Motion Graphics

Create a Simple Demo Reel from Stills

By 2D, After Effects, Motion Graphics
  • Go to AE > Composition > New Composition, use the Preset HDTV 1080 24
  • You can switch the timecode unit between seconds and frames by ctrl (WIN) or cmd (MAC) – clicking on the timecode
  • At > After Effects CC > Preferences > Import you can change the default length of the Still Footage before import
  • Import your videos and still footage, drag it into the composition
  • To automatically distribute the layers, select them beginning at the bottom and then hit > Animation > Keyframe Assistant > Sequence Layers, manually cut or stretch the duration of the footage, use the shift key to snap elements
  • Manually adjust the position, scale or rotation of your footage by dragging it in the composition window. To change the transformation values of your layers numerically select the layer, hit P for position, S for scale, R for rotation, T for transparency or click on the little triangle before the layer number and drag the values left or right
  • To make your layers fade in and out select them, go to the Effects & Presets panel and open > * Animation Presets > Behaviors and double click on Fade In+Out – frames (or – msec if you prefer to work with seconds).
  • In the Effect Controls panel you can change the Fade In and Out Duration manually. If you want to apply this customized duration also to other layers select the modified Fade In+Out effect together with the Solid Composite effect in the Effect Controls panel, then go to the Effects & Presets Panel, from the Options Menu select > Save Animation Preset, specify a name and save the .ffx file. For the animation preset to appear in the Effects & Presets panel, it must be saved in the Presets folder. Animation presets that you create are saved by default in the Presets folder located in My Documents\Adobe\After Effects CC (Windows) or Documents/Adobe/After Effects CC (Mac OS).
  • Once you are finished with editing, with the Composition selected hit > Composition > Add to Adobe Media Encoder Queue, apply a preset there like Match Source – High or Medium bitrate and hit the Start button.

Create a Simple Terrain and Distribute Objects with MASH

By Maya, Motion Graphics

Since Maya 2016 Extension 2 the MASH plugin is included, which is an excellent tool for all kinds of motion graphics tasks. In this short tutorial we will use it for the controlled distribution of different objects across a hilly ground. In Maya > Settings / Preferences > Plug-in Manager make sure that the MASH.mll is loaded.

For the terrain we will use free available height maps. Go to the website select a region you like, export the tile and copy the files to your sourceimages folder.


In Maya create a Poly Plane, make it 50×50 and subdivide it by 100×100. With the plane selected go to > Deform > Texture.


In the Texture Deformer Attributes connect the downloaded height map to the Texture slot with a file node. With the Strength slider you can increase the height of the deformation.


To eliminate glitches at the edge apply UV > Planar > (Options) > Project from Y axis. With the handles the placement of the terrain texture can be adjusted.


Now let’s Create > Empty Group several times and rename the null objects in the Outliner. They will serve as our pivot points. Create some different poly shapes and drag them with MMB into the null objects. Make sure that the y-origin of the objects is at zero, otherwise they will be positioned below the ground. With the Control Key select just the parent nulls. In the top right corner of the Maya interface choose from the Workspace dropdown menu MASH. From the now available MASH menu choose > MASH > Create MASH Network > Options. At Geometry Type are two options. With “Instancer” MASH creates instances of the input geometry tending to solve faster. The default “Mesh” option is more versatile and for now we go with that option.


Our input objects turn invisible and we see one input object copied linear. Now select the MASH object in the Outliner and in the Attribute Editor you can see several new tabs. When you go to the MASH Repro tab you can see that the previously selected objects are now part of the MASH network. MMB dragging additional objects from the Outliner into the Objects list would add them to the MASH network.


Now go to the MASH Distribute tab and expand the Mesh Settings options. MMB drag the terrain to the Input Mesh field. The Distribution Type automatically changes to “Mesh” and we get a “MASH: Connected: ….)” feedback in the viewport.


By increasing the Number of Points we can already see the distributed objects on the terrain. By default the copies are oriented along the terrain’s surface normal. To plant them upright untick “Calculate Rotation”.


We still see only one object replicated. To make all different types visible we go to the MASH main tab (the “Waiter”) and Add Node > ID > Add to ID.


Now all Objects are included.


Let’s modify the distribution of the trees, they should mainly grow in the valleys. Create another Poly Plane of the same size and 10×10 Subdivisions, place it beside the terrain. Assign a new Lambert material. Connect the map we used for the terrain to the Color channel. Switch on “Textured” in the viewport.


Open the Hypershade window. MMB drag the second texture file to the graph editor. Search for the Remap Color node and MMB drag it aslo there. Connect the Out Color of the file node with the In Color of the Remap Color node. With the Remap Color node selected change the Output Min to 1 and Output Max to 0 at the Input and Otput Ranges section. This simply inverts the image.


Go to the MASH Waiter and add a Visibility node.


In the Outliner > Display untick “DAG Objects Only” to make all nodes visible.


Now MMB drag the remapColor node from the Outliner to the Strength Map field of the MASH Visibility node. Alternatively you can also MMB grab the node directly from the Hypershade window.


When we increase the Number of Points in the MASH Distribute node it becomes obvious that the distribution of our trees is controlled by the darker areas of the texture file.


To add some finesse we can also control the scale of our trees. In the Hypershade window add a Color Correct node, attach its color input to the Remap Color output and lower the Gamma values to increase the contrast.


Select the MASH object in the Outliner, switch to the MASH Distribute tab and MMB drag the Color Correct node from the Outliner or the Hypershade window to the Strength Map slot. Make a tick at Scale and adjust the Strength.


Voilà. Instead of the height map you could use any kind of texture to control the scattering.



By Assets, Cinema 4D, Houdini, Motion Graphics

Retopologized Scans

Spaghetti Simulator


Based on the worm simulation by Matt Estela. Digital asset with commented Cinema 4D file here.

Note: Houdini “.otl” and “.hda” are digital assets and can be loaded in Maya, Cinema 4D, UE, Unity with the free Houdini Engine plugin.

Octopus Tentacle

Procedural modeling rig. Houdini .hip file here. Inspired by Mehdi Salehi’s tutorial.

Newtons Cradle


Setup with bullet physics in C4D. Project file here.

Soft / Rigid Body Simulation Including Keyframe Animated Objects in Maya

By Maya, Motion Graphics, Simulation

In this tutorial you can learn how to simulate interactions between soft and rigid objects and how to include keyframe animated elements in the simulation.

We will use the Bullet engine which is in most cases faster than Maya’s nDynamics engine. It ships with the Maya 2017 installation. To activate Bullet, go to > Windows > Settings / Preferences > Plug-in Manager and at “bullet.mll” make both ticks.

If you like to work in a visually pleasing environment it is recommended to set up your lighting and Viewport 2.0 as described in this tutorial.

Start with a groundplane > Create > Polygon Primitives > Plane and scale it. Bring in the first collision object with > Create > Polygon Primitives > Cube and RMB >Assign New Material. Move it up. Switch the UI mode to “FX” and you should now have Bullet in Maya’s menu.


To start with the Bullet simulation select the cube and > Bullet > Active Rigid Body.


Press Play and the Cube falls through the ground. To include the groundplane in the simulation select it and > Bullet > Passive Rigid Body. Now the cube should stop on the ground. You can rotate the cube at it’s initial position to make the collision more interesting. Before you make changes in your scene always go back to Frame 1 with the |<< button at the playbar. If your simulations runs too fast go to > Windows > Settings / Preferences > Preferences > Time Slider or click on the gear icon below the playbar. Change the Max Playback Speed to Real-time.


Now let’s add a sphere and make it soft. Soft body simulations calculate bending and stretching between polygons and the default sphere’s different polygon sizes delivers not the best topology here. Instead > Create > Polygon Primitives > Cube, hit “3” key and then > Modify > Convert > Smooth Mesh Preview to Polygons. Alternatively the Soccer Ball and the Platonic Polygon Primitives have also a good polygon layout.


Increase the subdivision by repeating the last steps: hit “3” key again and > Modify > Convert > Smooth Mesh Preview to Polygons. Now add the rounded cube to the simulation with > Bullet > Soft Body.


When you now hit play the objects interact with each other. In the Attribute Editor at the bulletSoftBodyShape you can tweak the softness and interaction details. It is recommended to switch on Generate Bend Constraints and Enable Shape and Volume Matching. By increasing the Pressure the shape becomes more stable.


If your soft body slips through the ground, select the bulletSolver object in the Outliner and in the Attribute Editor under Solver Properties activate Ground Plane. If that doesn’t help increase the Internal Fixed Frame Rate to 120 Hz.


Now > Create > Polygon Primitives > Pyramid to bring in the third object. To move objects in other directions than downwards following gravity, you can give rigid bodies an initial velocity. In the Attribute Editor > BulletRigidBodyShape > Initial Conditions you could add Initial Velocity in x direction and let it rotate around z axis for instance by changing the values there.


If you want to have more control over the animation it is also possible to mix keyframed objects with the simulation. The important thing is, that you turn the pyramid into a rigid body before adding keframes. Select the pyramid and > Bullet > Active Rigid Body. Then you can animate it. Go to Frame 1, place the pyramid at the desired position, hit “S” key, go to the next position in the timeline, move the object, hit “S” key and so on. With the pyramid selected then go to the > Attribute Editor > bulletRigidBodyShape tab and switch Body Type to Kinematic RigidBody. This tells the Bullet engine that the pyramid comes with it’s own animation. The Collider Shape Type needs to be set to “hull”, otherwise the Bullet engine would internally work with the default simplified box shape representation. With “Collider Shape Margin” you can adjust the padding around the shape.


When you go back |<< and press play all objects should now interact with each other.


If you want to have more granular control over the simulation especially with soft bodies or if you like to apply different force fields you can alternatively simulate with Maya’s nDynamics engine. It is slower than the Bullet engine but can be more precise. The handling is similar like with Bullet, you find the tools in the FX interface under the nCloth and Field/Solvers menu.