… for Random Weirdness

Tip #361: Ask Better Questions

Plan so you can “be in the moment” with your guest.

Topic $TipTopic I’ve been doing interviews for decades. Based on that experience, here’s a summary of an article I wrote on how to ask better interview questions. Read the full article here.

  • Plan. Planning is not as sexy as production, but it is just as essential.
  • Handle Guests. Get all your tech checks done before the guest walks onto the set. Once the guest enters, direct your full attention to them.
  • Write Your Questions. Asking questions is part art and part science. The art is really listening to what your guest is saying. Write down your questions so you can focus on the guest, not on what you want to ask next.
  • The Interview. At this point, the interview dance begins. And I view it as a dance — I’m leading and they are following. For me, an interview has an emotional arc, the same as a drama. I always start with easy questions which I never expect to use, just to get the guest comfortable.
  • Questions to Use. WHAT, WHERE, and HOW questions. These cause the guest to describe specific problems, actions, behaviors. These set up a problem and what was done to solve it. I use these for the body of the interview. I also use “For example?” a lot during this section to drill down into specifics. Then, I wrap up with WHY questions. These always elicit emotional responses
  • Questions Not to Use. Questions that start with: could, should, do, can, or any other question that can be answered “yes,” or “no.”
  • Last Question. Just before calling “Cut!,” but when all my questions are done, I always ask the guest: “Is there a question I should have asked that I did not?” This gives them a chance to reflect to see if they want to add, or modify anything.

Finally, when things are done, thank the guest BEFORE you talk to the crew. Reassure them they did a good job – because they are worried you didn’t like what they did.

Then, talk to the crew.

There’s a lot more in the article, I recommend you read it before your next interview.

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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #336: 5 Essential Tips for Editing Soundbites

It takes a lot of work to make a soundbite sound natural.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Jourdan Aldredge, first appeared in PremiumBeat.

Quality audio is the key to any interview. Yet, working with sound bites is always a challenge because they are filled with pauses, interruptions and awkward phrasing.

  • Look for the good stuff. Look for crisp, concise, and complete bites first. Then, go back and look for good bits that can be built into a complete sentence.
  • Remove ‘umms’ and pauses. Make sure you have B-roll to cover your edits, then delete the pauses, awkward beats and ripple edit everything back together.
  • Edit on valleys. When editing audio, always be sure to cut where the waveform is as small as possible.
  • Edit on similar syllables. If you must edit in a word, edit on similar syllables who’s waveform peaks are roughly the same level
  • Verify the soundbites. After the bites are edited, listen to them closely to make sure they still make sense and fit with the rest of the interview.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #324: Improve Your Video Interviews

Planning and communication are the keys to success.

Topic $TipTopic

These first appeared in an article written by Caleb Ward for PremiumBeat as a list of 15 tips. I’ve selected my top 7 favorites from his list.

Shooting a video interview can be one of the most challenging aspects of the filmmaking process. Here are seven tips to take your interview skills to the next level and avoid nasty surprises on set.

  • Do your research and plan your questions carefully.
  • Scout the location.
  • Coordinate costume and logistics with your talent before the shoot.
  • Use a professional sound recordist.
  • Decide where you want the talent to look (their “eyeline”).
  • If possible, shoot with more than one camera to simplify editing.
  • Record B-roll and room tone before leaving the set.

The whole article is worth reading.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #377: The Record Button Easily Adds Keyframes

The Record Button simplifies adding keyframes to projects.

The Record Button in “add keyframe” mode.

Topic $TipTopic

This first appeared in an Apple KnowledgeBase article. There are two ways to apply keyframes in Motion: Automatically and manually. Here’s the automatic method – using the Record button.

Turn on the Record button (Shortcut: A), located at the bottom left of the Viewer, to create a new keyframe whenever you adjust any parameter. This method is useful when you want to create keyframes for multiple parameters in your project.

Here are the steps:

1. In Motion, do one of one following:

  • Click the Record button on the left side of the timing toolbar.
  • Press A.
  • Choose Mark > Record Animation.
    The Record button is highlighted.

2. Select an object in the canvas, Layers list, or Timeline.

3. Drag the playhead to a new position in time.

4. Modify one or more parameters by doing any of the following:

  • Use the onscreen controls to move, scale, or manipulate objects.
  • Use the controls in the Inspector or HUD to move, scale or manipulate objects

Keyframes are added at the current playhead position for any parameters you modified.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to add additional keyframes.

NOTE: As long as the Record button is enabled, any parameter modifications your make in your project are recorded as new keyframes. In the Inspector, all modifiable parameters are highlighted red to remind you that parameter changes are being recorded as keyframes.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #376: Use Walk 3D View to Position Cameras

Walk 3D offers a more intuitive way to position a camera.

The Walk 3D View control in Apple Motion.

Topic $TipTopic

This first appeared in an Apple KnowledgeBase article.

The Walk 3D View tool lets you position a camera in 3D space as you would in a computer game, using a keyboard-and-mouse navigation method.

  • In Motion, select a camera, click and hold the view tools pop-up menu in the canvas toolbar, then choose Walk 3D View. The pointer changes to indicate that the Walk 3D View tool is active.
  • Use the Up, Down, Right, or Left Arrow keys to move the camera in 3D space; press and hold the Option key while using the arrow keys to move the camera more slowly. You can also drag in the canvas to orient the camera.

NOTE: The Walk 3D View tool is available only when Active Camera, Camera, or Perspective is selected from the Camera pop-up menu.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #341: Uses for Emoji in Motion

Emojis add interest to any title and greater clarity to labels.

The emoji panel in Apple Motion.

Topic $TipTopic

You may have missed the memo, I certainly did, but we can now add emojis in any field that accepts text; including layer labels! Here’s how.

  • In Motion, open any object that allows you to type text. For example, titles, layer labels, even some parameter names.
  • Type Control + Cmd + Spacebar. This displays the emoji panel.
  • Double-click any emoji icon to add it to the text field.

Now that I’ve discovered how this works, I’m adding emojis everywhere!

… for Visual Effects

Tip #382: Stacking Order Makes a Difference

Effects process from top to bottom

Two effects are applied to this clip: On the left, Sepia on top, Border under. On the right, the order is reversed.

Topic $TipTopic

Whether you use Adobe Premiere or Apple Final Cut, the stacking order of your effects makes a difference. Let me illustrate.

In this screen shot, the clip has two effects applied: Sepia and Border. On the left side, Sepia is above the border. So the image is first colorized, then the cyan border is added.

With the image on the right, the Border is on top. This means that the border is added, then both border and image are converted from full-color to Sepia.

If you apply more than one effect to a clip, remember that effects process from top to bottom. You can see the order of your effects in the Inspector (Final Cut) or Effect Controls panel (Premiere).

… for Visual Effects

Tip #371: Changing Clip Frame Rates in Resolve


The trick is to duplicate your clip first.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, by Lewis McGregor, first appeared in PremiumBeat. Do you need two clips from the same video file to play at different frame rates in your DaVinci Resolve timeline – say to create slow-motion? Here’s how.

To change a video clip recorded at a higher frame rate to a lower frame rate to achieve slow motion in Resolve:

  • Right-click a media clip in the media pool (or timeline) and open the clip attributes.
  • Change the frame rate to match your project settings.

However, the problem is that you are changing the base attributes of the clip that exist within the media pool. To fix this, either:

  • Adjust the speed percentage of the second clip.
  • Duplicate the clip in the media pool, then change the clip attributes. By duplicating the media in the media pool, we are creating a new clip from Resolve’s perspective, which allows us to change the frame rate of the second clip without affecting the first clip.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #370: 4 Steps to Better Skin Tones in Resolve

Quick steps to improve skin without damaging the rest of your color grade.

Color wheels in DaVinci Resolve.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Rubidium Wu, first appeared in PremiumBeat.

In this tip, we’re going to use DaVinci Resolve to improve skin tones, without affecting other color edits. Here’s how.

  • Make a Mask. In a new node, select the qualifying tool, and drag it across the most even and representative part of the face. Increasing the clean white also helps a lot.
  • Unify Tone. Once you have the skin isolated, increase the contrast and look for yellow, red, or green areas that don’t fit with the overall skin tone. In the Curves menu, select Hue vs. Hue, then select those colors using the curve up or down to shift the problem colors back to the central color.
  • Pare Imperfections. In the color tab, adjust the slider marked MD for Midtone Density. Turning this down gets rid of contrast in the skin, effectively hiding imperfections.
  • Separate. The last step is to add another node, then hit Option+L to turn this into a layer mixer node. Dragging the blue alpha arrow of the skin mask to the input on the lower of the two mixed nodes means that your skin grade will “pass around” anything done in the latter nodes. This lets you cool down the background — or desaturate it — without also affecting the skin.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #380: Apple Compressor vs. Adobe Media Encoder

Adobe Media Encoder is still the fastest.

AME (green) is faster than Compressor (blue) in 2 out of 3 compression formats. (Shorter bars are faster.)

Topic $TipTopic

Recently, I compared the compression speed of Adobe Media Encoder with Apple Compressor, both running on the same 27″ iMac (i5) and macOS Catalina. Here’s what I learned.

  • In general, Catalina is a shade slower for both apps than Mojave for compression, ranging from 0% to 14% slower, depending upon the task.
  • HEVC 10-bit compression is still extremely slow because it is not hardware-accelerated in either app.
  • Compressed file sizes are the same for both apps between Mojave and Catalina.

As you can see from the chart, while Media Encoder and Compressor are the about the same speed for HEVC 8-bit, Media Encoder is much faster for H.264 (50%) and HEVC 10-bit (180%).


Read the full article with all the details here.