… for Apple Motion

Tip #447: Move Text Along an Unusual Path

Any shape can form a path for text to travel around the screen.

The Text Inspector in Apple Motion 5.x.
Change the Layout Method to Path, then lower down, change the Path Options.

Topic $TipTopic

This article is an excerpt from an Apple KnowledgeBase article.

Most of the time, we want text in Motion to travel in a straight line. But, when you want that text to take strange shapes, Motion makes it easy. Here’s how to use a shape as a path for text.

  1. In Motion, import or draw the shape you want to use as the path source.
  2. Select text in the Layers list, canvas, or Timeline.
  3. In the Layout pane of the Text Inspector, click the Layout Method pop-up menu, then choose Path.
  4. In the Path Options section of the Layout pane, click the Path Shape pop-up menu, then choose Geometry. The Shape Source well appears in the Inspector.
  5. From the Layers list, drag the shape into the Shape Source well.
  6. When the pointer becomes a curved arrow, release the mouse button.
  7. A thumbnail of the shape appears in the well and the shape is used as the source shape for the text path.

NOTE: You might want to disable (deselect) the original source shape in the Layers list so it’s not visible in your project.

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… for Visual Effects

Tip #394: Why Use Vignettes

Vignettes conjure emotions of the “old times,” romance, and warmth.

A vignette applied to a wedding photo.

Topic $TipTopic

A vignette, in film, darkens the edges of the frame to focus the attention of the eye on the brighter portion of the image at the center.

In the old days, photographs created these automatically because the lens was not particularly good at passing the same amount of light across the entire exposure. The center was always brighter than the edges.

Since those early days, lenses have improved tremendously, which is why we associate vignettes with older images, romance, or something historical.

This screen shot illustrates a vignette – see the darkening from the center out to the edges of the image? It also illustrates a typical use – to subtly highlight the subject at the center, while lending a feeling of warmth and romance to the image.

To be most effective, a vignette should be subtle; it’s a darkening of the edges, not a spotlight on the center.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #451: Audio Compression for Podcasts

You can compress audio a lot, without damaging quality.

Topic $TipTopic

If you are compressing audio for podcasts, where it’s just a few people talking, you can make this a very small file by taking advantage of some key audio characteristics.

To set a baseline, an hour of 16-bit, 48k uncompressed stereo audio (WAV or AIF) is about 660 MB. (1 minute of stereo = 11 MB, 1 minute of mono = 5.5 MB).

If we are posting this to our own web site, streaming it live where bandwidth requirements make a difference, or posting it to service that charges for storage, we want to make our file as small as possible, without damaging quality. Here’s what you need to know.

Since people only have one mouth, if all they are doing is talking, not singing with a band, you don’t need stereo. Mono is fine.

This reduces file size by 50%.

NOTE: Mono sounds play evenly from both left and right speakers placing the sound of the audio in the middle between them.

According to the Nyquist Theorem, dividing sample rate by 2 determines maximum frequency response. Human speech maxes out below 10,000 Hz. This means that compressing at a 32K sample rate retains all the frequency characteristics of the human voice. (32 / 2 = 16K Hz, well above frequencies used for human speech.)

This reduces file size by another 33%.

Without doing any compression, our 660 MB one hour audio file is reduced to about 220 MB.

Finally, using your preferred compression software, set the compression data rate to 56 kbps. This creates about a 25 MB file for a one-hour show. (About 95% file size reduction from the original file.)

And for podcasts featuring all-talk, it will sound great.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #337: Three Ways to Sync Audio to Video

Double-system sound provides the best audio, but requires an extra step in post.

Recording a clapper slate is critical for all double-system audio syncing.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Rachel Klein, first appeared in PremiumBeat. This is an excerpt.

Recording audio and video separately on set ensures you get the highest quality sound for your project. Using an external shotgun microphone and syncing your audio with a slate, snap, or a clap is essential.

Your three main options for syncing audio to video are Red Giant’s Plural Eyes software, Premiere Pro’s Merge or Synchronize options, or doing it manually.

  • Automatically. The best option by far (but with a price tag of $200) is Red Giant’s Plural Eyes. To synchronize, simply open Plural Eyes and click Add Media or drag your clips directly into the app. Next, hit the Synchronize button and watch the program do its thing. Successfully synced clips will show up in green, while clips with errors are red. If you get a red error, navigate to the Sync drop-down tab and make sure you’ve selected “Try Really Hard.”

    Once everything is synced, click Export Timeline and drag the exported project directly into Premiere Pro. As an added bonus, Plural Eyes also can help correct audio drift in your project.

  • Merge. To merge clips using Premiere, select the video and audio files you want to merge in the Project panel. Right-click the selected clips and choose “Merge Clips.”

    A menu will open up, allowing you to name your newly synchronized clip. Select “Audio” as your “Synchronize Point” and make sure to select “Remove Audio From AV Clip.” Hit OK and you’re all done.

  • Manually. Edit the audio and video clips into the timeline. Then, align the spike in the waveform of the clapper slate with the frame where the slate just closes.


… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #375: Tips for Better Auto-Reframing

The Auto-Reframe dialog in Premiere Pro CC.

Topic $TipTopic

Auto Reframe intelligently identifies the actions in your video and reframes the clips for different aspect ratios. This feature is really handy for posting your video to different social media channels such as Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook.

You can use Auto Reframe to reframe sequences for square, vertical, and cinematic 16:9, or when cropping high-resolution content like 4K and beyond. Here are some best practice tips from Adobe:

  • Reframing can be adjusted: Auto-reframe applies Position keyframes to your video. Any of these can be changed, if Premiere guesses wrong on the framing.
  • Filming: Frame your videos with a little more space around the subjects so that you can repurpose the footage later for any medium.
  • Using text titles: Auto Reframe works best when titles are created using Premiere Pro.
  • Using still images: Auto Reframe does not work with still images. Reframe still images separately.
  • Apply Auto Reframe only once: Applying Auto Reframe multiple times (especially with nested clips) can cause unpredictable results – such as black bars on the sides of your videos. If you need to re-apply the Auto Reframe effect, make sure you apply it on the original clip.


Here’s an Adobe support article that covers this feature in detail.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #392: How to Use a Second Display with FCP X

The Secondary Monitor display menu only appears when you have a second monitor connected.

Topic $TipTopic

This tip is from an Apple KnowledgeBase article. This is an excerpt.

Final Cut is programmed to support two computer monitors. But, the controls are hidden. When you connect a second computer display to your Mac, controls appear that allow you to move the viewer, browser, or timeline to the second display.

Make sure that the second display is connected to your Mac and turned on. When they are, the Secondary Display button and pop-up menu appear in the toolbar at the top of the Final Cut Pro window. (See screen shot)

To choose which area of the Final Cut Pro interface you want to move to the second display, do one of the following:

  • Click the Secondary Display pop-up menu and choose Timeline, Viewer, or Browser.
  • Choose Window > Show in Secondary Display > [item].

The area you chose moves to the second display, and the other areas of the Final Cut Pro window are adjusted on the primary display.

NOTE: Video scopes can be displayed on a second monitor along with the Viewer. Scopes can’t be displayed separately.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #406: What’s the Best Way to Backup a Project?

There are two options to backup a project. Which is best?

Duplicate Project is faster, Duplicate Project as Snapshot is a better choice.

Topic $TipTopic

One of the big benefits of Final Cut Pro X is its ability to instantly save whenever you do something. Which is fine, most of the time. But, what if you want to make a protection copy of just a single project? Now you have two options:

  • Duplicate Project.
  • Duplicate Project as Snapshot.

Which do you use? Duplicate Project as Snapshot. (To view this menu, Control-click the Project image or name in the Browser.)

These each create an identical protection copy until you are using multicam or compound clips. When you duplicate a project as a snapshot, Final Cut Pro embeds copies of compound or multicam “parent” clips in the duplicate, so any changes to other instances of those clips do not affect the duplicate.

If you work on projects that contain compound clips and multicam clips, you can use the Duplicate Project as Snapshot command to create 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.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #449: Display Scopes on a Second Computer Monitor in FCP X

A second computer monitor is a big help when editing video.

Video scopes displayed vertically on a second computer monitor running FCP X.

Topic $TipTopic

Tip #392 showed how to use a second computer monitor attached to your Mac when editing with Final Cut Pro X. One of the benefits of using a second monitor is that it allows us to display both a larger video image in the Viewer and much larger video scopes. Here’s how.

NOTE: Displaying Final Cut Pro X to a second monitor is always full-screen; you can’t scale the interface.

  • Display the Viewer on the second monitor.
  • Type Cmd+7 to display video scopes. (They appear on the second monitor along with the Viewer.)
  • Go to the View menu in the top right corner of the video scopes and change them to a vertical alignment (top row, second box).

Depending upon the size of your monitor, you can display a 4K image full screen, and still have room for the scopes.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #422: 4 Tips to Researching Your Topic

All documentaries benefit from as much research as possible.

Research is essential to any documentary. (Image courtesy of Pexels.com.)

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Tanner Shinnick, first appeared in PremiumBeat. This is an excerpt.

Research is essential to any documentary. Strong research ensures a successful and captivating documentary film. Here are some resources to consider as you research your own projects.

Academic Research Papers.
Academic research papers are wonderful tools for documentarians. Chances are that there are academic research papers out there about your topic. A simple Google search or thumbing through references on Wikipedia can uncover many of them.

Larry adds: Recently, I’ve started using Bookends as a research and bibliography database. It can be very helpful in finding and organizing academic sources.

I find newspapers extremely valuable documentary research resource. If the paper you’re looking for isn’t digitized, you could always visit the publication’s local library where you can view the slides or microfilm.

First-Hand Accounts.
Research interviews can uncover a lot of information about a subject or topic. By simply allotting time to chat with key subjects about a topic, you can uncover valuable information that may not be available online or in books.

Archival Footage or Photos.
AStrong research ensures a successful and captivating documentary film.rchival footage or photos can provide contextual visual information to your film.Here are some resources to consider.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #424: 3 Tips for Lighting Different Skin tones

Different skin tones require changes to our lighting.

Image courtesy of Pexels.com.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, wriiten by Rubidium Wu, first appeared in PremiumBeat. This is an excerpt.

Lighting different skin tones in the same scene is really tough. Here are some tricks to consider.

If the talents’ skin tones are different, but not radically so, you can usually get away with placing the darker skinned person closer to the key light, keeping the light close to the talent. Because of the inverse square law, exposure falls off quickly when it’s near a source of light, then more slowly as it gets further away.

Zones of Light. By bringing in a flag or cutter close to the actor so that more of the key hits the darker skinned actor than the lighter skinned actor, you effectively create two zones of lighting — one brighter than the other. The actors will need to stay on their marks, if they’re to be correctly lit.

Negative Lighting. If you’re outdoors, or utilizing some other source of bright light, you can use exposure for the darker skin, and use scrims or negative fill to take light away from the brighter skin. This is a trick also used by corporate headshot photographers who want to stop white shirts from being overexposed. They put a double net scrim (which takes away a stop of light) on its own C-stand (or light stand), and use it to shade the bright area. If the scrim is close enough to the light, it won’t create a visible shadow in the shot.

Fill. It’s no good to light just one side of your talent’s face. You also need to light the darker side so that it doesn’t fall off into dark shadow.
The fill light doesn’t need to be as big as the key, it just needs to be more controlled. I’ve had the most success using a 1×1 or 2×1 with a 45 degree grid. This means you can aim it at just the location you want, and it should fill only the area you need lighter. You may have to pan the light away so that no light is hitting the lighter skin, and you may also need to add more negative fill off camera so that the light, once it’s lit your desired area, doesn’t bounce everywhere and bring up the levels over the whole room.