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January 2009 Archives

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to use Quick Masks in Photoshop.  You might be wondering why you need to use Quick Masks.  Well I'm glad you asked.  You can use Quick Masks when you want one of your images to have an effect on the edges.  This makes your image look more interesting and more appealing than a normal box, circle or oval shape.  OK, now let's get started.


First, for this tutorial, create a new image by navigating the File pull-down menu and clicking New.

There is an easy way to turn the visibility off on all but one track, or lock all tracks but one, or even isolate a single auto select. Any of these actions can be performed by holding down everyones favorite Final Cut Pro key, the option key. By option clicking on the track visibility control, FCP will turn off the visibility of all tracks but the one you selected. By option clicking on a track lock, FCP will lock all but the track you selected. By option clicking on an auto select control, FCP will turn off all but the track you selected. 

This process can be reversed by option clicking on the same track again, or option clicking on any track twice. You can also switch to a different solo track by option clicking on a different track. This is a great tool when attempting to cut and paste to different tracks. It is also a great way to start when you need to select a number of tracks less than half of the total number of tracks. This function works separately in video and audio tracks.

The Track tool is a great way to select an entire track or tracks. There are 5 different combinations of the T key to activate the 5 different states of the Track selection tool. Hitting the T key once thru five times will toggle thru the five tools.


I tend to use the Select All Tracks Forward (pressing the T key four times) most often. Recently I discovered that by activating the Select Track Forward tool, and holding down the shift key, it will do the same thing. This works the same way with the Select Track Backward tool, and is a very useful modifier key to know.

Avid's DNxHD codec and Apple's ProRes are both riffs on the Cineform theme of high-quality digital intermediate codecs for editing.  Both offer more efficient compression than some competitors (especially at larger frame sizes), plus 4:2:2 chroma subsampling (which provides greater color fidelity than DV's 4:1:1 subsampling or MPEG's 4:2:0).  But the advantage of one of the other cool features -- support for 10-bit color depth -- has gone largely misunderstood or overlooked.  [Ed.: Some readers have asked me to emphasize that BOTH DNxHD and ProRes offer 10-bit color depth.  Apologies for any confusion.]

For starters, it's worth pointing out that each of the "extras" that ProRes confers may at first seem irrelevant: after all, broadcast NTSC still (for another month or so) uses YCbCr, and broadcast ATSC and DVB still use a variant of MPEG-2, with all the associated limitations.  Don't be fooled, though. 

Your post process almost inevitably involves changing the source image in some way or another, either through color correction, transitions, or any number of other processes -- and when you have all of the "extra" information in the ProRes picture, you're able to create an edited master that still has more information than you'd need for a "perfect" quality broadcast.  Similarly, you'd never edit in MPEG-2 directly (I hope) -- so using the higher-quality intermediate codec gives your compressor more "wiggle room" as the compressor tries to paint the highest-quality picture for the MPEG-2 transcoding step.

But enough of that ... more on bit depth specifically after the jump.

You can use the Avid FX plug-in to add creative effects to titles that you've created within the standard Avid title tool.

light_zoom_avid_fx.gifAvid FX is a special plug-in that is basically the same as a licensed version of Boris FX.  Avid FX can be launched as a stand-alone application, or it can be launched as a plug-in directly from the Avid software.

Avid FX ships with any Media Composer software license.

Most of us still deal in good ole 2 channel stereo audio for out projects. When the time comes to output 5.1 Audio, you will most likely do it in an application other than Final Cut, but you can do it in Final Cut, There are a couple of very important factors to keep in mind.

First of all how you actually make the switch. To change your audio from stereo to 5.1, you simply go into the Audio Outputs tab in your sequence settings, and load the 5.1 Monitoring preset. This will change your sequence to 6 channels of audio. Now it becomes very important to have the Tracks assigned to the correct clips. Channels 1 & 2 will be stereo, also known as Left & Right, or to some front. Channel 3 will be the Center channel, and this is where you will want any type of voice assigned. The channel will be defaulted -3 db less than Channels 1 & 2. Channels 5 & 6 are the Rear channels, aka surround. They too are defaulted -3 db less than Channels 1 & 2. The rear channels are often just a copy of some of the tracks also assigned to Channels 1 & 2. Channel 4 is the LFE (low frequency effect), this is what we hear out of our subwoofer. This is defaulted as off, and in most cases you won't be using it. Recievers are designed to send much of the bass into the subwoofer already.

In Final Cut -- in a lot of different video applications, for that matter -- you may have wondered about Import/Export functions based on XML.  In fact, Apple made a big deal about Final Cut's XML Interchange Format when it first released, and for good reason.

As studios and production houses and newsrooms shift to a digital workflow, more and more pieces of the production process have to "talk about" the same footage.  At one broadcast network where we recently conducted training, the entire workflow -- from ingest to scriptwriting, roughing, package editing, promos, and output -- relied on a central media repository. 

Needless to say, that's a whole lot of pieces of software that need to talk to each other -- and making a separate copy of the source media for every step in the process is inefficient (imagine the extra disk space to hold 6 different copies of the same full HD footage for a 24/7 broadcast), not to mention confusing.
Using a FTP site as your destination from Apple Compressor is very easy to do. This process can be a big help in terms of efficiency. The old adage killing two birds with one stone comes to mind. With the big difference being you don't have to wait an hour to throw a stone. This process will compress and upload to your FTP location in one move. We have all sat around waiting for an export, so we could upload the exported file. This Compresor function keeps us from having to do that anymore.


It is very similar to uploading to your iDisc. When are in Compressor and want to have the compression automatically upload to a FTP site. First you must choose to add a new destination, and choose remote. Once you choose to add a new remote destination, the inspector will open and you will be able to add your FTP information. This is where you could also choose to upload to an iDisc. Make sure the file path represents the folder you are loading to.

GeniusDV provides 'online training services' for a variety of video software programs.  We use a nice tool called MouseLocator so students can easily see the mouse cursor.  Better yet, the utility is free!


mouse_locator.gifTo install Mouse Locator, download MouseLocator.dmg from 2point5fish.com.




 Click the Download Alternative Locator Graphics from the installation screen. This will open a web page with various mouse cursors that you can choose from.  You can choose to download the gallery package or you can download an individual shape by right-clicking (control-clicking) the shape and downloading it. You will want to save it to the top level of the Pictures folder. If the mouse locator program is already active, close it and reopen it. It will find and load the new shape when it reopens. 










After the installation is complete, the Mouse locator will appear as an icon in the Other section of the System Preferences as shown below. You activate it and set its parameters from here.




 I like using the small red rectangle. I use the Always On setting when I teach.


Within the preferences, you can set the cursor to fade after the mouse is pushed. The (Show button clicks) setting causes a yellow circle to flash when the mouse button is pressed.

One of the most impressive new capabilities in Photoshop CS4 is direct integration between Vanishing Point and Photoshop's 3D Layers.  Why is this cool?  Because you can turn this still photograph (a higher-res copy, obviously):

photoshop-vanishing-point-3d-tease1.png...into a fully-navigable 3D scene, letting you do things like this movie (download MOV):
...without ever leaving Photoshop.
supercharging-compressor.pngYou can find more compression settings articles in our Supercharging Compressor series index.

Note: There's something about me and GOP articles ... just as I did on the first part of this article, I seem to have accidentally published a blank draft a few hours ago.  This is the finished version.  My apologies.

Compressor, like most reasonably advanced MPEG2 compression tools, offers you some control over the size and structure of your GOPs.  You'll recall from the first part of this article that 15-frame (1/2-second) GOPs are the norm for MPEG-2 video, and this is appropriate for a wide range of video types.  Similarly, Compressor defaults to using a lot of "B"-frames -- those are the frames that take the least information to represent, but that depend most heavily on neighboring frames of video.

Read on for situations when you might want to change this around ...

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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