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October 2009 Archives

magic_mouse.gifAs we've mentioned our excitement here at GeniusDV the last few days regarding the new Apple iMacs, I wanted to take a closer look at the new Magic Mouse that is included with every new iMac.  The things this new mouse can do is amazing.  Although I've not yet had the chance to try it out, I'm looking forward to the day when I can.  As with any other time you're switching over to a new mouse, it takes some time getting used to.  Just like when I started using the Mighty Mouse; I hated it at first, but after working with it over time, I'd have a hard time reverting back.

Magic Mouse uses the same multi-touch technology as you would have on your iPhone or MacBook Pro, using finger gestures.  There are no visible buttons, no scroll wheel, just a sleek and smooth design.  The multi-touch area covers the whole top surface of the mouse and the mouse itself is the button.  You can scroll in any direction, and swipe through photos just as you would on your iPhone.  It's so intuitive, it knows just what you want it to do, and it won't confuse a scroll with a swipe.  You can also change these features in the System Preferences pane, to specify one button clicking or 2, or to disable swiping or scrolling.

magic_mouse2.gifThe new Apple Magic Mouse connects to your Mac wirelessly via Bluetooth; so before running out and purchasing one, be sure your Mac is Bluetooth enabled.  At least you won't have any of those tiny USB adapters to worry about losing like with other wireless mice.  Like I said before, all of the new iMacs come with the new Apple Magic Mouse, not to mention a wireless keyboard as well; but you can buy it separately, currently retailing just under $70.  Magic Mouse brings a whole new feel to the way you get around on your desktop!

Recently we talked about creating multiclips in Final Cut Pro.  Today, we'll take it one step further, and talk about how to actually edit that multiclip we created.

Assuming you already have your multiclip ready in the Browser, double-click on it to open it up in the Viewer.  The active angle is highlighted in a blue/green box.  Now click on the View pull-down menu and click on Show Multiclip Overlays.  This is so you can see each clips' angle number, name, and timecode. 


Now suppose you want those camera angles positioned differently in the Viewer; you can Command+drag any of those angles into another position.  So if you wanted your main camera angle to be in the number one position, just command+drag that main clip into the the first window; the clip that was in that position will simply move into the new arrangement.  If you have a lot of camera angles to organize, just Cmd+drag each clip into whatever position makes the most sense for you.

Now, click on the Playhead Sync pop-up menu in the Viewer.  Select Video.  This will allow you to switch between just the video sources, and you can use just one of the the audio clips from whichever angle has the best sound.  If you were to choose Video + Audio, you may have uneven sound levels between clips or even audio "popping" between edits.  Now notice once you've changed your Playhead Sync to Video only, and click on the number 2 postion, the blue/green box separates.  The green represents the active source your audio is coming from, and the blue highlight box switches to the active video angle.

playhead_sync_video2.gifContinue reading to edit your multiclip...

gs1.pngIf you've watched the weatherman on your local evening news, you know what a green-screen or blue-screen does.  The chroma keying process is the most popular way to extract talent or props from a moving image and composite them into another image -- like an animated weather map, or a virtual set.  Chroma keying allows your software to cleanly and automatically separate subjects from the background, while retaining their full range of detail.

Final Cut ships with a simple but powerful set of tools for pulling keys from green screen footage.  The keying tools in Final Cut Pro work based on the same engine as the tools in Motion, so you're free to work in whichever environment you're more comfortable with.

In today's article, a quick two-part guide to shooting reasonably good green screen footage and pulling the key in post.

Here's a short video tutorial on a creative way of using green screen.


fcp_icon.gifFinal Cut Pro 7 has made some improvements recently when it comes to Multicam editing.  Now you can cut multicamera footage just as quickly as if you were switching in real-time.  You can view and cut multiple sources by using the 1, 4, 9 or 16-up display and group up to 128 sources into multiclips; and now you can prepare multicam projects faster thanks to the new features in markers.  Retain markers on multiclips when you switch angles and add marker notes to make multicam projects more efficient.  So let's take a look at creating multiclips.

First of all, a multiclip is basically a virtual container from more than one source of clips or angles in which you can actually playback up to 16 at a time.  We said that you can group up to 128 clips into a single multiclip, but, very importantly, each of those clips must use the same codec, image dimensions, and frame rate; otherwise, you're gonna have a lot of headaches down the road.

Read on for a quick tutorial on creating Multiclips:

When you are not having sound coming out of your Final Cut system it can be a number of things. Lack of audio can too often be something that makes you say "Duh". Like  Is the volume muted? Or are there a pair of headphones plugged into the system?  I t could also be that there is no audio associated to a clip. 

Here are two troubleshooting techniques:

1. Do you see the audio meters moving when the clip plays?

2. Load a clip into the Viewer window.  Click on the audio tab at the top of the Viewer window.   Do you see an audio waveform?

 If you answered "no" to either of the last two questions, you're not hearing any audio, because there isn't any.


expose_icon.gifA few weeks ago, I wrote an article about disabling Expose' for the purposes of Final Cut Pro.  However, if you're currently not using Final Cut Pro, Expose' can have a lot of benefits to you just within your Mac OS X.  Let's take a quick look at what Expose' can do for you!

If you're like me when working on your Mac, you have several files and different applications open on your desktop at one time.  With Expose' you can cut through the clutter and find things on your desktop quickly.  By hitting the F3 key on your keyboard it activates Expose', and displays all of the open windows on your Mac so that you can quickly find the one you're looking for.


A couple of other quick key commands are Cmd + 1 arranges the windows alphabetically, and Cmd + 2 sorts them by application name.  You can also use Expose' from the Dock to see the window of a specific application; so to see all of the open Safari windows, just click and hold on the Safari icon. 


To see the open pages windows, click and hold on its icon.  Expose' displays the windows on a grid on the desktop.  You can view a full size preview of any window in the grid.  Just hover over the thumbnail with the cursor and tap the space bar.  Customizing Expose' is easy by opening System Preferences and selecting Expose' & Spaces.  You can assign keystrokes or mouse clicks to display all windows as thumbnails, to view all windows in the application you're currently using, and to show the desktop.  It can also set up active screen corners to trigger expose functions just by moving the cursor to the corners of your screen.


By taking advantage of all the great features of Expose' in the new OS X version of Snow Leopard, you're able to stay more organized on your Mac.  Now if only they could do that for my house!

WAV_icon.gifI was a little confused today about the difference between WAV files and other audio files such as CD, MP3, and AIFF.  In case there are some "freshman" out there, it is important to understand the various issues that may come up when dealing with these different formats.  First of all a WAV file is basically an audio file for Windows used for storing audio on a PC, similar to the AIFF format used on a Mac.  It is the main format used on Windows systems for raw and typically uncompressed audio.  Both WAVs and AIFFs are compatible with Windows and Mac.  A WAV file can hold compressed audio, but the most common WAV format contains uncompressed audio. Audio experts use the WAV format for maximum audio quality, and WAV files are universally compatible with most audio editing applications.
Even though .WAV files are compatible with Final Cut Pro, it is best to convert them to an .AIFF format with a sample rate of 48k. This will save system resources when Final Cut Pro plays the audio files.  Otherwise, you may encounter dropped frames or an annoying beeping sound while Final Cut Pro plays your sequence

Here's a quick tutorial on how to convert audio files to 48k .AIFF files:

dvd_studio_pro_icon.gifYou can create awesome slideshows right within DVD Studio Pro; however making sure your source material is properly prepared ahead of time is vital if you want to avoid wasting time and headaches down the road.  DVD Studio Pro lets you use most common image formats in slideshows such as PICT, BMP, JPEG, TIFF, TGA, QuickTime image files and Photoshop PSD files.  Once a still image is imported into DVD Studio Pro, it is converted into an MPEG image and if necessary, will automatically be scaled to fit the framesize.

You can create 4:3 and 16:9 slideshows.  For the best results, you should make sure your slides match the resolution of your slideshow.  Slides that are bigger or smaller than the slideshow's resolution are automatically scaled to fit.  If you have a slide where the aspect ratio doesn't match the project, a color background is automatically added to fill in the gaps.  The background color is defaulted to black, however, you can change that background color under the DVD Studio Preferences menu.


In a world of real-time editing and effects software, it's easier every day for new artists to do a great deal of work without really needing to render out their work in order to sufficiently preview it. Especially for After Effects artists who are coming from Premiere or Final Cut Pro, the idea behind the RAM Preview might not make complete sense. 

In today's article, two parts – the Backgrounder is for new AE artists, and the Tips section should be useful to everyone.

rampreview-1.pngYou've no doubt noticed the little green "tape" above your timeline (pardon, "Time Bar") in After Effects.  In fact, if you're coming from other motion graphics or editing software, it's probably familiar: in most circumstances, it refers to portions of your project that are rendered.

The same is true in After Effects.  But in After Effects, you'll be seeing a whole lot more of the little green bar.  While editing software generally streams video straight from the disk to the screen, motion graphics software always represents your project as more of a "recipe card": the computer must manipulate the original video into an intermediate format.  This requires a substantial amount of extra processing power – quite often, it requires so much extra time that the computer can't maintain a real-time framerate during preview playback.  That's where RAM Previews come in.
One of the newest tricks of Final Cut Pro 7 that I've discovered this week is the Reveal Affiliated Clips in Front Sequence command.  What's that all about?  Well, this is a great little trick to use if you ever need to find out quickly how many times you've used a clip in a sequence, say for color correction for example.  Let's suppose there are 10 different places in your project that you've used the same clip, but it needs a bit of color correcting.  You don't want to accidentally forget to fix one of those clips; believe me, someone will notice; so what you can do to make this really simple is select your clip in the Timeline and from the View Menu, choose Reveal Affiliated Clips in Front Sequence.


Now every affiliated clip will become selected in the Timeline.  Better yet, you can drop a color corrector filter on top of any of those affiliated clips, and the filter will be applied to all of them.  How simple is that!


If you just need some tips on organizing your media, check out this article on Finding Used and Unused Clips in Final Cut Pro.  And don't forget to check our class schedule to learn just about everything you can about Final Cut Pro!

Here's a quick video tutorial on how to create a countdown using a plugin from Too Much Too Soon.

Continue reading for a full text based tutorial on this same tutorial.

quicktime_player_icon.gifQuickTime X is the newest version of QuickTime Player developed for Snow Leopard.  Now you can trim your media right within the QuickTime Player.  It displays frame-based thumbnails that help you make the perfect edit.

It's great if you just need to remove a portion of the beginning or end of a movie, to make it shorter or remove unwanted content.  All you need to do, is once your movie is opened in QuickTime Player, choose Edit > Trim, (or Cmd + T) and the Trimming Bar appears.

quicktime_player_trim.gifUse the Trimming Bar to select the portion of the movie you want to keep.  Drag the playhead, represented by a red vertical line, to find the section of the movie that you want to get rid of.  Drag the start and end of the trimming bar, using the yellow handles to select the portion of the movie that you want to keep.  Click the Trim button.  The movie is now shortened to the portion you selected.

quicktime_player_trimmed.gifThe newest version of QuickTime X also offers a clean uncluttered interface with controls that fade out when you're not using them.  You can also use it to publish your media to MobileMe or YouTube without worrying about formats or resolutions.

Be sure to check out this tip about QuickTime Player and Snow Leopard too.

In Final Cut Pro, mixing resolutions and frame rates in the same sequence is actually quite common.  There are lots of different HD and SD formats and you will probably at some time receive media from a variety of different formats.  So your best bet is to mix everything to the highest format available.  If your final output is HD, you want the best quality when converting clips that are in SD.  Final Cut Pro fortunately does this for you, however you will need to specify some settings.

First, highlight the sequence in the Browser window and and right-click it to choose Settings from the contextual menu.  The Sequence Setting dialog appears.  Under the Video Processing Tab, click the Render all YUV material in high-precision YUV radio button.


For some reason, we seem to get a lot of people coming to the site looking to draw a heart beat.  I haven't the foggiest idea why, but I'm glad – it's one of those examples where Motion can make your life a lot easier.

This is what we're setting out to make today; you can dress it up however you'd like, and you can even use a shape that looks more like a "real" heartbeat than the one I drew.  We'll do a couple of approaches -- one is quick, the other is better-looking.
clock_image.gifWe talk about it all the time; media management and organization.  Still, with some, it just doesn't seem to sink in.  We all want to become more efficient editors, but we're just wasting time by not having our media organized.  So let me give you a different spin today on organizing your media, but without ANY media at all.  Creating a project template in the Finder.

Do this BEFORE ever opening Final Cut Pro, or capturing any video.

Start out by creating a new folder called Project Template, then create subfolders inside it such as Video, Audio, Stills, Graphics. 

motion-logo.jpgAs you may have noticed, Apple has retired LiveType as of Final Cut Studio 3.  Fortunately for you LiveType folks, though, you can get to almost all of LiveType's functionality in Motion (plus a lot more).


Our students really seem to like LiveType's LiveFonts -- sets of animated glyphs with which you could type as if they were a regular font.  In my grouchy opinion, the stock LiveFonts quickly grew stale as they began to appear all over the place, but even I have to acknowledge that there are some really nice third-party LiveFonts available, and many of my students have chosen to invest in those.

Motion can indeed use all of your LiveFonts, although it might not be immediately obvious.  If you're new from LiveType, you should first realize that the Inspector in Motion works very similarly to the Inspector in LiveType -- and all of the LiveFonts functionality is controlled there.  Motion's Library also contains thumbnail previews of all of the LiveFonts you have installed.

Read on for the Step by Step ...

sketchup_icon.gifOne of our newest 2 day training classes, Google Sketchup, will be offered  at our Orlando training facility November 5th & 6th, 2009.  We are offering a special price for the November class!

Google's Sketchup is an amazing 3D modeling program that has users from all walks of life from professionals to first timers.  Whether you're an architect, civil engineer, or filmmaker, you will be astounded at what Sketchup can do for you.  And the best part?  It's one of the easiest programs out there to learn and use.  With Sketchup, you can build everything from basic 3D models to entire scenes with a virtual walk-through, and it allows you to add your 3D elements into your video projects.

sketchup_images.gifOther features of Sketchup is the ability to facilitate the placement of models in Google Earth, which is a great tool for video producers when trying to figure out where your shadows lie at a specific time of day during a video shoot.  Another great feature is the ability to use the 3D Warehouse, which lets users search for models that are created by other users and lets users contribute their own models to the warehouse.

There's no limit to what you can create with Google's Sketchup.  There is a limit however to our class size, so call today to reserve your spot!

motion-logo.jpgMotion's motion trackers are relatively sophisticated, as 2D trackers go.  In the general case, motion trackers can useful to give you a head start on basic compositing tasks like corner-pinning, to extrapolate simple camera motion to guide match-moves, and to extract elements of natural camera motion (see also the Stabilize Behavior).  And in Motion's case, its trackers are not only quite good at what they do, they're easy to use quickly.

To play with a basic motion tracker, load some kind of footage into Motion.  Then, apply an Analyze Motion behavior to it (Behaviors -> Motion Tracking -> Analyze Motion).  You should see something that looks like a circle with crosshairs:


dvd_studio_pro_icon.gifYou can customize your button colors in DVD Studio Pro to make your menu buttons your own.  By default when drawing your own buttons, the button color is white, and usually defaults to something simple when using templates as well, like white, black, yellow, or red.  Boring.  Get creative, and change those colors!  You can do this very easily in the Button Inspector in DVD Studio Pro.

Button states are defined as Normal, Selected, and Activated.  When someone is viewing your DVD, and chooses a button with their remote control, the button becomes selected, and it displays the highlight color you have chosen for the selected state.  The activated state shows up for a split second when the user presses the Play button on the remote control.

Assuming you have already drawn and named your buttons, in the Button Inspector, make sure you have the Include Text in Highlight checkbox selected located at the bottom of the inspector in the Style Tab.


You can easily find sound effects or movie files by using the Find feature within the Apple Finder.  Press (command + F) to activate the ‘Find’ window.



The key to finding specific elements is to change the ‘Kind’ menu to a specific file type.  For example, if you are looking for a specific sound effect, you would set the ‘Kind’ menu to music.  Now, only audio files will show up in the search list.


If you have an iPhone, you know what the transition between photos looks like, kind of like in a slideshow.  You can actually emulate that transition with a plug-in from Noise Industries' FxFactory.  It's called the cell phone browser transition.

Once you have downloaded FxFactory, you will be able to find the transition under the Effects Tab > Video Transitions > NI Transitions > Cell Phone Transition


Change the preset to Just like the iPhone.  You can even change the direction of the transition in the transition editor along with other parameters such as Scale, Gap, Drop Shadow, Gradient, and Color Space.


Don't forget to check out the other cool transition plug-ins available from FxFactory.

3dscopes-1.pngIn addition to the usual waveforms and vectorscopes, Color offers a 3D scope which scatters the pixels of your image through a 3D graph of the gamut of your selected color space.  It's great for "client wow factor," but I've still not found a student who can think of a really good practical use for the view.  Sure, you can roughly assess the distribution of pixels as you attempt to balance and guarantee consistency across shots -- but the freely-manipulable 3D perspective strikes me as too imprecise to use for much more than you could do with more normal scopes already.

The 3D scopes do offer one feature that almost all of my students agree is useful: if you click any of the three swatches at the bottom of the scope, you can pinpoint the values associated with one specific point in your image (by clicking and dragging on the Preview scope).  In the 3D scope, beside the swatch you have selected, you'll see text indicating the specific color values associated with that point in the color space you're viewing.  Even cooler (but probably less useful), the 3D scope will use bold lines to "triangulate" the selected point inside the mass of points in the 3D field.

In the remainder of today's article, I'll post quick snaps of the different color spaces represented in 3D -- but in the meantime, do you have any killer practical uses for the 3D scope itself?  Leave them in the comments -- the commenter who convinces me that they're uniquely useful on the regular will get a prize.
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This page is an archive of entries from October 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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