Pat Laro’s Winning After Effects Recipe for Steak

Pat Laro’s Winning After Effects Recipe for Steak

 Artists can draw inspiration in the most surprising places. In this case, a back-yard BBQ inspired an exceptional winning After Effects animation for Patrick Larochelle (Pat Laro). His “Man of Steak and Style” won 3rd place in our Superman design challenge a while ago. We have been asked over and over about the process. Now we can see how, because Pat has kindly given us the Ae project file with the steak and knife, available for download. We’ll see his texture maps and displacement maps, and how they are used with ShapeShifter to get a truly amazing result. Pat comes from an illustration/Art Direction background, and he puts those considerable skills to work in After Effects.


Man of Steak and Style by Pat Laro.


Preview what’s in the project file:

Q&A with Patrick Larochelle

Mettle: You are the “Man of Steak and Style”. 

Pat: Yes, that’s me! The idea was a bit crazy, but a lot of fun to create and produce. 3D plugins like ShapeShifter are big toys for me. This was my way to explore After Effects and test the true capabilities of ShapeShifter.

This animation is fantastic! You  were inspired by a BBQ?

I was cooking a steak on a BBQ in Rimouski, Quebec, thinking about an angle to take for the Super Man logo challenge. I was on vacation after being out of the country for 5 years of the last 7 years in Saudi Arabia. I had time to play around, and not much else to do at that moment.

Saudi Arabia? Ok. We’ll get back to that, but first, can you let us know how you did this? We regularly get emails asking us how this was done, so I think it’s time that you give us your recipe.

Sure. With pre-compositions made in photoshop and animated in 3D space in After Effects, using Mettle ShapeShifter as the main tool to create 3D extrusions. The rest is passion and a lot of fun, mixed with many hours of experimentation and work.

Patrick Larochelle

You come from an Illustrator/Art Director background. When did you start using After Effects?

I discovered After Effects while working on a project with Chris Bobotis (developer of ShapeShifter) back in 2000. At that time I was an art director for an ad agency, so not much time to work in After Effects. But since I always crave to learn new ways to express myself, once I was in in Saudi Arabia I had time enough to follow training on the web, and explore the software more in-depth. I always considered Chris to be my mentor when it comes to After Effects.

So how did you end up working in Saudi Arabia?

 At that time I was craving a real “once-in-a-lifetime” experience. A head hunter contacted me, referred by a friend who was working in Saudi. I was looking for that kind of move… I was tired of freelancing in Montreal and not too keen on going back full time for an agency.

So what was it like?

The experience was amazing. To live with restrictions, brings you to a point of introspection and reflection about yourself and society in general and the ways we choose to live. The work is quite different in some ways and let’s say quite similar in others. Different because of the restrictions in what can be shown in media and advertising. Similar in the actual production process.

Everyday life is quite different from North America. There are no movie theatres, or theatre of any kind. No bars or alcohol. Not many contemporary art galleries. Sports and leisure activities are few. The work week starts on Saturday and ends on Wednesday or Thursday. I made some great friends at work, and was able to have a somewhat regular social life, although I did live in a compound for foreign workers for my two first years.

Sounds like a real life experience! You’re also working on something else that’s intense. It’s a 15-year personal project, “One Kilometre of Art”. Tell us about it.

 It’s a 15-year project, where I paint 1 km of art across many separate canvases.  I’m at the beginning, with only 25 pieces completed out of about 1,500.Each part or group works independently. I plan to exhibit the entire 1 km in sections, and track where each piece goes. I’ll have 3 to 4 exhibitions every 250 meters. I don’t think that anyone else besides me is crazy enough to work solo on a project of this scale. I’m determined to do it, even if it takes 15 years to complete.

It’s kind of like a 1 km long hand-painted filmstrip!  It looks like you draw inspiration from the St. Lawrence Seaway (Fleuve St-Laurent), that long waterway that you grew up next to. Your paintings are very organic, one flowing into the next, like water flowing and intertwining with natural organic shapes.

Rimouski was an excellent place to grow up. It’s 10 minutes from the sea shore, forest or downtown, and the landscape is amazing. I guess the St-Laurent influences my painting. I aim for recognizable shapes coming out of abstract forms, so fluid shapes and the colour blue come naturally. You can easily perceive animals, often fishes in my artworks. Gaspésie, and more precisely Bonaventure influence me that way. It’s the place where I can really focus on… nothing and relax.

We hope you can spend more time finding inspiration in that happy place. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

Patrick Larochelle aka “PatLaro” can be followed on his blog:

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