… for Codecs & Media

Tip #415: Everything Starts With an IFF

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

All our media starts as a “chunk.”

Topic $TipTopic

Back in WWII, an “IFF” was a radar signal used for “identification friend or foe.” But, in the media world, IFF has an entirely different meaning – one that we use everyday.

The Interchange File Format (IFF) is a generic container file format, invented in 1985 by Jerry Morrison at Electronic Arts, along with engineers at Commodore, to simplify transferring data between computers.

Common IFF formats include:

  • AIFF (Audio IFF file)
  • TIFF (Tagged IFF file)
  • PNG (a modified form of IFF)
  • FourCC (a Windows media format)
  • QuickTime also has IFF elements as part of its structure

An IFF file is built up from chunks, small pieces of data containing media and information about that media, similar to an Ethernet packet.

Each type of chunk typically has a different internal structure, which could be numerical, text or raw (unstructured) data.

The benefit to using IFF files is that it become easy to move files from one program or computer to another. An even better benefit is that IFF, like Ethernet, does not require us to understand how it works in order to use it.

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… for Codecs & Media

Tip #414: What is a Container Format?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Containers hold stuff – like media.

Topic $TipTopic

QuickTime and MXF are often described as media “containers.” But, what is a container?

A “container,” also called a “wrapper,” is a metafile (analogous to a folder) whose specification describes how the different elements inside it are stored. Similar to a Keynote file or a Library in Final Cut Pro X, a container is a file that holds files, but still acts like a single file. Unlike a folder, when you double-click it, a container opens the files inside it.

By definition, a container could contain anything, but, generally, they focus on a specific type of data – most often involving media. Containers can hold video, audio, timecode, captions, and metadata that describes the contents of the container.

Popular containers include:

  • Both AIFF and WAV are containers, but only hold audio.
  • TIFF is a container for still images.
  • QuickTime, MXF and MPEG-2 Transport stream are containers for audio, video and related files.

The big benefit to containers is that they are not tied to a single codec, but allow us to use a single container for mutiple codecs, thus hiding the underlying technology inside a familiar format.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #409: Select Audio Options for a Multicam Clip in Premiere

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Choosing the right audio options can simplify your audio mix.

The default setting is not ideal. Set multicam audio options to match this.

Topic $TipTopic

After you’ve selected the clips you want to build into a multicam clip, then chosen Clip > Create Multicam Source Sequence, this dialog shows up.

If all your audio is stored in one camera clip, choose Sequence Setting > Camera 1. Otherwise, choose Sequence Settings > All Cameras.

Next, here the options in Audio Channels Preset:

  • Automatic. Automatic reads the channelization of the first clip and maps all source audio based on that channelization. No mix down is done and no source audio is ever lost. Extreme example: if you have 3 source clips and the first one is stereo and the second one is 10 channel multi-mono and the third one is 5.1 (not very common but just an extreme example) you have a total of 18 source channels and the resulting clip will edit to into the multicam clip as 9 separate stereo clips. This is a great example of why automatic is not a great choice unless all of your sources are all stereo (and you want them mapped as stereo) or all mono (and you want them all mapped as mono).
  • Mono. This takes all source channels regardless of their native channelization and brings them in as mono when the multicam clip is edited into your sequence.
  • Stereo. This takes all source channels regardless of their native channelization and brings them in as stereo when the multicam clip is edited into your sequence.
  • 5.1. This creates a surround clip of the source audio. Surround is a great distribution format, but a miserable format for editing. Avoid using this.
  • Adaptive. This maps all source channels into single track item. This allows you to hear everything but is really tough to edit.

In almost all cases, Mono is the best choice for multi-track audio editing.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #296: Reveal the Clips Inside a Multicam Clip

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Multicam clips are sequences and editable.

A multicam clip expanded to show it’s component clips in the Timeline.

Topic $TipTopic

This article first appeared in PremiereBro.com. This is an excerpt.

A multicam clip in Premiere isn’t a “clip,” it’s a sequence. And, like all sequences, you can see the clips inside – if you know how.

In the past, there was a menu choice that allowed you to open a clip in the Timeline. Now, it’s a special mouse-click.

  • Cmd-double-click the multicam clip in the Timeline to open it as a new sequence in the Timeline. (Illustrated in the screen shot)


Double-click the multicam clip in the Timeline to open it in the Source Monitor.

While this doesn’t let you adjust individual clips, it does give you a different way to view the contents of the multicam clip itself.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #295: Save Time – Use Master Effects

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Master effects apply to all related clips in the Timeline.

Effects applied to clips in the Project panel, also apply to segments of that clip edited into the Timeline.

Topic $TipTopic

This article first appeared in MotionArray.com. This is an excerpt. You’ve edited a flock of clips into your sequence in the Timeline – only to discover that all the segments from Clip #23 are a bit too blue; or need some other effect applied to all of them.

Fixing all these clips at once is what master effects are designed to do. A Master clip is a clip in the Project panel, from which you edited clips into the sequence in the Timeline. Apply a change to the Master clip, and all clips derived from it change as well.

  • Drag the Effects panel somewhere else in the interface so that you can see both the Projects panel and the Effects panel.
  • Apply an effect to a master clip by dragging the effect from the Effects panel on top of the clip in the Project panel, Source Monitor, or Effect Controls panel.
  • To apply an effect to multiple master clips, select the items in the Project panel, and then drag the effect on top of the selected clips.
  • Double-click the Master clip to load it into the Effect Controls panel.
  • Adjust the effect parameters using the Effect Controls panel.
  • All the effects applied to the master clip instantly ripple through all portions of the master clip edited into sequences.

  • … for Apple Final Cut Pro X

    Tip #400: Speed Your Audio Mixing in FCP X

    Carsten Ress – www.sonarixfilm.de

    Faster ways to control audio levels

    Adjusting an audio range in Apple Final Cut Pro X.

    Topic $TipTopic

    These shortcuts help to adjust audio levels in a fast and precise way. I use them all the time when I am doing some audio mixing in Final Cut Pro X.

    1. Ctrl and +/- keys: Select a whole clip or a range with the range tool and use the + / – key while pressing the Ctrl key to increase or decrease the audio level in 1 dB steps.
    2. Cmd + Drag: Hold down the Command key while dragging the audio level line up or down for “slower” / more precise control.
    3. Range-Tool: In order to change the audio levels of a section within a clip use the range tool (R). Mark the section you want to change and then drag the line within the section up or down. The necessary keyframes will be generated automatically when you start dragging.
    4. Option + Arrow keys: Select one or several keyframes. Use the up / down arrow keys while pressing the Option key to increase / decrease the selected keyframe(s) in 1 dB steps.

    … for Apple Final Cut Pro X

    Tip #378: Rename Clips in Batches

    Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

    Batch renaming converts clip names into something more understandable.

    The Info inspector, illustrating where to apply custom file names using a batch.

    Topic $TipTopic

    This article first appeared as an Apple KnowledgeBase article. This is an excerpt.

    When you import media into Final Cut Pro, the clips often contain meaningless names, such as those assigned by the camera. Although you can rename clips individually, you can also rename a selection of clips as a batch in the browser, after the media has been imported. Final Cut Pro provides customizable naming presets that make renaming large numbers of clips efficient and easy.

    To rename a batch of clips, using a naming preset:

    1. In the Final Cut Pro Browser, select the clips you want to rename.
    2. If the inspector isn’t already shown, do one of the following:
      • Choose Window > Show in Workspace > Inspector (or press Command-4).
      • Click the Inspector button in the toolbar.
    3. Click the Info button at the top of the inspector.
    4. In the Info inspector, click the Apply Custom Name pop-up menu and choose a naming preset.

    The clips selected in the browser are renamed.

    … for Apple Final Cut Pro X

    Tip #367: How to Render a Portion of the Timeline

    Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

    Rendering creates temporary files that smooth playback.

    The two render options in Final Cut Pro X.

    Topic $TipTopic

    This article first appeared as an Apple KnowledgeBase article. This is an excerpt.

    Rendering is the process of creating temporary video and audio files for segments of your project that Final Cut Pro cannot play in real time. When you add effects, transitions, generators, titles, and other items, they require rendering before you can play them back at high quality.

    By default, background rendering begins 5 seconds after you stop moving the pointer in Final Cut Pro, and it even continues while you work in a different app. Rendering only affects the clips that need it.

    To render your project in Final Cut Pro, do one of the following:

    • Render a portion of your project: In the timeline, select the clip or clips that you want to render, then choose Modify > Render Selection (or press Control-R).
      Note: The selection must be a clip selection, not a range selection.
    • Render all portions of your project that need rendering: Choose Modify > Render All (or press Control-Shift-R).

    … for Random Weirdness

    Tip #395: 4 Cameras Hacks That Save Time

    Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

    Four cool tips to get great shots on a budget.

    Image courtesy of www.pexels.com.

    Topic $TipTopic

    This article first appeared in MotionArray. This is an excerpt. Here are four camera hacks that allow you to craft great effects without spending more than five bucks for each tip.

    Use a Neck Strap

    With your strap around your neck, push your camera away from you until the strap goes tight. Remember to keep that tension as you go through your motion. This will help to get rid of any jitters that your hands create when free-holding the camera. Your goal isn’t necessarily to get your shot perfect, but to get it to the point where it’s way smoother and free of jitter and rolling shutter.

    Fishing Wire

    Tape clear fishing line going exactly vertical over your lens when you shoot in front of an intense, concentrated light source. The result is an anamorphic-style, deliberate lens flare!

    Rubber Band

    If your tripod doesn’t have a nice fluid head, wrap one end of the rubber band around your tripod handle and hold the other end. You’ll control the movement of the tripod head by holding and pulling on the rubber band instead of grabbing and moving it with your hand. Much smoother.

    Blanket Drag

    Wheelchairs are great for dolly shots, but if you don’t have one handy, an old blanket is a great alternative to a wheelchair. Simply have your camera operator sit or lie down on the blanket, then get a second pair of hands to drag them across the floor. The result is surprisingly smooth footage. The blanket acts as a muffler to the movement, so you get super smooth, professional-looking footage.

    … for Random Weirdness

    Tip #372: 5 Prep Tips for Directing Commercials

    Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

    The Better Your Prep, the Better the Shoot

    Image courtesy of www.pexels.com.

    Topic $TipTopic

    This article, written by Tanner Shinnick, first appeared in PremiumBeat. This is an excerpt.

    Acquaint Yourself with the Client’s Business

    One of the first and most important things you can do as a director is to understand how your client makes money. As important as how they make money is also who they make money from — their target demographic.

    Visit Their Social Media Accounts

    These resource gives you a quick overview of what their previous advertising efforts were and the general tone they’re trying to achieve for their brand.

    Make a Music Playlist

    For any spot I do, I make a playlist that reflects the mood and tone we’re trying to achieve for that spot. Then, I listen to that playlist while I’m doing any sort of prep for that shoot.

    Reference Commercials

    I love to pull from and watch as many reference commercials as possible. The best part is that these reference commercials can really help illustrate to your client the tone you’re trying to achieve.

    Find Inspiration in Photography

    Photography has only one frame, while we (as filmmakers) have twenty-four frames per second. Photography typically motivates my mood, wardrobe, and locations for any spot I do.