So as I mentioned I got hold a particle system plug-in for After Effect called Particular, and I’ve been having abit of a play and have put together a few vids.

This one was inspired by a video of the ‘Festival of Colours’ I saw on YouTube where they basically throw handfuls of coloured powder about.  Looks incredible and I liked the idea of having explosions of colour.

I therefore used some of the smoke presets in Particular and attached the emitters to null objects with ‘wiggle’ expressions making them vary their position randomly a given amount each second.

It’s abit different for me in that it’s…well, abit nice.  I therefore decided to ruin it for everyone by destroying any notions of beauty that may have cropped up by pointing out that colour’s only something that occurs in their heads ;0)

I had an idea to do a quick video of someone standing on a bridge on the southbank in London and conjuring up a spell in their hand which they’d then fire at the London Eye, destroying it.  I figured it’d be relatively easy to get some decent shots if I popped down there one day with my camera.  I could also go for a ride on the Eye and get some shots from inside overlooking the Thames.

Anyway, before doing all that I thought I’d have a practice.  With this one I have the emitter parented to a null object which travels in a circular path in 3D.  That has a wiggle expression to give it some random movement.   There’s also a light parented to the null which gives the particles some shading.   The whole particle layer is then parented to a motion track of the hand so that it moves as the hand moves.

There are optical flares attached to the lights and a spotlight pointing downwards from the orbiting null object.  This projects light onto a 3D copy of the hand layer on which I’ve keyed out the background so the light only falls on the hand.

The idea of destroying London landmarks must have stuck as I started working on this video of the BT tower exploding.  I’d shot some footage for this a while back so I thought I’d have a practice exploding something.  There’s nothing particularly remarkable about this one, although I did have a go at removing the noise on the video then reapplying it as an adjustment layer over all the elements to try and integrate them together a little better.  Not sure if it’s made much of a difference.


I’ve finished a quick steampunk vid.  This is an advert for the ‘Krakomatic 5000’, the gun used in Beast of the Air.  It’s similar in style to the advert we did for Slatters Electro Mechanical Personal Steam Powered Power Plant and Geist Goggles a while back.

Obviously I’ve got some slightly more sophisticated effects software since then so I wanted to up the ante a little and do some effects like the ghost characters which were partially done using a tutorial from Video Co-pilot.

The rest of the shots new although many used elements from Beast of the Air.  I also got hold of a new plugin called ‘Twitch’, also from Video Co-pilot, which allows you to add flickering video effects which I used for some of the film noise in the video.

In other news I’ve also recently bought a plugin for After Effects called Trapcode Particular.  This is a particle engine by Red Giant Software and is a little more sophisticated than the particle systems that come with After Effects (although they’re pretty good on their own to be honest).

Here’s a small test.  It’s best watched in HD as you can make out the individual particles abit better.  I’ll be doing some more vids as I get to grips with it ;0)

Unleash the Kraken!

Here’s the beginning of a design for a new steampunk bracer I’m making – similar in style perhaps to my brass man gauntlet.  I’m going for a slightly more ‘elegant’ ornate and less techy look although I think I will have some smaller steampunk gizmos on it here and there.


The sculpture will be moulded in silicon once it’s done and then cast in resin with brass metal filler to give it a metallic look.  I want to try and experiment with some metal finishes to give it an antiqued, slightly green corroded brass look.  You can get some stuff that’ll do the job from Tiranti’s.


Back to sculpture at long last!

So I’ve finally picked up a sculpture I started ages ago.  In fact I’ve not  done any sculpture in ages – video effects and steampunk kinda got in the way I guess.

To be fair this piece is steampunk still, although the pics might not totally look it.  It’s the inside of a damaged android, inspired by my Oldroid.

Once this is cast up in resin I’ll be sculpting a skin over it through which pieces of damaged metal will show through.  Perhaps a little like a damaged steampunk terminator, I’m trying to make sure it doesn’t look too much like our favourite cyborg assassin though.  The skin will then be cast in silicon perhaps with some hair.


Tom Slatter at Kew Bridge Steam Museum 02

I’ve done a short new vid.  This incorporates some more footage of my brother playing at Kew Steam Museum as part of the Steampunk Exhibition that ran there this year.

I’d already done a vid of some of Tom’s songs in my previous blog post but I had a little more and decided to do another vid.  This time round I wanted to include some FX so we have Tom projecting the video into mid air using my steampunk gauntlet.

To do this I motion tracked the light in the palm of the gauntlet so that we had the x,y motion of the gauntlet however I also wanted the camera to pan around the video as it plays to show that it ‘really is’ hanging in mid-air.  There is 3D tracking software available but for this I simply keyframed a blank solid in after effects to rotate as the camera pans.

Once I had the motion down I dropped the video in.  I also added a distortion around the edge of the video which warped the background image of Tom.  The idea being that the projection worked by creating a forcefield in mid-air onto which the video image could be projected.  There’re also some particles falling out the bottom edge of the video.  Dunno what they represent, they just looked nice ;0)

The final parts were to grade the video and add some flashing lights to Tom’s face and the walls to make it look like the light from the video was interacting with the scene.  This was done with an adjustment layer and a wiggle expression varying the opacity of the layer several times a second.  There’s also a 3D camera pull in to the video of Tom playing.

We also took the opportunity to film the last few bits for our Krakomatic 5000 advert.  A fair bit to do on that still but here’s a quick pic of a Kraken being poked with a stick ;0)

Photo 03-11-2011 15 06 40

Tom Slatter at Kew Bridge Steam Museum

I forgot to mention that I did a quick video of my brother playing at Kew Bridge Steam Museum a few months ago.  This was part of the Steampunk Exhibition that was held there.

The vid’s abit rushed but it’s a nice setting for a gig – they had all the engines running so I ran about getting some shots of pistons etc to give the video some variety rather than just having a static locked off camera.  I also tried to shoot each song from a different angle then try to cut between the footage to give the impression of having multiple cameras on the go.  You can end up with the visuals not matching the audio, hopefully it doesn’t notice too badly though.  Again it’s preferable to simply having a single camera angle.


DSC_2992Got a few people along to pretend to be ghosts this weekend.  I’ve filmed ’em greenscreen and will be compositing them into some footage I shot when I was up in the Lake District recently.

This is going to be part of a small video ‘advert’ for the gun which we used for the Beast of the Air video, which we’ve dubbed the ‘Krakomatic 5000’ on account of it being used to kill kraken, see.

One section will feature some ghosts floating about, causing a nuisance as they’re wont to do.

The second part will have some shots of my brother rather ineffectually trying to kill a sky kraken with a giant fly swatter before ‘tooling up’ (in true 80’s montage stylee) with the Krakomatic 5000 and heading off to kick some serious cephalopod ass……actually do kraken even have an ass?


This is similar to the small ad we did for Slatters Electro Mechanical Personal Steam Powered Power Plant and Geist Goggles, the props from Spinning the Compass:

Tom’s done a voiceover similar to the one from this vid advertising the gun.  For some reason I thought he’d mentioned ghosts.  Turns out he hadn’t at all, but by that point I’d already done this test video for a demonic/ghosty face, sounded out some people about being said ghosts and come up with all sorts of ideas about ghosts.

The solution?  Make him re-record it,  but this time mentioning ghosts.

This vid was created using the Demon Face Warp tutorial from Video Copilot, so I intend to use the basics of that and some transparency effect for the ghosts.  So once I’ve done that we’ll have some ghosts knocking about,  occasionally screaming at the camera and doing various ghostly things.  Here’s a quick screen grab.  It’ll probably change abit as I refine my ghostly effects but you get the idea.


Space Stuff

Along with a billion other ideas that have been rattling about in my head and that may never get made, an idea for a short scifi film keeps popping up again and again.

I’ve always liked science fiction but in the last few years I’ve really got into science fact which in most cases is much more awe inspiring and I’ve even started studying a degree course.  Probably means I’m officially obsessed.

Anyway, something that’s really been inspiring me is the BBC’s Wonders of the Universe which also features the Adagio in D Minor from Danny Boyle’s Sunshine (one of my favourite films).

I love this series – it’s not only an excellent documentary but the VFX are amazing and I’m sure I spotted a couple of Video Copilot lens flares in there ;0)

Anyway, having watched this so much it got me thinking about trying some of these sort of effects myself.   I also like the idea of including various real world astrological images such as Earth rise and Carl Sagan’s Pale blue dot.

The basic principle I have in mind would be following a spaceship leaving a dying Earth and travelling out into space in the hopes of finding another habitable planet.  Given the huge distances and thus travel times involved it would be a generational ship – it would be the initial astronauts grandchildren or great grandchildren that would eventually reach their destination, if they ever did.

As well as hopefully doing some cool space shots it also means I can scratch build some model spaceships a lá Star Wars which I’ve always wanted to do.  Although the models in Star Wars were shot using motion control rigs I think I can use motion tracking in Mocha to map backgrounds to the camera’s motion.  I just need to figure out a way to get some smooth camera panning shots.  You can buy rigs for that, but I think I can build a low-fi version using metal poles.  I think.

Anyway, because of this I’ve started having abit of an experiment in after effects to see how well I can pull off some nebula’s, planets and stars.  Here’re two short vids I’ve done in recent months.

One thing I have noticed is that you tend to lose a fair degree of detail once the vid’s on youtube.  That’s to be expected of course since they’re compressed, however particularly for space scenes I’ve found you lose details like background stars that are clearly visible in the full HD versions on my comp.

Since the primary way people will see any film I come up with will be online this is abit of a concern and it probably means I might to make such details more pronounced so they are more visible once they’re online.