… 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.

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… 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.


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… 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.

Topic $TipTopic

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.


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… 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.

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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.


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… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #174: How to Fix a Crooked Horizon

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

The human eye really, really likes a level horizon.

Tip Screen Shot

Topic $TipTopic These tips were first suggested in PremiumBeat.

Ideally, you are using both a tripod and a level for all your video shoots. But, in case you left one or both of them at home, here are three quick steps to level up a shot in post.

  1. Rotate the image. Use Effect Controls > Motion > Rotation. This is purely trial and error, but drag the rotation setting slightly until things are level.
  2. Check your corners. As you rotate your image, slices of black will appear at the corners. You’ll need to zoom in until these are gone. Hopefully, not a lot.
  3. Zoom in. Use Effect Controls > Motion > Scale to zoom in slightly so you don’t see the edges of a shot after you rotate it.

NOTE: Remember, the more you scale an image larger than 100%, the blurrier it will look. Ideally, shoot larger frame sizes than you need, if you plan to make these types of corrections in post.

EXTRA CREDIT

I often crop the image just above the edge of the horizon so I have a straight edge to use to determine when the horizon is actually level.


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… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #056: Use Motion to Tweak Your Effects

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Apple makes it easy to customize your effects.

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While it is true that you can’t directly modify an Apple-supplied effect, there’s a workaround: You just need to make a copy of it first.

Control – click (right-mouse-click) any effect, transition, generator or title and choose Open a Copy in Motion.

Final Cut will copy that effect and open the copy in Motion, where you can make as many changes as you want.

When you save the file, Motion displays a dialog allowing you to create a new template and category for this effect. This makes it easy for you to organize your custom effects.

NOTE: While the ability to open effects in Motion is true for Apple and 3rd-party effects, many developers “lock” their effect so that you can’t modify it.


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… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #022: 2 Export Options You Don’t Need

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

These options have been puzzling editors for years.

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You are ready to export your final project, when you come face-to-face with two inscrutable checkboxes. Ever wonder how to set these options in the Export window of Premiere? We’ve got the answer.

  • Maximum Bit Depth. If you have a GPU, Maximum Bit Depth is irrelevant as you’re already getting that performance from the GPU, if it is applicable to your media. Turn this off.
  • Maximum Render Quality. If you have a GPU, this, too can be turned off. The only reason to turn it on is if you are scaling your images – up or down – and see jagged edges on clearly defined diagonal lines. As of this time, scaling is still CPU-based, and only effects calculated using the CPU are affected by this setting.

Now you know.

As you can probably guess, as Adobe migrates from CPU-based effects to GPU-based effects both of these options will become unnecessary and probably disappear.


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… for Codecs & Media

Tip #086: How to Create Custom Poster Frames

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Poster frames illustrate the contents of a movie clip in the Finder

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Topic $TipTopic

Ian Brown suggested this tip.

There’s a very fast way to create a poster frame for a QuickTime movie. (Poster frames appear in the Finder, and other locations, to illustrate the contents of a clip.)

  • Open the video in QuickTime Player
  • Move the playhead to the frame you want to use as a poster frame
  • Choose Edit > Copy (shortcut: Cmd + C)
  • Close the video
  • Select the file icon in the Finder
  • Choose File > Get Info (shortcut: Cmd + I)
  • Select the small icon in the top left corner
  • Choose Edit > Paste (shortcut: Cmd + V)

Done.

EXTRA CREDIT

Actually, anything you paste into that top left box will become the poster frame. It doesn’t need to be a still from your video – though it can’t be a video itself.


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… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #125: Edit Vertical Video – Fast

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Edit vertical video the easy way in FCP X.

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In spite of all our hopes, vertical video is here to stay. Not to worry, Final Cut makes editing vertical video easy. When the time comes to edit, transfer the video to your editing computer, then:

  • Choose File > Import Media (Shortcut: Cmd + I) and navigate to the footage. (You can transfer media directly from your iPhone if it is connected.)
  • Next, create a new project and use the Automatic settings. (This is the screen where the button in the lower left reads: Use Custom Settings.)
  • MOST IMPORTANT: don’t change any project settings. Make sure that the text: Video: Set based upon first video clip properties is visible. This is what makes configuring vertical video easy.
  • Next, edit a vertical clip into the empty, new project. This is important, even if this isn’t the first clip you want the audience to see, because FCP X uses this clip to configure the project settings.
  • When that first, non-standard video clip is edited into the timeline, a dialog appears asking if you want to change the project settings to match the video.
  • Click YES and FCP X will automatically configure the timeline to match your media. After you edit a couple more clips into the timeline, you can delete that first clip that you used to set Project settings.

After that, edit as normal.

When it comes time to export the final project, choose: File > Share > Master file to create a high-quality master file for compression later.

NOTE: Make sure that the aspect ratio of your final export matches the aspect ratio of the original media. Both 1080 x 1920 and 608 x 1080 match for aspect ratios.


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… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #089: Create Subclips Using Keywords

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Subclips are defined sections within large clips. And, they are easy to create in FCP X.

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Keywords provide more and better ways to find clips, true. But… they also allow us to create subclips. Here’s how.

In the Browser, select a range within a clip either by dragging with the skimmer or playhead, or setting an In (shortcut: I) and Out (shortcut: O).

With that range selected, create a keyword (shortcut: Cmd + K) and give it a name.

NOTE: Use whatever name makes the most sense to you, but shorter is better.

Now, when you click that keyword, only the selected section shows up as a subclip in the Browser.

EXTRA CREDIT

In this screen shot, the top image shows the selected range. After a keyword is created (“Key Reveal”), selecting that keyword displays only the portion of the original clip that was selected.

Cool.


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