12 Inch Design Banner Image

The 12 Inch Design Resource List - Tools of the Trade!

Hi everyone, Tony here.  I've been doing this "video and graphics on computers" thing for quite some time now and have had occasion to use my share of applications, tools, and services.  In fact, I'd say I'm addicted to learning new software and trying new tools.  It's nerd fun for me.

The following is a list that I've compiled of tools and services that I like.  Most of these I've used myself.  Some come highly recommended by trusted friends.  Either way, they're all products or services that I have no trouble associating the 12 Inch Design brand with and I hope you find this list useful.  I'll be updating it periodically with more gems as I find them, so I would recommend bookmarking this page for easy access.

To be clear, some of the links to these products or services are affiliate links. If you decide to purchase one of these products, and have gone through our link, we get a small commission and it costs you nothing extra. I appreciate you supporting 12 Inch in this way!

But I don't recommend these products just to get a few dollars.  I recommend them because they're useful to our customers and you are under no obligation to purchase through our links.  Please let us know if you have a bad experience with any of these products and we'll try to help.

 

Video Editing Software - Mac

  • Final Cut Pro X: There was a lot of hoopla about the new version of Final Cut Pro and I will admit, as a guy that used the old version quite a bit, it took some getting used to.  Now, it's not a big deal and I think most people just starting out will like it just fine.

 

  • iMovie: Part of the Apple iLife suite and included on new Macs, iMovie has become the standard by which other consumer editing apps are measured.  Without a lot of effort, most people can pick it up quickly and do some decent editing.  Just don't expect lots of advanced features.

 

  • AVID Media Composer: AVID has been around for a long time and was really the first computerized non-linear editing system.  They staked their claim to the professional editing market early on and still cater to that market.  In recent years they have moved into the home video editing market on the PC.

 

  • Adobe Premiere Pro: Part of Adobe's Creative Suite, Premiere has been turned into a solid editing package.  With more features than iMovie, but not quite as powerful as Final Cut or Media Composer, Premiere serves the needs of a wide range of video editors.

 

  • Premiere Elements: Even though Premiere Elements could be viewed as just a stripped-down version of Premiere Pro, it is a solid editing package nonetheless.  If you need more power than iMovie but aren't ready to move up to the full Adobe Creative Suite, it's worth your time to check out Premiere Elements.

 

Video Editing Software - PC

 

  • Sony Vegas: Vegas came on the scene about 10 years ago and has evolved into a very solid editing system on the PC.  I have used Sony Vegas on the PC for many years now and I've had good luck using if for short form work like promo videos and trailers.

 

  • AVID Media Composer: It took a while for AVID to move to the PC, but now they've been there for years.  They offer most of their products on both PC and Mac.  As stated in the Mac section; AVID has been around for a long time and was really the first computerized non-linear editing system.  They staked their claim to the professional editing market early on and still cater to that market.  It's fairly pricey compared to other editing software.

 

  • Adobe Premiere Pro: Part of Adobe's Creative Suite, Premiere has been turned into a solid editing package.  With more features than iMovie, but not quite as powerful as Final Cut or Media Composer, Premiere serves the needs of a wide range of video editors.

 

  • Premiere Elements: Even though Premiere Elements could be viewed as just a stripped-down version of Premiere Pro, it is a solid editing package nonetheless.  If you need a good editor but aren't ready to move up to the full Adobe Creative Suite, it's worth your time to check out Premiere Elements.

 

  • Sony Movie Studio: I have to say that for less than $50 (as of this writing), Sony Movie Studio is one of the best deals out there.  It is a stripped-down version of Sony Vegas, but with plenty of features to do a very nice edit without a lot of fuss.  If you're just starting out editing on the PC, you should surely try it out.  There is a free trial.

 

  • Movie Edit Pro: This is from a company called MAGIX and is firmly planted in the consumer space like iMovie or Premiere Elements.  A nice little editor with a good amount of features and file format support.

 

  • Video Studio Pro: Another consumer focused tool is Video Studio Pro from Corel.  This editing software has several features that, just a few years ago, would only have been found in very expensive editing software.

 

 

Compositing and Effects

 

  • Adobe After Effects: Yes, After Effects is the big dog on the block when it comes to doing compositing and special effects for video.  It is my go-to compositing/effects package for nearly every video project I do and I've been using it for about 10 years now.  Once you know how to use After Effects, your creative options increase exponentially.  The CS6 version has added some great new rendering features such as ray-traced 3D text.  Finally!

 

  • Motion: So After Effects is the only game in town?  Hold on there champ.  If you're a Mac user running Lion or better you need to look at Apple's Motion.  After Effects may be overkill for what you need and let me tell you; Motion is the best deal you're ever going to find.  It's only $50 on the Mac App store.  That's insane Apple.  I love Motion and have done several video tutorials for it.  For a LOT of people, Motion is all they'll ever need for doing compositing and graphics treatments.

 

  • Digital Fusion: Definitely geared toward the high-end in features and in price.  I really like this node-based compositing system, and for a long time it was my favorite.  I still use it every so often,  It's fantastic, but overkill for most people.  If you're doing movies and TV shows, it's worth the price for sure.  But for day-to-day production and local car commercials?  Not so much.

 

Text Animation (2D and 3D)

 

  • Adobe After Effects: If you're just doing animated text, After Effects is probably overkill, but as of CS6, After Effects makes doing ray-traced animated 3D text pretty easy.

 

  • Pro Animator: This package has been around for a long time and is used by lots of editors.  Not cheap.

 

  • NewBlue Titler Pro:  Another package for doing 2d and 3d text animations.  Works as a plug-in for lots of popular editing packages.  Not that full-featured yet, but I have a feeling these guys are going to keep beefing it up.

 

 

Plugins -  After Effects

 

  • Red Giant Software:  Must-have effects for After Effects!  The Trapcode Suite and Magic Bullet Suite add tons of creative options.

 

  • Noise Industries:  Really a plug-in platform that allows you to bolt-on many other effects.  Mac only.

 

  • BorisFX:  BorisFX has been around for a long time and they offer a huge number of effects plugins for several applications.

 

 

Plugins - Motion & Final Cut

 

  • Noise Industries: Really a plug-in platform that allows you to bolt-on many other effects.  Mac only.

 

  • BorisFX:  BorisFX has been around for a long time and they offer a huge number of effects plugins for Final Cut and Motion.

 

Plugins - Sony Vegas

 

 

 

  • BorisFX:  BorisFX has been around for a long time and they offer a huge number of effects plugins for several applications including Sony Vegas.

 

2D Painting and Retouching

 

  • Adobe Photoshop: Ah Photoshop...  How much do I love you?  Like one of my children?  Maybe.  Photoshop is so popular now that pop culture refers to things being "'shopped."  You'll never be able to look at a photo as proof of anything anymore because Photoshop makes creating impossible images pretty easy in the right hands.  It definitely has a learning curve, but once you master it...wow.  Super powerful and still improving every release.  Some features would be considered science fiction a few years ago.

     

  • Adobe Photoshop Elements: Definitely Photoshop "lite", but I've used it and it has a lot of power for not much cash outlay.  A good start if you're not ready to tackle Photoshop.

     

  • Paint Shop Pro: Even though Photoshop is my tool of choice in this space, I have used Paint Shop Pro in the past.  It's a good, solid, affordable tool that is a great Photoshop alternative.

     

  • Corel Painter: Used by my friends that are crazy-good at drawing and painting in the real world.  Give them a Wacom tablet and Painter and they create mind-blowingly good art.

 

 

 

2D Animation

 

  • TVPaint:  It used to be called Aura when I used it, then it was Mirage, now it's TVPaint.  It's not cheap, but it's a professional solution for 2D animators.

 

3D Animation and Modeling Software Resources

 

  • Maya; If you're interested in moving to Hollywood and doing animation and special effects for movies, this is definitely one of the packages to learn.  This is mainly because it's the tool of choice of many production companies.  It's used by a good number of game companies as well.  It's a very powerful,  flexible and re-configurable animation system.

     

  • 3DS Max: With the Mental Ray renderer included and the V-Ray renderer available, Max can hold its own quality-wise with any rendering and animation package on this list.  Max is used a lot by architectural visualization folks as well as game companies.  I only started using it a few years ago but I like it well enough.

     

  • LightWave 3D: If you know my background, then you know I'm a big LightWave fan.  I was working at NewTek before LightWave 1.0 was even released and I wrote the original LightWave 3D Modeler manual.  That means I've been using it for nearly 20 years now.  Holy Moly!  LigthWave is powerful and easy to use.  Used on tons of TV shows and films.

     

  • modo: Created by the team that created LightWave 3D, modo is a completely different application with a different approach and methodology.  It's a beautiful application that excels at modeling and rendering.  I especially love the modeling tools but the renderer can match that of any other package around.

     

  • Cinema 4D: I haven't used Cinema 4D as extensively as I would like to, but I have found it to be very flexible, straight-forward and easy to use.  I was able to get up to speed on it just by poking around the interface.

     

  • Vue: Would you like to do ultra-realistic-looking landscapes?  Got a lot of time?  Then Vue is the package for you.  A very robust set of tools for rendering exteriors based on the premise that Vue was built to simulate the real world of air, land, erosion, foliage, water, ozone, dust, etc. and how those elements combine to create the world we see around us.  A steep learning curve and rendering is pretty slow, but results can be extraordinary.

     

  • Blender: I've only begun to play with Blender, and I hope to explore it more and create some materials that show what it can do for you.  I love the fact that it's FREE and open source and that people are able to create quality work with it.

Yes, there are a lot of packages to choose from and they all have strengths and weaknesses.  But most of them share a pretty common set of tools these days and which package you choose will largely depend on your individual preference or your work environment.  A good artist will make good art with any of these tools.

 

 

3D Painting and Sculpting

 

  • 3D-Coat: This is my tool of choice.  I've used the others on the list but I always come back to 3D-Coat.

     

  • Z-Brush: A very popular tool with a quirky interface in my opinion.  Lots of artists swear by it.

     

  • Mudbox: A decent tool and one many of my artist friends use.  Worth a look.

 

 

3D Mouse/ Input Devices

 

  • Space Pilot Pro:  Holy cow folks.  If you do a lot of 3D animation, texturing, or modeling, you really need to try one of these.  I'd never go back to just a mouse and keyboard!

 

Stock 3D Models

 

  • TurboSquid:  I remember when these guys first started over 10 years ago.  They've grown a lot since then and the selection is pretty darn huge!  Also, each object almost always comes in multiple formats.

 

Screencast and Screen Capture Software

 

  • Camtasia: This is the screen capture software we use on the PC (also available for Mac) that we create all our tutorials with.

 

Game Creation Software / Game Engines

 

  • Unity: The big dog of game engines.  Not cheap, but very full featured.  It has its own editor that's pretty mature now.

     

  • Corona SDK: A fun 2D engine that I've played with quite a bit.  You'll probably want to purchase an add-on level editing package to make quicker headway.

     

  • Cocos2d: A free SDK that might require a little extra work.

     

  • GameSalad: I haven't used this for a while but it still seems somewhat popular.

 

Matchmove Software

 

  • Syntheyes: Very full-featured match moving software at a fair price.

 

Motion Capture

 

  • MOTUS: If you need custom mocap, give these guys a try.  I used them on a project recently and they did a great job for me.

 

 

Video File Conversion Software

 

  • Blox-o-Matic QuickTime Movie Converter:  I wrote this little batch movie conversion utility to help us process all the movies and thumbnails that we need for this site.  Now I've packaged it all up for you PC users to use too! It's FREE!  Sorry, no Mac version.

 

  • MPEG Streamclip: Another free converter that supports a huge number of formats.

 

  • Compressor:  Mac only.  Apple's batch movie converter that works great.  Only $50.  A smoking deal!  If you do a lot of editing on the Mac, you'll almost definitely want it.

 

 

Photo Management

 

  • ACDSee: Fantastic photo viewer, processing, and management.  Really a great tool!

 

Stock Footage and Images

 

  • Pond5 Stock Footage: A great resource for high-quality royalty free stock footage.  So good, we even put our clips on there!  Get a free clip every week!

     

  • UltraShock: A good sized collection of stock images at a very reasonable price.

     

  • GraphicRiver: Some amazing photoshop and vector files on here.  Very reasonably priced and super high-quality.

     

  • Revostock: Another high-quality stock footage and template site.

     

  • artbeats: They've been around forever and have some of the best footage you'll find.

     

  • iStockphoto: Great still imagery and some nice footgae on there too.

     

  • ShutterStock: Over 20 million images on this site!

  •  

  • Fotosearch: Another site with a lot of stock.

 

 

Design Help

 

  • 99Designs: We get a lot of people asking us to do custom logo work for them, but we don't really do that anymore.  You can, however, go to 99Designs, set a price, and multiple designers will bang out different designs for you.  Very cool.

 

Cheap Help and Freelancers

 

  • Elance : A big pool of freelancers that do just about everything!

     

  • ODesk: Another source for outsourcing bits of work or entire projects.

     

  • Fiverr: Got 5 bucks?  Need a voice over?  Need translation?  Need someone to dress up as a Klingon and wish your buddy happy birthday?  Yeah.  Go to Fivver.  Seriously.  Check it out.

 

Stock Music and SFX - Royalty free

 

  • Shockwave Sound: Lots of royalty-free tracks to choose from and high quality.

     

  • Premium Beat: A great selection of tunes and easy to find what you're looking for.

     

  • Stock Music.net: We've used these guys for several years and you can hear a lot of their tracks in our demos.

     

  • UltraShock.com: Another source for royalty free music and sound FX.

 

Stock Illustrations

 

  • UltraShock.com: A good sized library of some useful royalty free illustrations and a lot more.

 

Fonts

 

 

Web Hosting

 

  • Host Gator: One of our favorite web hosts.  Great service and no problems.

     

  • GreenGeeks: One of our other sites is hosted with these guys.  We wanted to try them out after hearing good things about them.  We haven't had any problems and can recommend them.

     

  • BlueHost:  We also have sites hosted here and have had very good luck with them.

 

Training - If you're looking for OUR training go HERE

 

  • KelbyTraining.com : Need to learn the ins and outs of Photoshop, photography and a lot more?  This is a good place to start.

     

  • LearniTanytime : These guys are new, but I think they're off to a good start.  They're definitely worth a look.

  •  

  • Cartoon Smart: This small company has some really good training for iOS game development as well as many other subjects.

     

  • Total Training: This company has been around for quite a while and has a good sized training library.  They offer training on Adobe, Apple and Microsoft products.

     

  • Tuts+: A huge marketplace of tutorials on all sorts of subjects.

     

  • Lynda.com: A very popular training site teaching a wide range of subjects.

     

  • Digital Tutors: A site geared mostly toward 3D animation, game and FX production.

 

Daily Deals!

 

 

Tee Shirts

 

  • CustomInk:  We've done a lot of shirts with CustomInk!  Designing a shirt is very easy and customer service is awesome.

 

Printing

 

  • Printing for Less:  What a GREAT company to deal with.  We have printed tons of stuff with these guys and their customer service is top notch.  Highly recommended.

 

Computer Security

 

  • ESET Smart Security:  We've tried LOTS of different antivirus systems on our PCs and ESET is hands down our favorite.  Works quietly in the background, warns you when it needs too, but otherwise is very unobtrusive.

     

  • MalwareBytesMy son's computer got some nasty malware on it.  The kind that takes over your machine and shuts down your anti-virus and hijacks your search engine.  The software from these guys took care of it in a few minutes!

 

Computer Backup

 

  • Mozy:  There are a few of these services out there, but we really like Mozy and have used it for quite a while now.  Here's a tip: You can get their free 2 GB a month program which is enough to keep your email backed up!  Bigger plans are available too.  Don't wait until you lose everything!

 

Computer Hard Drive and System Tools

 

  • Data Rescue:  Hard drive take a dive?  Need to get data off it?  It's happened to us too and Data Rescue from Prosoft saved our bacon!  I saw these guys at Macworld once and had to stop and thank them.  Their stuff worked when nothing else did!

 

Computer Hardware

 

  • Newegg.com: Need a new hard drive, RAM, or graphics card?  Need to build an entirely new PC?  These guys have everything and at the best prices around.  We've always had a great experience with newegg.

  •  

  • TigerDirect.com: Another great source of computer components and much more.

 

Video and Graphics Resources for Students and Educators

 

  • JourneyEd.com: Students and teachers can get amazing deals on high-end software at JourneyEd.

 

Computer Graphics and Video Editing Books

 

I'll be adding a list of them soon.

 

 

Product Distribution and Shopping Cart

 

  • e-junkie: Need to sell a digital product?  This is who we use and they're awesome.

 

Email Marketing

  • AWeber: These are the guys we use for our email newsletter.  If you need to get an email list going, we recommend them.

 

Misc. Free Stuff!

 

  • Free Photoshop Shapes and Patterns: A nice collection of free shapes and patterns for Photoshop.  Watch where you click though, there are quite a few ads on the site and it's easy to click the wrong download link.


© 2015, 12 Inch Design, LLC. All rights reserved. "Don't just edit. Design.", 12 Inch Design, ProductionBlox, ThemeBlox, LiveTypeCentral and the 12 Inch Design logo are Trademarks or Registered Trademarks of 12 Inch Design, LLC.  Affiliate Disclosure, Cookie and Privacy Policy