meeting summary

Tuesday, September 16, 2003
LA Film School
------7:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. ------
------Cover charge: FREE------

(Co-Sponsored by Apple Computer and ProMax)

LINEUP: Discreet combustion 3 / Alex Lindsay on keying DV / Zaxwerks ProAnimator winners Joke Productions / demo reels

This month, we had a major new product announcement, some very practical keying tips and techniques, and previous prize winners showing how they're using their new tools in producing their own pilots. VAR and long-time MGLA friend ProMax was also in the lobby, showing off the new G5 and answering equipment questions.


One of the biggest subjects of discussion this month was Digital Voodoo leaving the Mac platform, pursuing high-end Windows applications through their Bluefish444 branch (click here to read their reasons). The last drivers will be for Final Cut Pro 4.

The other topic of note is our artist hosts talking about doing an MGLA member project. Stay tuned as this develops. In the meantime, if you are interested in this, contact Tony Romaine.

Discreet combustion 3

We were very proud to have one of the first public demonstrations of combustion 3 from Discreet, given by Marshal Fontaine with color commentary by Scott Ryan. The Windows version is slated to ship this fall (and indeed was shipping by the October meeting); a version optimized for the Apple G5 is slated for the first quarter of 2004. Upgrade price is $199 (full version price is $995).

"c3" as it's known was demonstrated mainly from the angle of being a compositing package, talking about how it's used in production. Discreet has worked improving communication between different users working on a project. A nice step in that direction was the addition of markers for adding text and notes.

Let's get the tweaks and enhancements out of the way before talking about the big stuff. The color corrector is the same, but that's not a bad thing, as it's pretty powerful. You can store different correction sets and easily switch between them or recall them, for applying them to other clips. Marshal also showed the new custom brushes in the Paint engine. In the 3D engine, stencil layers can now cast colored shadows.

There is now a new GUI (the Edit Operator) for slipping, trimming, appending, and otherwise editing layers. The edit now becomes a sort of nested subclip or subcomp, with the results used in a composition. Marshall opened up a dual view port and was able slip and slide the in and outpoint easily, for syncing up footage. The audience asked if there were any time expansion features - no, but it's a third party option.

Photoshop and Illustrator support has been improved, including better support for layers. Discreet is looking at the fact that designers often working print, DV, web etc. so they want to be more compatible. This includes Flash export.

combustion has had parenting for some time now; c3 sees the addition of JavaScript-based expressions, including numerous mathematical formulas you can use as a starting point and then edit.

Marshal ended by showing c3 in action, breaking down and effects show where he masked out foreground elements, and added smoke, sparks, etc.

Click here to download a PDF on combustion 3, which includes an overall summary of features including what else is new.

Alex Lindsay of dvGarage on Keying DV

Ever try to key DV footage? This is a challenge the folks at dvGarage have been tackling - and they have an updated plug-in called dvMatte Pro to tackle it with. Alex Lindsay came down and went over the general ins and outs of keying DV (regardless of the keyer you use - one of these tips being to turn any "sharpening" off at your camera before shooting!), and then also demonstrated dvMatte Pro.

If you can key DV footage, you can key anything. Their approach is to break the image into LAB color space (which is like YUV). In video - either D1's 4.2.2 or DV's 4.1.1 - you have an unscaled lightness channel (the Y in YUV or L in LAB). The color channels have either half (D1) or a quarter (DV) of the color information/resolution as they do luminance. Color keying is a problem because these color channels have so much less information. So, their goal was to find a way to get the lightness channel quality into the color information, and that's one of the main tricks they use to come up with a good composite final matte.

dvMatte Pro lists for $149 (there was a $50 discount for members - a reason to join the mailing list!). A demo version is up on their web site.

After the keying discussion, Alex showed a bit of what the Pixel Corps (their raining and production branch) have been up to. He walked through a storyboard of a craft landing, and how they've been going about shooting and compositing the shot - really interesting stuff for the visual effects folks in our audience.

Joke Productions & pitching pilots

Remember when Zax Dow of Zaxwerks came down a few months ago to show us his incredible new ProAnimator? He gave away a copy, with the provision that the winner must come back and show something they've done with it - and the winners have stepped up to the plate.

The husband and wife team Joke Fincioen and Biagio Messina of Joke Productions are currently trying to produce their own television shows. While they don't consider themselves motion graphics experts by any means (they come from the independent film world), they're always looking for fast ways to make their pilots and pilot presentations, which they write, produce, direct and edit using Final Cut Pro and After Effects, stand out. After winning Zaxwerks ProAnimator, they've got their new favorite toy! After demonstrating what did on their recent pitches using ProAnimator, they gave a lively presentation of how they put together several specific pitches, and the dynamics of working with networks and television executives. They can be reached at

demo reels

And, we had time for demo reels! Here are the folks who shared their work with us:

Ming H.

NL3 Audio -
Nathan Smith

Elliot Mebane

Chopshop Design
Kenton Fees
1073 South Alfred St.
Los Angeles, CA 90035

door prizes

We had another stellar list of freebies for those who attended and stuck around to the end, totaling well over $4000 in value. And those prizes include:

* two sets of dvGarage software, textures, and training, worth over $1000 each! Many thanks, Alex!

* Digital Vision Living Space stock footage still image library ($599 value)

* Artbeats Grand Openings stock footage library of animated transitions ($499 value)

* Artbeats Surfing film-sourced stock footage library ($499 value)

* one free upgrade from combustion 2 to combustion 3, or $300 off a full license ($199-$300 value)

* Advanced combustion 4 DVD series by Ken Larue ($150 value)

* the winner's choice of Final Draft or Final Draft AV screenwriting software ($179-$200 value)

* Mac OS X Hints ($25 value) from O'Reilly

And again, thanks to Apple's sponsorship of MGLA this year, admission was free!

Chris, Trish, Lucky, Tony, Warren, and Marshal
Your MGLA co-hosts

door prizes provided by: