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Jordan Whittacker
Noob softwares question
on Jul 27, 2011 at 9:22:06 am

Forums,

Here is my situation. I want to make some educational videos for various subjects. I am an educator. I like computers, and video-making. I want to make some videos with attractive looking graphics, like animated eps or illustrator files, you know, those trendy type animations. I want to make some animated line graphs, showing the line growing over the x and y axis with a drop shadow back on the graph, stuff like that with beautiful colors and all very attractive looking.

I want to use Final Cut Pro X as my editor. Why? Because I like the interface, and I like it all around. Motion 5 however, doesn't seem like it will be powerful enough to do what I want with the animations though.

My questions: Which software should I buy for animating? After effects? 3dsMax? Maya? What? Money is not an issue.

I don't want to make my own models from scratch, so I would like some sort of animation tool that has a wide variety of models that I can buy on marketplaces for use in my animations. I have some experience with 3dsMax from about 12 years ago, and also final cut pro, sonic foundry vegas video, imovie, sony vegas video, illustrator, and I am a big gimp user, and I know photoshop fairly well.

Please advise.

If the recommended setup does not includ FCPX, then let me know, but, if possible, I want to use it. Does aftereffects or 3dsmax interface well with final cut pro x? Please, let me know how these products interface with fcpx when you advise me on what to get. Or, perhaps I am underestimating motion 5?

Much thanks,


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Tom Wolsky
Re: Noob softwares question
on Jul 27, 2011 at 10:56:22 am

I think you can do animated line graphs and charts in Motion. It will, like any of these applications, require considerable study, as they are all fairly complex.

All the best,

Tom

Class on Demand DVDs "Complete Training for FCP7," "Basic Training for FCS" and "Final Cut Express Made Easy"
Coming in 2011 "Complete Training for FCPX"
and "Final Cut Pro X for iMovie and Final Cut Express Users" from Focal Press


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Aindreas Gallagher
Re: Noob softwares question
on Jul 27, 2011 at 11:17:33 am

After effects would generally be considered the natural home for those kinds of animations, but its pretty highly complex overall as software. You'd need to set aside quite some time for software training - and that's not even getting into the design training/awareness aspects of producing the kind of work you're describing.


http://www.ogallchoir.net
promo producer/editor.grading/motion graphics


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Chris Jacek
Re: Noob softwares question
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:23:47 pm

After Effects is the Swiss Army Knife of effects and animation. It also offers the most control of what you want to do, especially if you like a timeline style of interface, It does take some time to learn, but it's not that hard to pick up the basics fairly quickly. There are oodles of good online training, too.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Aindreas Gallagher
Re: Noob softwares question
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:25:34 pm

that's very true - after effects has absolutely oceans of free training, articles and advice - there are about a bajillion tutorials on the cow alone.


http://www.ogallchoir.net
promo producer/editor.grading/motion graphics


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Walter Soyka
Re: Noob softwares question
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:42:09 pm

I agree with the others that AE is the natural choice for serious 2D/2.5D motion graphics work.

I'll add that AE is not a true 3D application, so you need two different packages for the work you're describing. Though you can do some 3D work inside of plugins like Zaxwerks within AE, it's not as flexible as a dedicated 3D application. I like Cinema4D, because it offers excellent integration with AE and a very nice motion graphics toolset.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Chris Walsh
Re: Noob softwares question
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:45:05 pm

It depends a bit on your source material. If you have a lot of video files (lectures, demonstrations, stock footage), then FCPX will very helpful for cutting everything together, and adding audio. If you are using mainly stills and text, you will eventually want more control than FCP can give you. Both Motion and After Effects can give you great results, but they do have a steeper learning curve. There are template projects available that can save you time (just google royalty-free After Effects templates to find some), but it can be tricky to modify some of them.

If you're going to be doing a lot of text animation, consider a plugin from Yanobox called Nodes. They haven't released an FCPX version, so you should email them if you're going the FCPX route, but it works in After Effects and Motion as well. Nodes is great for building big, text heavy animations very quickly. It has a learning curve, and the documentation is little obtuse, but if you spend a day messing with their built in presets, you'll get the hang of it. They have another plugin called Motype that might be helpful -- it works best for single words or short phrases. If you're making a list, you'll end up stacking a bunch of Motype layers.

A completely different approach, that you may have already considered since it's popular with educators is prezi.com, that let's you build animated presentations combining video, stills, audio, and text. You'll have to experiment a bit to find the tools that are right for the job you want to do. No one tool is perfect, and the choice is about personal comfort as well as features. I've built a lot of multi-layer animations in FCP 7, that would have better suited to AE or Motion, but I simply wanted to stay in FCP 7.

So consider your message and audience....does your audio carry the most important information, and the video enhances it? Then use a tool like FCPX (or even FCP7 or Express if you have copies of these older versions). Audio will be easier to handle and sync with visuals in a video editor, even if you visuals are less whiz bang to start. If it's all about the animations communicating new ideas or relationships, then go for After Effects and do the lynda.com training. It will take longer to get up to speed, but you'll have the tools you need.

Chris Walsh

http://www.musicfog.com
Silver Spring, MD
Final Cut & AVID MC5
Former Windows User and edit* lover


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Chris Walsh
Re: Noob softwares question
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:50:14 pm

Also forgot to mention to use the free trial of After Effects (and any other software) to test drive it and see if it works for you.

And personally, I wouldn't start with 3D software yet unless you need to create complex biological, medical, or real world simulations. There's always time for that later, once you've got your basic workflow established (e.g. record audio, edit in FCPX or Premiere, animate in Motion or After Effects, output and bask in the glory).

Chris Walsh

http://www.musicfog.com
Silver Spring, MD
Final Cut & AVID MC5
Former Windows User and edit* lover


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Shawn Miller
Re: Noob softwares question
on Jul 27, 2011 at 8:18:32 pm

I agree with the prevaling thought that AE would probably be your go to application for motion graphics, though there is a fairly steep learning curve involved. You mentioned that you've used 3DS Max in the past, so (IMO) the possiblility of picking up a new 3D application may not be out of the question. Truthfully, if you're looking to adopt a workflow and capability that will scale as your abilities grow, I (personally) would consider Cinema 4D Broadcast edition with Adobe's Creative Suite (Premuim addition). I say this because C4D is a bit easier to learn and it has a motion graphics module that is out of this world. I recommend using the CS5.5 suite with it because of the integration between AE, Premiere, Photoshop and Audition. C4D can also export a special AE project that supports render passes, 3d nulls and lights. I believe it will also output Motion project files, but I don't know what features it supports.

Thanks,

Shawn



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Shawn Miller
Re: Noob softwares question
on Jul 27, 2011 at 8:25:30 pm

Oops, forgot to include a link to Maxon's mograph reel.

http://www.maxonpodcast.de/movies/broadcast_edition/nab2009reel_web.mov



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Ian Bailey
Re: Noob softwares question
on Jul 28, 2011 at 8:23:26 am

After Effects generally only gives you 2.5D animation (2D objects in a 3D space), although Video Copilot's Elements is challenging that. After Effects is essential for compositing video and animated elements. If money is no object, then I would suggest Maya for 3D work. Depending on what you're doing you might also want to consider something like Syntheyes for camera tracking.

Presumably you can export ProRes movies or image sequences from FCPX, so it shouldn't be a problem using it in your workflow.


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Shawn Miller
Re: Noob softwares question
on Jul 28, 2011 at 6:03:18 pm

"If money is no object, then I would suggest Maya for 3D work."

Just out of curiosity, why would you suggest Maya over C4D for motion graphics work?

Thanks,

Shawn



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Ian Bailey
Re: Noob softwares question
on Jul 28, 2011 at 7:10:11 pm

"Just out of curiosity, why would you suggest Maya over C4D for motion graphics work?"

My apologies, I misread the thread, thinking the requirement was for animation rather than motion graphics. Cinema 4D would be more than adequate, indeed its After Effects integration makes it highly recommendable. Personally I would use Blender, which also has AE integration, but I know people are suspicious of free software.


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Shawn Miller
Re: Noob softwares question
on Jul 28, 2011 at 8:24:38 pm

" but I know people are suspicious of free software."

Unfortunate, but true... I haven't used Blender myself, but people seem to be doing good work with it.

Shawn



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Walter Soyka
Re: Noob softwares question
on Jul 28, 2011 at 8:35:59 pm

[Ian Bailey] "Personally I would use Blender, which also has AE integration"

I had a great conversation with Cory Petkovsek about Blender, C4D, and AE a few months ago in the Motion Graphics forum. Cory practically wrote an article in response to my questions. It's really in-depth collection of information and resources on Blender, and some good real-world information on its use. Here's the thread:

C4D, Blender and others [link]


Looking back at the original post, I don't think it's clear if Jordan was more interested in 3D motion graphics or traditional 3D modeling. I think C4D's Mograph module makes it the best package for 3D motion graphics, but for straight modeling and re-use of existing assets, I would look seriously at Maya, 3ds Max, and maybe Blender.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Jordan Whittacker
Re: Noob softwares question
on Jul 29, 2011 at 12:24:40 pm

How does lightwave or Cinema 4d integrate with FCPX? I like the feature in lightwave where in renders progressively immediately to preview the scene. Does Cinema 4d have similar features?


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Walter Soyka
Re: Noob softwares question
on Jul 29, 2011 at 2:01:37 pm

[Jordan Whittacker] "How does lightwave or Cinema 4d integrate with FCPX?"

There is no direct integration between any other applications and FCPX. You can render movies from your 3D apps and bring them into FCPX.

Many designers use a different workflow, though -- it's very common to render to a multipass image sequence, then composite the multipass in a tool like After Effects or Nuke. This gives you a lot more flexibility in adjusting your image outside of your 3D app, often dramatically lowering rendering time.



[Jordan Whittacker] "I like the feature in lightwave where in renders progressively immediately to preview the scene. Does Cinema 4d have similar features?"

C4D has an Interactive Render Region, but it's not comparable to LightWave's Viewport Renderer (VPR).

If you have more in-depth questions like this on C4D, you'll probably get far more comprehensive answers in the Cinema4D forum [link].

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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