… for Random Weirdness

Tip #864: 5 Things to Build Trust with Clients

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Success as an editor requires two key things: Trust and Comfort.

Zack Arnold. (Image courtesy of Frame.io.)

Topic $TipTopic

Award-winning editor, Zack Arnold, writes in a blog published by Frame.io on how to have a long-standing career in media. Here’s an excerpt.

It isn’t the software. We are not keyboard monkeys, we are storytellers. Our ability to tell compelling and engaging stories and make an audience feel something supersedes our knowledge of any specific piece of software.

Clients care if you can tell compelling stories, move people emotionally, and deliver on deadline. And most importantly, they care whether or not they can work with you in a dark room for 60 hours a week (without you murdering each other).

If you’re interested in becoming an editor who is considered great in the room, there are only two things you have to focus on: Trust and comfort. To get there, consider these five points.

  1. Create a safe environment, i.e. a “No Chaos Zone”
  2. Accept that everyone has their own process, and set clear expectations on Day 1
  3. Embrace and experiment with new ideas (no matter how stupid)
  4. Become a ninja at finding “The note behind the note”
  5. Become so fast you can finish people’s sentences (and find any shot instantly)

Zack’s entire blog is an outstanding read. Read it all here.


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… for Visual Effects

Tip #867: Four Tips to Improve VFX Compositing

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The trick with any composite is to make all elements look related.

(Image courtesy of pexels.com.)

Topic $TipTopic In his YouTube video, Javert Valbarr provides tips to improve compositing for visual effects. Here’s a summary.

  1. Look out for your black and white levels when adding elements. You want the elements you’re bringing in to look like a part of the scene and to belong to the same world. Keep composted elements within the range of lightest and darkest values of the original footage, or change them to meet in the middle. This can be fixed by applying LUTs and changing the color space of video elements.
  2. Use selective blurring to draw attention to the most important areas of your shot. This can be done using color gradient effects.
  3. Match the grain/quality of your footage and composited elements. You may need to add grain to composited elements to create the illusion that they belong to the story world. When adding grain or noise, make sure to match the color of the added grain to the color of the original grain. Conversely, you may need to sharpen composited elements to match your footage.
  4. Don’t forget that color grading has a large impact on the final look of the composited image. The final step can and will change your image! 

Here’s the link to his video.


… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #857: Customize Your Playback Controls

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Customizing playback controls simplifies proxy workflows, creating still frames and other tasks.

The Button Editor panel for the Program Monitor in Premiere Pro.

Topic $TipTopic

One of Adobe’s goals over the last several releases was to simplify the Premiere interface. (Because, truthfully, it was getting pretty darn crowded…) This simplification took the form of removing buttons. But… what if you need one of those buttons back? Not to worry – here’s how.

  • In the Program Monitor or Source Monitor, click the small plus sign in the lower-right corner.
  • This displays the Button Editor. (See screen shot.)
  • Hover over a button to read a description of what the button does.
  • To add a button to the control panel, drag it from the upper section into the blue controls box. For example, I added the Proxy button to the controls box to make it easy to toggle between Proxy and High-quality view.
  • To remove a controls button, drag it out of the blue box.
  • To reset the controls box back to factory defaults, click the Reset Layout button.
  • Then, when you are done, click OK.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #850: A Quick Way to View Photoshop Layers

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Double-click a Photoshop image

A Photoshop image (top), with it’s layers displayed in the timeline (bottom).

Topic $TipTopic

One of the benefits to using Photoshop images in your projects is that FCP X allows you to access each layer in the Photoshop document separately. But how?

Double-click it.

Whether the image is in the browser or the timeline, the Photoshop image will open in a special section of the timeline, where each layer is displayed.

At this point you can:

  • Hide a layer by selecting it and typing V
  • Animate a layer, for example, to have it slide into the frame
  • Change the timing of when a layer appears by trimming an edge
  • Add transitions to a layer; for example to have a layer fade in at a specific time
  • Delete a layer by selecting it and pressing Delete
  • Scale a layer
  • Reposition a layer

The possibilities are endless.

EXTRA CREDIT

If you adjust the clip in the browser, it will affect every iteration of that clip that is edited into the timeline.

If you adjust a clip in the timeline, it will affect only that iteration of the clip.

To “close” a Photoshop image opened into the timeline, open a different project into the timeline.


… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #854: A Hidden Search Feature

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Notes can be entered in the browser or the Info Inspector. (The Inspector is easier.)

The Browser Notes field. (It’s position is shifted left by several columns.)

Topic $TipTopic

There’s a hidden feature in Final Cut that can make your searches more effective. However, it’s hidden in plain sight.

When you use the Search box at the top of the browser to look for a clip, it is actually searching in two places: the file name and the Notes field. By default, the Notes field is empty but you can add anything you want. Here’s how:

  • Switch the browser to List view (Shortcut: Option + Cmd + 2).
  • Scroll right until you find the Notes column.

NOTE: Columns can be moved left or right by dragging the column header. Reveal columns by Control-clicking any column header.

  • Click once in the Notes field. Wait a few seconds.
  • Click once, again, in the Notes field. Wait a few seconds.
  • The Notes field will open for editing. Enter any relevant text pertaining to that clip.

EXTRA CREDIT

Many asset management systems allow you to add notes to a clip before importing it into Final Cut.

I find it faster to select a clip, then go to the Info Inspector and enter directly into the Notes field there. This bypasses all the waiting for the Notes field to open.


… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #855: Apply Common Keywords Faster!

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

You can create up to nine common keywords, each with its own keyboard shortcut.

The floating keyword palette, with common keywords displayed.

Topic $TipTopic There’s a hidden feature in the floating Keywords palette that makes applying keywords to selected clips, or ranges, much faster. Here’s how it works.

  • Type Cmd + K to display the floating Keyword panel.
  • Twirl down the small right-pointing arrow next to the words “Keyword Shortcuts.” This displays up to nine fields that you can fill with keywords you plan to use frequently. (See screen shot.)

NOTE: A Keyword can be more than one word, but they work best when phrases are kept short.

  • To enter a keyword, simply type it into an empty field.
  • To apply a keyword, type the keyboard shortcut listed next to it. For example, Control + 1 for “Exterior”
  • To remove a keyword from either a clip or the common keyword list, select it and press Delete.
  • To remove all common keywords, type Control + 0.

EXTRA CREDIT

Remember, to apply keywords you first need to select the clip, clips, or clip range in the Browser.

You can only have nine keywords with keyboard shortcuts, but you can change these keywords at anytime without affecting any keywords already applied to clips.


… for Apple Motion

Tip #842: How to Improve Apparent Focus

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The Unsharp mask is applied (left) with a Radius of 2.2. The right side is the original image.

Topic $TipTopic

Given the state of today’s technology you can’t refocus an image after it’s been shot. (Well, not in any tool that I have access to…)

However, you can create the illusion of focus, which may bail you out when an image is “just a bit soft.” Here’s how.

Select the layer containing the soft image, then apply Filters > Sharpen > Unsharp mask.

NOTE: Don’t use Sharpen, Unsharp mask does a better job.

What sharpening does is emphasize the edges between objects by boosting the contrast at the edge itself. Taken to extremes this will put a harsh border around every edge. Don’t do that.

Instead, change the default Radius settings for Unsharp Mask so they are between 1.0 and 2.2. As you can see in the screen shot, the left side of her hair has sharpening and has a more apparent focus than the right side. The difference is a Radius of 2.2.

The effect is most noticeable in her hair, as the screen shot illustrates.

With this filter, less is definitely more because the default settings are excessively out of whack.

EXTRA CREDIT

Remember, this filter only affects edges. So, it won’t modify skin or other areas which have no significant texture.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #849: 8 Reasons Why You Should Shoot Raw

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

RAW files are bigger and require processing, but the advantages are worth it.

A simulated RAW (left) and corrected image. (Courtesy of Pexels.com)

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Rob Lim, first appeared in PhotographyConcentrate.com. This is an excerpt.

NOTE: This article was originally written for shooting still images in JPEG. However, these comments also apply to shooting video using AVCHD or H.264 codecs.

Raw is a file format that captures all image data recorded by the sensor when you take a photo. When shooting in a format like JPEG image information is compressed and lost. Because no information is compressed with raw you’re able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct problem images that would be unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format.

NOTE: Raw is not an acronym. So, unless you are discussing ProRes RAW, it’s spelled lower case.

Here’s a list of the key benefits to shooting raw:

  1. Get the Highest Level of Quality
  2. Record Greater Levels of Brightness
  3. Easily Correct Dramatically Over/Under Exposed Images
  4. Easily Adjust White Balance
  5. Get Better Detail
  6. Enjoy Non-Destructive Editing
  7. Have an Efficient Workflow
  8. It’s the Pro Option

EXTRA CREDIT

The article linked at the top has more details on each of these points.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #851: A Comparison: Frame Size vs. File Size

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

This chart, measured in GB/hour, illustrates how file size expands with frame size.

Topic $TipTopic

As frame sizes continue expanding to equal a living room wall, the accompanying file sizes explode as well.

This chart in this screen shot illustrates how quickly file sizes increase with frame size.

NOTE: This table is based on ProRes 422, at two frame rates: 24 fps and 60 fps. Shooting raw or log files would increase these file sizes about 2X.

Here are the source numbers for this chart.

 
 

Gigabytes Needed to Store 1 Hour of ProRes 422 Media

24 fps 60 fps
720p HD 26 66
1080p HD 53 132
UHD 212 530
6K 509 1,273
8K 905 2,263

(File sizes published by Apple in their ProRes White Paper.)


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #852: What is ProRes RAW?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

ProRes RAW is a codec optimized for speed and quality.

Processing flowchart for ProRes RAW. Note that image processing is done in the application, not camera.

Topic $TipTopic

Apple ProRes RAW is based on the same principles and underlying technology as existing ProRes codecs, but is applied to a camera sensor’s pristine raw image data rather than conventional image pixels.

ProRes RAW is available at two compression levels: Apple ProRes RAW and Apple ProRes RAW HQ. Both achieve excellent preservation of raw video content, with additional quality available at the higher data rate of Apple ProRes RAW HQ. Compression-related visible artifacts are very unlikely with Apple ProRes RAW, and extremely unlikely with Apple ProRes RAW HQ.

ProRes RAW is designed to maintain constant quality and pristine image fidelity for all frames. As a result, images with greater detail or sensor noise are encoded at higher data rates and produce larger file sizes.

ProRes RAW data rates benefit from encoding Bayer pattern images that consist of only one sample value per photosite. Apple ProRes RAW data rates generally fall between those of Apple ProRes 422 and Apple ProRes 422 HQ, and Apple ProRes RAW HQ data rates generally fall between those of Apple ProRes 422 HQ and Apple ProRes 4444.

NOTE: What is means is that, rather than creating RGB images in camera, which triples file size, the raw image is processed later, in the application. This still provides the highest image quality, but decreases the size of the native raw files.

Like the existing ProRes codec family, ProRes RAW is designed for speed. Raw video playback requires not only decoding the video bitstream
but also demosaicing the decoded raw image. Compared to other raw video formats supported by Final Cut Pro, ProRes RAW offers superior performance in both playback and rendering

EXTRA CREDIT

Here’s the link to Apple’s ProRes RAW white paper, which contains much more information on this format.