Category Archives: Graphics

Personal projects and the occasional bit of commentary.

Animation Test: Kinect MoCap with After Effects

I’ve been doing a lot of work with rigging Kinect-controlled digital puppets for After Effects animation. I’m using a combination of Nick Fox-Gieg’s KinectToPin for Processing and a bunch of expressions to smooth things out and make connecting pins to their source tracks a little less painful. I’m hoping to put together a tutorial soon, but in the meantime here’s a test render of a puppet created from a very old engraving:


The Documentary Group has had several projects on the air in recent weeks:

America in Primetime is our four-part series that traces the history of television through different character archetypes. Here’s the trailer:

The entire series is now available in streaming form at, along with tons of bonus clips and material.

Angle of Attack: How Naval Aviation Changed the Face of War was released in November through American Public Television and is now available on DVD. I did some snazzy opening titles for this one that I’m pretty proud of. Check out the trailer:

And if you’re a Dish Network or DIRECTV subscriber, be sure to catch Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, airing tonight on the Documentary Channel as part of their “Best of Doc” series.

Midway Map With FX

After Effects Before & After: The importance of a lot of adjustment layers

So I’m working on some maps for a film about naval aviation, and I was struck by how far one had evolved from the starting material.

Here’s how it looks at the moment:

Here’s the underlying vector map layer:

And even that map began life as a set of even more boring public domain vectors. Everything else is AE-generated. (And yes, the size of Hawaii and Midway are exaggerated slightly for increased visibility on your television screen. Shhhh.)

Nothing is finalized yet; the map that actually ends up in the film could be more different still.

Taking the “OW!” out of Powerpoint

I do my best to never, ever have to touch Powerpoint. I managed to go more than three years at my job before I finally had to relent and install it for a particular project. I have to admit, however, that I’m vaguely fascinated by how it manages to be exactly the wrong tool for 90%+ of what it’s used for. On one hand, it forces you to oversimplify complex ideas, without giving you what you need to actually make them easier to understand. On the other, it puts very dangerous powers of Bad Animation in the hands of people who shouldn’t even be going near the text color selector.
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How to Talk to a Graphic Designer in Six Easy Steps: Part One

All design projects have different needs, and individual clients and designers are very different people and have different ways of working, thinking and talking about their work. But having a general framework for interaction can help prevent people coming across as, say, a “nightmare client” or a stubborn artist unwilling to stray from their “vision.” With permission, I’m going to use a small design project I did recently for a workshop performance of Kevin Clark‘s opera Summer’s Twilight as an example. This is a long piece, and it may sound like a complicated process, but it is far less scary and involved that it seems — the example project only took a few hours over a couple of days. Continue reading