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When it was first released 20 years ago, After Effects was tucked into a corner of the market, for specialists with a narrow range of tasks. Since then, it has become an indispensable part of the bag of tricks for millions of media professionals. Creative COW is the latest phase of the web's longest-running After Effects community, founded in April 1995 by two After Effects users, Ronald & Kathlyn Lindeboom, who were looking for answers to their own questions. Through online tutorials, DVD training, and forums with 2 million monthly visitors, we've had a front row seat to a true revolution.

And not just for the industry: for individual careers, and even lives. Starting today, you can see the first in a long series of 20th Anniversary good wishes and testimonials from members of the Creative COW community using After Effects for motion graphics, compositing, visual effects, as part of their editing and finishing, and much more. We'll be adding more every day, as well as highlighting some of the most popular feature stories we've published of real-world After Effects production.

We want to hear your story too! Swing by our Letters To The COW Team forum, and tell us your history with After Effects. The more stories, the merrier.


In the meantime, please join us in wishing a Happy 20th Anniversary to Adobe After Effects, with best wishes for scores more!

Read the articles from COW members here: http://library.creativecow.net/series/Celebrating-20-Years-of-After-Effects
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Les Misérables, based on Victor Hugo's novel of crime and redemption in 19th Century France, has been a huge hit in theatres. Though it's gained acclaim for director Tom Hooper's technique of one-take shots of actors singing the songs, visual effects have provided many key elements. In a remarkable break from standard practice, there were no green screen shots!

"They shot nothing on green screen because of the way the director was filming in one shot with people singing the songs," says The Mill's 2D Supervisor Greg Spencer. "It was all handheld with several cameras moving around, so our job involved a lot of rotoscoping and tracking involved and a lot of removing of cameramen moving the shots. That was all done with lots of 3D camera tracking in Nuke, and patching up buildings or whatever we could."

The Mill erased cameramen captured in shots some 30 times...but didn't take out all of them. "Once we turned a cameraman into an extra," he says. "We removed the camera off the shoulder and put a hat on him to make him look like he was in the world of the movie."

Working on over 100 other shots, The Mill faced a number of other challenges that were not so easily met, starting with the movie's trailer, which required compositing a difficult mix of handheld and locked off footage in a single scene. Don't miss this inside look at a unique process for one of the season's most acclaimed pictures.

Read the entire story here
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"As technology gets better, communications skills seem to get worse." So says Creative COW leader and Contributing Editor Walter Biscardi, one of the industry's most respected business owners. "The same talented people who can create amazing things on screen have absolutely no idea how to represent themselves via a resume or online demo.

"This is the world of Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, Instagram, etc..... where everything is said in 140 characters or less, with a heavily treated photo and no attenshun givun 2 correct grammar yo! Seems people have forgotten how to represent themselves professionally for that all important "first impression." Or maybe they were just never shown at all. You never, ever get a second chance at a first impression. For most of you, an email with a resume attached is that first impression.

"There are two VERY important things to remember in the creative field. 1: You have to be talented at what you do or show a very strong drive to better the talent you currently have. 2: You MUST fit in with the creative culture of the company you're joining. In my opinion, #2 is more important. We get a sense of how you're going to fit from that initial contact. Most of what I'm about to say seems to be common sense, but apparently it isn't."

You definitely don't want to miss this potentially career-changing advice from an industry luminary!

Read Walter's article here: http://magazine.creativecow.net/article/getting-hired-be-professional-and-pay-attention-to-detail






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John Davidson was one of the many broadcast professionals deeply disappointed by the initial release of Apple Final Cut Pro X. He was quoted in USA Today about it, and when he had the opportunity to meet Apple Board of Directors member former Vice President Al Gore, John didn't hesitate to make his disappointment with FCPX known.

(Was John responsible for Apple announcing an FCPX roadmap soon thereafter? Perhaps....)

After a rapid series of FCPX updates and a network client expressing interest in FCPX, John and his team at Magic Feather, Inc., jumped into action. "We had to unlearn much of the last 10 years of concepts regarding post," John tells us, "but we learned how to share projects across machines - and how to do it in a way that doesn't destroy the fabric of the universe.

"And here we are: six networks happily supplied with production materials. We've done shoots, promoted movies and shows, and worked with footage that in 7 would have made my head explode. We've done more spots than I thought was possible for us - and we don't have to pull all-nighters to do it anymore. "

He also adds, "You don't believe me."

And so, John provides the visual evidence: he and Magic Feather are using FCPX for broadcast work, they are working on shared storage, they are working with a variety of Mac configurations. Better yet, he walks you step-by-step through everything from project set-up to delivery.

Even if you've already passed on FCPX for your own purposes, you're going to get a kick out of John's story, and we think you'll be surprised at how well he pulls it all off.

Read FCPX: On Air!






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In his earlier life as a TV producer, Creative COW's Tim Wilson had a memorable encounter with the 41st President of the United States not long after he left office, while shooting a PR piece for the local news. It's a humorous tale of meeting deadlines, meeting expectations, and meeting a man only months after being the leader of the free world.

Read Tim's recollections on George H.W. Bush Yelled At Me For Making Him Look Bad On TV




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Debra Kaufman's Review of The Hobbit in 48 fps 3D

Debra Kaufman's Review of The Hobbit in 48 fps 3D

Debra Kaufman started her high school's Tolkien Club when she was a big fan of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Though she hasn't celebrated Frodo's birthday in many years, she did get out to see The Hobbit in 48 fps. Here are her thoughts on The Hobbit in 48 fps and HFR Cinema in general.

 
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The technology wizards of the film/TV industry have been talking about High Frame Rate cinema for a long time; indeed, Douglas Trumbull's Showscan at 60 fps presaged the current interest over thirty years ago. But it took director Peter Jackson to take the plunge, declaring he would shoot The Hobbit in 48 fps to get momentum going. In about a year's time, manufacturers made the gear, theater exhibitors updated their movie theaters, and the studios prepared for one of the most audacious technology debuts that cinema has seen.

So what have been the necessary steps to actually show the movie in 48 fps? Creative COW's Debra Kaufman spoke with Wendy Aylsworth, Senior Vice President of Technology for Warner Bros. Technical Operations, who spearheaded the effort, as well as IMAX Chairman/President of Filmed Entertainment Greg Foster, and Barco's Director, Product Management, Entertainment Division Andrew Gaweda and Patrick Lee, Barco's Vice President, Digital Cinema Entertainment Division. They describe the specific technological issues and extensive required to set the stage for presenting the most advanced possible version of The Hobbit to audiences.

After all the talk about making The Hobbit in 48 fps 3D and what it looks like, here's the best article you'll read on the steps taken to actually *show* it in 48, why they bothered, and why it matters to you.

Read The Hobbit & The Dawn of High Frame Rate Cinema
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Following his nominations for Best Cinematography from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the American Society of Cinematographers for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network, Jeff Cronenweth, ASC was behind the lens for Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins as the iconic filmmaker. Set during the filming of the suspense classic Psycho, it's anything but a documentary. As Jeff tells us, "It was an historic love story, and one that very few people know. I went to USC Film School and I never even knew about Hitchcock's wife Alma [played by Helen Mirren] or her contributions, and the integral part she played in his movies. So it wasn't like we were trying to copy Psycho and we didn't have those responsibilities, but it opened the door to sneaking in some of Hitchcock's techniques and processes."

Jeff spoke to us about shooting 5K with the RED Epic, and the challenges that came from staying in the world of the 1960s, and wanting to embrace Hitchcock's sensibilities wherever they could. There were some additional time constraints associated with the time needed for the prosthetics that Anthony Hopkins wore to resemble Hitchcock. "In the final analysis," Jeff tells us, "the greatest challenge in shooting Hitchcock was also the greatest inspiration. That's always true: obstacles become inspiration as soon as you stop fighting the challenges and embrace them."

Don't miss this intimate look at the creative process, from one of the finest cinematographers working today.

Hitchcock: Behind the Lens with Jeff Cronenweth, ASC
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Well before David Boyd A.S.C. shot a single frame of The Walking Dead, Deadwood, or Friday Night Lights, he was the cinematographer for every episode of the short-lived, much-loved series Firefly, from writer-director Joss Whedon.

Whedon was hot off successes with Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel, and a decade before helming and co-writing one of the most popular movies of all time, Marvel's The Avengers. Firefly met a far different fate, however: canceled after only 11 of its 14 episodes had aired. To say that the show's popularity has grown since then is an understatement. Fan demand led to a Firefly feature film (Serenity), and a Comic-Con 2012 Firefly reunion panel saw fans camping out overnight for entry into the standing-room only 5000-seat hall.

David talks to Creative COW about shooting Firefly, the show's remarkable life since its premature cancellation, and its passionate fans. "I've done things I may be more happy or proud about with regard to creativity," says David. "I did a short titled Two Soldiers, which won an Academy Award. But when people get wind of the fact that I shot Firefly, they're in awe."

Read David's article at http://magazine.creativecow.net/article/david-boyd-asc-on-firefly-its-10th-anniversary
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Cloud Atlas is a complex and lyrical film directed by Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer. Tykwer brings a strong background in action features with complex stories (see, Run Lola Run, The International), and with The Matrix trilogy, the Wachowskis stretched the action, storytelling, and visual vocabulary of film as few others ever have. Everything that the three of them had ever created contributed to the power of Cloud Atlas, which spans 500 years and a dozen main characters that re-appear in each new story.

Audiences have admittedly been divided on their response to the movie as a whole, but they have universally acclaimed the film's breathtaking visuals. More than a dozen visual effects facilities collaborated closely to bring alive the past and future worlds depicted in its six intertwined stories. Method is one of the houses who helped create these amazing worlds, taking advantage of three of their facilities, in London, Vancouver and Los Angeles. To learn more, Creative COW's Debra Kaufman spoke to the teams at Method, as well as Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Dan Glass, who has worked with the Wachowskis since 2003.

Read more about Cloud Atlas: The VFX.
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