… for Visual Effects

Tip #177: Ten Tips for Better Slow Motion

Slow motion often makes scenes more intense.

An example of a slow motion shot.
Action and drama are both enhanced by selectively using slow motion.

Topic $TipTopic

This tip first appeared on Fstoppers.com.

Here are ten tips that can improve how you shoot and use slow-motion.

  1. Understand your subject. Slow motion is all about movement, and certain subjects do not lend themselves to being interesting in slow motion.
  2. Select a frame rate. Shoot at a higher frame rate than the project you’ll put the video into.
  3. Think about light. Faster frame rates require more light. In general, set the shutter speed to twice the frame rate.
  4. Emphasize drama. Slomo adds drama and intensity to intense scenes.
  5. Emphasize action. Cinema today uses slowmo to enhance action scenes.
  6. Emphasize death. in certain instances, the death of a main character or their impending death will be played in slow motion, which adds to the gravity of the situation
  7. Create alternative reality. Use slow motion to convey a sense of detachment from reality that helps your viewers distinguish what is real versus what is perceived based on your storyline
  8. Emphasize fear. Slow motion can emphasize the anxiety and terror of a dramatic moment.
  9. Use sound to match the motion. Use the sound recorded on set, then slow it down in the final mix to emphasize the slower visual motion.
  10. Use slow motion carefully. Like seasoning, use it wisely and food tastes great. Use too much and the food becomes inedible.

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… for Visual Effects

Tip #170: How to Capture Motion and Moving Subjects

Minimize blur by following these tips.

Avoiding blur is the goal of all action photos.
The more subjects move, the more blur in your photos.

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Some of the best and most memorable moments in life are in motion. Unfortunately, digital cameras hate movement. Most of the time, moving subjects register as a blur on photographs. So how do you shoot moving objects? Here are some tips:

1. Shutter Speed

When the subject is moving and you want to take a shot of, say a basketball player getting the ball on a rebound, then you should opt for fast shutter speeds. You should use a shutter speed that is at least 1/500th of a second or higher. Keep in mind that faster shutter speeds require more light for a proper exposure.

2. Increase The Aperture

The aperture is the hole where light comes into your camera into the image sensor. Choose a low f-stop to open up the aperture and allow more light in. This will help you counter the low light you get from the fast shutter speed. Keep in mind that opening the aperture decreases depth of field, that is, the area in a photo that’s in focus.

3. Use a Flash

Using a flash with your motion shots is a good way to counter the low light conditions when using a faster shutter speed. It is extremely easy to correct dark photos by using your flash. Keep in mind that most flashes are very short range, so a single flash won’t light a gym.

4. Use a High ISO

Using a high ISO can help you increase the shutter speed and aperture of your camera without increasing the likelihood of getting blurry or dark photographs. However, using high ISOs usually results in a grainy picture with a lot of digital noise.

An extended version of these tips first appeared in PremiumBeat.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #167: 3 Tips to Picking Stock Footage

Three things to consider when looking at stock footage.

Topic $TipTopic

Wipster recently shared these stock footage tips:

1. Go for story-driven footage

Rather than settling for searching on multiple sites for stand alone stock video shots that “kind of” look similar to one another, look for story driven footage. Story-driven shots are ones that show the same subject in action and also provide multiple shot types of similar action.

2. Use high quality, Raw or Log Footage

When searching for stock footage, look for clips that enable high resolution downloads, like Raw, Arri, Red or Phantom. You won’t have to sift through a library full of less-than-stellar quality or overused footage to find what you’re looking for.

3. Don’t pay per clip. Go unlimited

Your film’s budget can easily go through the roof if you pay per clip. This is why we recommend using footage sites that use single umbrella licensing and unlimited subscription models.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #151: Export a Transparent Effect from Motion

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Transparency can be displayed by any NLE.

Unchecked layers in Motion are transparent.
Uncheck a group or layer in Motion to make it transparent.

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You have two options to export an effect from Motion:

  • Export the entire composited movie. This creates a stand-alone movie.
  • Export just a portion of the effect – for example, a motion-tracked object, then composite it in the NLE.

Since exporting only exports visible layers, to export just an animated element, uncheck any layers you don’t want to export to make them invisible.

NOTE: To export the entire composite, make sure all layers are visible (checked) in the Layers panel.

Now, when you choose Share > Export Movie and accept the default settings, Motion creates a ProRes 4444 movie with an alpha channel, which means it includes any transparency.

That ProRes 4444 movie can then be imported into any editing software on Mac or Windows and retain all its transparency.

Very cool.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #153: The Inspector Adds Perspective

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Precise controls for manipulating elements.

The Inspector adds 3D rotation or position changes.
Use the Motion Inspector to add 3D rotation or position changes.

Topic $TipTopic

There are two ways to add perspective to any element in Motion:

  • The Inspector
  • The 3D Transform tool

To use the Inspector:

  • Select an element in the Layers panel.
  • On the left side of the Interface, click Inspector > Properties.
  • Twirl down Position to move the selected element horizontally (X), vertically (Y), or to or from the viewer/camera (Z).
  • Twirl down Rotation to rotate the selected element horizontally (X), vertically (Y), or to or from the viewer/camera (Z).

Personally, I find myself using Y rotation the most of all these settings.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #187: Quickly Create Transparent Graphics

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Transparency is also called the “alpha channel.”

Properties panel in Motion 5 showing  transparent background setting.
Set project transparency using Inspector > Properties.

Topic $TipTopic Like Photoshop, Motion makes creating images that contain transparency easy. In fact, transparent backgrounds are the default setting. But, if things go west, here’s how to create a transparent background.

  • Create a motion graphic as usual.
  • In the Layers panel, select the project.
  • Go to Inspector > Properties, then make sure that Background is set to transparent.

Now, when you export your movie or save it as a Final Cut Generator, it will include a transparent background.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #171: 7 Tips To Better Timelapse Shots

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

The best timelapse requires practice and planning.

timelapse, video, motion images
The best time-lapse images require planning.

Topic $TipTopic

This tip first appeared in Digital Photography School.

Timelapse photography is a great way to capture motion, plus, it’s eye-catching! Here are seven tips that can help improve your next shoot.

  1. Don’t use auto settings. To avoid constant changes in your images or exposure, set your camera to Manual mode.
  2. Focus manually. Auto-focus will have the lens chasing whatever moves. Worse, auto-focus eats batteries.
  3. Shoot in lower resolution so you don’t fill storage too quickly. Videos don’t demand 24 megapixel images.
  4. Anticipate the changes in the landscape and compose accordingly.
  5. Don’t press the shutter with your finger. While an intervalometer is indispensable, if you don’t have one, use a remote shutter release to fire shots manually at the specified time interval.
  6. Music is as important to the final video as the images themselves.
  7. Practice shooting a simple timelapse, say in your backyard, before committing the time and gear to the real thing. Problems are easier to fix when all the gear is local.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #212: The Best Way to Duplicate a Project

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

There are two options – one is better.

This Browser pop-up menu lets you duplicate a project.
Control-click a project icon to reveal this menu.

Topic $TipTopic

Because Final Cut instantly and automatically saves your work, to preserve an edit from accidental changes you need to first duplicate a project. Final Cut Pro X provides two ways to do this. But, is one better?

To see your options, Control-click a project in the Browser. Two duplication options appear:

  • Duplicate (shortcut: Cmd + D)
  • Duplicate Project as Snapshot (shortcut: Shift + Cmd + D)

Both duplicate a project. But, if you use compound or multicam clips, choose Duplicate Project as Snapshot.

Why? Because this option creates a self-contained backup version of a project that includes referenced compound clips or multicam “parent” clips. Changes you make to other instances of the compound clips or multicam clips do not affect the versions in the duplicate, so your project is protected from accidental changes.

In other words, if you Duplicate a project, then change a compound or multicam clip in EITHER version, the change is rippled to both the original project and the duplicate.

If you use Duplicate Project as Snapshot, the two projects are independent.

My recommendation is, regardless of how simple or complex your project, always choose Duplicate Project as Snapshot. You’ll never need to worry about unexpected surprises.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #110: Set a Default Location in Apple Compressor

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Set a default location for all your compressed files.

Use Compressor preferences to set default location.
Set a default compression location in Compressor preferences.

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By default, Apple Compressor stores compressed media in the same folder as the source media. Which just confuses the heck out of me, because I can’t ever remember which folder I used for which source media file.

To solve this problem of not knowing where my compressed files are stored, I create a folder on my external storage called “Compressed Files.” Then, I make sure that ALL the files I compress go into that folder.

How? By setting it up as an automatic Location.

  • Create the folder you want to use as your destination using the Finder.
  • Start Compressor and switch to the Locations panel on the left.
  • Click the small plus icon in the lower left corner. Then, navigate to the Compressed Files folder you just created and select it. You’ve now created a custom location for Compressor.
  • Finally, go to Compressor > Preferences > General and select the custom Location you just created in the Location menu.

Now, every time you import a file into Compressor, the compressed version will automatically appear in the Compressed Files folder.

Great! One less thing to worry about.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #140: What’s the Minimum Duration of a Clip?

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Durations are always measured in frames and displayed using timecode.

Tip Screen Shot

Topic $TipTopic

A “duration” is the number of frames between the In and Out of a clip; or the entire clip if no In or Out is set. In Premiere Pro, the In point and Out points specify all durations in any panel. So, how are durations determined?

  • The In INCLUDES the frame it is parked on.
  • The Out EXCLUDES the frame it is parked on.

For example, setting the In point and Out point to the same frame results in a clip with a duration of one frame. In other words, Premiere requires a minimum duration of one frame.