Meeting Summary June 1999

Thank you again for everyone who took the time to come out to the June meeting. It's nice to be in a room that can hold our regular attendence of 100+! We apologize for the long summary this time around, but we crammed a lot of stuff in, and there was some interesting financial info as well we wanted to repeat.

During the informal Q&A session, main topics included high-speed DSL access through Pacific Bell, and tax regulations that affect businesses like ours, and what is the deal between Play and ILM. For the former, co-host Chris Meyer is writing up more detail on his experiences with DSL; a web link with it will be posted soon. In the meantime, check out for more information. For the latter, Peter Lish of Play South/Electric Image was kind enough to fill us in on the real details behind the flying rumors (i.e. there was an agreement, now there's a disagreement, dongles were returned, but just the borrowed rendering ones - the production ones are still in use, etc.). Peter also brought by another copy of Amorphium for our door prizes - thanks!

Concerning taxes, Sales Tax Regulation 1529 (also known as the Motion Picture Creative Art Services Exemption), states that "transfers of preliminary art for motion pictures is a creative service and not subject to sales tax." This regulation covers motion pictures as well as broadcast, corporate training, music videos, special effects, titles and more. Pick up a copy at your local Board of EQ office.

Another interesting law that went into effect 1/99 is "Regulation 1532, Teleproduction or Other Postproduction Service Equipment" which allows a 5% break in the California state sales tax for purchases "of tangible personal property used primarily in teleproduction or other postproduction services for film or video that include editing, film and video transfers, transcoding, dubbing, subtitling, credits, close captioning, audio production, special effects (visual or sound), graphics, or animation, or, with respect to property with a useful life of at least one year, to maintain, repair, measure, or test property used primarily in teleproduction or other postproduction services" as long as it is used less than 50% of the time for administration, general management, or marketing. You need to go to your sales tax office and get copies of the Section 6378 Exemption Certificate, and then pass that onto your VAR etc. within 60 days of purchase.

If you've been eyeing Cinema 4DXL, Maxon US announced a special $695 competitive upgrade price until version 6 comes out, which might be just the incentive you need.

In the vendor part of the program, Matt Silverman came down to show us Puffin's latest wares ( This included the effective, easy-to-use Primatte keyer for After Effects, Commotion 2.0 which includes many new features such as the very cool Effects Brushes that track many characteristics of a pressure tablet to alter how the brush stroke or image is being painted, text effects, and plug-in support. Puffin has also taken over distribution of the favored ISFX plug-ins for After Effects, and gave away a copy of Image Lounge (thanks!). Finally, Matt showed us a promo he worked on for Apple Computer showing off the new G3 laptop, and stepped through some of the production process. Matt teaches Commotion at AFI; it is a class worth taking. Remember that AFI extends their normal pre-registration 10% discount to MGLA members up until the time of the class.

Jim Tierney of Total Training and Matt discussed the new Masters of Visual Effects training tapes they Puffin Designs and Total Training have co-produced in conjunction with John Knoll and Scott Squires and many other talented visual effects artists. These tapes are reputed to be very dense in information. Check out either of their web pages for more info.

After a break, Jim then donned his Atomic Power hat, and showed us their Psunami plug-in for After Effects. Based on the Renderworld technology from Arete Image Software, which has been seen in movies such as Titanic, The Truman Show, Devil's Advocate and others, it is an amazingly effective water simulation package, including allowing reflections from the sun and sky. Atomic has extended it with several production and motion graphics oriented features, such as automatically generating information that the Knoll Lens Flares (also distributed by Puffin Designs) can track, deformations such as logos appearing out of the sea, sand dunes, etc. Atomic gave a copy of this away as well during the evening.

Moving onto the artist part of our program, co-host Lucky Westfall showed a work in progress of how he is trying to generate a field of grass in 3D that can be flown into for close-ups. So far, the procedure includes use of the Endless Trooper plug-in for Electric Image to duplicate single-polygon grass blades, shaded using aFraktal to get color variation down the blade. He promises to show us the finished work later.

We were happy to have our usual great set of demo reels from our members, including a couple of people who just joined and/or finished their first project. The variety of work and approaches continues to get more interesting. A list of presenters is included at the end of this email.

Co-host Trish Meyer then showed a project done for Isuzu of America to launch their new VehiCROSS performance SUV. The brief was to show how art and science have progressed since the dawn of man, culminating in this vehicle. Obviously, it relied heavily on the use of stock footage and stills (although that dawn-of-man stuff was hard to find <g>), composited in Adobe After Effects. One of the stock footage sources used - ArtBeats - also donated one of their new Liquid Ambience CDs for our prizes.

Finally, co-host Chris Meyer broke down a software convention opening video he and Trish did, combining 2D and 3D using After Effects, Electric Image, and Cinema 4DXL. Since time was running out, Chris concentrated on the 3D tricks involved; he plans to show a couple of the 2D tricks during the beginner's section of the July meeting.

Speaking of the July meeting, tentative plans include Apple Final Cut Pro, Boris 3.0 for After Effects, Paul Sherstobitoff (a very gifted painter and 3D artist), and a BDA Conference roundup. Apple is sponsoring the meeting (meaning admittance is free), and we'll have a copy of Final Cut and Boris AE to give away. See you at AFI Tuesday, July 6!

Your MGLA co-hosts,
Lucky, Trish & Chris

This month's demo reel presenters:

Brian Castleforte

Freelance 2D/3D motion graphics artist looking to grow in a full-time, "modest" position.
PhotoShop, Illustrator, AfterEffects, Cinem4DXL & "a little" Electric Image & 3DStudioMax.



Penny Yost

(805) 373-0837 phone
(805) 373-0556 fax


Jeff Boynton
Jim Piper
Blank Stare Productions

We are a small freelance company specializing in 3D animation (EI, EI modeler, FormZ), 2D (AfterEffects, Illustrator, Photoshop), and video editing (Premiere, Firemax DV).


Karl Shields

Showed Directors Guild of America, titles for the program "The Director's Vision", aired recently on the Sundance Channel.