***Meeting Summary***
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
LA Film School
------7:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. ------
------Cover charge: FREE------

(Co-Sponsored by Apple Computer and Digital Film Tree)

Lineup: Digital Anarchy ReTimer & Text Anarchy 2.0 / RE:Vision Effects Twixtor 3.0 & RE:Fill / Dialog Editing Tricks

We began our May meeting, as we typically do, with a Q&A session in which we answer questions from the audience and discuss what rumors we can discuss. This month topics included video resolutions and the announcement of new versions of both Maya and LightWave, among other topics.

We were also privileged to have Anne White of TAG come down to give us details of the upcoming BDA/ProMax conferences. Anne mentioned the many exciting conferences related directly to our industry including: Business, Other ways to apply your design skills, How to come up with a pitch and a project agreement, and more. She explained that you could attend sessions covering what's going on in "interactive" now as well as the popular "state of design sessions." Other sessions will include Best of Sports Design and Promotion," Beyond the Fringe - Great Design that Hasn't Hit the Air Yet, and many DVD-related sessions. Anne noted that MGLA members can attend for a special price of $695.00, and best of all she gave away two free passes to fortunate attendees.

Digital Anarchy: ReTimer & Text Anarchy 2.0

Our first presenter of the evening was Jim Tierney of Digital Anarchy who came down to show us a few new plug-ins.

The first was ReTimer, a plug in for After Effects, Combustion and FCP Pro that focuses on slowing down footage by analyzing each frame and interpolating new interstitial frames from scratch. This is a plug-in version of a stand-alone application by the same name from RealViz, who had demonstrated it at MGLA years ago.

Jim began by showing re-timed footage of waves and dolphins that was quite impressive. He then took us into footage that was a big trickier to process. Jim showed a skateboarder and noted how the software might be confused in separating foreground and background elements. He then showed us how to deal with situations like this by creating a mask. Jim also showed us another unique method of repainting the image that provides the bitmap instructions the plug-in uses to adjust the footage.

Jim next plug was the latest version of the popular Text Anarchy plug-in set ($149 list).

Cool Text is a full-featured text tool with the addition of effects. You can scale each letter based on its index position. You can cascade the effects to combine scale, rotation, color, etc. that will move through the text.

Text Hacker takes one set of text and converts it into another. Modes include: Random to Target, Target to Target, etc. It also includes tool for font cycling.

Next Jim showed us a new texturing tool (Texture Anarchy) on which they're working that will become an Adobe Photoshop plug. The software mixes fractals and creates detailed textures. You can create seamless textures in some situations and you'll be able to save presets and share texture data.

Lastly, Jim showed us Path Distort, where you can have footage move and bend around a patch; Smooth Tiler, that will blur edges and mirror images for making tiles; and Anarchist Edge, a plug for creating edge glowing effects.

Thanks to Jim for donating both plug-in sets as door prizes!

RE:Vision Effects: Twixtor 3.0 and RE:Fill

After the break we picked up with Pete Litwinowicz of RE:Vision Effects who showed us a second time-slowing plug-in called Twixtor and a unique masking tool call RE:Fill.

Pete began with RE:Fill a tool designed to intelligently plug holes and mask out areas/objects in footage.

He showed us how the program allows you to masked out a foreground figure so that the filed-in and blurred background will not pickup any of the foreground element's pixels when the blur is applied. He also noted that they have a Cloner that can fill in an area by grabbing pixels not only from different locations in the frame, but also from different frames in the clip. RE:Fill retails for $99.00.

Pete then moved onto their famed plug-in, Twixtor. Twixtor is another re-timing plug-in and the second one we saw at this meeting. Pete showed us footage of his cat that he had slowed down by a factor of three. He noted that you could animate the speed of the clip, creating fewer or more interstitial frames as needed. You can also add motion blur based on the speed of the tracking - quite nice.

Just as Jim noted with ReTimer, when there are foreground and background elements, or elements that cross each other, there's rarely a single push-button solution to re-timing footage. Twixtor lets you use masks to define foreground and background elements to avoid artifacting. You can also define specific edges that are to match across frames. Finally, the plug-in works with AE's motion tracker to help the plug-in process hard-to-define footage such as grass.

Twixtor is available as a stripped-down automatic version for $329.00 or as a full-featured pro version for $595.00. Pete donated copies od both Twixtor and RE:Fill for door prizes - thanks!

Chris Meyer: Dialog Editing Tricks

Our final presenter of the evening was MGLA co-host Chris Meyer of CyberMotion. Chris explained that in a "previous life" he worked in the audio industry. Chris is working on an audio book for editors and graphics artits titled Just Add Sound. Its aim is to teach visual people just enough, quickly, to handle audio in their projects professionally without having to become audio engineers.

His presentation this evening was designed to explain that you don't necessarily need to be an audio engineer, or use professional audio editing software to edit or fix dialog. In fact, there some are easy things to learn that can get you 90-percent of the way to what pros do. Further, while AE has a limited tool set for working with audio, it's still pretty much all you need.

Chris initially pointed out that AE's audio levels are based on logarithmic scales. As such, they aren't very good at performing linear fades. Chris uses AE's stereo mixer to bring down audio levels by applying an ease-in to the final key-frame.

In addition, this also gives you two methods of controlling the audio level, allowing you to keep your fades and independently adjust overall audio levels.

Next, Chris discussed how to edit and fix rambling audio. In one example, he had an interview with a guy who rambled - but the client wanted to grab one phrase cleanly out of the middle of a run-on sentence. Additionally, they needed a clean handle before and after the sentence. Chris used AE's time-remapping feature to slow the footage pre- and post-audio which helped to reduce the appearance of flapping lips with no audio after he isolated the audio clip.

Demo Reels

At the end of the evening we did indeed have time for demo reels. The following is a list of the brave souls who showed us their work:

Libbey Coghlan

Omer Meral

Justin Cram

Hector de la Torre

Rudy Perez

Door Prizes

Our final event of the evening was our door-prize giveaway where we handed our roughly $4500 worth of cool stuff. Thanks to the following organizations for donating prizes!

* 2 full conference passes to the PROMAX/BDA Conference in Los Angeles, June 4-6 ($870 to $1045 value each!)

* copies of RE:Vision Effects Twixtor Pro 3.0 ($595 value) and RE:Fill ($100 value)

* copies of Digital Anarchy Text Anarchy 2.0 ($149 value) and ReTimer ($329 value)

* Artbeats Ground Rush 2 stock footage library ($499 value)

* Digital Vision Sounds From The Chill stock music library ($499 value)

* The winner's choice of either Final Draft or Final Draft AV software ($179-$249 value)

* copies of the BDA Gold Award Winners tape from their 2002 conference, as well the Bumpers & IDs/opens plus Finalists Campaigns compilation tape - great eye candy to study ($55 value each to nonmembers; $40 to members)

* a copy of the just-released Photoshop for Nonlinear Editors by Richard Harrington from CMP Books ($55 value)

* copy of the Total Training DVD on Mac OS X ($49 value)

* a copy of Mac OS X in a Nutshell ($35 value) from O'Reilly

* a copy of the classic The Mac is Not a Typewriter (second edition) by Robin Williams from Peachpit Press ($13 value)

* anda signed, first-off-the-press copy of co-host Trish & Chris Meyer's latest book, Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects Volume 2: Advanced Techniques ($60 value)

And again, thanks to Apple for being our primary sponsor in 2003, so admission was free!

Chris, Trish, and Lucky
Your MGLA co-hosts

door prizes provided by: