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By Scott Fegette | Sunday, July 20, 2014

Deconstructing Game of Thrones' Visual Effects

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It’s often said that visual effects only succeed when you don’t notice them. HBO’s “Game of Thrones” received a staggering 19 Emmy nominations in 2014, including Outstanding Special and Visual Effects. It’s no surprise, given the show’s beautifully integrated visual effects are largely responsible for immersing viewers into its fictional world of Westeros. German VFX house Mackevision recently published a video breakdown of its visual effects work on the show’s fourth season, and as stunning as it is, the FX techniques they employed to create the world of “Game of Thrones” aren’t as out of reach to mere mortals as you may think. First, watch the reel.

By Chris Meyer | Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Previewing the next release of After Effects CC

Previewing the next release of After Effects CC

In preparation for the 2014 NAB Show, Adobe has begun previewing new features slated for the next release of their video applications. I’ve had a chance to work with the upcoming version of After Effects CC, and I’m working on a new chapter for our After Effects: Creative Cloud Updates course to demonstrate them. In the meantime, I wanted to tell you about some of the goodies planned for this release.

Adobe Premiere Pro integration A main focus of Adobe’s upcoming releases is to strengthen the integration between After Effects and Premiere Pro, making it easier for a Premiere editor to tap into AE’s power. To that end, Adobe is introducing Live Text Templates, allowing you to create a composition (or chain of compositions) that includes text layers; lock the layers you don’t want the editor touching (e.g., the title of a show); and leave the layers you do want them to edit unlocked (such as a name in a lower third). You can then designate the project and this comp as a Template in Composition Settings.

By Chris Meyer | Friday, March 28, 2014

Enhance your production value at minimal expense

Enhance your production value

We’d all love to work on big-budget video productions where we could shoot any footage we wanted, but in reality many jobs are on small budgets and tight schedules. You may not have the time to get the lighting setup just right, or you have to make do with someone else’s B-roll, or what if you really should have used a tripod or a stabilization rig with that handheld shot? Regardless, your client is expecting you to spin their straw into gold—without hurting the schedule or budget.

We’ve been there, too. That’s why we’ve developed a set of quick-and-easy techniques to enhance the production value of already-shot footage, and distilled them into our latest course, Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects: Enhancing Production Value. These techniques—from tinting footage to change the mood or unify a series of unrelated shots, adding a filmic glow, and simple white balancing to compositing lighting effects shot on black, stabilizing handheld shots, and even changing lighting in already-shot scenes— take only a few minutes to learn and execute, with results ranging from subtle to dramatic.

By Chris Meyer | Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Recent updates to After Effects CC (12.2)

In December, Adobe released another incremental update to its video software, including After Effects CC. As a motion graphics artist, there were a couple of major updates to After Effects features that caught my eye. As a result, I updated my lynda.com After Effects: Creative Cloud Updates course with a new chapter that covers these features. Here’s my quick take on them.

By Chris Meyer | Monday, January 13, 2014

Adding handle to sound bites using Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects

Adding handle to soundbites

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Whether you’re editing for documentaries, reality television, or corporate videos, you’re likely to run into this scenario: The talent is giving a long speech, perhaps unrehearsed. In the middle of that speech, you’d like to pull out a really good sound bite—but the pauses around the sound bite don’t create enough space (known as a “handle”) to cleanly isolate the segment. Sound familiar?

There are a couple of time-honored solutions to this problem, including muting the audio before and after the desired sound bite, freezing the video to extend the handle, or performing a split edit (cutting the video separately from the audio). All of these compromises, however, can appear visually jarring, taking the viewer out of the flow of the program.

By Chris Meyer | Friday, November 15, 2013

After Effects 12.1 Update

After Effects CC - Mask Tracker

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Adobe recently released a nice update to After Effects for Creative Cloud subscribers. Todd Kopriva of Adobe has provided an exhaustive list of what’s new in his blog. I’ve also added to my After Effects: Creative Cloud Updates course on lynda.com to demonstrate my favorites among the new features, including:

By Chris Meyer | Wednesday, September 11, 2013

After Effects CC 12.1 Update Announced

Leading up to the annual IBC trade show in Amsterdam, Adobe has announced major updates to the Creative Cloud versions of its video software, including Premiere Pro and After Effects. As a longtime After Effects user, I’m particularly excited about some of the updates appearing in this next version.

AE CC Mask Tracker

The new Rigid Mask Tracker.

One of the most interesting new features is a Rigid Mask Tracker. Users have long been asking for a way to connect AE’s motion tracker to mask points for easier masking of moving footage. To date, we’ve been working around this by using solutions like the Tracker2Mask script from Aescripts.com, or the combination of mocha and its “shapes” as track mattes (demonstrated in Chapter 3 of my course After Effects CS5 New Creative Techniques). In the next version of After Effects, when selecting an existing mask, the Tracker panel will track the region of the frame defined by the mask’s shape and transform that shape over time as the object moves from frame to frame. As suggested by the name, the object you’re tracking must maintain roughly the same shape—such as a window or poster as opposed to a person running— although it can change scale and perspective over time. And since the result is a normal animated mask path, you can edit the mask’s points after the fact.

By Chris Meyer | Friday, August 23, 2013

Editing and Animating to Sound

Editing and Animating to Sound in After Effects

Although I’m primarily known as an Adobe After Effects user and motion graphics artist, my background is in the music industry. Over the years I’ve found a sympathy for sound to be a big benefit to video professionals: timing animations to your project’s sound increases the impact of your visuals. Inversely, strictly focusing on the visual elements of your edits without serving the sound can distract the viewer, and dilute the overall impact.

I’ve recently distilled years of experience creating visuals to sound into a two-and-a-half-hour video course of exercises and real-world examples, Editing and Animating to Sound in Adobe After Effects. I start with the basics of learning how to “read” an audio waveform to spot the timing of beats in music, and then cut video, build animations, and even drive effects using the audio in your project. I also include a list of “magic tempos” you can hand to musicians so they can create a soundtrack at a speed that makes editing and animating easier.

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