Category Archives: General

An Infinite Voyage

An Infinite Voyage – a short visual effects video I created inspired by the Grand Tour missions of Voyager 1 & 2.  About 8 months, I had to purchase my own copy of After Effects, having always had it paid for by my previous company.   The cost of the software meant I also lost access to any particle systems, so I had to learn how to use AE’s native plugins.

I created An Infinite Voyager to demonstrate (to myself as much as anyone)  what is possible using After Effects and its native/included plugins:

I cheated a little, because I used Element 3D from Video Copilot for the Voyager probe.  I find it’s much, much easier to use than Cinema4D and renders in a way I prefer.

Something worth noting though, is that I had real problems trying to render out Saturn’s rings using After Effects.  Originally they were a 2D layer in AE, but something to do with their size in AE space or their size on screen prevented the comp from rendering.   I had the same problem when I switched to Element 3D.  It was only when I rebuilt Saturn again(!) in Cinema4D Lite that I was able to get any render out of the rings.


I’ve previously written about how you can get the look of the Nolan / Interstellar Blackhole using Cinema4D.  You can view that tutorial here

If you’re interested in recreating the Galaxy at the end of the video, I’ve published a tutorial on how to achieve that at





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August 8, 2016 · 11:17 am


We’ve just finished a run of Scrooge The Musical with Beaconsfield Operatic Society.   We produced visual effects for Marley’s ghost as well as plenty of other shots, as you can see in the highlight reel:

I did face a problem in the best way to send these videos to the projector.   in the past, I’ve made a DVD, but it’s quite clunky and time consuming.  Plus any changes needed mean making a new disc.

An alternative is to use third-party software to make a playlist, but then it becomes a case of finding the right product.   One that doesn’t have ads, annoying sounds or lacks customisation.

So, I came up with a third option.  I wrote an Adobe AIR app to play the videos and images for me.

The interface for ShowPlayer

The interface for ShowPlayer

I tried to incorporate all the elements I’d need to in one screen while the second screen (the projector) displays the videos or images.


  • The app plays Mp4, JPG and PNG files.
  • Videos play with time remaining displayed and can be set to loop.
  • There’s a BIG stop button which is easy to find.
  • It’s a full screen app, so I also show the current time.
  • The display resolution can be set manually, so if you’ve prepared HD videos but use a smaller resolution projector, they resize.
  • You can leave yourself messages / reminders

If you’d like to try it out for yourself, feel free to download it here:

Mediafire download

Unzip the file and run the showplayer.air file.   I’ve included a README.txt file with instructions on how to compile the playlist and where to place the video folder.

It worked really well for me and meant I was able to make changes pretty quickly.   It’s set up for the resolutions on my laptop and projector, but you can change these in the playlist.txt file.

Once installed, all you need to do is copy the showplayer_content folder to your C: drive and place any videos in there (along with the playlist file)

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Filed under General, Software

Pontiac (C4D)

Time to break the ice and actually post some of our Cinema 4D work.

It’s based on the Pontiac Firebird (1967 ish) – I’ll freely admit I haven’t been too dead set on perfect accuracy or detail, as it’s not really ‘for’ anything other than the practice.  Not least because my previous attempt at modelling a car looked like this:

So… yeah.  I think this one has turned out better.  Ahem.

It’s still a WIP in theory (aren’t all models?) but I think I’m done with it for now.

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FX Reel – the first 10 years

Shivering Cactus began back in 2001 when we got our hands on Adobe After Effects.  We started doing visual effects for filmmaking friends, then we started offering our services around forums on the web.

Here’s a highlights reel from our first decade:

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