… for Random Weirdness

Tip #779: Why a Lens is Worse at f/22 than f/8

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The smaller the aperture, the greater the diffraction.

Lens aperture is determined by the iris setting.

Topic $TipTopic

This article first appeared in PetaPixel.com. This is an excerpt.

It’s common knowledge that most lenses are at their best (i.e. sharpest) between f/5.6 and f/8, depending on the lens. But why? The reason a lens is softer at f/22 than it is at f/8 is due to a phenomenon called diffraction.

Two interesting points worth highlighting are:

  • Lenses get sharper as you stop down because stopping down reduces aberration, even while it increases diffraction.
  • It’s only when the “blurry points” caused by diffraction become bigger than an individual pixel that you’ll begin to see the effect in your images.

This has two consequences that are actually noticeable in the real world:

  • All other things being equal, a higher-resolution sensor will show the effects of diffraction sooner, because the individual pixels are smaller.
  • A really well-corrected lens will begin showing the negative effects of diffraction earlier.


The link at the top includes more details and a video illustrating diffraction in real life.

Please rate the helpfulness of this tip.

Click on a star to rate it!

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #763: Compound clips hide markers

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

There’s no easy way to copy and paste multiple markers.

Chapter markers add to a timeline clip.

Topic $TipTopic

Here’s a tip that I discovered this week: if you add chapter markers to a clip, then wrap that clip in a compound clip, the markers won’t export.

Each week, I add chapter markers to my latest webinar to simplify navigation for people who download the QuickTime version.

Normally, as part of the editing process, I send my FCP X project to Adobe Audition for audio mixing; a process that retains all markers. This week, though, for technical reasons, I needed to mix the webinar in FCP X.
The fastest way to do that is to enclose all my timeline clips – and their 42 markers – in a compound clip, then apply the audio filters I needed.

However, when it came time to export, the chapter markers, which were attached to clips, did not export with the compound clip.

Instead, I needed to move the markers to the compound clip itself. However, there is no way in FCP X to select a group of markers to copy and paste them to another clip or project. You can copy individual markers, but not groups.

To get my markers to export I copied each marker individually from each clip to the compound clip. This wasn’t difficult, just really time-consuming.

I’ll add this to my list of “FCP X Features I’d Like To See” … along with a scrolling timeline.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #685: Troubleshoot Premiere Pro Issues

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Here are ideas you can try to keep your system running smoothly.

Topic $TipTopic

This tip originally appeared as an Adobe Support article. This is an excerpt.

Having problems with Premiere Pro? The trouble-shooting guide linked above has tips on the following issues:

  • Why is my rendering slow?
  • Why doesn’t my timeline show any video preview?
  • Why am I getting choppy playback and poor performance?
  • What can I do to optimize the playback performance?
  • Checking for issues with applied effects
  • Checking for issues with plug-ins
  • What can I do if I think my hardware setup is not optimal?
  • Why does my audio playback keep getting stuck?
  • How do I get better performance with h.264/h.265 media?


Here are more tips on how to optimize your system for video editing with Premiere Pro and After Effects.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #661: Lock Text Height, But Not Width, in Apple Motion

Don Smith – www.donsmith.me

The secret is an almost-invisible dummy layer.

Note each line has a locked dummy field, containing the letter “g”.

Topic $TipTopic

Don Smith writes:

I create templates in Motion for use in Final Cut Pro X. I needed a way to lock the height of a text box vertically to accommodate a descender character, but not horizontally.

I duplicated the line, left its position unchanged, and, in the lower layer, I put a ‘g’ in it and turned its opacity to zero. However, at zero opacity, the character disappeared and the vertical size of the text box collapsed.

Instead, I found, an opacity setting of .01 made the character stay, but it remained invisible which allowed me to lock the height of the dummy text box.

I then locked the dummy layer.

Because the user could only use the visible duplicate, now it doesn’t matter if the visible text box in the same position as the dummy gets a character with a descender or not. The visible line, being in the same position as the dummy that’s locked vertically, keeps the height of the enclosing folder locked and objects linked to that text, or its enclosing folder, can depend on the height of the text box to remain stable no matter what the user types into it.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #578: Media Codec Issues on Windows

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Windows Media Player has its own challenges in finding and playing codecs.

Topic $TipTopic

Windows Media Player includes some of the most popular codecs, like MP3, Windows Media Audio, and Windows Media Video. However, it doesn’t include the codecs required for Blu‑ray Disc files, FLAC files, or FLV files. If something isn’t working in Windows Media Player, you might not have the right codec on your PC. The easiest way to fix this problem is to go online and search for the codec you need.

How can I find out which codecs are installed on my PC?

  1. On the Help menu in Windows Media Player, select About Windows Media Player. If you don’t see the Help menu, select Organize > Layout > Show menu bar.
  2. In the About Windows Media Player dialog box, select Technical Support Information. Your web browser will open a page that includes a lot of detailed info about the related binary files, codecs, filters, plug-ins, and services installed on your PC. This info should help you troubleshoot problems.

How do I tell which codec was used to compress a file and what format a file is in?

There isn’t a way to determine with absolute certainty the codec used to compress a file, but the following are your best options:

  • To determine what codec was used with a specific file, play the file in the Player, if possible. While the file is playing, right-click the file in the library, and then select Properties. On the File tab, look for the Audio and Video codec sections.
  • Use a non-Microsoft codec identification tool. To find one, search for “codec identification tool” on the web. You’ll find several tools as well as useful related info.

You might be able to tell the format of a file by looking at the file name extension (such as .wma, .wmv, .mp3, or .avi). However, there are limits to this approach. Many programs create files with custom file extensions. And it’s possible for anyone to rename a file without changing the file’s format. A file with an .mpg or .dvr-ms extension, for example, is usually just an AVI file that’s been compressed by using some version of an MPEG video codec.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #395: 4 Cameras Hacks That Save Time

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Four cool tips to get great shots on a budget.

Image courtesy of www.pexels.com.

Topic $TipTopic

This article first appeared in MotionArray. This is an excerpt. Here are four camera hacks that allow you to craft great effects without spending more than five bucks for each tip.

Use a Neck Strap

With your strap around your neck, push your camera away from you until the strap goes tight. Remember to keep that tension as you go through your motion. This will help to get rid of any jitters that your hands create when free-holding the camera. Your goal isn’t necessarily to get your shot perfect, but to get it to the point where it’s way smoother and free of jitter and rolling shutter.

Fishing Wire

Tape clear fishing line going exactly vertical over your lens when you shoot in front of an intense, concentrated light source. The result is an anamorphic-style, deliberate lens flare!

Rubber Band

If your tripod doesn’t have a nice fluid head, wrap one end of the rubber band around your tripod handle and hold the other end. You’ll control the movement of the tripod head by holding and pulling on the rubber band instead of grabbing and moving it with your hand. Much smoother.

Blanket Drag

Wheelchairs are great for dolly shots, but if you don’t have one handy, an old blanket is a great alternative to a wheelchair. Simply have your camera operator sit or lie down on the blanket, then get a second pair of hands to drag them across the floor. The result is surprisingly smooth footage. The blanket acts as a muffler to the movement, so you get super smooth, professional-looking footage.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #383: Quick Fix Using Add Freeze Frame

Patrick Flaherty

Freeze-frames are a great way to solve problems.

Add Freeze Frame is a choice in the Edit menu.

Topic $TipTopic

Recently I re-opened a project that I had finished. When I played it on the timeline I got the “sorry I lost your media” red card warning. (I think it was pointing to a .PNG that I had created that was probably not imported correctly in the first place.)

I was in a hurry to get this video re-posted so I chose not to do an extensive search to find the missing link. My solution was to choose Edit > Add Freeze Frame.

I clicked on the last frame of the video before the red area and created a freeze frame. I then trimmed the freeze frame to make sure the video was still the same length. There was sound under so I just made it look like an artistic choice and the problem was solved.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #319: Automatically Adjust Audio Levels

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Use the Modify menu to adjust an entire range at once.

Use the Range Selection tool to select a portion of clips in an Apple Final Cut Pro X timeline.
Note that ONLY the portion of the clips inside the selection range had their audio adjusted – and by the same amount.

Topic $TipTopic

There’s a very cool feature that allows you to quickly adjust audio volume across a selected range of clips. But, it isn’t where you expect. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Using the Range Selection tool (R), select a range within the timeline. This could be a single clip or multiple clips.
  • Then, go to Modify > Audio Volume and use either Up, Down or Relative to adjust every clip in the selected range by the same amount. (Relative, which is my personal preference, allows you to enter the number of dB by which you want to adjust the audio.)

NOTE: This menu option does this by adding and adjusting keyframes at the edges of the range and ends of clips.

What doesn’t work:

  • Drag the volume line. This only adjusts a single clip.
  • Use the Volume setting in the Audio Inspector. This adjusts all clips that contain the range, but ignores the range itself.


Here’s an Apple KnowledgeBase article that covers this, but the article does not match the behavior of FCP X.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #274: Caution When Using AAF to Export Multichannel Audio

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

AAF is a great interchange format – but be aware of audio

A multichannel audio clip in the Adobe Premiere Pro CC timeline.
A multichannel audio clip in the Premiere Pro CC timeline.

Topic $TipTopic

Recently, I was working with a production company that regularly exports 16 channel audio. While editing is done in Premiere, audio mixing is done in ProTools. The easiest and best way to move sequences from Premiere to ProTools, or Media Composer for that matter, is File > Export > AAF.

As we were working on this, though, we discovered a problem: The AAF process labels every exported audio clip using a number that references the sequence audio track, but those numbers are wrong.

For example:

  • Sequence Track 1 audio is labeled: File Name
  • Sequence Track 2 audio is labeled: File Name.01
  • Sequence Track 3 is blank
  • Sequence Track 4 audio is labeled: File Name.02

While the numbers are in order, the numbers don’t match track numbers and, if a track is empty, the numbers don’t reflect the empty track.

For editors and sound mixers working on fast-turnaround, tight deadlines, AAF audio track labeling can cause confusion. Now you know what to watch for.


Audio track labeling is based on the audio tracks in the sequence, rather than tracks in the source audio clip. This, too, is confusing if you remap track assignments when editing clips from the Source Monitor to the Timeline.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #012: Easy vs. Hard Frame Rate Conversions

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Changing frame size is easy. Changing frame rate is not.

Tip Screen Shot

Topic $TipTopic

The basic rule of frame rates is: “Shoot the frame rate you need to deliver.”

Why? Because changing frame rates is non-trivial. Some frame rate conversions are easy, others will add jitter or stutter to the playback. The faster the frame rate, the more “real” the image will seem. Slower frame rates tend to have a lot of motion blur.

The good news is that if your project is bound for the web or computer playback, you can use any frame rate. The web is very flexible. Braodcast, cable and digital cinema are much less forgiving.

In general, it is easy to convert frame rates that are multiples of each other:

  • 24 to/from 48
  • 25 to/from 50
  • 29.97 to/from 59.94
  • 30 to/from 60

What’s hard is when frame rates don’t divide evenly. Now, the computer needs to play games creating false frames to get things to work out, or change the speed of playback, which is what we do to get from 24 to 25 or 25 to 24.

Tricky conversions are between 24 and 30 or 25 and 30 in either direction. These tend to cause jittery playback.


If you are shooting high-frame rate video for slomo, keep your project frame rate slower to provide the best results when slowing your media. So, a project at 30 fps provides better slomo than a project at 60 fps.