Meeting Summary November 1999

Special thanks to AFI for stepping in and sponsoring the meeting, so that admission was free! This is a long summary, but we covered a heck of a lot of ground at the last meeting...

Thanks to everyone who chased around our roving meeting night and came out on 11/8 - we still had our normal turnout! We are experimenting with Mondays because that is supposed to reduce the scheduling conflicts and parking congestion at AFI. Keep up with the emails to verify when we're meeting.

Secondly, thanks to everyone who showed up expecting to pay $5 in. A little-known fact is that we have to pay $500 each meeting for use of the Goodson, including a projectionist etc. Fortunately, enough vendors have felt that MGLA is a desirable enough audience to help sponsor most of our meetings. On the other hand, some members have requested more artist tips and fewer manufacturer demos. We'll strive to hit a good balance; in exchange, be prepared to pay in occasionally. We give away enough goodies and advice that I think you'll all agree it's worth it <g>.

As it turns out, AFI themselves stepped forward and sponsored the meeting, so all that showed up got in free - thanks! Also remember that AFI extends its 10% "early" registration discount to MGLA members regardless of when they register.

With that out of the way, we packed a lot into the meeting. In order:

We opened the night with questions from the audience as well as a hearty congrats to MGLA member Warren Heaton who won a DV Award of Excellence for his film titles for East of A (shown at the September MGLA meeting). After a short Q&A session, co-host Trish Meyer showed off a new CD of royalty free design elements called "Cool Moves" from Brenda Sexton and Chris Homer of New Shoes Design, an LA design boutique. "Cool Moves is a graphic library of 30 loopable D1 quality QuickTime movies and 16 still mattes for titling and framing. These versatile movies and mattes work great as design elements which can be uniquely customized as layers, fills, texture maps, textures and backgrounds.". Now available to MGLA members at a special rate of $199.00 till the end of November. Cool Moves can be previewed and purchased at New Shoes web site.

Next, co-host Chris Meyer dissected a project he created for a new countdown for CyberMotion's client tapes. Chris showed how he mocked it up using solids, masks, and Bevel Alpha in After Effects, modeled it project in Cinema 4D by extruding and scaling simple Illustrator outlines (with some creative polygonal distortion for simulating welds), animated and textured it in Play's Electric Image with procedural textures as well as grime from Alex Lindsay's Surface of Reality CD, and finished it off in Adobe's After Effects where reflections rendered in a separate pass were composited via transfer modes for a different effect. The final result can be seen at <http://www.cybmotion.com/demo/count>.

And that was all before the meeting officially started <g>.

Even though this evening as made up of a wide variety of presentations of plug ins for a variety of programs, a quite unintentional theme developed. Just about everything shown this night has something to do with the creative use of particles and fractal-based noise in both 2D and 3D programs.

Our first presenters of the evening were Chris Athanas and Dan Prochazka of DigiEffects who were down to show their incredibly diverse, just-finished collection of 47 After Effects plug ins called Delirium. Rather than create a single incredibly complex particle generation system the plan with the Delirium package was to give the designer a variety of particle generators tuned to specific functions. For example, SnowStorm, FogFactory, FairyDust, Sparks and others are designed to quickly create specific effects, but also give you the power tweak the endlessly. List price is $695; special pricing through the end of the year is $495.00

Next up Trish showed how she created one of the animated text maps for the film title The Omega Code she and Chris recently worked on. Trish gave a tutorial on using the Boris AE 3D Image Shatter effect to randomize a grid of text. More details on this project, including a downloadable After Effects 4.1 project, will be featured in February 2000 issue of DV magazine. In the meantime, some stills from the project can be viewed at <http://www.cybmotion.com/demo/omega>.

We then jumped into 3D with co-host Lachlan Westfall showing some of the new features of TripleDTools' Power Particles 1.5. This powerful particle generator for Play's Electric Image can now emit particles from surfaces, change the scale of emitted spheres, emit particles from surfaces depending upon polygon size and also vary many emission parameters based on the velocity and direction of the emitting model. Lachlan also presented a smoke recipe using Power Particles and AG_Shaders (also from TripleDTools). This essentially involved using fractal-based shaders and edge transparency applied to emitted spheres.

After a break to whip on some misbehaving computers (and show Cool Moves again), Jim Tierney of Atomic Power gave a tutorial on using the various fractal-based "turbulent noise" effects that so many After Effects plug-in sets feature these days. Focusing on Atomic Power's very flexible version Turbulator, he showed how programmable noise can be used to weather objects, wrinkle paper, texture fake stone and metal, build a fire, and tear apart images in cool, animatable ways. Also remember that Atomic Power's Evolution is half price until the end of the year, or they sell 500 copies (whichever comes first).

Jim was the most severely afflicted by computer woes; he was kind enough to post details of his presentation including project files up at <http://www.atomicpower.com/MGLA.htm>. The day after this meeting, co-host Lachlan Westfall and Peter Lehrack of Quiet Earth Design report that they blatantly stole Jim's tips and applied them to some rotoscoped Hockey footage they were stylizing <g>.

Next up, Zax Dow demonstrated EPS Invigorator version 2 for After Effects. That's right; version 1 never shipped - they jumped straight into adding a ton of cool new features! For those who have not seen Invigorator, it allows you to take any EPS outline, sweep/extrude it into a 3D model, animate, light, and texture it, all inside a 3D world. New features include the ability to split up the sides into as many sections as you want, and a very advanced texture management system. List is $595; order before it ships (end of this year), and you get both $100 off and a copy of the beta version to start work with.

Finally, our last presenter of the evening was Dan Pelham from 3D Gear, showing a number of texturing plugs he developed for Maxon's Cinema 4D. Dan explained that the Coffee programming language built in to C4D allows for the creation of powerful additions to the program. Dan showed a number of shaders he developed for creating stunning smoke effects, volumetric haze, and what he calls an X-ray shader that creates some eerie edge density effects. The prices are also no-brainers for Cinema owners: $35 per set. Dan also mentioned a collection of free 3D models and other things that that can be found at: <http://www.3dcafe.com/asp/freestuff.asp>.

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DigiEffects donated hats and t-shirts, and Res Magazine donated ResFest posters, for our demo reel presenters - thank you!

We also had a nice selection of door prizes, including copies of Cool Moves, Delirium, Power Particles, Invigorator for AE, Edge FX, and one of those bizarre Alien Skin Software posters that have been for sale at recent trade shows but which you can't buy off their web site.

And once again, a final thank-you to AFI for sponsoring this month's meeting.

For future meetings, we're lining a nice selection of artists' projects, as well as Synthetik Software's Studio Artist 1.1 and some higher-end 2D and 3D software packages. Let us know what else you'd like to see, and of course, volunteer to show off your own recent projects!

Best Regards - Trish, Chris & Lachlan

Your MGLA Hosts

***********Partial List of Demo Tape Presenters************

(Remember, if you don't sent info to MGLAMail@aol.com after you've shown your tape, or give Lucky information after the meeting, we cannot post your information in the subsequent summary):

Interspersed throughout the evening were an excellent set of demo videos from MGLA attendees. Here is a summary of what was shown:

TOR - Tor Rouf Seemann
Glendale Gov't Access CH6
Contact: (818) 548-4013. / After Effects

Sidicom - Ricardo Silva / Lightwave (No contact info supplied)

KAZ - Sinbad Kazkian / After Effects (No contact info supplied)

Chin Park/Studio@
Music Video / Studio@ is a group of people who work in digital design, game design, 3D animation, and motion graphics. We worked for about 2 months, usually at night because most of us have full time jobs during the day.

This music video is about the character who lives in cyber space (ubkow space) and her incarnation. The title reflects the meaning of sorrow but it would be fade away. We used 3d studio Max for the character, After Effects for compositing , and final edit with Media 100.