If you are building a CGI scene in Cinema 4D or other programs, to composite into a real life scene, then you are going to need an HDRI image. An HDRI image can be used  in your CGI program to allow you to have light and reflection of the real life scene which is very important in making your composite realistic. An HDRI image is a full 360 panoramic shot of the area of the scene that you are compositing, most well done HDRI shot are done with very expensive camera, but it may be hard to tell that you used a $1 iPhone app for your HDRI image if you do it right. I was going to explain the technique I used but as I was browsing the internet I found that on GreyScaleGorilla’s website there was already a detailed tutorial on how to do this. So instead of just re-doing an already explained technique here is the link 360 Panorama HDRI.

I’m sure if you’ve made a couple projects in After Effects (AE) you’ve used Photoshop to edit an image to be used in your AE project. What I think a lot of people don’t think of is creating an image in AE for Photoshop. With all the tools AE has, if you’re looking to create a mind blowing image and you’re stuck, why not turn to AE and create something to add onto your current Photoshop project. I’ve always thought about doing something like this and I just so happen to glance at Video Copilot’s web site today and saw an article about this exact topic. Also Video Copilot has made a plugin that makes it extremely simple to take a frame from AE into Photoshop. Link for plugin COPY and PASTE. It copies the frame to your clipboard so you can paste it into Photoshop. This is the Video Copilots ARTICLE.

RSS feed have saved me so much hassle checking different websites everyday for new content. If I like what a website is posting then I add it to my RSS feed, this way I will know when there is a new post and I won’t waste my time checking the website when there isn’t a new post. What I use is a RSS reader called RSS Menu found in the apps store or here http://edotstudios.com/products/9. This allows you to see directly on your desktop if your favorite websites have posted something new. I thought I would also share the current feed I have, google the names most have pretty interesting stuff to glance over. (I normally follow a new website every week.)

Investing in studio monitors is a good idea when it comes to mixing and mastering your sound. The biggest problem with using any speaker set while mixing sound, even fancy Bose speakers, is these commercial speakers aren’t made with a flat EQ  and all have different factory settings. When mixing your audio on regular speakers your mix will be made for those speakers, so if you have a sub and lot of bass and someone listens to the mix on their speakers without a sub it will sound very high pitched . The mix will sound high pitched because the audio was mixed with bassy speakers and you would have reduced the bass too much since the speakers added their own bass.

What Studio Monitors are made to do is give your the most neutral sound possible so that when you mix your audio it will be best suited for all speakers types and you won’t have to worry as much that it won’t sound right on different speakers. It is always a good idea to listen to you final mix on several different system like headphones, car speakers, etc… so you can get an idea of the audio in different environments.

Here is a great, short to the point video on the debate on curves vs levels, and how you can get a lot more control on your color correction using curves. Not saying it’s bad to use levels because I know there is a hand full of people still using levels, but this might change your mind if your thinking of making the switch to Curves.

Technically cross processing is an effect done with certain chemicals while developing old school film, but as always it can be recreated digitally pretty easily. Using a Curves adjustment change the red and green channels to an S-shape curve, while changing the  blue channel to a reversed S-shape, better explained here Cross Process. While doing some research  I really liked the “Cross Process” effect with something called, “high clarity”,  I found here High Clarity. Don’t follow these exactly, you will need to vary the setting based on the photo you are using, due to different colors, and overall lighting.

After I put these two together I got something I thought look pretty good.

I also found a free download called “light leaks” – light leaks – that are some pretty cool stock images that you can screen over photos. Something I tried quickly –

After you get your animation/movie/video rendered and touched up normally your going to want to add sound. A lot of animations use a song or soundtrack now days and don’t add sound FXs. Adding sound FXs can be an annoying task after you’ve just spent 5+ hours creating an animation but it is well worth it to put a little time into adding sound FX. One simple edit that goes a long way is audio panning (shifting the audio more to the left or right channel instead of keeping it centered). Most programs now days will let you do surround 5.1 speaker panning too. What this means is if you have something break on the right side of your animation, pan a “breaking” sound a little bit to the right speaker instead of just having the sound play evenly out both speakers. This will create a much more realistic feel as the sounds are heard more like they would be in real life.

Here is an amazing example of what you can do with audio panning. (You have to close your eyes and use headphones for this to work.)