… for Visual Effects

Tip #1202: BorisFX Sapphire Tutorials

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Interviews, showcases and tutorials to get you started with BorisFX Sapphire.

(Image courtesy of BorisFX.com.)

Topic $TipTopic

Sapphire plug-ins, published by BorisFX, let you create stunning organic looks unmatched by any host native effect tools. Key features include over 270 effects and 3000+ presets, a powerful Effect and Transition Builder, and integrated tracking and masking with the Academy Award-winning Mocha. Sapphire’s superior image quality, control, and render speed offers massive time-savings.

BorisFX has compiled a series of artist interviews and product tutorials that showcase Sapphire and provide an orientation to how it works.

Here’s the link.

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… for Visual Effects

Tip #1201: Get Started with Nuke

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The hardest step is getting started. Here’s a 10-video series that can help.

(Image courtesy of Foundry.com.)

Topic $TipTopic

Nuke is an industry standard compositing, editorial and review tool for single artists to full VFX houses. The hardest part of learning effects software is getting started. Foundry, the makers of Nuke, created the free “Nuke Studio for Beginners.”

This 10 video set takes just over an hour to watch and will get you started with basic editing, compositing and exporting in Nuke Studio. Designed for complete beginners and those new to Nuke, these tutorials describe the steps to make a simple project in Nuke Studio.

Nuke is different from more traditional effects packages found in most NLEs because it is node-based. As such, it takes some effort to shift our thinking into the possibilities that nodes present.

Both the tutorials and a trial version of Nuke are free. Here’s the link.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #1187: Using Quick Export

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Quick Export is a fast way to create H.264 versions of your timeline.

Quick Export icon (top), video format settings (middle) and seven compression options.

Topic $TipTopic Quick Export, new with the Nov. 2020 release of Adobe Premiere Pro, is a single-button way to create H.264 versions of the currently open project in your timeline.

  • Click the Quick Export icon in the top right corner of the Premiere interface (screen shot, top red arrow).
  • This displays the Quick Export screen allowing you to change the file name, storage location and compression setting.
  • Click Preset to pick from eight different compression settings: bit rate (top four) and image size (bottom four) for the exported file. (Middle image) The display at the bottom (bottom red arrow) shows the current export configuration.
  • When the settings are the way you like – and most of the time, you probably won’t change them, click Export.

NOTE: All these options create H.264 files.

This quickly configures project exports. The export process remains the same.


For more export options, simply export your project as always and configure it using the Export Settings window.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1192: What Are Compression Artifacts?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Compression artifacts are blurry rectangles in a compressed image.

A source image (top) compared to an image with severe artifacts.

Topic $TipTopic

Compression artifacts are caused by a compression data rate that is too low. These are most often seen as blurry rectangles that randomly “crawl” around an image.

In this screen shot, the source image is on top. The compressed image, with severe artifacts, is on the bottom.

Look at the lost detail in their hair, the “stair-steppy” edges along both girl’s shoulders and ugly blotches throughout their skin.

Artifacts most often show up in regions of similar color – skin, hair, sky, sand…

These can only be removed by recompressing your video at a higher (faster) bit rate.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1191: Create Watermarks That Move

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Moving watermarks can be created in Motion, then added using Compressor.

Watermark effects settings (top) and the inserted watermark (bottom)

Topic $TipTopic

We are all used to video watermarks, those small images in the lower right corner of a video that identify the source of the video. But, did you know those watermarks can move? If you use the right watermark, it can.

In Motion, create a project the same size as the video it will be added to. Position the watermark at both the size and position you want. Remember this video will loop so be sure the first and last frame match.

Motion automatically creates motion graphics with alpha channels, which means it will key into any video perfectly.

NOTE: I generally set watermarks to sit right at the lower-right corner of Title Safe.

  • Add a video to Compressor, then apply a compression setting to the clip.
  • Select the compression setting, then scroll to the bottom of the Video Inspector.
  • In the Add Video Effects menu, select Watermark (top red arrow).
  • At the bottom of the Watermark effect, click the Select button (bottom red arrow) and select the moving watermark you just created in Motion.
  • At the top of the Watermark effect, change Position to Center. This matches the framing of the watermark to the video.
  • If the watermark and the video are created at different frame sizes, check Scale to Frame Size to get them to match.
  • Finally, because the video needs to loop for the duration of your video, click Repeat (video only) to create the loop.


Any application that creates video with an alpha channel can be used to create moving watermarks.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1190: Faster H.264 and HEVC Compression

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Compression is getting faster due to new chips supporting hardware acceleration.

The Encoder type menu option in Apple Compressor 4.5.

Topic $TipTopic

As I was preparing this week’s webinar on media compression in Apple Compressor (link) I learned the following:

The new M1 chip from Apple (part of the three new Macs launched last week) can accelerate encoding of H.264, 8-bit HEVC, and 10-bit HEVC using hardware. This vastly speeds compression of these codecs.

NOTE: HDR media requires using a 10-bit codec, which is why compressing 10-bit HEVC quickly is important.

To enable hardware acceleration, be sure to select Faster for the Encoding type.

As well, recent Intel-based Mac computers can use the T2 chip to hardware accelerate 8-bit HEVC and 10-bit HEVC encoding. Again, the Faster Encoding type option should be selected.

NOTE: Selecting Multi-pass switches to software-based encoding. Given the speed and quality of today’s hardware-accelerated compression, there are very few reasons to use this option.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #1189: New Features in Premiere Pro (Nov. 2020)

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

New features are nice, but Adobe also needs to prioritize performance and bug fixes.

The Quick Export icon in Premiere.

Topic $TipTopic

Adobe has quietly moved to monthly updates for all its media software. Here’s what’s new in the November, 2020, update.

  • Quick Export. This provides direct access to popular and frequently used export settings, right from the header bar in Premiere Pro.
  • AME APU Optimization. This affects Windows users running Ryzen CPUs, using Radeon GPUs, with up to 4 times faster rendering and smoother playback for 4K sequences thanks to improved memory usage.
  • Moving into beta is media replacement in motion graphics templates which will provide new options for graphics workflows.

The Quick Export icon is located in the top right corner of the Premiere interface (see screen shot).


Here’s Adobe’s blog with the details.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #1181: How Color Match Works

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

I find that Color Match gets me close, then I can tweak using the color wheels.

The Color Match section of the Lumetri Color panel.

Topic $TipTopic

Color Match allows fast color matching between timeline clips in Premiere. It’s been in the Lumetri Color panel for a while, but you may have overlooked it. Here’s how it works.

  • Put the playhead on a clip in the timeline who’s color needs adjustment.
  • Switch to the Color workspace, then reveal the Color Wheels & Match section (see screen shot).
  • Click Comparison view. This displays a second window in the Program Monitor to the left of the timeline image.
  • Drag the slider under the Comparison View until you find a frame who’s color you like.
  • In the Lumetri panel, click Apply Match (see screen shot).

Instantly, the color of the timeline clip shifts to match the overall tone of the frame in the Comparison View.


No automated color tool works perfectly all the time. I find this technique to be a fast way to get a clip close to the colors I want. From there, it is easy to tweak it to its final look using the Color Wheels.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1194: Sometimes, a Gap is More Than Black

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Gaps are black clips that serve a variety of functions – including acting a spacers.

A selected 3-second gap inserted into the Primary Storyline.

Topic $TipTopic

This is a simple thing, but I find myself using it in almost every project: adding a gap in my timeline.

Now, I know, gaps – which create flashes of black during playback – are anathema to most editors. As they should be – flashes of black generally indicate bad editing.

But, when I’m creating a rough cut, adding a gap makes for a nice spacer separating different sections of my edit, which means I can quickly find it again. I also use these to flag quotes, or where I was working when I take a break.

NOTE: Yes, I know, I could leave a marker. But I’m already using markers and gaps are a whole lot easier to see.

Because the magnetic timeline snaps the edges of clips together, creating a gap requires thinking differently. In fact, there are three ways to add a gap:

  • The Position tool (Shortcut: P). Select something, move it and Final Cut leaves a gap between where it was and where it is now. This works, but I need something faster.
  • Select a clip, then press the Forward delete key (on laptops, type Shift + Delete). This replaces the selected clip with a gap.
  • Or, my favorite, type Option + W (Menu: Edit > Insert Generator > Gap). This inserts a 3-second gap at the position of the playhead.


A gap is actually a clip containing silent audio and black video. You can trim, move and delete gaps the same as any other clip.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1188: Keyboard Shortcuts for Pasting Clips

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Six tips that move a clip from where it is to where you want it.

Topic $TipTopic

Warren Nelson suggested this tip:

I need to copy and paste a clip from the timeline to a layer above the timeline.

  • Using Cmd + V inserts the clip in the timeline.
  • I finally dug around and discovered that Option + V pastes the clip, copied from the timeline, at the playhead position above the timeline!

Cool tip, Warren! Here are four other shortcuts you can use to move clips from the Primary Storyline to a connected clip above it:

  • Edit > Lift from Storyline (Shortcut: Option + Cmd + Up arrow)
  • Edit > Overwrite to Primary Storyline (Shortcut: Option + Cmd + Down arrow)
  • Edit > Select > Up (Shortcut: Cmd + Up arrow) Selects the clip under the playhead on the higher layer.
  • Edit > Select > Down (Shortcut: Cmd + Down arrow) Selects the clip under the playhead on a lower layer.