… for Apple Motion

Tip #717: Particle System Timing in Motion

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Particle systems can be any duration you need.

A particle system in the Apple Motion timeline, with elements offset.

Topic $TipTopic

This tip originally appeared as an Apple KnowledgeBase article. This is an excerpt.

When you create a particle system, its duration can be as long or short as necessary, regardless of the duration of the original source layers used to create the particle system. The duration of a particle system is defined by the duration of the emitter object. Changing the In or Out point of an emitter in the Properties Inspector, Timeline, or mini-Timeline changes the duration of the entire particle system.

By default, particles are generated by every cell in a system for the duration of the emitter. The duration of each generated particle is defined by the Life parameter of the cell that generated it, and not by the duration of the cell itself.

The duration of the cell governs the time span over which new particles are generated. You can change a cell’s duration by dragging its position or its In and Out points in the Timeline. In this way, you can adjust the timing that defines when each cell’s particles emerge.

For example, you can create a particle system that simulates an explosion by offsetting the appearance of different types of particles. First, dense white sparks emerge from the center. Half a second later, more diffuse orange blast particles appear around a larger area. One second after that, hot smoke emerges from underneath both of these layers, and smoky remains are left as the particles fade away.

You can offset a cell in the Timeline or mini-Timeline so that the cell starts before the emitter. This creates a “pre-roll” in which the particle simulation begins before the particles are drawn.

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… for Apple Motion

Tip #718: Use Slip to Change Shot Content in Motion

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Slipping adjusts content without affecting duration.

Press the Option key, while dragging in the mini-timeline, to slip a clip.

Topic $TipTopic

This tip originally appeared as an Apple KnowledgeBase article. This is an excerpt.

Slipping adjusts a clip so that, while the duration remains the same, the in and out points shift to different positions in the clip.

NOTE: You can’t slip a clip if it hasn’t been trimmed first. You need handles at each end to slip a clip.

The mini-Timeline lies just above the canvas toolbar and below the canvas, providing an at-a-glance look at where selected objects fit into your overall project. To slip a clip:

  • In Motion, select the clip you want to modify so that it appears in the mini-Timeline.
  • Position the pointer over the body of the clip in the mini-Timeline, then press and hold the Option key. The pointer changes to a slip pointer.
  • Continue to press and hold the Option key, drag left or right in the mini-Timeline to use a later or earlier part of the clip.

A tooltip appears, indicating the new In and Out points.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #733: How Much Resolution is Too Much?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The eye sees angles, not pixels.

At a normal viewing distance for a well-exposed and focused image HD, UHD and 8K look the same.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Phil Platt in 2010 discussing how the human eye perceives image resolution, first appeared in Discovery.com. The entire article is worth reading. Here are the highlights.

As it happens, I know a thing or two about resolution, having spent a few years calibrating a camera on board Hubble, the space telescope.

The ability to see two sources very close together is called resolution. It’s measured as an angle, like in degrees. For example, the Hubble Space Telescope has a resolution of about 0.00003 degrees. That’s a tiny angle!

Since we measure resolution as an angle, we can translate that into a separation in, say, inches at certain distance. A 1-foot ruler at a distance of about 57 feet (19 yards) would appear to be 1 degree across (about twice the size of the full Moon). If your eyes had a resolution of 1 degree, then the ruler would just appear to you as a dot.

What is the resolution of a human eye, then? Well, it varies from person to person, of course. If you had perfect vision, your resolution would be about 0.6 arcminutes, where there are 60 arcmin to a degree (for comparison, the full Moon on the sky is about 1/2 a degree or 30 arcmin across).

To reuse the ruler example above, and using 0.6 arcmin for the eye’s resolution, the 1-foot ruler would have to be 5730 feet (1.1 miles) away to appear as a dot to your eye. Anything closer and you’d see it as elongated (what astronomers call “an extended object”), and farther away it’s a dot. In other words, more than that distance and it’s unresolved, closer than that and it’s resolved.

This is true for any object: if it’s more than 5730 times its own length away from you, it’s a dot. A quarter is about an inch across. If it were more than 5730 inches way, it would look like a dot to your eye.

But most of us don’t have perfect vision or perfect eyesight. A better number for a typical person is more like 1 arcmin resolution, not 0.6. In fact, Wikipedia lists 20/20 vision as being 1 arcmin, so there you go.

[Phil then summarizes:] The iPhone4 has a resolution of 326 ppi (pixels per inch). …The density of pixels in the iPhone 4 [when viewed at a distance of 12 inches] is safely higher than can be resolved by the normal eye, but lower than what can be resolved by someone with perfect vision.


There’s a lot of discussion today about the value of 8K images. Current research shows that we need to sit within 7 feet (220 cm) of a 55″ HD image to see individual pixels. That converts to 1.8 feet to see individual the pixels in a UHD image. And 5 inches to see individual pixels in an 8K image on a 55 monitor.

Any distance farther and individual pixels can’t be distinguished.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #697: What Is the Alpha Channel?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Alpha channels define the amount of translucency for each pixel.

When viewing alpha channels, black is transparent, gray is translucent and white is opaque.

Topic $TipTopic

Just as the red, green and blue channels define the amount of each color a pixel contains, the alpha channel defines the amount of transparency each pixel contains.

A pixel can be fully transparent, fully opaque or somewhere in between. By default, every video pixel is fully opaque.

NOTE: The reason we are able to key titles over backgrounds is that titles contain a built-in alpha channel that defines each character as opaque and the rest of the frame as transparent.

To display the alpha channel in a clip, click the Wrench icon in the lower-right of the Program Monitor and select Alpha. To return to a standard image, select Composite.

While we can easily work with alpha channels inside Premiere, in order to export video that retains transparency information, we need to use the ProRes 4444 or Animation codecs. No other ProRes, HEVC or H.264 codec supports alpha channels.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #712: How to Export Multiple Projects at Once

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Final Cut now supports exporting multiple projects at the same time.

Select all the projects to export, then choose File > Share.

Topic $TipTopic

One of the new features in the 10.4 update to Final Cut Pro X is the ability to export multiple projects at the same time. This is a feature I use regularly as I create excerpts from my weekly webinars. The process is simple:

  • In the Browser, select all the projects you want to export.
  • Choose File > Share X Projects (“X” will be replaced by the number of projects you are exporting.
  • At which point, the export process remains the same.

NOTE: All projects must export using the same settings. If you need to vary settings by project, you’ll need to export each project individually.


Use the Background Task window (Window > Background Tasks) to monitor the export process.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #713: Color Picker Secrets

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The color picker you get depends upon where you click.

The two color pickers. Which one you get depends upon where you click.

Topic $TipTopic

There are two different color pickers in Apple Motion and Final Cut. Which one you get depends upon where you click.


Click the color chip to view the traditional color picker. Tips:

  • Press the Shift key to lock the color, but adjust saturation.
  • The color wells at the bottom hold an unlimited number of colors
  • To see more wells, drag the horizontal line just above them up or down.
  • To also see more wells, increase the size of the color picker.
  • Click one of the icons at the top to see more ways to choose colors


Click the downward-pointing arrow to the right of the color chip to reveal the color picker first introduced in Motion. Tips:

  • This picker is designed for realtime color picking, simply drag your mouse over the color area, then click the color you like.
  • This option does not support color wells or the different ways to select colors available in the traditional color picker.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #724: Background Tasks Window

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

This window monitors everything FCP X is doing in the background.

The Background Tasks window, showing a Share operation in process.

Topic $TipTopic

The Background Tasks window is a great way to monitor what Final Cut Pro X is doing behind the scenes. Here’s how to access it.

Final Cut Pro X is designed to do a lot of its work in the background, so you can keep editing in the foreground without slowing down.

To see what’s happening behind the scenes, open the Background Tasks window by choosing Window > Background Tasks (Shortcut: Cmd + 9).

In this screen shot, I’m exporting two projects at the same time. To maximize system resources, Final Cut exports these sequentially; though from my perspective, I only executed one menu command.

If you need to cancel an operation, click the “Circle X.”

I most often use this to check on projects that can take a while:

  • Transcoding
  • Rendering
  • Sharing

Because this is a floating window, you can open it and move it wherever is convenient.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #704: What Does 3D Transform Do?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The 3D Transform tool is the fastest and easiest way to rotate an element in 3D.

The on-screen controls in the Viewer when 3D Transform is active.

Topic $TipTopic

The 3D Transform tool controls element position and rotation in 3D space.

To select it, either click the “World” icon in the tool bar, or type the shortcut Q. Dragging an arrow changes position, dragging a white circle changes rotation.

3D uses the mnemonic: RGB = XYZ. Arrows and circles are color-coded so you know when way an object will move:

  • Red. Horizontal movement and rotation on the X-axis.
  • Green. Vertical movement and rotation on the Y-axis.
  • Blue. Movement to or from the camera and rotation on the Z-axis.

You don’t need to switch a group into 3D space to take advantage of 3D perspective.


When working with Z-space:

  • If the group is set for 2D, the stacking order in the Layers panel determines foreground and background.
  • If the group is set to 3D, an element’s position in Z space determines foreground and background.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #699: A Fast Way To Color Balance

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Click the WB Selector on something that’s supposed to be gray to remove color casts.

Click the WB Selector eyedropper on something gray in an image.

Topic $TipTopic

Deep inside the Lumetri Color panel is a tool that makes removing color casts a snap… well, ah, actually, a click. Here’s how it works.

  • Select the clip you want to color correct.
  • Switch to the Color workspace and open Lumetri > Basic Correction.
  • Click the WB Selector eyedropper. It won’t change color when you select it, which is distracting.
  • Click the eyedropped on something in the currently selected image that is supposed to be mid-tone gray or white.

Instantly, the image is corrected so that the color cast disappears.


What this tool does is adjust temperature and tint settings to color correct the image. If you don’t like the results, you can manually adjust both sliders to improve the results.

Additionally, once the color correction is to your liking, click the Auto button at the bottom of this section to automatically set grayscale levels for the clip.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #658: Tips for Working with Photos

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Time spent prepping your photos before editing, speeds the editing process.

The Effect Control > Motion panel in Premiere.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Jason Boone, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt.

Working with stills in Adobe Premiere Pro is a little bit of a different workflow than when you’re editing video. With images, you’re often dealing with a variety of resolutions and framing, you may event want to add some movement. Here are some tips.

Check the Resolution. Photographs come in all different shapes and sizes. Many have a vertical aspect ratio, while others are square or rectangular. If you plan to scale up a photo, you’ll want to make sure you have a high enough resolution to keep the image sharp, once it’s scaled.

Fit to the Frame. If you’re just looking to match an image to the sequence frame size, there’s a quick, easy way to do this. Once you have an image in your sequence, simply right-click, and select either Scale to Frame Size or Set to Frame Size.

  • Scale to Frame Size will actually resample your image, removing pixels and setting the scale to 100 percent. That means if you scale this image back up at a later time, you’ll be losing quality.
  • Set to Frame Size, on the other hand, will simply adjust the scale attribute so that the image fits perfectly in the sequence frame.
  • To change how Premiere Pro handles your photos by default, go to the Edit > Preferences > Default Media Scaling drop-down menu.

Position the Anchor Point. To reposition the anchor point, select the word “Motion” in Window > Effect Controls panel. This reveals the cross-hairs of the anchor point within the Program panel. With the cross-hairs visible, I can now easily move the anchor point.

Animate the Photo. Use keyframes in Effect Controls > Motion to add movement to your images.


The PremiumBeat article, linked above, has more photo tips and a video demo.