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July 2010 Archives

playhead_icon.pngPlayhead is a new application that lets you navigate your Final Cut Pro Timeline from your iPhone.  Playhead allows you to organize your footage from a more comfortable position rather than sitting over the keyboard.  It's also a great tool for client presentations when they come to visit your studio.  It's not intended to replace your keyboard or mouse for editing, but merely to allow you to be able to have control somewhere else in the room other than in front of your keyboard.

playhead_screenshots.png Playhead also features the ability to play/pause, rewind, fast forward, go directly to the beginning or end of the timeline, navigate frame by frame, set in & out points, create, name, and color-label subclips, switch between the Viewer and Timeline, and add markers.  Playhead works with both Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express, and at only $2.99 it's a great app to have in your digital toolbox!

From documentaries to wedding videos, as an editor, you can just about count on having to incorporate still images into your Final Cut Pro project at one time or another.  But the default duration when importing a still image is 10 seconds, and you may want the image to play for a longer or shorter duration.  There are several ways to manipulate the length of a still image:
  • To change the default duration, go to the Final Cut Pro menu > User Preferences and click the Editing Tab
  • Type in a new value in the Still/Freeze Duration field
editing_preferences.pngRemember, that changing the default duration will only affect images you import after you've changed the setting; not images you've imported before you made the change.

Continue reading for more ways to change the duration of your still images...

Adobe After Effects CS5.png
After Effects CS5 can read and write native MXF and OMF video media essence, as used in Avid MXF and OMF essence files. You can import MXF and OMF files as you would other footage types. When you import an AAF file that references an OMF file, the OMF footage also imports. The audio files are not imported at the same time. You can import them later to sync up with your OMF file but if you are going to export the file back into Avid Media Composer this is not necessary. The great feature that I use everyday is the export to MXF or OMF. This not only saves space on your hard-drive but it also helps to preserve quality. Just remember the audio that is associated with the MXF and OMF will not export. This is a great new feature of After Effects for Avid Media Composer users! One of the many things you will learn in our up and coming After Effects Classes! 
If you have a particular frame or image in your Final Cut Pro video that you'd like to make into a still image or jpeg, it's a relatively simple process.  Maybe you want to use the still image as a promotional item, or as a background picture for your DVD menu, or maybe you need to email it to someone for approval, or use on a website, or you just really like the picture to put into a frame; whatever the use you have for it, it's super easy to do.

  • In the Timeline, park your playhead over the frame where you want to make a still image from.
  • Go to the File Menu and choose Export > Using QuickTime Conversion

Poster frames in Final Cut Pro are basically the pictures that represent a clip in icon view in the Browser.  When you look at clips in the Browser in Large Icon View or when you show the Thumbnail Column in List View, the icon or thumbnail picture you see reflects the first frame of the clip in the Browser, or the In Point for that clip.  I find using Poster Frames advantageous when I want to identify a clip visually in the Browser by using a specific image.  Sometimes the Poster Frame of the clips are not accurate depictions of the action that occurs within the clip.  Any frame of a clip can be used as it's Poster Frame, and you can set or change those Poster Frames in the Browser or in the Viewer.

To set the Poster Frame of a clip in the Viewer:
  • Double-click on a clip in the Browser in order to open it up in the Viewer
  • In the Viewer, navigate to the frame you want to use as the Poster Frame for that clip
  • Go to Mark > Set Poster Frame, or you can use the keyboard shortcut CTRL+P
mark_set_posterframe.pngTo set the Poster Frame in the Browser in Large Icon View:
  • Scrub through a clip until you get to the frame you want, press and hold down the CTRL key, then release the mouse button
set_poster_frames_browser.pngNow your Poster Frames are set, and you have a much easier time defining what is in each of your clips!

Check out our upcoming class schedule for Final Cut Pro, and learn how to be a more efficient editor!

With the recent addition of Media Composer 5.0, I've realized there have been some nice shortcuts implemented into the Avid software.

As a user of Media Composer software for almost 20 years, I've grown accustomed to the standard Media Composer shortcuts.  Keep in mind, most of my editing experience comes from editing on a Macintosh.

Previous versions of Media Composer had limited right click functionality on a MAC.  This is because the older Macintosh systems only had a one button mouse.  After right click functionality was introduced into the Media Composer software, it required a strange keyboard combination or (CTRL + SHIFT + mouse click)  to bring forward the shortcut menu.

New to me, are the (right click) shortcuts for individual tracks within Avid Media Composer.  In particular, the ability to perform a 'match frame edit' from a specific track.


In the past, you had to de-select all the tracks, then turn on a single track in order to perform a match frame edit.  Now, you can right click on a specific track.  Other 'right click' functions include 'Locking / Unlocking' a track.  Also, the ability to delete a specific track without having to 'de-select all the other tracks'.

Continue reading.....

When trying to accent a picture in picture effect in Final Cut Pro, there are a number of ways to increase the style of a picture in picture. Everyone has heard the old adage "less is more". The way we might handle a picture in picture scenario. 


The above example shows three different picture in picture scenarios. The first is without any border filter, or any drop shadow. The second has default levels of Basic Border, & Drop Shadow. The third image shows adjusted Basic Border, and Drop Shadow to give the subtle look of a fine border and a light drop shadow. Below are the Filter and Motion tab's after adjusted.


The new Media Composer 5.0 software features a new enhanced image stabilization feature that uses Avid's built in tracking function.


All you need to do is drag it onto a segment within your Media Composer sequence.  That's it! Media Composer will automatically do the rest for you.  Try it! I've found the results to be quite amazing.

GeniusDV now teaches Media Composer 5.0 as part of the GeniusDV institute and certified Media Composer training course.
In Final Cut Pro there are five colors that we can Label with. Whether it's clips or sequences, it can be very helpful to have a color code to your organization. Constantly scanning your Browser gets old, and this is a great way to make that process go smoother.


You can apply the different color codes by using the Command + Option +2,3,4,5, or 6, & Command + Option + 1 to remove a color code. You can set up what each color designates in the Label tab of the User Preferences. Until you have your colors memorized, you can go to the Modify menu, and choose  Label. This will show you the various colors, what they designate, and the keyboard shortcut to execute them is. 
Backfocus grid Geniusdv.jpg

The Sony EX-3 is one of the most popular cameras on the market today. With its tapeless workflow, beautiful images and the pricepoint, it is well ahead of all other cameras, even for twice the price. Whether you are unpacking and mounting your lens for the first time or changing lenses you need to set your backfocus on your Sony EX-3. This is super simple and I have provided a backfocus test pattern above so that you can download it and print it off. Just click the image for a full scale version.

First and foremost you need to be in a very brightly lit environment. This will allow the camera to properly set its back focus adjusment. Secondly you need to place your camera on a tri-pod and lock it down pointing at the Back Focus pattern. You will want to place this pattern 3 meters away from your lens. Now set your camera to Auto Focus by popping the focus ring forward and selecting auto focus on the selector switch. Also, make sure your zoom servo is set to servo and not manual.

To really help the camera achieve a proper back focus adjustment you should set your format to 1080/60i HQ. Even if you do not shoot in this mode this is just for setting the back focus. Now navigate to the lens menu in the camera and select Auto FB adjust. Just select execute and stand back and watch it work. If it fails you will need to maybe light your scene better and give it another try.

Sign up for one of our up and coming EX-1 and EX-3 training classes.

When working in Final Cut, there are plenty of times when you need a unique character to use in your project. If you go into the System Preferences, and choose the keyboard category, you can check the box that will give you access to the Character Viewer from the Menu Bar.

Once you have opened the Character Viewer, you can isolate a character you wish to use in your Final Cut project, or any application that uses text. I have inserted Character Viewer characters into Facebook posts before. With your desired character highlighted in the Character Viewer, all you need to do is highlight the location that the text goes in Final Cut, a text item for example, and then select Insert at the lower right corner of the Character Viewer.

preference_manager_icon.pngPreference Manager is a free application that  lets you trash, lock, backup and restore Final Cut Studio preference files.  User preference files can sometimes cause problems or files to become corrupted.  Preference Manager allows you to trash corrupted preferences and keep backups of working preference files in order to quickly restore your settings.  And not only does it restore your preference files, but it will store keyboard layouts, button bars, column layouts, window layouts, user plug-ins, and Compressor settings and destinations.  Backups are stored in a single self-contained file, allowing you to easily copy them from one machine to another.  What a great tool for the editor who travels from edit bay to edit bay!  And you can have unlimited backups.  So you can transfer your settings from one machine to another, back up to a "cloud based" storage, send the file by email, and save it to a USB thumbdrive. 

preference_manager_screensh.png Preference Manager is especially helpful when multiple editors are using one system, as they each may have different preferences they use.  Additionally, preference settings can be linked to a particular project, so that each time that project is opened, the specific preference settings for that project are kept intact.  Settings can be catagorized and locked as well.  Preference Manager works for all the applications included in Final Cut Studio, as well as for Final Cut Express.  You can download the free application from Digital Rebellion's website, as well as a handy step by step guide to trashing preferences and restoring.

Using the Open in Editor function in Final Cut Pro is great because it will let you open a clip's media file in other applications, such as opening a still image in Photoshop, or an audio file in Soundtrack Pro.  But it would be a huge time saver to set those defaults ahead of time, before you begin editing.  To set those external editors, you will need to navigate to the Final Cut Pro > System Settings  > External Editors Tab.

external_editors_tab.pngHere is where you can set the default for which application to open when right-clicking on still image files, video files, and audio files.  Click on Set to open the dialog box and navigate to the location of the application you want to use.  Click Choose, and the pathname appears next to the file type in the External Editors Tab.

external_editors_tab_set.pngNow when you open a clip in an external application from Final Cut Pro, it will be a much simpler process.  Select a clip in either the Browser or the Timeline, right-click, and select Open in Editor; and presto, the file automatically opens in the application you have already pre-set in the External Editors Tab.

open_in_editor.pngNow all you have to do is make the necessary revisions to the file, save the changes in the external application you are using, and when you return back to Final Cut Pro, the clip is automatically reconnected to the updated media file. 

When you have more than one sequence open in Final Cut Pro, and you need to switch to a new Current sequence, there is a great keyboard command to accomplish this. Command + Shift + a Bracket key will toggle between the open sequences. The right bracket key will move to the next tab, and the left to the previous tab. The same key commands will toggle between project tabs and the Effects tab in the Browser, as well as the tabs of the Viewer and Canvas. 

Keyboard commands maximize efficiency, and this is a good one. Even better is when used in combination with the key commands of Command + 1,2,3, or 4, to move between the Viewer, Canvas, Timeline, & Browser.

fcp_icon.pngHave you ever needed or wanted to have a Final Cut Pro cheat sheet or shortcut guide sitting next to you while you're editing?  Well, thanks to the folks at Worldwide Studios, they have provided free downloadable PDFs at their website along with other shortcut guides for Avid Media Composer, Soundtrack Pro, Motion, & Color.  They even have PDFs of common digital video and audio formats.


The Final Cut Pro 7 Shortcut Guide is 6 full pages and contains everything from audio, capture, effects, compositing, importing, exporting, tools, settings, multiclipping, timecode, rendering, and the list goes on.  It's a great resource for beginners to advanced users alike.  Another great resource for keyboard shortcuts I've discovered this year is an iPhone app called iKeys to Go, and another iPhone app called FCP Shortcutz.

Don't forget to check out our upcoming class schedule, where you can learn lots of shortcuts, tips, and tricks to Final Cut Pro!

Screen-shot-2010-07-15-at-2.pngThere is this great Photoshop app for my iPad that I've recently discovered.  Understanding Photoshop.  Can't get much simpler than this.  The digital revolution has made taking photographs these days so different than in the past.  It's so amazing to me how far we've come.  Remember not wanting to "waste" your film back in the day?  Or when you did get your pictures developed, you wished so badly that you could just cut out that goofy person in the background, or wipe away that horrid pimple on your nose?  "It would've made such a beautiful picture" you'd think to yourself, or have you running for the scissors.  That's the beauty of digital today; no worries about how many pictures you're "wasting" or that jerk that might be ruining your shot.  Now we can just delete any pictures we don't want to keep, and crop out anyone or anything we don't want in the image.  I love my digital camera and I never go anywhere without it.  I find myself taking thousands more pictures these days than I ever have in the past.  BUT, if you're also like me and basically use the photo software that comes with your camera or iPhoto to crop and erase blemishes, there is something 10 times better out there, and that is Photoshop.

Photoshop can be intimidating to a lot of people; all those tools, all those layers.  But Photoshop can be your friend.  And what a great way to learn about it just by calling it up on your iPad!  The app is only 99 cents, and includes 17 different training videos and hands-on lessons, interactive quizzes, a quick reference guide, and the ability to interact with the trainer with comments and a Twitter client.   

ps_app_screenshots.pngThe Understanding Photoshop application has video tutorials that cover a variety of tips and tricks that will help you get the best out of Photoshop.  From learning how to manipulate colors in your images to erasing unwanted blemishes and even an entire person from your pictures, these tutorials offer it all.  So whether you're new to Photoshop or even an advanced user, you'll find useful techniques and powerful shortcuts to get your work done faster.

Google SketchUp is a great program for 3D modeling and if you have a need and you purchase the Pro version of SketchUp, you get an additional program called LayOut.

sketchUp image.png

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screenflow_icon.pngTelestream has a great product for capturing screen recordings called Screenflow.  If you are doing any type of video where you need to show viewers something from your Mac, Screenflow is the solution for you.  Whether it is recording a video that is playing, or if you are demonstrating how to do something on your Mac, Screenflow is the answer.

Screenflow is very easy to use, and for Final Cut Pro users, it comes quite naturally.  Exporting Lossless Quicktime movies is the way you can get your Screenflow recordings into Final Cut to be edited.  However the editing abilities of Screenflow itself will allow you to do an entire project actually in Screenflow.  You can even export directly to Apple TV, YouTube, or even Flash.  Screenflow will let you simultaneously record the screen and a second input.  The input can be either the internal camera, or you can add a camera to the mix.  The same goes for audio; you can record audio from an external source for better quality.


If you have a need for this type of application, Screenflow has a free trial you can download from their website, so why not give it a try!

optionkey.pngThe Option Key in Final Cut Pro should be every user's favorite key.  Why, you may ask?  Because there's such a plethora of key commands or shortcuts that involve the Option key, you simply can't live without it.  Some feel it is the most important of the 4 modifier keys.  Basically, you can think of the Option Key as the "reverse key", or opposite key.  A keyboard shortcut used in one particular way, can be reversed by using the option key.  For example, to set an in or out point, you use the I or O key; to remove an in or out point, you use Option+I or Option+O.

Some other Options:
  • Moving a clip between tracks:  to move a clip up or down between tracks, hold down the Option key while using the arrow up or down keys.
  • Option + and Option - zooms in and out of your Timeline.
  • Option+R:  Render all (I use this one a lot)
  • Solo a Final Cut Pro tracks visibility, lock or auto select
  • Option+M: moves backward to the previous marker
  • Option+Q: brings up your user preferences
  • Option+P: preview effects and transitions before rendering
Using the Option key with the mouse can be even more powerful. Two of the top two ways to use the option key are:

Holding down the Option key will temporarily disable linking. If you need to delete the audio or video track of linked video, simply hold down the option key when clicking on the track you wish to delete, and it will become selected without the linked track becoming selected as well. One the same note you can trim linked video without trimming the associated track by holding down the option key as you trim.

Holding down the option key when parked over an overlay will bring up the pen tool without having to turn on the pen tool. For example if you wanted to drop your audio level, you could use the option key to bring up the pen tool, and then set two keyframes on the overlay, and pull the overlay down just past the second keyframe.
pentol.pngSo think of the option key as the opposite key and you will speed up your workflow and become a more efficient editor!  Be sure to check out our upcoming class schedule and learn a more contemporary workflow.

Anytime you can run Final Cut Pro on two monitors you are going to appreciate the added real estate. On the other hand if you use only an external monitor, it will extend the screen life of your MacBook Pro. 

After connecting the external monitor, and launching Final Cut Pro there will be additional Window Layouts available. Depending on the size of your external monitor, you may want to just leave the the standard configuration on the external monitor, and use the MacBook Pro screen as your preview. 


To do this you will want to go into the Display Settings in the System Preferences, and set the menu bar to the external monitor. Once this is done you need only set up the preview in the view menu in Final Cut Pro. I suggest keeping the Finder on the MacBook Pro screen, so when you need to go into the Finder, it will leave the entire Final Cut Pro interface visible. 

Every once in awhile I run across an amazing feature within Avid Media Composer that I've overlooked.  Here's one of them:  'The Fluid Morph effect'. 


Yes, I'll admit, this effect has been in the software for awhile, but I never realized how useful it is until now. The 'FluidMorph effect' is a transition effect that morphs from from clip to another. Suppose you have a 'talking head' clip, and you need to cut out a section of the interview without cutting away to 'B roll'.  You can use the 'FluidMorph' transition to hide the cut. 

Check out this example (in slow motion) showing the same exact clip with the FluidMorph filter applied to the second clip.


Truly amazing!  In the past, I would try to use a dissolve to hide the edit.  Now, with the FluidMorph filter, the transition is almost unnoticeable.

I've found using a duration of 5 frames of  'FluidMorph" is quite adequate to hide a jump cut.  To do this, simply park over the FluidMorph effect in the timeline and click on the Avid effect editor.


The effect editor dialog box will open.  Then enter in a value of 5 frames.


twixtor_icon.pngTwixtor FxPlug is a great little tool you can use to speed up or slow down your image sequences in Final Cut Pro.  Twixtor works intelligently to change the frame rate of a clip by interpolation and warping of frames from the original sequence.

Some features of Twixtor include:
  • Calculation of motion vectors at each pixel
  • Warping and interpolation of frames to "time warp" input footage'
  • Smart processing of interlaced material 
  • Stretching of a sequence using a single scaling parameter
  • Keyframable retiming for complete control on a frame by frame basis
  • Frame rate conversions made easy
  • Tracking is more accurate
  • Option to automatically enhance dark imagery or images with poorly defined edges.
  • Option to remove motion blur upon slowing footage
You can download a demo version of Twixtor from RE:Vision Effects website.  Installing Twixtor is super easy, and the installer automatically places the plug-in in the correct folder.  Then, just apply it as you would any other filter and adjust the parameters.

There are various ways to ingest media from your Sony EX camera. There is no difference in performance when using the camera vs a card reader, the only difference is the availability of the camera and the speed of transfer. With tape based cameras we tend to avoid ingesting from the camera, to protect the camera. File based cameras are not nearly as sensitive to this, because there is not the same kind of wear and tear. The actual rate of transfer will be the same when connected to a card reader or the camera. To increase transfer speed you can take the SxS card from the camera and insert it into the PCI slot of your laptop, and dramatically improve the ingest time. 

During a recent test of a full 8gb SxS card, 28 minutes of footage, there were significant differences in the transfer time. The fastest was by far using the PCI slot of a laptop. The media was being transferred to an external hard drive from the PCI slot via Firewire 800, and took 2 minutes. When transferring to the the same hard drive via Firewire 800 when connected to the camera's USB port, the transfer took 9 minutes. When connected to the camera's USB port and transferring to the same hard drive, but this time via USB 2.0 the transfer took 12 minutes.

The new 17" MacBook Pro has the required PCI slot for inserting your SXS cards for your fastest transfer rates. The latest models of the MacBook Pro 13" and 15" will require you to use the USB plug on the camera or some other form of transfer hardware.
Apple Compressor will allow users to embed chapter markers. This can be very useful when going into DVD Studio Pro. DVD Studio Pro can be difficult to place chapter markers exactly where you want them, because you are at the mercy of the GOP’s. By embedding chapter markers where you want them in Compressor, you guarantee that they will be where you want them in DVD Studio Pro. Final Cut Pro users will typically embed their chapter markers in Final Cut before outputting. However I know Avid users that have purchased the Final Cut Studio primarily for Compressor and DVD Studio Pro, and embedding chapter markers in Compressor vs DVD Studio Pro would certainly be the better workflow.

To apply a chapter marker in Compressor, simply move the playhead to the frame that you wish to have a chapter marker, and hit the M key to set a marker. Next you can either go to the Modify Marker Settings menu, and choose Edit, or just use the command + E keyboard shortcut, to bring up the Marker Edit Settings. Change the type from Compression to Chapter. You can also give the chapter marker a specific name at this time. Upon encoding with Compressor, and importing into DVD Studio Pro, the chapter markers will appear at the desired location, with the desired name.

One of the most common reasons you might hear beeping during audio playback in the Final Cut Pro Timeline, is that you are playing 44.1K audio in a 48K Sequence. The easy fix is to render the audio, but you are much better to convert the audio before bringing it into the Timeline.

Another issue is that if you have exceeded your system's capability to play back the audio you have in your sequence in real-time, then you will hear beeping when you try to play back your project. If you look under User Preferences in the General tab, you will see options for Real-time Audio Mixing and Audio Playback Quality. The Real-time Audio Mixing value is the number of tracks that Final Cut Pro will playback without having to render. Keep in mind that any filter you add to an audio track counts as an additional audio track. For example, if you had 5 audio tracks, each with 2 filters, then you essentially have created 10 tracks. If you have exceeded the number of tracks set in this option, you will have to render. In the past hardware limitations caused us to set the Real Time Audio Mixing lower than we may want to. Setting the Real Time Audio Mixing at 24 will keep the need to render to a minimum.


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This page is an archive of entries from July 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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