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Internet Killed the Video Star

Hi everyone - I've been pretty silent for the last few months because I've been hard at work on a new Creative Cow Master Series DVD - "Internet Killed the Video Star: A guide to Creating Video for the Web." The 4.5 hour DVD will be available very shortly. Feel free to spread the word.

Here's the basic description of the DVD:

Whether you’re posting video for a client, putting your demo reel on-line, creating a video podcast, or building video training for the web, the Internet is conspiring to keep your work from looking its best. If you’re frustrated with the poor quality of your web video, or you want to learn how to distribute your content to a larger audience, then this DVD is for you. It's broken up into 4 sections:

Part 1: Video Compression

Part 2: Working with Flash Video

Part 3: Video Podcasting

Part 4: Creating Video Tutorials

You can read this article at Creative cow for more info:

You'll also find the first chapter of the DVD there as well. And for an in-depth description of what's on the DVD, go here:





What is speech anyway?

So for the first time in a long time, I find myself completely at a loss. I've lost my voice. Gone. I woke up yesterday and couldn't speak - at all. The doctor tells me it will be at least until Saturday before I can talk again.

It's frustrating because I can't create podcasts. Obviously I can't record them, but I also read out loud as I write them, to make sure they sound right. So much of what I do is wrapped up in speech.

Not that it's even close to the same thing, but my father is going through something similar. He had a stroke a few weeks ago, and is no re-learning to talk. He's lost the connection between many of his mental images and the words associated with them - He can't access a lot of his vocabulary just yet.

But the truth is, so much of what we say and mean is not carried in our words alone. Our tone of voice, eyes, and body language make up a significant part of communication.

So, as a reminder that words aren't always important, allow me to share my favorite animated short with you - Chris Cordingley's "After You." There are no words spoken in this piece, but a lot is said:

Posted by: Aharon Rabinowitz on Oct 10, 2007 at 4:35:02 pm creative cow, movies, music

Microsoft Intellipoint/Intellitype and After Effects - Not good friends.

So, I got a new computer and needed to buy a Keyboard. The cheapest one they had at the store with a full sized backspace key (yeah - I make enough typing mistakes that it warrants a BIG key) was the Microsoft Digital Media Pro Keyboard.


Anyway, I tested the keyboard on an old PC, installing the drivers and hardware, and it worked pretty well, so I moved it to the new one. But then when I opened AE, the interface was behaving badly. At first I though I had a bad install (new computer, new install of AE), but then I opened AE on the older machine, and saw that I had similar problems.  My big concern was that the interface issues (such as partially transparent menus)  would keep me from being able to make any more AE tutorials.


The only thing these 2 machines had in common was that they both had AE and that they both had the IntelliPoint and IntelliType drivers installed... So using my Sherlock Holmes powers of deduction and added 2+2 and came up with 4 (I'm smart that way)... I removed the drivers and now all is well.


So the short of it is - if you install the intellipoint or intellitype drivers that come with a Microst keyboard or mouse, and have trouble in AE - now you know why.



Posted by: Aharon Rabinowitz on Jun 2, 2007 at 6:19:32 pmComments (4) after effects, technology, adobe

Western Digital Warning

Just a warning to anyone buying a Western Digital MyBook drive. A TON of the drives shipped out with bad firewire cables - these cables will ruin the firewire interface of any MyBook Drive they are connected with - which I found out the hard way.

However - they don't ruin the drives - just the firewire interface. IF it has a USB port (as many WD drives do) then you can still access the data.

After hooking up my drives, and nothing working, A quick call to western digital confirmed that the cables were bad, that they had ruined the drives and that WD would replace the drives, and any other WD drives that were still under warranty and that were damaged in the process.

Unfortunately, this problem is pretty widespread. I ordered 4 drives from 2 different distributors (so 2 and 2) and each had this problem. After my first experience with the problem, When I got the 2nd set of drives, I called WD with the serial numbers and they confirmed that the new drives had the same issue. So I chucked the firewire cables, and they are sending me new ones. According to WD, it will not ruin any other drives or computer hardware - which held true for me. Nothing else was damaged.

 So my advice: If you buy one of these drives (and they are excellent drives at a good price) call WD with the serial number (which is outside the box, and on the drive as well) and check with them before hooking up the firewire 400 cable (not an issue with the firewire 800 or USB cables).  In the meantime, use firewire cables that you know are good.

 Anyway, hopefully, my problems will help some of you avoid a bad time.

Posted by: Aharon Rabinowitz on May 22, 2007 at 5:46:39 am technology

Giving back to the community

Every once in a while you read about something that makes you want to be a better person.

I just read that Peder Norby (of Trapcode) is giving an "Award of Excellence," which includes $10,000, to Ken Perlin, inventor of the algorithm called Perlin Noise. Many of the effects we use utilize this algorithm - for example, in Maya there's a texture called Perlin Noise, which is used to generate noise textures and displacement maps, and can be used for highly realistic effects through the appearance  “randomness.”  

It's my understanding that the Perlin Algorithm is also used in Trapcode's software, and that Peder Norby wanted to thank Dr. Perlin for his contribution to the community (He gave this algorithm away for free a while back) and to himself, because he can attribute much of his own success to Dr. Perlin's efforts.

So with that said, On Monday, April 23rd Peder Norrby will present Ken Perlin, currently an NYU Professor, the Award of Excellence at New York University at 7:00 PM in the main lecture hall of the Warren Weaver building (251 Mercer Street, between West 3rd and West 4th Sts.).

I really wish I could be there, but I teach during that time at another school.

I think that this sets a standard for us all in recognizing and honoring the achievements of others, and for thanking them for their contributions to what we do.

Posted by: Aharon Rabinowitz on Apr 22, 2007 at 8:00:44 pmComments (3) after effects, technology, business

The AE Holy Grails

I'm working the show floor here at NAB (with wondertouch software), and I had a chance to talk with Zax Dow about his new AE plug-in "3D Warps."

I haven't had a chance to try it out myself, but this could potentially bring about the end to the age-old question - "How do I make 3D ribbons in AE?" It looks like Zaxwerks 3D warps may be the answer. Hopefully they'll have some examples of this on the site soon. Keep your eyes open for this monumental plugin.

Another cool thing coming out shortly is Digital Anarchy's plug-in: ToonIt! That's right - converting video to cartoon!! It looks really good. I'm going to take a little credit here (but only a tiny little bit) because I introduced the team who created the technology for this to Digital Anarchy so that it could be developed as a plug-in for AE. You can read more about the plug-in here:

If you haven't seen Digital Anarchy's stuff - you shoud check it out. A lot of good tools there.

Also, I only caught a glimpse of it, but Peder Norby (Trapcode) demo'd the Alpha of his new project - "flux" - what appears to be a fluid generator for AE - I only caught a glimps becasue I'm working the show floor, but it appears to be for AE what Fluid Effects were for Maya.

Again, I didn't see much - because I had to get back to work -  but it looked pretty fricken cool.

One last note on Trapcode: Peder, if you're reading this - it's time to update your picture, man... You look way different in person. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Aharon Rabinowitz on Apr 17, 2007 at 11:18:45 pm after effects

The mobile/virtual office

I got a new webcam (beta testing software that requires one) and have been testing it out. I'm on vacation, and wanted to touch base with a colleague in Canada about an upcoming project, and to catch up with him and what he's working on.

I noticed in my skype list that his skype listing had a camera icon next to it. So I gave it a shot. It changed the entire experience for me. I was talking to him about work, and we could see each other. It felt like I was really there with him. He even moved the camera around so I could see his office a bit.  

What really hit me afterwards was that this could be a terrible or great thing when dealing with clients. It's easy too seem like you have it together over emails. But you create a much stronger connection with a person when you speak to them in person. When you're a freelancer working from home, you don't want them coming over to your place because that professional air falls apart when you're cats keep jumping on your lap...

on the other hand there are clients who want that face to face thing, and won't work with people they can't get to know. And frankly I like to know the people I'm working with. - and it's just not possible when your a country apart or both have busy schedules and deadlines to meet.  

Except now it is. Or at least, it's getting there. For 50 bucks (Webcam) and skype (free) you can feel like your in the room with someone and work together. No commuting time, not phone bills. Nada.

Of course, it's not quite the same as meeting in person - and you can't wear your transformer's pajamas anymore while working, but everyone has to grow a little.

 Just some random thoughts from the ether...

Posted by: Aharon Rabinowitz on Apr 2, 2007 at 11:33:23 amComments (4) cameras, technology, business, web

Magazine Article Correction - Re: YouTube & Flash

So, it appears YouTube Caught on to the tests that I and many others were doing to find the best FLV settings for YouTube.

Up until recently, you were able to upload FLV's to You Tube without them messing with (i.e., compressing) your videos. Alas, they decided to change that. It's too bad too because you were able to get some really high-Qulaity video on line. Now they convert Flash FLV's too.

Here are some samples of tests I did before it got shut down - hit more info by each video to see the settings I used:

Medium Quality:

High Quality:

Anyway, with that out of commision, I found that WMV's did pretty well when uploaded and converted - especially compared to MOV's which not only looked bad, but also suffered from A/V synch issues. 

Posted by: Aharon Rabinowitz on Mar 26, 2007 at 6:50:25 amComments (2) technology, magazines

Adobe asks: "What's in the Box?"

So this viral video showed up on You tube:

 Clearly Adobe is planning something big. Only time will tell...

Posted by: Aharon Rabinowitz on Mar 8, 2007 at 4:04:42 pmComments (3) photoshop, after effects, flash, technology, adobe

Good, Funny Music that's both free and for Pay?!

So my radio alarm clock woke me up yesterday to the sound of the news. That's not surprising since whenever I set it to do that, it usually does. But the news story was about a musician named Jonathan Coulter (actually, that isn't his name - they got it wrong).

He gives a lot of his music away for free but still makes money selling it - proving the music industry is wrong about all these security measures in our downloadable music.

I managed to find the music of Jonathan Coulton (his real name) eventually, and it's really funny and it's good music to boot. his site is:

Not that he's a copy or anything like that, but if you like They Might Be Giants I think you'll like his stuff. He changes his style in every song, and the subject matter is usually bizzare or just funny observations about the world and people.

Posted by: Aharon Rabinowitz on Mar 6, 2007 at 10:25:35 amComments (1) music

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