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John: July 2009 Archives

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'.
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.

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.


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.


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.
Andy’s Plugins
: Looks like another set of free filters.
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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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This page is a archive of recent entries written by John in July 2009.

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