… for Visual Effects

Tip #418: What is an Anchor Point?

The anchor point determines rotation and scaling.

A repositioned anchor point in Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

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When it comes to altering the position of an image, both Premiere and Final Cut allow us to adjust the “anchor point.” But what does it do?

The anchor point is that spot around which an image rotates or scales.

By default, it is in the center of the frame, allowing us to rotate or scale from the center. However, you can achieve some interesting effects by moving it.

In Premiere:

  • Select the clip you want to adjust. (Anchor points are adjusted on a clip-by-clip basis.)
  • Click the word Motion in Effect Controls, then drag the plus sign in a circle in the Program Monitor to where you want to reposition the anchor point. (See the screen shot.)

In Final Cut Pro X:

  • Select the clip you want to adjust. (Like Premiere, anchor points are adjusted on a clip-by-clip basis.)
  • While you can’t adjust the anchor point by dragging, you can change its position in the Video inspector > Transform > Anchor.

Finally, adjust rotation or scale and watch what happens.

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… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #409: Select Audio Options for a Multicam Clip in Premiere

Choosing the right audio options can simplify your audio mix.

The default setting is not ideal. Set multicam audio options to match this.

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After you’ve selected the clips you want to build into a multicam clip, then chosen Clip > Create Multicam Source Sequence, this dialog shows up.

If all your audio is stored in one camera clip, choose Sequence Setting > Camera 1. Otherwise, choose Sequence Settings > All Cameras.

Next, here the options in Audio Channels Preset:

  • Automatic. Automatic reads the channelization of the first clip and maps all source audio based on that channelization. No mix down is done and no source audio is ever lost. Extreme example: if you have 3 source clips and the first one is stereo and the second one is 10 channel multi-mono and the third one is 5.1 (not very common but just an extreme example) you have a total of 18 source channels and the resulting clip will edit to into the multicam clip as 9 separate stereo clips. This is a great example of why automatic is not a great choice unless all of your sources are all stereo (and you want them mapped as stereo) or all mono (and you want them all mapped as mono).
  • Mono. This takes all source channels regardless of their native channelization and brings them in as mono when the multicam clip is edited into your sequence.
  • Stereo. This takes all source channels regardless of their native channelization and brings them in as stereo when the multicam clip is edited into your sequence.
  • 5.1. This creates a surround clip of the source audio. Surround is a great distribution format, but a miserable format for editing. Avoid using this.
  • Adaptive. This maps all source channels into single track item. This allows you to hear everything but is really tough to edit.

In almost all cases, Mono is the best choice for multi-track audio editing.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #386: Filters that Blur Alpha Channels

Blurring the alpha channel blurs a foreground image.

Image courtesy of Apple, Inc.

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This is an excerpt from the Apple Motion user guide.

Blurring the alpha channel allows you to blur a foreground object into a background element. In fact, there are filters you can use to manipulate or even replace a layer’s alpha channel.

The process of improving a keying effect or of customizing an alpha channel created using shape or image masks may require the use of special filters. Although you can apply any filter to a shape or image mask to modify that mask’s effect, the filters described in this section modify a layer’s entire alpha channel, including the sum of all masks and other filters applied to that layer.

For example, if you’ve applied a keying filter, you can use the following filters to modify the resulting alpha channel even though no mask appears for that layer in the Layers list or Timeline:

  • Channel Blur: This filter, found in the Blur category of the Filters library, lets you selectively blur the alpha channel. You can set the amount of horizontal and vertical blur independently.
  • Matte Magic: This filter, found in the Keying subcategory of the Filters library, lets you manipulate various qualities of an alpha channel, shrinking, feathering, and eroding the alpha channel to fine-tune it.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #388: Garbage Masks in Motion

Virtually all keys benefit from a garbage mask.

This is Drew in a really, really bad key.

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This is an excerpt from the Apple Motion User Guide. Garbage masks are really useful because they help you, ah, get rid of the garbage. Here’s how it works

After you apply a key, you may need to crop unwanted background elements that can’t be keyed, such as the edge of a blue screen stage, lighting rigs, or tape that appears in the background. Using the Mask tool, you can create a garbage mask that removes unwanted elements.

NOTE: The Mask tool is not a filter, its a tool; located in the Toolbar at the bottom of the Motion interface.

There are five masking tools in Motion:

  • Rectangle Mask
  • Circle Mask
  • Freehand Mask
  • Beziér Mask
  • B-spline Mask

Create a Garbage Mask

In Motion, select the keyed layer and use a mask tool to draw a mask around the foreground subject.

NOTE: If the subject is moving, the garbage mask must be animated using keyframes.

By default, the Mask Blend Mode is set to Add, which crops everything outside the mask, while leaving the transparent areas in the mask alone. To crop out areas within masks, choose Subtract from the Mask Blend Mode pop-up menu.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #289: Create a Hold Frame

Hold frames are a great way to pause the action.

The red arrow indicates the start of a Hold frame in Premiere.

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Hold frames are still images created in a clip in Premiere’s timeline that allow you to pause the action. There are two versions of a Hold frame – here’s how to create both.

  • In the Premiere timeline, put your playhead on the frame you want to freeze.
  • Control-click the clip and choose one of two options:
  • Add Frame Hold. This freezes the frame under the playhead until the end of the clip. Perfect for a dramatic freeze and a slow fade to black.
  • Insert Frame Hold Segment. Inserts a two-second freeze frame at the position of the playhead, then the action resumes.

In both cases, you can trim the end of the Hold frame to whatever duration you need. I use these a lot!

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #290: Dynamic Trim: Trim Clips in Real-Time

This is a very fast way to trim edits in realtime.

The Dynamic Trim window in Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
The blue bars indicate which edit point is selected. Drag to trim – or use J-K-L keys.

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Hidden in the Premiere interface is the Dynamic Trim window, which provides the ability to trim an edit point in realtime. This is a great way to trim an action scene when you need to see it in realtime to figure out the best places to change shots.

  • Double-click any edit point to open the window. The out-going clip is on the left, the in-coming clip is on the right.
  • Click an image to select a clip. (Notice the blue bars bracketing the left window? This means the out-going clip is selected.)
  • Drag inside an image to trim the Out (left) or In (right.). Or, click the vertical border between the two images to trim both; again, by dragging the mouse.

NOTE: You can also use the buttons at the bottom of the window to trim in 1 or 5 frame increments.

  • But! The real magic comes when you use the J and L keys. J to play backward, L to play forward. Whenever you press K, the selected edit point is trimmed in realtime.

If you are editing on action, this can make your trims a whole lot faster while enabling you to trim while watching the scene in realtime.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #397: What Do Compressor Frame Sizes Mean

Don’t scale images larger than 100%

The Frame Size selector in Apple Compressor.

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The Frame Size setting in Apple Compressor determines precisely how your images are scaled during compression. Here’s what the settings mean.

Automatic. This outputs a compressed file at the same frame size as the source file.

Category: Up to…

This creates a compressed frame size that is the same size as the source file UNLESS the source file is larger than the “Up to” amount.

For example, if Up to was set to 1280 x 720, a 480 x 270 clip would be scaled to 480 x 270, while a 1920 x 1080 clip would be scaled to 1280 x 720.

Category: Manual

This scales a compressed frame size to exactly this frame size, regardless of the frame size of the source file.

For example, if Manual was set to 1280 x 720, a 480 x 270 clip would be scaled to 1280 x 720, while a 1920 x 1080 clip would also be scaled to 1280 x 720.

Category: Constrained

This allows scaling a compressed file to any frame size, provided it remains within the defined aspect ratio.

For example, choosing Custom 16:9, would allow scaling any 16:9 master to any frame size, as long as it retains the 16:9 aspect ratio; say 960 x 540.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #398: Use Watch Folders in AME for Automation

Watch Folders automate media compression.

A sample Watch Folder in Adobe Media Encoder, with settings applied.

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If you are creating lots of movies that always get the same compression settings or want to automatically compress and transfer files to social media – using Watch Folders in Adobe Media Encoder can make your life a lot easier.

A Watch Folder is a specific location on your computer – either on an internal, external or network drive – into which you drop files to be compressed.

As long as Adobe Media Encoder is running – and this won’t work if it isn’t – once a file is copied into a Watch Folder location you specify, AME will compress it based on the settings applied to that folder.

For example, in this screen shot, within a few seconds after a file is copied into a folder named: “Compress for YouTube,” AME will compress it using the “YouTube 1080p Full HD” preset compression settings.

When compression is complete, the master file will be moved to the Source folder inside this Watch folder, while the compressed file is moved to the Output folder.



You can apply multiple settings to the same Watch Folder, for example to create and transfer files to YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo. Each of these settings will automatically transfer the compressed file up to your account on each service.

I used Watch Folders a lot when the Digital Production Buzz covered NAB. We were regularly dropping 5-8 files an hour into this folder, then posting them as soon as they showed up in the Output folder. This saved us precious minutes for each show compared to compressing each file manually.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #342: Uses for Emoji in Final Cut Pro X

Emojis give an entirely different look to info-graphics and titles.

A portion of the emoji panel in Apple Final Cut Pro X.

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It started with macOS Sierra, but for those who, like me, didn’t get the memo, we can now add emojis to titles in Final Cut Pro X. It couldn’t be easier – here’s how.

  • Place your cursor in a text clip where you want an emoji to appear.
  • Type Control + Cmd + Spacebar.
  • Double-click any emoji icon to add it to your title at the position of the cursor.

Very cool – and very easy.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #379: Change Gradient Colors

Fonts don’t need to be white. You have LOTS of options.

The gradient color picker for text in Apple Final Cut Pro X.

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This Tip is an excerpt from a longer Apple KnowledgeBase discussion of gradients.

Normally, text in a title or generator has only one color – and the default is white. However, you can replace the solid color with a gradient, then change the colors of the gradient. We have LOTS of options. Here’s how.

  • Select the text clip.
  • Select the text you want to modify in either the Inspector or the Viewer.
  • In the Text Inspector, scroll down and show Face.
  • Change Fill with to Gradient.
  • Twirl down the arrow next to Gradient to reveal the gradient color picker.
  • The top white bar represents opacity over time. Generally, leave that alone.
  • Click one of the color squares at the bottom to select it.
  • Either click the color chip, or the arrow next to the color chip, to display a color picker (there are two different options, depending upon where you click).
  • To add another color to the gradient, click once in the thin horizontal color bar.
  • Drag a color square to change the gradient.

Once you start playing, you’ll discover all kinds of things you can do with this gradient color tool.