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By Rob Garrott | Friday, October 3, 2014

Up Close with 9 Top Digital Artists in Mograph, VFX, and More

Clear Menser Houdini Artist 03

Creating art is a journey. Sometimes you know where you’re headed, and other times you meander until you suddenly realize you’ve already arrived at your destination.

I began my career as an artist almost by accident. After graduating college with a degree in business administration, I was working at a local government job auditing capital assets when I discovered a massive desktop publishing system that was not where it was supposed to be. To make a long story short, I found that I had a talent for creating images on the computer.

Luckily for me that was a pretty new thing in 1991—and I never looked back.

On a recent trip to Vancouver to attend the SIGGRAPH conference, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with nine incredibly talented artists from across the digital spectrum. Motion graphics, visual effects, concept illustration, and print design were all on the agenda.

Kris Pearn Storyboard Artist 02

Each of these artists has his own particular workflow and story—but there’s an important common thread: Almost none of them are doing what they started out to do.

By Rob Garrott | Tuesday, May 6, 2014

NAB 2014: Panasonic GH4 First Look

The Panasonic Lumix GH4

I’ve been going to the annual NAB Show™ in Vegas for a long time, and rarely get excited about anything in particular; there are usually so many announcements from so many manufacturers that it’s hard to keep track! Each NAB Show ends up having a bit of a theme to it: Two years ago, 3D stereoscopic imaging was all the rage (thank goodness that’s over now). Last year’s NAB was all about drones with quad-, hex-, and octo-copters buzzing all over the show.

This year the big theme was 4K resolution cameras. Every camera manufacturer that didn’t already have a 4K system on the market announced one. But for me, the most exciting new camera this year is the Panasonic GH4.

The GH4 is a Micro Four Thirds (MFT) format camera with a mind-boggling amount of features, all directed squarely at the video market. Its feature list reads as if Panasonic looked at every video-capable still camera on the market and asked a simple question: What’s missing? The GH4 answers that question in many ways: 4K? Check! Clean, uncompressed HDMI out? Check! Solid microphone pre-amps? Check! Headphone jack? Check! Clamp on outboard device for high-end inputs and outputs? Double check! The list goes on and on.

By Rob Garrott | Monday, December 23, 2013

Final Cut Pro X 10.1 Releases

On Thursday, Dec 19, Apple released an important new update to Final Cut Pro X, its flagship editing program. The update is free for all current users of FCP X and available through the Apple App Store. We’re updating our Essential Training course to include this version. In the meantime, here’s a rundown of things you need to know about the update.

First, FCP X 10.1 requires OSX Mavericks, so if you’re on an older system, you’ll need to download and update Mavericks before you can update FCP X. Mavericks is also a free update from Apple, and we’ve got a great course to get you up to speed with the new features of this latest OS from Apple. As with all updates, it’s crucial that you back up your important data before proceeding. I’ve had no problem on my system, but there have been reports of problems with Mavericks upgrades, and it’s always better safe than sorry!

standard setup

By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How to use XRefs in CINEMA 4D, and why they’re a good idea

Efficiency and flexibility are not just marketing terms, they’re what make motion graphics achievable. Creating moving images is incredibly labor intensive, and once all that labor is done, you still have to hit the render button and wait to preview the result. Being efficient is crucial to meeting deadlines.

Creating a workflow that allows you to swap and modify key elements at any point in the production process is what XRefs are all about. An XRef is a special object that points to a scene file much in the same way a print program, like Illustrator, points back to a master image and uses the original file from the hard drive for printing. Visually, the XRef appears to you as a single object, but it actually represents all the objects in the scene that it’s pointing back to. This means that you can make changes to that scene file, and any XRef that points back to it will automatically update. This also means, since R13 XRef objects allow you to reference a CINEMA 4D file as a single object, that you can manipulate an XRef from an entirely different scene, thus allowing for distributed workflows where one person is modeling while another person animates. This makes for a very flexible way to work.

In this week’s Design in Motion video, I’ll show you how to add an XRef into your animation, and I’ll show you a real-life scenario where having XRefs set up allows me to easily swap two cars in a chase scene, with two completely different cars—all without having to update my animation. If you’re new to XRefs, this tutorial quickly breaks the process down to help you get started. XRefs have made last-minute director swaps quick and easy for me many times, and they can save you, too!

The overall XRef experience has been significantly improved in CINEMA 4D R13. To learn more about those improvements, check out my full CINEMA 4D R13 New Features course on lynda.com. If you are a lynda.com member, make sure to check out chapter five, where I discuss R13 workflow additions, including a specific video on the Xrefs format rewrite.

Interested in more? • The full Design in Motion weekly series on lynda.com • All CINEMA 4D courses on lynda.com • Courses by Rob Garrott on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:CINEMA 4D R12 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D R13 New FeaturesAfter Effects CS5 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects

By Rob Garrott | Thursday, April 12, 2012

Premiere Pro and After Effects CS6 new features revealed

Workflow, speed, and efficiency make for a strong CS6 update to veteran production applications Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. Next week, Adobe will be revealing the updated Premiere and After Effects apps at the NAB convention in Las Vegas, and lynda.com authors Chris Meyer and Rich Harrington have created two lynda.com tutorials that walk you through the important new CS6 features.

In After Effects CS6 New Features, Chris Meyer explores the brand-new 3D camera tracker, which analyzes a piece of video footage and reconstructs a virtual digital camera that matches the scene perfectly. With that camera and tracking data, motion graphics and visual effects artists can seamlessly place digital elements into moving video. In addition, there is also a completely redesigned Global Performance Cache that dramatically speeds up interactions by saving crucial information about layers and how they’re put together into a locally stored data file. This locally-stored data allows After Effects to quickly undo changes, and present ram previews much faster. It can even reload cache after quitting and relaunching the application.

In this clip from After Effects CS6 New Features, Chris Meyer shows you the process of exporting 3D tracking data to CINEMA 4D:

Looking at our second featured course, Rich Harrington sums up the big changes to Adobe’s flagship editing application in Premiere Pro CS6 New Features. The elegant new Premiere Pro editing interface is exciting, but it’s the introduction of adjustment layers that will make heads turn. Adjustment layers have long been a part of After Effects, but the accelerated effects of the Mercury Playback Engine in Premiere Pro mean that editors can now use adjustment layers to apply effects like color correction to an entire timeline, and make changes in real time without stopping playback.

In this next movie from Premiere Pro CS6 New Features, author Rich Harrington shows off the new three-way color corrector in Premiere Pro CS6:

These two New Features courses are great for long-time users of Premiere and After Effects. For a ground-up introduction to each, keep an eye out for our Premiere Pro and After Effects CS6 essential training courses coming soon.

Interested in more? • All video courses on lynda.com • All courses on After Effects and Premiere Pro on lynda.com • Courses by Chris Meyer and Rich Harrington on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:Premiere Pro CS6 New FeaturesAfter Effects CS6 New FeaturesAfter Effects CS5 Essential Training

By Rob Garrott | Friday, May 4, 2012

Two ways to create a reflective floor in After Effects

Floors create a sense of visual depth and give your designs a sense of space by giving your graphic elements something to ‘sit on.’ Making a reflective floor can be a great way to add an elegant look to your motion graphics layout. When you first see a reflection on a graphic element, trying to recreate it can seem like a daunting task. Really though, there are some techniques that have been carried over from the world of Photoshop that are simple to do, look great, and render fast.

On this edition of Design in Motion, we’ll see two different techniques for creating a reflective floor, one that explores transformation of a duplicate layer, and one that creates your reflective floor with a mirror. Both techniques yield final products that look very similar. The real difference in the two will be the amount of control you need. Using the reflective mirror route allows you to finalize this technique using only one layer, but this route gives you less control. Using the transformation of a duplicate later route you will end up with more layers, but also more control.

If you’re interested in learning more about working in After Effects, a great place to start is the lynda.com After Effects Apprentice series from Chris and Trish Meyer.

Interested in more? • The complete Design in Motion weekly series on lynda.com • All video courses on lynda.com • Courses by Rob Garrott on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:After Effects Apprentice 12: Tracking and KeyingAfter Effects CS5.5 New FeaturesAfter Effects CS5 Essential Training• After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation

By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Creating distressed metallic type in CINEMA 4D

Controlling how your objects look in 3D really boils down to asking yourself one important question: What is my object made of? How you answer that question becomes your guide for how you will create the materials that you apply to your objects in 3D. The Material editor in CINEMA 4D has an array of buttons that can be confusing until you start thinking of them as answers to that one most important question.

In this video I dig into the Material editor and show you how to add texture and color to your object using the Color channel, and Specular highlight. To add the distressed look, I show you how to use a Bump channel (found in the Basic tab of the Materials editor) to add in gritty noise, Diffusion to simulate light reflection, and Displacement to add physical surface indentations and deformations. Together, these properties can be manipulated to create a great looking metal material that can be applied to standard type.

When your distressed metal type is done and you’re ready to learn more about materials in CINEMA 4D, myCINEMA 4D R12 Essential Training, and CINEMA 4D: Designing a Promo courses have chapters that will help you understand how to create and control your materials better.

Interested in more? • The full Design in Motion weekly series on lynda.com • All video courses on lynda.com • Courses by Rob Garrott on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:CINEMA 4D R12 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D: Designing a PromoAfter Effects CS5 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects

By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, April 11, 2012

After Effects Apprentice 15: Creating a 10-second promo video in After Effects

In After Effects Apprentice 15: Final Project (the fifteenth, and final, course in the After EffectsApprentice series based on the second edition of Trish and Chris Meyer’s book After Effects Apprentice) you will pull together skills you’ve learned in the previous After EffectsApprentice lessons to create a real-world video promo. In the first half of the course Trish leads you through building the artwork and components used in the final piece, and then Chris demonstrates how to assemble your precompositions into a 3D world, timed to music. Skills covered include how to use masks, effects, shape layers, text, layered Illustrator files, blending modes, track mattes, collapsed transformations, nested compositions, motion blur, expressions, animation presets, audio, a 3D camera and light, and more.

Throughout the course, Trish and Chris share with you their process and thoughts as they design component elements, work towards assembling a final composition, and deal with handling change requests from clients. Chapters 11 and 12, the final two chapters of the course, are essentially mini-courses in themselves. In chapter 11, Chris breaks down several strategies for efficient rendering, including how to create versions for archiving, non-linear editors, widescreen, center cut, and the web, and chapter 12 dives into the process of recreating a dial Illustrator logo using shape and text layers inside After Effects.

Although After Effects Apprentice 15: Final Project concludes the After Effects Apprentice series, this isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of Trish and Chris as they’ve already promised to update their After Effects Apprentice book based on the next version of After Effects, and afterward will release additional Apprentice videos covering the new features, plus a new final project.

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