… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #641: The Secret is Blend Modes

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The secret is blend modes and a compound clip.

Text, filed with a video, placed over a second video, with a drop shadow applied.

Topic $TipTopic

Here’s a straight-forward technique to put video inside a text clip, then key the results over a second video clip. And, for extra credit, I’ll show you how to add a drop shadow.

This is a three-layer effect using blend modes and a compound clip.


  • On the Primary Storyline, put the background. The blue clip, in my screen shot.
  • On the layer above that, put the video you want to place inside the text. The glowing orange in my example.
  • On the layer above that, on the top layer, put the text.
  • Select the Primary Storyline clip and type V to make it invisible.


  • Select the text clip.
  • Go to the Video Inspector and set the blend mode for the text clip to Stencil Alpha.

The text is now filled with the image on Layer 2


  • Select the background clip and type V to make it visible again.
  • Select the text clip and the video on layer 2.
  • Go to New > Compound Clip.
  • Accept the default name and click OK.

The filled text now appears over the background on the Primary Storyline.



  • Select the compound clip.
  • Go to Effects > Stylize and apply a drop shadow to the compound clip.
  • Adjust until it looks good to you.

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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #660: Test Yourself: 25 Common Grip & Electric Terms

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

How many of these terms do you know?

A still photo studio.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Matt Webb, first appeared in IndieFilmHustle.com. This is an excerpt.

Have you ever been puzzled by the lingo floating around the set? Or, do you want to test your knowledge? Here are 25 grip and electric terms used on virtually every set.

  • Apple Box – A wooden box that can be used for almost anything. Comes in various sizes and is commonly used as steps, seats and to raise props, dressing or actors.
  • Barndoors – Folding doors that are attached to the front of lamps so they can be opened and closed to control the output of light.
  • Bazooka – A camera mount similar to a tripod but only has one center shaft that raises the camera up and down.
  • Beef – The output of light.
  • Best Boy – The second in command of the grip or electrics department. They often do most of their work off set in the truck as they plan for the future shooting days.
  • Black wrap – Black aluminum foil that is used to cover light leaks or shaped into flaps to cut the light.
  • C-stand – An extremely versatile metal stand used for holding lights, floppys, cutters and anything else you need stabilized.
  • Dance Floor – When it’s impossible to lay a track in the set or the camera move is more complex than a simple push in, the grips will lay smooth timber or plastic sheets down onto the ground to create a perfectly level floor. The dolly can then be pushed in any direction with minimal bumps and vibrations to the camera.
  • Diffusion – A white material used to soften the light source.
  • Dimmer – A device used to control the power of the lamp.
  • Dingle – A piece of cut-off foliage to provide the lighting effect of a tree shadow on the subject.
  • Dolly – A heavy piece of equipment that the camera can be mounted onto to give a smooth moving shot. The dolly slides along a track that looks just like a train track. This is extremely heavy; avoid being too close to the grips when they are looking for a hand carrying this up the stairs.
  • Duvetyne – A thick, black cloth used for blacking out windows, and covering equipment and crew members when they are in reflections.
  • Floppy or Flag – Square or rectangular frames with black material used to control the light. They can be used to cut the light off a certain subject or to black out an area for the director’s monitor.
  • Gaffer – The head of the electric department.
  • Gel – A transparent colored filter that is applied to the front of a light to manipulate the color output.
  • House Power – Using the location’s power as opposed to power supplied by the electrics generator. Always good to check with the electrics department that it’s okay to plug into house power.
  • Key Grip – The head of the grip department.
  • Key Light – The main source of light on a subject.
  • Lamp – Just another word for a light. The electric department tries to be all fancy and such.
  • Scrim – A type of material similar to diffusion to manipulate the intensity of the light source. Typically scrims are quite large, either 10’x10’ or 20’x20’ and used to diffuse the harsh sunlight when shooting exteriors.
  • Shot bag – A heavy bag full of lead shot used to weigh down stands. Looks like a sand bag.
  • Stinger – A single extension power cord left ‘hot’ by the electrics for occasional use.
  • Track – Steel or aluminum track that the dolly glides along to create smooth camera movements. The track is laid level by the grips across all types of terrain using apple boxes and wedges.
  • Wedge – Small timber triangles used to level the dolly track.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #659: Build Your Own Raspberry (Pi) Computer

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

A fully-functional computer that costs less than $50

The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s official case is a classic. Image via Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Alejandro Medellin, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt.

The Raspberry Pi is a fully-functional computer that costs less than $50. In fact, you can get one for $10. Designed over a decade ago, in England, by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, this tiny computer has been at the heart of many enthusiast projects. In fact, there are a couple of RasPis on the International Space Station, which are used from Earth by children learning to code.

While the device is used by many schools and educators to teach children to code, it’s much more than an educational tool — it’s a tiny workhorse. For instance, the RasPi Zero, which is the smallest and least powerful version, is now being used in new ventilators to combat the shortage of the life-saving device during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are three models:

  • The Powerhouse: Raspberry Pi 4 Model B. The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s latest release, the RasPi 4 Model B, is the most powerful iteration of the Raspberry Pi to date. It comes in either one, two, or four gigabytes of memory (RAM). The RasPi 4 starts at $35, but the 4GB version sells for around $55.
  • An Oldie, But Goodie: Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. Despite its age, the RasPi 3 Model B+ is still powerful in its own right, and more affordable. For more straightforward projects, or ones on a tight budget that don’t require many computing resources.
  • Tiny, But Fierce: Raspberry Pi Zero W. If the RasPi 4 Model B is the size of a credit card, then the RasPi Zero W is roughly the size of a stick of gum, and yet, it packs quite the punch. Starting at only $10, this smaller computer is ideal for experimentation.

Before you can use the RasPi, you’ll have to download an operating system onto a MicroSD card; you can access it on Windows or Mac. Alternatively, you can buy a MicroSD card that comes pre-loaded with NOOBS — i.e., new out of the box software — which includes several operating systems to choose from. You can also download NOOBS onto a MicroSD card and then choose your OS.

Raspberry Pis can be used to create network-attached storage, media players, even simple desktop editing. Plus, for long days with nothing to do, these are amazing tools for hobbyist.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #657: The Importance of Creating a Sizzle Reel

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The primary purpose of a sizzle reel is to sell your film.

Sizzle reels are hot!

Topic $TipTopic

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

Typically, a sizzle reel is a three to five minute summation of your story’s main plot points, narrative approach, direction, and introduction to your main characters. Unlike a stylish, marketing-motivated trailer or demo reel, a sizzle is a cohesive, narrative visual approach that gives your audience an ultra-clear look at what your story is about.

Typically, the audience for a sizzle is a room of decision-makers who can help make your entire story, film, or series come to life. Its larger task is to sell your film, so it doesn’t need to be perfect. However, what it should do is enable you to create the full, ideal version of your project. Much like a musician has demos of their songs before they go to record in the studio, the sizzle is a necessary stepping stone.

Short films can and do consistently serve as sizzles for feature length narrative projects.

Steps to Create Your Own Sizzle

  • Concept
  • Develop, Research, and Write
  • Gather Assets
  • Produce
  • Pitch

Whether you’re producing a series, feature, or documentary, sizzles are an essential component in making that idea a reality.