Brian Maffitt

Brian Maffitt is co-founder of Total Training and a legend in the Adobe After Effects community. I regard Brian not only as an industry leader but as a mentor, with his Total AE training series the corner stone of my After Effects knowledge. In part one of this two-part, candid interview we discuss Brian’s early years as an actor with a love for technology, leading to a career  in software training.

Did you know that the first 3rd-party effect to be bundled with Adobe After Effects was “Lightning”? Or that the Psunami water simulation plug-in was originally designed for the military? In Part 2 of the conversation with Brian Maffitt, Brian reveals these little-known facts and plenty more; including an in-depth, frank discussion about  Total Training and howthe company  has adapted to the proliferation of free online training and piracy.

 

Discuss
  1. Peter Baker
    Reply

    Thanks for the interview John (and Brian). My favorite part were his inspirations for corporate video: Jim Henson and John Cleese. Who would’ve known?

    Fantastic as always, John.

    Sincerely,
    Peter Baker

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Hey Peter, I remember John Cleese doing corporate videos (still available today) but had no idea about Jim Henson.

  2. Tim Clapham
    Reply

    Brian Maffitt!

    An After Effect genius and legend. Thanks guys.

  3. Eran Stern
    Reply

    The history of After Effects Tutorials from the leading actor himself. Simply Great!. As an early adapter, and proud owner of most of Total Training tapes, it is simply a thrill to hear some of behind the scenes stories, and to learn how it all began. Brain, I heart you. Thanks for the passion you’ve been putting over the years. I’ve learned so much from you. Awaiting for part 2. Great Interview.

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      I couldn’t agree more Eran. Talking with Brian is always a thrill, not just because he is a mentor but also because he is such a colorful character in our industry.

  4. Eric Dossou
    Reply

    wow, an after effects debutant like me really feel glad about this interview. It’s like a motion graphics history lesson. Very excellent idea John.

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Thanks Eric, Brian has played such an important role as a leader in the After Effects community over the years. I felt it was important that many artists who have never heard of him got a sense of that.

  5. Adriel
    Reply

    Very inspiring and such a great story. Wouldn’t have been as knowledgeable about AE without Brian!

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Hi Adriel, I totally agree, Brian’s training has been the foundation to countless people’s motion graphics knowledge.

  6. John Ghadimi
    Reply

    Excellent interview. Can’t wait for Part 2! I totally recall always wanting those training tapes, but could never afford them. I think most of us take for granted the vast amounts of online and portable (CD/DVD) training we have these days. Back then, those tapes were solid gold, and only the most privileged had access to them. 🙂

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Hi John, yes it’s amazing how the training landscape has changed on only a decade. The internet changed everything.

  7. Pat Reilly
    Reply

    Can you post some of the older corporate video that don’t suck??

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Hi Pat, I’ve forwarded your request to Brian 😉

  8. Brad Chmielewski
    Reply

    Great interview! First learned with the Total Training tapes in high school, couldn’t afford them myself so it was great that school had them. Looking forward to part 2.

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Hi Brad, I remember taking ages to decide to purchase the series… “Can I afford it? Can I afford not too?” History would suggest I made the right decision ;). Regards, JD.

  9. tillimanjaro
    Reply

    Great interview, looking forward to part 2!

  10. Chad Perkins
    Reply

    I LOVE Brian Maffitt! He’s such a Renaissance man, and so incredibly creative. Part 1 of the interview didn’t mention how he actually CREATED many of the best native effects – Foam, Shatter, Colorama, etc. It’s amazing to think that many of those were written over a decade ago, and have stood the test of time so well.

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Hi Chad, welcome to Motionworks. In Part 2 we take a close look at Atomic Power and Total FE and Total Training. Regards John.

  11. Rob Birnholz
    Reply

    Spending 20 minutes with two of the most respected people I know, what a treat. Thanks John and Brian, looking forward to part 2.

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Thanks Rob, that’s very kind. Congratulations on your new training product too.

  12. Brian Maffitt
    Reply

    Wow, thanks for all the incredibly generous comments””it’s very humbling. I can’t wait to hear how you respond to the second segment!
    In terms of inspirational industrials, I expected in the age of YouTube that they would be easy to come by, but I guess they are rather more ephemeral than I thought… Parsons Brinckerhoff, the Engineering company I worked for from 1989 through 1995, had a collection of videos which featured Cleese and the Muppets (which is where I was exposed to them).
    I did find this Cleese ad for Compaq, from the proper period:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlmzwZXa-Ww&feature=related
    And I didn’t find any 80s Muppet corporate examples, but here’s something from the 60s that gives you a good idea of what I’m talking about:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAOQM8o5kJ4
    Thanks again everyone, it was my pleasure.
    Brian

    • Keith Larsen
      Reply

      Hi Brian,

      Great stuff by you and John! I had to laugh when you guys were talking about the computers that were as small as a conference room and thought you might like this old video we made an eon ago:

      http://www.rklpictures.com/html/quickeasy.html

      -Keith

  13. Kevin
    Reply

    I’m still waiting for Total Training to send the “bonus” videos I was supposed to get when I purchased their Premiere 2 training back in the ’90’s!

    • Brian Maffitt
      Reply

      Hmm…
      Premiere 2 came out in 1992, but Total Training wasn’t founded until 1997. Our only Premiere series in the 1990s was for Adobe Premiere 5… is that what you are referring to?
      If so, that was a nightmare product for Adobe, and the troubles did trickle down to us. Adobe Premiere 5″”a product Adobe notoriously claimed “would wipe the floor with Avid””” shipped with 800 bugs, 300 of them classified as “major”.
      It is the first and last time Total Training agreed to “fake” functionality in a product with the promise from Adobe that the features would actually work in the shipping version (they didn’t). The tech support that ensued was a nightmare”””I’m following along with your video and it’s not working”! “Yes, the feature actually is busted, sorry.”
      I don’t remember that series “shipping short” with a promise of future lessons, but if we did, and none were forthcoming, it is because Adobe never fixed the software to a state where we could reasonably demo it.
      Now, assuming this is the product you were thinking about, and if you actually feel aggrieved towards TT about this after 12 years, please contact our sales department and we’ll do whatever we can reasonably do to make it up to you.
      Brian

      • Chad Perkins
        Reply

        If those of us that have sat through 12 hours of Brian’s training are still this excited about him and his genius, then yeah, we still won’t have enough after part II!! Although, I do have to say that I’m just a little glad that he stepped down as trainer, because that opened it up for people like me to make a living!! Can’t wait for Part II.

        • John Dickinson
          Reply

          Hi Chad, I’m sorry Brian no longer teaches After Effects, there’s a whole new breed of users that really missed something. Best, JD.

      • Kevin
        Reply

        Just kidding about waiting… It was probably for the Premiere version you stated. I probably bought it after I purchased Total AE. I don’t have the original Premiere videos anymore but I betcha I still have the original TotalAE videos collecting dust in my basement at home.

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Man I love hearing this industry history and get the feeling a two-part interview just won’t be enough Brian 🙂

  14. enchskinnyasap
    Reply

    oh its simply great! i learn a lot from it!
    as well as i enjoy it. lol 🙂
    im looking forward for the part 2!

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Thanks for the link Dave.

  15. rowie
    Reply

    i love brian too, he’s too creative and funny i had fun 🙂
    keep up the good work !!

  16. Zax Dow
    Reply

    Good stuff guys! It’s great to see this getting down in a permanent form.
    Brian, I’m still going to get you to a pyro convention sooner or later.

    • Brian Maffitt
      Reply

      I really want to work that out if we can! I’d love it.

  17. Jim Hines
    Reply

    You are doing something different here John. It’s cool. I can tell you are like me and have the heart rate of a hummingbird. So I’ll give you the advice everyone keeps giving me. “Relax”. You’re awesome bro, keep it up.

    I’m not familiar with TT or Mr. Maffit but it is quite obvious he is the Santa Claus of AE. Thanks for taking the time to share your expertise.

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Hi Jim, welcome to Motionworks. Ha, the Santa Clause of AE, Brian will love that 😉 Actually my heart rate is pretty slow and steady but it’s easy to get excited with chatting with Brian, his enthusiasm is infectious. Cheers, JD.

    • Brian Maffitt
      Reply

      Post Magazine calls me the Papa Smurf of motion graphics, I gotta say I kinda prefer Santa Claus, thanks!

      • John Dickinson
        Reply

        I remember someone saying that your voice reminded them of Kermit the Frog, giving you the nickname “Kermy”!

  18. Gwendolyn Barney
    Reply

    I was a struggling student when I bought those first Total Training video tapes, and it was the best investment ever. I really wish Brian would do some more training, because so far, I’m not getting what I need in most of the tuts out there. Oh, yeah. And he’s still hot!

    • Brian Maffitt
      Reply

      Aw, see, now I’m blushing!
      Tres bien!
      Brian

  19. Sergio
    Reply

    I just felt compelled to comment on this podcast. I know anything that I say has already been said, but I was absolutely enthralled by what I watched today between John and Brian. I feel, even though I have only begun with A.E., that I am an apprentice in good hands when I watch such wisdom and experience. Thank you both very much for allowing me to ‘sit in’ on this talk.

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Thanks Sergio, we enjoyed you listening in too 😉 Best, John.

  20. Jim Irish
    Reply

    Thanks for this! I’m in the process now of converting my old Total Training AE 3.1,AE 4.0, FE Complete, and Evolution VHS tapes to digital (just to get them in some form other than VHS.) I’m a total Brian Maffit “Fanboy” and this interview is pure gold to me!

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