Category Archives: Video

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New Show and New workflow Plug-in!


Some cool news to announce! We have just finished recording a horrifying new blog show with a frightening theme! But more on that next week!

Another exciting development is a a new workflow plug-in for After Effects! Coming this week!

Now this plug-in doesn’t make light sabers or energy fx, it might not even change your life but this utility we developed will speed up your AE work flow! Embarrassingly enough, the development began last year when I started working on Intercept! And while I am still finishing the VFX for my short, this new plug-in is done and so we’re going to release it! Is that progress!? I DON’T KNOW!!

The good news is we’re jamming on a lot of projects behind the scenes but this year been a very humbling and rejuvenating experience for me. And it is simply managing ideas and execution. How do we continue to push ourselves creatively and build better consistency… I don’t know if we have it all figured out but at least we are asking the right questions now!

For example : Here was my through process on the Saber plug-in:

  1. Man, my short film is taking way too long I need to release something cool now that I’m back from Star Wars!
  2. Let’s release the Saber plug-in. That thing is pretty cool!
  3. I haven’t posted cool stuff in a while though, This plug-in needs to be sweet!
  4. I Should make a trailer too! How long will that take?
  5. S#!T The plug-in is just not good enough yet and it comes out in two days!
  6. Let’s add more features! Let’s add displacement noise and presets! We can make it!
  7. Crap! We’re late! Now this thing really has to be amazing! Let’s add text outlines and mask shapes too!
  8. What have we done!

Being late because of high expectations makes my expectations higher. A dangerous loop.

So you can see the real challenge is I want to make awesome stuff but it’s easy to underestimate how much time it takes to pull it off! (Cough Cough, Intercept!)

This year we added some fantastic new people to the VC Team and I’m able to get everyone more involved in our shows and do more simultaneous projects that are spread out over time so there are things always in development and more people can be involved in finishing projects.

I think at the end of the day, walking around with a Video Copilot apron has really helped my focus!




Office is on fire now!

A photo posted by Video Copilot (@andrewkramer) on Sep 28, 2016 at 12:42pm PDT

Source: Video Copilot

Atmospheric Re-Entry!


Here is a preview of an animation i’m working on. Playing around with Element 3D and Saber to create the fiery streaks!

This past week has been super productive, finishing VFX for Intercept, doing daily renders and preparing for another DMALA meeting in Los Angeles on October 18th. Going to be a blast!

Circuit City #Element3D #MotionDesign2

A photo posted by Video Copilot (@andrewkramer) on Sep 8, 2016 at 12:27pm PDT

Source: Video Copilot

Circuit City


Making circuits! After trying to create something large, I thought I should try to make something small!

I started by taking a circuitry texture and placing it on a plane in Element 3D. I used the texture in the Glossiness channel and the reflection channel to give the pathways a metalic look. Next I built the circuits using various primitives like box and cylinder at various sizes and placed them around the board near the components of the texture. I couldn’t help myself and I ended up adding some motion design elements like the power core and microchips. It’s amazing how some random object suddenly looks like a fancy heat-sync in the right context.

And finally for the micro look, I turned on some camera depth of field!

I’ve included the circuit texture below so you can try it out!

chips_0004_Layer 2 chips_0000_Layer 6 chips_0001_Layer 5



Source: Video Copilot

Cloud City


Continuing the Element 3D fun! This started as a desert scene and soon turned into a cloud city! Typical. Part of the fun of these render projects is just creating random stuff and designing without a specific goal. It’s actually been really challenging and exciting to try various techniques.

In this scene, I used an aerial cloud photos with some dust stock footage to create a wispy cloud city. The trick was placing dust in front and behind the objects so they pop out a bit. This design was broken into two copies of Element 3D. One for the BG buildings and one for the front pieces. This made it easy to place smoke between the layers.

I also used the E3D Fog and Ambient occlusion to create distance separation. There are probably a bunch of ways I could lay the scene out but the nice thing is once it is setup you can experiment with various arrangements!





Source: Video Copilot

Arctic Station Progression


I wanted to try to create something large-scale with Element 3D. And it can be pretty tricky! Having lots of smaller details in addition to large details helps give objects a sense of scale. I started with some pistons from the Motion Design 2 collection. Then added things like pipes and mechanical components at various scales to give the object more small details. Also adding some normal map textures with various details helps give simple objects more greebles!

Things to try:

  1. Start with the large shapes
  2. Add some medium details
  3. Figure out your camera angle
  4. Add even more micro details: Lights, Pipes, Greeble
  5. Use texture to add grunge. The size of the grunge will help sell the scale!
  6. I moved the horizon down so it looked like the camera had to pan up!
  7. Doors, latters, crates are also good items to use that will give thingsperspective.

The lighting is similar to the recent rooftop tutorial. I used a parallel light with ray-trace Shadows and AO. Here are some progressions of the angle of the shot and a deviation from industrial to sci-fi. I think adding blue lights turns it into the future.



"Video Copilot" #throwback

A photo posted by Video Copilot (@andrewkramer) on Sep 4, 2016 at 11:16am PDT

Source: Video Copilot

What a Twist!


Here are a few more daily renders I created while getting over this cold!


To create the wire I built a simple group of wires using several cylinder primitives. Then using a second group I created some smaller twists and scattered them along the line. In order to add a twist to the entire object I used the UTILITY export option to export and OBJ and re-import it as a single object. Then used the bend option. Making sure to turn on “Dynamic Deform” in the objects surface normal’s.

Tri-Force #Element3D

A photo posted by Video Copilot (@andrewkramer) on Aug 31, 2016 at 6:45pm PDT

Logo loop! #Element3D #echo Check out the breakdown at

A video posted by Video Copilot (@andrewkramer) on Aug 30, 2016 at 11:08am PDT

Source: Video Copilot

Jetstrike Render Breakdown!

ac130 crop

I think the Aviator was on TV this weekend so I was inspired to make this image and here is a little breakdown:



  1. First thing I did was load this model from the Jetstrike collection and convert the materials to a physical shaders.
  2. I was going to just place the ship over a cloud background but I noticed it looked like the aircraft was emerging through the clouds so…
  3. I took some dust stock footage and placed it around the craft with Mesh warping. Making sure to put some in front and behind.
  4. I used a Z-Depth pass to blend the ship into the cloud layer.
  5. As a final touch I added some fog to the render to simulate mist.
  6. For motion blur I animated the Turbines with the Jetstrike Rig controls with some additional radial blur.







Source: Video Copilot

New Tutorial: Design a 3D Set Extension + Free Roof Pack!

In the first tutorial in our Superhero landing series, we begin by creating a digital rooftop using the all new Roof Toolkit!

  • Use the Roof Pack to create a digital set extension!
  • Add Smoke and composite greenscreen footage
  • Insane workflow tips for Element 3D
  • Outside Global Illumination-style Lighting
  • Aux Channel tips
  • Physical Shader tips and Ground Reflections

Download Tutorial Raw Footage and Grunge Texture

DOWNLOAD the FREE ROOF PACK: For After Effects!

Alternate Files

Rooftop Toolkit – OBJ
Rooftop Toolkit – JPG
Rooftop Toolkit – PNG



Source: Video Copilot

Updating Drivers for Element 3D


Sometimes fixing bugs can take a little longer than expected and sometimes a solution just shows up out!

Nvidia recently released the new 10 Series graphics card and the specs are pretty insane! As always, we like to make sure our plug-ins like Element 3D runs smoothly. Sometimes we find a small issues and rework the plug-in, and release an update. But a recently changed Driver was causing a more tricky case, so we have been working on it over the past week.

And of course we have this sweet Roof model pack coming out with some new tutorials so we wanted everything to be solid! So we were trying to figure out this Driver issue and we were about reach out to some of our friends at Nvidia when suddenly, they released a new Driver today that fixed the issue! Yay!!

So thanks to Nvidia for fixing it so quickly, it’s nice to know they are continually updating drivers.

If you are using a Nvidia 10 Series card, the latest Nvidia Drivers are working great!
Download Nvidia Drivers

Now let’s get back to the fun stuff!

NOTE: If your Recent AMD drivers are causing any issues with Element 3D V2, we did an update about 2 weeks ago to fix some random bugs there. You can login and download all plug-in updates from the customer section.


Source: Video Copilot

The Video Copilot Show is Online!

Check out the new show! Tutorials and projects up next!

In this show we go behind the scenes to show you how we created an insane SuperHero Landing!

Episode Highlights:

  • Greenscreens
  • 3D Compositing
  • Matte Painting & Set Extensions
  • Forced Perspective Shooting
    • Visual Effects Breakdowns

Source: Video Copilot

A Hero Will Rise on the Video Copilot Show!


I waited all day to make this graphic so that I would be sure the episode is ready! So far I’ve only slept about 5 hours in the last 3 days trying to get the show out earlier but we really want to make the show to be unique and detailed! Now, I better not write too much the words are starting the melt!

To be honest, this episode started as a small idea to do while I finish my short Intercept but in the words of George Lucas: “I may have too far in a few places.”

The Video Copilot show is premiering tomorrow and we have some exciting new tips and tricks in this action packed episode. I Hope you guys enjoy it!

Source: Video Copilot

Back on Track!


Over the past year I had the opportunity to work on Star Wars, 10 Cloverfield Lane and more recently Star Trek Beyond (not titles this time). Whew! Now that I am focusing on Video Copilot Full-Time (YAY!!) I’ve noticed something different.

It started with Saber. (Our free Energy Beam plug-in)
It was my first thing after getting out from underneath the visual effects tsunami of working on features. It started as a simple plug-in that would kick things off again. But while working on the promo video with my release date set, something seemed off.


The plug-in wasn’t good enough!

It was OK but not up the Video Copilot standards. After-all, it’s been so long since I had done something new, I wanted it to be REALLY COOL! But it needed more work.

Not really an ideal way to approach a hard deadline.

As I worked on promo video to show off what the plug-in could do, I would say to myself: “We need better noise options”, “We need control over masking and glow order?”, “What if you could use Text Layers too!?”, “I need to create a specific look and we need to add distortion!”, “We need a preset managers!”

I love making software, so even thought we were running out of time, we needed these features! This was the ultimate stress test because we were adding and testing features under a lot of pressure and I must admit, it can be helpful.

In the end our plug-in was 2 weeks late. Every missed day was excruciating. Knowing how much work needed to get done and hoping it will be worth it.

After-all ome of the BEST FEATURES were added in days before we released it. And while I’m personally very proud of our Saber plug-in, I knew we needed to do better but I didn’t fully understand what I was up against.

Afterwards, I figured out what had changed.

When you work on a movie, there are supervisors and Directors and everything you do is projected on a big screen! The bar is set high! Everything pixel is analyzed and scrutinized. You learn quickly, that EVERY DETAIL MATTERS!

Once you develop an eye for certain details, it is very hard to settle or to ignore them. So somehow the better you get at something, the longer it takes. What?!

Now I’ve got to do a better job at accounting for the extra work needed to reach these high standards and even hire some additional compositors to help with projects so I can keep the ideas rolling out and back to reliable release schedules. I have too many crazy ideas!


So yeah… in regards to the upcoming Video Copilot show… it may have got a little too ambitious… But with some better planning in the future, I know we can get back to our A-game!

I’m very excited about the show, we worked really hard on it and we are putting the finishing touches on it this weekend! Until then!

Just for contrast: Element 3D V2 doesn’t have a promo video and Saber has a promo with 35 fx shots. And it’s a free plug-in. I’d say it might actually be a curse!


Source: Video Copilot