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July 2009 Archives

With the recent upgrade of Final Cut Studio, Soundtrack Pro has also been upgraded to help you edit and mix your audio even faster with new multitrack editing tools and easy ways to fix common audio problems.  You can remove unwanted background noise in just a few simple steps and you can quickly identify, preview and fix audio that contains pops, clicks, hum, DC offset, and more.

Soundtrack Pro analyzes an audio file for common problems like pops, clicks, and more and automatically removes the unpleasant sounds.  The Analysis Tab will remove such common problems.  You can fix one problem at a time, or repair all the problems at once by clicking on Fix All.

analysistab.gif Soundtrack Pro features a dedicated tool for removing background noise, like for example, wind.  Set a Noise Print for a sample of the background noise you want to remove, and selectively dial it out of the entire recording.  This way you are able to rescue audio that would otherwise be lost or unusable.

noiseprint.gifCheck out our Soundtrack Pro training classes to learn how to use the powerful new restoration tools of Soundtrack Pro 3!


A great new feature of Final Cut Studio 3 is the new iChat Theatre.  Now you can collaborate with your clients in real time, from anywhere!  All you need is a standard internet connection. 

From the View Menu, choose iChat Theater Preview > Start Sharing when you want to discuss a project with a client remotely. 

iChattheater.gifThen, simply invite them to a video chat.  From there, you will be able to review your edit together by hitting Play in the Timeline.  You can discuss changes face to face and make real-time adjustments to the edit as needed; then you can watch the changes simultaneously.  No need to wait to hear from a client anymore; now it can be instant!

iChattheater2.gifiChat Theater lets you preview a project from the Canvas or watch clips directly in the Viewer.  You can also activate the Timecode Overlay to make it easy for both viewers to make notes while viewing and editing the project.  With Final Cut Pro 7 and iChat Theater, working remotely on your projects couldn't be easier! 


Being able to find your used and unused clips within Final Cut Pro is so important in keeping your clips organized.  To figure out which clips you have used or not used in your sequence:  Select your sequence, then go to Edit > Find and under the For drop down menu, you can choose Unused Media or Used Media.

findfeature.gifOnce you have one of those options selected, click on Find All, and a new window will open showing you either the Used or Unused media in your project.  The Find Results Window Tab can be attached to another window, or the clips can be dragged to another folder or window.

findresults.gifThe Find feature's Find Result Window can also display thumbnail images in Icon mode, just like in the browser, in case you want to see what the clip looks like.

findthumbnails.gifOnce you have figured out your unused media, and you want to get it out of the way, check out this tutorial using the Media Manager to delete your unused media





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Final Cut Studio 3 came out this week, and we are seeing many new an exciting features. We are already hard at work updating our Final Cut Studio training classes to incorporate the new features of the various applications.

Some of the most notable changes in the Final Cut Studio come in the export options of Final Cut Pro 7, that utilizes the power of Compessor 3.5. Final Cut 7 also introduces an exciting new Apple Pro Res 4444 codec, and improved slow motion. Compressor 3.5 has a number of new features including the ability output directly to Blu-ray, YouTube, or Mobile Me.

One sad note is that LiveType is not shipping with the Final Cut Studio any more. LiveType was always a great complimentary application to Final Cut Pro. The expectation is that users will go to Motion for all of the features that they would have used LiveType for. However LiveType had a much simpler learning curve, and it in fact was a great application to learn as you progressed into Motion. The Timing ability of LiveType is unmatched in any application of the current Final Cut Studio, and will certainly be missed. Luckily for those of us who are upgrading to Final Cut Studio 3 from Final Cut Studio 2, will still have LiveType.

The list price of Final Cut Studio 3 is $999, and the upgrade is $299. sign up to recieve GeniusDV posts about the new features of Final Cut Studio 3.

The other day I needed to mask someone's voice.  I remembered seeing a feature within SoundTrack Pro that allows you to turn someone's voice into a robot.  There's an actual term for this type of thing, it's called 'robotize'.
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Well, after countless hours, I couldn't find the 'robotize' feature.  After some calls to various GeniusDV co-workers, I finally figured it out.  It's built into the 'vocal transformer' effect under the 'Pitch' category within SoundTrack Pro.

Here's a Quick Tutorial on how it works.
spbee.gifStingers aren't just on bumble bees, they are in almost every movie.  One of the most powerful musical elements in crafting suspense is the Stinger.  You know, that subtle string sound that creeps into the scene and strings you emotionally without warning.  For example, imagine a scene that involves a character walking down the hall toward his apartment door.  He hasn't a care in the world.  He might be talking on a cell phone, and the only music is the light thump of a neighbor's stereo.  But a musical stinger begins as he approaches the door and fumbles for his keys, so tension is starting to mount for the audience even before the character notices that his door is already ajar.

What makes Stingers so effective is that they slowly creep into the soundtrack, and by the time the audience notices, their adrenaline is already pumping.  Stingers are used for instant suspense. 

Soundtrack Pro 2 has many Stinger effects in the library, but the one we're talking about is the one that raises the little hairs on the back of your neck is Designer Synth 07.aiff  Audition this sound and use it in any variety and watch how it can change the whole outcome of your scene.  Have fun with it and many others in Soundtrack Pro.

To get the best training in Soundtrack Pro and in Final Cut Pro, contact the representatives at GeniusDV for the next available class.
 
Did you know that all Mac computers have the ability to start up in Target Disk Mode?  What that means is, is that you can configure your Mac as a hard drive, which can be plugged in to another computer.  This makes it really easy to copy media between your computer and another system.  And, if you have a MacBook or MacBook Pro, you can configure your laptop as a hard drive that runs on its own battery.

How, you ask?  Well first of all you would have to completely shut down your Mac.  Hold down the T key when you restart your computer.  It will eventually display a FireWire symbol on the screen, which means it is ready to be hooked up to another computer using a FireWire cable.  The computer mounts just like any other computer's desktop.  Then you can copy media between the two!

firewireicon.gifAlso, be sure to check out this article about using Target Disk Mode to install Mac software.

DVD Studio Pro is Apple's powerful DVD authoring application.  With drag & drop ability to design menus and set up connections to your content, editors find it's easy to start a project, and create professional DVD's over time with awesome, intuitive tools.  And best of all, you can preview and test your work in real time, with no need to burn a disc.

Commonly, there are 6 steps involved in DVD authoring: 

  • Plan the viewer's experience (like in a storyboard)
  • Create your assets (Video, audio, and image files)
  • Import your assets
  • Assemble elements (into Menus and tracks)
  • Link the elements (creating flows from menus to submenus using buttons)
  • Build & Format the disk
As you create your disk, be sure to pay careful attention to how the viewer will navigate through the DVD with their remote control.  In DVD Studio Pro you can test how the different buttons will function using the Simulator. 

dvdspremote.gif
scientist.pngSome of you like my technical side notes ("wonkish" was the word you used, as I recall), so here's a crash course in the statistics that let particle systems look good.  If you'd rather just focus on learning the "how" rather than the "why," you may want to give this article a miss -- the gentler Part 2 of this series is in the pipeline (it's already written, actually).

So as a side note to Part 1, we'll be using the same process by which we set the speed of the footballs (setting an average value and a measure of random variation) to accomplish a lot with particle systems (at least in Motion).  You can control an awful lot about a given parameter just by setting two values: the average value of a parameter, and the amount of random variation you want in that parameter. 

It might help if you have dealt with basic statistics: remember the "bell curve" of the normal (or Gaussian) distribution?  It's called "normal" for a reason: an incredible range of natural phenomena fit the distribution.  That's why it's useful when we're trying to fake natural phenomena.


Which microphone should I be using?

Excellent question.  There are so many microphones in the market today for so many different uses.   Without boring you to tears on the aspects of each kind, let me just cut to the chase on which is best for you in the studio.

Every sound engineer would agree that you MUST have a large diaphragm mic to record with if you want to get every little sound.  The difference?  Night and Day. Large diaphragm mics are built to pick up the lightest sound and still be able to handle the harshest.

If you are going to do voice-over work, or recording vocalists and instruments, the large diaphragm is the way to go.  I recommend a microphone with that has at large a once inch diaphragm.


at0404 microphone.jpgMy recommendation to have a fabulous microphone and not send you to the poor house is the Audio Technica  AT-4040.  For just $299.00,  you get a great mic that will handle the highs and lows that need to be put into the sound environment. The AT-4040 has proven to be a workhorse for me in my studio for every aspect of the genre. I use this microphone for all my recording into Soundtrack Pro 2 and it works excellent.  Any one working in music or video production that wants quality for their audio, this mic is for  you.


 

Like I always say, the more organized you keep your media, the quicker your Final Cut Pro project will go, and a much more efficient editor you will be.  That being said, the more information you enter while Logging your clips, the more organized you will be able to keep them. 

Because external hard drives are so inexpensive these days, editors can capture entire tapes and log afterward.  Once your footage is on your hard disk, you can review it more efficiently and logging will go a lot faster.  Most logging and capturing is done in the Log & Capture window, but you can also use the Browser to add your logging information to clips after you capture.

Some editors will first log their tapes and then batch capture using the Log & Capture window.  You could watch your footage by playing the tape in a deck or camcorder connected to Final Cut Pro.  You can set In & Out points and create clips that represent portions of your original media.  After you finish logging, you capture media for only the clips you think you will need for your project.

Now that we covered the basic principal of Log & Capture, let's focus on just the Logging portion of the process.  Take a look at the Log & Capture window (we find this under the File Menu); you will see 3 main tabs across the top of the window (right hand side), Logging, Clip Settings, and Capture Settings.

logging.gifThe Logging Tab is what you will use to add detailed information to each clip you log, for example, Reel name, In & Out points, scene number, markers, etc.  You can also add this information later on in the Browser, however, in my opinion, it's best to do early on in your "pre-editing" phase. 

Let's take a wedding video for example; when you are logging your clips to your footage, first enter the name of your project under the Log Bin, such as Lynch_Jones_Wedding; note the Tape number under Reel (assuming you've numbered your tapes before you even started shooting; this is a good habit to get into) then start adding details to your Description such as, rehearsal at the church, the rehearsal dinner, the guys playing golf the morning of, the bride and bridesmaids at the beauty salon, and so on, and so on.  For Angle, you might have shot this wedding from two different angles, like one view from the balcony, and one view from the pulpit.  Make sure to note these in this Logging Tab.  Making detailed notes under Log Notes, can only help you remember that there is a funny shot here where the best man is picking his nose, or the bride cries here, or something like that.  Also be sure to check the box marked Good, for a shot that is an absolute must-use for your project.  You don't want to forget about those later, and it is Final Cut's job to look for those clips marked "good" so that you won't miss them.

It is important to know that when you are Logging in Final Cut Pro, you are adding the information to clips, not media files.  Which means, that all of your logging info is stored in your Project File, not the media files on disk.  If you delete your project file, your logging info is deleted as well.

I know what you're thinking..."wow, this is gonna be time consuming", BUT, believe me, it can and will save you time in the long run.  By adding detailed notes, comments, and labels to your footage, it will help you and any other editors involved with the project to navigate a large amount of source material.  Logging information can reduce the amount of footage you have.  You can often eliminate a large amount of footage before you start editing.
avid spectramatte both.gif
I have been working on a project recently the involved several Green Screen shots. In the past I have always used Adobe After Effects for all my keying needs. The Keylight plug-in in After Effects is very powerful keyer with great results but it does require skill and knowledge to get desired results. It also requires that you export your footage out of the editing program and import into After Effects and then when you are done you need to export out of After Effects and back into your editor. This is very time consuming and creates extra files on your hard drive that you will need to delete later to save space. Well, Avid Media Composer has one of the most amazing Keying systems I have seen to date, the SpectraMatte.
avid spectramatte controls.gif 

motion-logo.jpgParticle systems are everywhere, and if you've dealt with motion graphics you've probably bumped into the concept before.  Today we'll try to flesh out the concept from the ground up.  While my practical exercise is laid out for Motion, the principles are universal.

I'll start by saying that particle systems are worth learning.  Know them, and you'll build more stunning graphics faster.  In all sorts of organic settings -- from smoke and flame effects, to snow and rain, to fields of grass -- particle systems, used artfully, allow for coherent and visually stimulating effects with far less effort and precision than frame-by-frame animation would require.  Particle systems animate "automatically" over time, but you still have tremendous control over how the systems behave at any given time.  Plus, you have complete control over each individual wisp of smoke or blade of grass: used effectively, this allows for systems with extremely clean alpha channels as well as allowing quick, basic 3D animation.

Particle-based animation is a type of procedural animation -- instead of describing the specific transformations that you want to happen to a specific element, you describe what a typical example of the "right" behavior and give the computer the freedom to pick the specifics.  For example, I could say "take this picture of a football, and 'throw' it across the screen from left to right."  But what if I wanted to throw a whole bunch of footballs at once? 

As Final Cut Pro has matured over the years, there are a variety of places where you can purchase plug-ins.  Some of these sites provide free plug-ins. 

Here is a list of my favorite places to find effects plug-ins for Final Cut Pro.

Too Much Too Soon: A free set of plugins that I’ve found to be extremely useful. Check out the free 'wind blur' filter.

blur-wipe.gif

Joe’s Filters:  An inexpensive set of filters for Final Cut Pro

CGM Plugins:  For the money, this is my favorite set of plug-ins.  Better yet, you can download them instantly.  If you own a legacy version of Final Cut Pro, Volume 1 used to ship with Final Cut Pro 3.0.  Those plugins still work with Final Cut Pro 6.0. You can follow this link for instructions for installing plugins for Final Cut Pro.

Boris Continuum: My next favorite set of plugins for Final Cut Pro is Boris Continuum Complete 6.  These plugins definitely will take your effects to the next level.

Some of the better plugins sites also worth looking at are:

ToolFarm: Final Cut Pro Plug-ins from Nattress
GenArts Sapphire:  GenArts is known for their high quality plugins.
CHV-Electronics
Andy’s Plugins
: Looks like another set of free filters.
CoreMelt
Red Giant Plugins
FX Factory

When exporting a QuickTime movie from Avid Media Composer, you may want to take a quick look at your color levels.  Chances are you may be exporting with ‘safe broadcast’ levels.  The RGB equivalent of broadcast levels are 16 (black) – 235 (white).

rgb-mapping.gif

Save Broadcast levels are only necessary if you plan on â€˜broadcasting’ your program.  For example, if you’re producing a ½ show for Sportsman Channel.

If you are producing a project that is going directly to DVD, or a multimedia movie, you may want to consider adjusting the range of luma levels.  Otherwise, the blacks won't be 'super black', and your whites will be slightly 'grey'.

You can see the difference in this example when the luminance levels are stretched ot use the entire luminance range of 0-255 instead of 16-235.

split_screen_color_correction.png

The black levels on the left are washed out as a result of using a maximum luminance value of 16.  

An easy fix is to apply a ‘color effect’ to a top most track within the Media Composer timeline.  This will allow you to adjust the luminance levels for an entire sequence, without have to place the same effect onto each segment.  This is also referred to a ‘submaster’ effect.  Better yet, you’ll only need to render the top color effect.

sub_master_color_effect.gif

If you are an Avid Media Composer user, and you're like me, you've been hesitant to upgrade to Windows Vista.  After all, Windows XP Professional has been a steady workhorse for Avid Media Composer users. With the Microsoft's Windows 7 coming out soon, it may be worth completely skipping out on upgrading to Windows Vista. 

That being said, if you are a Media Composer user running Windows XP 32bit, you may need to take the extra step of modifying the boot.ini file for Windows XP.  This is because the maximum amount of memory that Windows XP Professional can use is limited to 4GB.  Worse yet, the virtual address space for applications is still limited to 2 GB.

 

ram stick.jpg

In the past, running with only 1 or 2 Gigs of memory wasn't a big deal.  But now, since every retail version Media Composer comes bundled with Avid Marquee and Avid FX, memory resources can become scarce.  In my case, my Media Composer software would crash quite frequently when attempting to use the Avid FX plugin.

The fix is to run the /3GB switch which will allow the Media Composer software to access an additional 1GB of ram.  Again, doesn't sound like much, but it made a huge improvement on my own system.  My Avid FX plugin no longer crashes my system after performing the upgrade.

Run the install 3GB program located on the c:/program files/Avid/utilities/3GB. A command prompt will open up with recommend settings for changing the boot .ini file.

As an additional side note, when upgrading your systems memory, I recommend purchasing memory from a discounter like Crucial memory. I also recommend running their system scanner to detect which memory is compatible with your system.  Also, it's probably worth pitching your old memory so you can run all new memory with matching speeds.  Myself, I couldn't believe the performance increase moving from 2GB to 4GB with the faster memory.

 

 

Photoshop is an invaluable tool for video editor, and I've always been a big fan of teaching the Photoshop basics as it applies to video editing.  One basic Photoshop skill is the ability to cut out a company logo so it can be placed as a 'bug' or integrated within a video project to help brand a business.  You can read up on a Photoshop tutorial for creating a glass bug on how to actually do this.

For myself, I like to keep things simple.  I've always touted using the file format .png to when saving graphics for import to/from Avid Media Composer or Final Cut Pro.  This keeps things relatively simple, and you do not have to worry about merging layers or flattening the image for things to look right.  Of course, you still should save a .psd copy in case you decide to make changes to your original Photoshop file.

For simple things, you can cut your logo using Photoshop.  It's best to save the image with a .png (portable network graphics) extension.  That's it! 

However, there is one annoying element that may come into play when saving graphics that contain a transparent background.  When saving a selected image with Photoshop, the selected area overlaps with the transparent background.  This is translated as 'white' when it is brought into Avid Media Composer or Final Cut Pro.  This means you'll end up with a 1 pixel white edge around your image.  For simple things, you may never notice.  However, if you are a perfectionist, or if you graphic is keyed over a dark scene, it's quite noticeable and it looks poor.

edge_vs_no_edge.gif

Click the image for a closer look.

Here's an actual 'blown up' example of the GeniusDV logo imported into Avid Media Composer.  You can see hints of an edge that has come over from where the selection and the transparent background meet.  Again, this may not be noticeable in certain occasions, but this has grown into one of my pet peeves.

 

The Mac OS Color Palette is dynamic, and holds preferences across applications. The presets are not always visible, and it is very possible that you don't realize it is there. At the bottom of the Color Palette there is a small dot that can be drug down to expose the Preference Grid. To populate the grid you need only drag from the Color Window to the Preference Grid. These preferences will be available in most Mac applications, including the Final Cut Studio, & iLife. This is very useful when you are attempting to maintain a project color theme across multiple applications.

color_palette.gif



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

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