… for Random Weirdness

Tip #548: What Is ISO?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

ISO affects gain after the image is captured.

Topic $TipTopic

This tip, presenting by Chris Lee, first appeared in PetaPixel.com. This is a summary.

ISO is probably THE most misunderstood term as it relates to digital photography. Stemming in part from people equating ISO sensitivity directly with film speed, and in part from some useful-but-misleading simplifications that are shared quite frequently, people often share two bits of misinformation:

  • ISO is one way to increase your exposure without changing shutter speed or aperture
  • ISO “increases your sensor’s sensitivity to light.”

As Lee explains in the video above, neither of these things are technically true, though both ARE useful ways to think about ISO when you’re out shooting.

ISO is a gain knob. Electrical amplification that is done after your camera is done gathering light. It has no impact on how much light your camera sensor’s photosites can gather during a given exposure, and therefore has no direct connection to exposure itself, despite being part of “the exposure triangle.”

At the most basic level—and Lee plans to do a follow-up explaining more in-depth concepts like ISO invariance and how different cameras handle this setting—ISO is the level of electrical amplification done to the analog “signal” collected by your image sensor before it’s sent to the analog to digital converters (ADCs), eventually producing an image.


Visit the link above and watch Chris Lee’s video. In 12 minutes you’ll understand what ISO is and how it affects exposure.

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… for Apple Motion

Tip #582: Make a Better Background

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Backgrounds, to be useful, need to be slow, dark and soft.

The Goo background before (top) and after (bottom) after effects are applied.

Topic $TipTopic

The problem I have with most of Apple’s default backgrounds is that they are too BRIGHT and too in-focus for text. Well, yeah, they are too busy, too.

Fortunately, this is easy to fix. Here are some ideas to try when you need to bring a background back under control. I’m going to work with Library > Content > Backgrounds > Goo, but you can pick anything.

  • It’s moving too fast. Select the Clouds layer inside Goo, then go to Inspector > Generator and change Speed to 0.07.
  • All the edges are waaay too sharp. This is because this effect is simply the Cloud generator with a Posterize filter applied. Select the Goo layer, apply Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur and, in the Inspector, manually type in an Amount of 150.

NOTE: If you try to use the slider, it will stop at 64. Manually typing in numbers allows you to enter much larger values for almost every parameter.

  • It’s also too bright, so, with the Goo layer selected, apply Filter > Color > Levels and make sure it is placed below Gaussian Blur in the Layers panel. Adjust the mid-tone slider so that the background gets as dark as you need. If there’s a lot of light shades, pull down the highlights a bit, too.

NOTE: You could do something similar by adjusting Opacity, but that actually makes the background transparent. Levels makes it darker without adding transparency.

As with all effects, adjust the settings until you are happy. In the screen shot, the top image is “before,” the bottom image is “after.”

… for Apple Motion

Tip #581: Create Colorful Lighting for 3D Text

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Colorful lighting is one menu choice away, and you can customize it to suit.

A sample lighting effect and the settings that created the colors.

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There’s a hidden lighting secret in Motion for 3D text that is worth learning: colored light! At the top of the screen shot is an example of lighting 3D text with colored light. Here’s how to create it:

  • Create any 3D text.
  • Select the text in the Layers panel.
  • Go to Inspector > Text > Appearance, then twirl down Lighting and enable Environments.
  • Show the contents of Environments by clicking the word Show to the right of the word “Environments.”
  • Change Type from Field to Colorful.
  • Change the Rotation to pick out the colors you like.
  • For more control, twirl down Rotation and modify each of the axes. The effect changes with each. I’ve found that changing X rotation creates some very dramatic underlighting.

When you get the look you want, ah, stop tweaking. The screen shot shows the settings I used to create the lighting effect at the top.


… for Apple Motion

Tip #571: Useful Motion Keyboard Shortcuts

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

300+ shortcuts organized and ready for you.

Topic $TipTopic

The folks at ShortCutWorld.com have compiled a list of 300+ keyboard shortcuts for Apple Motion and grouped them into 29 categories!

This is the most extensive list of shortcuts for Motion that I’ve seen in a long while.

Here’s the link.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #579: What Do “Looks” Do?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Looks are designed for fast and easy color grading – and applied effects.

A Blue Steel look applied to a clip. (Image courtesy of Hallmark Broadcast Ltd.)

Topic $TipTopic

Looks are color-correction and effects presets that quickly change the look of a video clip to something different.

These exist in both Premiere (Lumetri > Color > Looks) and Final Cut (Effects Browser > Looks).

In Final Cut, these are some looks that purely affect the color (i.e. Film Noir), but the majority emphasize an effect more than a look (Rain, CamCorder, Aged Film). Final Cut is trying to help editors who know what they want, but don’t know how to achieve it, get the effect they need for their project.

In Premiere, looks are much more color oriented and there are far more of them, close to eighty, depending upon how you count. You select them from the Creative section of the Lumetri color panel. Premiere is trying to help solve sophisticated color grading challenges without understanding color.

The good thing about all of these looks is that there isn’t a whole lot to adjust. If you like the effect, use it. If not, you can try tweaking, but mostly you just delete it and try something different.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #573: Create a Speckled Light Effect – Cheap

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Dappled light makes portraits much more interesting.

A sample dappled light image, courtesy of PetaPixel.com.

Topic $TipTopic

This tip, written by Michael Zhang, first appeared in PetaPixel.com. This is a summary.

If you’re looking for at-home photo ideas, here’s an 18-minute behind-the-scenes video by photographer Irene Rudnyk showing how you can get dappled light for a portrait shoot with a small budget and studio space.

In searching for interesting lighting, Rudnyk stumbled across a tutorial by photographer Jake Hicks on emulating dappled light — like what you get through leaves on a sunny day — in the studio.

You’ll need to buy a set of glass blocks. These wave pattern glass blocks are commonly used for windows and walls in showers, bathrooms, and basements. They may cost around $4 each (or less if you find a deal or buy in bulk).

Watch the video here.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #572: Tips to Create Better Titles

“Less is More” and pay attention to brand guidelines.

A good title doesn’t have to be complex to be compelling.

Topic $TipTopic

This tip, written by Kevin Luiz, first appeared in RedSharkNews.com. This is a summary.

You don’t have to be a master motion graphics guru in order to create effective, and importantly, thematically relevant looking titles for your videos. Here’s how to approach graphical title design even if animation and typography isn’t your primary skillset.

When devising how you’d like to integrate type font, lower thirds and other graphic elements such as logo animations or plates, make sure to request the company’s brand guidelines. This may seem like a “duh” to most, but I can’t tell you how many editors I’ve come across who purposely ignore these sheets to impose their own stylistic agendas. As a general guideline, I’ll spend about an hour sifting through a client’s outlets to get a sense of style before I dig into graphical work.

Theory & Visual Motifs

The theory behind design and motion graphics is to enhance a brand or product and leverage these designs to present information not conveyed in the visual or audible language of film. These elements can also serve as thematic undertones to prop up and assist in the visual motif of your work.

Make It Your Own

When I create motion titles, I might find a piece of footage that has some dead space to the image on one side or the other. I’ll then title the film and position it in that dead space. This does three things; it conveys a piece of information, it adds balance to an image, and it pulls the viewer in as their attention is demanded scanning the image from left to right.

Jack of All Trades. Master of None

With all of these resources being so accessible, you don’t necessarily need to be a master level graphic designer to accomplish a polished “look”. However, I believe you do need to have a really deep understanding of the overall product you are trying to create as well as the information you must convey.

Motion graphics can be very powerful and, with a bit of taste, can really make your products feel like a completed package. In closing, everything in moderation, but don’t be afraid to add a flair of style to your work with some slick graphics if the product calls for it.