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Pushing the limits of cheap software

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Todd TerryPushing the limits of cheap software
by on Nov 2, 2009 at 4:55:08 pm

Hey gang...

As business people, seems we are often having to pour money on problems to find solutions, or to do something bigger or better or greater.

I wanted to take a sec though to brag on some some ultra-low-end software... the very ancient and so-easy-a-child-could-do-it Crytal Flying Fonts (which later became Crystal Impact).

Crystal Flying Fonts was briefly mentioned in this forum a few months ago.

This program came free with my first NLE about 12+ years ago, and I still use it today for simple 3D animation (type, simple logos, etc).

Last week we had a shoot rained out, so I was tinkering around and decided to push the limits of what CFF can do. I decided to create a new piece of logo animation for ourselves, as we didn't have a high-def countdown (have been using an upscaled SD version that was created years ago).

I thought I'd try to create an old weathered flickering neon and sheetmetal sign rotating and turning on. I'm no 3D artist by any stretch (or even a regular artist of any type), but have to say I'm pretty pleased with the results... It's not photo-realistic by any means, but not bad... especially when you consider it didn't take long to do and used (at least primarily) sub-$100 software. This sample is farily low-res, of course, and doesn't really show off well all the bits and pieces and the textures of the peeling paint, etc., but the original was created at 4K resolution at 24fps.





Just thought I'd share, and remind everyone (including myself) that not everything requires buckets of money.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Ron LindeboomRe: Pushing the limits of cheap software
by on Nov 2, 2009 at 4:58:30 pm

Nice work, Todd.

Simple, well-lit, and effective.

Has a nice feel to it.

Ron Lindeboom


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Mike CohenRe: Pushing the limits of cheap software
by on Nov 2, 2009 at 5:07:14 pm

Nice.

I remember using Crystal 3D fonts on our Quadra 650 or some such ting. Also had something like that on the in:Sync Speed Razor system. That Pentium1 133mhz machine could do a lot if you were real nice to it and bought it flowers.

On occasion I use a freeware called Anim8or - you can import 3Ds models or create your own. Simple to use especially for 3D extruded text. Will render an alpha channel. I mostly use this for animating free Star Wars models, but have used it in a few projects. Sometimes simple is just what you need.

Blender takes a bit more time to learn, but we have used that for 3D text also.

Mike


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Jason JenkinsRe: Pushing the limits of cheap software
by on Nov 2, 2009 at 5:40:13 pm

[Mike Cohen] "Also had something like that on the in:Sync Speed Razor system."

Sweet, another Speed Razor user! I thought it was some great software. I still miss some of its features. Running it on Windows NT... that's a whole different story.

Jason Jenkins

Flowmotion Media

Video production... with style!


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Mike CohenRe: Pushing the limits of cheap software
by on Nov 2, 2009 at 9:46:06 pm

[Jason Jenkins] "Sweet, another Speed Razor user! I thought it was some great software. I still miss some of its features. Running it on Windows NT... that's a whole different story.

Jason Jenkins"


Yep, we evaluated the Radius Telecaster and the SpeedRazor system. While the Telecaster was hardware supported Premiere v. 2.0 perhaps, the SpeedRazor used a Targa 2000. Built-in Dolby surround encoding and a pretty robust feature set for 1996 made this too good to be true. Alas, even with RAID storage the data rates were still too high for 1996 Windows technology. But it was great for CD-ROM level video export (Cinepak or Indeo). And it doubled as a still store for the online bay until we got a proper Media 100 a few years later.

Ok kids, that's your ancient technology discussion for today. Please join us next week as we describe D2 pre-read technology and we see live video of the self-threading 1" machine!

Oh the good old days.

Mike Cohen


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Jason JenkinsRe: Pushing the limits of cheap software
by on Nov 2, 2009 at 5:36:04 pm

I like it!

Jason Jenkins

Flowmotion Media

Video production... with style!


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Andrew KimeryRe: Pushing the limits of cheap software
by on Nov 2, 2009 at 7:50:25 pm

As much as talk about the latest and greatest hardware and software it's nice to be reminded every now and again that it's not the tool but the person wielding it.


-Andrew

3.2GHz 8-core, FCP 6.0.4, 10.5.5
Blackmagic Multibridge Eclipse (6.8.1)



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David Roth WeissRe: Pushing the limits of cheap software
by on Nov 2, 2009 at 8:03:08 pm

[Todd Terry] "I wanted to take a sec though to brag on some some ultra-low-end software... the very ancient and so-easy-a-child-could-do-it Crytal Flying Fonts (which later became Crystal Impact). "

I mentioned a while back that I used 3D Impact Pro, reviewed it for Post Magazine, and I included a 3D award I created ten or twelve years ago.

Unfortunately, when I tried to load 3D Impact Pro on the top of the line Windows machine I had here for testing, it would not load under Vista-64. That was a bummer...

Now, for the first time in my life, I have no Windows machines at all. It's a bit scary. In any case, I miss my Crystal Graphics apps.

And, your new signage looks great Todd. It took forever to be able to see it however. Servers seems to be slow all over today...

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Todd TerryRe: Pushing the limits of cheap software
by on Nov 2, 2009 at 8:27:06 pm

Yeah, David... I don't think it will work with 64-bit machines. I was in an older 32-bit suite. I haven't had the heart to try to load it in our newest suite, because I'm pretty sure it will not work on a 64-bit machine.

For the sake of clarity, I should probably confess that wasn't all 100% in Crystal Flying Fonts, obviously. The pieces where imported into CFF as outlines created in Adobe Illustrator. The surface textures of the pole were from a digital camera, I walked outside and took a snapshot of a metal power pole. For the weathered painted surfaces of the sign I drybrushed paint onto pieces of foamcore and scanned them and mapped those images onto the model. The typography and rivets were added to the maps in Photoshop, just to cut down on the number of physical elements within the 3D model. And then the whole thing was composited in Premiere CS3, since there were actually about a dozen different renders that were layered together (some with no lights, some with lights, some with the neon tubes dark, some with the neon tubes just as masks, etc). But all of the model-building and animation was done in CFF.

We farm out all of our "real" 3D animation since that's not at all what we do... but that was fun to do just for yuks.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Micah McDowellRe: Pushing the limits of cheap software
by on Nov 2, 2009 at 10:14:16 pm

That looks great... really, great work can be done with just about anything if you've got the time and skill.

When I need simple 3D elements and text like that, I use Blender. It doesn't get much cheaper than free.


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Roy SchneiderRe: Pushing the limits of cheap software
by on Nov 2, 2009 at 11:07:30 pm

It's the talent not the technology!!! One of the best editing jobs I have ever seen was done by a kid using 2 vhs machines and an rm-440. He was entering some MTV contest created one of the most fasinating pieces of work I have ever see. Anyone can run software few can truly edit.
Roy

Roy Schneider
Long Live Da Cow!


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grinner hesterRe: Pushing the limits of cheap software
by on Nov 3, 2009 at 5:07:05 am

nicely done, sir.
To this day, I still grab good ole Elastic Reality for cool custom transition elements.
It's dawning on me that I started on After Effects when it was made by CoSa. lol
flashback. That's when rendering waited for friday evening. Remember strata studio pro?
or the first version of Lightwave that came with the toaster?




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Mark SuszkoRe: Pushing the limits of cheap software
by on Nov 3, 2009 at 3:31:06 pm

We had Crystal 3D Impact Pro bundled with our Discreet Edit* system and it was one of my favorite toys. Does way more than just flying type, and dirt-simple to use. Basically it was TOPAS, which I had been sgtruggling to learn, with keyframing removed and replaced with canned moves. And while those canned moves were limiting, you could group and stack them to make more complex moves.

When my boys came to visit me at work, they would use the freehand drawing tool, extrusion and grouping functions to build massive galactic star cruisers and killer robots in this program. It was as easy to use as Windows Paint. I often used to it extrude 3-d logos out of a simple business card from a client. One time I built animated prescription pill bottles full of actual individual pills and labels, all out of variations on one single circle, and made a snorkle-type micro dolly move thru my still life composition with an animated camera, all in about an hour, something that would have taken me a week with my sketchy Lightwave skills.

If there wasa way to keep this program alive I would buy a second copy for home use just for fun.

Maybe the successor to Crystal 3-D Impact Pro in the 64-bit world is Zaxwerks, I have only seen online demos but it seems to have a lot of the same feel to it.


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jeff dobrowRe: Pushing the limits of cheap software
by on Nov 4, 2009 at 3:26:25 pm

ah,...Topaz, Tips and Rio....single framing to 3/4 via a BCD-2000 frame controller..........man, what a trip.



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Jeff BonanoRe: Pushing the limits of cheap software
by on Nov 6, 2009 at 6:26:38 pm

I like it a lot!

As far as the conversation about it's not technology, it's the people who create it. I just have to mention that my first ever attempt at post production was with Two old VCRs (one made such a loud grinding noise you had to crank up the volume knob on the push button TV I had to hear the audio), a cassette tape deck for music, a bunch of cables, and for titles and such I used the classic Super Nintendo Mario Paint that I borrowed from my little brother! No one could figure out how I managed to put it all together considering I had no access to any video editing equipment. It was that setup that got me hooked into video production in the first place.

Jeff Bonano
http://www.bonanoproductions.com

"I want to have a cool quote at the bottom of my signature, just like everyone else on the cow forum!" -Jeff Bonano


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