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December 2009 Archives

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The new line of Sony XD Camcorders have set the world of videography on its edge. The Sony EX-1 and EX-3 produce beautiful images and are in the budget range of almost any studio. There is some software that you need to make sure you have if you are going to use the XD Cam codec to its full potential. I have had several students and client ask where to get all the plug-ins and software they need to start the editing process. Sony offers everything you need to get your XD cam media into your favorite NLE. Depending on which NLE you use it will determine the software you will download but here is a brief description of each.

 

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Out of all of our tutorials, the "Pleasantville" or "Schindler's List" effect is one of your enduring favorites.  Long story short, you render an image in black and white, except for a single color (quite often red).  Today, we'll take a look at Apple Color's HSL curves in the Secondary rooms, and use those to execute a very quick "Pleasantville Effect" in Color.

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The HSL curves in Apple Color's Secondary rooms are very cool: they let you selectively manipulate the tonality of a specific range of your image's hues, and, unlike key-based selections, they force a smooth transition between "in-selection" and "out-of-selection" regions.  In other words, they take care of those splotchy parts of your matte without the need to fiddle with HSL key controls.

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fcp_icon.pngDid you know you can change the timing on your transitions in Final Cut Pro?  It's no secret, I love using transitions, within moderation of course; but I have a few favorites that I use and think to myself, wow, this would be even cooler if I could just slow it down a bit.  There are several ways to do this, mostly having to do with trimming the transition or changing the duration of the transition itself. 

One way is to simply right-click the transition and choose Duration from the drop down menu, and in the pop-up window that appears, enter the new duration and click OK.

transition_duration.pngAnother way is to just drag the edges of the transition icon to make it shorter or longer.  But the third way is what I personally use most:  using the Transition Editor.  Double-click on the transition to open it up in the Transition Editor.

transition_editor.pngYou can use the Transition Editor to make detailed changes to a transition's parameters.  Along with changing the timing, you can adjust the alignment, trim the edit point between 2 clips or even reverse the direction of a transition.

Check out this article for more detailed information about the Transition Editor.


automotion_icon.pngThere's a great way to automate the production of multiple graphics in Apple Motion; it's a simple download available from Digital Heaven called AutoMotion, and they've just released their latest version.  There's no need to manually change the text contents in Motion and save each version to a separate file; rather, AutoMotion speeds up your workflow by merging text data with Motion templates to create multiple versions quickly.  If you're an editor who spends a lot of time creating multiple graphics based on templates, then AutoMotion is for you.

You can import up to 99 Motion templates per project and you can see a live preview of each version that updates automatically as changes are made along with many more enhancements in this newer version.  AutoMotion is really great when you've exported the graphics into a Final Cut Pro sequence.  If you need to change the font or color, it's no problem.  Any version now changed in AutoMotion is flagged and the Smart Export feature will only export those versions that have changed; in Final Cut Pro the graphics are updated without changing their timing in the sequence.

automotion_welcome.png It doesn't matter what your level of Motion experience is, if you're creating multiple graphics, you'll get huge benefits of using AutoMotion.  GeniusDV has a terrific 2-day Motion training class that teaches you how to create awesome visual graphics and special effects.  Check out our class schedule and call us today to reserve your spot!

Did you know that Final Cut Pro has a cool set of audio filters located within the Effects Tab?  You can apply audio filters by dragging a particular filter to a clip within the Timeline, and you can stack an unlimited number of filters onto clips.  Filters are processed in the order they are applied.

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In order to adjust and see the controls for each filter, you must double-click a particular audio clip to load its contents into the Viewer window.  Click the Filters Tab at the top of the window to reveal a list of audio filters that have been applied.  Depending on your screen resolution, you may need to increase the size of the Viewer window in order to see the keyframe area for the audio controls.

audio_filters_2.pngIt's fun to play around with some of the filters to see how you can change some of the audio effects of your clip.  I especially like the reverberation filter; it gives you that robotic feel.  The New Year is quickly approaching...do you have your Final Cut Pro class already scheduled?  Classes do fill up quickly since our class size is small and personal, so be sure to call us today!

fcp_icon.pngThere are a variety of different workflows when it comes to mixing audio levels within Final Cut Pro.  For example, you can edit projects by cutting video with its corresponding audio into a sequence and add music and sound effects later.  This is most commonly done with larger projects, such as, scripted film, television programs, and documentaries.  For shorter projects such as news and television commercials, you many want to start with a basic narrative soundtrack and add video to it, adding music and sound effects later.  Or, you can use a combination of these two methods. 

Regardless of how a sequence is created, additional audio tracks containing music, sound effects, and voiceovers are often added to it.  The audio levels of the individual tracks need to be adjusted so that the proper message is conveyed.  As an example, if you are putting music into a scene, the voiceover track should be at least six decibels louder than the music for the words to be heard.  All of the audio tracks are combined to produce the final audio output.

After the relative levels of the individual clips have been adjusted, the overall volume of the sequence needs to be adjusted.  To demonstrate this, I'll start by building a sequence with 10 seconds of bars and tone created by the Generators menu.

bars_tone.pngThis automatically loads 2 minutes of bars and tone into the Viewer window.  Final Cut Pro automatically marks an area of 10 seconds in the middle of the clip.  If you place the bars and tone into the timeline, notice that the audio volume is -12dB in both the left and right channels, as shown by the audio meter during playback.  If you were to add two more audio tracks and overwrite the audio from the bars and tone into these tracks, the audio volume would be -6dB in both the left and right channels.

bars_tone_audio_meter.pngThe process of combining audio tracks into channels is called mixing.  As you can see, adding audio tracks increases the overall volume without changing the volume of any of the individual tracks or clips.  For television programs, the desired maximum volume is -6dB.  To adjust clips in a sequence, you can use the Audio Mixer Tool.


fcp_icon.pngThere are a variety of techniques you can use to speed your trimming.  Here's some handy keyboard shortcuts to remember for trimming left and right in Final Cut Pro:

  • V key:  Moves the playhead to the nearest edit point
  • U key:  Toggles between selecting the In point , Out point, or both
  • Comma:  Trims the selected edit point left one frame at a time
  • Period:  Trims the selected edit point right one frame at a time
  • Shift < or Shift >  Trims left or right multiple frames.  By default, this trims in five-frame increments, but the number of frames can be changed in the User Preferences under the Editing Tab
editing_tab.pngRemember, to get the most accurate trims, be sure to turn off snapping (N key), and also make sure you have plenty of handles.

If you are running your video editing system with multiple OS X users, you may run into a scenario where you need to grab something from another user’s desktop.  This sounds easy, but the built in permissions of OS X will prohibit you from accessing another user’s desktop. Even with administrator rights, you still will not be able to access another user’s home folder.



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If you are like me, you store all sorts of things on your desktop while editing.  For myself,  the desktop is one of my primary workspaces.  I’m always moving items to and from my desktop while editing.  Because of this, I’ve developed a habit of using the shared folder a bit more frequently.  The shared folder is a common area where all users can freely access material. 

This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but imagine if you need to grab an element from another user’s desktop, and you do not have their password.  Worse yet, what if that particular employee or contractor is no longer around?.  You now have no way of logging into their OS X account to retrieve the material.

Fortunately, there is another work-around.  You can enable the Mac OS X root user account, which will allow you to access all the files and folders from another OS X user. The root user account is also referred to as a ‘super user’, since it provides unlimited privileges.  Better yet, until a root user account is enabled, any account with administrator privileges can enable it.

Here are the steps to enable the root user account for Mac OS X.

photoshop_icon.gifHave you ever had a problem trying to get Photoshop to do something that you know you've done before, but it just simply won't work this time around?  I had that very issue last week with trying to see my text I was typing in photoshop.  No matter what I tried, my text kept coming up invisible.  I could see that I was typing something in the layers along the right handside of the interface, however, the text would just not show up in the picture I was working on.  It was very frustrating.  Until someone suggested we reset the Photoshop settings.

It was as simple as pressing CMD+ALT+SHIFT (all three keys at once), when opening Photoshop; you will then be prompted to Delete the Photoshop Settings; click Yes, and now you have reset your settings back to their defaults.  This solution worked perfectly.

If you are a PC user, use CTRL+ALT+SHIFT.

reset_photoshop_prompt.gifWhat do you have to lose by resetting Photoshop?  Basically any personal preferences you may have set, but you won't lose any filters or plug-ins you may have.
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This week's featured Plug-in for Final Cut Pro does an awesome job smoothing skin and removing blemishes from people on footage.  BeautyBox from Digital Anarchy uses an advanced technique like Face Detection to automatically identify skin tones.  There's no need to manually create masks or retouch frame by frame.  The process is designed to speed up the workflow that usually takes so much time for skin retouching.

beautybox_comparison.gifSkin Smoothing is also a technology they use to keep important features of the face sharp but still reduce or even erase wrinkles & blemishes.  The auto-feature is really intuitive as to retouching, but there are also separate parameters within the filter that you can tweak for even better results.
beautybox_parameters.gifYou can download a demo at Digital Anarchy's website as well as see more examples of how this software can help you.  The demo plug-in does place a watermark (hence the gray vertical line on my sample) on your footage, but once you see what it can do in such a short amount of time, you'll be ready to purchase!

fcp_icon.gifFinal Cut Pro sequences can become incredibly complex and can contain tons of edit points, therefore, being able to manage your Timeline window is an important skill, and important that you are able to manage your sequences efficiently.  Final Cut Pro provides the ability to resize each track (or layers in your timeline) within a sequence.  By stretching your tracks vertically, or making them taller in the Timeline, your clip icons become larger.  When the track height is at its smallest, you won't be able to see the clip icons at all. 

There are track height presets that automatically resize the tracks for you.  The toggle for the Timeline track height is located in the lower left corner of the Timeline window.  You can also use the keyboard shortcut Shift+T to cycle through the different track sizes.

track_height_toggle.gifShown below is a sample of the different track heights to give you an idea...

sample_track_heights.gifYou can also manually adjust each track by placing the mouse cursor just below each track until the mouse cursor changes into the resize indicator.  For example, if you only want to change the track size in just one of your audio tracks in order to see the waveform better, you might use this method.  Drag the corresponding track to the size that you prefer.



You can also set the track to open at a particular height everytime you open a new sequence by setting it in the user preferences under Timeline Options.

timeline_options.gifWe have a great 5 day Final Cut Pro class that can help beginners through intermediate editors alike; why not give us a call today to schedule?




Cooliris is a new option for browsing images and video. After downloading Cooliris it embeds a button onto your browser that launches Cooliris. Once in Cooliris you are able to view the media in a much more interactive format.

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Cooliris has a 3D wall that allows you to zoom in and out, or move up and down the wall. You are also able to isolate individual images or video. Cooliris even works on your internal drive, so you can navigate to a folder of pictures on your computer, and it will display them the Cooliris way. This is a great way to take a quick look at 100's of files for use in applications like Final Cut, Motion, Photoshop, and After Effects



This is a very exciting application, I highly advise you to give it a try.


If you are having problems capturing into your Avid or Final Cut Pro system using a DV / firewire connection, you might want to check the length and quality of the firewire cables that you are using.


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I've run into the follow problems that all turned out to related to a firewire cabling issue.

- Bad / Distorted Video Signal
- Missing / Inacurate Timecode
- Dropped frames while capturing
- Audio Pops while capturing
- No Deck Control
- An audio signal with no video signal
- Audio interference
- Audio sync problems while capturing

- Intermittent capturing problems

When purchasing firewire cables, keep these important factors in mind.....

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Final Cut Pro students are always seeking shortcuts in order to make their editing workflow more efficient.  But sometimes they don't realize those shortcuts are usually right in front of them.  To find a shortcut for any button or function in the interface, simply move your pointer over that area.  A Tooltip appears with the tool name and keyboard shortcut when you leave your cursor untouched while parked on a particular tool. 

snapping.gifThe key is to force yourself to look at that tooltip and tell yourself, "ok, next time I need to turn off Snapping, I will use the N key", and really force yourself to use it; rather than giving yourself carpal tunnel and taking the extra time to move over to the tool palette to toggle on or off snapping.

keep reading...there's more!


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Multiple Final Cut Users can share the same Mac. If users are working on separate projects it may work out best if you have separate user accounts for the shared Mac. There are a number of application preferences that make having an individual user account will allow you to keep personalized. This system also supports important files are not accidentally deleted.


A great way to move in between users is to activate fast user switching. In the System Preferences. Under the Accounts category you will find Login Options. In the Login Optons is where you can chooses to enable Fst User Switching. Fast User switching is very useful when more than one user regularly uses a Mac. If there is a password assigned to the user, it will have to be entered to gain access.

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If you're unable to have separate users, a great solution to maintain different Final Cut users is to use the plugin called Final Cut Assistant,  that will save your Final Cut Pro system preferences so you can maintain multiple Final Cut users on one Mac OSX user.

If you are utilizing multiple Mac OSX user accounts, and working on the same Final Cut Pro project, you may want to keep everything on an accessible drive, like the Shared internal drive , or an external hard drive. This way important files are not only available to one user.


fcp_icon.gifThere's a handy new way to create freeze frames in Final Cut Pro 7 with a lot less hassles than the older version; it's by using the new speed tools available.  With the older version you had to place the playhead where you wanted to freeze it, press Shift+N to bring up the freeze in the Viewer, and then you would change the duration for as many frames as you wanted to hold the freeze.  Next you would do an insert edit at the playhead, which almost always messes up your audio and leaves a gap in your track; so then you'd have to fix that or maybe move it to another track, which then just created a whole lot of unnecessary work.

gap_after_insert.pngcontinue reading for an easier step by step...

Here is one of those fun discoveries of a new feature in Final Cut Pro that I didn't know about. In Final Cut 7 there is a new feature called Reveal Affiliated Clips in Front Sequence. It is basically the opposite of Reveal Master Clip (shift +F). Where as Reveal Master Clip highlights the location of a clip in the File Browser from the Timeline, Reveal Affiliated Clips in Front  Sequence highlights the location of a clip in the Timeline, by right-clicking a clip in the File Browser, and choosing Reveal Affiliated Clips in Front Sequence.   I know there have been times that I gave a clip in the File Browser a color label to see it in the Timeline. This is a much more effective process.

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Be sure not to confuse either one of these functions with Match Frame, which can be on of the most powerful editing tools of them all.

For video professionals it’s important to view your final product the way in the same way that your intended audience will be viewing it.  This means watching your final product on an external broadcast montitor or HD screen.

SMPTE_bars_setup.gifFor NTSC broadcast television engineers use SMPTE color bars that have become a standard for calibrating their equipment.  Since all broadcasters use the same color bars, this will ensure that your production will be sent out the same way to all the various networks.

Color Bars are also useful is you are projecting your final product at a trade show.  You can use the Color Bars at the front of your project to calibrate the projector.

Here are the important steps to remember when using and calibrating your equipment to color bars.......

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So many times I've downloaded Plug-ins and haven't been able to find them afterwards; it's become a frustrating practice for me in the past as well as other users I've talked to.  The key is the location of the Plug-ins folder.  Because of the variety of plug-ins available out there, all plug-ins do not install in the same manner; it's basically your job to move them to the correct spot.

The correct path to place your plug-ins is HD > Library > Application Support > Final Cut Pro System Support > Plug-Ins

plug_ins_path.gifThe reasoning behind the method is so that you're placing them in the base level of the computer versus an individual user.  Some plug-ins companies have you using an installer and will place them within the User folder, and therefore not everyone who uses that computer will have access to them.

Another important point regarding plug-ins that so many users tend to forget is the fact that you have to restart Final Cut Pro after you've installed your plug-in, otherwise it will not appear in Final Cut.

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If you are shooting in one of the progressive modes with the Panasonic AG-HVX200 HD Camera, make sure you pay special attention to the type of progressive mode that you are shooting in. 


Before reading further, this article is only relevant to those of us who are shooting for Standard NTSC playback to video.  This article does not apply to those who are using Apple cinema tools to print back to film.


The progressive format you chose can affect the audio/video sync of your clips after they are ingested into Final Cut Pro.  It also affects the storage requirements.  In particular there are two major differences between 720p and 720pn.  So what is 720pn? What does the 'n' stand for? Read on....

davethompsonpic2.gifDave Thompson completed our 5 day Final Cut Studio Class in Orlando recently and works for the US Military.  Dave is from Houston, Texas, where he is currently employed as an Army Print and Broadcast Journalist at Ft Sam.  When asked, Dave had this to say about his training experience with GeniusDV.

"The class was exceptional!  The training curriculum was well conceived and executed and the equipment was state of the art.  This added to a very productive learning environment that I benefited tremendously from.  There was never a dull moment given the quality of projects and the fascination of seeing the editing process unfold.  I would highly recommend this training to anyone looking to learn or improve their editing skills.  Our primary instructor, Jeff, is a genius!  For me, it was completely awe-inspiring to see a master at his trade and Jeff is truly a wizard when it comes to editing using the Final Cut Pro system.  His vast knowledge and experience coupled with an easy-going approach and unparalleled teaching ability made it easy to grasp the instruction and navigate my way through the training.  Jeff made the training interactive and enjoyable and ensured everyone had a firm grasp on the processes before moving on.  He would bring other instructors in to add their perspective and expertise which enhanced the overall dynamics of the training.  The location was perfect and the facility was easy to get to and very conducive to learning.  Given the casual setting and small student numbers per class, I was made to feel right at home and given plenty of one-on-one assistance.  This created an atmosphere where classmates bonded quickly with each other as well as the instructors, and shared techniques and experiences."

Continue reading for more about Dave and his testimonial...


compressor_icon.gifAfter we upgraded some of our classroom machines to Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6), an old problem reared its head when we tried to use Compressor to render H.264 video.  When we would submit jobs directly from FCP using the Share -> Using Compressor option in Final Cut Studio 3, the Compressor jobs would fail with "Quicktime Error -120."  And once one job failed, all the jobs that came after would fail too.

Asking around the office, nobody could say for sure what Error -120 stood for – but one of our old-timers did suggest a fix.  Simply pick "Reset Background Processing" from the Compressor application menu, and Compressor will flush out any old flotsam from its background rendering pipeline.

After the jump, a little bit about what Reset Background Processing does ...


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

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