Author: Paul Conigliaro

#mochat 87 – Scripting

Scripting is one of those skills that can seem daunting at first, but is a huge asset to have in your toolbox. Last night Charles Rowland (aka @RaginClaw) introduced us to the ins and outs of scripting.

Scripting in After Effects is one way to really help automate a lot of tasks and open up new creative opportunities. Several of us are familiar with Expressions—the small bits of code used in the timeline to automate certain parameters. Scripting, though, involves writing a form of Javascript called “Extendscript” and can be run as commands or even panels inside of After Effects.

Several resources are available to learn Extendscript including the Adobe help site, forums, and Creative Cow. And Lloyd Alvarez has his Intro to AE Scripting course available on aescripts. One of the best ways to learn, though, might be to look at scripts found online and dissecting them to see how they work. Unfortunately—but understandably—a lot of commercial scripts are compiled into ‘jsxbin’ files and are unreadable to humans. And once you start creating ScriptUI Panels, Boethos is one way to help create the UI.

In Cinema4D, the analog to Expressions is Xpresso—the node-based system for linking parameters, automating motion, and much much more. But scripting involves writing plugins or tags to extend capabilities even further. The two languages of choice are Python and C++. Python seems to be the more common language for C4D. There are several places to learn including Cineversity and Code Academy. Nick Fox-Grieg (@n1ckfg) wrote a toolbox to help simplify the C4D Python API as well.

There’s a lot more in the transcript, so read on!

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#mochat 86 – Technical vs Creative

Tecnical vs creative. Left brain vs right. There’s two sides to motion design—and it turns out a lot of us consider ourselves in the middle. Perhaps because of that, we notice that there’s a constant give & take between the two. Sometimes it results in losing creative momentum due to technical exploration. Other times we find ourselves setting up systems to free ourselves creatively later.

Read on for the full transcript of the chat to see what how people balance these two side, how they complement each other, and how they are sometimes at odds.

– Read More – Sponsors #mochat

Recently, has signed up to sponsor #mochat, which includes a bi-weekly giveaway of a 1-month membership! If you are unfamiliar, is an repository of extensive online video training to learn software such as After Effects, Cinema4D, Maya, ZBrush and topics including character animation, modeling, particles, and more.

The giveaway will generally work as follows:

  • To be entered, participate in #mochat (Tuesday nights 9PM ET) on Twitter
  • Posts must include the #mochat hashtag to be eligible
  • Just RTing another #Mochat post will not get you entered… participate!
  • Once you post, you are entered, that’s it!
  • One participating chatter will be randomly chosen at the end of the chat to win

Modern Showreel Tropes

Designer and art director Peter Quinn recently put out a really great video showcasing several of the 2D and 3D showreel tropes being used right now. I won’t spoil it by listing them all here, but it’s a great watch. As designers we all follow trends at times. It’s important to know what others are doing and what clients are asking for, but often trends become stereotypes and lose value.

#mochat 84 – Inspiration

This week on #mochat, we tackled inspiration. A lot of us are in the need of inspiration at one time or another… to get out of a creative block or just for enjoyment. The reasons to look for inspiration are only outnumbered by the sources out there.

Several people cited popular social networks such as Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr as placed to find inspiration. Gmunk, Harry Frank, Ice Cream Hater, Neuromæncer, and Signalnoise were just a few mentioned. There’s also the standby of Vimeo and the newly launched Rndr were also mentioned.

People didn’t always want inspiration from motion design, or even digital sources, though. Films were brought up a few times, as was photography. Art installations, musems, art & design magazines, architecture… all are good ways to find inspiration by getting away from your computer.

And sometimes the best way to get inspired is to create something else. Doodling/drawing, taking photos, or playing music are all ways to get your brain working in a different way.

Read on for more sources of inspiration and how to work through ruts.

[Photo credit: “Inspiration” by Alice Popkorn]

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#mochat 83 – Motion Design vs. VFX

This week on #mochat, we covered motion design vs. VFX. They’re separate fields, but ones with a lot of crossover between them. Several people noted VFX is much more about solving problems, whereas motion design is a way of organizing information in an aesthetic way.

Despite being involving different skill sets, sometimes people assume that because you design in After Effects, you can easily just pull a key or fix a shot. The reverse is true, too… sometimes being expected to animate a layout even though you primarily composite footage.

People also elaborate on why they choose one area over the other—or what they like about each. Reasons to like VFX work included having a specific problem to solve and pulling of magic tricks (invisible work). For motion design, people enjoyed animating, having more editorial control, or just being able to make something that looks cool.

There’s a lot of interesting comments in this week’s chat. Read on for the transcript…

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#mochat 82 – Animating in Photoshop

Photoshop isn’t just for retouching everything, it’s also a capable animation tool. It may not be the most intuitive, but with tools like AnimDessin and great introductory tutorials by Charles Huettner and Caleb Wood, getting started isn’t too painful.

While not everyone had tried or was aware of animating in Photoshop, we had quite a few people who’ve used it for everything from rotoscoping to previz/sketching to full animated shorts. There’s some good questions and tips in this chat, so read on…

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#mochat 81 – Work Life Balance

Work to live or life to work? It can be tough working to the level you want and maintaining a personal life. For this #mochat, we covered work-life balance.

It should come as no surprise that everyone had a slightly different take on what work-life balance means. To some it is simply having enough rest to go at it another day, to others having time for family and vacations. But thing everyone seemed to agree on is that burnout is a real problem and having an imbalanced life can bring that on much more quickly.

Read on for everyone’s take on what work-life balance is, the roadblocks they face, and how to overcome them…

[photo credit: strollerdos]

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