… for Random Weirdness

Tip #324: Improve Your Video Interviews

Planning and communication are the keys to success.

Topic $TipTopic

These first appeared in an article written by Caleb Ward for PremiumBeat as a list of 15 tips. I’ve selected my top 7 favorites from his list.

Shooting a video interview can be one of the most challenging aspects of the filmmaking process. Here are seven tips to take your interview skills to the next level and avoid nasty surprises on set.

  • Do your research and plan your questions carefully.
  • Scout the location.
  • Coordinate costume and logistics with your talent before the shoot.
  • Use a professional sound recordist.
  • Decide where you want the talent to look (their “eyeline”).
  • If possible, shoot with more than one camera to simplify editing.
  • Record B-roll and room tone before leaving the set.

The whole article is worth reading.


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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #336: 5 Essential Tips for Editing Soundbites

It takes a lot of work to make a soundbite sound natural.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Jourdan Aldredge, first appeared in PremiumBeat.

Quality audio is the key to any interview. Yet, working with sound bites is always a challenge because they are filled with pauses, interruptions and awkward phrasing.

  • Look for the good stuff. Look for crisp, concise, and complete bites first. Then, go back and look for good bits that can be built into a complete sentence.
  • Remove ‘umms’ and pauses. Make sure you have B-roll to cover your edits, then delete the pauses, awkward beats and ripple edit everything back together.
  • Edit on valleys. When editing audio, always be sure to cut where the waveform is as small as possible.
  • Edit on similar syllables. If you must edit in a word, edit on similar syllables who’s waveform peaks are roughly the same level
  • Verify the soundbites. After the bites are edited, listen to them closely to make sure they still make sense and fit with the rest of the interview.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #361: Ask Better Questions

Plan so you can “be in the moment” with your guest.

Topic $TipTopic I’ve been doing interviews for decades. Based on that experience, here’s a summary of an article I wrote on how to ask better interview questions. Read the full article here.

  • Plan. Planning is not as sexy as production, but it is just as essential.
  • Handle Guests. Get all your tech checks done before the guest walks onto the set. Once the guest enters, direct your full attention to them.
  • Write Your Questions. Asking questions is part art and part science. The art is really listening to what your guest is saying. Write down your questions so you can focus on the guest, not on what you want to ask next.
  • The Interview. At this point, the interview dance begins. And I view it as a dance — I’m leading and they are following. For me, an interview has an emotional arc, the same as a drama. I always start with easy questions which I never expect to use, just to get the guest comfortable.
  • Questions to Use. WHAT, WHERE, and HOW questions. These cause the guest to describe specific problems, actions, behaviors. These set up a problem and what was done to solve it. I use these for the body of the interview. I also use “For example?” a lot during this section to drill down into specifics. Then, I wrap up with WHY questions. These always elicit emotional responses
  • Questions Not to Use. Questions that start with: could, should, do, can, or any other question that can be answered “yes,” or “no.”
  • Last Question. Just before calling “Cut!,” but when all my questions are done, I always ask the guest: “Is there a question I should have asked that I did not?” This gives them a chance to reflect to see if they want to add, or modify anything.

Finally, when things are done, thank the guest BEFORE you talk to the crew. Reassure them they did a good job – because they are worried you didn’t like what they did.

Then, talk to the crew.

There’s a lot more in the article, I recommend you read it before your next interview.


… for Apple Motion

Tip #376: Use Walk 3D View to Position Cameras

Walk 3D offers a more intuitive way to position a camera.

The Walk 3D View control in Apple Motion.

Topic $TipTopic

This first appeared in an Apple KnowledgeBase article.

The Walk 3D View tool lets you position a camera in 3D space as you would in a computer game, using a keyboard-and-mouse navigation method.

  • In Motion, select a camera, click and hold the view tools pop-up menu in the canvas toolbar, then choose Walk 3D View. The pointer changes to indicate that the Walk 3D View tool is active.
  • Use the Up, Down, Right, or Left Arrow keys to move the camera in 3D space; press and hold the Option key while using the arrow keys to move the camera more slowly. You can also drag in the canvas to orient the camera.

NOTE: The Walk 3D View tool is available only when Active Camera, Camera, or Perspective is selected from the Camera pop-up menu.


… for Visual Effects

Tip #371: Changing Clip Frame Rates in Resolve

 

The trick is to duplicate your clip first.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, by Lewis McGregor, first appeared in PremiumBeat. Do you need two clips from the same video file to play at different frame rates in your DaVinci Resolve timeline – say to create slow-motion? Here’s how.

To change a video clip recorded at a higher frame rate to a lower frame rate to achieve slow motion in Resolve:

  • Right-click a media clip in the media pool (or timeline) and open the clip attributes.
  • Change the frame rate to match your project settings.

However, the problem is that you are changing the base attributes of the clip that exist within the media pool. To fix this, either:

  • Adjust the speed percentage of the second clip.
  • Duplicate the clip in the media pool, then change the clip attributes. By duplicating the media in the media pool, we are creating a new clip from Resolve’s perspective, which allows us to change the frame rate of the second clip without affecting the first clip.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #370: 4 Steps to Better Skin Tones in Resolve

Quick steps to improve skin without damaging the rest of your color grade.

Color wheels in DaVinci Resolve.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Rubidium Wu, first appeared in PremiumBeat.

In this tip, we’re going to use DaVinci Resolve to improve skin tones, without affecting other color edits. Here’s how.

  • Make a Mask. In a new node, select the qualifying tool, and drag it across the most even and representative part of the face. Increasing the clean white also helps a lot.
  • Unify Tone. Once you have the skin isolated, increase the contrast and look for yellow, red, or green areas that don’t fit with the overall skin tone. In the Curves menu, select Hue vs. Hue, then select those colors using the curve up or down to shift the problem colors back to the central color.
  • Pare Imperfections. In the color tab, adjust the slider marked MD for Midtone Density. Turning this down gets rid of contrast in the skin, effectively hiding imperfections.
  • Separate. The last step is to add another node, then hit Option+L to turn this into a layer mixer node. Dragging the blue alpha arrow of the skin mask to the input on the lower of the two mixed nodes means that your skin grade will “pass around” anything done in the latter nodes. This lets you cool down the background — or desaturate it — without also affecting the skin.

Done.


… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #366: How to Create Proxy Files After Import

Proxy files improve performance and save storage space.

Topic $TipTopic

Proxy files transcode camera native media into Apple ProRes 422 Proxy. These provide high-quality files useful for offline editing at the original frame rate and aspect ratio, but at one-half the resolution. This increases editing performance while using considerably less storage space than optimized files.

Here’s how to create them after you imported your media.

  1. Control-click one or more clips in the Final Cut Pro browser, then choose Transcode Media.
  2. In the window that appears, select the Create optimized media checkbox, the Create proxy media checkbox, or both, then click OK.

NOTE: If the original camera format can be edited with good performance, the “Create optimized media” option is dimmed. The transcoding process may take a while, depending on the options you select. You can see the status of all the background processes currently running in the Background Tasks window.

EXTRA CREDIT

Here’s an Apple KnowledgeBase article. that explains proxy and optimized file formats in more detail.


… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #320: Should You Copy or Link to Media?

Copying is safer, linking is more flexible.

Media import options with Final Cut Pro X.

Topic $TipTopic

There are two options when importing media into Final Cut Pro X: “Copy to library” and “Leave files in place.” Which should you use? The short answer is that copying files is safer, while linking files is more flexible.

  • Copy files to library. This copies all media into the Library. This means that wherever you move the library, the media travels with it. There is no lost media and nothing gets unlinked.

I recommend this option for all new users. However, the downside is that the Library file becomes very big (which is not a problem in-and-of-itself) and that you are doubling the storage needed for all your media.

  • Leave files in place. This creates links in FCP X that point to where your media is stored. This keeps the library smaller, but if you move the library you also need to remember where all your media is stored and move it as well. If you don’t, links break and media in your project won’t play.

This option is preferred when media is shared between libraries, when storage capacity is limited, or when multiple editors are using the same media.

Personally, I use Leave files in place, but I am also VERY careful to keep track of where all my media is stored.


… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #331: Export & Translate Subtitles

The key is to work with your subtitles as plain text.

Topic $TipTopic

Carsten Ress sent this in:

I was looking for a way to export subtitles (in a closed captions format) from FCP X as text, send it to translation, then import it back again as subtitles. I found this workaround that saved me a lot of time.

  1. Export the subtitles as an SRT File
  2. Change the file extension from .SRT to .TXT (ignore the warning that appears). This gives you a text file with the timecode to position the subtitles
  3. The translator substitutes only the text lines within this document with his translation
  4. When translation is finished, change the file extension from .TXT to .SRT
  5. Then import the SRT file into a new language Role and you have all the subtitles translated and with the right timing.

You need to be careful with the TXT document as small changes in the format (for example, adding additional text) can result in error messages during the reimport of the subtitles.

Also, there is a great plugin called “X-Title Caption Convert” from Spherico that allows you to convert closed caption into FCP X titles. This is really helpful if you want to burn the subtitles into the video file and want to have more formatting options.

EXTRA CREDIT

This workaround is delicate. In my last project the translator used double quotations marks which are not supported in SRT files. This led to an error message during the import.

You have to make sure that no “unpermitted” characters are used or search for them and replace them in case you get some error messages while importing the SRT into final cut or if only a part of the subtitles are imported. But if it works, you can really save a lot of time.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #271: Examples of USB Connectors

USB uses nine different connectors and five different speed settings.

The nine different connectors used by USB 1.1 through 3.0.

Topic $TipTopic

USB is known for all its different connectors. Recently, I was reading Wikipedia and discovered this illustration.

USB has nine different connectors and five different speeds. The addition of USB-C makes six different speeds.

The three sizes of USB connectors are the default or standard format intended for desktop or portable equipment, the mini intended for mobile equipment, and the thinner micro size, for low-profile mobile equipment such as mobile phones and tablets. There are five speeds for USB data transfer: Low Speed, Full Speed, High Speed (from version 2.0 of the specification), SuperSpeed (from version 3.0), and SuperSpeed+ (from version 3.1).

If you want to learn more, Wikipedia has a worthwhile article here.