… 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.

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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.


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… 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

EXTRA CREDIT

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.

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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.

EXTRA CREDIT

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.

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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.

BONUS

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.


… for Apple Motion

Tip #093: Create Better Gradients

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Motion creates very poor gradients.

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The left image is a continuous gradient created by Motion. The right image is a gradient created in Photoshop. Clearly, the Photoshop gradient is MUCH smoother.

If you need smooth gradients, for example, for blend modes, you are far better off creating them in Photoshop, saving them as a PNG or TIFF, and importing them into Motion.

Most of the time I use TIFFs, but PNGs should work equally well.


… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #131: YouTube Share Settings Use Wrong Colors

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

4K files default to the wrong color space.

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As you can see in this screen shot, the project settings are 4K frame size using Rec. 709 color space. (The settings are displayed at the very top.)

But the Share to YouTube settings default to Rec. 609, with no ability to change them back to Rec. 709.

NOTE: While the color values used in Rec. 601 (used for standard-def video) are similar to those in Rec. 709 (used for high-def video), they are not the same. Worse, FCP X should allow changing from one to the other, except that it doesn’t.

The workaround is to export your project as a master file (File > Share > Master File), then compress it using Compressor; or the compression program of your choice.


… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #109: Solve the “Missing Camera” Alert

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Using a consistent workflow is important.

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Bill Rabkin writes:

Recently, when I opened a library that I’ve been editing for a while and selected “Clip #1” in the Browser, FCP X displayed its red “Missing Camera!” warning. Apparently it still thinks Clip #1 resides in a camera card, despite my deleting Preferences and not having the DCIM, MISC, or PRIVATE folders on my external drive.

When I spoke to an editor at Access Framingham, our city’s Public Access Station for whom I do most of my videos, he suggested that I select Clip #1 in the Browser and then choose File > Import > Reimport from Camera/Archive.

I had never used this command before, never even knew it existed.

It worked! FCP X no longer complains when I try to share either a Master File or Current Frame.

I think the problem likely was caused because the SDHC card with the AVCHD file was the last camera card that I had copied to my external hard drive, and I don’t think I had ejected the SDHC card before I imported all of the raw footage into my FCP X Library from the hard disk sub-folders. The presence of the mounted SDHC card must have confused FCP X.

From now on, you can bet that I won’t create a new Library until all of the SDHC cards are back in their case!


… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #113: Remove a Yellow Alert – Option 2

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Sometimes, alerts happen because the FCP X database doesn’t update.

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Ziggy reports:

If you are getting a yellow alert in FCP X, it may be because the FCP X database doesn’t seem to update very quickly when you make a change to an external file, such as a motion graphics or VFX file.

If you know you just updated such a file here’s a quick workaround:

  • Select everything in the timeline (shortcut: Cmd + A)
  • Copy it to the Clipboard (shortcut: Cmd + C)
  • Then click anywhere in the timeline to deselect everything.

Your yellow alert should disappear.