… for Visual Effects

Tip #1051: 6 Mocha Pro Tutorials

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Six video tutorials to improve your motion tracking results.

The Mocha Pro logo.

Topic $TipTopic

The team at ToolFarm, a leading third-party reseller of After Effects plugins and visual effects tools, published a blog showcasing video tutorials to improve working with Mocha Pro. Here’s a summary.

NOTE: Here’s the link to all the tutorials.

Mocha Pro, published by BorisFX, works as a standalone app or plug-in for several hosts and works pretty much the same between hosts, so if you see a tutorial for a software that you don’t use, know that it will translate easily to your host.

The tutorials, all presented by Mary Poplin, include:

  1. Mocha Keyboard Shortcuts
  2. Shape-Based Tracking
  3. More Shape-Tracking Tricks & Tips
  4. Advanced Tracking in Adobe After Effects
  5. How to Avoid Reflections & Shadows
  6. How to Correct Tracking Drift

Please rate the helpfulness of this tip.

Click on a star to rate it!

… for Visual Effects

Tip #1053: 50 Ways to Create Different Effects

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50 tutorials to create specific effects in After Effects.

(Image courtesy of Pexels.com.)

Topic $TipTopic

This list, written by Nousheen Aquil, first appeared in JotForm Blog.

This post presents a round-up of Adobe After Effects video tutorials for visual effects and motion graphics-related work. After Effects continues to grow in popularity for motion graphics. With After Effects, you have many choices in how to generate dynamic and expressive motion graphics with truly stunning visual effects — very easily and quickly.

What makes this list different is that, rather than show tools, these tutorials show how to create specific effects.

I won’t list all 50 here – rather click the link above and watch the ones of interest to you.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1043: Comparing HDR Grayscale to SDR

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HDR HLG matches SDR shadows and midtones, but adds more highlights.

(Graph courtesy of Wikipedia.com.)
This chart compares grayscale values between SDR and HDR HLG media.

Topic $TipTopic

As I was researching my recent webinar on “New Features in Adobe Premiere Pro,” I came across an interesting graph that compares HDR HLG grayscale values with SDR.

We are all familiar with the grayscale values in SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) media. It’s the Rec. 709 HD footage we work with on a daily basis.

While HDR consists of more than simply brighter pixels, grayscale is the relevant concept here. HDR has two formats: HLG and PQ. HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) is optimized for broadcast, while PQ is optimized for digital display. Both Final Cut and Premiere support HLG media. But, what does it mean to say “optimized for broadcast?” That’s where this chart comes in.

SDR grayscale values are essentially linear, a “straight line” from 0 IRE (pure black) to 100 IRE (pure white). This range of 100 IRE values is what the entire broadcast signal path is designed to support.

HDR HLG mirrors the linear SDR grayscale values from 0 to 75 IRE – though there is some variation between standards in different countries – then expresses highlights as log values, rather than linear for the top 25% of highlights.

This allows HDR HLG to pack much brighter highlights than SDR, yet still fit within a 100 IRE range. However, there’s a trade-off. While HDR HLG is compatible with broadcast, HDR PQ has more highlight detail. Both HDR formats are much brighter than SDR.

EXTRA CREDIT

If you are creating an HDR project, it is important to know what format your distributor supports BEFORE you do the color grade, because grading HLG and PQ is not the same and you can not switch between them.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1046: For HDR, Shadows are More Important

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Shadow detail is important to perception that highlights – as both SDR and HDR reflect.

Image courtesy of Venera Technologies.
In both SDR and HDR, 50% of all grayscale values are the shadows.

Topic $TipTopic

In earlier tips (#1043 and #1049) we compared differences in grayscale values between SDR and HDR. What I discovered during this research is how important shadow detail is for both SDR and HDR.

NOTE: The screen shot and the information in this article are taken from a Venera Technologies article.

Human beings are more sensitive to changes in darker regions compared to changes in brighter regions. This property is exploited in HDR systems providing more granularity (detail) in darker regions compared to brighter regions. The screenshot depicts that the light level range in darker regions are represented by a larger signal value range compared to the brighter regions – meaning more detail in the shadows.

While grayscale values are more evenly distributed for Rec. 709-based displays, they become less granular for HDR displays in the brighter regions. In the case of HLG, more than half of signal values are represented for light levels between 0-60 Nits while the remaining signal values span 60-1000 Nits. Similarly, in the case of PQ-based displays, approximately half of the signal values are represented for light levels between 0-40 Nits while the remaining half of the signal values are represented in a range of 40-1000 Nits.

In other words, for both HDR and SDR, half the total signal range is reserved for shadow values of less than 50 IRE; while, for HDR, the remaining highlight values are spread up to 10,000 IRE (Nits)!


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1049: HDR HLG vs PQ on SDR Monitors

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

HLG looks better on SDR than PQ. But PQ looks better on HDR monitors.

Image courtesy of Venera Technologies.
HLG looks better on SDR monitors, but PQ has more detail in the highlights.

Topic $TipTopic

Tip #1043 compared the grayscale differences between HDR HLG and SDR. This tip illustrates the differences between watching HLG and PQ on an SDR monitor.

NOTE: The screen shot and the information in this article are taken from a Venera Technologies article.

To display the digital images on the screen, display devices need to convert the pixel values to corresponding light values. This process is usually non-linear and is called EOTF (Electro-Optical Transfer Function).

While SDR uses Rec. 709, HDR defines two additional transfer functions to handle this issue – Perceptual Quantizer (PQ) and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG). HDR PQ is an absolute, display-referred signal while HDR HLG is a relative, scene-referred signal. This means that HLG-enabled display devices automatically adapts the light levels based on the content and their own display capabilities while PQ enabled display devices need to implement tone mapping to adapt the light levels.

Under ideal conditions, dynamic PQ based transformation will achieve the best quality results at the cost of compatibility with existing display systems.

As you can see from the screen shot, HLG images look better on SDR monitors than PQ images. However, while PQ based transforms promise to display the best quality results on HDR enabled monitors, in comparison to HLG, PQ requires proper tone mapping by the display device.

EXTRA CREDIT

As you may be able to see in the screenshot, PQ offers more detail in the highlights than HLG.


… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1038: Apple Releases Bug Fix Updates

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Updates fix most of the bugs introduced with the 10.4.9 update.

Topic $TipTopic

Thursday last week, Apple released bug-fix updates to Final Cut Pro X, Motion 5 and Compressor 4. Apple also updated the ProVideo codecs.

The Final Cut update fixed the color flicker problem that first appeared in version 10.4.9, along with a variety of other bugs. It also, at least on my system, fixed the bug preventing voice-overs from actually recording.

One bug that was NOT fixed is the inability to export chapter markers from FCP X. Apple is still researching this.

Here’s the list of fixes from Apple’s release notes:

Final Cut Pro

  • Fixes an issue in which XAVC media from the Sony PXW-FX9 camera is not recognized
  • Fixes an issue where brightness levels shift when switching between Better Quality and Better Performance in the viewer
  • Fixes an issue in which effect keyframes are not added correctly when using onscreen controls
  • Improves stability when using the transform tool with multiple clips in the timeline
  • Improves reliability when exporting an FCPXML that contains Compound clips
  • Addresses an issue which could prevent sharing at certain resolutions
  • Fixes an issue in which sharing a Compound or Multicam clip from the timeline was disabled.

Motion

  • Fixes an issue in which XAVC media from the Sony PXW-FX9 camera is not recognized

Compressor

  • Fixes an issue in which XAVC media from the Sony PXW-FX9 camera is not recognized

EXTRA CREDIT

Here’s the complete list of features and fixes in every version of Final Cut 10.4.

Updates to Final Cut, Motion and Compressor are free and available in the Mac App Store. The ProVideo updates are free and available in System Preferences > Software Update.


… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1040: New! Stabilize 360° Video

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360° Video stabilization is a single button – nothing to adjust.

The Stabilization checkbox in the Video Inspector.

Topic $TipTopic

New with the 10.4.9 update is the ability to stabilize 360° video which involves clicking a single button – there’s nothing to adjust.

To stabilize your footage, select it in the timeline (you can’t do this in the browser), then go to the Video Inspector and check the Stabilization checkbox.

Done.

EXTRA CREDIT

Unlike normal film, 360° video can easily cause motion sickness, especially when an audience member is wearing a headset.

The best way to shoot 360 is to use a tripod. For those situations where you can’t, stabilizing footage is essential.


… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1041: New! See What You Are Missing

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Smart Conform allows you to see the portion of an image being trimmed – and adjust it.

(Image courtesy of Model Railroad Builders (www.franandmileshale.com)
The white button displays the hidden portions of an image.

Topic $TipTopic

Smart Conform is new with the 10.4.9 update, which is a quick way to reframe existing clips for the different aspect ratios of social media.

NOTE: Here’s a tutorial that covers this in detail.

However, there’s a very cool button that makes Smart Conform much easier to use. (See screen shot.)

After you trim a clip using Smart Conform, look in the top right corner of the Viewer. When you click the white button indicated by the red arrow, Final Cut displays a dimmed version of the entire image which allows you to see what will be cut from the frame.

Using the Transform > Position settings in the Video Inspector, you can adjust the X position to move the image horizontally. Or keyframe the X position if you need framing to change during playback.


… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #1022: The Pen Tool

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The Pen tool creates shapes we can use standalone or under text.

I have no idea what this it, but it’s kinda cute – and has a drop shadow.

Topic $TipTopic

The Pen tool allows us to draw shapes directly in the Program Monitor, fill them with color, add a border or drop shadow, then animate them. We are used to using the Pen tool as part of Effect Controls. But there is also the Pen tool in the Tools palette. We use this to draw shapes on-screen.

  • Put the playhead in the timeline where you want a shape to start, then, select the Pen tool from the Tools palette.
  • In the Program Monitor, click and draw a shape. Click to create a corner, click and drag to create a curve.
  • Re-click the starting point to create a closed shape, or don’t to create an open shape. (We most often use open shapes to create a curved line – it is a border with no fill.)
  • To move a shape, select the clip, then use the Move tool.
  • To adjust a shape, select the Pen tool, then, in Effect Controls, twirl down the Shape, and select Path.

NOTE: The shapes created by the Pen tool are vectors, which means they can be scaled as much as you want without losing edge sharpness.

EFFECT CONTROLS

The Shape controls, in the Effect Controls panel, provide:

  • Path. Redraw the shape, using the Pen tool.
  • Appearance. Change fill, stroke and shadow settings.
  • Transform. Change size, position and rotation, along with adding keyframe animation.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #1023: Tricks of the Zoom Tool

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The Zoom tool is the fastest way to zoom into a timeline segment.

The Zoom tool is located in the Hand menu. (Shortcut: Z)

Topic $TipTopic

Hidden, but accessible with a keyboard shortcut, is the Zoom tool. This is often faster than using keyboard shortcuts to zoom into the timeline! As a certified keyboard junkie, it often hard to believe that anything with the mouse is faster – but the Zoom tool may be the exception that proves the rule.

Click and hold the cursor on the Hand tool, then select Zoom tool from the menu that appears. (See screen shot.)

NOTE: The keyboard shortcut for the Zoom tool is: Z.

While we can simply zoom into the timeline by typing + [plus] or [minus], the Zoom tool is faster when we want to get more specific. To zoom into a specific section of the timeline, select the Zoom tool, then drag a rectangle around the section of the timeline you want to see.

Poof! That region instantly fills the timeline!

EXTRA CREDIT

The Zoom tool only works with clips in the timeline.

Type \ [back-slash] to fit everything back into the timeline again.