5 Indispensable Animation Tools for After Effects


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These free animation tools for After Effects are essential for becoming a killer animator.

Animation Tools for After Effects

Top image via Jenny LeClue

While I would never recommend that working character animators use After Effects exclusively, there are a few tools that make animating in After Effects much easier. Let’s take a look at five essential animation tools for After Effects.

1. DuIK

Price: free, but donations are helpful.

If you download only one animation tool for After Effects, it’s imperative that you download DuIK. It’s an animation powerhouse that allows users to have all of the tools they need to create fun animations right at their fingertips.

Most notably, DuIK allows users to easily rig elbow and knee joints with inverse kinematics. If you’re not already familiar with the term, inverse kinematics is a rigging process where joints behave by bending when two objects are brought near.

Inverse Kinematics

See the rest of ‘s article “5 Indispensable Animation Tools for After Effects” here.


8 Must-Have Plug-ins for Motion Graphics in After Effects


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by Michele Yamazaki, Toolfarm

In Depth: 8 Must-Have Plug-ins for Motion Graphics in After Effects

This is a question that I get quite a bit. It’s usually someone who is just out of college and getting started in the biz. They often use the phrase “the best bang for the buck”. Nobody wants to spend money on tools they will never use either. Because this field has some diversity, I’m breaking this into a multi-part feature for motion graphics in After Effects, visual effects in After Effects, editing, and more. Here are my picks must-have plug-ins for motion graphic artists using After Effects.

First, a bit of detail on why I’m breaking this down into multiple articles, since I’m writing for new users (but we’d love your input if you’re a seasoned pro). There are a lot of plug-ins out there. So many! I wrote a book called Plug-in to After Effects a few years ago that featured hundreds of plug-ins, and I didn’t get to them all, and those were only for After Effects.

Depending on what you’re doing, you’ll need different tools. There is a lot of crossover between tools so I’ll give you my picks for

  1. Motion graphics – animated text, generated 3D elements, geometry, particles, light leaks, and other eye candy
  2. Visual effects – compositing to create believable effects, often involving chroma keying, tracking, rotoscoping, beauty effects, lens flares and lots more.
  3. Editing – if you’re cutting video you will need transitions, titles, time effects, etc.
  4. Color grading – color grading is needed by all of the other categories
  5. 3D plug-ins
  6. Audio plug-ins
  7. and there’s more….

My criteria for choosing plug-ins for these lists:

  1. The plug-in must not be a one-trick pony. In other words, if it’s only does one thing and I’ll only use it once, it’s not worth it. Some bundles will have a handful of throwaway plug-ins, but they’ll also have tons of other amazing plug-ins to balance out the less useful plug-ins, so it’s all good.
  2. It has to be fairly easy to use and user-friendly. If a plug-in is too complex and I can’t get it to do what I want, then I won’t likely use it.
  3. Must not be buggy. I can’t say this has been a problem with too many plug-ins lately but I do have a few that are not up to my stability standards. If they’re buggy or crash on me, I don’t use them because I can’t deal with the frustration.
  4. It’s nice if plug-ins can be used in more than one host. This is not absolutely necessary but it sure is a bonus, especially if you have Creative Cloud and Premiere Pro.
  5. Fun. Yes, we’re adults, but it’s important to have an enjoyable experience while you’re working.

Bundles are a great way to go if you’re new to After Effects. You’ll get a nice variety of options at once and it always costs less to buy in bulk, right? There are a lot of bundles out there and these are my favorites…


Come & Get ‘Em… Free LUTs!


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By Caleb Ward, Premiumbeat


These FREE LUTs are perfect for professional video editors. Make your footage more cinematic with these free color grading tools.

Whether you are a professional colorist or a novice filmmaker, these 29 free LUTs are perfect for giving your video footage a cinematic look. All of these LUTs do different things, but they have one thing in common: they’re all 100% free!

1. Ground Control Color: Nine Free LUTs


Type of LUTs: Conversion and Stylistic LUTs

Ground Control Color is a website that specializes in creating color LUTs for a variety of different cameras and recording formats. In addition to having a pretty impressive series of products, they also give give away a good selection of nine free LUTs for video editors. From the ‘Free LUTs’ page, users can download six free conversion LUTs and three stylistic color LUTs.

Download nine Free LUTs

Free LUTs for Color Grading
Video still from Ground Control Color ‘Falcon‘ LUT Pack

See here for a complete description, visible demo and download the rest of ’em.

In-Camera Time-Lapse Photography Resource


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Fast-disappearing are the days of having to have a separate interval timer to create time-lapses. Many cameras now have built-in intervalometers. The following is a guide to setting up the time-lapse function for most cameras.

1. What is a Time-Lapse?
2. What Gear Do I Need for a Time-Lapse?
3. Notable Cameras with Built-in Interval Timers
4. What Settings Do I Need for a Time-Lapse?
5. For How Long Should I Make My Time-Lapse?
6. Time-Lapse Instructions By Camera
7. How to Put Together Your Time-Lapse

What is a Time-Lapse?

Time-lapses are comprised of a bunch of pictures of the same thing taken over a long period of time. You then display them quickly in sequence when you’re done. The result is a little “movie” that displays a slow passage of time quickly. Time-lapses are a great way to show how a kid grows, how a flower dies, how stadiums fill up, how the weather changes, and even how the Earth rotates! Most of time, though, you just want to show something simple made interesting, like the sun setting rapidly or the bustle of traffic. Time-lapses also make good scene fillers for larger visual projects. Pay attention and you’ll start noticing them everywhere, from the credits of TV shows to commercials and music videos.


Lots more here… including Timelapse by Camera instructions.


Requires the use of Remote Camera Control, which can be downloaded here or visit this download page for Windows or this download page for Mac. Here is a good visual intro to using the app’s intervalometer from Mike Beauchamp.



160+ Free Stock Footage by Clipcanvas Producers


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Free Stock Footage by Clipcanvas Producers

ClipCanvas Logotype

Over 160 clips are 100% free and safe to download and use for your business, blog, news, website, documentary, video project, and so on…


Learn more about Clipcanvas

The above free time-lapse video from http://www.clipcanvas.com showcases one of tens-of-thousands of cheap and high quality HD stock footage clips that are offered on Clipcanvas. These footage clips are mostly in high-definition and comps may be downloaded for free once you sign up. You get a video download format you can use for editing and which suits your editing suite, whether you are working on Final Cut, Avid, Premiere, Vegas or using other similar video editing tools. Thousands of videographers, clippers, producers and video makers use Clipcanvas and you could be one of them!


The online footage archive comprises a highly varied mix of HD video footage from all over the world, including people, timelapse, city stock footage, aerial footage, creative footage, music video clips, video backgrounds, video effects, CGI video clips, nature and wildlife footage, studio footage, animal footage… you name it – we got it! Check for yourself using our excellent stock footage search engine: http://www.clipcanvas.com/search


If you wish to learn more, you can visit their blog at:

How to Generate Easy LUTs in Photoshop


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By Noam Kroll, Premiumbeat

Lookup tables are one of the most useful tools for editors, colorists, and DPs alike. Here’s how you can generate LUTs in Photoshop in a pinch.

As a colorist, I regularly need to create LUTs for a wide variety of applications. They’re most often utilized in my own post-production pipeline as a means to streamline the DI process, but LUTs have so many other uses as well. For instance, I’ll occasionally generate a LUT for an editor to use during an offline edit or for a DP to load into their cinema camera.

Most of the time I’m working in DaVinci Resolve, which of course is a dedicated color grading platform. As such, Resolve has built-in LUT generating capabilities, so naturally when I need to create a lookup table for any reason, Resolve is always my first choice.

That said, there have been many instances where I was asked to generate a LUT for one reason or another, but didn’t have access to my DaVinci system. In these cases, I’ll turn to Photoshop.

While many applications can generate LUTs, I find Adobe Photoshop to be ideal for the task, given the simplicity of the process and overall amount of control that you have. This is the typical workflow I’d recommend for generating LUTs in Photoshop here

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Hey Adobe Camera RAW users….check this out!


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from Russell Brown

Boundary Warp is a new feature found in Adobe Camera Raw 9.4 or greater and Adobe Lightroom 6.4 or greater.

This feature will adaptively stretch or reshape the edges of a stitched panorama to fill the rectangle boundary. The user can automatically crop the images or take the results into Adobe Photoshop and use Content Aware fill, Liquify, or Adaptive Wide Angle adjustments. Special note: Boundary Warp may not work well on images with straight lines or architectural features near the edges of the image. The process of warping the image may distort your images.

Be sure to watch my Boundary Warp Advanced Tips and Techniques video for additional information for correcting this issue, here…

Your One-Stop-Shop for Everything Ever Made for FREE for FCPX


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by Roger Bolton, FCPXFree.com


Welcome to FCPXFree.com, put together by Roger Bolten, owner/director of the infamous Coremelt.  They aim to be the Internet’s number one site for all kinds of Free FCPX resources – motion templates, plugins, tutorials, transitions, titles and more.  Browse by type, category, or even creator… transitions, apps, FX, title…  Easy access to find what you’re looking for, fast.  Per Roger, “We hope that this directory will help to grow the entire FCP X community, by giving one place you can come to find any free tool you are looking for.”

Currently listing 696 free items and growing!

If you would like to be notified about new free resources on FCPXFree.com then please sign up for their mailing list, like them on Facebook or follow them on twitter.

Click here for FCXfree and nearly 700 free items.

Helpful Resources for CC Apps


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Some absolutely amazing new resources for CC users… First, here’s a master sheet that covers shortcuts and quick keys for Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Fireworks, Flash, Premiere and After Effects:

Creative Cloud Keyboard Shortcuts

And here are the individual cheat sheets for each of those tools, as well as for other key CC apps:

Huge thanks to Jamie Spencer for creating these and making them available.  Enjoy!


Free Friday: Ultra High-Resolution Aspect Ratio Templates for Your Next 4K, 5K, or 6K Project


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by Robert Hardy, nofilmschool.com

Vashi Visuals Aspect Ratios 4K, 5K, 6K

Aspect ratios are an insanely powerful visual tool, and aspect ratio templates are a great option for spicing up your work quickly and easily.

In one of his best blog posts, prolific editor Vashi Nedomansky shared examples of most every aspect ratio ever used in the history of cinema (there are a lot of them), and shared a link to some free templates that can be overlaid on footage to change the aspect ratio. However, those templates were all designed for HD frame sizes, and this being 2015, seemingly no one gives a shit about HD anymore. So Vashi did us all a favor and updated the templates for our high-resolution present and our even higher-resolution future. His new template pack (which you can download by clicking here) comes with 8 popular widescreen ratios ranging from classics like 1.85:1 and 2.39:1 all the way to the obscenely wide 4.00:1. Each template comes in resolutions ranging from 2K to 6K.

Applying these ratios to your footage is insanely easy. All you’ve got to do is import the template with your aspect ratio of choice into an NLE, drag it onto its own video track atop your edited sequence, and vertically reposition any shots that need recomposing to fit the new ratio. That’s it. That’s all.

Again, you can see examples of all these aspect ratios in action over on Vashi’s blog, and you can download them here.      



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