MGLA Meeting Summary for August 1st, 2000

AFI Mark Goodson Screening Room
------Sponsored by Pinnacle Systems ------

A full house weathered a balky air conditioner at the Goodson Screening Room to see some interesting demos and participate in a discussion of design trends. This meeting was generously sponsored by Pinnacle Systems, so admission was free.

Talk during the informal pre-meeting Q&A focused on issues ranging from how much RAM is prudent to allocate to After Effects (allocate too much, and it will spend more time pausing to re-arrange it), which Aurora cards work with Final Cut Pro (Igniter is certified, but Fuse seems to work as well), and FireWire drive issues (don't mix and match drives and drivers from different vendors; they're probably not fast enough for higher Media 100 data rates). Thanks to past MGLA presenter Cawan Starks of ProMax Systems who helped answer the drive questions.

Peter Lish from Play/Electric Image also came up to fill us in, the best he could, on the current status of Electric Image, who missed SIGGRAPH this year. They found out late in the game that their corporate parent Play was not going to have a booth, and couldn't get contingency plans in place. We are told to wait for a major announcement in 30-45 days. In the meantime, EI Universe is still being worked on (up to seven days a week), with hopeful release by the end of the year. Hats off to Peter for speaking in front of users who have been very concerned at the lack of information coming out of Play/EI these days.

Special meeting dates and topics were also announced for the next three months. The "September" meeting will be held on August 29 at AFI, due to scheduling conflicts there. Since so many people are going to DV Expo this year, the October 3 meeting will be held at the Long Beach Convention Center. The November 7 meeting will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center as part of the new AE West conference being put on by, co-chaired by MGLA co-hosts Trish and Chris Meyer. That meeting's topic will be Running Your Own Business. We're looking for volunteers who run their own motion graphics companies who are willing to talk on a panel about their experiences.

And all of that was before the meeting even started!

The first presenter was Ralph McEntagart of The Foundry, showing off their new Tinderbox1 plug-ins for After Effects. The Foundry already has a history of providing effects for high-end systems such as Discreet, Cineon, Shake, and Softimage DS; their new AE plug-ins run on both Mac and NT. Some of the highlights included very fast Gaussian blurs and light rays, sky and water caustic generators, deflickering for luminance matching, distortion tools such as heat haze and Distorto (displacement mapping on steroids), and image repainting effects like Etch. Virtually all the effects share many useful parameters and user interface items, such as previews in the Effect Controls window, cropping and gradient tools, built-in transfer modes, and many other thoughtful parameters. The list price is $595; MGLA members can buy them direct from The Foundry for $450 through the end of August.

Next up, Matt Silverman of Phoenix Editorial (and former Puffin Designs employee) showed off Commotion 3.0. Perhaps the most significant addition to this benchmark rotoscoping program is a timeline with multiple layers, which makes it a strong compositing application as well. Most After Effects plug-ins are supported, and Commotion 3.0 also comes with special versions of their own Composite Wizard and Image Lounge effects plus the Primatte keyer. There are a lot of nice user interface touches, plus the possibility of playing back from either a disk array or RAM. Perhaps the best Commotion teacher out there, Matt is also finishing up a set of training videos (9 hours on 6 tapes, plus 2 CDs) with 20 detailed lessons, which will be distributed by Toolfarm for $495.

After our break, Matt came back up to show numerous examples of work he's done, including a significant amount of Commotion work. One example was a commercial where the actor was shot through the windshield of a car he was driving, which a drop of rain fell on during the shoot - Matt had to reconstruct the distorted imagery behind the drop. He shared both tips on how he accomplished some of his tricks, as well as studio and client environment. Again, thanks to this evening's sponsor Pinnacle Systems for sending Matt down. And remember that Matt is available for work - he can be contacted at <>.

We then moved on to an extended version of a panel discussion co-host Trish Meyer participated in at BDA on design trends. First, Brenda Sexton and Chris Homer of New Shoes Design showed a video they created that demonstrated how many of the looks and trends of today borrow themes from the past (particularly the 60s). Trish and Chris Meyer of CyberMotion then discussed how to pull off some of today's current looks, including animated text, colorizations, planes of data hanging in space, various hot spot and lighting tricks, and the infamous "circles, lines, and stuff". Co-host Dan Warvi of Fox Family plus earlier presenter Matt Silverman also kicked in. The overall messages seemed to be: notice trends, understand why it's catchy and appealing, and apply it to an overall concept, attempting where appropriate to update it or give it a fresh and personal approach.

Next came demo reels, submitted by causeandfx and Brad Hood:

Maya & After Effects
2616 Beachwood Drive #4 Hollywood, CA 90068
323 957 1597

Brad Hood
After Effects and more
626 912 4395

We also failed to mention in the last summary that during the break in the July meeting, we showed a tape of work from Otis College of Design's Senior Class. Many of these students are available for internship or hire; contact Harry Mott:

Harry Mott
Otis College of Art & Design
Chair Digital
Media department
9045 Lincoln Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90045
310-665-6986 Fax

Finally, we had several door prizes to give away, including a copy of Tinderbox, Commotion DV, and a Final Cut Pro training tape from ProMax. (By the way, The Foundry would like the Tinderbox winner to contact them; they like to keep track of their promo winners: <contact Thalia at The Foundry>

Your MGLA co-hosts: Trish, Chris, Lucky, and Dan