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I hate lists of links on people's web pages - there's usually way more than I've got time to click through and never much info on why I would want to in the first place. This page is designed to be a guide to the resources that I've found useful over the years as I've learned all this digital media stuff. I've tried to make it more useful to you by (1) explaining each link and why you might find it useful, and (2) keeping it focused on the things that proved useful to me as ongoing references rather than just cool sites. This initial verison is cobbled together from the pages for a couple of different classes so I plan to change/rearrange/expand it a little in the near future.


Digital Video/Video production

Film Directing: Shot by Shot by Steven D. Katz
Broadly covers the pre-production process with an emphasis on visualizing and storyboarding your shots.
Rebel Without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez
Rodriguez's account of his experience making El Mariachi is a must read for anyone interested in making films or videos. The "mariachi" style of production is especially relevant to digital video production, which in many cases involves limited resources and small crews similar to what Rodriguez used. This book also provides an entertaining look at the inside workings of Hollywood from an outsider's view.
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After Effects and Motion Graphics

Creating Motion Graphics With After Effects, Volume 1: The Essentials; 3rd edition
by Chris & Trish Meyer
The most comprehensive and well written book on AE available - I wish I'd had this when I was learning AE. The authors have been working with AE since it was in it's first Beta, and they are probably the foremost experts on the program today. Additionally, they have been teaching it for many years, so their teaching style is refined and highly effective.

This new edition just shipped at the end of September and updates the book to cover new features in AE 6.0 and 6.5. If you are at all serious about mastering AE this book is a must-have.

Creating Motion Graphics With After Effects, Volume 2: Advanced Techniques
by Chris & Trish Meyer
Builds on the first book's knowledge with advanced techniques and more coverage of the production bundle's features. Definitely work through the whole first book before trying to move on to this one, but once you do get into this you'll be well ahead of most casual users of AE.

There's a new edition of this book coming next year so you may want to hold off on gettting this one until then...although most of the stuff in this edition is still very useful the new one should cover the new features in 6 and 6.5 as well.

After Effects in Production
by Chris & Trish Meyer
This book, by the same authors as the previous two, takes you beyond the mechanics of AE to focus on the creative workflow and process of building motion graphics. It is primarily composed of examples taken from real world projects. These projects are dissected and examined so that you can see how different artists approach commercial projects.

This is the oldest of the three books still out; there is a new edition shipping soon - thier site says end of 2004, Amazon says march 2005, so it could be anytime in the next few months. While this book focuses more on the conceptual and creative side of AE, rather than the technical stuff, the tutorials in it are geared towards AE 4.1 and 5 - a lot of new features make some of the old techniques obsolete. I'd say its' worth the wait for the next edition.

Digital Character Animation 2, Volume I: Essential Techniques
by George Maestri
This is the second edition of a book which has become a standard reference for computer animators. While it is focused primarily on animating 2D and 3D characters, many of the techniques and theories are very useful to anyone working in motion graphics. I would consider this a fairly advanced book when it comes to AE; you should have a solid understanding of how to use AE before you read it so that you can concentrate on applying the theories to your work rather than learning the program.
Digital Character Animation 2, Volume II: Advanced Techniques
by George Maestri
More advanced animation techniques, again primarily for character animation. This second volume is actually a little less focused on the 3D part and more focused on the movement and life you bring to characters - much of which can be applied to animation in AE, character or otherwise.
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Web Design

Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition
by Eric Meyer
As the name says, this is the definitive guide to using CSS to style your html. Eric Meyer is regarded as the foremost expert on CSS and seems to be constantly pushing the limits of visual layout with CSS. Assuming you have a solid knowledge of basic html I would consider this the first step to becoming a good web designer.
Designing with Web Standards
by Jeffrey Zeldman
Zeldman has been one of the most vocal proponents of moving away from the old "tag soup" method of page layout and towards using valid, semantically meaningful XHTML markup combined with CSS for layout. This book summarizes the argument and explains how and why this is a better way of doing things. Once you've made it through Eric Meyer's book and are comfortable with CSS this book will get you to the next level of CSS/XHTML integration.


DV magazine covers the digital video world in general, including motion graphics. It frequently has good articles on motion graphics as well as equipment reviews which can be helpfull if you are setting up your own system to work on. It also has technical articles which can help you understand some of the difficulties and problems which you may face in any video project. Most of their articles are online at the website, and if you work in the industry you may qualify for a free subscription. Cris & Trish Meyer, authors of three of the reccommended AE books above, are regular contributors to this magazine.
RES magazine is dedicated to "the future of filmmaking" and approaches digital video from a primarily artistic/cultural angle rather than just technical. If you are interested in independent digital filmmaking, this is the place to find out who is doing what, and how.
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Online Resources


Lighting on the Cheap by Bruce A. Johnson
A comprehensive article from DV magazine (see link above)about inexpensive lighting options for video. Most of the items described in the article can be purchased at Home Depot or a similar hardware store. Also includes estimated costs for each item.
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Web Sites

This site is an excellent resource for DV information for both beggining and advanced students. Originally focused primarily on Apple's Final Cut Pro, it has now expanded to cover digital video in general. Be sure to check out the discussion forums...they can be very good places to find answers if you have a dv-related question or problem.
This is a great resource if you are looking for more technical details about the DV format, and it also provides a great comparison between DV and other popular analog and digital video formats. His tips section also has a lot of useful tricks for getting the most out of a DV camera.
The Guide to Digital Television, third edition
A detailed and highly technical overview of digital television from both production and delivery standpoints. This is a great resource if you need specific technical information about aspects of dtv or if you are interested in more advanced elements which are not covered in this class. Available in print or online.
Internet Movie Database
The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is an excellent resource for any type of film research. It contains a vast amount of info on tens of thousands of films, and it is the best place to go when looking for information about a particular movie, director, writer or star. It is completely cross referenced as well, so you can find other works by a particular director or star.
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Stock Photos & Footage, Sound FX & Music

Getty Images
Getty Images is a huge resource for stock photography and film, with both rights-managed and royalty free material available. They provide reasonably high quality comping files for both photos and video clips (with visible watermarks) which can be usefull for experimenting with in your projects before commiting to buying the actual clips. Their prices can be high but you definitely get what you pay for with very high quality images and film. is a unique stock photo company in that you can subscribe to their entire library for anywhere for one month to one year at a time. This can be significantly less expensive than buying individual CDs or photos. Their collection is large but their search engine can be quirky (i.e. if you search for multiple terms it always includes files with either term; you can't limit it to files that match both terms). is another inexpensive option for stock photography; instead of a subscription you buy credits, and downloading each image uses more or less credits depending on the resolution you need. Individual photos run form $.50 to $1.50 depending on the resolution you need.
Find Sounds
Find Sounds is a simple search engine which lets you search the web for sound effects. It's a great resource for sounds for your projects, however some of the sounds it locates are copyrighted and shouldn't be used for commercial projects.
Flashkit is probably the best resource on the web for flash tutorials and discussion why is it here on the AE resource page? They have two libraries of sound effects and music loops which can be a good source for material for your projects. I recommend you download sounds in .aiff or .wav formats instead of mp3.
FreePlay Music
Freeplay music provides a large selection of royalty-free music in a variety of different styles. Additionally, most songs come in 10, 20, 30, 60, 90 second versions as well as a full 2-3 minute version. Use the mp3 links for previews (they'll load faster) but, again, use .wav for the final versions you plan to use.
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Bay Area Motion Graphics user group
BAMG is a user group focused on the art and tools of motion graphics, especially After Effects. They have monthly meetings which are a great way to meet and network with other artists, check out the latest software, learn some new skills and see what other people are doiong with these tools.
SF Cutters
SF Cutters was the first formal Final Cut Pro User group and exists as a resource for Final Cut Pro users in the San Francisco Bay Area. They have monthly meetings with guest speakers, industry representatives, and presentations of local editor's works.
The DV Garage
DV Garage is a company founded by a former employee of Industrial Light and Magic. His goal is to provide high quality training materials to a wider audience of students interested in visual arts. The site has an ongoing series of tutorials; many are about 3D animation but some deal with compositing (blue screen, etc) using After Effects. They also have several products which combine software and tutorials on CD or DVD-ROM so that you can get started in 3D animation and compositing.

DV garage is starting a new training program which may be of interest to you if you would like to continue learning visual effects beyond what we will cover in class. The program is called the Pixel Corps, and it is an ongoing, continuing-education program where you will work on projects in teams while you learn compositing and 3D animation. It currently costs $50 for registration and $25 a month after that, so it is probably one of the best deals around for this kind of training. You can read more about it by clicking here, and if you are interested I highly recommend attending one of their orientation sessions.

Bay Area Video Coalition
BAVC (pronounced bay-vac) is a non-profit organization providing low cost resources and training to anyone interested in video production around the bay area. They are a good place to get training for specific equipment which you wouldn't otherwise have access to, and they also have low cost rental equipment for non-commercial video production. Their online job board is a great place to find internships and paid jobs in the video field.
Film Arts Foundation Job Board
Film Arts Foundation is another non-profit organization in the bay area dedicated to the promotion of filmmaking. Their online job board is fairly active and has the added plus of being seperated into paying and non-paying job areas.
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Craigslist is an online community bulliten board for the San Francisco bay area(they have others now but it started here and SF's is the largest). While it's not specifically related to After Effects they do have tv/film/video/radio, web/info design, and art/media/print/design job sections which have new jobs posted daily and often include After Effects work.
Bay Area Video Coalition Job Board
This is just a direct link to the jobs section of the BAVC site mentioned above. Many of the jobs on here are either internships or non-paying work on independent films and videos, but that can be a great way to get started if you haven't yet built up a large portfolio of work.
Yahoo SF Business Directory: Video Production
This is a great way to find websites for production companies in the Bay area. Many of the companies who list here offer internships and may post job openings on their websites, so if you are getting ready to send your resume, website or portfolio out this is a good place to start.
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