… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1798: Product Reviews of the Un-reviewable

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

NewsShooter reviews the production gear you never knew existed.

Yup, it’s the Røde Thread Adapter

Topic $TipTopic If you are looking for product reviews of production gear that go way, WAAY deeper than cameras and big-name software, check out NewsShooter.com.

On the current home page of NewsShooter, you’ll find reviews of:

  • Camera cages
  • Lighting brackets
  • Monitors
  • Lenses
  • Focus pullers
  • Thread adapters

Thread adapters? How can you find enough words to fill a review of “a handy little device that can be attached to bags or other equipment so you always have a set of thread adaptors with you.”

But, they do.

This is a fun website for the geek in all of us.

Here’s the link.


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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1797: 5 Truths From an Indie Producer

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Planning, budgeting & contacts. The pillars of producing.

Image courtesy: Lilla Le Dieu.

Topic $TipTopic

This article first appeared in NoFilmSchool.com. This is a summary.

I’m Lilia Le Dieu, a freelance producer, and I’m sharing a few lessons learned throughout three years in the creative industry. I have worked on short films, features, commercials, and music videos in the U.S. and Belarus.

My short films have collected over 50 official selections in international film festivals. Today, I’m sharing some knowledge that could be useful for other filmmakers, especially for those working on non-union shoots.

  1. Over-preparation is key. Murphy’s Law works hard, but it works overtime when it comes to filmmaking. In my experience, being extra OCD about every little thing and having a backup plan for it pays off. Have insurance, literally and figuratively.
  2. Fire [the] wrong people for the job, before it’s too late. If you’ve hired people, and they start to disappoint during pre-production, do not wait until the fire catches up. Talk to them, resolve conflict, or fire them and move on.
  3. Budgeting is everything. The art of budgeting should be taught in schools because so many things go right when you prepare for the costs and allocate money efficiently. This skill is usually honed when you’ve dealt with projects of different sizes. In my practice, contractors that ask for unreasonably high payments usually are not as competent as you might think.
  4. Don’t underestimate post-production. Listen, it’s not hard to edit and color grade a film. What’s hard is to meet the deadlines/budget, keep the vision consistent without sacrificing quality, and make the most of the footage you have. You can fix it in post. This argument is definitely valid for music videos.
  5. Reach out to EVERYONE. Filmmaking is a joint effort, impossible without the help of other talented collaborators. Once I find the right people, we stick together, as I make sure to attach them to every project. Don’t be afraid to contact someone who seems way out of your league. Also, do the opposite. All of us have started somewhere.

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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1789: 1 Beyond Launches New Tracking Cameras

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Automated cameras are ideal for remote production.

1 Beyond Falcon camera. (Image courtesy of 1 Beyond)

Topic $TipTopic

1 Beyond Inc. makes automated cameras, cameras that follow a speaker’s movements without requiring an operator. Last week, they announced two new, lower-cost cameras: the Hawk and the Falcon.

The Falcon is a powerful presenter tracking camera that smoothly pans, tilts and zooms to follow a presenter. Its small form-factor is well-suited for smaller rooms. It is the first ePTZ camera from 1 Beyond and uses a 4K image sensor which is cropped to HD for output. It uses facial and motion detection for tracking and is designed for rooms up to 25 feet deep.

The Hawk is a tracking camera specifically for the room participants. It combines two 12x optical zoom PTZ cameras, a wide-angle reference camera and six audio-locating microphones in a compact shelf-mountable solution. Built-in facial detection and voice detection software uses a new algorithm to accurately point a camera at whoever is speaking. Switching between cameras is seamless and automatic. The wide-angle reference camera feed is also available for an establishing shot of the room. Hawk is designed for rooms up to 30 feet deep.

Here’s the link


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… for Apple Motion

Tip #1803: Why Use B-Spline Curves?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

B-spline curves are always curved and smooth.

A B-spline curve, with a cyan-colored chalk style. Control points are the red dots.

Topic $TipTopic

I was reading several technical articles about when to use B-spline curves. While they make good points, here’s the key thing you need to know.

A B-spline is always a smooth curve. Unlike a Bezier curve, which can have corners or curves, B-splines are always smoothly curving from beginning to end.

This means that if you have problems drawing smooth curves, as I do, B-splines come to your rescue.

To draw one:

  • Click the small arrow next to the Pen tool and choose B-spline.
  • Then, start clicking in the Viewer. As you do, a curve is instantly created.
  • Drag a red control point to change the shape of the curve. The shape will change, but it will ALWAYS be a smooth curve.
  • Click the starting point to create a closed curve, otherwise, you’ll create an open curve by default.

EXTRA CREDIT

Open the HUD, assign the curve a width, then click the Shape Style icon at the bottom of the HUD to assign a style to the border. This image uses Traditional > Chalk Easy with the border set to a cyan color.

NOTE: For shape styles to appear, the border width needs to be enabled and greater than 0.

This concept is the same for B-spline masks: always a smooth curve.


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… for Apple Motion

Tip #1802: Change the Height of Layer Elements

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

This hidden control changes the height of elements in the Layers panel.

Enable Layer sizing by clicking the rectangle icon (bottom) when the Timeline is open.

Topic $TipTopic

There’s a very useful setting in Motion that only appears when the Timeline is open – even though it has nothing to do with the Timeline!

When the Timeline is displayed (F6 toggles it open or closed), a magnifying glass and rectangle icon appear immediately above it.

Click the rectangle icon (bottom red arrow in screen shot) to reveal a new control (top red arrow).

As you drag this control left or right, the size of the layers in the Layers panel will increase or decrease.

What’s interesting, to me, is that the Timeline needs to be open for this Layers panel control to become visible.


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… for Apple Motion

Tip #1793: Motion Generators Offer More Options

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Final Cut Generators are the most flexible Motion template.

The Final Cut Generator logo in Apple Motion.

Topic $TipTopic

A Final Cut Generator is the most flexible of the four Final Cut templates in Motion. While Effects, Transitions, and Titles have very specific functions, a Generator can be anything.

Use Generators to create animated backgrounds, bulleted text, visual effects… anything.

Final Cut Effects are always applied to a clip. Titles are always superimposed over the clip below it. Transitions blend between clips. Generators are standalone media clips which can be used in conjunction with other clips, or stand on their own.

If you have a specific use in mind, select Effect, Title or Transition. If you aren’t sure, Generators provide the widest variety of options.


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… for Visual Effects

Tip #1800: Use Unreal Engine to Re-create Nature

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The Unreal engine can make the artificial look natural.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

Topic $TipTopic

In this screen shot, the terrain (hills, mountains, etc.) was fully sculpted in Unreal Engine with the landscape editing mode, using brushes to sculpt, smooth, and flatten areas in the map.

The landscape material and the vegetation were created with the Brushify toolkit. Finally, the props—rocks, cliffs, and manmade materials—are the result of customized elements and assets from the Megascan library by Quixel.

This article first appeared in ShutterStock.com. This is a summary.

In this first article of a three-part series, we’ll learn how to produce stunning, natural compositions in Unreal Engine. In particular, we’ll focus on aspects of planning an environment while making an eye-catching, well-balanced composition.

Here are the key points this article covers:

  • Planning the Environment. One of the biggest challenges while creating natural environments is to plan your scene from the start. Begin with big and bare areas and then develop the details in those macro zones by adding vegetation, assets, and so on.
  • Sculpting Terrain and Set Dressing. Unreal Landscape offers a series of tools for sculpting maps and adding scattered elements like flowers, grass, or anything else you want to import as an asset in your engine.
  • The Importance of Biomes. The art of compositing a good environment is also connected with the presence of biomes: a sort of habitat for organisms and the related terrain characteristics. This way we can have different zones—forests instead of grasslands, desert, etc.
  • Shot Composition: Thinking Like a Photographer. Once you’ve created your own landscape, you want to showcase your work in its best light.

Other subjects include:

  • The Choice of an Appropriate Vantage Point.
  • Low-Angle Shots
  • Depth of Field
  • Positive and Negative Space

That brings us to the end of the first article of a three-part series. We explained how to plan a 3D environment and how to collect photo references with details. We then moved on to talk about the sculpting in Unreal Engine and set dressing with the support of Brushify.


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… for Visual Effects

Tip #1799: The Craft & Culture of Motion Design

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Bi-weekly episodes on the craft and culture of motion graphics.

Austin Shaw (top) and Erin Sorofsky (Image courtesy of Between the Keyframes.)

Topic $TipTopic

Motionographer.com reports that “Between the Keyframes” is a new vidcast hosted by Erin Sarofsky and Austin Shaw, two formidable experts in the motion design industry.

Austin literally wrote the book on motion design (“Design for Motion: Fundamentals and Techniques of Motion Design,” Routledge, 2nd Edition, 2019) and is a sought-after educator and freelance creative director and designer. Erin owns Sarofsky, a studio that puts into practice all of those foundational principles while navigating the crazy tides of an exciting, ever-changing industry.

Online at https://betweenthekeyframes.com, the vidcast is now available via YouTube, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.

Already live with episodes exploring “The History of Now,” “Work from Home,” and “Passion Projects,” brand new episodes are debuting biweekly on Tuesdays. The next installment will cover “Fulltime vs. Freelance,” with part one dropping on July 13, and part two on July 27.


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… for Visual Effects

Tip #1792: Free & Paid Plug-ins for After Effects

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

AEJuice provides free & paid plugins for After Effects and Premiere Pro.

The Motion Lovers logo, image courtesy of AEJuice.com.

Topic $TipTopic

Recently, Jacob Syrytsia, co-founder of AEJuice contacted me about his company. AEJuice provides hundreds of free and paid plugins for After Effects, plus hosts the world’s largest motion graphics community.

AEJuice is a team of motion designers and software engineers that create tools for animation. It was founded in 2015 by Jacob Syrytsia and Mark Duval.

They currently offer a bundle for Premiere Pro consisting of dozens of effects, sound effects, transitions and other elements. They also host “the world’s biggest motion graphics community: ‘Motion Lovers.'”

Here’s the link.


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… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1806: NBC Olympics Selects Avid for Games

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Avid to provide content production and media management.

The logo for the NBC Olympics.

Topic $TipTopic

NBC Olympics, a division of the NBC Sports Group, has selected Avid to provide the content production and media management platform, tools and solutions for its production of the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, which take place in Tokyo, Japan, from July 23-August 8. The announcement was made by Darryl Jefferson, VP of Post Operations and Digital Workflow, NBC Sports & Olympics, and Jeff Rosica, CEO and President, Avid.

Over the past two decades, Avid has supported NBC Olympics in its ongoing technical innovation to present the American audience with state-of-the-art coverage of the Olympic Games. Building on their most recent success with platform-based media management workflows for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, NBC Olympics continues to use Avid’s MediaCentral systems for the Tokyo Olympics. To support expanded Olympic production from NBC Sports’ facility in Stamford, Conn., NBC Olympics will deploy Avid’s MediaCentral solutions to drive Tokyo-based remote and on-site workflows that will generate content for linear, OTT and social media platforms serving enthusiastic audiences in the U.S.

NBC Olympics is also using Avid NEXIS shared storage, Media Composer Ultimate and the Media Composer Cloud VM option to empower its team in multiple international locations, including editors based in Stamford, the International Broadcast Centre in Tokyo, and numerous Olympic venues, to connect and collaborate in real-time for content production and delivery.

Here’s the full press release.


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