Creating animated loops to be used for Vista DreamScene
A Brief Master Baron Autobiography
Published on February 6, 2008 By TheMasterBaron In Animated Wallpapers

Tools of the Dream Trade

Over the past year I've gotten many inquiries about what tools I use to make my dreams.  So I've finally decided to write something describing how I ended up using the tools I do and hopefully help others get started making there own creations.

The first dreams I did were done using HD video found on the internet that I simply looped.  Under Water is an example of one of my looped dreams.  Looping video dreams require you slowly fade the beginning of the video onto the end of the video or adding the reverse of the video at the end.  In both cases, the last frame of the video is also the first frame so that it loops.  While I never used Vista's Movie Maker, I believe you can do the video fade technique using it, and the best part is that it's free with Vista.  The tool that I personally would use for this, however, is Adobe's After Effects

After doing a few HD video dreams, I started using After Effects to create more abstract dreams using particles and fractal noise.  I found many tutorials for After Effects that quickly got me up to speed on using it.  My favorite being Andrew Kramer's Video Copilot tutorials.  You can do a lot with After Effects right out of the box.  I created the Apollo dream using only After Effects, and without any plug-ins.  I now use After Effects for all my video editing needs and it is by far the best tool in my arsenal.  I can do all sorts of final touchups, including color adjustments and light ray effects.  I can't say enough about how great After Effects is and how it got me interested in graphic design.

After doing a few dreams in After Effects, I decided to take a leap into the wondrous world of 3d modeling using Autodesk's 3ds Max.  At first it was a bit intimidating as there where so many more options, menus, controls and terminology.  Again, I searched the internet for tutorials and slowly pieced together my first master skin; Good Night Earth.  Having done the Earth before in my Apollo dreams, it was a great place to start.  Not to mention, the Earth is a simple 3d shape to create.

Lately, I discovered fractal flames using Apophysis and found a way to animate them (Check out my Spiral Ghost dream to see what I'm talking about).  This really caught my eye and some of the fractals (called flames) out there look amazing.  Again, I'm searching the internet again for more tutorials on creating flames.  However, as I found out, creating a cool flame doesn't always translate into cool animations.  It requires trial and error to create a flame that looks cool as a single image and also animates well.

The final tool I use and is also the final step in the dream creating process is TMPGEnc 4 XPress.  After outputting my dream video from After Effects as an uncompressed video, I use TMPGEnc 4 XPress to convert my video into a MPEG-2 video for packaging up into my .dream file using DreamMaker.  I found this tool to do a very good job at encoding once I found/understood what the options do.

Well, that about sums it up.  I hope you enjoyed this brief autobiography of the Master Baron.

Comments (Page 1)
on Feb 06, 2008
Thanks for writing this up!
on Feb 07, 2008
Thanks for the info MasterBaron.

on Feb 07, 2008
I'm the guy who way back when introduced you to 3ds on VistaDreams Glad to see I inspired a new 3d artist.

Heres my collection -

3DS Max 08 for most 3D dreams

Vue xStream for nature scenes (This is an incredible tool for nature scenes, however you need to loop them in premiere and renders take a long time even with an overclocked quad)

Premiere Pro CS3 - I use this for final touchups and looping. I prefer this to after effects. I've got AE in my Production Premium suite, and I don't know why but I've never even opened it.

Autodesk Combustion for a small selection of "after effects"

TMPG 4 - Thanks for the idea Masterbaron, it's an amazing tool for sure

Not exactly a cheap setup for the beginner (I got educational and the whole setup cost over $1000; Retail it's over $10,000) but if you really want to get into 3d/dream design, you have to get the tools if you want to succeed.
on Feb 07, 2008
I have almost nothing to add on these programs. Since I now use only 3Ds max and adobe after effects. But I started with Nusoft Nature Illusion Studio. See the Waterfall
It is a simple program (and you can try 20 or 30 days for free) Now with the release of descapes for all vistas I think we gonna see a lot of more people who wants to do this 3d stuff. This is my first 3D studio output I posted here
A cartoon/3d dream is comming.
on Feb 07, 2008
Thanks for posting this. It’s nice to know what others are using. I have tried After Effects, but found it a bit complicated for a first time user. With the links you provided for the tutorials, I think I will revisit it.
I've been using TMPGEnc 4 XPress and Vista Ultimate's Movie Maker. I find that Movie Maker drops the quality too much for my taste so hopefully I will find After Effects more to my liking.
I've been creating these for about a year now and when the DeskScapes 2.0 beta was released, I figured the time was right to share some and see how well everyone liked them. To be frank, I never thought they were that great and was quite surprised that they went over as well as they did.
on Feb 07, 2008
Thanks much for the info Baron me and my hubby find this very interesting. I have been curious about dreams and been pondering delving into making my own dreams. This is a big help and again its much appreciated.

Thanks and further, Your Dreams are Great I think I have downloaded all of them


on Feb 07, 2008
Some handy info here...thanks guys.  
on Feb 20, 2008
Hi MasterBaron. I dropped you an email re TMPGEnc settings, but to be honest, I wouldn't mind also knowing what settings you used when a) creating your comp in AE (dimensions), framerates and output format, along with the settings you used in TMPGEnc to get a reasonable balance between quality and resolution in MPG2 format (I'm just getting fairly poor quality letterboxed movies at the moment!)

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,

on Feb 20, 2008
I'm at work right now, but I'll post the results here when I gather up all the info tonight.
on Feb 20, 2008
That would be really great! Thank you.
on Feb 20, 2008
For my composition in After Effects, I use 1792x1120 square pixels. For the FPS, I use 25 for slow moving dreams, and 30 for fast ones. Never use your encoder to change the FPS! After Effects has a "Pixel Motion" "Frame Blending" mode that will do a much better job at adjusting frame rate than an encoder. Just enable it on the layers and the composition. I then render an uncompressed AVI.

For TMPGEnc, I use 1792x1120 at first. If I can't get a reasonable file size and good quality, I will switch to 1152x720. Use MPEG-2 with MP@HL and 1:1 pixel ration with the FPS set to the same rate as the AVI. Next, set your Max bitrate to 20000Kb/s and minimum to 2000. I then use the VBR(Average Bitrate). By using the settings button, you can specify the file size. You'll have to do a few dreams to get good at guessing a good file size. The reason I use this one is that I've found that I can get better quality with smaller file sizes using this instead of VBR(Constant Quality).

Hope this helps!
Master Baron
on Feb 21, 2008
I'll be trying that out today. Thanks.
on Nov 20, 2009

thx for some great info

on Nov 20, 2009

A program for making animated videos from static images is ArtStudio from Corner-a, check out the video of a bird made from a single shot - it is incredible.

on Nov 20, 2009

A program for making animated videos from static images is ArtStudio from Corner-a, check out the video of a bird made from a single shot - it is incredible.

very nice indeed thx m8