30 April 2020

Replacing After Effects with Apple Motion - after getting Boris FX and Mpuppet

After Effects is the last of the Adobe products I have yet to find a workable replacement for, until maybe now. Motion is sort of the red-headed stepchild of the Final Cut suite, Apple does not give it much love and never really has. I bought it right after it came out and it's been through a few iterations over the years but now it is sort of an add on for Final Cut X, in fact a version of Motion is hidden inside Final Cut so it can be used to make interactive templates.

It is an odd duck of a program, the interface and very different from After Effects in many ways but it has and always has had the advantage of being much more "live". In other words you can work on it with a lot less lag and hear sound playing as you scrub which makes syncing to sound really easy without have to wait constantly for RAM previews. I don't know why, but Apple had and still has the opportunity to make it into a real After Effects competitor by simply adding some features borrowed from the AE feature set. It's almost gets there, but never quite makes it.

Boris Effects Blur and Sharpen is something I have had my eye on for years now. In After Effects I use a great plugin to add motion blur in post to my 3D animations but even though it's available fro Motion I never bought it. The Boris set of plugins has a motion blur and a depth map blur which lets me add depth of field to animations, again in post. The plugins recently went on sale so I finally ordered them. Motion now has everything I use on a regular basis in AE with the exception of the puppet tool for animation with still photos. Enter the new MPuppet plugin, which was also on sale which does all that and a little more. Both were  more money than I wanted to pay even with the discounts but Motion is completely functional for my needs now. There is a 15$ puppet tool add on for Final Cut, but not Motion which limits the use in a 3D space and the kinds of interpolation you can use. A great deal but I would run into problems if I suddenly got work on an episode of "American Experience" again. (Please hire me more! I love working on that show!)

So right now I am using the Motion app for my latest animation. So far so good. The interface takes  some getting used to after decades of AE under my belt but I like it and some of the features, like adding grain I like much better in I did in AE. I find it faster and the live sound really saves time and take away a ton of aggravation. I find even when I have lower the resolution for more complex scenes, 1/2 res is almost as clear as full res in many ways and can be used for everything but super precise colour adjustments.

Feature I have not been able to replace are the retouching and paint features in After Effects. When I was de-rigging and retouching stop motion commercials having this feature was invaluable. While t's not as important, I do still use it to fix small issues with renders so I odn't have to serenader a complex scene over again so finding a plugin that can clone and paint like AE will be the next thing to look for. Until then I'll have to keep AE and hope Apple finally decides to actually put some effort into it's Motion app.

If you never tried Motion, maybe now is the time with everyone being stuck indoors for eternity. Its 50$ on the Apple store.

25 April 2020

dessin: Orignal (drawing: moose)

My nephew in Northern Quebec is building a house for himself and this will be his house warming gift. I had to source a few images of moose and combine them input something I wanted instead of taking photos myself for reference as moose are hard to come by in the gay village these days.  I exaggerated the shows and highlights to give more dimension to the image. Even with being stuck indoors all day with no work, this took three days to draw, mostly because fo all the fur.

Sketchbook Pro.

22 April 2020

Dessin: Acrobat_Chute / Drawing: Acrobat falling

He wasn't really falling; in real life he was holding onto a pole with his legs. As I got into the drawing, I started to think that without the pole it was much more interesting and that the pole took away from his silhouette and robbed the composition of movement. This is all on one layer and almost all stipple work with the notable exception of his hair and a thin, solid line along his arms, shoulders and right side  to balance the solid blacks in his shoes and pants on the top of the drawing a little.

This is the fourth illustration I have done of this same performer. Sure he was hot and cute but he has a charisma about him and was really accessible looking for some reason. All in my head I'm sure but that's where most art happens, non?

16 April 2020

Spot: drawing/dessin (Krita test)

Since we are all inside for the rest of our lives, I decided to test Krita, the free open source drawing program. I have had it for a while but never tried a real project on it and if  there ever was a time - this is it.

The subject is a toy from my childhood I managed to hold on to all these years. Spot. The dog toy I received because I couldn't have a real dog at the time. Even though he has been loved to death... there is almost no fur left on him, he still seems real enough to me. Oddly having him still has helped me get through the death of my first dog and more recently it's nice to see him on my desk now that my dog Watson has passed away as well.

Krita performed fairly well, a few bugs and a few weird conventions to get used to. It does animation as well and I might try that out too some day. The brushes are really good! I don't paint so much but the drawing and inking tools were better than Affinity Photo but not quite as good as Sketchbook Pro. I did take it into Affinity photo to add some noise  text because I was frankly too lazy to see if I could do it in Krita alone.

The software is one of the open source softwares that seems to be in high gear to get better these days. Here is a sample of the new brushes they are going to implement soon... pretty amazing.

Because this was a test and of a beloved toy, I put a ton of detail into the drawing. It was a challenge to try and show the areas the furs had been rubbed off from years of being held and petted. I am not sure I succeeded in that but the it wasn't because the app was lacking.

08 April 2020

Escape from Horror : New citation image

I guess doing this one was productive in that it made me realize that I had somehow Misspelled Jean Genet when I used this citation in my book "Indifference". I will fix this week sometime, no hurry pretty much no one bought the book,

04 April 2020

Blender 2.8 test animation to learn the software

I have been trying to learn Blender for over a decade... until V2.8 its interface was just too difficult to figure out for an end user like me.  The new changes to the interface, and the addition of some amazing features put is in a potential replacement for C4D for me which has become far too expensive. 

Evee render: The render view you see in the workspace, 30 seconds

Cycles Render: the professional output render, 90 seconds

I re-made the robot I made for another project in C4D and exported using Evee, then added a post blur in After Effects. Evee was 30 seconds a frame, Cycles was 1.5 seconds a frame. I tried the Apple Magic Mouse, got frustrated used my 3 button mouth with scroll wheel, got more frustrated and went back to the magic Mouse but found using helper keys made it the best choice for navigation. 

The animation:



  • Much easier to use
  • the viewport is amazing and playback is fantastic
  • the online manual is really helpful
  • there are a ton of tutorials now for Blender
  • seems like most if not all the major functions you might need are present
  • Free
  • editing, compositing are all part of the software
  • 2D integration is unlike anything else out there now
  • Even export is actually good enough for final output in a non effects/ cartoon project.
  • You can import models from C4D into it using FBX and OBJ
  • Still not as intuitive or using standards set in all other software, but getting there
  • the rigging and bone system is not robust or easy to work with (you can only animate bones in pose mode for example)
  • Buggy with some crashing 
  • navigation is still pretty wonky, but I am sure it would improve with practice and learning it better. 
  • rendering is slow in Cycles
  • texturing is complicated compared to C4D and I had to just resign myself to learning it in detail as a separate project.
  • Character animation is lacking several features like squash and stretch as far as I can see from my limited test
  • Hierarchy is improved but still not modernized enough. You have to parent everything by hand and can’t just drag one object under another in the hierarchy window
  • Textures did not follow along with FBX import, I didn’t try OBJ files yet. 

C4D comparison and impressions

C4d interface is hands down the better interface and it’s tag system to add affects, effectors, deformations etc  non destructively is superior to even Maya in my opinion.  You can do most of the same stuff in Blender with a ton more work and time. 

I am using V19 of C4D with 80+ plugins including X-particles and Turbulence FD for water and smoke simulations, something Blender does natively. It will take Blender awhile to catch up to my C4D workflow but it’s moving 100 km an hour compared to the snail’s pace of C4D which has been updating it’s core for 10+ years now. Blender seems up to the task, they expect another huge update in a couple months,

Before this test I would start to lay with the software, get frustrated after 30 -60 minutes, swear like a sailor and shut it off. Unless I followed a step by step tutorial I got nowhere. this time I reproduced a character I made in C4D and animated it for 10 seconds then exported it and did more work in After effects - so a giant step forward. I have 20+ year with C4D so It is a little unfair to compare my skills in Blender after a week to that, but I got enough into it to actually make an animation so it might just be  amateur of time before it becomes efficient enough to use everyday. I see me transitioning to Blender starting now for some things while V19 of C4D will still work for the next 3 years at least and because of my plugin investment there it would be crazy to just stop using it. I won’t be going anywhere near the subscription thing with with Maxon, that’s for sure.