… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #1333: Set vs. Scale to Frame Size

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

For greatest flexibility, always choose “Set to Frame Size” when scaling images.

When scaling an image, the best option is to select “Set to Frame Size.”

Topic $TipTopic

When placing an image, or video, that has a different size from the sequence, Premiere provides three different ways to scale it. But not all these choices are good ones.

When the clip frame size and sequence frame size don’t match, Premiere offers three options:

  • None. This places the image at 100% size in the timeline, regardless of the sequence frame size.
  • Scale to Frame Size. This scales the image to fit in the sequence frame, but does not change the Scale setting in the Effect Controls panel. This means that you don’t know how much the size of an image has been changed.
  • Set to Frame Size. This scales the image to fit in the sequence frame AND changes the Scale setting in the Effect Controls panel to indicate how much the image size changed.

You can create a default setting using the Default Media Scaling menu in Preferences > Media. Or you can set these individually for each clip by control-clicking the clip in the Timeline. (See screen shot.)

If you want to create “Ken Burns” style moves on stills, None is the best choice.

Otherwise, use Set to Frame Size. This fits the image into the frame and shows how much it was scaled in the Effect Controls panel.

NOTE: I can’t think of any reason to use Scale to Frame Size.


Image quality degrades if you enlarge an image much more than 100%.

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… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #1334: Frame Hold vs. Frame Hold Segment

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

When pausing the action, a frame hold segment provides the most flexibility.

The Frame Hold options available for each clip.

Topic $TipTopic

In the past, when we needed to freeze the action, we created a stand-alone freeze frame by exporting a still, then, reimporting it and adding it to the Premiere timeline. But, there’s a much better way: Frame Hold.

A Frame Hold is attached to the source clip, rather than a separate piece of media. To create it, put the playhead on the frame you want to freeze, then control-click the clip in the timeline. Scroll about half way down to find two options:

  • Add Frame Hold
  • Insert Frame Hold Segment.

Add Frame Hold freezes the frame at the position of the playhead and replaces the rest of the clip with the freeze. This is useful when you want to create a freeze, then add a transition.

Insert Frame Hold Segment inserts a two-second freeze at the position of the playhead, then returns to the original video. This is useful when you want to pause the action – say to add a graphic – then return to the action.


You can trim the duration of the Frame Hold Segment as long as you use the yellow trimming tool. Rolling the edit point will break the sync between the two shots.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1339: Adjust Thumbnails in Timeline

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

We can now adjust the height of timeline thumbnails using this slider.

The Timeline Appearance panel.

Topic $TipTopic

It’s a small thing – but this new feature in the 10.5 update to Final Cut Pro can improve the look of your clips in the timeline; especially if you are editing on a very large screen.

  • Open a project into the timeline.
  • Click the Timeline Appearance button (top red arrow in screen shot) in the top right corner of the timeline.
  • Click the thumbnail icon (middle red arrow) to collapse all timeline clips into thumbnails.
  • Slide the bottom slider (bottom red arrow) left and right to change the height of the thumbnails.

On very large screens, the thumbnails may get too small to see. This adjusts them so that even on a large screen, you can still see the names of your clips.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1324: Test Compressed Image Quality – FAST!

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The Difference blend mode is a fast way to see how much your compression settings are damaging your images.

Two frames – one compressed and the source – compared using the Difference blend mode.

Topic $TipTopic

The most important concept you need to understand about video compression is that the process of compressing a file ALWAYS removes data during compression. Always. This means that the more you compress a file to reduce it’s file size, the more data is removed.

Once removed, you can’t put this data back. This is the reason you don’t want to re-compress an already compressed file. Another important note is that different movies, codecs and bit rates yield different results.

There’s a very fast way to compare the quality of a source file with the compressed image.

The process is simple: Using Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, or Premiere Pro, compare a frame from the source file with a frame from the compressed file using the Difference blend mode.

Perfectly matched frames are solid black. Frames with lots of differences – such as the screen shot – show lots of ghosting, especially around edges. This technique is a good way to test different compression technology and see which one works the best for your projects.

Here’s an article the explains this technique in detail and provides illustrations of the results from a variety of compression settings and software.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #1305: Groups Do More Than Organize

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Use Groups to animate or modify multiple elements at once.

A Group with both Filters and Behaviors applied to it.

Topic $TipTopic

A group, in Apple Motion, is a folder that holds elements, behaviors and filters. But a Group does more than simply hold stuff.

Every Motion project requires at least one group, where we store all the elements in a project. At a minimum, we can use one, or more, groups to store and organize our elements. For example, I often organize groups as:

  • Text
  • Foreground
  • Mid-ground
  • Background

NOTE: The stacking order of groups makes a difference. Foreground is on top, background is on the bottom.

But, what makes groups much more than simple organizational tools is that we can apply behaviors and effects to a group. These settings then affect all the elements contained in that group. This is a great way to animate multiple elements at once.


Select a group, then go to Inspector > Properties to change Transform, Blending or Drop Shadow settings, the same as if we were adjusting an individual element.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #1311: Toolfarm Top Ten Tutorials & Freebies

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The most popular VFX freebies and tutorials – all in one place.

{Image courtesy of Toolfarm.com.)

Topic $TipTopic Announced on News Year’s Eve, here are the “Toolfarm Top Ten Freebies & Tutorials” – the Top 10 most popular, fan-favorite freebies from 2020 at Toolfarm.

Link: www.toolfarm.com/news/top-10-freebies-2020/

Also, last week, Toolfarm posted their “Top Ten Tutorial Posts of 2020.”

Link: www.toolfarm.com/news/top-ten-tutorial-2020/

Some quick facts about Toolfarm’s 2020 Tutorial Posts

  • We posted 310 tutorials to our site in 2020 alone!
  • We have 2,404 tutorial posts published in total. The reason I’m calling them “tutorial posts” is because some posts have more than one tutorial.
  • While we used to post tutorials for mainly After Effects and Cinema 4D, in 2020 we published more about DaVinci Resolve, KeyShot, and audio plugins.
  • Informational posts have become more popular than the standard “how-to” tutorial posts.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1283: Cool Tip to Improve Product Shots

This is a simple, but subtle trick that improves any product.

Give your product shots a new spin!

Topic $TipTopic

Every product shot is about making the product look great. But, what do you do when the product doesn’t move.

Sure, you can zoom in and pan around. But, well, that’s pretty boring.

Here’s the tip: Put the product on a turntable. This allows you to combine multiple moves into a single shot. Now your zoom not only pulls the eye into the shot, but it also reveals new visual information, which makes the shot all that more intriguing

Adding a Lazy Susan turntable to a product shot adds energy and it’s a cheap, totally believable way to increase production value.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1276: Quickly Reverse or Flip a Clip

Lawrence Sobczak

The Flipped effect is faster, the Transform settings provide more control.

These Transform settings flip a clip vertically.

Topic $TipTopic

Lawrence Sobczak shared a very quick way to flip or invert a clip in Final Cut Pro. He writes:

When you want to mirror image, or invert, a clip in Final Cut, there are two ways to do it:

  • Apply Effects > Distortion > Flipped.
  • Go to Video Inspector > Transform > Scale and enter a negative number for Percent.

NOTE: Enter Scale X = -100 mirror images the clip. Enter Scale Y = -100 flips the image upside down. It’s also possible to scale and flip a clip, by making X a negative number while keeping Y as a positive number.

Cool tips! Thanks.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #1271: How to Setup Network Rendering

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Network rendering speeds output, but setup can be tricky.

(Image courtesy of Pexels.com.)

Topic $TipTopic

Toolfarm.com has created an in-depth tutorial on render farms, also called “network rendering.” (Link)

The idea of network, or distributed, rendering is to distribute your render over a network, or farm, of computers, to speed up your render times. This can be done in many different programs with a myriad of different setups, so it isn’t as straight forward and clear cut as I’d like it to be.

Creating the right storage and management can be a challenge but it’s important to get that in place first. There are tons of resources out there but I’m keeping this short and sweet so this will be a page of resources more than actual instructions.

Subjects include:

  • Setting Up a Network Rendering for After Effects
  • Network Rendering with RenderGarden
  • Cinema 4D Team Render
  • Autodesk BackBurner for Autodesk Maya, 3ds Max, Flame, and more
  • Chaos Group V-Ray Swarm
  • Pipeline
  • Pixar’s Tractor
  • Digital Rebellion Pro Render
  • Aeriform Ramma
  • Using your Plug-ins and Software on a Network Rendering Setup

The article linked above has much more information, plus links to more resources.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1248: The Creative Process of Filmmaking

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

2 Reel Guys: Dedicated to the creative process of filmmaking.

“2ReelGuys” hosts: Norman Hollyn and Larry Jordan.

Topic $TipTopic

Several years ago, Norman Hollyn and I created a 32-part web series dedicated to the creative process of visual storytelling called “2 Reel Guys.” Learn more about this free series.

Norman was teaching at the USC Film School when we first met. Over that lunch, we decided to combine our skills and create a series of short web videos to help folks learn how to create films. Both of us felt that it wasn’t necessary to attend film school to be a filmmaker. But you DID need to know how the story-telling process itself worked.

Our goal was not to focus on technology, but story-telling. Written by Norman, hosted by Norman and myself and illustrated by the “2 Reel Guys Players,” we created the following episodes:

  1. It All Starts With Story
  2. Controlling Where The Eye Looks
  3. What Directors Do That Drive Actors Crazy
  4. Organization and Planning During Pre-Production
  5. Collaboration
  6. Directing Actors
  7. Don’t Be a Victim of Hit-and-Run Lighting
  8. Editing is Storytelling (Bad Master)
  9. Audio is More Important than Picture
  10. Planning Shots and Coverage
  11. Costumes and Wardrobe
  12. Use Color to Guide Emotions
  13. Camera Position and Framing (bad export)
  14. Dealing with Dancers
  15. Solving Production Problems
  16. Editing for Pacing
  17. Adding Music to a Scene
  18. Documentaries
  19. Sound Design
  20. Communicating With the Crew
  21. Comedy
  22. Directing Actors
  23. Communication
  24. Music Video
  25. Good Characters
  26. Location
  27. Staging a Fight
  28. Casting
  29. Lighting
  30. Emotional Turns
  31. Script
  32. Wedding Videos

Each show runs about ten minutes. Though technology marches on, telling stories remains the same from year to year.

If you haven’t visited this site, it’s well-worth your time.

Here’s the link.