Back to Blog

Your CoPilot Has Arrived: Andrew Kramer

By Joey Korenman

For the 100th episode of the podcast, we turned to the person that started the fire. You may think you know him pretty well, but this MoGraph pioneer still has so much to teach us

One hundred podcast episodes. It's a nice number. A round number. We're not surprised to be here—if there is one thing we've said time and time again, you can finish anything if you stick to it. It's more that we are grateful to have arrived. We are grateful for your patience, your attention, and your support. Just as we are very grateful to our guest: Andrew Kramer.
AK_Podcast-Article.jpg
Andrew is most well-known as the creator of Video Copilot. As "The After Effects Guru," he created over 160 tutorials aimed at Motion Designers, VFX artists, and anyone interested in the emerging power of Adobe's creative suite. Andrew focused on high production value and simple, clear instructions so that anyone could use his videos to learn.
You could say we took a few notes from his book when building our own courses.
Andrew isn't just a great teacher. He's also a legendary motion designer and VFX wizard. He's behind the titles of hit TV and Film such as Fringe and Star Trek. If you watch anything he's done, you'll immediately get a sense of his passion for this art.
But despite his status in the industry, Andrew is a humble and genuine person. Listen to him talk for five minutes and you instantly understand why his tutorials made such an impact within the community. Andrew isn't just putting himself out there for fame or fortune. He honestly wants to help people achieve more and do amazing things. In this interview we learn about his childhood, his early days as a freelancer, and how he balances his VFX work with running Video CoPilot. Along the way, we reveal a little family history, and share in the pure joy that is Motion Design.
Thank you all for supporting us at SOM, and for helping build a community that continues to grow around the world. Now make sure your tray table is stowed and your seat-back is in the upright and locked position. Your CoPilot is taking control of the craft.

Your CoPilot Has Arrived: Andrew Kramer

Show Notes

Artists

Studios

Pieces

Resources

Transcript

Joey Korenman:
Let me get real here for a minute. This is episode 100 of the School of Motion podcast. It's been a wild ride. As cliche as it sounds, when School of Motion started, I really never thought that one day we would have a podcast or that I'd be able to meet some of the most talented and cool people in the industry. And that we'd get to episode 100? Kind of a crazy milestone. So, I wanted to just take a few seconds to thank you so, so much for listening in. If this is the first episode you've ever listened to, welcome. If it's your 100th, I owe you a big hug and I feel truly lucky to be able to climb into the holes in the side of your head known as ears, and to hopefully spread my addiction and joy for motion design.
Joey Korenman:
Now, I thought long and hard about who we should ask to be the 100th guest and I figured we should go ahead and bring on the guy that's inspired more people to open After Effects than anyone in the world. He's been an influence and a mentor for probably millions of artists at this point, myself included. He's worked on some of the biggest movies ever, he's got JJ Abrams on speed dial and he runs a very successful software company, Video Copilot. So, without further ado, give it up for Andrew Kramer.
Joey Korenman:
So you're Andrew Kramer and you're on the podcast. Dude, it's really awesome, seriously. It's an honor to have you on. Thank you so much for coming on to episode 100. It's a big deal. For me, it's a big deal for our team and I can't wait to just ask you all of these questions that I came up with while cyberstalking you.
Andrew Kramer:
Oh, these are my favorite questions.
Joey Korenman:
I thought they would be.
Andrew Kramer:
Well, first of all, Joey, congrats to you, man. Hundred episodes, you're doing some awesome stuff with School of Motion so hey, let's keep it going.
Joey Korenman:
Well listen, they say steal from the best, and I didn't know who the best was, but I did steal from you and I thank you for being an inspiration and all those things. And listen, there's going to be a lot of smoke blown up your ass in this interview so I think I could stop there. When I was kind of prepping for this, I tried to find every interview and every speech that is available of you publicly.
Andrew Kramer:
Oh no.
Joey Korenman:
Because you've done... Yeah. Yeah, I did find that one. But anyway, you're a known quantity in this industry and what's always fascinated me is how amazing of a job you've done at sort of cultivating the Video Copilot brand and cultivating your own sort of personal brand, but I've always wanted to know about you, the person behind the construct known as Andrew Kramer. One of the most interesting things I found in my research... And I think this is right. Maybe it's not, but apparently your dad is in the Fishing Hall of Fame. Is that accurate?
Andrew Kramer:
Yes, that is true.
Joey Korenman:
Wow.
Andrew Kramer:
The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.
Joey Korenman:
Okay. So if it's all right, because the only... When I think of a fisherman... My father was not a fisherman... but I think of the dad from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs who runs the bait shop. What was your dad like? Was he like that? Was he a really... That's all he cared about, was fishing and he's in the boat every day or was that just a small piece of him? I kind of want to get to know a little bit about your upbringing.
Andrew Kramer:
Sure. My dad is a pretty jovial guy and as far as fishing, he was a sports fishing writer. He would do articles and information about fishing and bass fishing and local lakes and reports and stuff like that. There was a local California fishing magazine that he wrote for. Part of his job was that he got involved with fishing as much as he got involved with writing. I remember as a kid, I thought this was the greatest thing. I'm like, "My dad loves fishing and he writes about fishing. This is the greatest. He's figured it out."
Andrew Kramer:
He taught me a lot of... We got up early. We'd go fishing. With my brothers, we'd go walk down to the lake or we'd figure that... We'd figure out how much we really liked fishing. I think I appreciate it a lot more as an adult when I get a chance to go out with him. Fishing is one of those things. You got to have a lot of patients. There's a lot of very technical things that you have to do carefully and then, of course, everybody has specific tricks and ways they do it.
Andrew Kramer:
It was just kind of cool to see my dad get some of the recognition for the stuff that he does with bass fishing and writing. Here's a quick story. I went fishing. Which podcast are we on? Are we on the bass fishing California podcast? All right, [crosstalk 00:06:40].
Joey Korenman:
We're going to rebrand after this.
Andrew Kramer:
Good. But I went camping one time when I was in my 20s and I went to this Lake and... I think it was Lake Cachuma and I was like, "Oh yeah," and I was talking about my dad. "Oh yeah, my dad, he did a fish thing." The guy that ran the thing, he's like, "Hey, your dad's George?" And I was like, "Yeah." And he's like, "Oh yeah, we love George. He..." and then they gave us a free boat to go out on the lake and it was like, "Oh man, this guy's got some pull."
Joey Korenman:
Okay, we're going to come back to this because you sort of, in some circles, had a famous dad. This is really, really interesting. You could even say... I mean, it's a big stretch. I'm going to take some liberties here. But your dad made fishing tutorials. We could say that. Maybe that's going too far. I imagine he really enjoyed fishing if he was writing about it and doing a lot of it. And I'm curious, because you have sort of found a way to make a living doing a thing you love, and a lot of artists I find grow up in families where their parents really encourage that because art is typically... I mean, it's different now, but it used to not really be seen as a way to make money, to make a living, anyway.
Joey Korenman:
Because your dad was sort of writing about fishing and doing fishing, was that sort of a lesson that you were being taught like, "Okay, I can do something I enjoy and make a living," or was that just kind of like a coincidence that he ended up doing that?
Andrew Kramer:
Well, I would say in retrospect, I think seeing that he had somewhat of an unconventional job made me sort of see the world in a little bit more shades of gray, and so it probably gave me a sense that there were other jobs to have than your sort of typical things you might hear about when you're a kid and that definitely made me be looking around for opportunities.
Andrew Kramer:
But as I got into it, I never really thought about, "Ooh, I want to do art," or "I want to do..." I guess, in a way, I was always more kind of into engineering and building stuff so for me, the filmmaking side, the sort of production side, the tricks, the ways that you achieve a shot, that was always so fascinating to me.
Andrew Kramer:
As we sort of evolve into sort of the digital age where cameras and computers would be doing editing and graphics and all of these things sort of merged together, I sort of found myself in this space where this sort of growing industry was beginning to sort of evolve online and all these different places. I don't know that it directly made me think, "Okay," but it for sure gave me a sense that like, "Hey, there's other things to do, and especially if you're passionate about them, there's opportunities."
Joey Korenman:
Right. Yeah, I think that's really cool that you had sort of a model of that, that you don't just have to do one of 12 things that is guaranteed to make a living, be a lawyer or a doctor, that sort of thing. And I find that a lot with people in this industry that they either had parents that encourage them, "No, go and draw," and like, "I know you'll be fine somehow," or, on the other hand, they had parents that thought you're going to be poor, "Don't do this."
Joey Korenman:
I mean, you just kind of mentioned getting into the whole idea of filmmaking and making things. Do you remember what was kind of the gateway drug? Did you see a movie? Was there a shot that you remember where you're like, "Okay, I need to figure out how to do this"?
Andrew Kramer:
I can't think of an exact moment, but I do remember when I was probably like eight or nine years old, there was this thing called the Tyco Video Camera, which was this crappy black and white video camera that you had to hook up to your VCR and it would record I think like 120p. I don't know how to describe the resolution. It was really bad.
Andrew Kramer:
But, I just thought the idea of having a video camera, of being able to sort of capture a movie or a scene or create something... I always loved movies and wanting to make them. I didn't know how to make them. But when I got this camera, I started doing some really crappy visual effects like you walk into one door and you cut the camera and you come out of the other door or little split screen effects and things like that. It was definitely fun to sort of figure out like, "Okay, now that you have this camera, what can you actually do with it?" But I guess the fact that I wanted that thing so bad when I was like eight or nine years old, I was definitely... This was the area that was going to be my pursuit.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah, and it's funny because I had a similar experience. My father had one of these early sort of camcorders. I don't even remember what format it was. It was like a mini VHS tape and you had to put it in a bigger VHS tape.
Andrew Kramer:
Yeah, VHS-C.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. Of course you know the name of it. So we had one of those and we also had a VCR and this was... I mean, gosh, this is dating myself, but we had a VCR and this was really fancy at the time. The VCR had a slo-mo button on it so you could shoot something-
Andrew Kramer:
Oh, right.
Joey Korenman:
You could shoot something, like I would take a toy dinosaur and I'd move it around and then you'd... You put that tape in the VCR, play slo-mo and then videotape the screen and all of a sudden, you had slow motion. That was the kind of insanity that it took as a kid in the '80s to do these kinds of things. Do you remember sort of the struggles of trying to make anything that looked like a movie with that camera?
Andrew Kramer:
Oh, I mean, I still have the same struggles today, although things have gotten much better. You know what I remember? I remember I was doing local commercials for this local... I don't know if it was a AAA sports team or whatever they call them. I did this commercial for the stadium to sort of promote it. It was on cable access, which was the local broadcast network. It was such a cheesy commercial, just cutting together some footage from a game and some people hitting the ball and some stuff like that. I remember at the end of it, they're like, "Okay, great. We just need to get the master on Super VHS and just bring that by." And I was like, "Okay?" And I was like, "Well, how do I even export this out?" Because we had mini DV or whatever digital tapes, but they needed this specific broadcast format which was an antiquated format even for that time.
Andrew Kramer:
I found a friend that had this VHS exporter and apparently, S-VHS is something like 410 lines of resolution and VHS is... I think it's like 375 lines of resolution. So in order to get the broadcast quality standards for a local commercial, they needed the Super VHS.
Joey Korenman:
Of course.
Andrew Kramer:
I'll never forget that. I remember FireWire. FireWire was the way to digitize things, and Final Cut Pro one came out. I think Premiere 6.5 was the first to sort of embrace this sort of FireWire capture, and that was such a big deal-
Joey Korenman:
It was huge.
Andrew Kramer:
... that you could bring the video into the computer. That's almost exactly when I really got in, when I started saying like, "Wow, this is cutting edge." At my school, they got these computers, the new colorful Macs, and there's a camera, one of these Sony cameras, and you could digitize it right into the computer, start editing it. It was definitely mind-blowing because I'd hooked up VCRs before to kind of edit things together and just played that whole sort of analog gamut. I did a lot of audio stuff that way as well. And when it was on the computer, you're like, "Okay, this is crazy."
Joey Korenman:
Do you remember... This is probably getting really into the weeds, but I mean, I assume you were doing this too... the early DV cameras? Because I got one, of course, because you could... I mean, it's funny now. Now, you don't even really need a tape or a hard drive or anything. It's like a chip comes out of the camera or just card and has a little footage on it. But yeah, you could basically hook a cable up. I'm saying this for the younglings who are listening to us right now. You plug this cable, kind of FireWire cable, into the camera or into your tape deck and the computer would literally control the camera or the deck and play it back and in real time, it would ingest the footage. But these prosumer cameras were shooting at 30 frames a second and technically, they were shooting interlaced footage at 29.97 frames per second and it looked too smooth. It looked like a soap opera.
Joey Korenman:
I don't even remember... I probably might've even learned this from a Video Copilot tutorial. There was some way you could remove the fields in After Effects and then put them back together and it would be progressive. It was kind of crazy the hoops you had to jump through to make it look like anything approaching film. Were you going to those levels in the early days?
Andrew Kramer:
Definitely, and I think I did have a tutorial on deinterlacing. That was one of my first 10 tutorials. Again, that was that whole challenge of getting stuff to not look like a home movie or getting stuff to not look like a soap opera. If anything, it kind of just shows this sort of discernment of people who were getting into this industry and wanting to be able to capture that. I know Stu over at Prolost-
Joey Korenman:
Stu Maschwitz? Yeah.
Andrew Kramer:
Yeah. He was such a big proponent of that. He did a lot of really interesting things with the XL2, and I think Magic Bullet started a lot of this sort of technical conversion of that type of footage. And then soon after, there was this other nightmare that some of you may remember about. This should just be called Talking about Retro Graphics Effects.
Joey Korenman:
Video trivia.
Andrew Kramer:
Yes. But there was this thing called 24p Advanced.
Joey Korenman:
Oh, hell yeah.
Andrew Kramer:
This was like-
Joey Korenman:
Was that Panasonic camera that came out.
Andrew Kramer:
That's right. That's right. The DVX100.
Joey Korenman:
DVX100. Yeah, I remember it.
Andrew Kramer:
They said, "Okay, the video format is NTSC, 29.97 frames per second. We need to capture 24 frames per second inside of that range," so they came up with some crazy way of interlacing next to a progressive frame and blending the interlace from the previous frame to the next one.
Joey Korenman:
It's a 3:2 pull down, yeah.
Andrew Kramer:
Oh my gosh. And so then you could reverse that in After Effects and get your 24 frames per second. Was it worth it? [inaudible 00:17:24].
Joey Korenman:
It's funny, I remember when that camera came out, I was working as an assistant editor at a production company in Boston and the directors there basically all converted instantly to it and they're like, "This is the future." It was still DV and the quality wasn't great, but just being 24 frames per second... Although, it caused so many problems in post production. If you edited between two frames that were split frames... This is going to be possible to explain in a podcast.
Joey Korenman:
Let's go backwards in time a little bit. We're going a little fast here. But this is good, though, because I can see how your brain was working even back then and it's funny because a lot of the people that I worked with early in my career, we were all kind of the same. It felt like nothing really was easy and you had to hack everything to make it work. But even before that, when you were a kid, did you have access to a computer that could ingest video? Do you remember the first time you had that power, a computer that could make graphics and edit and stuff?
Andrew Kramer:
Before I had that luxury, I remember my dad had a computer from his work. It was this Apple 2 SE or whatever. One of these kind of black and white, all-in-one computers the size of a toaster. I remember there was a program on there called HyperCard and inside of one of the templates was a short little QuickTime video of... I want to say it was a lion or something. It was like two seconds long. You know the pixel patterns of a black and white computer, they had this gradient kind of dispersion of pixels to create the different shades, and this video was basically... It looked like an animation like what you might do, like an 8-bit video converter or something like that.
Andrew Kramer:
I was just fascinated by that. I'm thinking, "Oh my gosh, there's video on this little computer." The animation, it was like, whatever, 12 frames a second. That just kind of blew me away and that was years before even color, QuickTime and all that kind of stuff so that was my first sort of sense of it.
Andrew Kramer:
As far as a computer, I have told this story in maybe one of my keynotes but basically, in a crazy situation involving a problem with my house, my parents got this sort of settlement and we got this... I can't remember exactly the computer, but it was a modern computer. What I remember is my mom said, "Okay, we can get a computer," and I'm like, "Oh my gosh," so I'm getting Best Buy ads, and back then there was Circuit City.
Joey Korenman:
Oh, heck yeah.
Andrew Kramer:
Right? And you'd be like, "Okay, you got to get the computer, but don't get the one that has the EarthLink thing. You don't want the internet thing. You want the one..." There was just a million different ways that computers were being sold, but I wanted one that could do some of this video editing stuff. I think I was about... Gosh, so high school... I think I was about 14, maybe, when I first got something that was actually mine and that could do something and... Listen, it was good times, for sure.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah, I'm trying to do the math here. I mean, because I remember I was in high school and I got a video capture card. I actually don't know exactly how old you are, Andrew. I'm 39. When I was in high school, I got a video capture card with some bar mitzvah money I had leftover, I think. It was like... I forget. It was probably like $500 and could only ingest 320 x 240 video at 15 frames per second. I think that pattern you were talking about, dithering, I think it was called-
Andrew Kramer:
Yeah, that's right.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah, yeah. And all the video looked like that and it was terrible, but it was like the most magical thing. I could draw on the frames and I... It had this rudimentary keyer that I didn't really know how to use, but I kind of figured it out. And I became the video guy at that point. That's when I knew I was hooked.
Andrew Kramer:
I mean, I remember doing a video at school, actually, with this... I don't know, it was a demo version of Corel Paint or some kind of program like that. That was the first time I ever did a lightsaber effect where I was actually drawing on frame by frame and exporting it out.
Andrew Kramer:
In fact, to even make it more embarrassing, the real truth is it was a demo version and so it had a watermark so I had to move it over and then do the Mac screenshot button to take a screenshot, and then I compiled the screenshots and exported them. Oh, it was nightmarish.
Joey Korenman:
That's awesome. That's awesome. The rumor is that you made video announcements at your high school. How does that even work? Is that true?
Andrew Kramer:
That is true. Basically, on one day a week, you have your announcements in high school where they're like, "Hey, guess what? We're having meatloaf today," and whatever. School news, stuff like that. Every Friday, we did a little bit more involved show. We did like a five to eight-minute show that was played in the classrooms on a TV set that was hooked up to the central server.
Andrew Kramer:
Basically, we... Maybe some of the ASB people would come down and talk about the news. We'd edit it together. My media teacher was from... His name was Ken Hunter, and he was from the sort of news age of production, so creating packages like news packages. The one thing I learned from him, the only thing... No, I'm just kidding. The one thing I learned from him was the idea that whenever you hear the news, it's always right now. If there's a car accident, it's not like, "Last night, there was a car accident." It's the guy's outside the hospital and he says, "I'm here at the hospital where Andrew Kramer is recovering from a car accident that happened." It's always what's happening right now, which was just an interesting sort of thing and learning about camera, headroom and random things like that.
Andrew Kramer:
But it wasn't from a film side so that's where I got a chance to sort of play. In addition to doing the announcements, they would let me occasionally create a music video or a spoof or a funny little short film or something like that, and I would sort of put it into the show and it was just kind of a weird way to sort of just do what I wanted as long as I did a good job on the video announcements.
Andrew Kramer:
The nice thing about that was in my senior year, I was in media class like three out of four periods for the day. I was either a TA or... I was just editing, doing videos. I was definitely spending a lot of time. Although, here's a happy story for you, is that while I was doing the videos, I got a chance to meet my future wife.
Joey Korenman:
Whoa.
Andrew Kramer:
So I would say that it kind of all worked out. Video production changed my life.
Joey Korenman:
I mean, I was kind of going to get to this because my good friend Michael [Furstenfeld 00:24:45] and I, in high school, we were the video guys. We didn't have video announcements or anything like that, but we were the guys where if there was any sort of project where it was like, "Just do something creative, but it has to be about the history of Rome," everyone knew we're going to make a video, right?
Andrew Kramer:
Sure, sure.
Joey Korenman:
It was really fun and it was kind of us being creative and we were geeks and learning the tech and stuff but also, girls thought it was cool, man. They thought it was pretty cool, and there wasn't a lot else going on cool with Joey at that point. I was curious, were you the video guy? Was that kind of like, "Okay, I'm getting attention for this. This is fun"?
Andrew Kramer:
I mean, to a certain degree. I was probably more behind the scenes with the stuff that I was doing. But occasionally, we'd make kind of a funny spoof video. I would say that I probably didn't realize that people sort of knew I was in the videos until after high school.
Andrew Kramer:
With my wife, the funny story about that was I was doing the senior slide show, making the video for the class that she was in. They said, "Hey, bring your pictures down to room whatever," and so she brought her pictures down and that's actually how I met her. And then I put her in the video a lot, if I'm being honest.
Joey Korenman:
Fair enough. Now, did you know at the time like, "Oh, I'm going to marry..." Was it one of those? Or was it just like, "And then years later, you ended up marrying her"?
Andrew Kramer:
I would say that there was definitely... I really love your podcast, by the way. This is just the stuff I want to talk about that nobody asked me. These are the key questions.
Joey Korenman:
It's kind of like the Oprah. The Oprah, you know?
Andrew Kramer:
Listen, you got me.
Joey Korenman:
My goal is we're both crying by the end.
Andrew Kramer:
I'm actually standing on a couch.
Joey Korenman:
Good.
Andrew Kramer:
There was definitely something there, for sure. For sure. But, I think we met up maybe over summer and the rest is history.
Joey Korenman:
It is history.
Andrew Kramer:
Hi, honey, if you're listening.
Joey Korenman:
Hi. Hi, I'm Mrs. Kramer. All right, so let's get into your professional career. You did speak about this a little bit. It was at, I believe After Effects World. There's a really cool video... Everyone, we'll link to it in the show notes... where Andrew gives the closing keynote at... I forget what year it was, but it's one of the After Effects Worlds. It's really, really good. It's a really awesome presentation.
Joey Korenman:
You talked about a little bit about your early work, the early canon of Andrew Kramer, and you actually showed some of the work, which I thought was awesome of you because... Listen, you're Andrew Kramer. I have nothing but respect, but it looked like my old reel. I think people expect that when you're working on Star Wars and Fringe and the THX movie and stuff like that, you never make crappy work. You never just put Trajan on something because you knew that it was what they used in movie trailers. You never did those things. I want to get to that, but what was your first real job? How did you find yourself getting paid cash money to make videos?
Andrew Kramer:
The first job I ever had was at this real estate company that filmed real estate properties and edited together. There was a girl in my class in high school that said, "Hey, my dad has this business." So actually, this kind of relates to the fact that I was doing the video production at the school, was she said, "Hey, maybe you could meet with my dad and kind of have an after-school job." That was my first job. It was sort of editing videos together in Premiere or something like that.
Andrew Kramer:
But kind of getting back to your question, when I think about an actual job of more of the creative type, I want to say getting a commercial. I did a lot of corporate stuff, random stuff, stuff that wasn't quite my creative outlet.
Joey Korenman:
How did you get that work?
Andrew Kramer:
But it was-
Joey Korenman:
Were you freelancing?
Andrew Kramer:
I was freelancing. I didn't even know what they called it back then. I was just sort of-
Joey Korenman:
You were unemployed.
Andrew Kramer:
And being like, "Oh." Yeah, I was just taking odd jobs here and there. I finally got a job doing this...
Andrew Kramer:
It was a commercial for an energy drink. I think there's some remnants on the website from the early days, and basically it was like, this guy is taking the energy drink and now he's hitting home runs. But it was like a chance to do fun shots of like, "Oh, the ball's flying over Egypt," or, "It's flying over the San Francisco Bay, or..." But it was kind of creating little movie shots. A project I remember a lot because, one, there was a ton of work and I was responsible for it all, but I felt like I was actually getting to be creative, not just sort of, here, edit together a real estate video. No, no, hold on the kitchen a little longer. "Okay, Mr. Johnson, all right, right away."
Andrew Kramer:
So it was a little bit more fun, but speaking back to my reel that you brought up, the old day reel, yes, there was definitely a lot of exploration and a lot of mimicking of movie trailers. And for sure, I don't think I had a style, I didn't really know what I was doing. All I knew is I saw stuff that I thought was cool and I didn't know how to make it and I wanted to learn how to make it. And that's kind of a lot of the ways that Video Copilot got started was me just trying to figure things out. And that's why, in the early days, people would just copy a tutorial as they say, and some people maybe were a little more cynical about it, but I always thought, "Hey, that's all good. People need to figure out how to do stuff." I did it myself. I would see a movie trailer and try to copy the title or something like that before I even knew what plagiarism is.
Andrew Kramer:
I still don't know, but that was just part of the process. And so when you're young and you're just trying to figure it out, it's important to understand the implications of finding your voice and being creative and actually getting a chance to be yourself. But before you can even decide what you like, it helps to figure out how to do that stuff. So I'm just one that, I'm all about encouraging people to explore, to figure things out, and that style will come. I remember seeing online, on YouTube, a reel for a major feature film, came out a couple of years ago and the guy had a demo reel of his shot breakdown. And I was looking at it and it was amazing, this cool fire simulation space, crazy shot. And, I was, I don't know, I guess I was a little curious. I was looking at his videos that he had uploaded and just a few years back I see he's got some Video Copilot tutorials that he's reworked.
Andrew Kramer:
And so, to me, everybody's got to start somewhere, including me, right? I've done some wedding videos, I've done corporate videos, I've done local plays, I filmed a play, and now these are all... When I think about wedding videos, I think about the fact that it was like a live broadcast. There's no stopping it. You had to have backup audio, extra cables. You had to have a whole plan for what you're going to do. The shots, the equipment, there's nothing more important than understanding how to prepare for something and be fully ready to go. So I look at that those experiences very fondly because they taught me the importance of being reliable, being on time, and just being ready to go for anything.
Joey Korenman:
I love it. I love it, man. Yeah. I worry sometimes. You and me and people that are at least around our age, we were able to learn this stuff and copy. And, boy, did I copy, too. And just make things that in hindsight, you're like, "Oof, what was I thinking?" But it is buried now, like it never really saw the light of day. I remember one of the first commercials I worked on when I was out of college was for... I forget what it was called. It was like this biker festival in Sturgis, South Dakota, and my job, I edited the commercial, but then I also had to go through and put the little censored bar over all the inappropriate bits, like that.
Joey Korenman:
That is not on my Vimeo channel. That is not on my Instagram somewhere. But a lot of people coming up now, it feels like there's a lot of pressure to show your work, show your work, doesn't matter how bad it is, just show it, just put it up there. What do you think about that? Because I go back and forth with it because, I don't know, maybe you shouldn't show all this stuff in the beginning. Maybe you should wait till you're confident.
Andrew Kramer:
You know, I'm not sure. I'm not sure I've necessarily seen that sort of trend. But I think that people who feel they're ready to show the work that they're creating, I think if they just are proud of the contribution they made to the idea. Or, listen, I even think that if somebody who first gets into After Effects can open up a School of Motion, Video Copilot tutorial, and get through it start to end, and they say, "Hey, look, I made this whole thing." That is not a trivial amount of dedication. If I can, say, sit with my kids or I can watch a cooking recipe and get through a whole thing and I make something, listen, I'm feeling pretty good about that. Now, if you're saying, "Hey," on my creative portfolio site, I'm putting this content up as a way to say, like, "Hey, I'm the guy to hire because look what I made," I think it's important for people to understand the distinction between those two things.
Joey Korenman:
Right.
Andrew Kramer:
But as far as posting, I mean, I don't know. I feel like the people who are maybe more bothered by it are fewer than the reality of just people feeling excitement and encouragement to show what they're working on. So, it's a balance. There's a way that you could do it wrong, I guess, but I would err on the caution of the side of encouraging people versus saying, "Ooh, be careful. We've got to have rules and everybody's got to follow these exact ways, otherwise chaos, anarchy."
Joey Korenman:
Yeah, I love that. It's all in how you're positioning what it is you're posting. So, there was a story that I heard you tell, you were interviewed by Andrew Price, the Blender Guru, I think that's his channel. Really amazing content that he puts out. But I thought it was a cool story and I don't know if our audience has heard it. It basically entailed you having to fake it till you make it a little bit with a client that asked to come by your office while you were freelancing. I'm wondering if you can just tell that story and talk about that a little bit.
Andrew Kramer:
All right. Let me see if I remember this exactly. Okay. So, I was doing a website job for a home automation company, and this was in the early days of home automation. And I had done this video for this local company in Flash and I animated it and this other company saw it and was like, "Wow, that's great. We'd love for you to make that for us." And I was like, "Well, see, history repeats itself, my friends."
Andrew Kramer:
And so, I'm like, "All right." Well, so I started working on it and it's coming along nicely. And the guy's like, "Hey, we're from Arizona but we're going to be in California. You mind if we stopped by your office?" And I was living in a small apartment and my computer was sitting next to my bed, and I'm thinking, "This could be an awkward meeting." And so, I had heard that my friend's dad was moving out of this office space that he had, and he had like two more days. And I was like, "You know what, maybe I'll just moonlight over there and maybe I'll bring my computer over there and I can just say like, 'Hey, come on over and hang out at my office because I'm a professional business guy'." So, see my-
Joey Korenman:
It says it on the business card.
Andrew Kramer:
... professionalism. Yeah, exactly. Just got it made here. And so that's basically what happened. I just put on a show, and I think in retrospect, and especially now, I think people... That was such a different mindset. Like the idea that you might go to somebody's website and they're like, "Contact us," and they have a picture of a corporate office or contact customer support, and there's a picture of a sea of customer support agents with their headset on. And you're like, there was this weird perception that the internet created or that you wanted to create, and I feel a lot of that has really gone away and that people's work really does speak for itself. I feel like that wouldn't even matter today.
Joey Korenman:
So, back in those days... Let's be honest, you and I, Andrew, have spoiled our listeners because if they want to learn something, they go to Video Copilot or they go to School of Motion, and they learn it. It's so easy now. But back in the Dark Ages nobody had that. So, how are you learning? For example, if you're working on a commercial and you want to make a baseball fly across the pyramids or something, or, you said you were doing Flash animation to make your websites, how were you learning those things pre-Video Copilot, pre-YouTube, pre-just online video, really, even being a big thing?
Andrew Kramer:
Yeah, I think a lot of where the animation parts came from was the Flash community, which I still have very fond memories of, 2Advanced-
Joey Korenman:
Oh, 2Advanced. Legends.
Andrew Kramer:
... and there was so many great websites like Flash, Shockwave, there was just these communities where people could come and say, "Hey, here's my website, check it out." There was something really cool about that, and people would have little tricks, like, "Oh, how did you get that motion blur? How did you...?" "Oh, well, I made three frames of video and I stretched it out and I made it look like motion blur," or... There was just these tricks and there's something really cool about seeing a trick and then seeing the results, or rather seeing the result and then seeing the trick, because it helps you understand how the illusion is created before you know how the illusion was created.
Andrew Kramer:
And for me, that's a lot with how I look at what I do with Video Copilot, is I try to think, "Okay, what's something that's cool that I want to create?" And I don't quite think about how I'm going to do it. And then if I come up with a unique way to solve that problem, I'm solving it visually first. The idea of what I want is more important than how I achieve it. And that's why oftentimes I'll come up with a weird trick or weird technique because I don't limit myself to, like, "Okay, what is the right way to do this? Or, what is the more obvious way to do this?" And so, back in the Flash days, you had to do stuff that way because you were limited by how much memory there was or how much it would take to download the webpage, all that kind of stuff. So, you had to be real clever and that definitely helped me on my way to thinking that way with the ingenuity of graphics.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. It's all starting to click for me. So one of the things... And I remember I was talking to Mark Christiansen about this because when we were putting together his VFX promotion class, we were trying to come up with a lesson. And a lot of what we ended up with was inspired by the way you think and the way you teach After Effects. There's this art to using After Effects that I feel it's really a hard thing to teach. Like someone who's new to it, they want this effect. I want lightning and I want that lightning to be glowing and reflecting off this other thing. And in their minds, that might be three steps. There's three steps, lightning, glow, reflection. But in reality, it's 20 steps because, unless you have the lightning plug-in that makes it exactly the way you want, you're going to use some Fractal Noise and you're going to need the Beam Effect, and you're probably going to want the Wiggle Expression on there, and it's like learning to think 20 moves ahead.
Joey Korenman:
And that's what I think you've always been so good at, is being able to walk people mentally through that, and it's fascinating that you're talking about Flash. I dabbled in Flash a little bit and it was way more of a manual process than After Effects, so that's amazing. So, let's talk about how you got into doing the tutorials. To be honest, I don't remember the first time I was aware that you were making tutorials, but I was on Creative COW, I'm sure that's where it was. When you started doing this, what was the impetus? Were you thinking, "This is going to grow into an empire one day. I'm definitely going to be working on a Star Wars film at some point in the future." Or was this something else?
Andrew Kramer:
So, jumping off your last question a little bit, as far as how you're able to learn now by going to YouTube and saying, okay, whatever question you want and finding someone that can talk to you in a straightforward way about how that thing was created. So, before all that, though, there was an occasional text-based tutorial that would have a screenshot here or there, and what I remember is wanting to learn, finding a few of these articles, which by the way were extremely helpful. A-Auto web, which was another one of these high-end graphics tutorial sites, but they left a lot of things to figure out in between the steps. And for me, I just remember thinking, "If there could just be a video to show the whole process from start to finish." It's something that is maybe a little bit annoying with my tutorials is that I'll go into the menus and say, "Okay, edit, duplicate," or I'll go, and I'll walk through, because I try to imagine that somebody is watching this and this is the first video they're there watching.
Andrew Kramer:
And I want them to feel the whole process walking it through and not feel like I'm missing a gap, like, "Well, you guys know how to do this, so I'll just skip ahead, or..." like that assuming that can sometimes put a just immediate stop to somebody who's wanting to learn and to get a sense of how something... Like I often see, really, nice comments that are like, "I always thought that this was so hard to do and to see it put together in such a fluent way made me realize that I could do this." And I think that's a lot with a lot of things. Like we imagine how hard something might be, but then when we actually can see it from start to finish, we're thinking, like, "I could bake a cake. I watched a video of someone doing that."
Joey Korenman:
Yeah, demystifies it. Yeah.
Andrew Kramer:
I'm completely wrong-
Joey Korenman:
And the cake doesn't taste good, but it looks like a cake. It looks like Andrew's cake.
Andrew Kramer:
So with Video Copilot, I guess my thought at the time, I can't remember specifically, but I remember thinking, "Hey, I'm working on a couple of these graphics. I'm working on a couple of these effects. I bet you I could show people how I made this," because I was on Creative COW and you'd see people like, "Hey, how do I do this? And how do I do that?" And for me, that was, I would say, "Oh, I know how to do that." Or, "That's a good question," and I might research it. And I got a chance to work at the studio and they had this library of smoke elements that they had filmed that you could sort of composite into the shots. And I just thought, "How cool is it to have those kinds of assets available to just grab," just like Clip Art before stock footage was a very prominent thing.
Andrew Kramer:
And so, that idea that I could show people my process, I could show people how I do this. Maybe I could turn... My biggest aspiration for it was that maybe I could pay my rent for my apartment. Like, I'll keep working and doing this, but maybe I could make some stock footage elements, go film and put together something that is actually useful, and maybe I could pay my rent and do what I like to do, like keep doing graphics and video stuff, because that was always the motivation. Like, how far can I push this? And obviously, for the first couple of years, it was a passion project and I wasn't paying the rent with anything and I was just kind of jamming making, but I still loved it.
Andrew Kramer:
And to give the credit where it's due, the community is what really impassioned me. Just the sort of, like, "Well, what about this? And could you do it like this? Or, is this possible?" And that just inspired me because I thought, "All right, there's got to be a way. I'm going to try to figure this out," and taking that energy and thinking like, "Okay, there's people that are going to check out a video that I made showing them how I make an energy ball with a bunch of random effects and this is going to help people." I felt like, "Hey, maybe I'm doing something good with my life." Well, let's see. And just the response... When I was on Creative COW, it was really cool and I still had my website. I can't remember the exact details, but basically I reached out to Creative COW and I was like, "Hey, I've got these tutorials and you guys have tutorials. Maybe you guys could publish my tutorials. What do you think?"
Andrew Kramer:
And so we worked out a thing where we basically just helped each other out in a way, where I could promote my website and they would be able to publish the tutorials and that helped get it out to so many people. And I'm forever grateful to them for allowing me to have a place to show the work to people who are already passionately in this world and that cared about this, because back then there wasn't that many places like that.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. I can't even imagine how many times Creative COW saved my butt, especially on the editing side, because I was doing client sessions at that time. I think I was on Final Cut 3, it wasn't stable. So, now, was Video Copilot... Did you have that brand before you were actually selling products on it? Like that was when you were just doing tutorials?
Andrew Kramer:
I think I made the website all at once and I don't even know if I had any products when I first launched the website, but it was just the idea of... So, here's the meaning of Video Copilot, in my mind. Whatever it means to you now, that's probably better than what my original idea was, but the idea was you, Joe, you are the pilot. You're in control of the aircraft and I'm your copilot. I'm there to help you be successful. And the idea of the video, obviously, self-explanatory. And they didn't have videocopilot.com. So I was like, "Oh, well..."
Joey Korenman:
I was going to ask you about this.
Andrew Kramer:
I was like, "Hey, what's up? Andrew Kramer here, videocopilot.com." It didn't sound right.
Joey Korenman:
No, it's like a radio commercial or something. Yeah, right. Yeah.
Andrew Kramer:
Yeah. So I had to change it. But, yeah, the video thing, I feel like... And just to point it out, Video Copilot, we were doing video before YouTube even existed. And so we had to upload the video to our own server, and by the way, another credit to Flash which I think really kicked off the video on the internet and made it possible in a way that was efficient with the data rates and all that kind of stuff. But I would record a tutorial and it might be 100 megabytes, and I would post it online. And I remember one month, I remember one month my bill for the server was like, I want to say it was $5,000. Because back then, places like hosting companies or whatever, they had a limit on how much data you could...
Andrew Kramer:
And I didn't really know that much about... Like I know how to make websites, but most websites don't get a lot of traffic, but whenever you have video content, you had to be mindful, like, "Okay, if 1,000 people watch this and that's however many gigabytes and..." Luckily we figured out other solutions. And the funny thing is, by the time we figured out other solutions, YouTube got a lot better. I don't know, it's like five or six years ago where YouTube had really good 1080p video and the quality was really nice. And so, luckily, I don't have to totally worry about that anymore, but the early days of putting video on the internet were not [crosstalk 00:49:36]
Joey Korenman:
It was the Dark Ages. I mean, I remember even just when I was freelancing and I had wanted to put my reel online and it was the same thing. You had to basically put this tiny little QuickTime movie in there and... Anyway, so, you have the website and you're making tutorials and you're on Creative COW and you're starting to develop a little bit of a name. When did it actually turn into a business?
Andrew Kramer:
I'm not actually sure at this point. I'm still figuring it out.
Joey Korenman:
No, I mean, someday we'll make money. You're going to get there.
Andrew Kramer:
I would say that, when I started producing Riot Gear, which was this sort of stock footage pack that was like ink and grunge effects and stuff like that, it's coming back big, boys. No.
Joey Korenman:
I hope so. That was my one-trick pony.
Andrew Kramer:
And putting that pack together as my sole responsibility of this thing I saw, that was a big deal because I really wanted to try to do a good job with that and get a good camera. But then I would say that, maybe the first plug-in like Twitch was like, "Okay, we're kind of doing some cool stuff," but I think Optical Flares is when I first was like, "Okay, we're making a real plug-in and we're going to try to make it as complete as possible and really be an industry tool that people will use." That was when I thought about like, "Okay, I want to make real software for real professionals."
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. I remember when that came out because we had been using probably Knoll Light Factory at the time, and Optical Flares came out and the interface was so much better. I ended up using it on a... I had to use it on a subway commercial to make the item mimic the green lantern ring glow. And it was like six clicks, because I think in the movie, they probably used it, too. It was actually pretty easy. So, that's interesting. So, up until that point, because you'd been running Video Copilot for years before Optical Flares came out. So, were you still juggling client work with Video Copilot? I guess, at some point, anyone in your situation has to say, "Okay, I need to go full-time on this if I'm really going to push this thing." And so I'm trying to figure out when that was.
Andrew Kramer:
Yeah, I think I was probably at full-time at that point. I can't exactly remember because I just feel like my memory is just that I was just doing Video Copilot itself all the time, every day, even if I was doing other stuff. I just sort of blanked that part out. Like if I had a different job or I was doing a video or something like that, that was never... I know I did odd jobs here and there. I'd do like a corporate video here, something like that, but that was definitely not my main focus. Video Copilot was what I loved doing but I wouldn't say it was a hobby. It was just what I was just fully focused on. I didn't think about this, like, "Oh, it's a business," or, "Oh, it's a hobby." I was just doing what I love doing. That's all the way I remember.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. That's really cool. Okay, so, Optical Flares comes out, it's doing really well, and, if you're still doing client work, I mean, I'm imagining... And I know from experience now that in the early days when a company starts to grow, and I don't know how Video Copilot grew, but the way it's felt at points with School of Motion is, it wants to grow, it doesn't matter what Joey wants, right? Like, it's going to grow. Like there's more customers, there's more... And you have to figure it all out. And at times I found it very hard to balance things, especially in the early days when I was still doing client work. So, when you were ramping up into that zone of, "Okay, now we've got products and they're selling and I can hire some people to help," did you ever find that you were just burning the candle at both ends?
Andrew Kramer:
Yes. And I would say that that's just something that I've always been doing, for better or for worse, is just always doing things. So I would say when things really started going, when I was doing Element 3D is when I started doing work with BadRobot. And so now I'm doing professional stuff that actually has to be somewhat good and I have to see through a product release. And honestly, only now do I look back and think like, "That wasn't [inaudible 00:53:53]." But back then I was just like, "All right, well, I'll just, okay, I'll do my vacation for those two weeks, get the launch ready, and then maybe on the weekend..." It was just pure energy of just willing it to existence, like saying, "Okay, we could do this. Let's push for this, let's push for that."
Andrew Kramer:
I don't know. I honestly, even now, I try not to think about it too much, like, "Oh, here's our third quarter plan, or this kind of thing." I feel like a lot of the innovation of things comes from being in both places. For example, working on the THX project or working with BadRobot on different films, it was just a chance to do real production work. One thing that maybe I was always scared of, I never wanted to be the guy that makes tutorials and has really questionably quality artwork, right? Like the idea of, you know, you want to learn from somebody who... Think about master classes now, you have people who are really... They're doing it and they're also showing you things on how it's done.
Andrew Kramer:
And again, there are some amazing teachers who are maybe not as talented, but just from a creative standpoint, you want a chef that is going to put out some good quality to be teaching you. So, for me, I knew two things. One, I needed for myself to learn how to do stuff and be somewhat good at it. If I didn't do that, I would feel like I'm just spinning my wheels with what I'm teaching, or I'm rehashing things I learned instead of growing and figuring out new things. The thing I always come back to is the fact that the things I learned more recently combined with the things I learned a long time ago, I'm able to create things that I didn't think were possible back then.
Andrew Kramer:
In fact, one interesting example is, I have a tutorial for doing realistic rain dripping down the screen. And it's basically using a CC glass effect, which comes with After Effects built-in. And I made this sort of refraction effect and it looks pretty realistic, a little bit of depth of field. So apparently that is possible with, I think, After Effects 7.0, which came out, gosh, I don't know, probably over 10 years ago, and that would have been possible. But more recently when I got into more things like shade related, more things related to 3D refraction and understanding the way that the light works, that made me realize that, "Oh, wait, these other plug-ins can actually be tricked into mimicking that effect a little bit, and then I'm able to come up with a way that solves that."
Andrew Kramer:
So, always wanting to see, like, "Hey, check out this real-time technology, check out this, where's all this innovation going?" It may not be exactly where you want to go and it may not solve exactly what problem you have, but understanding what they've done and how they're solving their problems can sometimes help fill in that missing gap in the area that you're working on. And so that's super useful. Even other industries that maybe don't seem related, there's so much ingenuity that goes into things that work well and if you can bring those things together.
Joey Korenman:
I find with a lot of entrepreneurs that start businesses or start things and have success, there is this trait of tenacity, or I guess maybe even a better word would be insatiability. I'm the same way with learning, and it's always a different thing, but I can't turn it off. And thinking about it, I think I probably got that from my dad.
Joey Korenman:
My dad was a surgeon before he retired, and he worked harder than almost anyone I've ever known, and I'm wondering, I mean I feel like I got my work ethic from my dad. Do you think you got that from your family?
Andrew Kramer:
It's hard to say. My dad and my mom, both very hardworking. My mom was a labor and delivery nurse who worked nights, so 12 hour shifts. So there was definitely no sense ... so people worked hard in my family and you knew that. All I would say is that I feel like I got so lucky to be able to do the thing that I love and it never really felt like work, it just felt like ... thinking back to in high school where it's like, hey, in three out of four of my periods, I'm kind of finding my way to the computer lab where I'm doing what I want to be doing, and I would say that that is something that has strangely helped me be more successful. That's sort of an insatiable sort of focus on figuring things out and having an avenue, like Video Copilot, to be able to publish it in order to create a business out of it, which again, was never the plan per se, and so to have those things put together, I mean it's not a business plan I would have written up for myself, needless to say.
Joey Korenman:
Well, speaking of business plan, this is something I wanted to ask you. So I don't know how big Video Copilot is. You've talked about it in different interviews and I'm sure it's probably grown, but I mean it's not a hundred person company, I'm assuming, right?
Andrew Kramer:
No.
Joey Korenman:
Right, but my sense is that with the drive you have and the reputation you've built, it could be. It could be a hundred person company. It could be a really big company that gets into other areas. I mean it could be Red Giant, it could be Boris, it could be that sort of size of company, and I'm curious if there's sort of a conscious choice that you've made to say, "You know what? I ..." because I suspect if you did that, you wouldn't be able to take several months off to go work on Star Wars and stuff like that. Is that a conscious choice that you've made?
Andrew Kramer:
I would say the choice that I'm making is that I want to create the tools and the art that I think push forward the industry. So when I think about a tool I'm making or a plugin, I put my entire soul into it. I figure out, okay, what is the best way to do this thing? What's the best way to get it to connect? What's possible? Can this be pushed to another place? So for me, I'm not just thinking in terms of just quarterly business opportunities and planning, I'm more thinking about what is something that can really help artists like myself, who's actually doing this kind of work and trying to figure out, okay, can I make my job easier? Can I make other artists' jobs easier?
Andrew Kramer:
And if I can create a tool that sort of gets people to look at and say, "Wow, that's a really great solution to that problem and that's so much faster than this other way and it looks more realistic," or those kinds of things, that's what makes me excited, and some of the stuff that we're working on right now, I mean, not to tease more things, but the stuff that we're doing right now has been the most amount of work I've ever spent on something, and to see the progress and see what we're able to kind of come up with, yes, maybe I could be a little bit more forward and say, "Hey guys, we're working on this thing. Here's what it is. It's not quite there yet." I get in the zone and I just want to will it into existence and create something that hopefully people will find useful for what they do.
Joey Korenman:
I love it. So I want to talk about some of the opportunities that have come up for you from ... I mean, it's honestly very fascinating to me that it seems like a lot of these amazing projects you've been able to work on, they've come to you through the platform of Video Copilot, which is brilliant. I think it's something that a lot more artists could be doing, and in other industries, artists are doing this. They're basically becoming Instagram influencers in one certain field, hand lettering or something, and that's getting them a lot of work. It's great, but specifically, I would love to just hear the story, what was it like when J.J. Abrams told you you got to work on Star Wars?
Andrew Kramer:
So yeah, I got an email out of the blue one day from someone claiming to be J.J. Abrams, and I was like, "Oh man, here we go," and I honestly didn't really believe it, but I kind of quizzed him on something he said in the behind the scenes commentary of one of his films and he got the answer right. So I knew it was a real deal.
Joey Korenman:
Or it was a good replica, a good AI at least.
Andrew Kramer:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, for sure. Which was good enough for me. So I worked with him on this title sequence for the TV show Fringe, and real short kind of release time and kind of a fun idea, but luckily he was really ... that was the one great thing about working with him is just that he's very ... he gives you a lot of sort of flexibility and creative freedom, and I think where it comes from is the idea that if you tell somebody like exactly what you want, sometimes you'll get that, but you might miss out on something cool that you weren't exactly thinking about, and that's sort of the power of creativity is that if you let someone be creative, that's letting loose possibilities that you hadn't thought of.
Andrew Kramer:
And sometimes you don't quite get there or it's not exactly right, and then you say, "No, more like this," and it's a process that I've come to sort of utilize with my own team and works and ... so back to it. So I find out it's him, we work on the title sequence, and after it's all done, he's like, "Hey thanks for doing that, and by the way, how would you like to do the title sequence for Star Trek? This movie is coming out and people are real excited about it." This was 2009, and I'm just like, "Nah." I think my joke was, "Well, let me check my calendar," but I didn't even have a calendar at the time, which is true.
Joey Korenman:
There were a lot of lens flares in that movie, by the way, and was that your influence or is that just J.J.? Or I mean in one way or another, it was your influence.
Andrew Kramer:
I signed an NDA. I'm not allowed to talk about the lens flares.
Joey Korenman:
Fair enough.
Andrew Kramer:
No, actually ... so I would say that that movie, maybe in a way, gave me real firsthand sense of anamorphic lens flares versus traditional lens flares, and maybe if anything, it gave me an appreciation for optical technology because it made me dive into the crazy workings of lenses, and in fact ... oh man, I'm going to feel so bad because I can't remember his name, but there's this artist who ... gosh, he's going to not like that I forgot his name, but he created this awesome Cinema 40 presentation where he used corona render or something to re-simulate an optical ray trace system that generated a lens flare, and it was seriously the coolest thing. So if I figure out what it is, we'll have to -
Joey Korenman:
We'll throw it in the show notes, and then we'll have one of those robot voices insert it.
Andrew Kramer:
Yeah. Perfect. Perfect.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. Okay, so you did the Star Trek ... and by the way, I want to call out to everybody that you did the main and end credits for that, right? With the planets -
Andrew Kramer:
Right, the main title and the end credits.
Joey Korenman:
And I remember seeing it and I'm thinking, "This is so cool." It's a really cool sequence, and then I don't remember if you did a tutorial or a video or presentation, but you showed ... and basically this was the first time I think you showed Element 3D maybe, and I almost crapped my pants, to be honest. I was like, "This is the sickest thing I've ever seen After Effects do. This is as good as it gets."
Andrew Kramer:
Yeah. Well thanks, Joey. Appreciate that. Yeah, that was for Star Trek: Into Darkness. We did sort of a reimagining of that sort of flying around and trying to take it to that next level, and I guess the way that I like to sort of develop tools is like, "Wow, I want to be able to have energy and I need an additive material and element." So we add that capability to solve a real problem that needs to be solved, and that, again, it just kind of all goes together, and of course that was a kind of a fun video to make to kind of just dive into some of the behind the scenes stuff. I never know how technical to do stuff. I love doing tutorials, like "Bam."
Andrew Kramer:
It's real in depth, and then you kind of want to make a video that kind of just shows like, "Hey, here's the process," but you don't want it to be too boring, but you also don't want it to be like ... how know DVD behind the scenes was sometimes like ... I love DVD behind the scenes. For all my favorite movies and ones that have a lot of visual effects, I'd watch them and there would be really good ones. James Cameron, there's a lot of movies that had real in depth behind the scenes, and then there's other movies that are like, "And then the V effects department used computers to computerize the computer graphics," and it just shows one guy and then it cuts away. I'm like, "What graphics? What's the software? How do they overcome?" And I don't think that's the right way to do it. I think you want to give people a sense of if they really are interested, they'll understand it enough to search for something that they learned to pursue it or whatever.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. Okay, so you get through the Star Treks and then you're thinking, "All right, that's as good as it gets right there. I've made it." How do we get Star Wars?
Andrew Kramer:
So at that point, I was really diving into Element 3D version two and beyond, and this sort of opportunity that came up to work on the Star Wars film, the Force Awakens, 2015, I think, and there's just something deep down, as a kid who kind of grew up watching Star Wars movies and wanting to sort of make holograms and having lightsabers, that there was just something necessary about wanting to be part of that, and also in not wanting to just sort of be in the background and not really wanting to do something that you could be proud of.
Andrew Kramer:
So I was working with Bad Robot and J.J. and we had already been doing a lot of other things. So it was like, he's going to direct this movie, but you don't just assume, "Oh, I guess I'm going to be working on Star Wars." Some people work on certain projects and some people work on other projects. I mean, they're working with that one studio [crosstalk 00:01:09:20].
Joey Korenman:
I've heard of them.
Andrew Kramer:
They do the computer graphics on their computers with their computer machines. And so when the conversation came up, he was like, "Hey, we have these two sequences. We want to do these holograms." I was like, all right, baby, it's time. So for me, I was just excited to be part of it in some way, and then once we started the production and getting some of the shots going. I think we were doing a pretty good job, because all of a sudden we got a whole new sequence to do where it was 30 plus shots. We're halfway through our post schedule and now we have another 30 shots and then we got another sequence. So what was interesting is that maybe we were just doing a good job and we ended up basically doing all of the holograms and all of the kind of graphic HUDs throughout the whole movie.
Andrew Kramer:
So it got a little bit challenging, because now we have a lot of ideas to convey and a lot of work to do, and so got a chance to work with some of my friends online, like Jace Hanson and people that I looked up to that I knew did great work, and it's like, "Hey guys, I need some help," and so this sort of team got together and we were the holographic team, that we called it. And of course, Ryan Weaver. You guys know this guy, Star Wars guy. He did the Ryan vs Dorkman videos.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah.
Andrew Kramer:
So he's a big After Effects guy and Nuke and stuff, and so he came in and just -
Joey Korenman:
Yeah, I met him ... I've met Jace a couple of times at NAB, super nice guy and crazy talented, and so what I'm wondering though is Video Copilot, the way I think most people think of it, is essentially it's a software company. It makes plugins, things like that, and also tutorials, but you're actually doing ... you're actually also basically a visual effects shop. So was ... I mean, I guess this might be getting a little technical, but was Video Copilot a visual effects vendor on the Star Wars film and did you have to build a team and have producers and all of that? Or was there some other way that you worked it?
Andrew Kramer:
Basically I worked for Bad Robot.
Joey Korenman:
Oh, okay.
Andrew Kramer:
So I was the mechanism for doing VFX directly with Bad Robot and J.J. I would say actually the first project that I did outside of Bad Robot was the THX animation, and that one I did do the whole producing of the actual animation and figuring all of that out, but when I was working there, my company was completely separate, still doing all the development, and we were still doing everything, I was just sort of doing it at night or remotely or things like that.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah, there's that work ethic again. So talking about that THX thing, which again, we'll link to in the show notes. It's awesome, and the sound is incredible too, obviously, because it's Dolby. Now when I saw that, I mean it's like every time I see something you do ... and you can even see it through your tutorials, the level keeps getting higher, and I always wonder, is that because the clients you're working with, J.J. Abrams, Dolby, these big sort of gigantic tentpole productions, is it because the client's pushing you and making that bar higher, or is there something driving you to make the bar higher?
Andrew Kramer:
I would say definitely working with other professionals sort of puts you in a position to think, "Okay, I've actually got to do a good job on this," but as far as the reality of it is it all comes from you. You want to do a good job. You want to make something that is a little bit more challenging to make than what you made last time, and you want to push it to that next level, and with the THX project, for example, where we were two months out or wherever was really good. I would even say good enough, but I wasn't totally happy with it, and I think for sure on that project, I definitely for my own benefit, for my own self, I guess, I definitely pushed it to a place that I didn't think I was capable of, and obviously I had an amazing team of people helping put together different aspects of that project, but in the end, when you're compositing and you're putting it all together, you're thinking how do I get this up to this place?
Andrew Kramer:
Because it's kind of a long sequence. It's like 60 seconds, so you're trying to make sure every transition feels really smooth, and to me that was a big part of just making it feel cohesive, and it's just a challenge that you think ... maybe what it is is you look out at the world of our industry and there's so much amazing stuff that gets created and you just think, "Gosh, how do you make that? That is so good and that is so good." So it's not so much you're thinking what's good enough. You're thinking, hey, can I make this more crisp? Can I make this more clear? Can I cheat this a little less? There's there's just sort of a weird ... maybe it's an ego thing, who knows, where you just want to pull out another layer and make it something, and that project was a fun ... I mean it's such a fun project. To have a project like that, where you can explore and to do those different things, that I think helps a lot, because then you get a chance to make something that is a little bit more than you might do on another project.
Joey Korenman:
Right, and I mean that project in particular, was that your concept? So for anyone who hasn't seen it, it appears to be one continuous shot. I know there's clever transitions and stuff, but it's a seamless one shot journey, and those are the kinds of things that used to be a lot more of that in motion design, and that was almost a flex when people did it, when the whole piece seemed like one seamless shot, and it was almost a rite of passage. I remember doing projects like that for no reason. Let's make it all one shot and seamless, and it's just hell, getting it all to stick together, and there's some really great breakdowns you've done, I think on ... it might've been on your VC live tour, I think, or one of the [inaudible 01:15:58] tours you've done, where what Andrew's talking about, rendering out multiple passes because I had this shader on the water bubble or on the glass on this pass, but then I wanted a different shader for the three frames that were passing through it. So I rendered out those three frames and then we composited it. It's kind of an insane level of artistry and OCD maybe to get that result, but it's pretty cool, and we'll link to all that stuff in the show notes so you can learn about it.
Andrew Kramer:
That's actually exactly right. The transitions were definitely a technical challenge that we didn't want to cheat. So we didn't want to just do a simple fade or a simple trick. We wanted it to feel like the transitions were seamless, and so a lot of the time that we spent was, "Okay, well how do we go from this scene to this scene that has a totally different scale, and we need it to be fluid," and so a lot of the tests were to figure out the technical ingenuity of those shots. Although interestingly enough, as you just said that I was thinking, hey, the Fringe title sequence I did is one shot that kind of pulls back into the different animation moments, and then the Star Trek titles are also a single sequence that does not have any cuts, and now that -
Joey Korenman:
It's kind of your thing now, I guess. Now you're being -
Andrew Kramer:
I guess it is.
Joey Korenman:
All right.
Andrew Kramer:
But I think you're right. It is extremely challenging to work on something where one change can cascade problems throughout the project, and you have to definitely be very careful and manage that.
Joey Korenman:
Or just be a masochist, one of the two. So I wanted to touch briefly on the VC live tour and some of the other speaking things you've done. You've been doing a lot of presentations lately, and I remember ... I'll tell a quick story. I think it was probably three years ago, we had this idea to do a meetup at NAB, and that became the MoGraph meetup, which has since ballooned and become a thing, but I remember thinking it'd be cool if we got some extra people involved and we asked you to be involved and I got on the phone with you and I was telling you sort of what it was going to cost and it was a few thousand bucks and I was like, "Oh my God, I have to ask for money."
Joey Korenman:
And I remember you basically said something to the effect of ... because I think what I was asking was, "Okay, do we need to put ... we can make your logo really big and we can put it on stuff," and you were like, "I don't even care about that. I just want this to be a fun event. I want to give back to this community that's been so great for me and for basically our entire industry. It's just a wonderful place, so let's just give back," and it seems like that's kind of baked into the ethos of Video Copilot, and I'm wondering if you could just talk a little bit about why that is, because a lot of companies are doing that now, but there's still some that aren't, that are still very bottom line driven and, "Well, if we're going to give this much, it's going to eat the budget, we can't do it." Where does that sort of feeling come from for you?
Andrew Kramer:
Well, I think you kind of nailed it. It's definitely because I do care about this community a lot and it's been my life. I guess ... I'm trying to think, I feel like I've been doing Video Copilot for my entire adult life, and so it's a place I find comfort, friends. It's just amazing, and to be able to have a business to support me and to have a company with employees, that's amazing to be able to have that be a possibility, to have that as a career, and as far as maybe where that comes from is when I first started getting into the industry, before the computers and all that, everything was so expensive. Software was so expensive. Hardware, stock footage, everything was just, "What are you talking about? $500 for one stock footage clip? What?"
Andrew Kramer:
I'm not making Jurassic Park or something like that. It was, it was crazy, and so I always just thought, gosh, there's got to be a better way. There's got to be a way to create stuff for people who don't have a million dollar budget and they want to create graphics on their own computer, and so I always think about ... when we think about our products, we don't think, okay, how should our corporate licensing go? We think about like individual artists that are doing stuff on their own, what's going to be ... how do they want to work and how do we make their experience the best possible?
Andrew Kramer:
So just from that standpoint, I think a lot about how I got into the industry and maybe thinking about what kind of company would I like to be from the other side, and so even with our customer support and things like that, we have really flexible return policies, and if people need help, we just try to think like, "Hey, if we can help out, we're going to help out." We're not looking to sort of say, "Well, those are the rules and that's just the way we do it." We just try to treat people the way we would imagine we'd like that experience to be if we were on the other side, and VC live ... so speaking of that, VC live was this kind of crazy idea to, I don't know, go on a European vacation? I really don't know.
Joey Korenman:
I get it, man.
Andrew Kramer:
No, first of all, I'd never been to Europe, and I thought I know some people over there that are doing some live shows, they're doing some meetups, basically, and this guy Max, he's like, "Hey, I'm doing this meetup. Maybe you could come out? It'd be kind of fun." I was like, "Yeah, you know what? I've never been to Europe. Why don't we do it?" And then we just started talking and thinking like, "Man, I'm going to fly the way over there and do a presentation. I don't know, why don't we do something crazy? Europe is kind of pretty close together. Maybe we could try to hit up a few different cities and just kind of make it more spread out, get a chance to see more places that I'd never been to," and I don't know, the traveling over the past two years for the VC live stuff and going to Japan, going to Taiwan, going to Russia has been just one of the craziest, best experiences of my whole life.
Andrew Kramer:
Meeting people from thousands of miles away or wherever and having a connection with them like, "Oh yeah, I watched this tutorial first and I was working at a factory and now I managed to get a job and I work at this marketing company," or just the amazing stories of real people and the things they are now doing in their life. Because think about it, if you started doing Video Copilot 10 years ago or whatever and you got some success, this could be something that you're doing as a career, and in a strange way, not really thinking about all those kinds of implications or whatever, the stories I heard were not just like, "Oh, I really liked your tutorial," it was more like, "I found a career because of your videos," and I mean it just totally floored me, and it just felt like you were meeting old friends, people that you'd known for a long time.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. Well when I ... so we have a pretty big Facebook group of School of Motion alumni, and sometimes when I'm lining up someone to be on the podcast, I'll ask the alumni, "Hey, I'm having this person on. What should I ask them?" So I put your picture up and I said, "We have a very exciting guest coming on," and there was a lot of questions, but actually I'd say half of the comments were people just saying just nice things about you, and it's funny, like I mentioned to you ... I don't want to reveal too many names, but I did reach out to a bunch of people so I could find out that your father was in the Fishing Hall of Fame and things like that, but I reached out to Michelle Galena on the Adobe team and she thinks the world of you, and what you were just talking about, that definitely comes through.
Joey Korenman:
And it's something that I've latched onto also at School of Motion, just doing things as much as I can, not because they're financially sound or fiscally responsible, but because it feels good, it's helping people, and so that's something I've kind of learned from you and from people like Paul Babb, and it's one of my favorite things about the industry, honestly, it's just how nice everybody is. So I want to ask ... well really quickly, actually, I want to ask you about going to Japan, because we went to Japan last year and I thought it was the best food I'd ever eaten in my life and I'm curious what your favorite food was in Japan.
Andrew Kramer:
I mean, you can go wrong with an amazing sushi place.
Joey Korenman:
True.
Andrew Kramer:
I think this last time we went to a place, this really small place that was underneath this big restaurant, and we go in this little cubby, we take our shoes off, we sit in this ... and nobody spoke any English and we ordered some food from this menu and it was just the best ever. So Japan definitely has a special place in my heart. That was the first place I ever traveled to outside of the United States, and so just sort of having the full experience of flying on an international flight and showing up in another country and then having that kind of connection with people who do the videos and do graphics, and so even though it was a foreign country, I felt very comfortable at home with friends, because everybody was sort of in that same world.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. I was always amazed too, especially in Japan, where most people don't speak English fluently, but it kind of doesn't matter. You can still communicate with people. I'm glad you had that experience, man, and I'm glad that you've gotten to experience the ... as cheesy as it sounds, the lives you've touched. I mean this is one of the neat things about School of Motion is going out and going to places like NAB and Blend and meeting our students who say the same things, they've gotten a job, they've gotten a raise, they've gone freelance, things like that. There's really nothing better, I think, that you can do with your life, than help people, and speaking of helping people, you have a family that you help, and theoretically you're also a father and husband.
Joey Korenman:
And I can tell you, in my experience, when I had kids, it completely rocked my world and changed the way I looked at my career and all of that, and I only have three kids. You, my friend, have five, which is ... first of all, props, because ... I'm sure you get this a lot. In the US right now, five is a lot. That's more than the normal. So I'm sure you get a lot, but I don't know how that works. I mean you zone defense, clearly, but you hope you and your wife have four arms if you add them all up. So maybe there's a leg. I don't know how it works.
Joey Korenman:
Just in general, how has being a dad changed your perspective on all this? You've got a ton of opportunities in front of you, but you've got a family too. How has that changed you?
Andrew Kramer:
I guess every year that I think about this question, it maybe changes a little bit. Right now, I feel like this real motivation to sort of teach my kids more about life. Some of them are getting a little bit older and giving them that sense of hard work, but also, in a way, it's been really, really cool because now I'm sort of starting to see some of the cool things that my kids are doing. I have a daughter, Katie. She has Procreate on her iPad and she does these amazing paintings, these drawings, and to just see sort of the way that she's creatively growing, and by the way, she's just beyond anything I was doing. She can just do amazing stuff, so it's fun to maybe feel like you have a little bit more purpose in the ways that you can sort of help out. If anything, maybe five makes you think about how enjoyable it is at all of the different ages.
Joey Korenman:
Right.
Andrew Kramer:
Right. When you first have one or two, it's like, how do we get some sleep and how do we manage this? Maybe by the third or fourth, it's like, these things kind of grow up pretty quick here. We got to-
Joey Korenman:
Practically raise themselves.
Andrew Kramer:
They definitely learn from each other, but you miss that age, you're like, "Oh, I remember when this one used to be like this." Maybe you cherish it a little bit more and you treasure it a little bit more. I feel like I'm in that... We have some little ones and then we have one who's almost a teenager, so it's a fun range to be as entertaining. For example, my son, I don't know if he was watching YouTube or playing a game and he said, "I saw somebody in the game, that guy's a YouTuber. He's a popular YouTuber." My son who is eight. I said, "Oh yeah, that's cool." I said, "Daddy has a YouTube account." He's like... He probably doesn't have much of a sense. He just knows we do video stuff and he's seen some of my graphics or stuff. He said, "Dad, I don't think that adults use YouTube."
Joey Korenman:
Yeah, he's right.
Andrew Kramer:
I said, "Some of them do." I said, "All right, this is my chance, time to flex on the little ones."
Joey Korenman:
There you go, yeah.
Andrew Kramer:
I said, "Here, look at my YouTube channel. I have 600,000 subscribers." He's just like, "What?" This weird look on his face, like what are you doing? It was kind of funny.
Joey Korenman:
It's funny, I've had the exact same experience. I have an eight year old daughter, I have a 10 year old daughter too and they are obsessed with YouTube. I'm pretty sure that's now what MTV used to be or something. It's just now you're cool if you're a YouTuber. I remember a while ago, sometime last year we crossed the 100,000-subscriber mark and YouTube sent us that silver plaque you get. I showed it to my kids and I don't think they've ever looked at me with as much admiration as when I showed them the YouTube plaque. Nevermind that we provide a home for them and we take them to places, it's, "Oh my God, look how my dad has YouTube subscribers."
Joey Korenman:
It's really funny, I was going to ask you about this because... First of all, I want to point out to everybody, the last two or three years, around the holidays, you've posted a photo of your family saying, "Have a great holiday season, everybody." It's so beautiful. I think I'm going to start doing it too because again, I really love feeling like there's these people that we look up to in the industry, and especially when you're starting out and it just feels like there's so much distance between you and the people that are doing things that you want to be doing. Just remember that they're humans and they have families and kids, but I found one of the pictures and it's pretty funny. Your sons really do look like you. They have blonde hair. I don't know if you were blonde when you were a kid.
Andrew Kramer:
I was actually [crosstalk 00:04:45].
Joey Korenman:
Everyone, we'll link to that in the show notes too. I hope that's not too creepy Andrew, linking your family photo. I was going to ask you, and to get to this, I want to tell a quick story. I'm pretty sure this was the first time I met you. We were at NAB and I think we're at an Adobe party. It was some after party, and I had a T-shirt that we had made. We had just made T-shirts and I wanted to give you one and kind of introduce myself. I had to wait an hour because if there was five feet of space around you, someone would jump in and fill it.
Joey Korenman:
Finally, you probably went to the bathroom or something and when you came out, I jumped, "Andrew, hey. I'm Joey. Here's a T-shirt. Thank you for everything." Then I turned around and there was someone literally with his head right next to my ear just waiting to talk to you. There are certain places, certain rooms, conferences where you are as famous as LeBron James, and I've literally seen people line up to take photos with you in front of a step and repeat. Do your kids have any sense of that because it would be a really easy cool card to play? I'm wondering do you play that card or do you try to hide that and try to say, "I don't want them to really see that part."
Andrew Kramer:
I feel like kids are pretty smart. They're going to say like, "Yeah, that's all good, but you don't have a TikTok account or you don't-
Joey Korenman:
It's true. Or do you, I don't know.
Andrew Kramer:
No. It's not something that has come up too much. Actually, here's an interesting story. My daughter had a drama, media class and my wife maybe offered up me to come to, I don't know, a career day kind of thing. I couldn't make it, so I said, "Well, listen, I'll come in one afternoon and I'll bring my laptop. I'll do a little mini presentation." I put together a few, here's a little bit of Star Wars, here's a little bit of this and I'll just talk basically about how after effects works and the idea behind post editing for a class, I think it was fourth or fifth graders. I get in there and it was a lot of fun actually. I showed the kids and they were all super into it. I was showing the graphics and they had a good time. Then I'm like, I worked on this movie and they just were not impressed. They're like, "Do you work on any video games?" I was like, "No." They were like, "Did you work on Minecraft?" I was like, "No."
Joey Korenman:
Do you have a Twitch Stream or something?
Andrew Kramer:
To me, I think... It's like you said with YouTube. There are certain things that the kids will be more excited by or otherwise, but for my older kids who kind of know what I do, I think they appreciate that this is something that I'm working on, that I can kind of do things that are creative. I think they see that as something that maybe they would be interested in doing. As far as the fame aspect of it, I guess maybe I don't even really think about it like that because... I don't know. The thing about LeBron James is that... I'm not that good at basketball-
Joey Korenman:
Fair enough.
Andrew Kramer:
I'm a fan, okay? I might go see a basketball game and I would be like, this is cool to meet a celebrity, but as far as when I meet people, I feel like we're in the same game, right? We're all figuring this kind of graphics thing out, we're making stuff. I feel like there's a more real connection to the people that I meet because I feel like we're doing the exact same thing. We've dealt with the same computer crashes in the middle of the night on a project or that late night extra thing, so there's an appreciation there and just a mutual respect that I feel around the people that are in the trenches.
Joey Korenman:
I think one of the differences though is that when you meet LeBron, I've never met LeBron James. I did see him at a hotel once and he's so much bigger looking in-person. He's a giant man. The thing with LeBron James is you watch him play basketball and you might watch hundreds of hours of him doing that, but he's not in your ear. He's not talking to you, he's not teaching you stuff, but if you're watching tutorials or you listen to a podcast even, that person is inside your brain for hours and hours and hours. Then you may take action based on what you learned and have a good thing happen.
Joey Korenman:
I think there's kind of a different type of celebrity that it's much more, I don't know, it's much more valuable to be honest than just sort of the superficial celebrity. It's funny because my oldest especially, she actually discovered editing. I mean, dude, if we had this stuff when we were kids... There's this app, I think it's called VLLO and you can literally add it into transitions and key all this stuff on an iPad and my 10 year old figured it out. She's so into it and she was talking to me about how she wants to be in a movie. It's her dream to be in a movie and I was like, "You could just make a movie and be in it."
Joey Korenman:
"Well, no, but I mean a real one. I could be famous." I was trying to explain to her you don't need to be famous. If you help people, that's a side effect, and that's how I look at what I see when you go to conferences. I don't think people come up to you because they've seen you on YouTube. I think they come up to you because you've helped them. I mean, I'm going to have to take a screenshot of our alumni group comments and blur out the names for the alumni listening so you can see the things the lives you've changed. I know you know all of this. I told you there was going to be smoke blown up your ass, by the way. This is coming out of nowhere.
Andrew Kramer:
No, it's very nice to hear and I definitely appreciate it.
Joey Korenman:
It's cool that your kids don't think you're that cool. I think that's actually really cool, and it's the same with my kids too. They really are into YouTubers. They don't have TikTok. They're not into TikTok yet, but they're starting to find just other things they're into, like there's YouTube shows that tell ghost stories, there's YouTubers that make food out of weird things and that's way cooler.
Andrew Kramer:
Honestly though, I feel like video copilot, it's been this whole experiment to come up with the worst dad jokes possible, and then I can pass those onto my kids.
Joey Korenman:
If nothing else, that's a legacy to be proud of, to be honest. I'm curious, and it's funny because it's always difficult to explain to your parents what you do if you're a motion designer. Obviously, I'm sure your parents, at this point, they've seen you start a company, they've seen it grow. Your dad was a writer on a fishing magazine, your mom, you said was a nurse working in OB. I mean, have they ever gotten to see you give a presentation, have they seen you in action? I mean, they've got to be really proud of you man, have they gotten to enjoy your success in that way and kind of see where it's taken you?
Andrew Kramer:
I think so. I've showed them a few videos. I think when I went to the VC live tour and kind of just got a chance to kind of tell them about it and things like that. I think there's just a certain proudness, I guess you can say, just the idea of going international and talking to people that do what we do, and maybe just the uniqueness of it, right? To be able to have a connection to people all over the world is kind of a weird thing and kind of a cool thing, and so they're definitely super proud. I did the keynote at AE World that there's a video of and I kind of gave them a shout out and I know that they got a chance to see that. It's weird because I think they probably follow me on Twitter or something like that, but I guess I don't really think about it.
Joey Korenman:
Do they troll you?
Andrew Kramer:
I just saw my parents today and I guess you just try to keep some of it separate, but I know my dad and my mom will ask about this and that and the other thing and it's like, I want to be able to tell them-
Joey Korenman:
When is Nebula coming out, Andrew? I don't think your mom talks that way, but I thought it'd be funny.
Andrew Kramer:
In a way, they sometimes want to ask about things and I'm just like, just want to hang out or something like that. Wait, what did you say?
Joey Korenman:
I was doing an impression of your mom, but I've never heard your mom talk, but I imagine your dad probably wants to know when Intercept is coming out.
Andrew Kramer:
Yeah.
Joey Korenman:
We'll get to that, but I kind of want to start landing the plane now because you've been super generous with your time, and thank you for being an open book here. I mean, it's really cool to hear about how you came up and what got you interested in all of this. I hope everyone listening is enjoying this as much as I am. I guess what I want to know now is you've kind of done it. You've worked on Star Wars and you've done... The THX thing, I mean is really your vision and it's amazing.
Joey Korenman:
You've got a successful company, Video Copilot, and you've got a lot of goodwill and you've done a world tour and it all started with, I think you said 120p Tyco video camera in 1996, 68 bit or something. Apparently, you were making movies with your little brothers and stuff. Has any of that shifted for you now that you've kind of had a lot of different successes? Is there anything kind of new out there that you're looking at, has any of the passion gone away where it's like, I've already kind of done the tutorial thing and it's not that interesting anymore? How has this changed for you?
Andrew Kramer:
I would say that the thing that it has helped me realize is the parts of what I've done that I really love the most, and it actually goes back to each of those moments, like playing with flash and finding ingenuity ways to sort of figure things out or using the Tyco video cam to do a VFX in camera. What I've sort of realized, and even with the tutorials is the fun of figuring out a trick, a magic trick or coming up with a new way of doing something. I feel like that's something that I've always been in love with, and whether it's working on visual effects or titles or graphics, there's just something that makes me excited. I would say building software, creating tools, solving problems, making a five-step process three steps, making something faster, more realistic, better, that's something that really excites me.
Andrew Kramer:
Right now, with so much kind of innovation and real-time graphics and the kind of cool things that are possible, that's been something that I've been heavily focused on with the stuff that we create. As far as creating new plugins and things like that, not to tease something that we're working on, but we're working on some really cool new versions of our software. That has not just been a lot of work, it's also been a lot of fun to be able to get new builds and to see the way that features develop and how they get better and how things that you didn't even think possible are suddenly at your fingertips. I realized that that's the part of everything that I love the most, and as long as I can find an area to just push beyond what is the current standard, I'm going to be excited. I hate to tease stuff, but I can just say that I can't wait to show off in the flesh some of this new stuff we've been working on.
Joey Korenman:
As I was mentioning earlier, I asked a bunch of alumni on our Facebook group what questions they'd like me to ask you, and by far, far, the number one question, and I'm almost embarrassed to ask you is when is Nebula coming out. For anyone who doesn't know Nebula is a Video Copilot plugin. You've demoed it a few times, I think, but it's not available for sale yet. Is there any new info on that?
Andrew Kramer:
All right. I feel like if people have sat through this interview, I should have a few answers at this point.
Joey Korenman:
I agree, I agree.
Andrew Kramer:
We've been working on this plugin called Nebula 3D, and it's a sort of volumetric rendering plugin. We've demoed it a few times and we're very close to finishing it. The problem is that the plugin itself is one part of the equation, right? It works with 3D models, it works with 3D scenes. Simultaneously, we're working on this other 3D related plugin, and the key is that we want to make sure that both plugins are empowering to each other. Oh, I've said too much. While Nebula 3D is almost finished, the integration it has with the upcoming version of Element 3D is really, really important. We're basically trying to get both of them done at the same time so that they can benefit and pair off in a better way. It's kind of a technical... I don't want to blame it on a technical limitation. That's not a good way to put it. Let's just say that the plugins by themselves are going to be really useful, but together it's going to be even better.
Joey Korenman:
It's really interesting because we were talking about this almost obsession that certain artists have to make the shot better, to make it... It's like that last 2% of polish that literally takes 80% of the schedule, and the thing is that most businesses kind of suppress that and just say, "It's good enough. If we ship it out this quarter, we're going to make more money." I think it's so cool that you don't do that, man. I don't know what your accountant thinks about it, but personally I think it's admirable.
Andrew Kramer:
Listen, there's a balance, right? You want to be able to say, "Okay, pencils down, let's deliver this thing." When you realize if you just put in a little bit extra on this, you're really talking about something special. I think the community has been pretty receptive to sort of the efforts that we put into our tools. Even just thinking back to some of our free plugins, like ORB and Saber. Saber sort of famously, I was going to get it done on this one date and there was just a few features that weren't there and I thought, wouldn't it be great to get texts and actually have the ability to animate this noise.
Andrew Kramer:
Basically, I made a decision, let's just do this. It's going to suck not getting it out on time, but it's going to take it to a whole new place. The amount of work that went into... The amount of the plugin that got better over those two weeks was just immense. If I'm known for anything that I put a lot of care and effort into creating plugins that are good. If people can think about that, I'll feel proud. That's what I love doing.
Joey Korenman:
Well, I think for FX Console alone, you've basically got so much goodwill banked that it doesn't matter if plugins don't come out on time. It's fine.
Andrew Kramer:
We actually have a new free plugin that we're working on that... Why have I said this? Why have I said this?
Joey Korenman:
It's [inaudible 01:48:14].
Andrew Kramer:
I've said too much. I will just say this, a new version of Element 3D is imminent.
Joey Korenman:
Say more.
Andrew Kramer:
It's pretty good. I mean, let me think. Let's just say the old version of the plugin seems like that it would be a plugin for this new version. Well, I don't know.
Joey Korenman:
You really do like hyping things. I know you said you don't like... The second most posted question, I don't even know if I want to ask you this, man. It was about a... Well, there was a film that was supposed to come out while ago and I think you might've been working out... Were you working out it with the Film Riot guys?
Andrew Kramer:
Yes.
Joey Korenman:
Okay. Are we allowed to talk about that? Do we dare not speak its name?
Andrew Kramer:
I would just say I have some actual news about that. I feel like to be laborate is not-
Joey Korenman:
Subtle. Subtle, Kramer. I wonder how many people are going to catch that. Well, we won't be labor at that point today. All right. Well, listen, man. The last thing, I actually have two things I want to ask you, but one's going to be really quick and easy. One of the things that blew me away about Element 3D when it came out was that it, and at the time, I didn't even really understand the technology behind it. I use Cinema 4D a lot. I understand how to make 3D things, I don't understand the technology behind it. Element 3D was so much faster to render things than any 3D thing I'd ever used. It was like this magic trick to me. I know that you're really interested in the tech side of things and trying to make things faster and better and we are kind of in the golden age of that right now, as far as 3D goes. I'm curious what things you're excited about. Are there any interesting technologies you're looking at or trends that you're following that you think are going to make a big difference in the next five, 10 years?
Andrew Kramer:
Yeah. I think definitely a lot of this sort of real-time technology is becoming a lot more viable on the high end spectrum. That technology though, I also feel like is going to be more available in more places. I think skills like animation and the ability to have real-time sort of interactions with your animations. Even now, there's so many 3D model resources and things like that. The amount of people that are just getting into 3D now, it's so much more common and even just the language of 3D, physically based materials and things like this, it's just becoming much more commonplace. Thinking back to the guys of Corridor Digital, they do a show on YouTube called VFX Artists React, which is super popular. What I think is so cool about the show is that it sort of demystifies a little bit of the stuff that we do for people who are just looking to be watching a fun YouTube video, and yet their breakdowns are very technical and they actually explain things in a real post-production way.
Andrew Kramer:
You're thinking, they're talking about 3D tracking and real problems that we run into. The idea that these things are becoming more commonplace and more people are getting involved in the industry, the software side of things, it's just making that more approachable and more easily accessible. I think sometimes there's some fun creativity that comes out of just sort of people who don't maybe know any better, like you're supposed to do things this way or that way, but instead you see a lot of interesting trends where people create stuff that kind of seems unusual or you didn't think of that, and they've never used the program in any other way and they're just freestyling with the technology. I think this realtime stuff is going to lend itself to a lot more interactive creation.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah, I agree. I think that when that stuff starts trickling into... I mean, it's already making its way into the 3D world pretty quickly and I hope that it also makes its way into after effects in one form or another. I know that when it does and I need to know how it works, I will go to your YouTube channel and I will watch the videos. Andrew, thank you so much. My last question for you, it's a simple one. I'm hoping you can help me. just imagine that you had a podcast and it was the 100th episode of the podcast and you knew it was going to be very exciting, and you were the host. How would you introduce that podcast?
Andrew Kramer:
Oh man. How would I do it? Okay, let me think here. Let me think here. I might say... Okay, I got it. Here we go. Hey, what's up? Andrew Kramer here and welcome back to another very exciting show. Today, we're going to be talking to Joey from School of Motion. Let's give it up for Joey.
Joey Korenman:
I hope I didn't come off as a total fan boy. I'm sure I did. I hope I sounded confident and cool while talking to Andrew. Actually, I don't really care. I think he's awesome. He's helped so many people and he's been a great ambassador for motion design. For that, I really have to thank him. Seriously, Andrew, thank you so much for your time. I had a blast talking to you and I hope that you, dear listener enjoyed the conversation. Rest assured that the next 100 episodes will be jam packed with knowledge, tips, great artists, great stories and a few new things that we are going to start experimenting with. Thank you so much for listening and I'll catch you for episode 101.