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April 2005 Archives

Your production house has finally gone HD and you shoot a project completely on on one of the shiny new High Def camcorders. When you're sitting in front of your Final Cut Pro editing bay, you discover that you need to add some SD footage in order to make your package complete.
HD and Effects icon.jpg
Considering that we are in the middle of the transition from SD to HD video, this scenario has become commonplace for the editor. Upconverting SD media to HD media can be achieved by scaling the SD clip placed in the HD sequence.
Due to the fact that Final Cut Pro is resolution independent, you can add any clips in the browser to a sequence.

Scaling a 720X480 SD Clip into a 1280X720 HD sequence:

1. Open the SD clip in the Viewer

2. Click Motion Tab in viewer

3. Click the disclosure triangle, opening the Basic Motion parameters

4. Type 150 in the Scale field

5. click the disclosure triangle to open the Distort parameters

6. Type 12.5 for the Aspect Ratio

So you've dedicated ten or more hours slaving in Illustrator and Photoshop to turn out the most incredible graphic for your company's most recently acquired, high-end client. Not just any client, but the really big fish that could finally put your small production house on the map! After you add the finishing touches to your graphic, you finally output to video, but somethings wrong! Your graphic is distorted because you didn't create a frame size that was the non-square pixel equivalent of the video frame size you're targeting!


In a nutshell, here's what you need to keep in mind when creating a graphic for video purposes;

1. Create a frame size that's the square pixel equivalent of your target video frame. Use the page at this highlighted selection for equivalent sizes.

2. Create your graphic.

3. Rescale the graphic in your graphics program to the non-square equivalent used in FCP. After you import the footage into FCP you will find that it looks distorted on your computer but will be as right as rain when you output to video.

Want a more detailed explanation, Check this out!

Yesterday, we talked about setting up Final Cut Pro so that it could manage the various 24p modes supported by today's hottest camcorders. Today, we'll discuss setting up a DVCPRO HD Editing System for all of you who are currently building a shrine to Panasonic's new AG-HVX200
FCP running on monitpr.jpghdcinema.jpg
Being part of the DV/DVCPO family, setting up for DVCPRO HD in Final Cut Pro to capture, edit, and output DVCPRO HD is pretty much the same as setting up a system for any other kind of DV editing.

1. Connect VTR to the computer via 6 to 6 pin firewire cable

2. Choose scratch disk

3. In Final Cut Pro, choose an easy setup that corresponds to your input and output format.

For a more in-depth look at managing the workflow of DVCPRO HD in Final Cut Pro HD, check out this TUTORIAL that uses footage generated by a Panasonic DVCPRO HD Varicam. Keep in mind that the new Panasonic AG HVX 200 has not hit the streets yet.

If you're an Avid or Final Cut Pro editor and haven't been stranded on a far away island for the past year, it is overwhelmingly evident that technological breakthroughs have tremendously empowered today's eager independent filmmaker. With the wide spread acceptance of 24p cameras and just recently the beloved, yet economical marriage between HD and 24p, in the right hands, powerful tools like FCP HD and Avid Express HD can become a deadly weapon. With all of this being true, there's a slight learning curve in harnessing all of this long awaited power.

24p cameras.jpg

Did you know that before you push record on your 24p camera that you have to make important decisions such as whether to shoot in 24p "Normal" 2:3:2:3 or 24p "Advanced" 2:3:3:2 and that they both have different workflows that lead to different finished products?

Do you know how to properly capture 24p Normal and 24p Advanced footage with Final Cut Pro? You may think you do, but to be on the safe side, check out this tutorial

"With great power comes great responsibility"
-Uncle Ben- (Spiderman)

Also updated in Apple's more robust production bundle "Final Cut Studio" is DVD Studio Pro 4. Now you can display your High Def productions in HD resolution on DVD using existing drives and existing media. You can also take advantage of the built in AC3 encoding eliminating the need for A. Pack.
dvdstudiopro4box.jpg FinalCutStudiobox.jpg

Here are some other updated features in DVD Studio Pro 4:

- Enhanced transition support

- Create HD on DVD versions from existing SD projects

- The ability to preview surround sound on a second digital cinema desktop while you are working

- High quality distributed encoding of SD and HD video (reducing encoding time)

- VTS editing for greater playback performance

- Enhanced scripting options fro highly interactive DVDs

- Realtime HD Preview

Possibly touting the most dramatic updates in the Apple studio software line is Motion 2, now featuring new interaction techniques including the ability to control parameters with a MIDI controller. Here are some other updates featured in Motion 2:
- Replicator, allowing more control than a particle generator, equipped with 50 patterns for building objects such as a flock of birds with controllable parameters.

- Increased rendering depth of up to 16 and 32 bits per channel

- A new 3D distortion filter that allows for stunning 3D transparency and effects in real time

- A new GPU architecture that lets 3rd party plug-ins such as Boris, Zaxwerks and DV Garage display in real time.

Check out apple.com to find out more.

Whether you're thinking about possibly upgrading your editing hardware or software, it's definitely a smart move to wait until after NAB! A Key new feature that Apple unveiled at this year's NAB for Final Cut Pro 5 was Multicam, Multichannel audio input and support for HDV and P2 natively. Multicam will allow up to 128 angles to be switched in a Multiclip. 4, 9 or 16 angles can be displayed and switched at a time.
FCP 5 Box.gif
Here's a quick look at some other Key features of Final Cut Pro 5:

- Suports tapeless media from Panasonic's P2 and native IMX support
- RT architecture that adjusts the amount of real-time in relation to processor and graphics card speeds
- Simultaneous support of up to 24 channels of audio
- Audio mixing that can be done by any hardware mixer that supports the Mackie Control Protocol

For all of you Final Cut Pro and Avid Editors out there in the process of either selecting a compositing program such as Apple's Motion or Adobe After Effects, or if you're just wanting to get the most out of the compositor you already have, it's worth noting that it's probably time to upgrade your video card!
FCP running on monitpr.jpg
Speaking of realtime performance, software developers such as Apple, Adobe, Discreet and many more continue to make their products work faster and harder, but CPU levels have leveled off and most users have become complacent when it comes to upgrading their computers. If you look at the current market for video cards, you will notice that prices have actually dropped, leaving the prospect of upgrading your video card a much smarter move than updating you computer.

With video card features and speeds increasing and their prices decreasing, the outlook is looking better and better for the editor.

AHHHHHH, the sweet smell of competition in a free market!

For all of you running Avid and Final Cut Pro on Mac OS X and are planning on using Adobe After Effects in conjunction, here's a little something that left me wondering "Hey dude, where's my After Effects Plug Ins?"
magnifying glass.gif
After installing Adobe After Effects 6.5 Professional on a G5 running OS X, I noticed that when I went to use all of those beautiful effects in the effects palette, they weren't there! I did some research and found that many Mac 3rd Party plug in installers incorrectly identify After Effects 6.5 and that some may install their plug-ins into the Mac OSX Package for the After Effects application. In other words, it is very likely that After Effects will install the plug ins in the wrong folder on Mac OS X and you need to move them.
After Effects plugin_icon.gif
To locate these plug ins, control click the After Effects apllication icon in the Finder and select 'Show Package Contents.' You can them move the plug ins into the plug in folder.

When you import a Photoshop file that has multiple layers into Final Cut Pro, the file immediately becomes a sequence in your project. The sequence Final Cut Pro creates will contain the same number of layers with the background layer appearing in video track 1 and with each layer in the same order as they appeared in the original Photoshop file.
If you want to import a multi-layered Photoshop file as a single clip, you have to flatten the image while in Photoshop, then import it into FCP.

If you want in-depth, step by step tutorials on using Photoshop with Final Cut Pro and Avid visit:

The Real-Time Effects (RT) option in the RT pop-up menu of the timeline allows you to adjust the playback quality of real-time effects in Final Cut Pro. These options allow you to determine which is more important to you, wether it be visual playback quality or the abundance of effects that can be played back in real time.
FCP Box.jpg
If you should choose Unrestricted real-time playback, you will maximize the number of effects that you can play back in real time but you also increase the likelihood that your sequence will drop frames during playback. If it is more important to you to view your sequence back at the highest quality, with no drop frames, then you should deselect the Unlimited RT option and select the High playback option.

Motion was designed to give Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro users an easier way to build complex graphics by using behaviors instead of keyframes and the easiest way to take advantage of this integration is by importing the Motion project file.

Although you can't edit the Motion file while in Final Cut Pro or DVD Studio Pro, if you have unfinished work in either of these programs you can finish it within Motion and the changes will be updated. This can come in very handy!

You can achieve a bluescreen equivalent in Final Cut Pro without the fancy set up and without being an expert. The 'Chroma Key' filter, from the 'Video Filters', 'Key' allows you to select a specific color to remove from a scene. That means one of your actors could be standing in from of an an even colored back drop and in post you can put them on the planet Krypton!
blue screen.gif
Bluescreeining is not an exact science so you may have to tweak, tweak, tweak seeming that the same settings do not render the same outcome every time.

If you're looking to put some life into your production, Apple's Motion may be just what the doctor ordered! The most common way to animate has been by setting keyframes for specific values and positions at specific points in time, such as with Adobe After Effects. In Motion, you apply specific behaviors, which can be considered pre-written commands that perform specific tasks such as: creating motion, setting parameters, particle emissions, and simulations. It is even possible to layer behaviors creating more complex animations giving you just the right tweak for those crazy credits you might want to slap onto your film.


If you haven't already, tryout both After Effects and Motion to see which one suits you the best, they both rock and can compliment one-another nicely!


Every editor at some point or another can relate to not having the equipment they need to get their project done in the most efficient manner, for example, having 4 editors, 2 editing bays, one mini dv vtr, and a weekly show to produce. It wasn't uncommon for me to have to move one unfinished project from Final Cut Pro to a bay running Avid.

FCP Box.jpg

If you ever have to do this, you need to export an edit decision list, EDL. Final Cut gives you four formats that can be utilized by other software. Choose the right one for you according to your edit by looking under: File, Export, EDL.

HD stands for High Definition Video. If you are new to the video production industry, you might want to pay attention to two popular HD formats. The HD in Final Cut basically refers to the ability to capture High Definition Video directly through a firewire cable. This greatly simplies the HD editing process.


These are the Sony HDV format, and Panasonic's DVCPro HD. These formats are attractive for Final Cut Pro users, because you do not need any additional hardware or capture cards. You can simply use the firewire port on the back of your Macintosh. Be aware, the hard drive requirements to capture HD video are much higher than standard DV video. Typically, firewire drives should be of the firewire 800 type, with a drive speed of 7200 rpm's or higher.

At last count, I counted 14 different HD formats which are:

1280 x 720 (16:9) at frame rates: 23.976, 24, 29.97, 30, 59.94, 60

1920 x 1080 (16:9)at frame rates: 25 (50i), 29.97 (59.94i), 30 (60i) 23.976, 24, 29.97, 30

If you decide to go with any of these formats, you will need an additional HD hardware capture card. Make sure your device is an approved HD device so it will work with Final Cut Pro.

Put forth some serious thought when selecting transitions for your video project. For example, let's say that in your independent feature, at the height of action when all seems lost and your hero is next to death, just when things couldn't get any worse.....they do, because you use a cube spin to cut to your next secene!


It's not good enough to just slap a trasition effect between two clips, you have to tune, tweak and fine tune some more. In Final Cut Pro, just double-click on you transition and that will open it in the view, allowing you to change settings and get the response you were looking for from your audience.

Applying a third party effect or filter onto a title with Avid Xpress Pro can be a daunting task. A new tutorial has been written by GeniusDV that will work with many third party effects when applied to keyable titles.


The process involves re-creating a traditional 3 layer matte key effect utilizing a Graphic Matte, a Graphic Fill, and some background video.

For the full tutorial, visit the Avid Xpress Pro title effects tutorial page. Warning, this Avid training tutorial is for advanced users. It may require some practice.

If you are beginning to become comfortable with the Final Cut Pro interface why not branch out a little bit and start to customize your workspace? There are many functions in Final Cut Pro that are set to defaults and can be easily tweaked if desired. Look under the 'Final Cut Pro' menu and select 'User Preferences' to change settings in regard to capturing material, the appearance of the timeline, rendering and a whole mess of other functions.


If you want to customize your keyboard look no further than 'Tools', 'Keyboard Layout', and 'Customize.'

Do what works best for YOU!

Avid Technology has released an upgrade to Avid Xpress Pro HD. The new Avid Xpress software is available for download from Avid Technology's website.
Some key features in 5.1 are:

- Support for Panasonic's new P2 camera and technology.
- Support for Sony's XDCam.
- New uppdated 16 bit effects.
- Update to the popular Marquee title tool.
- Advanced Keyframe improvements.

*There are other additional software features and upgrades in 5.1 not mentioned here.

So, you've decided to invest in a computer, Avid Software, some good training and a decent camera! Now you are ready to take Hollywood by storm and de-throne George Lucas and the Wachowski brothers from their tyrannical SCI-FI reign!!!! For all you new Indies out there, slow down for a moment and let's talk about achieving slow motion in Avid.


1 Drag the blue position indicator over the original source clip in the timeline and choose 'matchframe' from the fast menu under the composer window. That clip should now be showing in the Source window.

2 Signify the place were you want to apply the effect by setting in and out points in the clip, then click on the 'motion effect' button at the bottom left of the composer window.

3 Choose variable speed in the dialog box at the top

4 Type in the percent of speed change you want (>100=faster speed, <100=slower speed)

5 Choose Interpolated field from the 'Render 2-Field Motion Effect Using' field

6 Click 'Create and Render' selection

7 Choose the bin you want to place the effect in

8 Click OK

The clip will show up in the bin and now all you need to do is cut it back into the time-line.


We all know that when you're shooting off the shoulder guerrilla-style you can't always ride the audio like you should and what you end up with in post can be some extreme adventures in audio. Perhaps, there is no raw footage that is free of excess noise peaks but instead of manually hunting them all down, save some time and try using the 'Mark Audio Peaks' option in Final Cut Pro. This option will allow you to check multiple selected clips and will leave markers where your audio is hot.

Headset and noise icon.jpg

If you have just recently joined the Avid and Final Cut Pro family as a fresh, new editor, just remember that the audio in the master clip should not exceed 0db.

have fun

Imagine this, your production manager runs into your office at 3:30 pm on a Thursday with sweat beading down his forehead and in a fevered pitch hands you a beta shot by an amatuer videographer and says "we need this cut and in the client's hands by 9 am Friday."

Time code.jpg

Instead of painstakingly looking for the takes you like before capturing you decide to capture the whole tape as a single clip, but much to your dismay you have a plethora of timecode breaks and end up with a bunch of annoying separated clips.

Under Final Cut Pro's 'User Preferences' choose 'Warn After Capture' from the 'On Timecode Break' option, to avoid the separation of clips and to get a full tape as a single clip.

Just a tip for all of my fellow obsessive compulsive editors out there!

timecode 2.gif

For those of you who use an Avid at your place of work but will use Final Cut Pro at home to create your video reel, you are not condemned to a mere slideshow exhibition of your masterpieces! Simply copy the Avid Codec for Quicktime to a disc or floppy then copy it to your home system.

video phootage.jpg

Copy the codec extensions to the Macintosh HD/Library/Quicktime folder and When you export your video from the Avid system as a Quicktime Reference File, then import them into FCP at home, the result is smooth video to edit baby!

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