After Effects Tutorial: Creating a fluttering 3D leaf with Zaxwerks 3D Warps Plug-In

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In this After Effects tutorial I’ll show you how to make a fluttering 3D leaf effect using Zaxwerks 3D Warps plug-in. I’ll show you several tips to speed up your workflow and quicken rendering and previews with the 3D Warps plug-in. I use particles and other built-in AE effects to create a realistic scene from a still image. And I also take a look at refining motion paths with After Effects graph editor to create smooth organic motion. All this, and more in this action packed tutorial!

Getting the most out of those fancy-schmancy online tutorials

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Isn’t it annoying these days that there seems to be a new “how to” or “tutorial” blog about the video industry popping up every other day? Places like SuiteTake.com, those guys think they know everything and are the Steve Jobs’ gift to mankind…oh wait….

But seriously, these days there are a ton of free and very useful sites out there that offer a wealth of education about all things audio and video. And ok, I’ll admit that here at SuiteTake there are a few things we don’t know. (One writer, who shall remain unidentified for now, was railed by readers for not knowing what the “extend edit” button does, sheesh.) Whenever we have some down time here at SuiteTake worldwide headquarters I always cruise the tutorial sites looking for new ideas and techniques. But, it’s one thing to watch a tutorial and just think to yourself “wow, that was cool. I should try that sometime.” and another to actually advance you skill-set and knowledge through the tutorial. Here are a few things I do when watching or reading tutorials to get the most out of them.

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The Manual Duck

Ahhh the age old struggle between Final Cut Pro and After Effects. For what seems like centuries now us Final Cut Pro editors have been struggling with finding an efficient and, moreover, convenient workflow between FCP and After Effects. Sure, products like Livetype and Motion have come along and made life easier for some tasks but when it comes down to real motion graphics work and serious compositing nothing beats After Effects. Have you ever put Motion’s Primatte RT side by side with a key pulled from After Effects Keylight? To me there’s no comparison.

Coming from an editor’s chair, not a designer’s, it took me a while to really get up to speed with After Effects. In the past I was using AE infrequently for several reasons: 1. I didn’t know the interface and key commands well, 2. I didn’t know the software’s capabilities well, 3. I was intimidated by the rigid workflow between FCP and AE. All these factors equaled inefficent workflow and so I just usually opted not to use AE in favor of a faster and more flexible option like Livetype or Motion.

However, in the past year the work we have been doing has called more and more for serious graphics design and compositing, Livetype and Motion were simply not going to cut it. So I buckled down and really learned the After Effects interface, key commands and it’s capabilities. Through that hard work I quickly became much more efficent with AE and started creating some really cool stuff. But all this new-found efficency with AE itself still did nothing to help with a round-trip workflow to and from FCP. And if we can assume anything about Apple and Adobe there will probably never be an intergrated roundtrip solution between the two.

Read moreThe Manual Duck