe After Effects.  The example in the tutorial uses one of the still images found in my online store, but it is possible to use video footage instead and I encourage you to try it out with video!  The technique itself comes from the work that the founders of RE:VisionEffects handled for Vincent Ward's "What Dreams May Come" (1998) distributed by Universal Pictures.  I would love to hear about any experimentation you do with the technique covered in the tutorial.  Leave a comment and provide a link to your site.

New Stream of Consciousness Illustration

Just finished with a large format scan of my latest illustration.  This one took just over ten months to complete.  I'm calling it Nourished.  I took some photos of the early stages of this illustration so that I could post a new blog entry that covers the process for creating this image.  Keep your eye out for that because I'd love to hear your feedback and comments.  I'll post it this month.  For this image, I used mixed media including color pencils, ink, and watercolor markers.  To check out the details, click the image on the left.

Check out the rest of my illustrations in this category.

User Experience and Interaction Storyboard Templates

I recently posted a blog entry covering a storyboard technique that I use for designing interfaces and interactions with web applications.  The post includes a storyboard template file for use in Adobe InDesign and Adobe Illustrator.  Feel free to use the template in your design work, or as a basis for creating a new template.

Completed Blog Development

I just wrapped up developing my blog.  It took longer than I had anticipated, but I got through all the PHP and MySQL code to make it happen.  Most development time seemed to be spent ensuring the page looked and operated in the same manner across different browsers.  Some of the software I used during development included Akismet for spam filtering, FCKeditor for text editing, Spry Widgets for form validation, and the JW FLV Media Player for embedding video directly into the pages.

I also decided to place Google AdSense ads on the blog page for anybody who is browsing the site with a high resolution monitor.  If your browser window is wider than 1,240 pixels, then you should be able to see some Google ads.  I implemented it like this because it avoids a cluttered design, and keeps the focus on the content.

For the first post, I put together an Adobe After Effects tutorial for the water droplet technique I've used in various projects.  By following the steps in the tutorial, you'll be able to get the effect that you see in the video above. Over time, I hope to post more tutorials covering applications and tools that I use in my work.

Web banner for Dell OptiPlex 960 launch

I recently finished creating this web banner for Dell's product launch of the OptiPlex 960 Desktop line.  While working at ENFATICO in Austin, Texas I developed the concept for the banner around the grill aesthetic found in the desktop's chassis.  I handled the Flash preloader, all motion graphing and vfx design within Adobe AfterEffects.  Many thanks to Carl Dziuk and Ray Hunt for bringing the team together and managing the project at ENFATICO.

Civilization Recognized in Prismacolor National Contest

A brand manager at Sanford, the manufacturer of the Prismacolor art supply line and the owners of the international Sharpie marker brand, informed me that my entry into their national contest ranked in the top one percent out of the approximate 1200 entries that were submitted.  I entered my ink-on-paper work titled Civilization.  The company requested my permission to use the the image in their 2009 calendar representing artists who use their professional art supplies.  In addition, they will show a limited edition print of Civilization in their gallery at their corporate headquarters in Illinois.  I am honored to have been selected from the pool of talented artists who submitted entries into the contest.

The actual size of the work is 18" x 24".  You can purchase a limited edition print of Civilization at my online store.  To get the repetition of color, and to devise color palettes in certain areas of the image, I designed and built a custom marker holder for my studio.  I built the holders by cutting PVC pipe, gluing the pieces together with super glue, then painting the holder black so the colors would be vibrant against the holder.  The marker holder is pictured to the right.

Lighting & Texturing for Optitronic

I am currently lighting texturing the models for OptitronicCharles Lin just wrapped up production on seven very intense shots and I am now exploring the "final look" of each shot.  I'm using mental ray to render, and performing post work with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe AfterEffects.  Forty seconds of fully rendered animation should be done by December 2008.

Have a look at the rendered animation for this shot.

Completed Flash Video Web Banner Ad

I wrapped up designing, art directing, and coding an interactive Flash video web banner ad for Fyre Marketing Group's future website launch.  I contributed kinetic typography design, compositing, and ActionScript 3 programming skills for this banner ad.  Click on the image to the right to see the ad in action, or visit Fyre Marketing Group website to see it integrated.

3D Rendering Workshop in Portugal

I returned from Lisbon, Portugal last week after teaching an intensive two week workshop that covered photo realistic 3D rendering and physics simulation techniques using Autodesk's 3DStudioMax.  Beyond the technical instruction, I had the opportunity to lecture on topics related to credibility of the visual image, technique discovery for image-making, and a historical overview of computer graphics development and techniques.  Students who took the workshop produced high resolution renderings that included properties of photographic imagery and a single animation that demonstrated a physical simulation of objects in 3D space.

My workshop was part of a larger initiative to teach various disciplines within the field of digital media through an international collaboration between the University of Texas at Austin and some universities in Portugal.  It was a pleasure to work with students from varying backgrounds and interests.

ON Networks Information Visualization Project

Currently working with Kip McClanahan, CEO of ON Networks on an interactive information visualization project.  ON Networks is a new digital media company that is built around the shifts in how TV shows are created, distributed, viewed and monetized.  Put simply, an ON show is coming to pretty much every glowing screen near you from TV to computer to mobile device.  Headquartered in Austin, Texas, ON Networks is a company dedicated to discovering the world's most creative talent and bringing it to you, wherever you are.

Ambient Occlusion Maps for Animatic

I recently worked out the visual style for Optitronic's pre-visualization animatic.  While this is not the final look, the frames render quite fast so I can make overall composition choices quickly.  To get this style, I assigned an Ambient Occlusion map to the self-illumination parameter in mental ray's architecture+design material.  I then applied the material to every object in the scene.  This technique does a great job for cheating indirect illumination of a scene.  Joep van der Steen has an excellent overview of the technique in his book.

Cassian Pose Test

Cassian's rig is complete.  Many thanks to Bren Wilson for setting these characters up for easy animation.  The 3D animatic is now in production.  Layout of characters and other elements will be tackled in this next phase as well as shot composition and camera animation.

Testing Character Rigs

Working with the very talented Bren Wilson on rigging up Cassian and Julian.  The rig is working wonders for breathing life into these characters.  This pose was created in about five minutes with Bren's excellent rig design.  Cassian is on the way as well as some character animation tests.  Some post work was applied to the image in Photoshop.

Stadium Configuration

Here is the stadium configuration that will be used for the first two scenes in Optitronic.  I recently added the chamber at the center of the stadium which will act as a barrier for actual game play.  The texture of the chamber will be completely transparent, but when the ball hits a wall, a light blast will emerge from the point of contact.  I used mental ray's Sky Light and Physical Sky constructs for lighting, and tweaked its photographic exposure controls to render out the movie.  Click on the image for a fly around of the stadium model.

Cassian & Julian

Cassian's body material is setup.  The characters should now be distinguishable during fast paced action sequences.  I adjusted some lighting and toned down the glossiness of the body material.  The material's index of refraction has been adjusted to 1.77 for a closer simulation of sapphire and ruby stones.  I am now working on the armor texture and stadium textures.  An animatic for the animation is currently in production.

Screening at SXSW 2008

New York Abstract No. 1 will screen during the 2008 South by Southwest film festival.  The screening will be a part of the Austin Film Society Member Showcase to be held at The Hideout Theater in Austin, Texas.  Many thanks to the selection committee for choosing this film to screen at this world renowned festival alongside other talented Texas filmmakers.

Screening Information
Saturday, March 8, 2008
8:00PM
The Hideout Theater
617 Congress Avenue

Body Material and Depth of Field

Rendered some materials for the body of the protagonist in Optitronic.  Also testing the camera's depth of field parameters.  I added some blue translucency so the character would be recognizable during fast paced action.  Adam Saltsman provided modeling.  Click the image for a fly around view.

Optironic Brick Rendering Tests

Working with mental ray to stylize the glass material for the court wall in Optitronic. I had to manipulate the Anisotropy and reflection map a few times.  Modeling by Adam Saltsman.

New website is ready to launch

Finished developing a content management system for this website. Currently gathering and organizing content. Stay tuned as the site comes to life. . .