Meeting Summary July 1999

With a perfect cross-section of Hardware, Software, Artists showing their work, and Apple Computer sponsoring the meeting (thus no admission charge), MGLA's July 6th meeting at the AFI Mark Goodson Screen Room was one of our best. If you couldn't make it, or would like to be reminded of what was shown, a summary follows. Co-hosts Trish and Chris Meyer had just returned from the BDA (Broadcast Designers' Association) show up in San Francisco (hot tip: buy the BDA Silver Awards tape for affordable inspiration). They noted that in this higher-end arena, "desktop" video is still looked at with some skepticism, although heads are beginning to turn as many of the award winners use desktop tools. C&T also offered some suggestions as to how manufacturers and smaller design studio can better present themselves at a show such as this.

Next Trish and Chris showed some tips for fixing up less-than-stellar source footage. It's amazing how far a little blur and applying a copy of the footage via a transfer mode can take boring B-roll video and make it look more like a film shoot. While you can work this magic via standard AE plug-ins, they noted that the Boris Effects Gaussian blur features its own set of transfer modes allowing you to perform the whole effect via a single filter. They then showed this trick in the context of the software user conference opening animation Chris ran through in June.

Our first presenter of the evening, and sponsor for the meeting, was Apple Computer. Randy Ubillos brought down a 400Mhz Powerbook with Firewire and NTSC out to show off Final Cut Pro , the video editing system that's made such a splash at NAB. Randy stressed that video editors were brought in early in the design process so that Final Cut would be a very transparent program. He then went on to illustrate features such as, graphic and numeric editing, snapping markers and the slip tool, that accomplish this goal. Other features illustrated included: After Effects plug-in support, importing of layered Photoshop files, Bezier handles for controlling the movement and acceleration of placed objects and the ability to write scripts for creating your own plug ins. Two of our local VAR's who carry Final Cut, Intelligent Media and ProMax were set up in the lobby to field questions during the break. In addition to sponsoring the meeting, Apple also donated a copy of Final Cut Pro as a door prize.

Our second presenter of the evening was Olivier Karfis from Artel Software who came down to show their latest update to Boris FX for After Effects plug-ins. Olivier demo'ed a surprisingly powerful plug in that allows you to do true 3D effects right in After Effects. A layer containing text, for example, can be extruded and rotated in 3D space with different textures (taken from other layers) applied to both front and back faces. The second plug-in Olivier focused on was 3D Image Shatter, which in addition to normal explosions, can slice up layers based on the shape of another layer. Artel also graciously donated a copy of Boris FX for our door prize.

After Artel, our final presenter of the evening, artist Paul Sherstibitoff, took the stage to show some of his work and discuss some techniques he used in the Electric Image Modeler to create his images. Paul began as a airbrush painter and took up 3D because he felt he could animate his paintings. However, as he explained, he has not yet mastered the animation aspects of 3D, instead focusing on the modeling texturing and lighting of still images. An interview with Paul as well as some of his sample images can be found on the EI Resources website. Paul showed a number of his images and fielded numerous questions from the audience (including "How much touching up in Photoshop?" answer: none; and "How many lights were used?" answer: one). One of Paul's strengths is creating beautiful reflective metal objects and, as he explained, rounding is the key. He then demo'ed how he extrudes and rounds faces of, for example, letterforms to create curved surfaces that better display applied reflections. Paul also explained that the order in which you choose to round edges and faces is critical as you can easily round yourself into a corner. Paul had far more to share than we had time allotted. He has an open invitation to return, and we expect to see more of him in the future. In the meantime, Paul surprised us all by donating one of his prints for our door prize - an exceptionally generous gesture (that had even the hosts grabbing tickets). Instead of showing demo reels from the audience, this month we brought down high-profile reels procured at the BDA conference, all featuring work done all or in part with desktop tools. Among the reels featured included Giant Octopus from Florida, Velvet from Germany, and The Attik from England. Needless to say, they were pretty inspiring. As a final part of the BDA roundup, Trish procured an extra copy of the BDA Awards Annual that was also included in the door prize.

Speaking of door prizes, in addition to all of the above, Peter Lish also brought a copy of Amorphium and Corbis Images donated one of their image libraries. In all, a packed evening indeed.

Best Regards - Lucky, Trish and Chris, your MGLA Hosts