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Sandy: 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...

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!

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. 

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.

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.

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.
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This page is a archive of recent entries written by Sandy in July 2010.

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