After Effects to Nuke 101 - A Tutorial by BenQ

Many of my students lean on After Effects and it is quite easy to learn but also Ae has limits once you learn the basics of compositing. Ae is a good as a general application. If you are serious about compositing you should really learn Nuke.

This video is sponsored by Benq. This is a brand new series specifically created to help you transition from After Effects to Nuke.
In this first video we do a basic introduction to get you started before you watch more advance videos about Nuke.

I will be showing, side by side, After Effects and Nuke trying to achieve the same result in both applications. We will be talking about the Interface, project settings, Import clips, playback, layers vs nodes, merging layers, blending Modes and exporting.

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Daddy Cool

What the...

Made with: Maya/zbrush/yeti/substance painter/guerilla/nuke

Artella Cloud-Based Animation Platform

My friend Bobby has started another enterprise in addition to his Animation Mentor School.
Now there is nothing to hold back your creativity when it comes to making your own short films!
Press Release Below.


EMERYVILLE, CA -- Artella, the global collaboration platform that enables artists to make animated films, video games, and virtual reality content, has officially launched. Founded by animation veterans Bobby Beck (formerly Pixar), Carlos Baena (formerly Pixar and Paramount) and Shawn Kelly (Industrial Light & Magic), Artella’s end-to-end online production platform empowers artists to assemble teams from anywhere in the world to tackle projects of any size and scope -- all through a web browser.

The cloud-based Artella platform allows creative teams to establish their own virtual studios and present their projects, however large or small, to a global network of collaborators that includes writers, directors, storyboarders, voice talent, animators, composers, software engineers, and other creative professionals working at every level of the industry. The platform boasts integrated communication, file management and review tools that allow for straightforward production, while also providing template-based workflows tailored to films, video games and virtual reality content. In addition, the platform seamlessly integrates with the most widely used production software, such as Autodesk Maya, Adobe Premiere and Photoshop, and The Foundry’s NUKE, to name a few -- and enables either online or offline work so collaborators can operate however they are most comfortable.

“The world is full of talented creative people who have the tools in their home to make great content, but lack the professional network. We simply wanted to find a way to bring them together from anywhere in the world and to give way to a new form of collaborative production studio,” said Bobby Beck, co-founder of Artella. “By taking care of the technical production pipeline and communication challenges, Artella allows artists to focus on being their full creative selves so they can make incredible content.”

“Artella will unlock a multitude of untapped talent,” said Maxwell Planck, technical co-founder at Oculus Story Studio. “I’m excited for what Artella brings to the future of remote collaboration in the creative space.”

Artella was created by Beck, Baena, and Kelly, a trio of animators with decades of experience including work on the Toy Story andStar Wars franchises, Wall-E, Monsters Inc., The Incredibles, Transformers, and more. The trio founded Animation Mentor in 2005, an online school that blends animation production coursework with a mentorship program to give students the real-world skills they need to compete in an increasingly competitive animation industry. Artella was born out of the need to provide a virtual space for graduating students to collaborate with others, while also offering a destination for established professionals and studios to launch and complete projects they wouldn’t otherwise be able to manage without the larger studio infrastructure and workflow.

Creating collaborative animated content remotely can be very challenging, and in some cases you end up using four to five different tools that aren’t quite designed for the kind of work we do. We wanted to create a platform that allowed artists and filmmakers to focus on the creative,” said Carlos Baena, a co-founder of Artella, who spent a few years along with Bobby Beck testing and refining the Artella platform. “We’re providing a place for animators, filmmakers, and producers to bring their visions to life, without requiring a huge upfront financial and technical investment.”

“Artella embodies the promise of cloud-based workflow,” said Shawn Kelly, a co-founder of Artella. “We’ve eliminated the barriers to entry by offering a comprehensive suite of tools that anyone can use to launch their own virtual studio.”

Artella will always be free for anyone to sign up and connect with other artists and projects. 90-days post launch, a nominal monthly fee will be charged to creators per member of their team: $10-30, depending on the role. Artella does not take a cut of collaborator compensation or in the equity or IP of the projects created on the platform.

JOBS IN CALI: Digital Animator - Burbank, CA

Title: Digital Animator

Req ID: 7341
Location: Burbank, CA



  • Work with Digital Animation Supervisor to support multiple 2D and 3D animated shows.
  • Create/animate 2D and 3D VFX.
  • Composite 2D and 3D VFX.
  • Model/Texture 3D toon-shaded props and vehicles and composite with 2D plates.
  • Animate 2D retakes in Flash and Harmony.

Basic Qualifications:

  • The ideal candidate should be a generalist, able to solve problems across multiple platforms and pipelines.
  • Must be an expert in animating and compositing using Adobe After Effects.
  • Advanced knowledge of 3D animation software (Maya, Lightwave 3D) with generalist skills in modeling, UV, texturing, rigging, and rendering.
  • Knowledge of compositing in Nuke.
  • Knowledge of 2D animation software (Flash, Harmony).
  • Strong time-management skills.
  • Work well under pressure with quick turnaround and short deadlines.

Desired Qualifications:

  • BA/BS preferred, or one to two years related experience and/or training; or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • 2-4 years of industry experience in film, broadcast, and/or games (Not Mandatory).
  • >Knowledge of App/Game Development programs such as Clickteam Fusion 2.5, Construct 2, and Unity 3D a plus.
  • Basic scripting knowledge in any of the following - JavaScript, Lscript, or Python a plus.

JOBS IN CALI: CG Supervisor - Luma Pictures, Santa Monica, CA

CG Supervisor 

Performing tasks associated with lighting, shading and rendering processes.
Managing a production team of 3d artists within established timeframes.
Assigning tasks, tutoring, creative and technical coaching of team members.
Supervising and reviewing the work of team members.

Minimum of 1+ years VFX post-production experience, this must be recent.
Solid previous experience as CG or 2D Supervisor and most recently CG Supervisor experience on previous major projects.
Creative eye and aesthetic judgement with a deep understanding of composition,cinematic design and animation timing.
Must have vast understanding of anatomy, rigging, cg lighting, rendering, compositing.
Should have an eye for animation and FX work as well. Comfortable with relocation from country to country as required.
Ability to work to and meet strict deadlines often under pressure.
Excellent communication, organization skills, management skills.
Expert in industry standard software packages such as Maya, and Nuke.
 Proven team leader with strong motivational qualities.
Technically and creatively astute.
Highly organized.
Able to effectively communicate with people at all levels.

 Apply Online

As The Digital Domain Turns

It's difficult with all of the events that have transpired in the least 48 hours to figure out exactly what is going on over at DDMG | DDPI.  It seems like it's a bidding war on a foreclosed house, while many lined their pockets with lots of cash from Florida and Port St. Lucie.  There is a lot of information being thrown around... below is the best assimilation of facts I could find.  Comment if you have more information.  It's a sad time for VFX and animation production studios.

The Players: Digital Domain, Digital Domain Productions Inc. (parent company of Digital Domain Productions, Venice, Ca. - feature film visual effects company,)Digital Domain Productions Ltd. (Vancouver),  DDMG (Florida,) D2 Software (Nuke), DDH Land Holdings I & II (owning property in West Palm Florida), DD International , DD Tactical (Military Training and Sims), Digital Domain Institute (School - partnership with Florida State University), Mothership Media Inc. (Commercials), DD Stereo group | In-Three Inc. (Stereo Conversion), Tradition Studios (Animated Features), Hudson Bay Master Fund Ltd., John C Textor, Ed UlBrich, Charlie Crist, State of Florida, City of Port St. Lucie, Judge Brendan Shannon, Digital Domain attorney Robert Feinstein of Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones, Searchlight Capital Partners LP, Prime Focus, Outten & Golden, Wyndcrest Holdings, Palm Beach Capital.

Game Pieces:
Virtual Humans, Military Simulation, FSU and DDI, DD Employees, DD Software... and more.

$4 million emergency loan from Hudson Bay Master Fund Ltd
$15 million dollar price tag, set by "stalking horse" bid 
$130 million in government incentives
$10 million dollar investment from Port St. Lucie
$40 million bond issue that brought Digital Domain to the sprawling Tradition development on the city's western edge
$2 million Port St. Lucie paid Digital Domain to start DDI 
$51.8 million lease of 15 acres and a 150,000-square-foot production studio 


Digital Domain Case Is a Chapter 11 Cliffhanger  (probably the best article to explain the spider web of what has happened)   



Working in China?

A guest post from one of our users, with editorial corrections and comments. Reprinted by permission.
Many complain that outsourcing companies in Asia cut jobs in the West and many fear that low wages in the East endanger jobs in the West. No doubt there is a trend towards outsourcing since economic downturns force many producers to look for cheaper options abroad. (correction ed.)

I just want to shed some light on the environment domestic artists are forced to work and live in and how they think about us.

Here are some facts:

  • A junior to mid-level artist earns between 3000 to 4000 RMB (~440 to 730 USD) per month. Senior to supervising level reach 8000 to 10000 RMB (~1172 to 1465 USD). Roto/Paint Artists and Modeler sometimes even work for 1000 RMB (~146 USD) per job/model/per month
  • There are no benefits (health, social, unemployment, retirement, pension) whatsoever. Bonuses are rare, many times promised but rarely paid.
  • There are no regulations on working hours or overtime payment (Many work 7 days/week) meaning there are no unions nor any regulations nor guilds thus zero protection nor any law enforcement which protects them.
  • They can fired without notice nor can get paid if the boss is not satisfied with their performance or work. There are official holidays but unpaid of course, the same is true if someone has to take sick leave.
  • They are asked to do everything from matchmoving, rotoscoping/clean-ups, modeling, texturing, animating, compositing, etc.
  • A job interview seldom includes a showreel or a professional presentation of any kind. Most guys who run these sweat shops are either rich kids but mostly real estate guys who think that CG/VFX/Animation is an easy business to make fast bucks. Telling the boss that they know AE, Fusion, Shake, PFTrack, Boujou, Matchmover, Nuke, Flame, Realflow, 3DPaint, Mudbox, ZBrush, Dee Paint, Photoshop, Maya, 3Dmax, XSI, Houdini etc. usually gets them a job.
  • This means that all these kids have these application on their laptops, for free of course meaning you can download them from many Chinese servers including all plug-ins you possibly can imagine. Sure the government tries to implement copyright protection in China, but when I can buy cracked DVDs I wonder why there are so many police officers and government officials that can buy DVDs and copies of the latest Windows application as well. (edited ed.)
  • PC's are dirt cheap and for every IT nerd the paradise in China is Zhongguancun (Chinese Silicon Valley), which is probably the biggest PC and consumer market of electronic products in the world with billions of revenue every year. Taiwan is in close proximity therefore electronic appliances vast and very cheap.
  • To open a company costs basically nothing, 5000 RMB (~732 USD), for a license including a tax registration. BUT there is a huge subculture of homegrown businesses basically operating from rented apartments in a residential area. Many of them work on very successful ad campaigns with cracked Flames/Smokes and a fully blown post facility, with a stacked up server in the air-conditioned toilet.
  • Talent pool is huge however there is no quality awareness nor any existing standards. The ones who can speak English try to go abroad without knowing how a company is managed nor how a real pipeline works. (edited ed.) Traditional art skills (concept art, oil/ink painting, mattepainting) is really good and has a long history in China. On the animation and compositing side of things, the lack of experience and the shabby education are the biggest obstacles to becoming a professional in a western sense.
  • The companies who are doing outsourcing jobs are mostly run by Chinese who had the money to study or work abroad and have gotten used to the western style. So when coming back, there is so much money and additional resources, many of us can only dream about. Just to give an example, CCTV's (China Central Television) revenue is nation-wide and one can easily assume that money is not a problem for the people who have the right connections (meaning having the right 'guanxi'). So to start an animation business..The revenue available is, 270,000,000,000 (270 billion) RMB (~39,543,057,598 USD). In general can we say that the richest government in the world is owned by the communist part with access to several trillion USD in foreign currency reserves. (edited ed.)

Now to my reality:

Currently i work as a VFX Supervisor on 50 episodes of a TV adaptation of one of the 4 most famous novels in Chinese history. Maybe you have heard about (Monkey King, Chinese: Xi You Ji). The budget is 100m RMB (~14.6m USD) with an overall VFX budget of 15m RMB (~2.2m USD). YES!! I am not joking, the average vfx cost per episode is 300,000 RMB (~44,000 USD) including everything VFX can do from complex wire and rig removal to clean-up work to CG creatures, mattepainting and compositing. Average shot count is 200 per episode. The timeframe until completion of all 50 episodes is 8 months! This is with roughly 300 artists. The plans for the future from some really crazy real-estate guys is to build animation/vfx factories (factories, not studios or companies, comment ed.) with 7000 employees.

I work now non-stop for 4 to 5 months without a single day of rest and 15 hours on-set, of course it is winter and no heating system nor air-suction system exists. We shot for one month above 3000m (close to Tibet) in snow, drizzle, rain, ice with two HDCams and a crew of 15 production guys and 30 stunt/wire members. Lunch is outside, wake up call was 5:30. Stunt and wire crew (all Kungfu kids from famous Hunan martial art schools close to the Shaolin temple, some even grew up there as Kungfu monks because their parents couldn't afford their education or simple had not enough money to raise them) are without doubt the best of the best and the toughest guys I have ever met but at the same time warm hearted and extremely polite. No matter how long you drag them, they work their ass off to please their master ('sufu') or climb up (of course unsecured) on the roof supporting beams of the studio ceiling to fix their wires. One of our directors is a ex-stunt guy and he commnds them with a voice like a drill sergeant of a marine corp. No arguing or complaining, they obey like they have learned to as a Kungfu student.

The studio I am working barely fullfills any safety standard. Like I mentioned no air suction system, especially critial when they paint spray a newly built set besides our huge bluescreen cyc (cyc:large fabric wall, pronounced sike ed.) or when they burn diesel instead of vegetable oil for their set torches. Besides that the whole floor is covered by fine powdered sand to act a set flooring. It has already killed my on-set keying previz machine once and my assistance spit blood after 3 months of being constantly on-set. BUT the efficency is high, no bullshit, no coffee break, no safety harnesses, no union regulations, sets are built around the clock, laborers are plenty and cost basically nothing, a carpenter earns 40 RMB (~5.85 USD) per hour, some work for half or a third or that. Quality of construction is good, even though breathing in such a set is not recommended at all as the paint highly poisonous. I wear during my supervisor time a half gas mask from 3M which makes the communication with the director a little bit difficult but also lets me feel a little bit like Darth Vader :-)

So in conclusion, my explanation of why producers are pulling out their secret outsourcing weapon and are looking into Asia (China); it is cheap and fast and many things can be accomplished or even tried out which would be impossible in the West for obvious reasons like insane TNT explosions, quantity over quality, and cheap labor.

Click here for original post and comments...

Happy Halloween!

Kreepsville Industries Presents: Cereal Killers

Cereal Killers, a collection of twisted cereal boxes drawn and painted by some of the best artists out there. The list of artists includes people like Bill Wray, who's worked on Ren & Stimpy and Samurai Jack, Lou Romano, who did a lot of the art for The Incredibles and was the voice of Linguini in Ratatouille, and Craig McCracken, who is the creator of The Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. In total there are 73 artists contributing to this project, which is eventually going to be bound into a 'coffin table' book. King Kadaver is my favorite!

Day One Siggraph

Angie and Jamie here reporting on Boston Siggraph 2006!

Jamie enjoying a Gin & Tonic at the Swan Cafe Bar
Monday night around 1 am.

Late Monday Night, (July 31st):
Angie met up with Jamie at the hotel and they went straight to the bar to have a drink.
We learned a hard lesson that night. Angie did not arrive until 11:30 pm and the hotel only had a room left and it only had a sofa bed. You see...even though you book a hotel months in advance, when a show like Siggraph is in town, you are not guaranteed a room. The front desk clerk said we were "lucky" actually, because she was short 4 rooms due to overbooking!!! Jamie was kind enough to take the sofa bed room and let Angie sleep in the regular bed.

Only Jamie could make me smile like this
after a 6 hour flight and no hotel rooms left,
or maybe it was the Gin & Tonic.

Lesson learned:
If someone gets to the hotel early, have them check-in for everyone
to ensure you even get a room!

Tuesday August 1st...our first day at Siggraph:

View from room at Boston Park Plaza Hotel, it's gonna be HOT!

Riding on the bus to the convention center and glad the bus has AC!

We headed over to the Convention Center after breakfast.
The big topic that morning was the heat wave. They said it's supposed to get up to 100 degrees on Tuesday in Boston. We left Cali's heat wave just in time to experience it again on the east coast! Thank goodness they believe in AC in Boston!

What are these people all looking at?
We couldn't figure it was madness!

The crowds at Siggraph were down this year. We are not sure if that is due to location being in Boston or simply reflecting the animation business environment at present. However, this had no affect on Pixar which was attracting the largest crowds. The hungry artists and computer peeps convened at both Pixar's recruiting booth and other side of the booth where they were selling something and we couldn't even get close enough to see what it was!

Recruiting Booth at Pixar

Here is a little movie that really shows you how long this line and how big this crowd was...

More people lined up at the Pixar booth than any other!!! waiting to get what???...we finally asked a guy standing in line what the heck the BIG DEAL was!

Guy in Line tells us why all these people are waiting to get close to Pixar

It was for a toy teapot that walks when cranked and came in a "special edition" tin. The iconic teapot was modeled over 30 years ago by Martin Newell at the University of Utah. This simple geometric model became a graphics icon and Pixar's promotion was for the special Teapot Exhibit that Renderman was hosting. For more on the Exhibit click here. Presented as part of the SIGGRAPH 2001 Electronic Theater pre-show entertainment, this piece plays homage to the teaser trailer originally produced for the film "Alien" and, of course, to the Utah teapot.

The special edition Renderman Teapot Toy.

The most interesting technological advance we saw at Siggraph today was a 3D prototype tool that elicited plenty of "oohhhs and ahhhs" proving that people still like to pick things up and hold them in their filthy little mitts. The machine rapidly generates actual 3D models from data that has been input from a scanner making live protoype. The printer itself builds successful layers to create the objects.

Prototypes made with 3D scanner.

Here is some video of the printer printing an object.

The process was explained to us like this: Imagine if you had a letter you wrote to your mother and you printed the letter over and over and over creating a cumulative structure of the text. That is how this amazing printer creates the objects in 3 dimensional space. Pretty kewl!

The big question we have been asking ourselves the past eyar is how real is the concept that our jobs could be all going overseas? Mass production and the world of automation has cause all craft-based art forms from apparel design and manufacturing, to cars design and even toymaking to be outsourced overseas where labor costs are much lower. Who is to say this will not be the case as well?

Worried about your job going overseas? You should be.

There was a strong presence from competitive studios from Turkey, India, Singapore and China all promoting their skills and studio services at Siggraph this year. We both have been approached to come teach seminars at schools and studios over seas. The level of artistry in these countries is not there yet, but the work ethic and pure desire of these cultures to perform shows they will catch up. The answer to this for most artists is to specialize in the pre-production, concept art, look-dev and pre-vizualization steps in animation. So, learn all you can about your craft to stay ahead of the rest!

Moving on, besides Pixar...the largest crowds seemed to be centered around the larger animation studio displays: Dreamworks, Sony, Blue Sky and Disney all attracted a lot of attention.

Dawn Rivera-Ernster has been such a great supporter of Jamie and Angie and the book and we would like to thank her for all of her support! We will be giving a seminar end of September at Disney Features as part of their Artist Development Program.
Disney was showing off all of their new footage for Meet the Robinson's to be released in 2007. Artists at Disney are in crunch mode working hard on the second CG movie to come out of Disney's new feature department. We have some video of the movie for you to check out below.

This evil dude from the Robin's movie kicked butt with some crazy poses and insane breaking of the rig! We loved it and wish we had gotten video of it...shows you how much we liked it that we forgot we had a camera that takes video!

Disney Booth at Siggraph 2006

The spaceship model from the movie hanging over the booth was pretty kewl too!

Next door to Disney was Angie's homestead for the past two years - Digital Domain! This is the first year DD has had a real formal booth at Siggraph. This is probably largely due to the new ownership of DD Wyndcrest Holdings including John Textor, Micheal Bay and Carl Stork (new CEO at DD). Angie was just so happy to see familiar faces, even though many were a little hung over form the Siggraph parties held the night previous.

Brian Peyatt - aka "Bopo" - 3D Department Head at Digital Domain

Brent Poer (Head of HR-DD) , Piotr Karwas (Animation Supervisor - DD)
and Marc Shea (Recruitment Manager - DD).

Sascha and brent smile for the camera.

Sasha Flick - DD Comercials Manager and Brent Poer - Director of Human resources at DD. Angie loves these two people because they are always smiling
and they keep Angie employed - yay! a paycheck!

Jamie and MarkO.

Angie's Visual Effects Supervisor from the movie Zoom stopped by to say hello at the DD booth and we got a quck snap of him and Jamie shooting the breeze. Mark O Forker was with Digital Domain for twelve years and has just left to pursue other creative ventures in Philidelphia. Angie misses him already. he made the production so much fun everyday!

Nuke compositing software was in full force on the other side of the DD booth.

Uhhh Ohhh - no more walking around! 1 p.m. and it's time for Jamie and Angie to go sign some books at the Thomson booth! Thomson was so kind to set up a table for us to sign books from 1-4 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday. Both days kept us very busy! Here are some pictures from Tuesday at the booth.

Jeff Barnes says this book rocks!

Jeff Barnes CEO and President of Cafe FX
was the first to stop by and congratulate Angie and Jamie for their hard work on the book! Angie worked at Cafe FX in Santa Maria on Pan's Labyrinth, Guillermo Del Toro's new movie.

Richard and Adam both bought the book and were great sports about wearing
their noses as tribute to Redd the clown our mascot!

Many students came by to pick up the book and Justin was one that reminded Angie of her friend Bobby Beck who started the school. Justin had a fire in his eyes and was so enthusiasticabout animation we know he will go far!

Atsushi was another aspiring animators who had come all the way from Japan! He said Angie's website Spicy Cricket had inspired hm to pursue animation and come to America to study more! Many of the animation students requested Angie put her papers and tutorials back on the Spicy Cricket website, so we will do just that by the end of August and will even pursue creating some new ones with Redd the clown for the website.

Bill is another animator who stopped by and got his book signed. He told us that Chapter 5 was his favorite so far and reading about how different animators approached workflow while animating on a computer was so valuable to him!

Well, it's been a long day and we are tired and hungry! Let's get out of this convention center and go get some grub! More to come soon!