… for Visual Effects

Tip #1053: 50 Ways to Create Different Effects

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

50 tutorials to create specific effects in After Effects.

(Image courtesy of Pexels.com.)

Topic $TipTopic

This list, written by Nousheen Aquil, first appeared in JotForm Blog.

This post presents a round-up of Adobe After Effects video tutorials for visual effects and motion graphics-related work. After Effects continues to grow in popularity for motion graphics. With After Effects, you have many choices in how to generate dynamic and expressive motion graphics with truly stunning visual effects — very easily and quickly.

What makes this list different is that, rather than show tools, these tutorials show how to create specific effects.

I won’t list all 50 here – rather click the link above and watch the ones of interest to you.

Please rate the helpfulness of this tip.

Click on a star to rate it!

… for Visual Effects

Tip #1051: 6 Mocha Pro Tutorials

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Six video tutorials to improve your motion tracking results.

The Mocha Pro logo.

Topic $TipTopic

The team at ToolFarm, a leading third-party reseller of After Effects plugins and visual effects tools, published a blog showcasing video tutorials to improve working with Mocha Pro. Here’s a summary.

NOTE: Here’s the link to all the tutorials.

Mocha Pro, published by BorisFX, works as a standalone app or plug-in for several hosts and works pretty much the same between hosts, so if you see a tutorial for a software that you don’t use, know that it will translate easily to your host.

The tutorials, all presented by Mary Poplin, include:

  1. Mocha Keyboard Shortcuts
  2. Shape-Based Tracking
  3. More Shape-Tracking Tricks & Tips
  4. Advanced Tracking in Adobe After Effects
  5. How to Avoid Reflections & Shadows
  6. How to Correct Tracking Drift

… for Visual Effects

Tip #1034: 60 Years of NASA – in 60 Seconds

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Creative teams don’ t need to be together to be successful. If they communicate.

The Oxcart Assembly logo.

Topic $TipTopic

Recently, Frame.io published a blog detailing how a new team of creatives – Oxcart Assembly – collaborated to create the identity package for NASA’s Launch America. As Frame describes it: This “covers the creation of NASA’s new Launch America brand by a coast-to-coast team of visionaries who enjoy pushing the limits of what’s possible—and how they overcame the boundaries of time and space by using Frame.io.”

This detailed blog covers how the team met, how they pitched NASA and won the project, how they were able to winnow 60 years of NASA video to fit into 60 seconds, and their creative approach to the project.

This is a fun article to read, with plenty of illustrations and inside insight.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1049: HDR HLG vs PQ on SDR Monitors

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

HLG looks better on SDR than PQ. But PQ looks better on HDR monitors.

Image courtesy of Venera Technologies.
HLG looks better on SDR monitors, but PQ has more detail in the highlights.

Topic $TipTopic

Tip #1043 compared the grayscale differences between HDR HLG and SDR. This tip illustrates the differences between watching HLG and PQ on an SDR monitor.

NOTE: The screen shot and the information in this article are taken from a Venera Technologies article.

To display the digital images on the screen, display devices need to convert the pixel values to corresponding light values. This process is usually non-linear and is called EOTF (Electro-Optical Transfer Function).

While SDR uses Rec. 709, HDR defines two additional transfer functions to handle this issue – Perceptual Quantizer (PQ) and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG). HDR PQ is an absolute, display-referred signal while HDR HLG is a relative, scene-referred signal. This means that HLG-enabled display devices automatically adapts the light levels based on the content and their own display capabilities while PQ enabled display devices need to implement tone mapping to adapt the light levels.

Under ideal conditions, dynamic PQ based transformation will achieve the best quality results at the cost of compatibility with existing display systems.

As you can see from the screen shot, HLG images look better on SDR monitors than PQ images. However, while PQ based transforms promise to display the best quality results on HDR enabled monitors, in comparison to HLG, PQ requires proper tone mapping by the display device.


As you may be able to see in the screenshot, PQ offers more detail in the highlights than HLG.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1046: For HDR, Shadows are More Important

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Shadow detail is important to perception that highlights – as both SDR and HDR reflect.

Image courtesy of Venera Technologies.
In both SDR and HDR, 50% of all grayscale values are the shadows.

Topic $TipTopic

In earlier tips (#1043 and #1049) we compared differences in grayscale values between SDR and HDR. What I discovered during this research is how important shadow detail is for both SDR and HDR.

NOTE: The screen shot and the information in this article are taken from a Venera Technologies article.

Human beings are more sensitive to changes in darker regions compared to changes in brighter regions. This property is exploited in HDR systems providing more granularity (detail) in darker regions compared to brighter regions. The screenshot depicts that the light level range in darker regions are represented by a larger signal value range compared to the brighter regions – meaning more detail in the shadows.

While grayscale values are more evenly distributed for Rec. 709-based displays, they become less granular for HDR displays in the brighter regions. In the case of HLG, more than half of signal values are represented for light levels between 0-60 Nits while the remaining signal values span 60-1000 Nits. Similarly, in the case of PQ-based displays, approximately half of the signal values are represented for light levels between 0-40 Nits while the remaining half of the signal values are represented in a range of 40-1000 Nits.

In other words, for both HDR and SDR, half the total signal range is reserved for shadow values of less than 50 IRE; while, for HDR, the remaining highlight values are spread up to 10,000 IRE (Nits)!

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #1044: What Does “Clamp Signal” Do?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Clamp scopes when doing creative work, unclamp when evaluating images technically.

The Clamp Signal checkbox in the Lumetri Waveform Monitor.

Topic $TipTopic

The Lumetri video scopes have a “Clamp Signal” checkbox. As I was researching my recent webinar on “New Features in Adobe Premiere Pro,” I talked with Adobe about this.

What the Clamp Signal checkbox does, when turned on, is compress, or clamp, any grayscale levels over 100 IRE or below 0 IRE that are displayed in the scopes. This means all grayscale values fall between 0 – 100 IRE.

NOTE: These excess values are called “super-white” or “super-black.” Both are illegal values for broadcast, DVD or digital cinema.

This clamping does NOT affect any clips in the timeline or browser display; or media being exported.

In general, when doing creative work, turn clamping on. When evaluating your final project technically, turn clamping off, then make sure no values are above 100 or below 0.


If your color grade is done, and you still have illegal levels, apply Video Effects > Color Correction > Video Limiter to clean them up.

Here’s an older tutorial that explains what the limiter does.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1043: Comparing HDR Grayscale to SDR

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

HDR HLG matches SDR shadows and midtones, but adds more highlights.

(Graph courtesy of Wikipedia.com.)
This chart compares grayscale values between SDR and HDR HLG media.

Topic $TipTopic

As I was researching my recent webinar on “New Features in Adobe Premiere Pro,” I came across an interesting graph that compares HDR HLG grayscale values with SDR.

We are all familiar with the grayscale values in SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) media. It’s the Rec. 709 HD footage we work with on a daily basis.

While HDR consists of more than simply brighter pixels, grayscale is the relevant concept here. HDR has two formats: HLG and PQ. HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) is optimized for broadcast, while PQ is optimized for digital display. Both Final Cut and Premiere support HLG media. But, what does it mean to say “optimized for broadcast?” That’s where this chart comes in.

SDR grayscale values are essentially linear, a “straight line” from 0 IRE (pure black) to 100 IRE (pure white). This range of 100 IRE values is what the entire broadcast signal path is designed to support.

HDR HLG mirrors the linear SDR grayscale values from 0 to 75 IRE – though there is some variation between standards in different countries – then expresses highlights as log values, rather than linear for the top 25% of highlights.

This allows HDR HLG to pack much brighter highlights than SDR, yet still fit within a 100 IRE range. However, there’s a trade-off. While HDR HLG is compatible with broadcast, HDR PQ has more highlight detail. Both HDR formats are much brighter than SDR.


If you are creating an HDR project, it is important to know what format your distributor supports BEFORE you do the color grade, because grading HLG and PQ is not the same and you can not switch between them.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #1042: Multiple Bugs in Proxy Export

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

For now, use proxies, but avoid using proxy export.

The “Use Proxies” option in Premiere. My advice? Don’t use it.

Topic $TipTopic

New in the 14.4. update to Adobe Premiere Pro is the ability to export proxy files, instead of high-resolution camera masters. The only problem is, this doesn’t work.

While Premiere has supported proxies for a while, new with this release is the ability to export proxy media. Prior, regardless of whether proxies were active or not, it would always export high-resolution media.

While exporting proxy files is a note-worthy feature, this feature does not work in the 14.4 release. After working with this for three days, and talking with Adobe, I have never gotten proxies to export. Instead, regardless of whether proxies are active or not, Premiere always exports high-resolution media.

For now, don’t use this function. Adobe acknowledges that their whole proxy workflow needs more work. I expect to see improvements to proxies in future releases.


Compounding this problem, another bug in working with proxies is that if you create a custom proxy ingest setting – say to burn a watermark into the proxy media, Premiere will reject the custom setting due to enabling “Match frame size and frame rate.” However, even when these settings are turned off, Premiere still won’t accept a custom proxy ingest setting.

And, if you create proxies outside of Premiere using Adobe Media Encoder, Premiere will refuse to link to them because AME changes the audio channel mapping, which Premiere needs to link the files.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #1035: Bugs in Automatic Scene Detection

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Scene Detection works reliably provided you don’t unlink audio from video.

Scene detection options in Adobe Premiere Pro v. 14.4.

Topic $TipTopic

There are two significant bugs in the new automatic scene detection feature in the 14.4 update to Adobe Premiere Pro.

Scene detection reviews a clip, then adds cuts where the scene changes. This is a big help when you need to deconstruct an already-edited piece, or need to chop up DV or HDV footage where multiple takes are contained in a single clip.

NOTE: Scene detection can also create subclips or add clip markers, if that is your preference.

However, in preparing my recent webinar on the “New Features in Adobe Premiere Pro” I discovered two significant bugs in this process.

First, if you unlink audio from video for the clip you want to process, scene detection will fail more than 90% of the time. (If the clip is not unlinked, scene detection works reliably.)

Second, if you don’t want the audio cut, Adobe says you can merge the audio back into a single clip after scene detection cuts a clip. However, when the audio segments are selected in the timeline, the Merge option is disabled.


The best option, if you want to cut video and not audio, is to leave the audio and video clips linked, use scene detection to cut the clip, then, delete all the audio segment except the first one, then roll trim the first clip back to its original length.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1041: New! See What You Are Missing

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Smart Conform allows you to see the portion of an image being trimmed – and adjust it.

(Image courtesy of Model Railroad Builders (www.franandmileshale.com)
The white button displays the hidden portions of an image.

Topic $TipTopic

Smart Conform is new with the 10.4.9 update, which is a quick way to reframe existing clips for the different aspect ratios of social media.

NOTE: Here’s a tutorial that covers this in detail.

However, there’s a very cool button that makes Smart Conform much easier to use. (See screen shot.)

After you trim a clip using Smart Conform, look in the top right corner of the Viewer. When you click the white button indicated by the red arrow, Final Cut displays a dimmed version of the entire image which allows you to see what will be cut from the frame.

Using the Transform > Position settings in the Video Inspector, you can adjust the X position to move the image horizontally. Or keyframe the X position if you need framing to change during playback.